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ASCD Express is the association's free e-newsletter. Published twice a month, this resource seeks to give educators practical, actionable strategies and information from the most reputable sources—the colleagues and experts working in the education field. ASCD Express content is developed and curated for brevity and relevance to the real experiences of working educators.
ASCD Express seeks brief, practical content. Article submissions typically range from 600 to 1,000 words, and multimedia submissions should be no longer than 10 minutes. Please send submissions to email@example.com.
We welcome research-based submissions as well as your own examples from the classroom and advice about how to adapt successful strategies or overcome challenges, whether as a teacher, administrator, or specialist.
Read our list of upcoming themes, and consider publishing in ASCD Express. When submitting articles, please write the issue theme in the subject line of your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
denotes a theme that corresponds to an issue of Educational Leadership.
Students can play roles in facilitating learning, directing discussions, presenting new knowledge, and collaborating so that their interests drive lesson and unit design. How do you invite student leadership in your classroom? Many teachers can relate to being thrown in to the deep end as new teachers; how do you ensure that students are prepared for their leadership roles? What are the prerequisite skills for student-led learning, and how do you cultivate them? What scaffolds help students take the reins in meaningful ways?
Submissions due: Closed
Educators are often the experts in knowing what students need—and they are increasingly assuming prominent roles in making schools better. This issue will consider how educators are spurring improvement by advocating policy change, mentoring peers, implementing innovative projects, pushing for shifts in the status quo, and making positive change in the lives of children. How can classroom teachers, principals, and other administrators work together for change? How can educators gain a voice at the tables where big decisions about curriculum, testing, and the profession are made? What are the roles of PLCs and online communities of teachers in fostering change? And what does it look like when classroom teachers go beyond "random acts of great teaching" and lead by modeling hope, caring, and grit in tough times?
Grades support student motivation to learn when they provide feedback on where students are in their learning, and what they need to do to progress to a clearly defined target. However, for many students, grades are an epitaph to failure or achievement, the sum total of how smart you are or how much potential you have. Instead of this deflating view, we should want students to pursue a growth mindset, and see "grades as formative feedback that tells you how well you have met learning goals, and whether you need to work harder or change your strategy," writes researcher Lisa Blackwell. Students can't take this learning-centered view of assessment on their own. They need educators who create a "context where assessment is informative and motivating, not judgmental and scary" Blackwell adds. How do your grading policies help students grow as learners? How do you get students' families on board with this approach to grades? Practically, how do you ensure your grading practices are both meaningful and manageable?
The first days of school are an opportunity to set the tone and culture of your school or classroom. Clearly-communicated, student-centered routines create a sense of care and order, and that is the foundation for positive learning. What routines and procedures help you manage diverse learners? How do you consistently communicate expectations and help students develop the ability to self-regulate and self-assess their progress toward those targets? What do you do when things get off course?
There is no more universally relevant and enduring skill than the ability to self-regulate one's learning. It is the lifelong learning skill par excellence. Yet, authors Moss and Brookhart observe, "In too many classrooms, students are making poor decisions about what they should do, do next, or stop doing in order to improve. As a result, many students lack both the skill and the will to harness the workings of their own minds in order to succeed" (2009). How do you weave goal setting into the everyday workings of your classroom or school? What guides and models do you provide, and how have student-initiated goals shifted other areas of your pedagogy? How can students keep individual goals in mind while supporting each other's efforts?
Submissions due: July 1
"Students won't care what you know until they know that you care." Research shows that stable, warm, and trusting student-teacher relations are a prerequisite for learning. This issue will look at how teachers can nurture relationships—even with oppositional students, struggling students, and those who prefer to hide. What are fresh strategies for getting to know kids and their passions as well as their cultures and families? How can we handle tough discipline issues while preserving students' trust? Affirm the strengths of strugglers even as we push them to stretch to reach standards? Give more than lip service to improving social and communication skills—so that students and teachers alike can cultivate a caring classroom community?
Submissions due: July 15
As students progress through school, learning can become increasingly sedentary. Adding physical activity to the school day has been linked to increasing students' capacity to learn, so why relegate pulse-pumping movement to gym class? Beyond brain breaks, how do you get students out of their seats or moving around the room? How do you help students connect mind and body as they explore content? How do you ensure that physically active learning is meaningful? Kinesthetic learning strategies can help engage passive learners and infuse your classroom with energy. What are your secrets to managing classrooms that are humming with activity? And how do you encourage introverted students to participate in a more active classroom?
Submissions due: August 1
"Creative teachers take joy in planning a variety of lessons," Nel Noddings has said. But in the quest to teach so much content and skills, planning isn't always creative or joyful. This issue will share promising approaches that strike a balance between planning required content and allowing lessons to follow students' questions and enthusiasms. Articles will take on big questions like how to ensure time for addressing standards, differentiation, and higher-order thinking, and how to try innovative planning approaches like flipped classrooms and interdisciplinary projects. We also welcome articles on the nitty gritty: how to begin and end a lesson, ways to use scripts effectively, how to set learning targets—and how to know when to ditch even your best-laid plans.
Submissions due: August 15
How well you write affects your ability to synthesize new learning, organize ideas, and communicate effectively. It's the most common assessment in college and the daily currency of globally and digitally connected careers. It's also where you'll find some of the most persistent gaps in education. The 2011 Nation's Report Card on writing found about a quarter of students can write proficiently. How can teachers, across content areas, provide more opportunities for student writing? How can teachers help students hone their ability to write arguments based on what they've read? What are the best strategies for teaching students to develop a claim and connect it to evidence, to refine structure and organization, or to find and amplify their own voice through writing? What skills are essential for the college-ready writer, and how are they practiced in classrooms? How do you manage feedback and grading for writing assignments?
