Saturday, September 8, 2012

EDUCATION VOTES September 8, 2012

Obama, Biden stand up for students, education at convention

"And now you have a choice - we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don't have the money." - President Barack Obama
Michigan Supreme Court sides with collective bargaining ballot supporters

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that voters have the right to decide a ballot proposal this November that would enshrine collective bargaining in the state's constitution.

Friday, September 7, 2012

6 Classroom Management Tips Every Teacher Can Use

by Dave Foley

Effective teachers are passionate about educating their students. They want to spend their time teaching, not dealing with classroom disruptions.
Here are some classroom management tips to help teachers settle problems, or prevent them from occurring, so that they can spend more of the classroom hour on teaching and learning.

1. Take Charge of Your Class

Get everyone’s attention before beginning class. That means the lesson won’t be started, the lecture won’t begin, and nothing will be written on the overhead until everyone is in his or her seat paying attention. It doesn’t take a shout of “Let’s be quiet” or “I won’t start until everyone is ready” to get them to focus on you. It can be just as effective to walk to the front of the room and engage them with something interesting to them such as “My thermometer said it was zero this morning. It must have been freezing out there waiting for the bus” or “How many of you saw the Hunger Games?” Open with couple attention getting comments and continue until everyone is with you. Remember, don’t start teaching until all eyes are on you and everyone is in their seat.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Teachers and Teacher Unions Are the Same


There they go again--trying to divide teachers from their union. Do they really think teachers will choose the unfilled promises of a politician over their union? Teachers know New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no friend of theirs and that the New Jersey Education Association and the National Education Association have been tireless advocates for their interests and the interests of their students.

Listening to Governor Christie deliver his keynote speech to the Republican National Convention was a fairy tale moment. He said, "They (Democrats) believe in teacher unions. We (Republicans) believe in teachers." As we say in the south, "That dog won't hunt."

Works for Me: Tips for Teachers by Teachers August 30, 2012

Multi-Purpose Scotch Tape
From May Ryan:
Ms. Ryan has a roll of packaging tape in her teacher tool belt. She's found an inventive way to hang her posters securely to the wall without ripping the poster when it's time to take it down. Read about her secret tape trick, and you'll keep a roll of tape in your belt too.

Read More About Scotch Tape

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Congrats to the LCEA INSIDER for its 500th Post

Thanks to all of our loyal followers and readers.  It will be exciting to see how much we will accomplish this year when our LCEA Executive Board joins the writing and posting team.  More than that, though, thanks for what you do everyday.  Now...the other part of our job--getting the right folks elected to set's time for all of us to roll up our sleeves.

The Seven Most Surprising Findings of the 2012 PDK/Gallup Poll on Public Schools

By William J. Bushaw, Ph.D., Executive Director of PDK International

As co-director of the PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, I anxiously await the results each year. It never fails. I am always surprised by what Americans think about their public schools — and this year is no different. So here you are — the seven most surprising findings of the 2012 PDK/Gallup poll. (For a free copy of the full report, go to or download the free Phi Delta Kappan iPad app.)
  1. There is lukewarm support for evaluating teachers using students' test scores. Only 52% of Americans favor teacher evaluations that include how well a teacher's students perform on standardized tests. Many policy makers and teachers know that we do not have the tools necessary to create a thoughtful teacher evaluation system that relies on student test results, and it looks like the public agrees, despite the attention this has received. My prediction: Look for an increasing percentage of Americans to oppose this in the future.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Classroom Management Website Soars in Size, Popularity



By using a new website for much of the last year to help manage his middle school charges, California teacher Ricardo Higuera said, "I found myself doing a lot less yelling."
The free website ClassDojo, the brainchild of a former teacher and a computer game developer, launched quietly about a year ago, and today the education startup announced it has more than 3.5 million teacher and student users in 30 countries, most of them in the United States. It officially shed its beta label, too.
In Higuera's social studies classes at Toro Canyon Middle School in the Coachella Valley district, he used the website to create avatars of his students that are projected for the entire classroom to see. Throughout the day, Higuera uses the software to note misbehavior and good behavior, including when students ask good questions or give a good presentation to the rest of the class.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Can We Talk?
From Patricia Pason
A fifth grade teacher at Spring Creek Elementary in Spring Creek, Nevada:
Ms. Parson's students interview each other on the first day of school. She divides them up by their birthdays so friends don't pair up together. Read more about her classroom interview process and the bulletin board she creates with her mini reporters.

