Spotlight Texas


School Ratings Debate After Hurricane Harvey

Close to 20 percent of the state's student population was impacted by Hurricane Harvey - that's more than one million students affected by the storm. School is back in session for those students, but now the state's superintendents are fighting to waive a new law impacting school ratings.

At a House Public Education Committee hearing last month, superintendents asked the state to waive the accountability ratings that are tied to students' scores on state standardized tests this spring.


Disability Rights Advocates Call For Texas To Halt Education Data Mining Contract

Disability rights advocates are asking the state to suspend a $4.4 million no-bid contract with Georgia-based company SPEDx to mine data from students receiving special education services in Texas public schools.

Leaders from Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education sent a letter Tuesday evening to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath urging him to review the purpose of the project with parents and advocates, share documentation of the process of procuring the contract and strengthen the protections for students' privacy. TEA contracted with SPEDx this May through August 2018 to digitally analyze specialized plans for serving students with special needs — which include information such as students' medical conditions and educational progress — and identify trends to help improve special education.


State Measuring How Will Hurricane Harvey Impact Texas School Funding

Texas school districts in the 60-county path of Hurricane Harvey must submit tax collection projections for 2017 to find out how much it will impact education funding.

Why should North Texans care?

Less property tax dollars means less money in the Texas’ school funding pool.


State Measuring How Will Hurricane Harvey Impact Texas School Funding

Texas school districts in the 60-county path of Hurricane Harvey must submit tax collection projections for 2017 to find out how much it will impact education funding.

Why should North Texans care?

Less property tax dollars means less money in the Texas’ school funding pool.


Firing Leaves Texas Without a Special Education Director at a Critical Time

After just over three months on the job, the state's special education director was fired last week after she filed a federal complaint against the Texas Education Agency for awarding a multi-million dollar, no-bid contract to a company that is mining data on disabled students.

A TEA representative said Laurie Kash's firing had nothing to do with her complaint. Rather, said TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan, Kash was fired because of allegations that she covered up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl in her previous school district. Two former employees filed a civil lawsuit making the allegations in Oregon days before Kash was fired.


Without Recovery Funds, More than 50 Texas Day Cares Close After Harvey

With her husband incarcerated on a murder charge, Jacquene Fontenot single-handedly wakes and dresses five kids under the age of 5 every morning, drops them off at a local child care center and drives two hours to her job as a custodian in central Louisiana.

Fontenot, who lost her furniture when her apartment in Orange flooded during August's hurricane, could not imagine what she would do if she lost her child care. "I really don't have a second option," she said.


Learn About the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation's Classroom Assistance Grants

In 2018, TRTF will award $500 to 30 Texas public educators, double the amount provided in 2017! The deadline to submit completed applications is March 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

Today's classroom teachers use a variety of tools to educate children, but due to lack of sufficient funding, many find new technology items out of reach. TRTF's Classroom Assistance Grant program helps teachers improve the learning environment for students by giving $500 towards projects, learning platforms, software, and much more. Since 2008, TRTF has provided $63,500 in grants to active educators all across Texas.


Texas Education Agency Back in the Headlines Over Special Education Firing

For the second time in as many years, the Texas Education Agency is under fire over how it manages special education in the state.

Last week, the agency fired its new special education director, Laurie Kash, after employees at a prior job filed a civil lawsuit against her alleging she had covered up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old. Kash attributes her firing to a different legal incident: She reported the TEA to the federal government the day before her termination.


Kilgore High School Junior Invited to Perform at Carnegie Hall

Jacob Stone was in sixth grade when he first picked up a bass violin, trying out all of the string instruments before deciding which one he wanted to learn how to play.

The Kilgore High School junior said it "felt natural for me."


Texas' Homeless Youth Slip Through Cracks of Disjointed Support System, New Report Says

Gage Kemp was 17 when he first became homeless.

"The home I grew up in, there was a lot of drug abuse and violence, and I got bullied a lot," Kemp said. "My parents were on hard drugs, and my dad told me to get out. It was in that moment I realized I was free, in a sense."


Pastor Reveals 'Dirty Little Secret' to Texas Educators, Teaches Them How to Vote Out 'Stupid'

A long-overdue war has broken out between the state's billion-dollar education establishment (Big Ed) and conservative state lawmakers who sometimes vote against Big Ed's wishes.

The battlefield is the ballot box. Organizers of the anti-tea party campaign set a goal of getting every school district employee in every district to register and vote in next year's Republican primary on March 6.


It's Not Just Texas - International Student Enrollment is Slowing Nationally, Report Finds

A survey released Monday found that international student enrollment is stagnating or declining at many colleges and universities around the U.S., marking the second year of lower foreign enrollment on campuses dependent on out-of-state tuition dollars.

The national data appear less pronounced then the Houston Chronicle's findings in Texas. A solid majority of four-year public universities here saw declines in international student enrollment, while 45 percent of respondents to the Institute for International Education's fall survey saw fewer students enrolled. About 24 percent of institutions nationally saw no change, that survey said.


Enrollment of Students in Special Ed Programs Surges in Texas

Texas enrolled its largest number of students in special education programs last school year, the same year the state's education department officially got rid of an arbitrary cap it put in place more than a decade ago.

In the 2016-17 school year, 477,281 students received special education services, an increase of about 14,000 students compared to the previous school year. That's about 8.9 percent of Texas students receiving special education resources, according to the latest data from the state's Public Education Information Management System.


Dallas ISD Superintendent Reassures Parents, Drivers After Voters Shut Down Dallas County Schools

A day after voters overwhelmingly decided to shut down school bus provider Dallas County Schools, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is reassuring parents and drivers that buses will be running next fall.

Late Wednesday afternoon the Texas State Comptroller appointed the committee that will take over for DCS and eventually shut it down. The new team includes financial advisors and the superintendents of the nine school districts serviced by DCS.