Submissions due: September 1
Despite decades of effort, public education still struggles with inequity. This issue will explore how educators can address the barriers that create opportunity gaps for students on the basis of their socioeconomic level, race, ethnicity, and gender. Articles will examine areas where equity is a challenge, such as financial resources, teacher quality, technology instruction, and access to a challenging curriculum. How can we confront the forces that keep economic and racial segregation in place? How can schools ensure fair, unbiased, and effective discipline practices? How can they bring traditionally marginalized families and students into the conversation? How can they create socially integrated climates within schools? How are schools and individual educators challenging inequity and rethinking assumptions about poverty, race, and gender?
Submissions due: September 15
Great educators know how to be responsive in the moment, adjust on a dime, and demonstrate "with it" teaching. So much of teaching involves microscopic moves that ripple into bigger effects. How do you respond to student mistakes during class discussion? What about when the conversation turns (and it will) in an unexpected direction? How do you pull students back in when they start to tune out? When you notice some students get it while others are confused, how do you meet everyone's needs? A few minutes into your lesson plan you realize it's not going to work; how do you shift gears with derailing the day? Dissect a moment of your teaching and tell us why you did what you did, and what you learned from it.
Submissions due: October 1
Revisit the most liked, clicked, and shared ideas we published in 2016. We hope this collection serves you well and energizes your work in the New Year.
What does it mean to live and work across many cultures, many time zones, and many technologies? Our students are certain to find out! This issue will explore how we can help students develop the global competencies they will need for active, responsible citizenship in an increasingly interconnected world. What helps students understand multiple perspectives on history and world events? How are they learning to collaborate and communicate? Tell us about your innovative language instruction programs, STEM classes, and arts curriculums that further career success, inform civic engagement, and promote flexible thinking, creativity, and problem solving. How are schools educating students about global problems? Are we teaching students how to cope with continuous and rapid change? Are we teaching them to be ethical citizens?
Submissions due: October 15
Learning through play and messy, joyful discovery – these are often the hallmarks of our earliest learning experiences. Which developmental approaches to learning are the most successful, and how can teachers across the K–12 continuum apply these principles? What should early learning focus on? Are tests appropriate for our youngest students? How can we support language rich learning in school and at home? Which early learning initiatives hold the most promise for giving each student a great start?
Submissions due: November 1
In a whole child approach to education, each student experiences challenging curriculum that prepares them for success in college, career, and the global community. Yet studies show a growing lack of rigor in the work students do as they move through school. Struggling students can feel particularly caught in a cycle of "baby stuff," or below-grade level work that never moves them beyond the basics. This issue will look at what educators are doing to map assignments to grade-level standards and make challenging work accessible to all students, whether they come to school below or above grade level. How do you unpack the standards to create a roadmap to rigor? How do you work with colleagues to diagnose gaps and design challenging assignments? What can leaders do to fuel schools where every student is pushed to new levels?
Submissions due: November 15
John Locke said that reading furnishes only the materials of knowledge: "It is thinking that makes what we read ours." No matter what the discipline, students need to be able to think and write about the material they read so it becomes their own. Across the curriculum, teachers are looking for better ways to develop these reading, writing, and thinking skills. Articles in this issue will describe strategies teachers use to support students who struggle with reading, to find relevant academic texts, and to incorporate writing activities to enhance learning. How can we teach students to tackle complex texts and develop skills like locating textual evidence, evaluating arguments, and synthesizing information from print and digital sources? How does the application of these skills vary for different disciplines?
Submissions due: December 15
"Relationships are the 13-letter F word in education," says student voice advocate Russell Quaglia. He argues that education policies don't do enough to elevate human connections, even though educators on the ground know this work is central. In this issue, we'll revisit our popular "Relationships First" theme from September with even more strategies and success stories from educators living the adage, "they don't care what you know until they know that you care."
Submissions due: January 1
"Have it your way" may be a catchy slogan, but how does it work in education? This issue will delve into the various ways educators define student-centered learning and what it looks like in schools. Articles will explore differentiation, project-based learning, "school of one," and customized learning using computers. To what extent is personalization possible in a standards-oriented education environment? How can technology best aid student-centered learning? Tell us how you've seen personalization done well—and not so well. We're interested in what the research says about the benefits of student-centered learning as well as stories of schools that have reimagined their instruction, schedules, and structures to give students more choice.
Submissions due: January 15
We learn to count on our fingers, one of the earliest indicators that math learning is dependent on our ability to create visual pathways for mathematical concepts. Now, research led by Stanford's Jo Boaler shows that training people on ways to perceive their own fingers while solving problems results in higher math achievement. In response, educators and parents are looking for ways to help students develop their brains to better "see" the math they are learning. How do you get students to envision math? How do you represent math concepts through visuals? What approaches do you use to get students to envision math? How do you provide opportunities for students to represent ideas in pictures, graphs, or other student-generated images? How might teachers in other content areas ask students to visualize data patterns?
Submissions due: February 1
All too often students are defined by their disability—a label affixed to their IEP, student records, and, over time, their identity. A growing movement seeks to shift the paradigm from "learning disabilities" to "learning differences." This small semantic change signals a shift in acknowledging that no two brains are the same, so no two students learn in the same fashion. We're interested in research into the science of various learning differences as well as articles on skills-based strategies that help students learn. Instead of labeling ADHD, autism, or dyslexia as deficits, how can we use all students' strengths to help them learn? How can approaches like Universal Design for Learning meet the unique needs of all? Tell us how you have embraced learning differences and the effect it has had on student achievement and school climate.
Submissions due: February 15
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