Teachers’ journey to Middle East brings powerful lessons to classrooms

Teachers’ journey to Middle East brings powerful lessons to Kansas City classrooms

Original article appears on The Kansas City Star, accessible here.

Posted: Monday, January 5, 2015


By the time they were standing on a Palestinian rooftop in the West Bank, the plans of the three Kansas City teachers had long fled them.

Under a searing sky, they absorbed the sights of patched bullet holes in the water tanks beside them, the razor wire separating the Israeli settlements below, the chilling sniper towers.

They had given up hope of carefully chronicling each day’s journey.

They weren’t settling in at nights the way they had imagined to review the lesson ideas they would be taking home to their students at Alta Vista Charter High School.

This stark view over the city of Hebron was just another backdrop to people they had met — Israeli and Palestinian — whose stories one after the other had burst the teachers’ intellectual and emotional tanks.

“There was so much intensity,” language arts teacher Jay Pitts-Zevin said. “We ran out of bandwidth. How could we capture someone’s story and do justice to it?”

It was all they could do, in exhaustion, to write down as much as possible from their journey lasting a little over a week and bring it home.

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Fund for Teachers Supports Sustainability

Fund for Teachers Supports Sustainability One Teacher at a Time

Original article appears on TriplePundit, accessible here.

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2014


Sustainability widely refers to the endurance of products or processes. But for one nonprofit, the term applies to the profession of teaching. Fund for Teachers awards grants for pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade educators to keep them inspired, innovative and in the classroom. How educators choose to spend the national nonprofit’s investment – well, that’s up to them.

To continue reading, click here.

Focus on Teachers: Brooklyn teacher talks about shift to personalized learning

Focus on Teachers: Brooklyn teacher Aaron Kaswell talks about his shift to personalized learning

Original article appears on Impatient Optimists, accessible here.

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014


When I was at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) conference last month, I was able to catch up with math teacher Aaron Kaswell from MS 88 Peter Rouget School in Brooklyn, NY.

A year ago, we highlighted Aaron’s and his school’s implementation of New Classroom’s School of One, a blended learning approach that uses daily assessments to customize the next day’s instruction using multiple strategies, including individual online learning, workshops with teachers and problem solving tasks with peers.

At the time, Aaron was a few months into his second year of School of One.  He was eager and pleased to be moving beyond logistical questions of implementation to focusing on ways to use School of One to engage and challenge students at higher levels.

I was interested to hear from Aaron what he had learned from this past year and where he sees School of One heading for his students and co-teachers.

To continue reading, click here.

Newsletter – Volume 10, Holiday 2014

Quoting Albert Einstein, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” In this holiday issue of Odyssey, we highlight the work of Fellows enhancing student understanding through fellowships in Sarajevo, Rome, Hiroshima, Northern Ireland, and Paraguay.

Read the latest issue of Odyssey, here.


Newsletter – Volume 10, Fall 2014

Fund for Teachers is a community committed to the belief that education has the power to transform lives and that teachers catalyze that transformation.

Read the latest issue of Odyssey, here.


Fellows Bring Learning, Experiences and Energy Back to School

519 Teachers Use $2 Million in Fund for Teachers Grants to Pursue New Knowledge & Skills This Summer

“A defibrillator for the educator”; “A reminder that there is still a student within me;” and, “By far, the best learning experience of my life” describe three of more than 500 self-designed fellowships teachers experienced this summer with Fund for Teachers grants. PreK-12 public and private school educators applied for the grants to pursue topics and/or destinations they identified as relevant to their practice and student success. Those awarded leveraged $5,000 individual grants and $10,000 team grants to learn in 151 countries and bring their learning back to school this fall.

Teachers (or Fellows) awarded grants represent 353 schools from all 50 states. The largest percentage of Fellows chose STEM-related learning and fellowships most often took place in the United States. A complete list of Fellows and their fellowship descriptions is available at www.fundforteachers.org.

“The most essential component in any classroom is the teacher; students’ grasp of knowledge and perception of issues lie largely in their hands,” said Karen Webb, Fund for Teachers’ executive director. “Fund for Teachers invests in these professionals, empowering them as learners who explore and experience to advance student achievement.”

Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested more than $22 million in 6,000+ teachers who, in turn, transform their classrooms into laboratories where students process and put into practice their teachers’ learning.
Fund for Teachers’ 2015 grant application opens on October 1. For eligibility and more information, visit www.fundforteachers.org/apply.php, or the nonprofit organization’s blog and Facebook page.

Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of preK-12 educators by recognizing and supporting them as they identify and pursue opportunities around the world that have the greatest impact on their practice, students and school communities.

Newsletter – Volume 10, Summer 2014

Our readers usually open their Odyssey to read about what our Fellows have done on their fellowships. However, in this issue we dig into what they will do and the motivation behind their fellowship projects. Also in this issue we introduce a new column, “Beyond the Classroom” and new feature, “Fellow Fund Facts”.

Read the latest issue of Odyssey, here.


History Hunters

Jamie Tipton and Jill Nichols, teachers at Normal Park Museum Magnet K-8 (Chattanooga, TN) celebrated America for two weeks at the beginning of the summer — retracing Colonial American sites along the east coast to examine the ramifications of events and decisions on people past and present.

(Clockwise): In front of Boston’s Faneuil Hall (also called the “Cradle of Liberty”); Joining the re-enactments in Williamsburg; In the office of Tennessee’s state representative in Washington DC; Arriving at Plimoth Plantation; Aboard the Mayflower II; Alongside signers of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall; With the Liberty Bell, also in Philadelphia.

Beginning in Boston, these Fund for Teachers Fellows observed original documents, re-enactments, artifacts, landmarks and national treasures to impart to fourth graders an understanding of the human element in American history. Upon returning home, Jill and Jamie reflected on their odyssey across centuries and states:

“To understand who we are and where we come from, we must step back in time and retrace the routes, decisions and struggles that our ancestors experienced when developing this nation. For us to be able to uncover these stories we had to take on the role of History Hunters. We visited 10 historical cities along the east coast in just 14 days, looking to deepen our understanding of how the America we know came to be.

Our hunt for history started in Boston on the Freedom Trail. We participated in a Boston Tea Party reenactment, took a colonial lantern tour and visited all the stops along the Freedom Trail – including the site of the Boston Massacre. The next morning we were led around Plymouth by a Native American who was able to share how events unfolded from their perspective. Next was Philadelphia, rich with history from the Constitution Center, Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House. From here we spent the next day exploring in Baltimore Fort McHenry and learned about the Star Spangled Banner.

Washington D.C. awaited us with tours of the Capital, the Supreme Court and a night tour of the monuments. We even met with Tennessee’s Senators and the Department of Education!

A car ride away landed us at George Washington’s home. More mysteries awaited us in Roanoke that night. We spent the next few days exploring Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown by participating in 17th century daily life, customs, music, heritage and storytelling.

Before this fellowship, we had no idea, how much these experiences would impact us as history teachers. We were able to immerse ourselves into the stories of these people and the events that led to colonizing the New World. We gained first-hand experience that forced us to question our own knowledge. By adding new perspectives, we began to deepen our levels of understanding and discover ways to cast unbiased opinions about these events. When experiencing the struggles and triumphs that people faced before us, it gave us a desire to convey these events with truth to our students.”

For Jill and Jamie, a successful outcome of their fellowship will be when students look beyond just the dates and points on a map when studying American History to be able to envision the possibilities that lie before them as a result of decisions that were made in the past. Using video diaries created along the way, students will learn a new topic about American History each week, analyzing events from different points of view and becoming critical thinkers in their pursuit of history. Students will assume the role of a person from the past and make decisions that reflect how peoples’ past and present were affected. Lastly, they will create a showcase of learning and becoming experts on specific people and places from America’s colonial era, a showcase that includes original writing in different genres, artwork, artifacts and performances.

“Our students will see that our nation’s treasure is not only the documents and artifacts that helped make our country, but also the people that make up our great nation today. They will learn that the decisions and choices they make today will impact people in the future, just as the decisions made by our colonial predecessors impact us. Just as our Founding Fathers were making history, so is this generation. Students will now see learning opportunities available to them and be inspired to seek out their own historical experiences in Chattanooga and wherever their life journey may take them. They will decide what history they want to write”

Enjoy your holiday weekend by reviewing a day-by-day account of the History Hunters‘ patriotic journey on their blog.