Districts urged to step up for next generation of teachers | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

A report out this week urges California school districts to take a more assertive role in producing new teachers. A new half-billion-dollar appropriation to districts to improve teacher effectiveness presents the opening to do this, although more state encouragement and incentives would help, the study said.

“Districts must take increasing responsibility for recruiting and developing their own future teachers, rather than leave it up to teacher preparation programs to provide the teachers they need,” concluded “Rethinking Teacher Preparation,” by the Washington-based education consulting and research nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners.

Bellwether isn’t the first to criticize the state’s “fragmented” approach to teacher preparation. With few exceptions, future teachers get their subject knowledge as college undergraduates and their initial teacher credential in a one-year graduate school program crammed with theory and, in many cases, a minimum of classroom practice. Districts run training and induction programs like Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment, or BTSA, for inexperienced teachers after they’re on the job.

via Districts urged to step up for next generation of teachers | EdSource.

Speakers call for joint meeting between Vallejo school district, city council – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Around 30 people stood up during the public comment session of the Vallejo City Council meeting, signalling that they wished to see a joint meeting between the council and the Vallejo school board.

The topic: school safety.

Local resident Nathan Stout asked the collection of parents and residents to show their support for the proposal, which hasn’t gained much traction after Vallejo City Unified School Board of Education Trustee Burky Worel began asking months ago for such meetings.

“To you the city council,” Stout said. “We may look like a few random individuals who are asking for this joint meeting. Really in truth, many are aware about the serious crisis in this school district.”


Stout said that everyone from students, school staff and parents feel threatened by the lack of security at Vallejo’s schools.

via Speakers call for joint meeting between Vallejo school district, city council.

Vallejo school program introduces itself to public at fair – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

A relatively new program for Vallejo students made an appearance at this year’s Solano County Fair to spread the news.

Representatives and a few students belonging to the Vallejo City Unified School District K-8 STEAM program held a demonstration booth Thursday at the fair.

“It is our first time at the fair,” STEAM Program Coordinator Lilibeth Pinpin said. “We want the community to be part of our program, to know that there’s such a program.

“I always envision a borderless education.”

STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics — teaches students through project-based learning, and incorporates modern technology, like 3-D printing for middle school students.

“We want to prepare them for the academies (in high school),” Pinpin said.

via Vallejo school program introduces itself to public at fair.

Are Pension Refunds the Same as a 401k? – Eduwonk

Over half of new teachers won’t meet the minimum vesting or service requirements to receive a pension. One common response is that these teachers are allowed to receive a refund on their contributions plus interest, and that the refund is comparable to private sector workers who receive a 401k. It’s a good point, but it’s not exactly the case for all teachers.

While it’s true a teacher can get a refund on her pension contributions plus interest in some states, like California, in other states, like Illinois, teachers do not receive interest. In fact, in Illinois, teachers receive less than their original employee contributions. An Illinois teacher is required to contribute 9.4 percent of her paycheck to the state teachers’ retirement system. Upon leaving the classroom, however, she is only entitled to a refund equal to 8.4 percent of her earnings. And, in the majority of states, teachers do not receive any portion of their employer’s contributions.

via Eduwonk » Blog Archive » Are Pension Refunds the Same as a 401k?.

Change the Way the Feds Collect Attendance Data – Attendance Works

Two years ago, the federal government took an enormous step toward providing the first national data on chronic absenteeism. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) asked the school districts it surveys to report how many students are missing 15 or more days in a school year. The data will be released for the first time next spring, providing a font of information about the who, what and where of chronic absence. We can’t wait to dig into it.

But we want more. OCR is asking for input by Monday, Aug. 3, on its Civil Rights Data Collection program, and Attendance Works is submitting these comments. We encourage you to submit comments as well on this link. Feel free to lift any or all of the comments we’ve developed.

Chiefly we want OCR to change its definition of chronic absence from missing 15 days to missing 10 percent of the school year. There are several reasons.

via Change the Way the Feds Collect Attendance Data – Attendance Works Attendance Works.

Teacher Recommended: 50 Favorite Classroom Apps | MindShift

By Katrina Schwartz

Educators and students are quickly becoming more comfortable with classroom technology, allowing them to shift from thinking about the technical side of integrating a new tool to focusing on how it improves learning. While the sheer number of education apps is still overwhelming, increasingly teachers have found what works for them and are sticking to them.

“The conversations I had were radically different than they were a year ago,” said Michelle Luhtala, the librarian for New Canaan High School and host of an Emerging Tech webinar on edWeb. She tapped her professional learning network of educators, teaching all grades and located all over the country, to share their favorite tech tools.

via Teacher Recommended: 50 Favorite Classroom Apps | MindShift | KQED News.