Texas Education Officials Reject Another Mexican-American Studies Textbook

For the second time in the last year, the State Board of Education rejected a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook, leaving teachers without any state-approved materials for Mexican-American studies courses.


The Anthem, the Pledge and the Protests: A National Debate Comes to Texas Schools

Louise Johnson recalls learning last fall that a science teacher at her daughter’s San Antonio high school was sitting — rather than standing — during the Pledge of Allegiance at morning announcements.

Johnson, who comes from a military family, was not happy when she heard from her 14-year-old that other students in the class had joined the teacher. According to her daughter, about five people would sit during the pledge and several others would sit during the national anthem at football games.


Troubled Dallas County Schools Says It's Changed, But Voters Have The Final Word

Barry Jacobs has spent the past couple of months collecting complaints from parents at Solar Preparatory School for Girls in Dallas.

Their complaints are about the bus system, Dallas County Schools. It provides transportation for nine North Texas school districts, including the Dallas Independent School District.


Manor ISD Expands Its Tech-Centric Model To A New Middle School

When Manor New Tech High School opened back in 2013, it drew a visit from then-President Obama, who touted its tech-forward teaching model as the future of public schools. Now, Manor Independent School District is applying that model to a new middle school.

At first glance, Manor New Tech Middle School doesn’t look like most schools. For one, the cafeteria isn’t just a space for kids to eat lunch. It’s also a classroom – and a library.


Lubbock ISD Superintendent Announces Retirement

In a conversation with the Board of Trustees and a video to employees earlier today, Dr. Berhl Robertson, Jr., announced his intention to retire as superintendent of Lubbock ISD at the conclusion of the school year.

In his message to employees, Robertson said, "I have been extremely blessed in my career. The opportunity to come to Lubbock ISD was the latest, greatest blessing, and I could not be more proud of you, the entire Lubbock ISD team and the work you have done. I know you will continue to work tirelessly to make our school district better and better, because our students deserve it. I am so thankful to have been here for what will be 9 years; 9 of the very best years of my career, so thank you for that and thank you for allowing me to serve you."


Voters to Decide Fate of Dallas County Schools Transportation Services Nov. 7

The Nov. 7 Constitutional Amendment and Bond Election will give voters the opportunity to save the embattled and often misunderstood Dallas County Schools (DCS). Despite its name, DCS is not a school district; but rather, the organization provides transportation in the form of school buses for more than 450,000 Dallas County students in Dallas ISD, Richardson ISD, Irving ISD, Highland Park ISD, Lancaster ISD, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, and DeSoto ISD. DCS largely funds it services through a property tax on Dallas County homes.


QA: Dallas ISD Superintendent Says Merit Pay "Has Possibility" for State

Very few school districts in Texas tie teacher compensation to performance evaluations. But in Dallas, whose merit pay system is in its third year, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says he has already seen good results. Earlier this year, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath — a former member of the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees — circulated a statewide merit pay plan based on the Dallas system, but so far, no such system has been implemented. We sat down with Hinojosa to see whether Dallas' approach could work statewide.


Homecoming on Homecoming: U.S. Army Serviceman Surprises Parents at Two Richardson ISD Campuses

Richardson Pearce's homecoming is Friday night, and Pearce graduate Brandon Marshall did his best to make it memorable for his parents.

Marshall had been stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy for the past 3 ½ years - and hadn't been able to get home to see his parents: Ron, a career technical education teacher at Lake Highlands Junior High; and Becky, a developmental center paraprofessional at Pearce.


Aldine ISD Superintendent Wanda Bamberg Retiring at End of School Year

The superintendent of Aldine ISD and her top deputy announced Tuesday they will retire at the end of the current school year, just before seismic changes are scheduled to take effect in the sprawling district covering much of northeast Harris County.

Wanda Bamberg, who has been superintendent since 2007, said her departure will give the next superintendent more leeway to implement the changes made during her 11-year tenure.


Leander ISD High Schools Among the 6 Percent That Follow Voter Registration Forms Law

Principals of Texas high schools have enough on their plates, and asking the state for voter registration forms should not be another responsibility, according to a statewide voice for high school principals.

In September the Texas Civil Rights Project, a legal advocacy organization, released a report that found most high schools in the state are not complying with a more than 30-year-old law that requires principals to request voter registration forms for eligible students at least twice a year.


New School Finance Commission Member Discusses the Road Ahead

After months of fighting on school finance during the regular and special legislative sessions this year, state lawmakers left the Texas Capitol without the new system many say the state desperately needs. Instead, state leaders have put together a 13-member commission to study the issue in the interim. We sat down with Pflugerville Independent School District Superintendent Doug Killian, a longtime school administrator tapped for the commission by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.


Dallas ISD Begins Push to Integrate Computer Science Lessons in All 151 Elementary Schools

Frederick Douglass fifth-grader Joeleah Hudspeth made her robot talk, step forward, and march around.

“You get to solve its problem and make it move,” she said.


Closing of Luminant Plant a Tax Hit to Titus County

Titus County began living with the pain of losing Luminant's Monticello Power Plant years before the company officially announced it would close the facility.

Luminant's parent company, Vistra, announced recently that the facility near Mount Pleasant would cease operations in January. The move means about 200 employees will lose their jobs, although some people will continue working there while the plant is dismantled.


Lufkin ISD's Superintendent Awarded "Superintendent of the Year"

Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Lufkin ISD's Superintendent of Schools, was named Superintendent of the Year at the Texas Association of School Administrators/Texas Association of School Boards convention on Saturday.

According to a statement for Lufkin ISD, Goffney, who was selected from a finalist group of five superintendent's, is the first African-American woman to receive the award since its creation in 1984.


Study Examines Effect of Funding Cuts on Texas Schools, Students

Funding cuts by state lawmakers left a five-year, $5 billion hole in the budget for Texas public schools between 2011 and 2016.

