Virtual School Meanderings

May 22, 2015

Improve Teaching, Leading, And Learning Outcomes || McREL e-News May 2015

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

Improve teaching, leading, and learning outcomes Open in web browser

May 2015

May is Teacher Appreciation Month!  


We’d like to acknowledge the hard work

of all teachers who are making a difference

in the lives of students each day. Thank you!

Research Roundup

Review of international research on factors underlying teacher absenteeism  

REL Pacific and the Institute for Education Sciences

A new report from REL Pacific and the Institute for Education Sciences examines international research on teacher absenteeism and identifies five key factors, in contexts comparable to the Pacific Region, that relate to the causes of teacher absenteeism: pay structure, management, working conditions, community conditions, and social and cultural responsibilities.

The exposure advantage: Early exposure to a multilingual environment promotes effective communication

University of Chicago
Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that children who were either bilingual or regularly exposed to a multilingual environment were better able to interpret a speaker’s perspective and intended meaning than those who were monolingual, suggesting that exposure to second languages can improve the accuracy of perceptions and communication.

Key to vocabulary gap is quality of conversation, not dearth of words

Education Week
Expanding on findings from a 20-year-old study that coined the phrase “30 million word gap” to describe the disparity in the size of vocabulary between children of college-educated parents and those of high school dropouts, new studies have shown that what matters more for closing achievement gaps is the quality of interactions between parents and children—-using complex, conceptual language and words of encouragement—-rather than the quantity of words children hear.

The effect of stand-biased desks on academic engagement: An exploratory study

International Journal of Health Promotion and Education
In a recent study from Texas A&M University, researchers found that elementary school students who used standing desks in classrooms demonstrated higher levels of academic engagement than students from the control group who were sitting. Standing students were more likely to raise their hands, answer questions, and participate in classroom discussions, and were less likely to exhibit disruptive behavior than seated students.

Events and Opportunities

Destination Denver: McREL’s summer professional development


Denver is your destination for high-quality professional development this summer! Register now for McREL’s summer PD workshops and institutes held at our headquarters in sunny Denver. Our sessions present analytic insights and best-practice strategies blended with practical school experience. You’ll leave knowing how to make changes in teaching, leading, and learning that result in better outcomes.


Bring your colleagues: Groups of three or more people from the same district receive a 10% discount on registration.


GreenSTEM: Inspiring and Empowering Learners to Change the World

June 11-12

The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching

June 22-23

Balanced Leadership Institute for District-Level Leaders

June 24-26

Classroom Instruction That Works

July 13-15

Classroom Instruction That Works—-Facilitator Training 

July 13-17

Balanced Leadership Institute for School-Level Leaders

July 20-25

Classroom Instruction That Works with English-Language Learners

July 27-28

Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works 

July 29-30


Upcoming conferences


Visit with our researchers and consultants at the following conferences to hear the latest insights and discoveries we’ve made:

ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence in Nashville, Tenn., June 26-28.

McREL sessions:

Friday, June 26, “Creating the Environment for Learning: Implementing a New Instruction Planning Framework,” presented by Howard Pitler

Friday, June 26, “Using AWSM to Improve Formative Assessment Practices,” presented by Kathleen Dempsey and Anne Tweed

Saturday, June 27, “Academic Language Learning for ALLs and ELLs,” presented by Jane Hill

Arizona School Administrators Summer Conference in Tucson, Ariz., June 14-16.

McREL exhibit:
Visit with Dr. Kent Davis at the McREL table in the vendor hall to learn about our leadership development and instructional strategies work in Arizona.

National Association of Elementary School Principals Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., June 30-July 2.

McREL institutes and sessions:

Monday, June 29, pre-conference institute on creating purposeful school communities with Jim Eck from McREL and Carol Riley from NAESP

Tuesday, June 30, “Using McREL’s Balanced Leadership Framework as a Lens for Mentoring and Coaching,” presented by Jim Eck

Tuesday, June 30, NAESP Mentor Reunion and Reception (mentors only)—-evening reception sponsored by McREL

Wednesday, July 1, NAESP and McREL Balanced Leadership and Mentor Program Focus Group with Jim Eck

WELS National School Leadership Conference in Pewaukee, Wis., June 15-18.