Read More

Education Town Hall September 13, 2012

The Governor and Lt. Governor announced yesterday they will hold 14 education town hall meetings "continuing the discussion and soliciting feedback from Iowans on education reform policies, as part of preparation for the 2013 legislative session." These meetings are part of a conversation started at the recent Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium held August 3, 2012 in Des Moines.

The following events are open to the public and we urge you to attend and report back to your UniServ directors what you learn. We know many of the town hall meetings are scheduled during the day when teachers cannot attend. So, we especially want to encourage our ISEA Retired members to attend and report back to the ISEA Retired staff liaison Tami Kuhn at

Motivating Reluctant Writers With Journals

by Laurie Wasserman

As a former reluctant student-writer, my papers were often returned with more red pen than black. Now, as a teacher, I'm especially mindful of students who are hesitant to share their thoughts in writing.

Over the past 32 years as a teacher, I've seen many students struggle with putting words on the page—for various reasons. Co-teaching in English/language arts, math, science, and social studies classrooms, I work with students who are considered gifted, who are on the autism spectrum, and who read and write several years below grade level. For some, English isn't their first language. Some feel vulnerable and worry about being criticized. Some simply don't know where to begin.

To address these challenges in my classroom, I've found that creating structures for regular writing works well. But, above all, journaling is the foundation for all writing in my classroom. Below are some techniques and attitudes that have worked particularly well with my students:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy New Year & Thank You for the Lives You Will Change

If you have three minutes, please enjoy the power that you have to change a life. LCEA colleagues--have a wonderful year. And, remember: WHEN WE STAND TOGETHER, WE BECOME SOMETHING MIGHTY.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

NEA, ISEA & LCEA E-Dues: LC Joins Innovators to Protect Our Local Association

How many of us pay some of our bills online?  Shop online?  Our guess is lots.  There's lots of great reasons to renew your membership using E-Dues or Electronic Funds Transfer.  Most importantly to this writer is that I'll be able to pay my dues over 12 months instead of 10 months.  Less will be taken from those 10 checks.  Another important reason is to protect our local Association from political mischief should we not elect pro-public education candidates this fall.  Another reason, is for anonymity.  The district will no longer be privy to our membership rolls.  Look at the other great reasons to join.

What is the Electronic Dues Deduction (E-dues)?

E-dues is a method to pay Local, State, and National Association dues; special funds; and PAC contributions through a process other than payroll deduction. Currently the procedure being developed for this deduction is a direct debit from a member’s checking account.

Make hundreds of Dollars in just a Few Minutes with NEA Member Benefits

Let your NEA Member Benefits not only help save you some hard-earned money; let your NEA Member Benefits help you MAKE some money.  CLICK HERE for a very quick check on what you can save.

Many of us actually use these easy tools to buy great services and make money by doing what professionals do--join three million of their colleagues in working to make public education stronger for students.

OR, paste this into your web browser.

Every Child Counts

Get ready to 'Step Up for Kids' in September

The annual Step Up for Kids week is right around the corner. From September 17 through 21, representatives from Every Child Counts and Every Child Matters will lead interactive sessions across the state on the role of advocacy in elections and the legislative process, how to reach out to legislators and how to become a more complete and effective advocate on behalf of children.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Works for Me: Tips for Teachers by Teachers August 10, 2012

Classroom Management Basics

From Kate Ortiz
A teacher from Chariton, Iowa:
There are some classroom management principles that work regardless of grade level. Ms. Ortiz suggests seven behavior basics that any teacher can use to set the stage for a successful classroom and an unforgettable year.