A new University of Texas study analyzes the effect of those cuts, made because of state revenue shortfalls, which forced many districts to operate with less money despite a growing number of students.


4 Houston-Area Schools Earn Prestigious Blue Ribbon Award

Four Houston-area schools have received the prestigious 2017 National Blue Ribbon School award, a federal honor recognizing superior academic achievement.

Eastwood Academy (Houston ISD), Lyons Elementary School (Houston ISD), KIPP Shine Prep and Jennie Reid Elementary School (La Porte ISD) were among the 26 Texas schools and 342 schools nationally to earn the honor.


Texas Education Officials Finalize Federal Achievement Plan

Texas education officials have submitted their plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal law passed in 2015 that gives states more authority to set accountability standards.

The Texas proposal largely aligns with already-established procedures and state laws, including the "A-through-F" grading scale and accountability standards set by state legislators in the past three years.


Respected Houston ISD Finance Chief Melinda Garrett Dies at 65

As chief financial officer of Houston ISD for 11 years, Melinda Garrett helped pilot the state's largest school district through one of its most tumultuous times, an era marked by budget cuts, bond votes, teacher layoffs and administrative upheaval.

Through it all, Garrett earned accolades from all corners. Her deep knowledge of the school finances, no-nonsense attitude and well-timed warmth ensured HISD's money was well managed and students had a stable learning environment.


Appeals Court Sides With Texas Cheerleaders Who Sued to Display Bible Verses at Football Games

Texas cheerleaders can display Bible verses at high school football games, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The Ninth Court of Appeals sided with students from Kountze High School, who sued after the district barred Christian messages from cheer banners at football games. The cheerleaders' choice to display Bible verses is protected as "private speech," the appeals court ruled.


Experts: School Funding Woes Largely Unchanged During Latest Lege Session

Despite meeting for a special session this summer, some experts and legislators said the 85th Texas Legislature provided little relief to schools and taxpayers in regard to school finance and property tax reform.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, authored the Senate’s property tax reform bill, Senate Bill 1, which failed to pass during the Legislature’s special session. House Bill 21—which transfers $351 million from Health and Human Services to public education—did pass this session and was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.


Teacher Recovering From Gunshot Wound in Temple Shooting

A St. Mary’s Catholic School teacher was recovering from a gunshot wound Friday after being struck during a Thursday incident.

The teacher, whose name was not released, was shot in the leg, a statement from Austin-based Bishop Joe S. Vasquez said.


East Versus West: Who Wins With The Austin ISD Bond?

The Austin Independent School District is asking voters to approve a $1 billion bond this November. The bond would pay for projects at schools all over the district, but there's a difference between funding for schools on the East Side versus the West.

If approved, some campuses would receive money to do regular maintenance or improve technologies. For Eastside Memorial High School, that means a new school with state-of-the-art technology.


Report: Most Texas High Schools Aren’t Registering Students to Vote

No private high schools and just 14 percent of public high schools in Texas requested voter registration forms from the secretary of state’s office in 2016, a report released Wednesday found, even though a state law requires them to do so.

The report by the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law found that 198 out of 1,428 public high schools requested the forms.


DISD teams up with FC Dallas to bring mobile STEM labs to Pleasant Grove middle school

Learning has become more accessible at Ann Richards Middle School after it received three new mobile science, technology, engineering and math labs Friday morning. The labs allow students and teachers to connect to the internet and access their coursework from anywhere on campus.


Hunger in the Classroom: 1 in 4 Kids Not Getting Proper Nutrition

Hunger here in the borderland is a bigger problem than many people think. Even the youngest in our population - the school kids - have food insecurity.

Trying to learn on an empty stomach is a struggle for 25 percent of borderland kids, who go to bed hungry at night.


New School Buses to Have Seat Belts Under Texas Law

Starting this month, Texas school districts in the market for new school buses must ensure they have shoulder-to-lap seat belts for all riders.

The three-point seat belt law replaces a 2007 law that offered money to districts that opted to install seat belts in their school buses. Few districts took advantage of the funding, leaving most Texas school buses belt-less.


In Beleaguered La Marque Schools, Harvey Stirs Up Old Anxieties

As hundreds of parents sat nervously in the La Marque High School auditorium last Thursday, Nicole Gardner stood from her seat and raised her hand to ask what was on everyone's minds.

"I was wondering how long this relocation is going to last."


How Hurricane Harvey Evacuees Can Get Help in Dallas

HOW TO GET HELP


Texas Districts Preparing to Take in Students Displaced By Harvey

When Hurricane Harvey swept across the Texas coast, it decimated Port Aransas ISD’s buildings, forcing the district to close indefinitely — and immediately leaving more than 450 students without a place to attend school.

Just 20 miles away on the mainland, Flour Bluff ISD is preparing this week to enroll every one of those students next Tuesday, if necessary. Across the state, as school district officials along Texas' Gulf Coast determine whether they can open their schools on Tuesday as expected, their neighbors are sending the message that they will accept displaced students with open arms, no matter what it takes.


TRS Board Adopts Legislative Changes to TRS-Care

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met Friday, September 1, 2017 to approve the new TRS-Care retiree health insurance plans as laid out during the first called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) may recall, Governor Greg Abbott added TRS-Care to the special session call this summer after retirees across the state expressed serious concerns about high deductibles and premiums.


 

 

 

Classroom Tools


What A Tax Overhaul Could Mean For Students And Schools

The House and Senate are working to reconcile their versions of a tax plan, but one thing is certain: Big changes are ahead for the nation's schools and colleges.


Teaching Current Events in the Age of Social Media

With each click of the mouse or flip of the channel, our society is inundated with headlines focused on natural disasters, sexual harassment allegations, countries on the brink of war, and teen suicides. While none of this is anything new, the bombardment of these stories is unique to this generation of student. Social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and questionable media sources (or questionable reporting techniques) have become their own newsworthy headlines. As a result, life can appear dark, far darker than in pre–social media days.


