Spotlight Texas


Texas Schools Suspended Tens of Thousands of Students in Second Grade or Younger, Report Says

Texas schools issued more than 64,000 in-school suspensions to students in the second grade or younger during the 2015-16 school year, and a disproportionate number of those students were black, male, in foster care or in special education, according to a report released Monday by a children's advocacy group.

The report by Texans Care for Children also said that more than 36,000 students received out-of-school suspensions during that time. The following year, lawmakers passed a bill that banned out-of-school suspensions for students up to the second grade.


AM Expert Has Educators Asking: If Kansas Schools Need $2 Billion, How Much Do Texas' Need?

Texas AM University professor Lori Taylor has a reputation for being fiscally conservative when it comes to school finance.

When Texas school districts sued the state for underfunding public schools last decade, Taylor took the stand as an expert witness for Texas and said schools didn't need much more money than they already had. She recommended the state give the 46 school districts suing a boost of less than $1 million — after they demanded hundreds of millions more.


This Texas Senior Applied to 20 Elite Colleges and Got a Full Ride to All of Them

A Texas high school senior has a lot of options for college: He's been offered full-ride scholarships at all 20 colleges he applied to.

Micheal Brown, a 17-year-old senior at Lamar High School in Houston, was accepted into elite private schools including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, Stanford and Georgetown, The New York Times reported. He also got into small, selective liberal arts colleges and big public universities.


In Texas, Falling Behind on Your Student Loan Payments Can Cost You Your License to Work

When Roderick Scott Sr. submitted an application to renew his teacher's license in the summer of 2015, he thought the matter was handled. He had no idea that, months later, a decades-old Texas law would nearly derail his career as a middle school teacher in north Dallas because he'd defaulted on his student loans.

Over the course of three years, Scott said he swiftly lost a "dream job," was evicted, had his bank account garnished and eventually filed for bankruptcy.


Marlin ISD Gets Formal Reprieve from State Closure

Marlin Independent School District will remain open for at least another year, now that the Texas Education Agency has granted the district an abatement agreement, Superintendent Michael Seabolt announced during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

First, however, the district’s state-appointed board of managers must approve the agreement, which the managers plan to do next month. The district received the agreement Tuesday afternoon, too late to get it on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.


Texas Education Agency Asking For Public Input on Special Education Plan

The Texas Education Agency has released its new plan for overhauling special education across the state.

The TEA has been working on the plan since federal officials found the state had illegally denied services to students with disabilities for years. The plan would create a professional statewide special education deployment system. It also calls for increasing special education staffing, providing better special education training for teachers and creating more tools for parents of children with suspected disabilities.


Spring Break Dampens Texas Participation in Student Walkouts Protesting Gun Violence

Students around the nation walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, symbolically honoring the 17 lives that were lost in last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While organizers expected Texas students to join in, most schools were on spring break, so there were no classes to walk out of.

The shooting caused an eruption of conversation about gun violence among middle and high school students around the country, and they quickly turned their emotions into activism.


$50,000 Pegasus Prize Boosts Center to Help Homeless Youths in Dallas

There’s a makeshift shelter in the back of Fannie C. Harris Elementary, a shuttered Dallas ISD campus that sits in the shadows of the Cotton Bowl. A hastily erected curtain blocks the back entrance to the school, which has lain dormant for over a decade; a shopping cart filled with belongings sits nearby.

The campus, with boarded windows and a "for sale" sign out front, shows no hint that it will be bustling with activity in the coming months, serving as a haven not just for one individual but, hopefully, for hundreds of at-risk youth.


Education Advocates, Leaders Start Wish List For Next Houston ISD Superintendent

Since Houston ISD’s Superintendent Richard Carranza announced this week he’s leaving for a job in New York, local leaders and education advocates have started to build their own wish list of what the district needs in its next superintendent.

In fact, the last time the HISD board of trustees searched for a new superintendent in 2016, they came up with a profile based on what community members wanted.


