What’s Happening in North Carolina?

I am honored to be joining the Delta Kappa Gamma Chapter in Hickory this evening to share current initiatives from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as well as the latest news about the changing face of education.

Professional Development

North Carolina teachers need professional development now more than ever before. With new curriculum standards, professional development standards that are but a few years old, and a changing pedagogical landscape, professional development is not only needed but necessary. Click here to view my presentation for The Governor’s Education Transformation Commission.

Professional Development comes in all different shapes and sizes. During the 2012-13 school year, the length of the school year was extended to 185 days. North Carolina school districts could opt for a waiver for five extra days and use those days for professional development rather than student days. The majority of NC schools did opt for the waiver and has used the days to provide professional development for their educators.

NC Modules

NC Educator Modules provide NC educators with differentiated professional development.

One method of professional development is through the North Carolina Professional Development Modules. These modules can be self-paced, facilitated by a local facilitator, or completed in small groups.

Another method is our DPI-RESA Partnership, funded through Race to the Top. Through this initiative, professional development is provided free of cost for RttT LEAs and Charters. Topics include:

All Curriculum Content Areas
North Carolina Educator Evaluation System

  • Evaluation Process
  • Inter-Rater Reliability – Click here for a sample presentation
  • Coaching Marginal Teachers – Click here for a sample presentation

Data Literacy
21st Century Classroom
Fidelity Checks

Summer Institutes provide yet another opportunity for NC Teachers to receive professional development.

Webinars are also used by all divisions at DPI to disseminate information.  Webinars are archived for participants who cannot join them in real-time.  Each division houses webinars on their individual wikis.


With so much “new” in our state, educators were reeling without some organizational structure in place to help them know where to go to find information.  Wikicentral was created to help NC educators find what they are looking within a matter of clicks.  Click here to access wikicentral.


The Wikicentral Symbaloo provides NC educators with a one-stop shop platform for information from DPI.

Educator Effectiveness and Assessment

A great deal of emphasis today is on educator effectiveness and assessment. North Carolina has adopted a sixth professional teaching standard for teachers and an eighth professional teaching standard for principals. These standards will use value-added data to determine educator effectiveness.  State standardized tests and common exams will be administered and evaluated to determine an educator’s effectiveness.  Click here to learn more about common exams.

Click here to see a sample presentation.

Click here to see a beginning-intermediate training on EVAAS.

Home Base

homebaseHome Base is a statewide, instructional improvement (IIS) and student information system (SIS) for teachers, students, parents and administrators. Teachers will be able to use Home Base to access student data and teaching and learning resources. Students will be able to access their schoolwork, grades, and learning activities. Parents will be able to view their child’s attendance and progress, and administrators can monitor data on students, teachers and schools. Not only does Home Base put data and resources at the users’ fingertips, it does so with single sign-on access to the integrated system made up of the following components: Learner Profile and Student Information; Standards & Curriculum; Instructional Design, Practice & Resources; Assessment; Data Analysis and Reporting; and Professional Development & Educator Evaluation.

basics of hb

If you are interested in learning more about Home Base, you can access all Home Base webinars by clicking here.

Current Legislation of Interest

Excellent Public Schools Act SB 337- (Senator Berger) – This bill has two parts.  The senate bill does away with career status/tenure for public school teachers and positions the state for merit pay.    A new bill came out from Senator Berger – mandating the 10 point grading scale – moving away from the criteria model.  Dr. Atkinson and other DPI leaders met with House and Senate leaders across the state to share with them that the model currently in place does not accurately represent the state of our schools.

House Bill: HB 719 now competing with SB337 – (Representative Holloway) – The house bill is better for schools in terms of the grading.  One element of the house bill is a waiver for class size.

If you are interested in keeping areas of major bills of importance, check NCGA website – Rachel Beaulieu sends updates every Friday night at 7 pm – http://legislative.ncpublicschools.gov/

Voucher Bills:  HB 269:  Currently, two voucher bills exist. One is for EC students -parents can take money and use it for enrollment in private school.  Private schools do not have to adhere to IEPs to meet students’ needs.  There is currently discussion around parents having choice to pull students out of public schools since they know the needs of their children best.  This voucher passed.
Second Bill – Public school money may be used to fund parochial or religious schools.  This is the beginning of opening the door for wherever students go, money follows them.   Both bills are a cause for concern.  A major concern is the fact that private schools often cannot accommodate the physical, social, emotional, and exceptional needs of all students.

