Friday, August 16, 2013

Congratulations, Share My Lesson!

Congratulations, SML!! I shared 75 classroom resources here, and grabbing awesome free resources from other teachers across the country. This is a great way for us to make a difference to more than just the students in our classroom!
Check it out!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

HR 5 (Student Success Act) Follow Up

Here's the latest message from the Council for Exceptional Children to everyone working with students with special needs about the Student Success Act (HR5):

This bill contains loopholes for students with disabilities so large you can drive a bus through them.
-- Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) during the HR 5 debate, July 19, 2013
Dear CEC Members:
Loopholes.  Low expectations.  Exclusion from accountability and assessments.  Significant step backwards.
These were just some of the concerns for students with disabilities raised by Members of Congress during the debate last week about the Student Success Act (HR 5), legislation that rewrites the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  (See related Policy Insider Blog story here)

Thank you for answering our call to contact your Representative to oppose HR 5! In just three days leading up to the vote, hundreds of offices on Capitol Hill heard from CEC members!
Unfortunately, HR 5 passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 221-207.  
Thank you imageFortunately, President Obama has said that he will veto this bill if it comes to his desk.
While this was not our desired outcome, members of Congress from both political parties raised significant concerns about  HR 5’s negative impact on students with disabilities, which resulted in a commitment from Chairman Kline – the bill’s lead negotiator – to work to better address these issues as the bill progresses through the legislative process, which has a long road ahead. Read CEC’s list of concerns about HR 5 here.
HR 5 represents a very different vision from the Senate’s version of the bill, which has passed the Senate Education Committee but has not been considered by the full Senate. To become law, the many differences between the two bills will have to be worked out once the Senate acts.  Read CEC’s full recap of the HR 5 debate and CEC’s letter about the Senate bill.
In the coming weeks, we will need more voices and more outreach!  Be on the lookout for future CEC Action Alerts, and in the meantime, keep informed by reading CEC’s Policy Insider Blog and follow us on twitter @CECAdvocacy.
Thank you again – your outreach brought students with disabilities into the HR 5 debate!  
-- CEC’s Policy and Advocacy Team

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Using Instagram in the Classroom

This is what I truly love about summer vacations, it allows us teachers to catch up with technology tools and learn how to integrate them in the classroom. I just joined Instagram last week after a friend of mine encouraged me to try it out and post my vacation photos there. You guessed it right! I was uploading, was trying different kinds of editing tools to enhance my photos, and learning all of these cool features in just a matter of minutes. I immediately saw the artistic use of Instagram, and knowing that many of my middle school students are using this app on their phones my ideas on how to use this in the classroom went wild!

Here's my proof, click on this widget: Instagram

How can we incorporate Instagram in the classroom? Education Rethink suggests Ten Ideas for using Instagram in the Classroom.

1. Digital Storytelling: I started doing Show and Tell awhile ago, after Tom suggested that it could be a powerful way for students to share their stories. I'm going to do that this year. However, I'm also going to give students the option of taking pictures from their neighborhood. They can tell their story visually, annotating it through their comments on each picture.
2. Grammar Practice: Photography can be a great place to practice grammatical structures. It can be something as simple as writing a functional text (I had been walking down the street when I saw . . .) Or it could be a way to practice, sequentially, the grammatical structure using their world as the context.

3. Photojournalism: Similar to digital storytelling, this would allow students to explore issues in their world through a visual medium. I want them to engage in citizen journalism. Whether it's a school sporting event or an immigration sweep, a classroom community service activity or a local election, students can use the mobile devices to express their social voice.

4. Photo Prompts: Last year, I found photographs and created writing prompts. Sometimes, they were geared toward poetry or narrative while other times they were persuasive or informational. I will encourage students to develop their own photo prompts using Instagram.
5. Metaphors: I will give students concepts from any of the subject areas and ask students to find a metaphor that fits the concept. They will use Instagram to find the metaphor and then describe it in the comments section.

6. Photos for Blogs: This is pretty simple, but I want students to start adding their own photographs to some of their blog posts. There's something powerful about looking at a post and realizing that the photograph and the writing both originated from the same author. (Below: at some point I want to write a post on the upside of being distracted)

7. Find the Context: I want my students to document math that they see in their world. I'm thinking Instagram can be a great place to document things like linear relationships, data, fractions, etc.
8. Ethnographic Study: I've done this before in social studies in writing. I'm thinking it might work as a blended activity of writing and pictures. I'd love to see them take photographs of the spaces they inhabit and then analyze the cultural, political, social and economic elements that define the space.
9. Sharing Art: I love to sketch. I love to doodle. And yet, I've rarely posted my drawings to Instagram. I'm wondering what it would look like to blend the art of photography with pencil and paper or with painting.