Last Chance to Apply For TRTF Beginning Teacher Scholarships

Applications are due in full no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 15, 2018.

The Beginning Teacher Scholarship will reimburse applicants for certification tests and test results, and provide funds to help the applicant purchase materials for his or her classroom during his or her first year of teaching.


Incumbent Whose Seat Could Tip the Balance on the State Board of Education Clinches Primary

Patricia "Pat" Hardy, a 16-year member of the State Board of Education hounded for not being conservative enough, fended off two challengers in the Texas Republican primary to give herself a solid start for the November general election.

Hardy is known for sometimes working with more moderate board members and providing the swing vote on some issues.


Lawsuit Against CCISD Claims Special Ed Services Not Provided

In January, Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Education Agency to draft a plan to improve special education services to students in school districts statewide.

Abbott was concerned about failures of school districts to provide proper federally-mandated services to students with special needs.


After Parkland Shooting, Gov. Abbott Tells Texas Higher Education to Step Up Safety Measures

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday asked Texas' higher education coordinating board to take an active role in junior college campus safety.

In a letter sent Wednesday, he asked the board to help draft safety policy changes and act as an informational resource on safety for junior colleges, citing the shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school as a trigger for action. Last week, Abbott asked the Texas Education Agency to take similar steps.


Officials React to 'Campaign Junk Mail' From Empower Texans

Marshall ISD trustees and administrators joined a growing number of school district officials across the state on Wednesday to receive a letter from Empower Texans, a conservative non-profit, accusing them of trying to "engineer" votes for the upcoming primary election by encouraging educators to get out and vote.

"I recognized the letter for what it was: campaign junk mail," Marshall ISD School Board President Helen Warwick said on Thursday. "It's just an effort on their part to get their candidate elected."


Reading, Writing, Evicted: How Austin, Texas, Hopes to Combat Student Turnover

It all started when Doyle Valdez noticed children were disappearing.

He’d see students making academic strides, but one day, they would just vanish. Along with them, he said, went all the investment in their educational success.


Dallas Superintendent: Teacher Merit Pay System 'Unsustainable' Without Changes

Minutes after a renowned educational economist told state lawmakers that Dallas ISD’s work on teacher effectiveness could put Texas “at the top of the world” if replicated statewide, DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa delivered a dampening dose of reality.

The nucleus of those efforts - its teacher evaluation and merit pay system - can't continue in its current form because DISD doesn't have the money, Hinojosa said. Changes must happen, and soon, for the 3-year-old program as DISD struggles to balance its innovations with looming budget woes, he said.


172 TX School Districts Allow Staff to Carry Guns

As President Donald Trump suggests giving teachers guns to prevent further mass shootings, staff members at dozens of Texas school districts may already be packing heat.

The Texas Association of School Boards said it knows of 172 districts that allow staff to carry firearms and one district that has a school marshal program in its policies. The TASB originally told KSAT on Thursday there were 169 districts but revised that number after receiving notices of more districts that have adopted similar policies.


After Federal Probe, Parents Say Texas Districts Lack Funding, Staff to Help Kids with Dyslexia

When Katharine Margiotta and her family go out to eat, she has to read restaurant menus to her 13-year-old son, who struggles to write letters of the alphabet and guesses most words in his reading assignments.

Any teacher should immediately realize he has dyslexia, the most common learning disability, she said. Yet she's been fighting for years to get Austin ISD to provide high-quality services to help her son learn to read. Now her son is in seventh grade — much older than the age studies say intensive reading instruction is likely to help remediate the disorder — and extremely frustrated with battling his way through classes.


Texas AG Issues Cease-and-Desist Letter to LISD Over Election Efforts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lewisville ISD over its recent public advocacy for voting, calling it unlawful electioneering. Holliday and Brazosport ISDs also received letters.