McREL sessions:

Tuesday, June 16, “Classroom Instruction That Works,” presented by Howard Pitler

Tuesday, June 16, “Power Walkthrough Classroom Observations,” presented by Howard Pitler


Changing Schools, Spring 2015 | Focus on Diverse Learners
As U.S. schools usher in a new demographic majority, our spring issue of Changing Schools looks at how to better support diverse learners and improve their odds of success. Articles focus on closing the academic language gap; how the Common Core’s text complexity model helps match diverse learners with relevant reading; the role of critical self-reflection for teachers; how a sense of community is helping Cree Nation students and teachers engage in school improvement; and “stereotype threat” and how it affects achievement.

McREL Policy Brief | Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessments: Policy considerations for meaningful accountability


McREL’s latest policy brief examines the possibilities for states in using Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessments (CEPAs) as a way to promote deeper learning in K-12 environments. The brief gives an overview of CEPAs (which can be used for both formative and summative purposes), includes examples of successful CEPA applications, and suggests ways that CEPAs can improve policy-driven outcomes.

Research Says | Mobile Devices: Driving Us to Distraction?
What does the research say about how digital devices in the classroom affect learning? Bryan Goodwin, McREL’s president and CEO, finds that, while we know some educators are doing great things with mobile device technology in the classroom, such approaches are too new to have been subjected to rigorous study. The limited research we have warns of increased distraction; however, Goodwin suggests ways for teachers and students to fend off such distractions. Read more in the latest Research Says column in ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine.

McREL Blog | Sometimes the best technology is no technology  

In a new blog post, “Sometimes the best technology is no technology,” Howard Pitler, McREL’s executive director of digital solutions, suggests that knowing when and how to use technology to enhance classroom learning is an important consideration for teachers, and, sometimes, it’s best to encourage students to “unplug and engage” with each other.


AWSM featured in new NCTM Annual Perspectives in Math yearbook  McREL authors contributed a chapter, “Authentic Work Samples Support Formative Assessment in Middle School,” to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) 2015 yearbook, Annual Perspectives in Mathematics Education: Assessment to Enhance Learning and Teaching. The chapter details a formative assessment model—-AWSM, shorthand for Learning to Use Formative Assessment with the Assessment Work Sample Method—-for middle school math, developed by McREL math and assessment specialists for an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) study.

McREL and Habele making a difference for students affected by super typhoon Maysak in Micronesia
Through our Pacific Center for Changing the Odds—-REL Pacific office in Honolulu, the relief effort continues for those affected by super typhoon Maysak. McREL staff members in Denver assembled and delivered more than 450 New Beginnings Kits for affected students in the Outer Islands, using supplies donated by McREL staff members and area schools. This work was featured on ABC’s local affiliate, KITV4, in Hawai’i.

McREL and the Habele education fund have partnered to establish direct links between students and educators in the U.S. looking to help our neighbors in Micronesia by assembling New Beginnings Kits for students in need. Read more about all the ways you can help on Habele’s blog.

In This Issue

Featured Content

REL Pacific on Twitter 

Follow @RELPacific on Twitter for the latest on education research, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and Institute of Education Sciences projects in the Pacific region, plus engaging infographics, videos, and more.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
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May 10, 2015

Changing Schools | Focus On Diverse Learners | Vol. 73/Spring 2015

From yesterday’s inbox…

Having trouble viewing this email? View it online here.

Focus on diverse learners 
As diverse learners become the majority in America’s schools, the need to ensure a high-quality education for all students and overcome achievement gaps is greater than ever. In this issue of Changing Schools, we look at some of the issues surrounding the education of diverse learners and offer insight into ways to improve their odds of success.
Follow McREL International on social media.

