Google Marketplace: Will Educator Choice Increase Innovation?

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 - 9:17am

Innovation chalkboardHow do you get a truly innovative educational product into the hands of classroom teachers? The answer is, "It's not easy." According to Chad Dorsey, President and CEO of the Concord Consortium, in the article "Perspective: Distributing Innovation," the problem is two-fold. The first hurdle is the costly, time-consuming process of research, development and user-testing necessary for producing products teachers can effectively use. Next is the daunting task of product distribution in a competitive landscape where the major distribution channels are dominated by larger publishers. While these challenges have seemed insurmountable, Google's growing EDU Apps Marketplace is poised to dismantle both barriers by providing educators greater choice and easy access to digital tools they can use in the classroom.

In general,...

Next Generation Learning Challenges: Wave II Finalists

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, May 9, 2011 - 2:45pm

Writing MattersTeaching Matters is pleased to announce that we have advanced to the second round of consideration for a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant. The Wave Two challenge is to create open source digital content and assessments that will help classrooms meet the new Common Core standards. The NGLC initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Teaching Matters' proposal, "Writing Matters: Improving Online Instruction, Monitoring and Achievement for Urban Students" was one of 40 finalists chosen from a pool of over 200 applicants. Writing Matters maximizes the benefits technology can bring to underserved middle school students in the mastery of writing. The proposed project will enhance the program's technology platform in order to support direct learning and differentiated instruction and to help educators capture and respond to student performance in a more timely fashion.

NGLC is a...

The Portico Problem: In Praise of Item-Level Data Analysis

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 3:33pm

by Dr. William L. Heller, Using Data Program Director

Cross-posted on the TERC Using Data blog

As a facilitator of the TERC Using Data institute, I try not to play favorites among the different stages of the process. Every link in the chain is important towards improving student outcomes. But I must confess that I always look forward to the item-level analysis with just a little extra bit of enthusiasm. This is where the school-based data teams that I work with are most likely to achieve a breakthrough and gain new understandings about the problems their students are having. Even the teachers who arrive being the most skeptical about the importance of data are subject to “Aha!” moments when they actually look at the questions their students got wrong on the exams and are able to specifically target a cause and a solution.

Item-level analysis is a crucial step when interpreting what test scores mean. New York State provides a performance indicator for each question, but these can often be inaccurate or...

Game Changer

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 - 11:28am

by Evan O'Donnell, Director of Technology

“Microsoft Killer” “Who Needs Handhelds?” “Rollin’ on Chrome” - what provocative blog title catches the most attention?  The point being, while the Google Chrome Laptop might look like a run-of-the-mill laptop, it is a game changer.  

Matte Black, lightweight, thin, web cam, Intel processor - don’t know the speed, don’t know the storage space or ram.  None of this matters.  There are two major shifts in thinking and usage when it comes to the Google Laptop, and more specifically, the Google Laptop in Education:

1. Hardware as a Service

Principals, what would you pay per student per year for a device that was always online, had access to tons of free software and worked seamlessly with your school’s communication / collaboration and...

East Bronx Academy for the Future: Innovation Unleashed in the IZone

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 4:55pm

by Jeff Branzburg

East Bronx Academy Featured in EdWeek's recent article on the NYC Innovation Zone, as well as on the local news channel NY1East Bronx Academy for the Future is a 6th - 12th grade school located just south of the Bronx Zoo.  Teaching Matters, the lead and founding community partner of this New Century School, has worked collaboratively with Sarah Scrogin, the founding school leader, to push the envelope on ways to use technology to enable learning innovation.  Now, buoyed by an entirely new level of central support from the NYC Department of Education's Innovation Zone, EBA's focus is to pioneer new models that transform what schools look like, personalizing instruction to the needs of each individual student, and dramatically improving student achievement.  Teaching Matters will be hosting an ...

Feeling Hopeful About Assessment for the First Time

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 - 10:33am

Students Studying at Cathedral Senior High School in New Ulm, Minnesota...

Something happened recently that not only surprised me, but gave me hope about the potential impact the next generation of assessments will have on our schools. The principal of a school slated for closure reviewed one of Teaching Matters’ project-based civics programs and said to me, “I need this, it will help our kids pass these new tests!” Normally, I’d take his comment as an insult — Our civics program reduced to a test prep tool?! But this particular principal has been involved in a pilot program where teachers are designing performance tasks to assess student learning, in preparation for the adoption of the new Common Core Standards.  His school is one of approximately 100 pilot schools that are among the first to address the cultural shift, as schools grapple with what it means to measure student performance beyond the multiple choice test.

In September 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $330 million in grants to help...

NYC Educators Meet TED

By: admin Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 - 2:50pm

TEDTeaching Matters is proud to be a key sponsor of the 2011 TEDxNYED conference.  TEDxNYED is an all-day conference focused on empowering innovation in education. The conference will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at The New York Academy of Sciences.

In an effort to increase the presence of urban educators at TEDxNYED, Teaching Matters offered fellowships to 10 New York City educators to participate in what promises to be a engaging and informative event. Attendees will hear from world-renowned educators including Will Richardson (author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms) and Alan November (November Learning).

For more on TEDxNYED please visit:

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Rohatyn Prize Nominations

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 - 2:18pm

Teaching Matters is now accepting nominations for the 2011 Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation.

Rohatyn Prize nominations will be accepted between March 1, 2011 and March 15, 2011. Click here to nominate yourself or an innovative principal you know. Nominated principals, who meet the basic criteria, will receive a link to the complete application via email. Final applications will be accepted between March 15, 2011 and April 15, 2011.

Our panel of judges will review the applications and select ten finalists for the Rohatyn Prize. In late spring, we'll announce the Top Ten and open up online voting to the public.

The winner of The Rohatyn Prize will receive a one-time award of $15,000 to support, sustain or further an innovative school learning environment, program or practice that has the potential to be replicated by other schools.

Recommended Reading: "Teaching Digital Natives"

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, February 28, 2011 - 12:49pm

In Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, internationally acclaimed writer, consultant and game designer Marc Prensky outlines strategies for engaging students in the classroom and making technologically-saavy students partners in their own learning.

In Chapter 2,  Moving to a Partnering Pedagogy, Prensky highlights Teaching Matters’ Voices and Choices curriculum as an exemplary model designed to meet the needs of the 21st century classroom:

“Guided, structured, or scaffolded partnering is practiced by many teachers who do project- or inquiry-based learning with students considered to be at risk. One group that helps many teachers do guided partnering is a New York City organization called Teaching Matters (www. They offer packaged solutions in the form of fully designed partnering projects on a variety of topics. Their designs include not only guiding questions, but also activities for the student to do in order to answer those...

2011 Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation

By: admin Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:05pm

Are you an innovative school leader? Does your curriculum strike a balance between core academic and 21st century skills? Is your school pioneering new strategies for collaboration and assessment? Would you like additional resources to support your vision? If so, Teaching Matters wants to hear from you.

Beginning March 1, 2011, Teaching Matters will accept nominations for The Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation. The winner of The Rohatyn Prize will receive a one-time award of $15,000 to support, sustain or further an innovative school learning environment, program or practice that has the potential to be replicated by other schools.

Applicants can self-nominate or be nominated by a colleague. Submissions may focus on any of the five categories addressed in Teaching Matters’ Rubric for School Innovation.

The Rohatyn Prize was created to recognize and support the efforts of our principals. Teaching Matters values the work school leaders do and we want to ensure that other educators know about and learn from these successful...