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Internet Television

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'State of STEM' Event Focuses on Women in Science PDF Print E-mail


On Wednesday, fast on the heels of when President Obama called for "pushing out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay," in the State of the Union address, 130 students gathered in Washington for the third annual State of STEM event.

The event gave students an opportunity to hear from a variety of STEM experts, including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, and Office of Science and Technology Policy Associate Director Jo Handelsman. Students were also given the opportunity to ask questions of a trio of astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station.

Though all of the speakers emphasized the importance of STEM in coming years--Bolden described the students in audience as future visitors to Mars--several focused on girls and women in particular. Smith called out the entertainment industry's depictions of scientists as white men, despite the fact that women have long been involved in science. She cited the relative lack of clear role models for girls and students of color as a reason many are hesitant to go into the field.

Similarly, Handelsman described the bias against female scientists that she often sees in the community: "People have seen boys and men as scientists. The history of science is filled of them. You look at the textbooks, you see all these men who were great scientists. But it turns out girls and women can be just as great."

The event also included an all-female panel, where several women were given the chance to talk about their experience in STEM, both specifically as women and as scientists more generally. Though some of the women noted that they had felt singled out because of their gender, climate scientist Nicole Hernandez Hammer told students that difference isn't always a negative characteristic: "When you're a bit different from the other people in the room, you should look at it as an opportunity to bring a different perspective from the others, and that helps science move forward."

In response to a question from a young girl asking what steps to take in order to be "just like you," Handelsman encouraged the students in the audience to dream big: "I hope you're not just like me. I hope you're way, way better."

Image:  Barry "Butch" Wilmore, Terry Virts, and Samantha Cristoforetti talk with students from the International Space Station. Image via YouTube.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
2015 State of the Union: A Quick Recap for Teachers PDF Print E-mail


Another year, another nationally televised speech from President Barack Obama. Last year, the State of the Union largely avoided major new education initiatives, perhaps learning from the failures of previous years. But with a new Congress before him, what did the president prioritize?

Let's break down the speech.

How long was the address?

A precise 60 minutes.

Give me the condensed version.

The State of the Union is strong, except for all the problems.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently announced that he wants to keep annual testing in the next iteration of the No Child Left Behind Act. Did the president echo those sentiments?

LOL, no.

So what did he say about education specifically?

  • "Today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before."
  • "It's time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women's issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us."
  • "Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today."
  • "I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world."


That's mostly it.

That's not a lot.

The Politics K-12 blog has an in-depth breakdown of the policy-related stuff that Obama did cover, but he didn't devote the same attention to K-12 education policy as in past years. It's probably influenced in part by the nature of the speech (everyone wants a piece), and also by how the president's educational priorities don't get much traction; Republicans in Congress have already pretty much nixed his education agenda where legislation is concerned.

But in subtler ways, the speech touched on the kinds of things that would be considered non-academic factors relevant to student success. To the degree that children benefit academically from healthy communities and strong families; from not being the target of institutionalized discrimination or informal prejudice; from not living in poverty; from equal treatment, the kind not predicated on sex or gender; from growing up in a world that hasn't been devastated by climate change and global warming—to that degree, a great deal of the president's speech was about education.

To wit:

I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.

I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen —man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.

Any other highlights?

The president had flashes of impromptu humor, including this chastening of Republicans: 

Can I have a transcript?

Here you go.

Were any educators among the official White House guests?

Yes! The Obamas invited Katrice Mubiru, a career-technical education teacher in Los Angeles. She encouraged Obama to step up support for career and technical education, and had previously introduced the president during his visit to Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in July.

The first lady was also joined by Anthony Mendez, a freshman at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, who was the first member of his family to graduate high school. According to a White House release:

Anthony grew up in the South Bronx with his mother and three siblings. In 9th grade, his best friend was shot in his neighborhood. One year later, Anthony's family was evicted, and they moved into a homeless shelter. ... After moving into the homeless shelter, he would get up at 4:30 a.m. for six months to get to school on time.

They didn't get shout-outs, but it's an honor just to be allowed in the Capitol. (Seriously, try getting in there sometime.)

If I had to choose between watching the speech and watching something else ...

Hayley Atwell plays a post-World War II secret agent on ABC's and it is everything you could want from TV.

What if I don't have time for that?

Here you go:

Top image: A guy who's won two presidential elections. —Mandel Ngan/AP

 Follow Ross Brenneman on Twitter for more news and analysis of the teaching profession.
  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
Gallup: Majority of Teachers 'Not Engaged' With Their Jobs PDF Print E-mail

A recent study by Gallup shows that just 30 percent of teachers are "actively engaged" in their jobs. The study also estimates that teachers who aren't engaged account for 2.3 million missed workdays every year.