Terms to Know:   tax credit, scholarship, and voucher are being used interchangeably.

#NCed Chat

nced#NCed chat is a bi-weekly Twitter chat for North Carolina educators and others who are interested in or invested in education. #NCed Chat will provide an opportunity for North Carolina educators to grow and develop their personal learning network (PLN) by connecting to other NC educators throughout the state .  The chat will create a forum for North Carolina educators to come together once every other week in a public Twitter conversation around topics that pertain to their work and connect with other educators with similar interests.

The chats will be primarily moderated by school and district level practitioners. By incorporating the NC Department of Public Instruction into the chats, NCDPI can receive real-time feedback from educators across the state on issues that they are facing and best practices that are yielding positive results. Additionally, incorporating NCDPI into the chats will allow NCDPI to provide expert insight into issues, strategies, resources, etc. that are being shared and discussed in the chat. The chat is not intended to be a NCDPI responsibility, but instead it is intended to be a peer sharing approach for NC educators that NCDPI can supplement.

Check out our #NCed flyer to learn about upcoming chats.

Check out archived chats by clicking here.

If you would like more information about NC Initiatives, feel free to contact me.


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Student Blogging Challenge

Do you have students in your class that need an anchor activity to work on when they complete their work? Do you need a way to interest reluctant learners in your class?  Maybe you want to learn with your students about how you can incorporate blogs in your classroom.  Perhaps the Student Blogging Challenge is what you need.

Edublogs is sponsoring its 8th annual Student Blogging Challenge.  Students, classes, and mentors from all over the world are invited to join the challenge — regardless of their blogging skills. That’s right, REGARDLESS of their blogging skills.  🙂 The challenges take place over 10 weeks with goals of improving blogging skills and allowing students or classes the opportunity to collaborate with students all over the world.

Information for first-time participants, including FAQs and information about the challenge can be found here.

Committed?  Ready to register?  Click here!

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Great article for supporting PBL with digital tools

21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning

Welcome to the second in a series of PBL Mania Posts. For the next few weeks I am celebrating Project Based Learning by hosting a webinar at Edtech Leaders Online and giving a PBL session at the NICE Conference in Chicago. In this post I will introduce you to some outstanding collaboration tools found on the web that can be used in the PBL classroom.  Before reading  please take a moment to subscribe to this 21centuryedtech Blog by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  You will not want to miss this series or future posts involving STEM, Flipping the Classroom, Technology Integration, Common Core, and 21st Century Skills,  So Sign Up Now! As always… thanks and have a great week.  – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

First Some Notes For PD This Week

1. STEM educators may wish to join Hall Davidson from Discovery Education…

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Need Support with Information Literacy: IRIS is a Great Place to Start

The research process is so comprehensive that although you know what you want your students to do, they are often at such varying levels of ability and understanding that beginning a research project can be overwhelming for you and for them. Since Information Literacy is such a major part of the 21st century research process, students must have a working understanding of how to put the pieces of the research puzzle together.

Choose from a variety of modules to support your students through each stage of the research process.

IRIS, the Seattle Community Colleges Information, Research, and Instruction Site, provides students with multiple modules to complete on everything from the research process, to analyzing sources.  There are even modules on plagiarism, primary and secondary sources, and how to explore a variety of different print and non-print sources.  IRIS also has quizzes that students can take after they complete the tutorials so that they can assess their understanding of a topic.

There are multiple classroom implications for this site.  First, teachers can differentiate and assign modules as students need them. They can also jigsaw these modules and have students share what they learn with classmates.  Or, students could complete specific modules simultaneously and discuss their impact on the research they are doing.  No matter how students use this site, they will find an easy to navigate, student-friendly resource for understanding the research process.

I read through several of the modules and found that they are appropriate for high school students, and with some support most middle school students can handle these modules.

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Looking for Basic Information? Try Qwiki!

Click the icon above to visit Qwiki

Qwiki is a technology company pioneering a new media format that combines the appeal of video with the interactivity of the web. Each “Qwiki” is easily created through a browser – enabling users to combine pictures, videos, infographics and their own voice into a beautiful, interactive presentation describing anything. Qwiki has raised approximately $11 million in funding from a number of top-tier investors, including the co-founders of Facebook, Groupon and YouTube.