What Really Happened At The School Where Every Graduate Got Into College

Brian Butcher, a history teacher at Ballou High School, sat in the bleachers of the school's brand-new football field last June watching 164 seniors receive diplomas. It was a clear, warm night and he was surrounded by screaming family and friends snapping photos and cheering.

It was a triumphant moment for the students: For the first time, every graduate had applied and been accepted to college. The school is located in one of Washington, D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods and has struggled academically for years with a low graduation rate. For months, the school received national media attention, including from NPR, celebrating the achievement.


What Tech World Did You Grow Up In?

In the past three decades, the United States has seen staggering technological changes. In 1984, just 8 percent of households had a personal computer, the World Wide Web was still five years away, and cell phones were enormous. Americans born that year are only 33 years old.

Here’s how some key parts of our technological lives have shifted, split loosely into early, middle and current stages.


Saving Lives Via Text Message

Elisheva Adler was 20 years old, sitting in pajamas in her childhood bedroom in Long Island, the first time she saved someone's life via text message.

Adler had just started volunteering as a counselor for Crisis Text Line. The 4-year-old nonprofit provides free crisis intervention through a medium that is increasingly favored by young people: texts. Using the code 741741, counselors have exchanged more than 50 million messages with people who are facing issues from stress at school to self-harm. Out of those exchanges have come thousands of "active rescues" where first responders are called to a scene.


Ditching the Math Textbook

Many students enter the classroom with a notion that mathematics is simply pencil-and-paper calculations, unconnected to their lives. And many of them have a negative mindset about their math abilities.

Because of these misconceptions, teachers must model thinking outside the box and show students that there are many ways to come up with a solution. Risk taking should also be modeled. It’s of great importance that students realize that mistakes can have a positive impact on learning. I tell my students, “You have to make mistakes to learn!” When students are willing to take chances knowing that failure is a possibility, creativity can emerge.


For Many Puerto Ricans, College Plans Washed Away With Hurricane Maria

Yerianne Roldán wants to be a graphic designer, or maybe a writer, or maybe both. Her good friend and classmate, Zuleyka Avila, has already made up her mind. She's going to be a pediatrician.

Those plans hit a bump in the road this fall, though, when Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, where both girls lived with their families. Forced to leave the island — much of which is still without power — they've both relocated to Orlando.


24 Game-Changing Ideas From Educators

Every great innovation starts with a powerful idea. The 24 powerful ideas below are recommended by educators, for educators, as part of the TED-Ed Innovative Educator program. After engaging in two months of online professional development and attending a TED conference, each TED-Ed Innovative Educator is challenged to create and share an innovative project that can be replicated by other educators. To meet the amazing TED-Ed Innovative Educators who brought these 24 ideas to life, start here.


3 Literacy Practices That Work

In the post “What Doesn’t Work: Literacy Practices We Should Abandon,” I wrote, “The number one concern that I hear from educators is lack of time, particularly lack of instructional time with students. It’s not surprising that we feel a press for time. Our expectations for students have increased dramatically, but our actual class time with students has not. Although we can’t entirely solve the time problem, we can mitigate it by carefully analyzing our use of class time, looking for [and doing away with] what Beth Brinkerhoff and Alysia Roehrig (2014) call ‘time wasters.’”


Baby's Got Mail: Free Books Boost Early Literacy

"A busybody." That's how Raven Judd describes her 10-month-old daughter Bailey.

"She loves tummy time. She likes to roll over. She'd dive if you let her," says the 27-year-old mother from Washington, D.C.


Beginning Teacher Sholarships Available


Learning To Spot Fake News: Start With A Gut Check

Which of these statements seems more trustworthy to you?

1) Americans are drowning in a tsunami of ignorance! There is a conspiracy at the highest levels to replace all knowledge with propaganda and disinformation.

2) A recent Stanford University report found that more than 80 percent of middle schoolers didn't understand that the phrase "sponsored content" meant "advertising."


Resources for Teaching about Veterans Day

Veterans Day is next weekend which means this upcoming week will be a great opportunity to visit with students about the meaning of this federal holiday. These resources have suggestions for how students of all ages can honor veterans as well as some activities that can be done schoolwide.


Thanksgiving Ideas for the Classroom

Celebrate the Thanksgiving season in the classroom and at home with lessons, quizzes, activities, games, trivia, books, and movies.


Learning How Bullying Happens In Order To Prevent It

One in four students report being bullied, but not all say they are bullied the same way. And some students are more likely to experience bullying than others.


How to Conquer the Admissions Essay

Picture this before you plop yourself down in front of your computer to compose your college application essay: A winter-lit room is crammed with admissions professionals and harried faculty members who sit around a big table covered with files. The admissions people, often young and underpaid, buzz with enthusiasm; the professors frequently pause to take off their glasses and rub their eyes.


Early Voting Information


Mainland Colleges Offer In-State Tuition To Students Affected By Hurricane Maria

Some universities on the U.S. mainland are offering assistance to students in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Maria. Several schools have gone as far as waiving tuition, others have offered reduced tuition by granting in-state status.


Does It Matter Whether Kids Like School?

What do you want for the children you love most?

Becoming a dad forever changed the way I see my job as a teacher, because it provided a clear answer to that question.


National Parental Involvement Day On Nov 16th

National Parent Involvement Day, November provides a yearly opportunity for schools and families to honor and highlight the powerful contributions parents and caregivers provide at school and home to support student success. However, parental involvement shouldn’t be confined to just one day – it should be emphasized all year long. Below are some ideas on how you can get involved in your student’s learning on National Parent Involvement Day, or any day of the year.


Puerto Rican Students Head To The Mainland For School

It's not exactly how Deilanis Santana planned to spend her 13th birthday: waking up before dawn, packing up her life – and heading to Connecticut to live with her grandma.


