Themes for 2013–14
Building School Morale
How do we build schoolwide cultures in which administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning? This issue will explore how both principals and teachers can achieve balance, reduce stress, and become confident advocates for public education in the face of outside criticisms. What practices build educator morale; protect educators from negative pressures and initiative fatigue; empower them to be problem solvers; and promote trust, mutual respect, collegiality, and celebration? How can the demands of accountability and high expectations be realized in a positive culture? How can school leaders create a culture of community by forging alliances and involving families?
Using Assessments Thoughtfully
With the new assessments connected to the Common Core State Standards to be implemented in the 2014–15 school year, high-stakes tests will continue to be a force shaping schooling. This issue will look at current questions and challenges associated with both high- and low-stakes tests. How different will the new assessments created for the common core be? What must schools do now to prepare for the new tests, including providing professional development and getting the infrastructure needed for computerized testing? How can schools fairly assess English language learners and students with learning differences? What about "exit exams" for high school students? How do such gatekeeper tests affect at-risk youth and the dropout rate? We welcome new perspectives on how to align standardized and classroom-based tests and how to teach for meaning in an age of testing.
Writing: A Core Skill
The Common Core State Standards call for schools to emphasize not only creative and narrative writing, but also argumentative and informative writing. How can writing instruction across the content areas best respond to these new standards? How important is it to explicitly teach language mechanics, such as spelling, vocabulary, and sentence construction? How can schools give writing instruction more time in the day and more focus in all subjects? This issue will examine the writing skills that students need to develop to become college and career ready, as well as promising approaches for teaching writing.
The New Face of Professional Development
Professional learning is no longer only something that schools do for educators; it's also something educators do for themselves. Educators are not only building professional communities online and in their schools and districts, but they are also personalizing their own learning. Data teams, lesson study groups, and virtual communities provide opportunities to learn with and from peers. Teacher-led "unconferences" and edcamps provide new models for professional conferences. And blogs, wikis, and Twitter chats are enabling educators to learn and share anytime and anywhere. How can school leaders customize and evaluate professional development opportunities? What types of learning communities are most effective, and what are some of the barriers to creating such communities?
Summer 2014 - DIGITAL ONLY
Making a Difference
Ask educators why they went into teaching, and the majority will respond that they wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. That initial idealism, however, is often challenged by the realities of heavy workloads, classroom discipline problems, and bureaucratic demands. For this issue, we welcome stories from (and about) individual educators and teams of educators striving to make a measurable difference—for example, by building meaningful relationships or designing innovative programs that helped students overcome challenges, raising academic achievement, supporting students' emotional and physical health and safety, building partnerships with parents, advocating for education reform, or empowering their students to make a difference.
Deadline: April 1, 2014
Themes for 2014–15
Motivated students learn at high levels, even when they start with knowledge or skill gaps. We know, for instance, that when teachers create an engaging curriculum, students will persist in the most challenging courses. Yet many students are unmotivated. Perhaps they feel that the work is too hard or too easy, that their own skills or styles aren't valued, that what they're studying isn't connected to their life goals or passions. This issue will consider how teachers can spark inner motivation in all students—from near drop-outs to high fliers to those sliding by in the middle. How can we change curriculum, instructional approaches, grading, and classroom culture to engage more students in learning?
Deadline: April 1, 2014
Instruction That Sticks
Good teachers know the importance of effective teaching strategies. But how do you know when a strategy is working, when it's not, and how to make adjustments? What do research and professional experience say about which strategies are most effective in raising student achievement? This issue will explore these questions and will include articles examining a variety of classroom instructional strategies, such as project-based learning, reciprocal teaching, inquiry-driven learning, group learning, direct instruction, backward planning, mastery learning, differentiated instruction, and timely feedback. How can teachers implement these strategies in ways that produce the richest learning for their students?
Deadline: May 1, 2014
Talking and Listening in Class
The typical school day is abuzz with student and teacher talk—whole-class discussions, small-group and paired interactions, student presentations, teacher lectures, question-and-answer sessions, student-led debates—and of course, countless social conversations. How can we use all this talk productively to promote rich content-area learning and to develop the speaking and listening skills that are vital to students' future success? Topics in this issue will include teaching students to be active listeners, encouraging respectful debate, leading whole-class discussions that promote higher-order thinking and encourage all students to participate, teaching to the Common Core speaking and listening standards, and designing instruction so that students talk more and teachers talk less.
Deadline: June 2, 2014
December 2014/January 2015
STEM for All
A STEM education is becoming increasingly vital, and not just in terms of a shortage of workers in these areas. Our technology-dependent society demands citizens with sophisticated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills who can apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. How can schools foster student interest in STEM, especially among underrepresented groups? What effect will the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards have on the STEM curriculum? And what supports will teachers need to promote deeper understanding in these areas? We're looking for articles that target each of the subject areas as well as programs that integrate STEM-related subjects.
Deadline: July 1, 2014
Improving Schools: What Works?
Many schools have implemented successful improvement efforts—yet others are struggling to lift their students to acceptable achievement levels. Articles in this issue will examine important components of school improvement, such as education policy, leadership, curriculum, school climate, and community support. We will look at obstacles to school improvement and how they can be overcome. What can we learn from the research on various turnaround models, including turning management over to a charter organization, replacing most of the staff, or even shutting down "failing" schools? We welcome profiles of schools that have gone from low-performing to high-performing, as well as those that have gone from good to better to great.
Deadline: September 2, 2014
Culturally Diverse Classrooms
Children everywhere are coming to school with an array of cultural and linguistic strengths and challenges. How do students' cultural backgrounds influence their interactions with both teachers and classmates, and how can schools improve the academic achievement of their fastest-growing group of students—English language learners? Articles will tackle how schools can personalize learning, promote acquisition of academic English, increase students' access to challenging coursework, and close achievement gaps. What kinds of professional development do all teachers need to serve their culturally diverse students? We welcome articles that address the benefits of classrooms that have a vibrant mix of cultures as well as the challenges associated with poverty, mobility, and interrupted formal education.
Deadline: October 1, 2014
Communications Skills for Leaders
From teachers to principals, formal and informal leaders must communicate well to forge a strong school climate and enhance learning. This issue will examine how school leaders can keep communication transparent and supportive. How can teachers, coaches, resource specialists, and other professionals communicate with one another constructively? How can leaders build strong connections with students, families, and business partners; use social media effectively; talk with teachers in ways that promote their professional growth; hold the inevitable tough conversations; communicate clearly in school crises; and shape their school's image?
Deadline: November 3, 2014
Teaching with Mobile Tech
The digital generation expects to be able to access learning anytime, anywhere. As mobile technologies emerge at breathtaking speed and become a ubiquitous part of students' lives, how are schools evolving? How are teachers using tablets, smartphones, netbooks, and e-readers to engage students as active learners? This issue will explore innovative ways to create more relevant and challenging learning experiences. We welcome articles about educators' experiences with 1:1 tablet and BYOD (bring-your-own-device) programs and about how schools are meeting such challenges as equity issues, security concerns, professional development needs, and school infrastructure supports.
Deadline: December 1, 2014