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West Hartford Teacher Brings NASA into the Classroom


Fifth-graders in Courtney Jacklin’s class at Smith STEM School in West Hartford watched videos of astronauts aboard the International Space Station as part of a video conference with NASA this week.

Excitement flowed through the fifth-graders in Courtney Jacklin’s class this week — “NASA is in our classroom!” they told each other. NASA’s Digital Learning Network allows schools to video conference with experts on a wide variety of topics, and it’s been a great teaching tool at this science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) magnet school in West Hartford.

Jacklin, who has used NASA web conferences with classes before, said that it’s a great way to engage and inspire her students. The web conference she and her students took part in this week, titled Humans in Space, kicked off her unit on the Earth, sun, and moon.

Jacklin said that the web conference and the preparation her students do for it ahead of time, including brainstorming questions, gets the kids enthusiastic for the new unit. “It gets them excited and thinking about the subject matter before we get into the meat of it,” she said. Read more

A Must Read About Charter Schools

Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen on the Annenberg Report 

CEA President Sheila Cohen says a new report about charter schools raises fundamental questions about access, equity, and accountability in public education.

The report from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University features a comprehensive set of standards that — if adopted by state legislatures — would promote greater transparency and oversight of charter schools and their management companies. The standards also address equal opportunity in an effort to better ensure that charter schools serve all members of their local communities.

“This report is a must read for state legislators and other policymakers, parents, educators, and communities,” says Cohen. Read more

Enterovirus D68: Information and Resources

The first case of Enterovirus D68 has been confirmed in Connecticut, after sickening children in Missouri and Illinois and spreading to other states. This virus is a respiratory illness that causes mild cold- or flu-like symptoms in most of those infected, but can sometimes cause difficulty breathing and require hospitalization.

Anyone can become infected with the enterovirus, however, infants, children, and teens are more likely to be affected because they have less immunity to such viruses.

The resources below provide more information on the virus and how to stop its spread. Read more

Retired Members Active and Learning

CEA Retired CEA-Retired members gathered at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington today to catch up with their colleagues and learn more about issues of special interest to retirees. CEA-Retired works in conjunction with CEA to improve retirement, pension, and health benefits and holds meetings open to all members every spring and fall.

CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown addresses the retired educators.

CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown addresses the retired educators.

Today’s meeting featured presentations titled Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s/Dementia and Scams Aimed at Seniors, as well as information from the State Teachers’ Retirement Board on changes to its prescription drug program.

We’ll have more about these presentations here and in the CEA Advisor.

Your September Deals and Discounts

One of the many benefits of CEA and NEA membership is the discounts and deals you and your colleagues can receive. Back-to-school supplies, the NEA Propane Discount Program, and the NEA Hearing Care Program are just some of the offers for members that NEA Member Benefits is highlighting this month.

NEA Click & Save “Buy-lights”

NEA Click & Save, the online discount buying service for NEA members, highlights select retailers and merchants each month. Check out these featured “Buy-lights” for September. Read more

Pediatricians Recommend Later Start for Secondary Students

Waking up in time to catch the bus can sometimes be a challenge for adolescents, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is behind a solution to help them out. The AAP recently issued a policy statement calling for middle and high schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The physicians say that a later start time is more appropriate for the biological sleep rhythms of secondary students.

Pediatrician Judith Owens, lead author of the policy statement, said, “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores, and an overall better quality of life.” Read more

Timeline for Foundations of Reading Survey Delayed

A message from CEA President Sheila Cohen regarding the Foundations of Reading Survey.

I am forwarding to you a memo from the State Department of Education that was sent to all Superintendents.

There have been numerous and different concerns raised regarding the Foundations of Reading Survey, concerns that include its administration, how the results will be reported, to whom the results will be reported, where the results will be stored, and how the results will be used in driving professional development and student instruction.

For now, the timeline has been pushed back until late fall. We will keep you informed as developments occur.

Thank You for all you do every single day!!


From: Nemr, Georgette []
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 4:28 PM
To: Reading Survey
Cc: Barzee, Sarah; Pugliese, Nancy
Subject: Reading Survey UPDATE
Importance: High

Dear Reading Survey Liaisons:

Due to questions that have arisen about the implementation of the Reading Survey, the survey administration window dates have been delayed until late fall. We will continue to communicate updates about the status of the survey as soon as we reach a decision about the new administration dates.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please forward them to our dedicated email address

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and your teachers in the scheduling of the reading survey administration for the fall. Thank you for your assistance and patience.

Georgette Nemr
Bureau of Educator Standards & Certification Connecticut State Department of Education

Exercise or sitting still? What works best for overly active children?

A new study questions the wisdom of cutting gym and exercise classes in schools across the country.

According to the study published in the Journal of Pediatric Research at the University of Illinois, small amounts of exercise enable children to improve their focus and academic performance. The study tested students with A.D.H.D. and those without and found that both groups of students performed better academically after exercise.

Researchers discussed their finding in a New York Times article, Put the Physical in Education:

While there were few measurable differences in any of the children’s scores after quiet reading, they all showed marked improvements in their math and reading comprehension scores after the exercise. More striking, the children with A.D.H.D. significantly increased their scores on a complicated test, one in which they had to focus on a single cartoon fish on-screen while other cartoon fish flashed on-screen to distract them. Brain-wave readings showed that after exercise, the children with A.D.H.D. were better able to regulate their behavior, which helped them pay attention. They responded more nimbly to mistakes like incorrect keystrokes. In short, the children with A.D.H.D. were better students academically after exercise. So were the students without A.D.H.D.

While the short-term study leaves many questions unanswered, the initial research clearly shows that exercise is beneficial for dealing with children with attention-control problems.

Have your experiences been consistent or contrary to the new research?

Governor takes steps to reduce standardized testing

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today released a letter he sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking to reduce the number of high-stakes exams for students in Grade 11.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We are extremely pleased, as are the teachers across the state, that this Governor has taken this step to notify the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that Connecticut will not be part of this continuing corporate push for more standardized testing of our students. Governor Malloy has recognized that student learning and instruction should be at the heart of our public school education system and not test results.”

Read Governor Malloy’s news release and letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Teachers spend $1.6 billion of their own money on back-to-school supplies

Some things never change: Teachers buying supplies

How much do you spend on your students and classroom?

This year, educators are spending between $500 and $1,500 for their students and their classroom.

A study by the Education Market Association found that virtually all, 99.5 percent of teachers, spend their own money on instructional materials and classroom supplies for their students, including notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, and other necessities. In total, public school teachers across the country spend an estimated $1.6 billion a year.

If parents are financially unable to provide the necessities or if students forget or lose their supplies, then teachers fill the gaps. The spending can be particularly heavy for teachers at lower-income schools, where students often show up for school without the most basic supplies, such as pens and paper.


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