In recent weeks, Lewisville ISD has been using its social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to advocate that teachers and parents vote in the upcoming March 6 Democratic and Republican primary elections. While the district has been advocating for support of public education, it has not mentioned specific candidates by name.


In A Difficult Flu Season, A Texas School District Closed Its Doors For A Week

It’s been a costly and deadly flu season in Texas and across the country. State health records released earlier this month indicate nearly 3,000 adult Texans have died from either the flu or pneumonia. Many of those who died were over the age of 65. Five pediatric deaths have also been reported.

For many Texas school districts the flu season is a serious concern. At least a dozen schools across the state have opted to close their doors for days because of the high numbers of sick students and teachers.


Want a Say in How Texas Will Fix Special Education?

Parents, students and education advocates have until midnight Sunday to provide feedback on a draft plan to overhaul Texas' special education services.


Texas Teachers Defend Public Schools on Twitter

Over the last several days, many Texas public school employees have reported receiving letters asking them to report their colleagues for using public money to illegally endorse political candidates.

By Tuesday, scores of public school employees and their supporters had taken to Twitter to express their dismay at Empower Texans, the conservative group who sent the letters, and to laud the work public schools and teachers do, using the hashtag #blowingthewhistle.


Dallas ISD Rolls Out Support for Students, Staff and Families Affected by DACA Uncertainty

Dallas ISD wants its students and employees to be prepared in the event that the federal government allows protections provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to expire later this year, district Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said Thursday at event unveiling his district's new website for DACA recipients and their families.


Offer of Free College Draws Thousands. Now Comes the Hard Part

So far, the Dallas County Promise -- a newly launched initiative that would send every graduating senior from 31 area high schools to community college for free -- has been a rousing success.

Now comes the hard part.


Texas Board Considers Mexican-American Studies Course, After Two Failed Attempts at a Textbook

The State Board of Education is considering creating standards for an official Mexican-American studies high school course after two failed attempts to approve a textbook for the subject.

Advocates, including many professors and teachers, urged the board Tuesday to set coherent curriculum and graduation requirements for a course they said is already being taught to hundreds of students across the state and that is important for the state's majority-Hispanic student body. The hearing comes almost two months after the board voted not to approve a Mexican-American studies textbook submission from a local publisher, leaving teachers with no state-approved resources to offer the course.


Prosper Waco Officials Explain Role in Oversight of 5 Schools Facing Closure

As deadlines approach and Prosper Waco officials provide more details about a new partnership with Waco ISD intended to save five schools from closure, the Texas Education Agency is continuing to develop rules that would govern the deal.

The nonprofit intends to step in to coordinate services for students, while leaving most of the management to Waco ISD, executive director Matthew Polk said. While the potential scope of the nonprofit’s role is still being defined by the state, the arrangement would involve an increased focus on the needs, both in and out of the classroom, of students at Alta Vista Elementary School, Brook Avenue Elementary School, J.H. Hines Elementary School, G.W. Carver Middle School and Indian Spring Middle School.


Texas Denied Thousands of Students Special Ed Services. Does the Policy Go Back to George W. Bush's Presidency?

In the wake of a scathing federal report last month blasting Texas for excluding thousands of students from special education, a wave of accusations has rolled through the state's education community.

The federal government admonished the state for creating the exclusionary policy and charged state officials with cleaning up the mess. Gov. Greg Abbott then blamed school districts for shirking their responsibility to teach kids with disabilities.


Texas Special Education Fix Calls for More Staff, Training

Texas has unveiled an initial draft of how it will overhaul special education after federal officials found that the state for years illegally denied services to students with disabilities.

The 13-page plan released Thursday would create a professional statewide special education deployment system.


FSHE Teacher, Mrs. Hawthorne, Selected for STEM Teacher Cohort

The DoSeum STEM Teacher Cohort is a year-long professional development opportunity for educators like no other.


Dallas ISD Schools Face Proposed Closures

Dallas Independent School District board members will decide Thursday night whether the district should close down five under-performing schools, or face the possibility of losing control of the entire district.

