Publish in ASCD Express
Published every two weeks, ASCD Express, launched in fall 2005, seeks to give a new generation of educators in the United States and around the world the practical information they need to be the best-informed in the field.
Because of the nature of the web and the demands made on typical educators—too much information and too little time to read it—ASCD Express seeks brief, practical content (articles of about 600 words; multimedia no longer than 10 minutes).
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.
denotes a theme that corresponds to an issue of Educational Leadership.
January 3: Best Practices for Student Engagement
Today’s classrooms have students not only from a broad range of social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds, but also with special needs in cognitive, emotional, and physical areas. Faced with such varied students, with diverse backgrounds or different needs, how can a teacher expect to engage each one for optimum learning? This issue welcomes articles that show how schools can use a strengths-based approach to education that takes into account the assets that each student brings to the table. What can teachers and school administrators do to recognize individual student's strengths and build upon these to maximize learning and students' full participation in the life of the school?
January 17: Thoughtful Arts Integration
Schools commonly say that they value the arts in the curriculum, yet art and music are often the first programs cut when budgets get tightened. Even in tough economic times, how can schools ensure that the arts bring to K–12 students those skills and knowledge that they cannot get any other way? Is it possible to integrate the arts, whether visual, musical, or dramatic, into the regular curriculum so that all students can benefit from exposure to the unique practices in those fields? This issue seeks to highlight a range of programs that integrate arts into the curriculum, whether a full-scale arts academy or innovative efforts to infuse the arts across a variety of disciplines.
January 31: Create Your Own Professional Learning Network
In the age of the web and burgeoning social media tools, starting a professional learning network (PLN) is easily done. PLNs also enable educators to communicate with others in their profession through various Web tools: Teachers or administrators can consult with their peers in the next district or on the other side of the world to share ideas, troubleshoot problems, or discover how others put lessons into practice. We’re looking for articles about the specific benefits and challenges that maintaining a professional learning network brings to an educator’s practice. What kind of models, tools, and practices for using PLNs are most helpful to teachers? To administrators? Also, how difficult is it to bridge the virtual divide and meet those in your network face-to-face? How does that helps the PLN experience?
February 14: Creativity Now!
Creativity is often mentioned as an important 21st century skill, but the emphasis on basics and high-stakes testing is squeezing it out of the curriculum. This issue will explore how to foster creative thinking, problem solving, and student engagement. How can teachers make classrooms safe for students to take intellectual risks, to challenge traditional assumptions, and to think outside the box? What specific skills, dispositions, and ways of thinking does research show that students acquire through arts education? How can teachers foster inspiring, creative learning while still focusing on core skills—and how can they assess students' creative work? We welcome descriptions of schools and innovative programs that use the arts, technology, and other tools to unlock the creativity and potential of students who fail to thrive in more traditional school settings.
February 28: Putting Students at the Center
The call for the teacher to be the "guide by the side, not the sage on the stage" is already an education reform cliché. Bromides aside, it's still an ideal worth shooting for. But what does it mean, really, to put the students at the center of learning? Basically, it requires overhauling traditional classroom teaching styles so students focus on what they learn because they’re intrinsically motivated instead of fretting over gold stars and grades. Using feedback and other innovative evaluations, including performance reviews and authentic assessments, can keep the focus on student and what they’re learning. What else should change in typical classroom instruction to help students grow into independent learners? What’s the role of homework or collaboration? We seek articles that show what classrooms and schools are doing to shift the instructional paradigm so that students themselves become pivotal in their own learning.
March 14: Technology-Rich Learning
When used wisely in the classroom, technology can promote higher-order thinking, deep learning, collaboration, interactivity, and student engagement. This issue will look at how teachers are integrating technology with best practices to improve learning in all content areas and to help students create authentic work as they collaborate with peers and experts both in and outside school. Articles will look at blended learning environments and discuss how all teachers—both proficient technology users and those just coming on board—can best use technology to support and challenge learners. Articles will also address how to avoid such pitfalls as information overload, plagiarism, the downside of social media, and technology as a distraction from learning.
Submissions due: Jan. 14, 2013
March 28: Big Ideas, Essential Questions: Deepening Student Content Understanding
"Focus on the big picture" is wise advice for learners distracted by details and in danger of missing the main point of the content. Less explicit in that imperative is the notion that keeping a focus on main ideas and issues that arise from them can give the learner a structure on which to add the details or embellishments of related ideas to come to a nuanced understanding of their learning. How can teachers ensure their students grasp the most important concepts of a lesson and commit them to memory so that this essential learning becomes the bedrock on which to build further learning and deepen their understanding? We welcome articles from the content areas that show how classroom teachers design and implement lessons so that students grasp and retain the learning that can serve them as they advance grade levels and even to college.
Submissions due: Jan. 22, 2013
April 11: The Principalship
In times of increasing expectations, decreasing resources, and rigorous accountability, school principals are faced with complex challenges and a huge array of initiatives to implement. These realities have discouraged many principals from staying on the job. How can schools stop the revolving door of the principalship and energize principals to lead? This issue will address approaches that promote career-long growth, such as coaching and mentoring, collaborative learning, and principal peer groups. Articles will look at the autonomy school principals need to do their jobs well, the support they need to initiate whole-school reform, and shared leadership models that build trust. What kinds of evaluations motivate principals to improve? How can principals and teachers mutually support each other?