10.Just Let Them Take Pictures: I'm thinking of letting kids take pictures for the sake of taking pictures. Let a few of them fall in love with photography. Let them find the beauty in their world and share it with others and then see what kind of conversations occur afterward.

Can you add some more ideas in this list?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

WTU Run-Off Election Results

Congratulations to our new WTU Officers!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

@WTULocal6 President Cancels Debate

People need cues to sort good from bad and to find order so that they can make decisions. In many different aspects of our daily life, we are giving off cues that can be positive or negative. Today's debate could have been a great event that would have given us an informed decision on who is the best presidential candidate to vote for in the 2013 WTU Elections. Unfortunately, it was cancelled by the WTU President Saunders himself. I took a screenshot of his email "Alert" message to the teachers about the said event organized by several teachers from different schools which he allegedly called a "fake" debate. I also posted here the statement from Elizabeth Davis sharing her disappointment about the cancellation of the debate and her response to the president's threatening message:
Dear WTU Members,

You received a communication this morning from Erich Martel announcin a debate between President Saunders and myself to take place at McKinley HS today. Subsequently you received an "Alert" from Nathan Saunders indicating that no debate would be happening. It is true that because only one candidate was willing to debate, the debate will not happen. But let me correct factual errors in Mr. Saunders "Alert" email.

The debate was an initiative of the school WTU Representatives at Wilson and McKinley High Schools and Lafayette Elementary. They had reserved the space at McKinley. Mr. David Pinder’, the principal at McKinley, sent me the email below confirming use of the auditorium. The email is also copied to Mr. Bruce Stevens, his head custodian. No one ever represented the debate as being formerly sponsored by the WTU leadership, the election committee, or inappropriately used the WTU
logo. They had reached out to both candidates and thought the debate was on. It is also not true that private insurance must be posted to hold any and all meetings in school facilities. These are scare tactics are simply being used to inhibit the democratic process.

I am disappointed that in the end Mr. Saunders didn't see it as in his interest to come to the debate. I hope that in the future we can rise above political gamesmanship and make debates a regular feature of WTU elections. The members and the health of our union demand it.

Please don't forget to vote. Vote for the Elizabeth Davis slate. The WTU can be better!

Elizabeth Davis, Candidate for President of the WTU
Email Message from Nathan Saunders About Today's Debate


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Get Tough #DCteachers

Dear colleagues,
I was about to call it a night when someone who needed to hide behind fictitious names tagged me of a link on Facebook and Twitter attacking each and everyone of Elizabeth Davis's Slate supporters. I would like to share my two cents worth on this.
We are professional educators and our character and credibility can stand on its own to get us to where we are destined to be without needing to hide behind comical names to degrade, lie about or demean anybody.
Manipulation of information and malicious accusations thrown at me and the candidates that I am supporting in this WTU election make me believe even more that we need to keep the faith, stay united, and get tough.
Tough means that we are willing to stand tall and persevere. Even when our mind and body signal perfectly good reasons for giving up, we go on. This tough is obvious. But tough can also be standing up to cynics and skeptics who mock our faith. Many times it will be tough to be kind. Be kind anyway.
This is our teacher's union and we are more than 3,000 strong. I am confident that our WTU Members will stand firm by teacher leaders who can give them respect, who will not tarnish and put a shame on the WTU, and who will carry the name for our teacher's union with pride. Let us use our common sense and make informed decisions about our candidates when we vote in this 2013 WTU Elections. I will stay by Elizabeth Davis's side and elect her for WTU President because this is the right thing to do. We need to regain what was once ours, now is the right time. This is a call to action.

@WTULocal6 Presidential candidate's Debate

SHARE! WTU Members: Here's to help us make informed decisions about who to vote for this 2013 WTU Elections. What are their stand on key education issues and what are they going to do about it? Be there tomorrow to watch this WTU Presidential Candidate's Debate!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#DCteachers Endorsing Elizabeth Davis

In this coming WTU run-off election, I am supporting my colleague and friend Elizabeth Davis. Liz and I worked together for almost 8 years as Teacher Consultants of the DC Area Writing Project. We are both well respected in our circle and are active members of the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators. Ballots will be mailed on June 17. GET OUT THE VOTE!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

A Message To #DCteachers

I thank each and everyone of you for being hopeful and for working hard in this campaign. Let us be more involved and vigilant in advocating for the future of our profession and the children we serve. Please continue to hold the candle from which others can light their candles.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vote for Change! Maria Angala advocates for diversity in the WTU

INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Pinay vies for top DC teacher union post
by: Rodney Jaleco, ABS CBN North America Bureau

Times are changing, says Washington DC special education teacher Maria Angala and she says the diversity that’s fueled much of the growth in places like the nation’s capital should be reflected in their workers unions as well.   