Career Readiness: Starting Early with Young Learners | Edutopia

By Heather Wolpert-Gawron

We hear a lot of talk about career readiness these days, and for secondary educators, you cant spit without finding advice on how to make our units, our school structure, or our content more aligned with prepping our students for the jobs of today and the future. So how about kindergarteners?

Dont laugh. Im not writing today to advocate that we get our early learners to decide now on a career in dentistry or accounting. Im here today to write about the skills that successful people have in any career — skills that should be encouraged early on.

So I reached out to a friend of mine that has some authority in career readiness to talk about ways to scaffold the skills our students need to know.

via Career Readiness: Starting Early with Young Learners | Edutopia.

Taking aim at the ‘middle school plunge’ with a positive culture | EdSource

By Jane Meredith Adams

Of all the middle school anxieties facing 5th-graders at Argonne Elementary School in San Francisco last spring, the most tangible was a round-faced combination lock.

Elementary school, a land of cubbies and coat hooks, soon would be in the past for these 11- and 12-year-olds, who practiced spinning the dials right-left-right in a Transition to Middle School workshop. Middle school would mean a metal locker with a lock to open, fast, at the risk of floundering in the hall and being late to class.

Fear of being publicly embarrassed or even physically hurt is widespread among students who are entering middle school, according to research studies, including a 2015 survey that ranked 225 5th-graders’ top concerns: getting undressed in front of others for physical education class, coping with peer pressure, dealing with bullying and opening a combination lock.

via Taking aim at the ‘middle school plunge’ with a positive culture | EdSource.

Essential Habits of an Excellent Educator | Edutopia

By Vicki Davis

You are what you do every day. Simply put, the habits of an excellent educator are that they have positive habits, and students are usually the central focus. When I become intentional about my own habits, I level up my performance. The Power of Habit says that habits power excellence. Taking this to heart, I’ve used apps like 30/30 to build routines until they are automatic.

As you prepare your classroom, plan your routines. Consider:

  • Paperwork
  • Student movement in the classroom
  • Setting appointments with yourself to tackle essential tasks.

Winning teachers seem to do these things like magic. Their magic is in their routine. Here are some helpful habits to consider.

Establishing Winning Workflows

A workflow is as it sounds: how the work flows in your classroom. There are as many ways to set up these routines as there are stars in the sky. A few things that work for me:

via Essential Habits of an Excellent Educator | Edutopia.

High school graduates receive 4-H scholarships – The Reporter

Three Solano County teens earned Lynne Burns Memorial 4-H scholarships.

The three recognized for their leadership and achievements in the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program were Vanden High School graduate Kristina Judy, Vacaville High School graduate Lyle Glass and Rodriguez High School graduate Emma Vogliano.

The scholarship, sponsored by the Solano County 4-H Leaders Council, memorializes Lynne Burns of Rio Vista, a nine-year Solano County 4-H program representative who succumbed to cancer on Nov. 17, 1995.

via High school graduates receive 4-H scholarships.

Students get hands-on approach to money management – Daily Republic

By Kevin W. Green

Teenagers were busy creating budgets, writing checks and balancing checkbooks Monday in a kind of financial boot camp for students.

The program, put on by Travis Credit Union, is known as Mad City Money and is geared toward providing hands-on training to teach basic money management in a four-hour session.

The credit union has conducted the program annually since 2009, with several sessions each summer, according to Sherry Cordonnier, Travis Credit Union’s corporate relations director.

“We’ve served so far about 2,000 students over the summers,” she said.

via Students get hands-on approach to money management.

State superintendent to form task force for new accountability plan | EdSource

By Sarah Tully

The state’s superintendent announced today the formation of a new task force to help overhaul California’s accountability system, along with a new plan to guide public schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled the Blueprint for Great Schools 2.0, a 20-page document that outlines plans for everything from early education and English learners to funding and teacher preparation.

This is the second blueprint for second-term Torlakson, who released his original plan in 2011 shortly after his first election.The task force comes at a time when the state’s accountability system is changing.

via State superintendent to form task force for new accountability plan | EdSource.

Chinese exchange students, host families meet – Daily Republic

By Bill Hicks

China and the United States are two of the largest economies – both in terms of production and consumption – in the world.

Given the different societal identities of each country, and with a long history of strained political relations, reconciling the cultural overlap that is destined to happen between the two nations in the future is a difficult task.

A group of Chinese students arrived Sunday afternoon at the Solano Community College campus to meet their local host families for a summer camp organized through the American-Chinese Cultural Exchange Service, designed in part to meet that future challenge.

via Chinese exchange students, host families meet.