Qwiki was recently recognized by Apple as the 2011 iPad App of the year in the Search & Reference category, with ~1 million downloads. We won the TechCrunch Disrupt (San Francisco 2010) startup competition in 2010 and The New York Times has called us “…a seed that will blossom into another Internet wonder.”

I found Qwiki to be a great way to get and share information in a high-interest format. The best thing about Qwiki? It’s free! Take a few minutes to explore the Qwiki site. Type in a topic, and see what you can learn.

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Becoming a CORE Ninja!

I just read from cover to cover one of the best, most user-friendly guides developed to support teachers and administrators in our quest to gain a greater understanding of the Common Core State Standards.  Written in a witty, realistic, and clear voice, this guide provides some keen insight into what it takes to be a CORE ninja.

When you get a few quiet moments, take time to read through this resource.  I think you will like what you find.


Click on the image to open the web version of the document.


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ELA Live Binders: A Great Resource for You

Have you had an opportunity to check out the two live binders developed by the English Language Arts Section at NCDPI?  These binders were developed to support ELA teachers and administrators through varying levels of study and understanding.  The Self-Study Binder and the Resources Binder provide a great place to start your study of the Common Core State Standards for ELA or to increase your understanding of resources available to support your work at the classroom, school, and district level.

Here’s what you will find in each binder:

The Self Study LiveBinder of the ELA Common Core

The Self Study Binder can support you as you learn about the CCSS for ELA.

This LiveBinder is directed to those interested in learning about the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards and provides an overview as well as an in-depth, close reading of the standards. The range of tasks offers users an opportunity to determine their own specific needs and follow a path that is suited to their understanding and specific direction.

Each tab contains one lesson. Within each lesson, participants may engage in activities, review informative slides, read articles, and view videos. Each lesson culminates with a checklist of skills and learning objectives to provide users with an expectation or framework of understanding.

The lessons and resources have been taken from the professional development opportunities that have been offered across the state. The ELA team will continue to add to the binder and keep the links updated.

Though this could certainly be used by individuals, the ELA team strongly encourages users to use this resource within a PLC (Professional Learning Community) as discussion and interaction would certainly enrich the experience.

The Resources LiveBinder

The Resources Binder can support your PLC work and your Professional Development Plan.

This binder provides an organized collection of resources for the ELA Common Core State Standards. The ELA Section hopes this binder will help to inform your district’s professional development or add clarity to current initiatives. The ELA team will continue to update this binder as they learn of more resources that will assist educators in implementing these new standards.

Please direct questions to ncdpi.ela@gmail.com
The NCDPI ELA team wants to support you in your quest for clarification and deeper understanding of the ELA CCSS.

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Text Graffiti: Previewing Challenging Topics

The Teaching Channel has some exceptional videos of classrooms where strategies are being implemented that align with the Common Core State Standards.  Check out this strategy called “Text Graffiti” that aligns with Reading Literature Standard 1 for Grade 8.

Click on this image to see how text graffiti helps student preview a text.

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The SIFT Method of Analyzing Literature

If you are an English or Language Arts teacher looking for a way to help students analyze a complex text effectively, then perhaps you should try the SIFT method.  With all this talk of “text complexity” and “grappling with text,” this video offers an example of what this looks like with adolescents.

Check out how Meagan Berkowitz uses this method to help her students compare and contrast two poems.

Click on the photo to see how Berkowitz uses the SIFT method.

Tackling Complex Texts with Success

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Inquiry-Based Math Lessons

As I continue to work with middle and high school math teachers regarding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, one of the most difficult concepts for many to grasp is “how” to use the flipped classroom design or structure lessons that are inquiry-based, project-based, or problem-based.

As I have said before, very few teachers in the classroom today have experienced inquiry-based mathematics instruction — not as students, not as prospective teachers, and not as classroom teachers. Teachers have said to me, “I want to do this, but I don’t know how. If someone can just show me how, then I will do it.”

Today, I had the opportunity to work with Cheryl Rhea, an exceptional math teacher from Hickory High School, who shared these two videos on inquiry-based math instruction she found on the Teaching Channel. I think they provide a good source to start some initial conversations about how math instruction needs to look and about how we get from where we are now to where we need to go.

Using Stations to Explore Algebra Expressions

How Many Peas Fill the Classroom

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