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50 Best Books for Summer

Are your children are running low on reading material for the summer? If so, Scholastic has a list of the 50 Best Books for Summer that you might want to check out.

The list was compiled from teachers’ suggestions and includes humor, fantasy and adventure, nonfiction, realistic fiction,  magic and mystery, and picture books for kindergarten through eighth-graders.

Find the entire list here.

Doodling to Learn

It might be conventional wisdom that a student doodling during class is a student who is not paying attention, however research indicates that doodling while taking notes can help students retain ideas and improve memory. KQED writes about two instructional coaches who tried out this method of note taking themselves and, impressed with the results, brought it back to their school.

The coaches said that some teachers were skeptical at first, but found the approach could be a useful way for students to both retain important concepts and demonstrate learning.

The practice also makes student learning visible and provides a valuable formative assessment tool. If a student sketches an interesting side note in the lesson, but misses the big themes, that will show up in her drawing. And when students share their drawings with one another, they have the chance to fill in the gaps in their knowledge, and drawings, while discussing the key ideas. Going over the drawings also solidifies the information for students.

Read the entire article here.

Teaching About the 1963 March on Washington

The 52nd anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is this August 28. Examine the March and the events leading up to it with these lessons, background resources, audios, and videos compiled by Phil Nast for NEA.

Resources for:

9 Ways to Stretch Your Back-to-School Budget

Shopping for all the things you need to get back to school—books, supplies, clothes, and more—can put a serious dent in your budget. For the 2013-2014 school year, educators spent an average of $513 out-of-pocket on classroom supplies, instructional materials and other work-related purchases, says Marci Hansen, CMO for SheerID, a company that verifies teacher and faculty credentials. The finding came from last year’s survey of teachers, in partnership with Agile Education Marketing.

It pays to look for deals, coupons, special offers and tools that help you trim the cost of shopping a little—or a lot.

Here are nine tips from NEA Member Benefits. to get you back to school without blowing your budget.

1. Shop educator-specific sites

“As educators work tirelessly to prepare students to become career and college ready, the last thing they should have to worry about is whether they can afford the learning materials that are vital for academic achievement,” says Kate Whiting, CEO of Educents, an online marketplace for affordable educational products.
Read more

Mortgage Assistance Program for Teachers

2015-07-17_14-53-05Are you looking to buy a home? If you’re considering buying in certain districts or you teach in a shortage area, check out the Connecticut Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program offers home loans at below-market interest rates to Connecticut public school teachers. To be eligible for the program, you must be employed as a Connecticut-certified public school teacher or a certified regional vocational-technical teacher. You must also be a first-time homebuyer unless you purchase a home in a federally targeted area.

Click here to find out if you quality for the Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority website offers information on this and other mortgage programs, a list of participating lenders, targeted areas of the state, subject matter shortage areas, and priority and transitional school districts.

NOTE: New updated information is effective July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016.


Veto Attempt Falls Short

The Connecticut General Assembly held a veto session on Monday, July 20, but didn’t have the votes to overturn the governor’s veto of HB 6977, An Act Establishing Qualifications for the Commissioner of Education.

CEA will revisit the issue again in the next legislative session and urge legislators to once again support the measure, and require reasonable qualifications for the state’s education chief, similar to the qualifications required of the Commissioners of Corrections, Public Health, Emergency Management, and other state agency heads.

Read news articles
CT News Junkie article – General Assembly Opts Not to Override Malloy’s Vetoes.

CT Post – Legislature Does Not Override Any of Malloy’s Vetoes.

Hartford Courant – Legislature Does Not Override Any of Nine Malloy Vetoes.

Connecticut Legislature Won’t Hold Override Session

Thank you to all of the CEA members who have called and emailed their legislators explaining why the state’s education commissioner needs to be required to have education and experience. Unfortunately the Connecticut legislature has decided not to hold an override session. Below is a statement from CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg.