Building a Sense of Community—With Math

It’s well known that children learn by playing and that playing has numerous cognitive benefits, including flexibility, focus, self-control, organization, and planning. Playing games may also help children develop logical, executive, and social skills. Some studies show that such benefits can come from video games, as these can strengthen a range of cognitive abilities, including visual and spatial discrimination, memory, reasoning, logic, and problem solving.


Hutto Education Foundation Dare to Dream Gala Raises almost $30,000 for District

The Hutto Education Foundation (HEF) held their eighth annual "Dare to Dream" fundraising gala September 23 at the Gin Building in Hutto. Almost 200 parents, educators, district staff, members of the community and corporate supporters were in attendance.


For Traumatized Children, An Offer Of Help From The Muppets

Cookie Monster is all wound up. The Count has him hold up his furry blue fingers, count them (of course), and blow on each one in turn as if he were blowing out a birthday candle. Afterward, Cookie declares, in his familiar growly voice, that he feels much better.

"Hey! Me feel terrific! Me calm. Me relaxed."


Positive Words Go a Long Way

When I started teaching, I didn’t truly understand the power of words and their ability to influence the lives of students. I quickly learned that the effectiveness of my lessons and the classroom culture are heavily influenced by the language I use and how I use it.


Red Ribbon Week October 23-31

National Family Partnership, formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth, was established as a grassroots, nonprofit organization in 1980 by a handful of concerned and determined parents who were convinced they should begin to play a leadership role in drug prevention. Nancy Reagan was an Honorary Chair of NFP. Since its founding thirty years ago, NFP has devoted its efforts to the well-being of youth. Today, NFP is a national leader in drug prevention education & advocacy. Our mission is to lead and support our nation’s families and communities in nurturing the full potential of healthy, drug free youth.


How Schools Are Dealing With Students' Right To Protest

After more than 200 NFL players took a knee on Sunday during the national anthem to protest police brutality, public schools across the country have grappled with how to handle students who chose to protest in the same manner.

With Saturday night football games ahead for Houston, the district was forced to confront the issue head on.


11 Research-Based Classroom Management Strategies

Do unresolved behavior issues keep you awake at night thinking about what strategies might enhance responsible decision making and increase academic learning time? It’s natural to feel personally and professionally challenged—as I have, too many times to count.

The good news is that there are some research-based strategies called kernels that you can add to your classroom management toolkit.


Florence Elementary Schools Use Video Games in Class

Video games are being used as learning tools at three Florence District One elementary schools. The program is called Legends of Learning and is new this year to Royall Elementary School, Sneed Middle School, and Williams Middle School.


Miami 4th-Graders Write About Their Experiences With Hurricanes

When the fourth-graders in Mrs. Marlem Diaz-Brown's class returned to school on Monday, they were tasked with writing their first essay of the year. The topic was familiar: Hurricane Irma.

By Wednesday, they had worked out their introduction and evidence paragraphs and were brainstorming their personal experiences. To help them remember, Mrs. D-B had them draw out a timeline — starting Friday before the storm. Then, based on their drawings, they could start to talk about — and eventually, write about — what they experienced.


Memes, Emojis, and GIFs, Oh My! Teachers Tell How They Use Social Media

Most teachers think that social media and texting have a negative effect on their students' grammar and spelling skills, a new survey finds—but many educators still turn to social media tools to better relate to their students.

The survey, which was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Dictionary.com, asked 801 teachers—in elementary grades through postgraduate schools—about their views on social media and pop culture in the classroom.


Texas Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month

During the 82nd Legislative Session, HB 3616 was passed which designates October as Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month. The bill will encourage public schools and state agencies to celebrate the accomplishments of people with disabilities, highlighting the achievements of Texans with disabilities who made significant contributions to the state and the extraordinary Americans who led the way in the disability rights movement. The bill’s intent is to increase public awareness of the many achievements of people with disabilities, to encourage public understanding of the disability rights movement, and to reaffirm the local, state, and federal commitment to providing equality and inclusion for people with disabilities.


The Most Popular High School Plays And Musicals

The brilliant script, the "really fun" music and the exciting tech and staging feats were just a few of the reasons John Minigan decided to have his students perform The Addams Family.

"A lot of the students didn't know The Addams Family TV show at all," says Minigan, the drama teacher at Weston High School, just outside Boston. The nostalgia may be more for the adults in the audience, but the show, he says, still asks an increasingly relevant question for students: "What is the American family?"


The Missing Autistic Girls

On a recent hot summer afternoon, eight women sat at a table drawing and crafting at Felicity House, the world’s first community space devoted solely to women with autism. Opened just two years ago, the historic town house in the middle of New York City is a haven for women with a condition that limits their ability to communicate and interact with others.


Walk to School Day

oin students, families, school leaders, community partners and mayors around the country on October 4 to celebrate the benefits of walking to school during International Walk to School Day.


Teaching Sept. 11 To Students Who Were Born After The Attacks

"Never forget" became a national rallying cry after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yet America's schools — where collective memory is shaped — are now full of students who never knew because they weren't alive then. Many teachers now struggle with whether and how to teach the attacks and their aftermath.


When We Listen to Students

As you are beginning to think about returning to school, I have a suggestion that can drastically impact your year (and it's simple): brainstorm questions to ask your students.

The kids right in front of us often have the most useful information within them -- information that can help us reach and teach them, help us engage them, and that can help us have a fantastic year together.


These Oklahoma City Schools Are Named For Confederate Generals ... Or Are They?

District leaders in the Oklahoma City Public Schools will soon head out into the community to ask this question: Should the four elementary schools they believe are the namesake of Confederate generals be renamed?

The origin of that question goes back several weeks. Right after the violence broke out in Charlottesville, Va., Charles Henry, a school board member in Oklahoma City, voiced his concern about the name of Jackson Elementary, which he says had been bothering him for a while.