Read More
Quiet Story

From Diane Postman
A teacher in Yorktown, Virginia:

To help your K-2 students understand how much more they can learn when they listen, Ms. Postman suggests having them write a brief scripted story about being quiet (she offers a sample script of her own).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Register editorial: Parents a key piece in school reform


Gov. Terry Branstad has talked repeatedly about making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. To accomplish this, he wants residents to eat better, exercise and “take responsibility” for their lifestyles. He has not suggested Iowa doctors do a better job. There have been no proposals to pay physicians in a different way or require a minimum grade-point average for incoming medical students.

Why not? Because such proposals are obviously ridiculous. No one would lay the responsibility for the complicated task of improving the health of an entire state on the professionals working in health care.

So why is the governor fixated on teachers when it comes to the complicated task of improving education in Iowa? His proposals to create “world class” schools are disproportionately targeted at educators. He has pushed for a new pay structure, mentors and even personality assessments for teachers. His education reform proposal would require college students to have at least a 3.0 grade-point average to be admitted to teaching training programs.

25 Education Blogs Perfect For Parents (And Just About Anyone Else)

The following is the continuation of the ‘Perfect For Parents‘ series brought to you by our content partners at Online College. Don’t miss the 50 Education Twitter Hashtags Perfect For Parents as well!

As a parent, it’s your job to look ahead and plan for the future, whether that means packing lunch or creating a roadmap for college. Perhaps one of the most important things parents can look ahead to is education.
School reform, college, and getting involved as a parent are all important topics for parents to stay on top of, and these blogs all offer great ways to do so. We’ve discovered 25 of the best education blogs for proactive parents, and we encourage you to check them out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Five Practices for Building Positive Relationships With Students

by Kelley Clark for EDUCATION WEEK--TEACHER  
The objective is posted. The Do Now is ready to go. Your well-planned lesson is aligned with state standards, includes a variety of instructional methods, and offers opportunities for both summative and formative assessments.

What might still be missing? A strong positive relationship with your students, the kind of connection that makes them want to go above and beyond in your class.

Can you have a good lesson without having a positive relationship with your students? Yes. But can a strong relationship lead to an even higher level of academic success? Absolutely!

Friday, August 3, 2012

LCEA at the Table for Governor's Symposium on Teacher and Principal Leadershipo

The Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium was held Friday, August 3, at Drake University in Des Moines. LCEA members Tom McLaughlin and Kim McLaughlin represented Southwest Uniserv District and the LCEA at the event.

The Symposium was an extension of the conversation that began last July at Governor Branstad's 2011 Education Summit. This summer's Symposium will focused on the idea of teacher leadership roles and new career paths and will further extend the conversation of the newly appointed Teacher Performance, Compensation, and Career Development Task Force.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

NEA Home & Car Insurance

The NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program provided by California Casualty offers coverage designed to fit your needs

  • $500 Personal Property Coverage Vehicle
  • Vandalism Waived Deductible
  • $500 Fundraising Money Coverage 
  • $3,000 Personal Property at School Coverage


  • Special Rates / Generous Discounts
  • 12 Month Lock-in Rate Guarantee
  • Free ID Defense
  • 24/365 Emergency Claims Service
  • EZ Pay with Summer/Holiday Skip
  • Peer Review for Fair Settlement of Claims

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

5 Ways to Build Sustainable Relationships that Work

by John Wilson of EDUCATION WEEK

Note: Alan Blankstein, president and founder of the HOPE Foundation, shares some of the work he has been doing to transform public schools with a guest post today.

Building relational trust with school staff is a precursor to sustainable success. In the HOPE Foundation's work in thousands of schools and districts, this trust has been built by the leader using the following approaches:

1. Listen First. The new-leader syndrome, however, often entails changing things quickly to establish authority. Many veteran leaders, on the other hand, may feel they already know what is best and may move forward without building consensus. In both cases, the "slow" part of going fast- listening- is cut out of the process and initiatives are short-lived.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Take action Take Action: Tell Congress education funding matters

Education stimulus dollars meet the goals
In a report released Wednesday, the Center for Education Policy (CEP) concluded that the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)met its' goal of creating or saving education jobs. In a press release, CEP's executive director Maria Ferguson said, "Federal stimulus funds appear to have blunted the effects of the economic downturn on the K-12 education sector."