Based on a phone survey of 6,711 full-time teachers from across the U.S., Gallup finds that 57 percent of teachers say that they are "not engaged" at work, with an additional 13 percent saying that they are "actively disengaged"—that is, they "act out their unhappiness in ways that undermine what their coworkers accomplish."

Gallup defines an engaged teacher as one who is "involved with, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work." By contrast, unengaged teachers are merely satisfied with their jobs and are less likely to look for opportunities for growth or to feel "emotionally connected" to their work.

Teacher engagement also varies significantly by state. In Washington, 35 percent of teachers are engaged, while only 22 percent of Michigan teachers say the same. Washington also has a low rate of disengagement, with just one in 10 teachers reporting feeling actively disengaged.

gallup-engagement.pngThe more engaged a teacher is, the fewer unhealthy days they report having each year: Engaged teachers average 10.1 days when they feel unable to do their usual activities, while actively disengaged teachers average more than twice that, reporting 20.4 unhealthy days per school year. (Click the chart at left to enlarge.)

Those "unhealthy days" may turn into missed work days. Though teachers who are not engaged report only slightly more unhealthy days—11.3—than their more-engaged peers, their greater share of the workforce means that they account for nearly 782,000 additional missed work days. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged teachers, despite their small numbers, miss more than 1.5 million additional days as a group.

The analysis also suggests that districts may play a role in both engagement and teacher health. A supportive environment can encourage engagement in the classroom while also providing resources for teachers who are unwell.

Gallup reached these totals using data from past surveys of all American workers, which show that 31 percent of unhealthy days translate into missed workdays. It's not clear whether or not teachers follow the rest of the population where this is concerned. Given that teachers, unlike many other workers, require substitutes when they call in sick, it's possible that they are less likely to miss work when feeling unwell.

Regardless of exactly how many days teachers miss each year, the study makes it clear that there is a connection between engagement in the classroom and teacher health, though it does not seek to establish causality in its results. Gallup does note that workers in other professions are equally engaged—in fact, past polls have suggested that teachers are more engaged than other workers. However, in a field where personal connections can be critical, it's worth considering the impact of a system where so many teachers don't feel connected to their work.

Chart courtesy of Gallup, Inc.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
PBS LearningMedia Hits 100,000 Digital Resources for Teachers PDF Print E-mail


According to an announcement made on Thursday, PBS LearningMedia now offers more than 100,000 digital resources, including common core-aligned videos, interactive learning games, and tools for teachers.

The site is a partnership between PBS and WGBH Educational Foundation and includes tools to help teachers make storyboards, build lessons, and create quizzes using PBS's digital content. There's also a student view, which teachers can set up so that students can access class materials from their own devices. Many resources are also labeled with standards information so that teachers can determine how a potential lesson might line up with the common core. Though some parts of the site are available only to paid users, the majority are free.

Some resources on the site are meant to be incorporated into other lessons, such as daily news stories from PBS NewsHour. Other tools are grouped into collections, like a set of resources for teaching Shakespeare's history plays using clips from "The Hollow Crown," with background information included in the form of infographics and timelines.

Still others are largely self-contained: Thanks to a recent partnership, PBS offers the Crash Course videos created by YouTube stars John and Hank Green, intended—as the name suggests—as an overview of different subjects, from literature and history to chemistry, biology, and psychology. (It is worth noting, however, that these videos are also available on the Crash Course YouTube channel, which seems to be more up-to-date than the PBS site.)

Combing through all 100,000 resources can be something of a challenge—and, as noted, many of the video series are available elsewhere online—but one benefit of the PBS LearningMedia site is that it consolidates programs from many of PBS's partner organizations and member stations, making it potentially easier to discover new programs.

Image: Author John Green discusses Romeo and Juliet in a Crash Course video. YouTube.

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
YouTube Series Turn Classic Literature Into Modern Video Blogs PDF Print E-mail

A recent trend in online storytelling may offer opportunities for teachers looking to help connect students to literature: Literary YouTube series seek to transform classic works into video blogs set in the modern day.

One of the earliest such series is also one of the most popular: "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice co-created by Hank Green, himself a YouTube celebrity and brother of beloved young-adult author John Green. In this modernized version of the story, Elizabeth Bennet is a 24-year-old grad student with a video blog, and the Bennet sisters—reduced to three, rather than the original five—are just as concerned about jobs and school as they are about marriage.