This is Your Brain on Snapchat

Do you spend a lot of time on Facebook? Do your students spend every spare minute on Snapchat? Have you wondered how this affects your mood or your students' moods? If so, KQED and PBS Learning Media have a resource that you should share with your students.


What Should We Be Teaching Young Children?

Early-childhood and elementary school programs reflect a diverse set of commitments about what children ought to learn, and about how they ought to do so.

Some focus on academic preparation and advancement, with extra attention to reading and mathematics. Some emphasize social-emotional development and community values. Others tout their language classes, or their music program, or the opportunities for children to engage in extended projects of their choosing. Some praise structure and discipline; some prize autonomy and play.


7 Outstanding K-8 Flexible Classrooms

In March, with the end of the school year rounding into view, we asked our Facebook community to show us their flexible seating arrangements. Photos and comments poured in from hundreds of teachers across the country. We sifted through the submissions, identified educators with outstanding flexible classrooms from kindergarten through eighth grade, and asked for tips, classroom features, and plenty of visuals. We feature seven of those classrooms below.


Hurricane Harvey Resources for TRTA Members

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are aware of Hurricane Harvey’s shocking and pervasive effects, as the storm ravaged the Texas coast over the weekend and caused significant flooding and damage to inland cities as well.

While we do not have any information on how TRTA have been affected by the storm so far, TRTA wants to remind members of valuable resources and aid that may be available to them.


Five Years In, What's Next For DACA?

Demonstrators came from across the country to gather at the White House in support of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as toddlers and children.

Five years ago today, President Obama signed an executive order protecting them from deportation. It's known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.


Tools for Creating Stop Motion Movies

Kevin Hodgson recently updated his excellent Making Stop Motion Movies website on which he features examples of student projects and provides good information about the process of making stop motion movies. I particularly like the page about claymation movies. Looking at Kevin's site got me to revisit some of my own posts about tools for creating stop motion movies. Here are four that I have used at various times over the years.


6 Non-Teaching Books Every Teacher Should Read

A book promises the chance to escape the noise and busyness of our daily lives. In its pages we are never alone, yet we are also shut off, shut off from the thousand decisions and distractions that attack us at any moment. When we open ourselves up to a book we are embedded in the preciousness of ideas, growth, and mindful stimulation.


My Son Is In Special Education and I Want Him To Be Challenged

By the time my younger son is midway through third grade, I realize that his academic progress has stalled. He's stuck somewhere between kindergarten and first grade.

School is a struggle for him. He has a language-based learning disability, which affects how long it takes for him to process new information before he can respond.


 

 

 

Breakroom


Christmas Specials From Years Past: Texas Media Group Favorites

Every year, close to Christmas, we here at the Texas Media Group sit down with our families to watch the amazing lineup of holiday TV specials. We enjoy our time together, watching these same programs from year to year, laughing at the same old jokes. But, most of all, we enjoy our time with our families, and even though television programs come and go in favorite holiday playlists, we made our own list of some of the specials we like to watch – growing up or watching our children grow up. We hope you like it, and if you have some that we missed from a list of your personal favorites, feel free to comment or let us know which ones will always be fond memories of yours.


Go Inside These World-Famous, Rarely Seen River Caves

Slovenia is a world-famous caving destination, with around 8,000 jamas, or caves, located in a country that’s smaller than Vermont. Of those 8,000 caves, however, only around 20 are considered “show caves”—caves that contain a unique beauty and scale that rivals many of the much larger karstic topographies found in southeastern China, Vietnam, Laos, and Papua New Guinea.


These Are the Happiest Cities in the United States

Who are the happiest Americans? Ask this question anywhere from Montauk to Maui and you’re bound to pique interest (you may even pick a fight). While fans of the film Moana might sing the lyrics “Happiness is where you are,” for scientists studying the roots and fruits of happiness, location-specific qualities of place, community, and opportunity powerfully inform the way we feel about our lives.


All-White and Futuristic: Tianjin's Stunning New Library Looks Out of This World

The hottest new tourist attraction in Tianjin, China?

A public library.


Potato Topped Turkey Pot Pie Recipe

A shepherd's pie take on turkey pot pie: tender chunks of turkey, carrots, and peas in a creamy béchamel, topped off with fluffy garlic mashed potatoes. Pure comfort!


Safety Tips for Deep Frying Turkey

Yes, deep frying turkey is popular, but it can be a dangerous alternative to a traditionally roasted bird. Unless you’re careful, you could end up causing a massive house fire instead of making Thanksgiving dinner. There are even some situations when deep frying turkey is never safe. If you learn how to safely cook your bird, you can enjoy the succulent, moist, flavorful meat that results.


Mom Paints Daughter's Bald Head For Her Beautiful Senior Year Portraits, Embracing Her Alopecia

Most teens probably wouldn't dream of having their mom style them for their high school senior portraits —well, unless their mom just so happens to be a cool artist who can help them create the most stunning shoot ever. When Madisyn Babcock collaborated with her mother for her senior shoot, the duo created much more than viral photos —they created a powerful memory.


Sun Storm to Cause Stunning Auroras-Here's How to Watch

Sky-watchers should keep their eyes turned toward the poles the next few nights, as an incoming solar tempest may trigger colorful displays of auroras.

This past weekend, a giant gaping hole opened up in the corona, the sun’s upper atmosphere. Such coronal holes form when the sun’s magnetic field lines open up, allowing hot plasma to spill into space and sending out intense gusts of solar wind.


TDHP: 'Saving Texas Dance Halls One Two-Step at a Time'

Frequently discounted in their importance as state heritage icons, the pièce de résistance for those who love Texas dance halls is their ability to set the stage for get-togethers of not only friends and family, but of entire communities. The sharing of music, history, culture, and fun has been the tie that binds in many rural Texas towns, and throughout the late 1800s and the early 1900s, when these halls flourished, the Lone Star State was home to more than 1,000 of these meeting places.