Program helps youngsters hone skills for kindergarten – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

One-by-one, Eli Marrero added small seashells to the small plastic bottle. Eventually, there was no room left and he tipped the bottle upside down to release seashells.

Gabrielle Cassidy stood on the opposite side of the water table. She had spread her seashells out, putting them in a handful of different containers. There was still room for a few more seashells.

What looked like play inside the Joseph A. Nelson Community Center was actually part of the Suisun City Recreation Department’s kindergarten readiness program.

via Program helps youngsters hone skills for kindergarten.

How to Bring Playfulness to High School Students | MindShift

By Zaidee Stavely

It’s easy to focus on academics and college transcripts when children become tweens and teens, but retaining the agency and creativity inherent in play is crucial for them, too. But what is the high school equivalent for the kind of inquisitive learning that happens when little kids play in the sandbox, finger-paint, build with blocks or play make-believe?

“When your 4-year-old is dipping his hand in the rice table, he’s learning really important things about tactile touch,” said Denise Pope, senior lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and co-founder of Challenge Success. “Older kids need those same tactile, hands-on experiences to learn as well.”

via How to Bring Playfulness to High School Students | MindShift | KQED News.

Career Pathways Trust allowing students to explore the universe | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

Eight high school students are spending the summer helping scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory study dwarf planets, design future Mars missions, observe Earth’s climate change and even look for extraterrestrial life.

The students from Santa Ana Unified School District belong to a prestigious eight-week internship at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, allowing them to work alongside some of the nation’s top engineers, analysts and scientists.

The internship was created this summer as part of California’s Career Pathways Trust, the nearly $500 million effort aimed at promoting partnerships between schools, community colleges, business and institutes to prepare students for real-world jobs.

via Career Pathways Trust allowing students to explore the universe | EdSource.

Vallejo school delegation participates in White House conference – Times Herald

By Times Herald Staff

A Vallejo City Unified School District delegation, led by superintendent Ramona Bishop, participated in a gathering of educators on Wednesday at the White House.

Bishop, Sheila Gradwohl, president of Vallejo Education Association — the union representing Vallejo teachers — and Ralph Barnette, California School Employees Association — the union representing classified district employees — gathered for the “Rethink Discipline” day-long conference.

According to the White House, the event was a national convening and conversation held on improving school discipline policies and practices. At the meeting, participants discussed new tools and resources to be released by the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, an interagency initiative launched by the administration in 2011, along with data and research that underscores the need for further action, White House officials added.

via Vallejo school delegation participates in White House conference.

Are your child’s vaccinations up to date? – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Most Vacaville-area public school districts will resume classes for the 2015-16 school year within three weeks, and for most incoming kindergarten and seventh-grade students it means immunization and vaccine records must be up to date before they walk into class.

Kendra Murthil, a public health nurse with Solano County Public Health, said the following shots are required for those affected students, unless they have some sort of exemption on file:

Kindergartners need Dtap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), polio, hepatitis B, MMR (mumps, measles, rubella), and varicella, or chicken pox, vaccines.

To enter seventh grade, students need a booster shot, Tdap (for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).

via Are your child’s vaccinations up to date?.

Survey: Social Media Offers Valuable Support for Parents – Education News

By Grace Smith

A survey published by the Pew Research Center discovered that parents have smaller Facebook friends networks, but a higher percentage of them were “actual” friends than among non-parents. Of the parents involved in the survey, 75% use social media, which is higher than the 66% of adults in general who use social networking sites, reports Elizabeth Weise of USA Today.

“Mothers are particularly likely to use social media as a place where they both give and receive support, said Maeve Duggan, co-author on the report. “”In terms of the social support, this is sort of a new approach for parents.”

In the past, parents had a community of neighbors, friends, and family. Now, according to the survey, 45% of moms said they “strongly agreed” that they get support from social media, and 22% of dads say the same.Dads do use social media, but they are less likely to ask parenting questions, research parenting information, and receive emotional support. Most parents agreed that this practice is just an extension of everyday life.

via Survey: Social Media Offers Valuable Support for Parents.

Teacher training course aims to boost students’ college readiness | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

A California State University reading and writing course originally designed to help 12th-grade English teachers prepare more seniors for college-level coursework is expanding into lower grades – a shift that reflects the Common Core’s increased emphasis on college readiness.

Nearly 5,000 teachers across the state in grades 7 through 12 will sign up this summer and fall for CSU’s Expository Reading and Writing Course. The program offers training to help teachers develop students’ proficiency in expository, analytical and argumentative reading and writing. These skills, which educators say are often lacking among incoming freshman, are also now key components of the state’s new curriculum standards.

via Teacher training course aims to boost students’ college readiness | EdSource.