"The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" went on to become the first YouTube series to win a Primetime Emmy, and the team behind it was rebranded as Pemberley Digital. In the two years since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries finished its run, Pemberley has adapted two more Austen works to the vlog format, creating a miniseries based on the unfinished novel Sanditon and a longer series, "Emma Approved," which turns the title character of Emma into a headstrong lifestyle coach living in California.

Pemberley also teamed up with PBS to create a 22-episode series called "Frankenstein, M.D.," which teaches viewers about biology while following the exploits of Victoria Frankenstein, a medical student struggling to make a name for herself in a male-dominated field.

Though Pemberley Digital has created the best-known of these video series, it's certainly not alone in the genre. "Nothing Much to Do" sets Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in a New Zealand high school, while "Classic Alice" tells the story of a college student who decides to live her life according to classic novels. "The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy" re-imagines Peter Pan as a comic book artist in Neverland, Ohio. The newest addition to the field is "The March Family Letters," an adaptation of Little Women created by Cherrydale Productions and distributed by Pemberley Digital.

One defining feature of many of these series is the way they spill over into other forms of media. Characters interact with each other on Twitter, reblog fan posts on Tumblr, and share fashion ideas on Pinterest. "Classic Alice" goes even further, with the characters creating podcasts and giving their phone numbers to the audience. While all of the series can be fully understood and enjoyed on YouTube alone, the additional opportunities to interact with the story can be a major draw for plugged-in teenage fans.

Teacher Melanie Carbine suggests that episodes—typically no longer than five minutes—could be used for warm-ups or as a way of supplementing more traditional lessons about classic novels, or that students could create their own videos based on the novels read in class.

Annamarie Carlson of Rollins College even wrote an honors program thesis arguing that "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" could be used as a way to pique students' interest in the original book, a possible solution to a problem faced by countless English teachers: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that high school students hate reading Jane Austen." But they do tend to like YouTube.  

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
Nominees for 2015 National Teacher of the Year Announced PDF Print E-mail

The Academy Awards nominees will be announced tomorrow, and in the spirit of creating weeks-long speculation, the Council of Chief State School Officers today announced the nominees for its annual National Teacher of the Year award.

As always, there are four nominees:

  • Catherine Caine, an elementary teacher in Honolulu;
  • Ann Marie Corgill, an elementary teacher in Mountain Brook, Ala.
  • Kathy Nimmer, a high school writing teacher in West Lafayette, Ind.; and
  • Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher in Amarillo, Texas.

Finalists are chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a selection committee formed of representatives from some of the largest educator professional networks in the country, including the two national unions. That committee bases its choices on written applications, which ask teachers about their professional accomplishments and views on the teaching profession.

The CCSSO doesn't view the award as a competition, a CCSSO spokesperson said via email, but as an honor that comes with the chance to represent the profession. It just happens to be an honor that comes with an enormous amount of exposure, a nationally televised speech (well, on C-SPAN), and a trophy. And it's also something you have to apply for.

This year's winner will be announced in April, and will be honored alongside the State Teachers of the Year at a White House ceremony in Washington. The finalists are announced in January because the ultimate winner goes on a one-year sabbatical, meaning they need to have time to make arrangements.

This marks the sixth consecutive year without a finalist nomination for a math teacher, incidentally. The draught also continues for teachers of the visual arts, which last had a finalist in 2005, and last had a winner in 1979.

Sean McComb, a high school English teacher in Baltimore, is the most recent educator to have been named National Teacher of the Year.

Image: President Obama and 2014 National Teacher of the Year finalists applaud Sean McComb, second from right, a high school English teacher from Maryland, as the 2014 National Teacher of the Year during an event at the White House. —Susan Walsh/AP

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
5 ed-tech highlights from CES 2015 PDF Print E-mail

By Phillip Britt
January 16th, 2015

From robot teachers to “smart” backpacks, CES 2015 had plenty to excite educators

CES-education-technologyThe annual International Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES, is the showcase for newer technologies already in the marketplace and those soon to debut.

“What is popular in the consumer market is becoming more of the backbone of education, because that’s what students bring in,” said Kerry Goldstein, producer of TransformingEDU, the show’s education track. “There’s no place better than CES to look at what is going on with technology.”

The top five trends at CES this year that educators should know about were:


Sony’s Morpheus. Copyright: Barone Firenze /

Augmented technology/virtual reality: The University of Chihuahua (Mexico) is using the technology in the arts and the sciences. Art students are virtually traveling to different renowned art museums to see different artists work in a much more immersive way than books or simple video will allow. Similarly, chemistry and biology students are using virtual reality to conduct experiments, study how the heart works, and more.

