Themes for 2014–15
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.
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.
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?
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.
Summer 2015 Online Issue
Improving Schools from Within
Has your school gone from low-performing to high-performing? Has your school overcome obstacles to change for the better? If you have participated in a reform effort or turnaround model that worked (or did not work), share your knowledge and experience with other educators by submitting an article to the summer all-digital 2015 issue. This issue will extend our February 2015 theme, "Improving Schools: What Works?" to look at some up-close examples of schools that worked with their communities, sharpened their focus, took risks to innovate, or built trust within their schools or districts. What are your recommendations for others who want to apply the lessons you've learned?
Deadline: March 15, 2015
Themes for 2015–16
Questioning for Learning
One of a teacher's most important practices is asking questions—to spark students' interest, evaluate their readiness for instruction, reinforce their learning, develop their critical-thinking skills, and assess their understanding. What kinds of questions help students deepen their thinking rather than merely reach the "right" answers? How can teachers create written and oral assessment questions that reveal student knowledge? How can they engage students in exploring intriguing essential questions and reassure students who are afraid to show they don't know something? How can they teach students to generate their own questions and research topics in depth? We welcome articles about oral and written questioning strategies at all grade levels and in all subject areas.
Deadline: April 1, 2015
Emotionally Healthy Kids
Cognitive science tells us that students' emotions affect their motivation, attention span, memory, behavior, and ultimately, their academic achievement. Yet anxiety and stress among students seem to be on the rise. How can educators help all students learn to deal with their emotions to enhance learning? How can teachers best support students who have emotional and mental health problems—and whose behavior may disrupt other students' learning? And how can educators connect with counselors and mental health professionals to reach students who need intensive help? Articles will look at strategies for creating emotionally safe classrooms, building social skills and empathy, and helping kids learn to support one another.
Deadline: May 1, 2015
Doing Data Right
Most educators receive mounds of data that they're not sure what to do with-—yet they can't always get the information that they need day-to-day. This issue looks at how educators can extract useful data (both quantitative and qualitative) from the flood of information available, cope efficiently with data they're required to gather, and generate learning-centered information about their students and schools. We seek articles on such topics as expanding our view of data beyond test scores, setting up a school culture in which teachers examine student data and translate data into meaningful action, using qualitative data-collection techniques like peer observation and home visits, harnessing technology to organize data, and sharing data with school stakeholders to help them mobilize support.
Deadline: June 1, 2015
December 2015/January 2016
Teaching in Tandem
Today, many educators are finding innovative ways to teach together. But do teachers have the skills and supports they need to make such collaborations work? This issue will explore the benefits and challenges of two or more professionals working together to plan and deliver instruction. Articles will address how teachers can develop relationship-building skills, how regular classroom teachers and special education teachers can coordinate instruction to serve learners with special needs, and how instructional specialists (such as reading or math specialists, English as a second language teachers, and school library media specialists) can best work with classroom teachers, including assisting remotely through technology. We welcome articles on teaching integrated content-area units at the secondary level and on the role of the school leader in supporting teacher collaboration.
Deadline: July 1, 2015
Helping ELLs Excel
As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, schools are serving more English language learners (ELLs). These students come to school with many gifts, as well as challenges. This issue will address how schools can set high but achievable expectations for ELLs to ensure that they can not only survive academically, but also excel. For example, how are schools recognizing English language learners' strengths and integrating their cultural experiences, background knowledge, and home language skills into the learning environment? Supporting academic learning with active, hands-on activities that transcend language barriers? Providing differentiated opportunities for ELLs to demonstrate learning? Helping ELLs develop the academic vocabulary they need to learn in subjects like math, social studies, and science? Grouping students so that native English speakers and ELLs can interact with and learn from one another?
Deadline: September 1, 2015
Learning for Life
Educators are supposed to prepare students for life beyond school, but it's not always clear what that life will look like. What do students need to know and be able to do when they finish school? How can educators foster skills for lifelong learning? What nonacademic skills are essential to future success? What models, such as the maker movement, project-based learning, and online learning, best prepare students for the kind of learning they'll need to do outside school? And how are schools using community and business partnerships to expose students to a variety of career options and hands-on learning experiences, such as apprenticeships and job shadowing?
Deadline: October 1, 2015
Looking at Student Work
Students produce a great deal of work both in and out of school. What can these products tell us about what students have learned? This issue will describe how teachers can best examine student work to provide feedback, assign grades, assess students' strengths and learning needs, and differentiate instruction. What kinds of class work and homework yield the most information about students' learning? What kinds of feedback truly encourage learning and growth? How can teachers guide students to assess their own work as well as that of their peers? And how are teacher teams collaboratively examining student work and using their findings to improve instruction? We welcome articles that highlight a wide range of student work—from traditional seat work to authentic performances—in all content areas.
Deadline: November 2, 2015
The Working Lives of Educators
Teachers today must navigate unprecedented public scrutiny and criticism, resource shortages, increasingly diverse student populations, and stringent accountability pressures. Meanwhile, in many districts, working conditions are changing: Tenure is being eliminated, more demanding evaluation systems are in place, and teachers work a longer school day to address student needs. This issue will examine the new pressures teachers face and the support they need at different career stages. How can schools mentor new teachers and provide opportunities for midcareer ones? What are good models for both providing job security and encouraging teachers to improve their practice? How can leaders use evaluation to empower teachers and help them grow professionally? We are looking for articles from practitioners on how they set up sane and sustaining working conditions for pressured teachers.
Deadline: December 1, 2015