Thomas A. Edison Learning Center, J.W. Ray Learning Center, C.F. Carr Elementary School, John F. Kennedy Learning Center, and Edward Titche Elementary School are the five schools at the center of debate.


Texas Attorney General Says It's Illegal for Schools to Bus Kids to Polling Places

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an official, nonbinding opinion Wednesday saying school districts cannot drive students to polling places unless the trip serves an educational purpose.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, asked Paxton to weigh in on the issue last month, arguing that a civic engagement group called Texas Educators Vote was violating state law by encouraging school administrators to incentivize voting. The group's leaders have said they are doing their civic duty and have not run afoul of the law; they said Bettencourt's question is part of a backlash against public education.


Teaching Young People to Vote is Good for Democracy

Before my kids could walk, I dragged them with me to the polling place on Election Day to vote. When they got older, they even got to push the button. Afterward, they got a sticker they could show their friends.

The goal is to model civic duty in the hopes that someday, they'll be good citizens, and good voters. And hey, even if they show up most of the time, they'll be doing better than many Texans in a state that rivals Washington, D.C., for the lowest voter turnout in the nation.


Texas Earns Low Marks on Education Week's State Grades

Texas ranked 41st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in how it funds schools, the opportunities it provides to students and how students perform academically, according to Education Week's annual state grades.

The publication gave Texas a C- overall for its education system, while the national average grade was a C.


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.


 

 

 

Classroom Tools


Teachers Are Marching Ahead Of Their Unions, In Oklahoma And Arizona

"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance."

That's one of the first things Larry Cagle says on the phone. He is spitting nails. The Tulsa English teacher is one of the leaders of a grassroots organizing group, Oklahoma Teachers United, that they say represents thousands of public school teachers around the state. His group, and both of Oklahoma's teachers unions, support the walkout and rally happening across the state Monday in support of higher wages and more state revenue.


The Rhetorical Analysis of Poetry

Poetry is not a given in AP Language and Composition—in fact, some teachers use only nonfiction texts because a major focus of the class is rhetorical analysis. But rhetoric is everywhere, and its compact form and concentrated language make poetry a particularly effective vehicle for introducing students to rhetorical analysis.

So when we were in the midst of a unit on civil disobedience and had read Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., articles on the “take a knee” protest, and some interesting political cartoons, I introduced the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”


Teachers And Those Magical OK Go Videos: A Match Made In Science?

If you've ever gone down the rabbit hole that is OK Go's YouTube channel, then you know how insanely cool the band's music videos are.

Sure, OK Go is a rock band. Their songs get on the radio, they've played sold-out shows, but the group is far better known for their really complex and elaborate videos.


How Good is Your Eyesight? A Test!

Do you see Marilyn Monroe or Albert Einstein? It may seem hard to confuse the two, but AsapSCIENCE explains how people can see both in this eyesight test.


50 Moms And Their Kids With Down Syndrome Do 'Carpool Karaoke' For World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), a day that "encourages our friends all over the world to choose their own activities and events ... to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities," the official WDSD site reports.


Rethinking How Students With Dyslexia Are Taught To Read

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States. But getting help for children who have it in public school can be a nightmare.

"They wouldn't acknowledge that he had a problem," says Christine Beattie about her son Neil. "They wouldn't say the word 'dyslexia.' "


Effective Student-Led Discussions

A few years into my teaching career, a colleague attended training at Phillips Exeter Academy on the Harkness method, in which classroom learning takes place as students and teacher sit in a circle or oval for discussions and all students must contribute. Afterward, she enthusiastically shared what she had learned about facilitating effective student-led discussions.

Until then I had been running discussions in the familiar way: pitch a question to the class, ask students to raise their hands, and try to be equitable when selecting volunteers to answer. The idea of giving students more ownership over what we discussed—from the questions themselves to possible answers—seemed like an exciting opportunity for us to learn together.