Since schools rearely have access to these cutting-edge experiences, Goldstein explained, the virtual reality technology enables them to teach these subjects without these facilities.

Watch: Oculus Rift Car Flip demo at CES:

(Next page: Wearable tech; SmartBackPacks)

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
Prominent Art Galleries Release Complete Digitized Collection PDF Print E-mail


« What's Next? Pundits Offer Education Predictions for 2015 | Main | Study: In-School Reading Time Is Key to Building Love of Reading »


The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution's two Asian art museums based in Washington, D.C., have released their complete digitized collection as part of their new Open F|S initiative. The collection can be searched online and includes hi-resolution images of over 40,000 objects from the galleries.

The photographed objects include ceramics, paintings and prints, sculptures, books, tools, and much more. Users can search for a specific piece or browse the entire collection by artist, topic, object type, place or culture of origin, or time period.

All of the images can be used free of charge for non-commercial purposes, which means that they're available for all art history, research project, lesson-illustration, or classroom-decoration needs.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries aren't the only museums to digitize their collection for public use in recent years. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art released 400,000 images of its collection last May, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles started digitizing their collection in 2013 through their Open Content Program. Dozens of museums, libraries, and other institutions worldwide also take part in The Commons, a Flickr project that aims to make public-domain photos more readily available.

Photo: At 13' x 20' x 33', The Freer Gallery's Peacock Room is the largest item in the digitzed collection. Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries/Flickr Creative Commons

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  
What's Next? Pundits Offer Education Predictions for 2015 PDF Print E-mail


As students and teachers head back to school after winter break, education experts and journalists are offering their predictions for 2015. Not surprisingly, a large number of them touch on some of the most common topics of last year: the Common Core State Standards, testing, and changes in technology.

So, in 2015, something is definitely going to happen with the common core ... but it's hard figure out what that might be. In NPR's compilation of opinions on education in the upcoming year, Center for American Progress Executive Vice President for Policy Carmel Martin suggests that large-scale debates over the common core will die down this year. That prediction that is echoed by Larry Ferlazzo in a post on the Washington Post's "Answer Sheet" blog, although he also predicts that the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests will fail to perform as hoped. Meanwhile, The Daily Caller's Blake Neef expects that the contentious debates around the common core will continue, and Claudio Sanchez of NPR predicts "more troubles" for the standard. Matthew Lynch, who writes Education Week's Education Futures opinion blog, expects that more states will continue to drop the framework altogether.

Standardized testing is predicted to take more heat in the coming year, with Sanchez expecting the practice to come "under fire." Ferlazzo predicts that Bill Gates himself will call for a reduction in standardized tests (though the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss calls that "wishful thinking" in her introduction to his article). At Edudemic, Don Kilburn sees changes coming as reformers focus on "the need for better, fewer assessments."

Classroom technology is another main focus of predictions for the coming year. Ferlazzo and Lynch agree with Arne Duncan that increased funding under the federal E-rate program will bring the Internet to more classrooms, though Ferlazzo points out that schools will still need gadgets if they hope to actually use that resource. At InformationWeek, Harman Singh predicts more mobile solutions to that problem, along with "device agnostic technology" that can be used on a variety of devices.

In a piece for The Huffington Post, Brad C. Phillips of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change somewhat predictably focuses on the role of data in education, using four of his ten "top trends" spots to discuss its potential for shaping outcomes and the issue of student privacy where data is concerned. Kilburn similarly predicts the continued rise of data use in schools, while New York University Privacy Research Fellow Elana Zeide told NPR she foresees greater discussion about how data should be used and regulated that involves not only schools and policymakers but tech companies as well.

Other predictions making the rounds touch on the possibility of NCLB reauthorization--Heritage Foundation fellow Lindsey Burke (in the NPR piece) and Neef both bring this up. Educator and author Jose Vilson mentions to NPR that he predicts greater discussion about the best way to support increasingly-diverse public schools, as do Phillips, Sanchez, and Ferlazzo. The latter two also expect to see the debate about teacher quality continue as supporters of the Vergara decision in California take on unions and similar cases make their way through the courts in other states.

Of course, it's possible that Rick Hess will prove correct and everyone will spend the rest of the year talking about the issue that's truly at the heart of education: pizza bagels.

Photo: These predictions are probably a lot more accurate than the ones that would come from a Magic 8 Ball. bark/Flickr Creative Commons

  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Education  |  

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