Friday, August 13, 2010

Smart and helpful!

The countdown is on for the start of a shiny new school year! Are you ready for an exciting year of teaching and learning in a 21st century learning environment?

As I've mentioned before, I subscribe to the NC Teachers Message, a bi-weekly update of news and highlights from the State Superintendent's office. Over the years I've found this to be a very useful source of information. It often gives a heads-up on new programs and issues that would otherwise take time to trickle down to the faculty meeting level -- plus it gives me a great way to "be in the know". It's easy to look smart and helpful with a resource like this in your back pocket! If you don't already, I encourage you to subscribe to this important bi-weekly listserv.

In case you've missed it, here are some important snippets from the latest issue of the NC Teachers Message concerning assessment, Race to the Top, poetry events, advocacy, blended learning, and the upcoming Elementary School conference:

Computerized Adaptive Testing - In the last year, the use of Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT), a testing system that provides a customized assessment for each student based upon his/her level of knowledge and skills, has become a subject of many state and national conversations. As states seek to provide more and better data to enhance classroom instruction, the CAT seems to be a compelling tool. Data from CAT could provide more precise information than traditional tests about which concepts a student has mastered versus those for which the student needs additional instruction.

The multi-state SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium - of which North Carolina is a governing state - has placed Computerized Adaptive Testing as a central component of its proposed assessment system for the Race to the Top Assessment Grant. If the grant proposal is accepted, member states will have the option to implement the CAT system fully online in the 2014-15 school year or use a comparable paper and pencil assessment. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, all member states will have to use the fully online system. The NCDPI released a report to the Board that discusses the benefits and challenges related to implementing a Computerized Adaptive Testing system in North Carolina. It can be found on the ACRE website under Resources and Publications at

Visit NC FALCON – What better time to visit NC FALCON then the beginning of a brand new school year? The North Carolina Formative Assessment Learning Community's Online Network (NC FALCON), available online at , contains online modules focused on helping teachers learn how to effectively implement formative assessment to enhance student learning. Formative assessment provides the base or foundation for instruction and learning and should occur more often than any other type of assessment. If you haven’t heard how your school will implement NC FALCON, ask your principal for information regarding your district’s and school’s implementation plans.

America's Legislators Back to School Program - America's Legislators Back to School Program, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, will be held Sept. 20-24. Teachers are encouraged to extend invitations to their local representatives to visit and talk with students about the legislative process and what it's like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate – the negotiation and compromise that are the fabric of representative democracy.

Elementary School Conference Scheduled - The Seventh Annual Elementary School Conference, “Tools for Building a Better Tomorrow,” will be held Oct. 24-26 at the Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh. Conference strands include quality teaching across the curriculum, responsive teaching and promoting global understanding. The registration fee is $150 for NCAEE members and $175 for non-members. There is an additional charge for pre-conference sessions. There will be no onsite registration. For a complete agenda and registration information, please visit

Blended Learning - Learn NC has just published an article about blended learning in its education reference. It explains the characteristics, history, features, and benefits of this teaching and learning method. At the bottom of the article are links to LEARN NC's other blended learning resources, including a guide to implementing blended learning in the classroom, and online courses that teach various blended learning principles.

Poetry Out Loud - The North Carolina Arts Council is inviting high school teachers to become a part of Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation competition for high school students. For the sixth great year, North Carolina high school students will be memorizing poetry to recite in front of friends, family, teachers and total strangers—and teachers are an important part of the program. Students can choose from an amazing selection of poems that can be found online at, along with lots of other information about the project. Teachers who would like to participate in Poetry Out Loud should review the information and fill out the registration form at by Friday, Sept. 17.

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