National Library Legislative Day

National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) is a two-day educational event that brings hundreds of librarians, trustees, library supporters and patrons to Washington, D.C.

Attendees spend one-day learning effective advocacy tactics and being briefed about pressing federal legislative issues that are impacting libraries. On the second day, they join other attendees from their state to meet with their members of Congress and rally support for library issues and policies. Open to the public, the event also offers attendees the opportunity to attend a reception on Capitol Hill.


Making Elementary School A Lot More Fun: Like Preschool!

In Kelly Stevens' kindergarten classroom, each day begins with circle time for what sounds like a menu of lesson options.

Students — or "friends" as Stevens calls them — can read at the green table, they can build boats or make things out of clay, among other options.


14 Mathtastic Pi Day Activities for the Classroom

Math deserves its own day, don’t you think? Join the fun of Pi Day, celebrated on March 14 (3.14, get it?) by more and more schools every year. Here are 14 Pi Day activities that will encourage your students to see the joy and whimsy in math.


With Hundreds Of Students, School Counselors Just Try To 'Stay Afloat'

Yuridia Nava, a counselor at Riverside Polytechnic High School in Riverside, Calif., has been getting to work at 7 a.m. lately. It's class registration time, so she wants to be available before school for parents and students to come in with questions as they plan for the next year of courses, SAT tests, and college preparation.


Bringing Wonder Into Mathematics

Doris Lessing once said, “Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.”


National School Breakfast Week March 5-9, 2018

Mark your calendar for National School Breakfast Week! This year’s theme, “I Heart School Breakfast,” encourages parents, students, and school officials to get social over school breakfast. Speaking a language kids understand, we’re ready to show-and-tell all the benefits of a healthy school breakfast.


Ancient Rome 101 and Life as a Roman Teenager

National Geographic has a great series of YouTube videos called National Geographic 101. The most recent addition to that series is Ancient Rome 101. The video provides an excellent introduction to the origin, rise, and fall of the Roman Empire. The length and substance of the video makes it an ideal candidate for inclusion in an EDpuzzle lesson.


What Decades Of Covering School Shootings Has Taught Me

I remember back during the 1997-98 school year when we were all stunned by five school shootings within a period of eight months in places few Americans had heard of: Pearl, Miss., West Paducah, Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., Edinboro, Penn., and Springfield, Ore.


2 Evidence-Based Learning Strategies

I often say to my students, “If a test is the first time you’re made to think about or with the class material, we’ve both probably failed.” Learning is effortful and requires cognition. As their teacher, I need to ensure that I provide my students with opportunities for demonstration of learning in the classroom.


Is There Any Way For Schools To Prevent Shootings?

Could anyone have stopped this? That's one of the biggest questions for schools and educators as the nation takes in the facts of the shooting in Parkland, Fla., that has left 17 dead and 23 injured.

While the U.S. remains a global outlier by far when it comes to mass shootings, and owns 42 percent of the world's guns, the fact is that most schools in the country have taken steps to prepare for this kind of threat.


Hey, Students: 5 Things That Are Wrong With Your Cover Letter

We've written a lot about the link between college and the workforce — and the kinds of skills graduates will need in the 21st century to succeed. One of the skills you need is knowing how to present yourself. To put your best foot forward in the workplace, and in life.


How Many Verb Tenses are There in English?

How many different verb tenses are there in a language like English? At first, the answer seems obvious — there’s past, present, and future. But it isn't quite that simple. Anna Ananichuk explains how thanks to something called grammatical aspect, each of those time periods actually divides further.


What Kind of Screen Time Parent Are You? Take This Quiz And Find Out

Almost as soon as they can focus past the end of their noses, babies today are waving at Grandpa on video chat and swiping the screens on all kinds of devices.


Extending the Silence

How long do you think teachers pause, on average, after asking a question?


Do You Know A Teacher Who Has Gone The Extra Mile - Or Beyond?