Why Hasn't Sexual Harassment Disappeared?

In bold documentary style, Retro Report looks back at the major stories that shaped the world using fresh interviews, analysis and compelling archival footage. Produced by Retro Report for The New York Times.


Boy's Video Looking For A Forever Home For His Four-Legged Friend Goes Viral

Dogs may be man's best friend, but one in particular is the best friend of six-year-old Roman. In a video posted on his mom's Facebook page, Roman tells the story of Legend, a five-and-a-half-year-old deaf Labrador retriever who Roman hangs out with at the local Humane Society and who also is in need of a forever home.


Newfoundland and Labrador: Where Cosmopolitan Meets Ancient History

The sun’s first beams of the day spread warmth over the cool north in Newfoundland and Labrador before they cast their glow anywhere else in North America. Here, the rays touch down on the earth while the rest of the continent remains in darkness—even if for just a few moments. And as the province awakens, so too do its bits of historical magic: the colorful houses along Jellybean Row that line steep hills and rugged coastlines, the mysteries of early life that for centuries—millennia even—laid hidden below the sea.


Going Up: Raising Galveston a Full Story After the Storm of 1900

One September day in 1900 forever changed the face of Galveston Island. The infamous storm of 1900 swept over the island, killing 6000 people who, in the days before weather warnings, remained unaware of the coming danger. Much of the damage and loss of life resulted from the storm surge. To protect from future storms, engineers devised an ambitious plan that would require raising Galveston a full story above its existing level.


German Chocolate Sheet Cake With Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Let’s be honest. The thing that unites those of us who love German Chocolate Cake is our deep appreciation for the coconut pecan frosting.


Deserving Teacher Receives An Emotional Surprise Video Message From His Students

For Wyatt Oroke, being a teacher also means showcasing empathy and support for his students. And it's an honor.


Libraries Offer Resources During National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Online security is a growing concern, especially in the wake of the alarming cyber attacks that have compromised the personal information of millions.


Mini Everything Pretzel Dogs Recipe

Mini everything pretzel dogs to celebrate the days getting chillier! Every morning before we go to work, Mike and I get up early to take a morning walk together. It’s kind of a new ritual Mike invented so I could start my day with something active and fun. We don’t get a huge amount of light in our bedroom and I’m very susceptible to feeling gloomy with a lack of sunshine, so it’s perfect for me. We get fresh air, a brisk walk, and plenty of morning sun. It makes me happy in a way that sets me up to have a great day.


Pearl Named One of 15 Great Places in America

The Pearl has been named one of 15 great places in America by the American Planning Association (APA).


Nobel Prizes 2017: Facts About the Secretive Process and Peculiar Past

The mere mention of the Nobel Prize conjures images of inspired scientists, exemplars of peace, and meditative writers. Though the prizes are well respected, a rich tangle of lore has grown around them during the 116 years they have been awarded, driven in part by the secrecy inherent in the selection process.


Dubbed The 'ICU Grandpa,' He's Been Comforting Preemies For The Last 12 Years

Approximately half a million babies are born premature, or with birth defects, in the U.S. each year, according to March of Dimes. Many of these babies end up spending weeks, and sometimes months, in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).


In the Age of Streaming TV, Who Needs Title Sequences?

There was an establishing shot: a barrel wave off the coast of Hawaii, or choppers carrying wounded vets over a mountain in Korea. Then a theme song swelled, an earworm that would echo in your brain like an advertising jingle: “Here’s the story, of a lovely lady…” Some names appeared alongside corresponding actors, who often turned to smile — or brood, depending on their character — in a weirdly stagey way. The audience was told the central premise in no uncertain terms. The nanny is named Fran. In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The truth is “out there.” Then the cartoon family converged on the couch, and finally the show began.


30 Healthy Fish Recipes

rom superstar chef Rick Bayless's tuna ceviche with avocado to perfect barbecued salmon, here are delicious healthy fish recipes.


10 Kids Were Asked To Draw What They Think Cars Of The Future Will Look Like. Here's What They Came Up With.

We all have ideas about what the cars of the future will look like, but kids may have the best ones. Their limitless imaginations are not confined by what's logical or realistic. They don't care about the laws of science, mechanics, or design. They care about the things that excite them, such as mystical characters, vibrant colors, and robots.


Dinosaurs Laid Blue Eggs—And That's a Big Deal

Robins may be famous for their beautiful blue eggs, but ancient feathered dinosaurs beat them to the punch.

Looking at fossil eggshells from China, researchers have found evidence that an omnivorous, ostrich-like dinosaur laid clutches of blue-green eggs, potentially helping to camouflage them in open nests dug into the ground.


6 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About North Korea

There’s a lot about North Korea that the world doesn’t know, largely because of the governing regime’s intense control over its citizens and its wary approach to outsiders. But between satellite images, North Korean citizens who fled to other countries, and the small number of people who have managed to visit, a picture of everyday North Korea has slowly emerged.


Chasing Cures for Deadly Scourges, and Getting in Our Own Way

Most Americans, it seems safe to say, derived a healthy measure of satisfaction from the news in 2011 that a team of Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden. The cheers faded soon enough, however, for one group: public health professionals. That’s because killing the archterrorist had the unintended consequence of undermining their campaign to finally wipe polio off the face of the earth.


Over $20,000 Raised As Thank You For Local Meteorologist's Reliable Reporting During Harvey

Jeff Lindner, the Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist, has been working some long days recently. Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last week, Lindner has been updating residents via news conferences and Twitter updates about the water levels in Houston and the surrounding areas. His tweets about flooded roads and responses to worried Texans have extended late into the night, and he admitted on Twitter this weekend that the last night he had a decent night's sleep was Aug. 22.


