This post is sponsored by Curriculum Associates

The Common Core State Standards have introduced a new level of rigor to math curriculum. No longer focused on rote tasks and memorization, today’s math curriculum requires students and teachers to think of numbers and mathematical functions in new terms. In this Q&A, Forsyth County School’s Mathematics Specialist Brian Lack discusses the challenges of this transition and how his district is supporting teachers in this endeavor.

The new common core and College and Career Readiness Standards are much more rigorous. How have you adjusted your curriculum and instructional models to accommodate the new standards? What challenges have you encountered and what are a few strategies you’ve used to overcome them?

The biggest hurdle we have faced has been helping teachers understand the depth and meaning of the standards accurately. Each elementary teacher is extremely constrained when it comes to time and because of this, they often rely on publishers’ interpretations of the standards. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Insight Education Group.

Students need great teachers. But given the heightened expectations and challenges presented by new standards and assessments, do teachers have the support they need to drive student achievement?

According to new poll data from Smartbrief and Insight Education Group, an educational consulting and product development firm, most of today’s teachers need more out of observations and professional learning than they currently get. But what is particularly noteworthy is teachers’ overwhelming interest in the use of classroom video technology to make it happen.

Teachers from across the country were asked about their current experiences with observation and evaluation, as well as how they see video benefiting practices. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Nearly 70% of respondents said they don’t feel they receive meaningful and actionable feedback on their instructional practices.
  • 91% of respondents are in favor of filming their instructional practices for observations and professional development.
  • (read more…)

digital literacyI can hear the fear in my colleagues’ voices when they talk about the Common Core State Standards. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the new standards and how to teach to them.

The fear is even more prevalent in the special education community, and with good reason. I spent 15 years in the classroom as a special-education teacher, and I would have been terrified if somebody told me, “We want you to teach math and science and health this year. Not only that, but we want you to teach in a way that goes deeper and requires more mastery from students than ever before.”

While special-education teachers do a wonderful job of helping students gain access to information in various subjects, they’re not necessarily experts in particular subject areas. As I’m sure you can imagine, they’re now tasked with an incredibly overwhelming burden.

In my new role as a special education academic support teacher — SEAST –, part of my job is to listen to and empathize with these teachers’ frustrations. (read more…)

Silhouettes of Business People Meeting with Social Media SymbolsHow can you get students excited about STEM, improve their skills and prepare them for the workforce? Join education and industry leaders for a lively, interactive discussion on bridging the gap between association partner relationships and students’ STEM skills. SmartBrief Education presents its inaugural STEM Pathways Roundtable Discussion, an event series exploring the real-world ways in which education and industry can work together to improve students’ STEM skills and guide them to careers in STEM fields. Join us for this groundbreaking new event series.

STEM Pathways Roundtable #1: Association Leadership Roles
October 23, 2014, 10 AM – 12 PM
SmartBrief Headquarters, 555 11th St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, D.C., 20004


The event is free to attend but space is limited. Register today to secure your spot.


Panelists will lead a lively, interactive discussion on how associations can take a leadership role in developing and promoting STEM programs that help fill workforce needs, the challenges to these types of STEM programs, and how industry and education can come together to solve these problems. (read more…)

classroomFor those who are comforted by labels and the certainty they provide, it is difficult to embrace the idea that we can unlock the potential of many of our students by determining how they learn. Once we decide that many diagnosed learning disabilities refer to having trouble in a school-based learning environment, we can move forward with defining individual learning styles, brain strengths and intelligences.

We’ve all been through the laborious process of having a student identified as having a learning disability. This process usually involves filling out a vast amount of paperwork and waiting sometimes over a year for the testing to occur. Then detailed results are shared with teachers and parents. The report usually includes various generic strategies for helping the student be more successful in the classroom — not necessarily to maximize their learning potential. The report then leads to the creation of an individual education plan and more paperwork and meetings. (read more…)