We all know that teachers do way more than teach. They often go beyond their job descriptions to help young people in ways that don't involve academics or the classroom.


Laptops And Phones In The Classroom: Yea, Nay Or A Third Way?

How should teachers — both K-12 and college — deal with the use of computers and phones by students in class?


4 Ways to Cultivate Empathy in the Classroom

In our fast-paced, digital world, it can often feel like our students are more disconnected from one another than ever before. Four TED-Ed Innovative Educators share tips for how we can combat that by cultivating empathy in the classroom and building perspective-taking skills among students.


Student Loan Defaults On The Rise, Texas Special Education, And Other Education News

Hello! Money is on our minds in this mid-January edition of the Weekly Roundup:


Finding the Beauty of Math Outside of Class

A math trail is an activity that gets students out of the classroom so they can (re)discover the math all around us. Whether out on a field trip or on school grounds, students on a math trail are asked to solve or create problems about objects and landmarks they see; name shapes and composite solids; calculate areas and volumes; recognize properties, similarity, congruence, and symmetry; use number sense and estimation to evaluate large quantities and assess assumptions; and so on.


TASA Midwinter Conference Jan. 28-31

The TASA Midwinter Conference has become the most popular conference of the year for Texas school leaders because it provides such a valuable opportunity to come together to discuss and share innovative practices, network with peers, address the administrative issues administrators face every day, and gain fresh insights. We hope you and members of your leadership team will join us in Austin January 28-31, 2018.


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.


 

 

 

Breakroom


Our Favorite Love Letters to Earth

There’s a planet with poles that flip, a supersized moon, and landscapes that harbor acidic pools, boiling rivers and living clouds.

We call it Earth.


How to Become an Iron Chef in Your Own Kitchen, According to Alton Brown

Avid viewers of Iron Chef watch the show in awe. The task before the elite chefs (the likes of Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, and Stephanie Izard) and challengers on the cooking competition is Herculean: Cook a perfect meal in an hour, using just the ingredients provided, plus a secret ingredient—anything from halibut, to beer, to coconut—while the world watches. Though most of us succumb to the pressure of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for family let alone creating world-class dishes for discerning judges, it’s hard to watch the show and not wonder, could I become an Iron Chef?


Pick Your Favorite Pinterest Recipes And We'll Guess One Of Your Biggest Fears

Who isn't Pinterest-obsessed, TBH?!


How a Retirement Plan Birthed Asia's Best Portuguese Wine Lounge

Why bother going into one of the casino gambling halls?" asks Jacky Higgins, co-founder of MacauSoul, a Portuguese wine lounge housed inside a traditional colonial building.

"Just walk around the streets. It's totally fascinating."


3 Foolproof Ways to Make Hard Boiled Eggs

With Easter coming up and summer potlucks following right behind, there are many hard-boiled eggs in our near future. Sometimes they can be a little tricky to pull off—peels included!


Pictures of Moscow's Surprisingly Elegant Subway Stations

Everyday in Russia’s capital, residents commute like clockwork through an underground labyrinth filled with treasures. Soaring marble walls hold gilded mosaics, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes from Russian history under crystal chandeliers. Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former–but not forgotten–stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses.


Avocado Recipes

These delicious recipes include gooey cheese-topped guacamole and chilled avocado soup with crab.


Newest River Walk Tradition a San Antonio Success: Lanterns on the Water

San Antonio introduced “Lanterns on the Water,” the beginning of its newest River Walk tradition in 2018, bringing together locals and tourists alike to enjoy the beauty of these artfully crafted and visually appealing lanterns as they floated down the river. From February 17 – March 3 of this year, the River Walk became something of a glowing appeal!


This College Town Is All About Their Annual Pi Day Celebration, and Of Course There's Pie

Us mere mortals might be hanging around waiting for the arrival of spring, the semi-annual time change and the return of good lighting, but mathematician types (not to mention Albert Einstein groupies) look toward the coming days, see March 14 on their calendar, and commence getting just a little bit excited.