Maria with DC Cong. Eleonor Holmes Norton
and DCAWP Executive Board
lobbying for funding for student writers

Angala, a University of the Philippines-trained teacher at the Jefferson Academy Middle School for the past decade, has been outspoken and passionate about finding better ways to educate America’s school children. It’s driven her to an unprecedented campaign for the presidency of the 4,000-strong Washington Teachers Union (WTU).
She is one of hundreds of Filipino teachers – the vanguard of a foreign recruiting binge by US public schools – who were lured by the promise of better pay and a slice of the “American dream”.
They filled an acute teacher shortage especially in tough, rough and tumble inner city schools that struggled to meet standards imposed by the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act. The Filipino mentors can be found virtually everywhere in America , from top-tier East Coast academies to sparse Indian reservations in the New Mexico desert.
“Times have changed,” Angala declared, “and public education has evolved.”
She wants to steer WTU towards her vision of the future. “There’s a battle being waged right now,” Angala averred, “It’s not about unions standing up for teachers; it’s about teachers standing up for themselves through their unions.”
“There are so many things happening right now at the local and national level which lead to frustration, anger and all those are harmful not only to the teachers but also to the children whose lives we continue to influence daily,” she said, adding that “when I empower, encourage and inspire teachers to do their best of the kids, I am impacting the lives of more just the students in my classroom.”
Angala is a familiar face in the education protest scene of DC (something she attributes to years at UP where she says she learned stand up for what’s right). She was WTU’s vice president for special education from 2007-2010, a member of the Asian & Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the Teacher Leaders Network and the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators.
She is board certified as an exceptional needs specialist and was named Outstanding Special Education Teacher (2008-2009) by the National Association for Special Education Teachers (NASET). She also has two blogs – “Digital Anthology” is the online extension of her classroom and “Teacher Sol” where she tackles education-related issues, including the plight of Filipino mentors in Maryland .
She says the “prospects are both exciting and frightening” as she cobbled a multicultural and multi-generational ticket which, she vowed, would bring much-needed changes in the WTU. “We have exceptional candidates in our slate (4 of them are also Filipinos), who carry the promise of being real game-changers because of our diversity, problem solving skills and courage to speak on behalf of our teachers and students,” she explained.
They are pressing for an “objective and fair evaluation system and due process aligned with that system.” She sees the inordinate emphasis on high-stakes tests and the lack of support and resources to teachers as the biggest problems bedeviling the DC Public School system today.
“We should now be thinking how we can change our traditional practices to better reflect the tasks assigned to our schools, teachers and students,” she said, stressing that “teachers should be treated as partners in reforms.”
Her “platform” includes providing more resources to DC public school teachers, lower class sizes especially for schools in poverty-stricken communities, and building respect for teachers.
Unions, she added, are “only as good as their members. I believe we need to set higher expectations and standards for ourselves so we can inspire our students and encourage them to do what it takes to be successful in life. We need to take control of our actions and not sit by as others define effective teaching for us.”
If Angala sounds like she’s gearing for a fight, that’s probably because she’s been there before. A tireless advocate of change, she was part of the WTU panel that negotiated a “progressive” teachers’ contract which led to a 15 caseload limit for special education teachers, among other concessions.
She promised to “rebuild our teacher’s union and make great things happen” as WTU president. The ballots have been mailed out and should be due back in the Post Office by June 7.
Her feisty attitude is stark contrast to the publicity that Filipino teachers have received lately – as hapless victims of illegal recruitment, from Prince George ’s county in Maryland to the Baton Rouge parish in Louisiana. Angala offers the contrasting image of a fighter ready to pounce on behalf of her fellow teachers and perhaps more importantly, for the school kids.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Video Clip: We Are The Union


Thank you to everyone who contributed to this video. Much appreciation to the members of Maria Angala Slate and supporters who have been working hard helping us in this 2013 WTU Election of Officers. There are challenges ahead of us, and we will keep fighting to stand up for what is fair to all members. We deserve a democratic election, we will uphold diversity in the WTU leadership, we will win!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our Slate's Platform #DCteachers

We will focus on social justice unionism to deliver what matters most to our students/ teachers. We hereby present our platform:

(click on the photo for larger size)

Promethean Planet


The following is the opinion of the writer and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. Any view or opinion represented in the blog comments are personal and is accredited to the respective commentor / visitor to this blog. This blogger reserves the right to moderate comment suitability in support of respecting racial, religious and political sensitivities, and in order to protect the rights of each commentor where available.