Follow us on Twitter  View our profile on LinkedIn  Like us on Facebook  Find us on Google+  View our videos on YouTube  Visit our blog
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May 9, 2015

Professional Learning: Explore’s Upcoming and Archived Webinars

From Wednesday’s inbox…

May | Email to a Friend | View in browser | View Past Issues   WestEd on FacebookWestEd on TwitterWestEd on Google+WestEd LinkedIn
Welcome to the WestEd E-Bulletin, presenting this month’s picks of the latest research-based projects and services, innovative new resources, and upcoming professional development events—all designed to help learners succeed in school and career.
R&D Alert Online

Closing the Achievement Gap Through Powerful Professional Development for Science Teachers

Read the latest R&D Alert article to learn how an elementary school teacher went from feeling “intimidated” by science to describing it as the “most successful part of [her] students’ day.”

The teacher participated in WestEd’s Making Sense of SCIENCE (MSS) professional development, which studies have shown leads to impressive teacher and student gains in knowledge, particularly for struggling students.

The most rigorous study, involving nearly 7,000 students, found that students whose teachers had participated in MSS training outperformed their peers by nearly 40 percent.

WestEd Webinars Page

Visit Our Newly Launched Webinars Section!

Visit’s new webinars section where you can register for upcoming webinars and view archived webinars to engage with educators and our expert presenters on key issues in education and human development.

Our webinar topics range from Next Generation Science Standards to early childhood care and education.

In our next webinar, WestEd’s Anthony Petrosino and Sarah Guckenburg will discuss restorative justice, a non-punitive approach to school conflict. Learn more and register today.

Math in Common

Classroom Observations: Documenting Shifts in Instruction for Districtwide Improvement

How can school districts effectively understand how teachers are implementing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics? Find out in this free research brief.

Math in Common™ (MiC) is a five-year initiative that supports a formal network of 10 California school districts as they implement the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics across grades K–8.

Reflecting on the work within the MiC initiative, this research brief explores how best to select or develop and use classroom observation systems in order to document instructional shifts and inform school district improvement efforts.

Kansas Multi-Tier System of Supports


Implementation and Outcomes of Kansas Multi-Tier System of Supports

States, school districts, and schools across the country are increasingly implementing multi-tier systems of support (MTSS) to improve outcomes for all students.

Download this free report, which synthesizes data collected throughout a four-year evaluation of the Kansas MTSS, describes the status of this MTSS implementation, and provides insights as to what it takes to implement MTSS with fidelity.

Educational Theory and Philosophy

Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy

This two-volume encyclopedia is an ideal reference for anyone interested in the roots of contemporary educational theory and practice.

Order a copy of this resource and learn about key theories and cutting-edge research.

2014 WestEd Year in Review

WestEd’s 2014 Year in Review

Read highlights of our ongoing work to improve education and healthy development. Download WestEd’s 2014 Year in Review.

Supporting thousands of science teachers nationwide, evaluating school safety initiatives, and launching a national center to improve special education outcomes are just a few examples of our work.

Formative Assessment in Practice

Formative Assessment in Practice—A Process of Inquiry and Action: 20% Discount!

How can formative assessment be used to guide students toward more rigorous learning?

Order a copy of this practical guide, which addresses students’ roles in monitoring their own learning and shows how to transform the classroom into a community of practice.

College student

Reading Apprenticeship Community College STEM Network: Increasing the Retention and Success of STEM Students

This year faculty from 13 California community college campuses were chosen to participate in free STEM-focused workshops, seminars, online courses, and cross-campus exchanges that are elements of an ongoing and sustained community of practice.

STEM faculty participants will learn how to:

  • Deepen community college students’ ability to analyze STEM texts through metacognitive conversation
  • Use the Reading Apprenticeship framework to create a context for building students’ academic confidence and competence

Learn more about the Reading Apprenticeship Community College STEM Network.