Pace Picante Sauce: 70 Years of Texas-Made Tradition

Established in 1947 by David Pace, Pace Picante Sauce was the first to commercially use the “P” word (“picante,” which means “spicy” or “flavorful” in Spanish) for its salsa, which was originally made in the back of a San Antonio liquor store. Proud of their Texas roots, this award-winning condiment company (if you could call it that – it’s more like the main dish if you ask us!) was bought by Campbell’s in 1994. What was the selling price? A “picante” $1.115 billion! Remaining one of the top sellers in their sector, the company has moved to Paris, Texas, where it continues to produce some top-of-the-line product.


Pictures Reveal Hurricane Harvey's Catastrophic Destruction

On Friday evening, Texans braced for the intense winds and surging tides expected to accompany Hurricane Harvey, which was a Category 4 hurricane with 130-mph winds by the time it hit Rockport, Texas.


The Summer Salad You Should Make Right Now: Peach Melon Basil and Burrata

We’re in Colorado! Well, wait, we’re not exactly in Colorado anymore, but we were and I made a stunning peach, cantaloupe, basil, and burrata salad. Before this trip I knew nothing about Colorado, except that it’s kind of sort of in the middle of the US. But, as I learned, and as Mike told me, Colorado is a big deal.


Mom Studying To Be A Dentist Celebrates First Day Of '22nd Grade' With Her Son Starting Pre-K

Parents love to photograph their kids going off to their first day of school and all of the emotions that go along with it — whether their feeling, happy, sad, nostalgic, all of the above, or anything in between.


Drive-Thru Barbecue Available at New San Antonio HEB

True Texas BBQ is located within HEB stores in eight different locations across the state. (See the list here.) Normally, Texans need to come inside of the grocery store to pick up their dinner or “party pack,” but KSAT reports that newest True Texas BBQ at “Bulverde Marketplace on the corner of Loop 1604 and Bulverde Road” will break the mold and offer a drive-thru. It’s a first for HEB.


Bird Filmed Feeding Goldfish-Here's Why

First it was the hawklet adopted by bald eagles. Then it was the lioness nursing the leopard cub. And now in the latest example of interspecies care, there’s video of a cardinal feeding goldfish.


Mom's Letter To Her Son On His First Day Of Preschool Reveals How Hard The First Drop-Off Is For Parents, Too

Saying goodbye to kids on their first day of preschool can be as hard for parents as it is for kids. But parents have to try and keep it together for their kid's sake and explain why it's a good thing they're leaving them at school — even if they're too young to fully understand it.


It's Official: Stunning Fossil Is a New Dinosaur Species

About 110 million years ago in what’s now Alberta, Canada, a dinosaur resembling a 2,800-pound pineapple ended up dead in a river.


Austin Barber Sets Up Downtown to Offer Free Haircuts to the Homeless

On the last Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Roger Lopez sets up shop downtown to lend a helping hand to Austin’s homeless population. As a barber, Lopez knows the importance of a clean shave and a trim, so he offers haircuts free of charge under the underpass at 7th Street and I-35 downtown.


A+ For Teachers Anthropologie Sale


Frico Eggs: Crispy Fried Cheesy Eggs

How do you guys like your eggs? When I was little I was a straight-up scrambled egg girl. And no soft slow scramble either – nope, I LOVED those rubbery scrambled eggs that they used to serve up in those styrofoam containers at McDonalds. That was a long time ago. Now, I’m all about sunny eggs, runny yolks please. It’s funny how food tastes change. I’m pretty much a lover of all kinds of eggs now, but I still get really egg-cited (heehee sorry, not sorry!) when I see a new way to make eggs.


After Doctors Told Her She's At Risk For Alzheimer's, This 70-Year-Old Started A YouTube Channel To Document Her Life

If you think YouTube is just for millennials, my oh my are you wrong. While it is true the platform attracts lots of young creators, people of all ages and backgrounds have taken to YouTube to express their opinions, creativity, and more.


'Mountain of God' Volcano Preparing to Erupt

An active volcano in northeastern Tanzania known to the Maasai as the “Mountain of God” has been quietly rumbling—and it is showing signs that an eruption is imminent.


Meet the Coach Who Devotes His Life to a Deadly Motor Race

A deadly road race around an island in the Irish Sea draws motorcycle riders seeking a buzz they can’t get anywhere else. With the help of a former winner, two local rivals prepare to compete for the first time.


How Filmmakers Captured a Daring Escape From ISIS Territory

This week, U.S.-backed forces launched an attack to retake an ISIS stronghold in Syria, beginning what is expected to be a long and difficult fight in the midst of international terror attacks and diplomatic discord. In a new documentary, Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested examine the horrific conditions created by ongoing violence in the region, and how its effects reverberate around the world.


Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Recipe

Something magical happens when you bake spaghetti - it turns into a whole other dish with flavors that are completely different. If you have leftover bolognese or meat sauce on hand, try this. You really can't go wrong with cheese, noodles, and sauce baked to perfection.


Beached Baby Dolphin is Saved on Texas Gulf Coast

A stranded baby dolphin was given a second chance at life thanks to a good Samaritan in Texas. Spotting the baby floundering in the surf, the gentleman, whose video of the incident was aired on the Weather Channel, gently assisted the dolphin back out into the ocean without causing additional strain to the animal. Posted to the channel’s Facebook account on June 3, it was clear that the animal was in need of some help.


Fort Worth's Weston Gardens Features English Styling with a Texas Twist

Amongst 17 acres of peaceful sanctuary, amidst evergreens, ferns, birds, and creatures, framed by an assortment of blooms and supple grasses, sits Weston Gardens in Bloom in Fort Worth. A year-round natural space to visit and “get away from it all,” these gardens offer up a remarkable beauty in springtime in particular. Dedicated to plant species that are native to Texas and acclimated to their environs, their lush landscape has been developed in the historic English style of demonstration gardens, with a Texas twist.


 

 

 

 


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