Can You Survive 24 Hours Without Your Phone?

Sundown-to-sundown on March 9–10 is observed as the National Day of Unplugging. As a challenge, or rather “digital detox,” it is asked that we detach from our cellular devices for 24 hours in an effort to highlight the value of reconnecting with yourself, your loved ones and your community in real time.


3 World Food Records That Were Held in the State of Texas

People around the world are encouraged to attempt a number of impressive, odd, and sometimes completely meaningless world records in order to simply achieve such a feat. Here in Texas, however, people have been known to do that unprompted, all the time!


10 Awesome Ways to Teach Kids to Pay It Forward

Good deeds have ripple effects. Give your students this experience firsthand. From simple acts done in a few minutes to in-depth lessons, you can teach how to pay kindness forward in whatever time you have available.


Short Ribs Recipes

Terrific short rib recipes, from Indian-spiced short ribs to short rib farrotto with carrots and parsnips.


Nearly 150,000 Bornean Orangutans Lost Since 1999, Cutting Population By Half

Earlier this month, an orangutan was found brutally shot to death in Borneo. In January, one was found decapitated and floating in a river. In 2017, oil plantation workers were accused of killing and eating one of the island's orangutans.


San Antonio Stock Show And Rodeo: The Season Can Now Commence

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo kicks off on Thursday, February 8! The Western Heritage Parade and the Wrangler Cowboy Breakfast have already taken place (did you attend?) and the Stock Show Stampede went off without a hitch. Rodeo season can now commence, and Texas is ready for it!


Look Inside the Abandoned Stadiums of Past Olympics

Every two years, bids are made by cities around the globe to the International Olympic Commission (IOC) for the chance to host the Olympic Games. The winner is chosen through a rigorous process that, for one, takes into account whether the city can convince residents that the benefits of hosting the games outweigh the increased taxes that may come with it.


See the Offices Where Employees Can Work in a Tree House

The enormous orbs are constructed of glass pentagons held together with miles of steel and rebar but packed with lush tropical plant life, including epiphytes, rare begonias and a rhododendron normally only found at the top of a single mountain in the Philippines.


Iconic Garner State Park for Spring Break: Not Only a Summer Destination

It’s as iconic in Texas as Shiner Beer and George Strait. It’s located in the middle of nowhere on the banks of an infamous river. It’s been a wildly popular family summer destination for generations, but it’s also a great place to head for Spring Break. What are we talking about? Garner State Park, of course.


In Honor Of National Blood Donor Month, We Asked 6 People Why They Donate

During the month of January, New York Blood Center and blood centers across the country are celebrating National Blood Donor Month to recognize the lifesaving contribution of blood and platelet donors everywhere. Dedicating a month to this cause is so important given that someone in the U.S. is in need of a donation every two seconds, yet very few people actually donate. In fact, approximately 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, yet less than 10 percent actually do each year.


Healthy Soups

Soup is a great dish to serve year round and these healthy soups are delicious and good for you, too. From hearty black-bean turkey chili to gingery sweet potato soup, here are terrific healthy soup recipes. Make one of these delicious soups tonight!


You Can Smell When Someone's Sick-Here's How

I’m sick, and I don’t smell right. I don’t mean that my nose isn’t working—though this cold has me stuffed up. Instead, my own body odor seems somehow different, sour and unfamiliar.


Texas's Beloved Buc-ee's Wins Americas Best Gas Station Award

Leave it to the beaver to win an award! This week, Gas Buddy released a list of the top 10 gas stations in the U.S. As an app all about pit stops and how they rank in terms of cleanliness, safety, price, and tasty food and drinks, Gas Buddy knows a thing or two about the American gas station. “Although gas stations are still in the business of selling gas, the leading brands have become so much more. They’re a refuge for motorists looking for great food, an amazing cup of coffee, or some of the best customer service you’ll find anywhere,” Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy, said.


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.


 

 

 

 


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