If you are interested in improving student retention and success in STEM at your campus, please complete this form to be notified when applications for 2016 become available.

May 2015 | Email to a Friend | Subscribe WestEd FacebookWestEd TwitterWestEd Google +WestEd LinkedIn

Copyright © 2015 WestEd. All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:


730 Harrison Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

Add us to your address book

May 4, 2015

REL Southeast Director’s Email – April 2015

From Friday’s inbox…

The latest news and updates from the REL Southeast
at Florida State University
View this email in your browser
REL Southeast Email Header

Greetings from the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast!

Greetings from the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast! We’re pleased to announce the release of two new reports that describe how to analyze administrative data to better understand a state’s education leadership workforce. Although both reports present findings and methods specific to an analysis of the Florida Department of Education staffing database, the data and analytic methods can be used to develop and explore similar questions specific to other states or districts. Abstracts and links to the full reports may be found below. We hope you find them beneficial to your work. Thank you for helping to improve education in the southeast.

Barbara Foorman, Ph.D.
Director, REL Southeast

Featured Products

A descriptive analysis of the principal workforce in Florida schools

Who are the school leaders in Florida? What career paths did they take to get where they are? This study examines Florida’s 2011/12 assistant principals and principals and their paths to leadership from 2001/02 through 2011/12. The report describes the demographic make-up, state certification coverages, career paths between 2001/02 and 2011/12, and evaluation ratings of the educational leaders. Findings from this study provide a better understanding of the principal workforce, particularly providing insight into which candidates become school leaders (for example, teachers, district administrators) and how school leaders move into leadership positions (for example, from the classroom to assistant principal to principal).
A complete copy of the report may be viewed at

Using administrative data for research: A companion guide to A descriptive analysis of the principal workforce in Florida schools

This applied research methods report is a companion piece to the report above. It outlines the process and procedures used to clean, merge, and analyze data from the Florida education staffing database. The report provides directions and examples for conducting similar work with other administrative databases.
A complete copy of the report may be viewed at

Upcoming Event

Research Based Fractions Instruction (Decimals and Percents)
Thursday, May 21, 2015
10:00 AM3:00 PM EST
Macon Marriott City Center
240 Coliseum Drive
Macon, GA 31217

Register at

The goals for this event are as follows:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the evidence supporting the instructional practices for teaching decimals and percents based on the material in the IES Practice Guide on Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade
  • Review the principles of the Fractions Practice Guide and the RtI Practice Guide
  • Explain and connect the content/recommendations of the Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade IES Practice Guide with  the emphasis on Recommendations 2 and 3 demonstrating to participants how the use of manipulatives can support students’ understanding of decimals and percents and deepen their knowledge of magnitude comparisons
  • Share intervention techniques and strategies for students struggling with essential mathematical ideas related to basic number sense including computation of rational numbers
  • Provide opportunities for participants to ask clarifying questions. The session will include a combination of lecture and small group interactive activities with small group discussions and hands-on activities


  • Russell Gersten, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, REL Southeast
  • Tim Boerst, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Practice, University of Michigan
  • Meghan Shaughnessy, Ph.D., Researcher, University of Michigan
  • Brad Witzel, Ed.D., Professor of Clinical Practice & Special Education Program Coordinator, Winthrop University

Contact Us

REL Southeast at Florida State University
2010 Levy Avenue
Suite 100
Tallahassee, FL 32310
This Director’s Email was developed by REL Southeast under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0011 from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.  The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

April 21, 2015

Research-Powered Education Practices — McREL e-News April 2015

And another one from Monday’s inbox…

Having trouble viewing this email? View it online here.

April 2015

Research Roundup

Board-certified teachers more effective, new studies affirm  

Education Week

Corroborating findings in earlier research, two new studiesshow that students who are taught by board-certified teachers have higher test scores.

The perfect classroom, according to science

Science Daily


Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California-Berkeley reviewed the latest research on classroom environment and climate to develop a set of recommendations that depict the ideal classroom setting for successful student learning. Designers at Bright at Mediumcreated an infographic of the research findings to illustrate the various features of an ideal classroom.