Educators across the state are shaking their heads in disbelief today wondering why legislators, who overwhelmingly passed HB 6977, An Act Establishing Qualifications for the Commissioner of Education, have today decided against an override of the governor’s veto of the bill.

Clearly there is something wrong when state law requires high standards for all professionals in the education community except the person at the helm—the Commissioner of Education.

It’s distressing that the Commissioner of Corrections who oversees prisoners is required to have specific industry experience, while the state’s education chief, who safeguards our most precious resource, our children, is not required to have education experience.

We will revisit this issue again in the next legislative session and urge legislators to once again support the measure and right this wrong by requiring reasonable qualifications for the state’s education chief, similar to the qualifications required of the Commissioners of Corrections, Public Health, Emergency Management, and other state agency heads.

Our children deserve a highly qualified educational leader who has walked in the shoes of teachers and administrators and has the experience needed for this critical job.

CEA Member Leads Charge for Educator-Positive Language at NEA RA

Mystic Middle School teacher Bruce Yarnall speaks before the 7,000 delegate NEA RA who voted to adopt the New Business Item he introduced.

Mystic Middle School teacher Bruce Yarnall spoke before the 7,000 delegate NEA RA, which voted to adopt the New Business Item he introduced.

While it’s a memorable line, it turns out Juliet was wrong. “A rose by any other name” would not, necessarily, smell as sweet. The names and terminology we use affect how we think about and relate to a concept or issue, and that’s why CEA member Bruce Yarnall introduced a New Business Item (NBI) at the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) calling on NEA to use educator-positive language when framing issues.

In explaining NBI 84, the Mystic Middle School teacher said that, during the first day of the NEA RA, a speaker was talking about No Child Left Behind, and he thought, “Why, 14 years after Congress passed that horrible law, are we still using the language they chose for it?”

He added, “When No Child Left Behind came out I thought it was a terrible idea and would cost a lot of money without helping poorer students achieve. NCLB hasn’t changed education like some thought it would, yet it was hard to be against a law called No Child Left Behind.”

Yarnall thinks that educators would do better using their own language to frame debates. The NBI he introduced was approved by the 7,000 delegate NEA RA and reads as follows. Read more

U.S. Senators Debating Education Law: Urge Their Support of Opportunity Dashboard

CEA President Sheila Cohen and Vice President Jeff Leake spoke with Senator Chris Murphy (center) during his visit to a CEA Summer Leadership Conference.

CEA President Sheila Cohen discussed the Senate’s reauthorization of ESEA recently with Senator Chris Murphy in Washington D.C. Above Cohen and Vice President Jeff Leake speak with Murphy (center) during his visit to a past CEA Summer Leadership Conference.

The U.S. Senate is currently debating federal education policy that will impact the future of teaching and learning for years to come. Educators know firsthand how important it is that a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allows time for students to learn and ensures educational opportunity for every child.

That’s why CEA leaders and members have been communicating with their senators and urging support for a “dashboard” of core indicators that will help states and districts identify and begin to close opportunity and resource gaps. CEA members have emphasized that all students must have access to a well-rounded education, no matter where they live.

When CEA President Sheila Cohen met with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy last month in Washington, D.C., to discuss the ESEA reauthorization bill, she stressed teachers’ concerns about the overtesting ushered in by the current iteration of ESEA—also known as No Child Left Behind. Read more

Find and Share Free Summer Meal Locations for Kids

summer mealsWhen school is out for the summer, thousands of children miss meals that they received in school as part of the National School Lunch Program.

End Hunger CT! is trying to change that by providing summer meals for students across the state. The meals are free to all children and teens up to 18 years of age. The campaign is an extension of the federally funded school lunch program and offers students the opportunity to receive a free nutritious meal every day.

End Hunger CT! is using the internet to get the message out about the free meals. A web locator button is posted on the CEA website as well as on a number of government agency and service organization sites to direct families to the meal location closest to their home.

Click here to find a location or text “CTMeals” to 877877.


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