Although many districts still had to eliminate teaching and other key staff positions, our research indicates that the situation would have been worse without the stimulus funds." ARRA, signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009 has pumped $763.1 billion dollars into the economy. The authors of the report — What Impact Did Education Stimulus Funds Have on States and Schools? found that in 2010 about 70 percent of the nation's school districts used State Fiscal Stabilization funding, the largest pot of ARRA education money, to save or create jobs for teachers and other school personnel. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Works for Me: Ideas and Tips by Teachers, for Teachers

Easy Button Rewards
Ms. Goss's students have it easy. She builds community and motivates her class by allowing students to push her buttons - her Easy Button that is. Read about how her students look for opportunities to shine and to recognize each other's achievements, so they can push that button, hear the applause, and shout out, "That was easy!"

Read More
Pinning Grammar and Mechanics
From Tracee O.
An English Teacher at Erie High School:
This high school teacher uses humor to keep her students engaged with her grammar and mechanics lessons. She started a Pinterest board with examples of humorous, real-world grammar mistakes.

Teacher Voice: How Not to Be a Bobble-Head Doll


"Teacher voice" is one of the most ambiguous phrases in education reform—used differently by governors, chancellors, commission leaders, advocacy organizations, and school administrators.
Sometimes, "teacher voice" means that the convening group or individual actually wants meaningful input from educators. But more often than not, teachers are being asked to complete a project or support an agenda that needs little more than their reluctant signatures. 

I offered a different definition of "teacher voice" at April's TEDxNYED conference. This is a phrase we can reclaim. Truly engaging with "teacher voice" means taking seriously the collective and individual expression of teachers' professional opinions based on their knowledge and classroom expertise. Anything else is just a "teacher nod." Like we’re all bobble-head dolls.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Twelve Ideas for Teaching with QR Codes

LCEA Insider QR

Saturday, July 14, 2012

John Henry is Not a Good Role Model: Tips for Busy Eduleaders

by Rick Hess on June 15, 2012 7:54 AM

I'm getting close to finishing up my Cage-Busting Leadership book for Harvard Ed Press (it'll be available this coming February). One point that comes up again and again as I work on the text and talk to school and system leaders is the degree to which we've encouraged a leadership culture where leaders have felt they demonstrate their mettle by the number of hours they work and the number of meetings they take. This comes, I'm convinced, at a big cost to their ability to think, reflect, and learn.

In talking to these leaders, I find myself thinking of the tale of mighty John Henry, who swore he could shovel through a mountain faster than a steam-powered hammer. Big John won all right, but the effort killed him. Johnny Cash memorialized the tale in "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer," singing: "If you bring that steam drill round, I'll beat it fair and honest, I'll die with my hammer in my hand."

Elections 2012

Compare where the candidates stand on issues of the day. Get the facts, based on the candidates’ public statements and their own websites.

Just The Facts

Every week, we provide candidate quotes — with source citations — on hot topics. Whether it’s saving and creating education jobs, privatizing Social Security or safeguarding educators’ collective bargaining rights, you’ll have what you want to know at your fingertips.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Out of Touch and Turning Back the Clock: Romney on Education

 Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do
not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.
by Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association (NEA) * EDUCATION WEEK

It was hard not to be taken aback earlier this month when presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his top supporters, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, again demonstrated how out of touch they are with ordinary Americans by voicing their desire to cut back on police, firefighters, and teachers. But the 3 million teachers, cafeteria workers, librarians, and other educators I work with weren't surprised.
That's because Mr. Romney has already revealed how little he understands about the issues that are important to the rest of us. Take his education agenda, for example. Today, few topics unite liberals and conservatives, but almost everyone seems to agree that George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has failed. There's almost unilateral agreement that NCLB's focus on standardized testing and punishing is wrong; it hurts our schools and our children.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Iowa’s NCLB Waiver Application: Denied

Iowa has become the first state to be denied a No Child Left Behind Waiver with Branstad and Glass blaming the Iowa Legislature.