Submissions due: February 15, 2013
April 25: Becoming a Master Teacher
Robyn Jackson writes that teaching mastery is the result of consistently practicing a few principles of effective instruction: master teachers start where students are, connect standards to learning objectives and activities, maintain high expectations of both themselves and their students, plan supports and interventions to help students meet high expectations, focus their own work on high quality (not quantity), and never do students' work for them. This issue will discuss how best to support beginning teachers in their journey toward mastery. How can new teachers learn to be masterful given their own teaching style, personality, and situation? How do mentors separate the signal and the noise for new teachers to focus on key principles of practice? How can school leadership consistently convey new teachers toward mastery? What are the roadblocks to mastery?
Submissions due: March 1, 2013
May 9: The Faces of Poverty
A new look at poverty and schools is due, partly because so many families face reduced economic circumstances. Indeed, today's "poor kids" don't fit the stereotypes. Two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works, and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. For all these children, educators must contend with the correlation between being poor and dropping out of high school. This issue will explore how schools must challenge traditional ideas of poverty and formulate new responses. What policies can get more master teachers into high-poverty schools? How can we help more low-income students earn a postsecondary credential? We welcome articles on serving immigrant students, English language learners, and homeless youth; solutions for resource shortages in rural areas; and support for low-income students who attend relatively affluent suburban schools.
Submissions due: March 15, 2013
May 23: Assessments That Make Sense
Carol Ann Tomlinson writes in Educational Leadership magazine,
"I began by seeing assessment as judging performance, then as informing teaching, and finally as informing learning. In reality, all those perspectives play a role in effective teaching. The key is where we place the emphasis. Certainly a teacher and his or her students need to know who reaches (and exceeds) important learning targets—thus summative assessment, or assessment of learning, has a place in teaching. Robust learning generally requires robust teaching, and both diagnostic and formative assessments, or assessments for learning, are catalysts for better teaching. In the end, however, when assessment is seen as learning—for students as well as for teachers—it becomes most informative and generative for students and teachers alike."
How do you use assessments to inform teaching and learning? How do you ensure assessments are aligned to learning targets? What are your concerns for the next generation of Common Core–aligned assessments?
Submissions due: April 1, 2013
June 6: Developing Students' Higher-Order Thinking
"In life, almost everything we do requires using knowledge in some way, not just knowing it," writes Sue Brookhart (How to Assess Higher Order Thinking Skills in Your Classroom, 2010). Ability to engage and apply higher-order thinking skills makes the difference between simply recalling information and being able to critically think, problem solve, and transfer learning to novel situations. "One of the characteristics of 'educated' people is that they reason, reflect, and make sound decisions on their own without prompting from teachers or assignments," Brookhart explains. Taxonomies of higher-order thinking generally include analysis, evaluation, creation, logic and reasoning, judgment, problem solving, creativity, and creative thinking. How do you design curriculum and pedagogy so that students have opportunities to demonstrate higher-order thinking? How do you assess or determine if students are actually displaying complex thinking? How do you use content standards to support developing students' higher-order thinking?
Submissions due: April 15, 2013
June 20: Reflective Leadership
Busy schedules and mounting pressures on school leaders mean scarce time for meaningful professional reflection. How do you build time to reflect and recharge while staying centered on your school or district's mission? What methods do you use? How have you integrated reflection into school-based professional development? What is some of your most powerful insight from reflection, and how did it affect your leadership? How is technology supporting your reflective practice?
Submissions due: May 1, 2013
July 3: Reaching the Reluctant Writer
Writing is crucial to success in college, a career, and life in general. Despite writing's pivotal role, several indicators point to a nationwide crisis in the skill. Studies show that two out of three students don't write well enough to meet grade level, and every year, employers and college students spend billions for remedial writing courses. In classrooms, less time is spent on writing instruction, and students have fewer opportunities to write, especially writing that involves analysis and interpretation. Compounding curricular and policy decisions that reduce writing's role in the classroom, students themselves see writing as a chore or something they're not good at. And yet, what kid with a phone isn't constantly composing and publishing? In an age when students can quickly and widely publish any fleeting thought or image, how do teachers instill the craft and persistence to thoughtfully attend to each phase of the writing process? How do you create opportunities to write across the content areas, and how do you connect writing to a purpose students (at least partly) see as relevant? When asked about what frightens him most, novelist Ernest Hemingway said, "A blank sheet of paper." How do you get reluctant writers to move beyond fear, onto the page, and into a love of writing?
Submissions due: May 15, 2013
July 18: Every Student Science Literate
Today, science is at the core of many of the fastest growing job markets, and science literacy is a required skill in everything from health care choices, to which household appliances to buy, to how you cast your vote. Yet the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that fewer than one in three college graduates can perform tasks such as interpreting a data table about blood pressure and physical activity. Developers of the Next Generation Science Standards note that it has been nearly 15 years since the National Research Council and the American Association for Advancement in Science released the criteria on which most state science standards are currently based. What are the essential understandings for science-literate students, and how are your school policies and practices getting them there? How do you scaffold instruction to instill a scientific and inquiry-based disposition among students? How do you demonstrate the connections among prior scientific learning, students' lives, and everyday use?
Submissions due: June 1, 2013