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Teachers' Top Three from ESE - March 16, 2017

  1. Get Involved: Public Comment Open on Proposed Licensure Changes
    On February 28, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to send proposed licensure changes out for public comment. The proposed changes include but are not limited to the following:

    • Grant one provisional license for five years of employment and then require the educator to complete the requirements for an initial license, regardless of how many subjects and grade levels of provisional license they hold (This would prevent educators from working for five years on a preliminary license in one area, then another five years on a different preliminary license, etc.);
    • Make educators in more fields eligible for the Performance Review Program for Initial Licensure (PRPIL), one of the routes to an initial license;
    • Expand eligibility to obtain the autism endorsement to "general" educators;
    • Move instructional technology to a specialist teacher license and create a new digital literacy/computer science teacher license; and
    • Clarify the process for license sanctions.

    More information about how to comment on the proposed changes, including a link to a survey, is available online.

    In addition, the Board is also collecting public comment on proposed changes to regulations about license renewal (The changes are designed to provide more flexibility in the professional development an educator needs to renew their license.) and supervisors of public attendance.

    The deadline for public comment is May 1, 2017.

  2. FAQ: MCAS Participation
    On March 6, Commissioner Chester sent a message to school and district leaders about the reasons we have statewide testing and the importance of all students participating. In addition to the legal requirements for testing, we believe that every parent deserves an objective look at their child's academic progress, and we also believe teachers, administrators, and policymakers can better serve students when those adults know where students need more help.

    We are grateful to all the educators who have helped us build our learning standards and the next-generation MCAS, and we appreciate everyone's work and cooperation as the assessment debuts next month.

  3. Teacher Reflection: Biology through a different lens
    Dr. David Mangus, the 2016 The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year, teaches biotechnology at Brockton High School as part of their four-year, non-vocational, biotechnology pathway.

    For many years, I was a research scientist investigating how cells work. This has helped me form a different view of biology than what is typically presented in middle school, high school, or even college classrooms. Today, my dual identities as a teacher and a scientist allow me to engage students differently. High school life sciences are often presented in an observational way, but I have integrated my experiences in the research world and education to have students work from an engineering perspective. For example, my students don't ask what chloroplasts do but explore if they can build a chloroplast to harvest energy from the sun that would function like a solar panel.

    As educators, we can inspire students to pursue STEM careers and to make technological advances by asking them to imagine the future and apply their knowledge. Biology and engineering are deeply integrated. Nature has been engineering living systems for billions of years. A cell is a collection of integrated systems, each composed of many parts and devices. For example, the regulation of gene activity to control the development of an organism is essentially a series of switches programmed in DNA. Using molecular techniques, scientists are re-engineering life and assembling these parts in new ways to solve problems related to food production, healthcare, energy, and the environment. Students are often surprised by what is possible, like the young woman who shared her excitement by saying, "We got to design our own living system that could solve a problem!"

    There are several excellent resources available to help teachers bring an engineering perspective into their classrooms. Elementary and middle school students can think like biological engineers with concepts such as biomimicry. This introduction at an early age can be extended with high school or college students by challenging them with the key concepts of synthetic biology. Even if they do not become scientists, all students of this generation will have to engage and deal with biological concepts in unprecedented ways. By allowing our students to grapple with complex issues like these, they will learn to think critically about how science affects the world around them and improve their global citizenship.

    You can follow Dr. Mangus and his students' work on Twitter @boxerbiotech. To share how you get students to demonstrate what they've learned in science, or to share resources or comment, please use the hashtag #Top3fromESE.


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Last Updated: March 30, 2017
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