Iowa has been denied a No Child Left Behind waiver because its educator evaluation system did not meet federal requirements due to the absence of student achievement being built into the evaluation process. Governor Terry Branstad has been privately and publicly warning of this scenario for months with only apathetic response from the State Legislature.
“Responsibility for the denial of this request lies squarely at the feet of the Iowa Legislature, which did too little to improve our schools despite repeated warnings,” the governor said in a statement. “The education reform plan Lt. Gov. (Kim) Reynolds and I proposed would have ensured a waiver from the onerous federal No Child Left Behind law.”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Let's Protect the Arts, Health and more...

Dear ISEA Fine Arts Caucus Members,

As many of you already know, Representative Winckler (D-86) introduced an amendment to the Education Reform Act that was supported by Representative Chambers (R-5) that removed the expansion of the Iowa Core to include the performing/fine arts. Dr. Glass was not consulted before the change and believed the concern of the legislators was that if we added fine arts (and other components) to the Core, everything would be required for every student.

LCEA Hotline March 16, 2012

House Passes Education Reform Bill
The Iowa House passed an amended version of HF 2380 this week on a 53-46 vote--seven Republicans joined the House Democrats in opposition to the bill. When the bill passed out of committee several weeks ago it was substantially different from the Governor’s proposal. The bill that passed out of the House was amended to be more like the Governor’s bill, including mandatory retention of third graders, support for 100 percent online learning limited to 1 percent of a school district’s enrollment, and expansion of Charter Schools.

ISEA opposes the bill and will be working with the Senate on their version which takes a more student-centered approach. This bill includes literacy supports for students in early grades and time for teachers to collaborate. It restricts online learning to 50 percent of a student’s academic work, unless medically necessary.

Make contact with your Senator

It is critical that you make contact with your Senator this weekend or early next week. You can attend a forum over the weekend, send an email, or call her/him (the main switchboard number is 515-281-3371). Tell your Senator to support education reform that invests in classroom priorities that build on the foundation for student learning and help ensure every student has a qualified, caring teacher in the classroom.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

LCEA Hotline March 9, 2012

Education reform set to move in the house next week - take action now!

The ISEA has learned that the House intends to debate HF 2380 next week. The most important thing you can do is attend a Legislative Forum in your area and make sure your Legislators know how you feel about education reform issues such as 100 percent online learning, third-grade retention, and value-added assessments. Check out educators' recent testimony on these issues for more information.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

LCEA Hotline: February 16, 2012


Why you should care about online learning

What is happening with allowable growth?

NEW! Notes from the Inside - An inside look at a few of the education bills being proposed this legislative session that you probably won't hear about anywhere else. We'll feature one or two each week.

Why you should care about online learning

Two issues involving online schools surfaced in Iowa recently. First SSB 3009 and HSB 517, the education bill currently being debated in the Iowa Legislature, seeks to establish an online learning model opening the doors to 100 percent online schools. Second, two for-profit companies, K12, Inc. and Connections Academy have been hired to open online schools in Clayton Ridge and CAM school districts respectively.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mandatory Reporter Mandatory Reporter RSVP List

The following LCEA members have RSVP'd for the February 11, 2013 Mandatory Reporter training:

  1. Margie Argotsinger
  2. Kristina Beckner
  3. Jill Bryson
  4. Kelly Carr
  5. Amy Cook
  6. Denise Geier
  7. April Gradoville
  8. Misti Groat
  9. Linda Hahn
  10. Christine Knust
  11. Marisha Lenz
  12. Kari Lewis
  13. Sandy Lopes
  14. Carol Markel
  15. Maggie Miller
  16. Steve Nixon
  17. Ann Nun
  18. Gina Pearson
  19. Cindy Sellers
  20. Lori Shanks
  21. Mark Smith
  22. Jennifer Stroup
  23. Kim Swanger
  24. Jewell Tweedt
  25. Jennifer Williams

Friday, January 6, 2012

HOTLINE: Governor's Education Reform Plan Released

Today the Governor released his final recommendations for his education plan. We think it is very important for all of our members to have the most up-to-date information about this issue which will soon be introduced into legislation.

Below is the text of the ISEA's response and also included in this message is the link to the Governor's plan. Stay tuned for more information about this and other important issues in the coming weeks.