Title I a challenge for education researchers

Education Week
Fifty years after the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), numerous evaluations have failed to prove whether ESEA’s Title I program has significantly improved achievement levels among disadvantaged children. Yet, some say the grant program makes a difference and that its effectiveness is not measurable because it’s a funding source, not an educational program.

In defense of snow days

Education Next
In a recent study of the impact of snow days on student achievement in Massachusetts, data showed that lost instruction time due to weather-related school closures had less of an impact on student achievement than did individual student absences when schools remained open. The author concludes that “teachers and schools are well prepared to deal with coordinated disruptions of instructional time like snow days but not with absences of different students at different times.”

In the Field

Upcoming conferences


Visit with our researchers and consultants at the following events to hear the latest insights and discoveries we’ve made:


2015 National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities in Prior Lake, Minn., April 26-29.


AQuESTT Empowered by Data Conference hosted by the Nebraska Department of Education in Kearney, Neb., April 27-28.

Purposeful talk can help students close academic language gaps

Talking is an important precursor to effective reading and writing, say McREL’s Jane Hill and Kirsten Miller in the March 12 issue of ASCD Express. In this article, Hill and Miller recommend strategies for closing the academic language gap by giving students opportunities to engage in academic conversations using targeted disciplinary vocabulary, including transition words that will ultimately lead to longer, more complex sentences with higher-level vocabulary.

GreenSTEM: STEM as it’s meant to be
In an article published in the spring issue of The Source, McREL’s Laura Arndt and Anne Tweed discuss how GreenSTEM differs from other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs in its project-based approach to learning and its focus on real-world problem-solving in students’ local communities. Related: McREL is offering a GreenSTEM professional development workshop in Denver in June.

Australian educators’ conference on high-impact instruction strategies to improve student learning
VIDEO: In January, McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin delivered a keynote address to educators from Melbourne’s western suburbs at the Deer Park Sunshine Learning Network Conference in Australia. Schools in the network are implementing high-impact instruction strategies to improve student learning. This video tells the story of their mission and work.

Events & Opportunities

Federal i3 pre-applications due 


Development pre-applications for U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund grants are due byMay 5, 2015, for those who already submitted an intent to apply.

McREL’s summer professional development for teachers 


Learn effective strategies you can use to be more intentional with goal setting, instructional practices, and formative assessment in your classroom. Join us in Denver for workshops that combine insightful research with best practices to help improve your students’ odds of success. Group discounts available; view our entire schedule.


AWSM Formative Assessment for Middle School Math

June 18-19

The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching

June 22-23

News from McREL

McREL to evaluate key outcomes for federal i3 grant project in Colorado 


McREL has partnered with Northwest Colorado BOCES to provide external evaluation of the BOCES’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant project, System for Educator Effectiveness Development (SEED), which will connect rural teachers in online learning communities to develop their expertise, helping overcome many of the PD challenges facing rural educators in northwest Colorado. Read our press release for more information.

Super typhoon Maysak ravages Micronesia: McREL and Habele partner to help students and families 


Through our REL Pacific work, McREL staff are keenly aware of the far-reaching effects of the super typhoon that hit Micronesia in early April. Families have been displaced, and many schools have closed for the remainder of the school year as the region rebuilds. McREL and the Habele education fund have partnered to establish direct links between students and educators in the U.S. looking to help our neighbors in Micronesia. Read more about ways you can help on Habele’s blog.

In This Issue

Featured Content

REL Pacific joins Twitter 

Follow @RELPacific on Twitter for the latest on education research, engaging infographics, videos, and National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences projects in the Pacific region.

Research Says: Communicate in the ways that count 

In the latest Research Says column in ASCD’sEducational Leadershipmagazine, Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein look at what emotional intelligence is and how it bolsters leadership at any organization.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
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