Epic for Educators

epic for educatorsThis gem came across my facebook feed. It’s only an IOS app. BUT I’ve read several books already on my iPad that I don’t have in my library. Some of the books have a read aloud feature and there is a timer on the books so kids can’t go through them too quickly. I’ve mainly examined the picture books and have read some that I would not have otherwise.

The only thing they ask in return is for you to let parents know about them. That can easily be done on our school webpages. If you have an apple device, give it a try!

See my other recommendations on where to find books.


Did you know . . .

I was going to add this little tidbit to yesterday’s post about the pay of NC teachers, but I didn’t save it and couldn’t find it! Thanks to my friend Johnny for posting it today!

Why Teacher Pay Matters

Guess who the largest employer is in most counties in NC? The school system.

It is the largest employer in 64 counties.

It is the second largest employer in 12 other counties.

There is only one  (yes one) county in the state in which the school system is not in the top three employers.

If you think of a raise as an economic stimulus, more money in the pay checks of 95,000 teachers (spread out from Manteo to Murphy) will mean more middle-class people buying groceries, going on vacations, etc. And that will have a real, immediate economic impact on the state as a whole.

Teachers and raises in NC

We keep getting news of an “Average” 7% pay raise for teachers. Not knowing how many teachers are at each step, I can’t do that math easily to know if that statement is true. What I do know is that when you look at the word “Average” over 36 steps, a ton of room is left for maneuvering and posturing.

Everyone has access to our state pay scales which is why little images like this one can be made.

pay scale - side by side

Not sure that really shows what I want to highlight, so I’m using information taken from 2013-14 salary schedule and the 2008-09 salary schedule. AND of course the now famous 2014-14 proposed schedule (begins near bottom of page 50). I used year 17 for my compairson. It’s right in the middle of the NEW 4th step. 

 year 17 pay

The “raise” looks much better than last year’s salaries, but look at the numbers compared to 2008-09. Not a lot of progress, but a little. Oh, and Masters National Boards will no longer be figured off of Master’s pay, but off of Schedule A. That’s about a $500 difference a year.

Now, let’s throw in the longevity.  NC has an entire document dedicated to longevity. Year 17 teachers would make 2.25% in longevity. It has been a separate payment as a bonus. The last line of the document clearly states “Longevity pay is not a part of annual base pay for, nor is it to be recorded in personnel records as a part of annual base salary.”  For teachers, the proposal is to roll it into their monthly salary – which also means it’s no longer longevity, but shared by all. This is only for teachers, however. Even principals will continue to get their typical longevity.

year 17 pay w longevity

Based on this information, a year 17 teacher (with longevity) is still making less than they would have in 2008-09.

All this was possible because of the nearly frozen salary. I’ve said it before and I want to reiterate that I understand the economy has been pitiful. I know teachers are not the only ones with frozen salaries. I know decisions had to be made. I want my congress woman and senator to at least acknowledge they heard what I had to say when I write. (Debra Conrad and Earlene Parmon in my case. While I copied the letter into a blog, I sent it to both of them.) What I want is for our politicians to be honest with us. I want to have an honest discussion about tenure. (Which is no longer given in NC if you didn’t have it before 2012-13 school year, and you lose it if you change counties.) Don’t try to make things seem better than they are through fuzzy rhetoric and posturing and expect us not to look for the facts behind the verbiage. Oh, and take care of those older teachers financially! We need new teachers. We need their vitality and their excitement We need the older ones too. We need their wisdom and experience. I understand that I’m a public servant, but I’m thinking that maybe NCGA doesn’t get that they are too. 

56 days of summer – 35

Today, my goal is to complete the MS for this math book, then let it sit until Monday for another round of editing. I’d also love to finish with my vehicles and get the BB paper cleaned up out of the guest room! I can do mess for a short period, but there comes a point that it wears on my nerves.

Cheryl Ristow posted a video this morning of a teacher decorating his room. It is not all practical, but I do love his enthusiasm. I have done some impractical things in my room (even knowing they were impractical) because I loved the way they looked and HOPE really does spring eternal donchano. I didn’t do themes in my classrooms – well, I did, but the theme was Math. 😉 I’m doing my second one in the library now and I love how the theme can tie things together. I love the filming theme he uses. Got to add that to my Pinterest board!



Barb Kibler shared a Buzzfeed Link – 35 Money Saving DYIs for the Classroom from 2013. I realize this kind of teacher craftiness is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve tried many of these things. I cannot tell you how many stacking boxes and cans (metal and plastic) I’ve repurposed over the years. Sometimes what I ended up making was NOT less expensive because of covering it (or, yes, even the mistakes I made), but I just couldn’t find something to fit a purpose. I would recommend finding boxes from a source other than the Post Office. Those are clearly marked that they are for USPS use only. But once you start collecting boxes, they multiply quickly.


paint chip calendar

NC Teacher Evaluation Artifacts

For those of you NOT in the know, NC adopted a teacher evaluation tool last year developed by McREL. We used to have one that was a few pages long in a 10-12 pt font. Teachers were marked on a five point scale from unsatisfactory to excellent. Most of it was things that could easily be observed in any lesson when the observer walked into your classroom – not all, but most.

Enter the NEW evaluation tool.

So now we have an instrument that is 11 pages in an 8 pt font. There are five standards with multiple sub standards which seem straight forward enough on the surface. To make things murky, however, the instrument has separated out things like Global Awareness, 21st Century learning, collaboration and technology. Those (in my poor feeble mind) should be lumped together because they are so intertwined. There are also leadership and PD things that could have been combined. Needless to say, I would have streamlined it more (oh so much more).

The graded categories are:

  • Developing
  • Proficient
  • Accomplished
  • Distinguished
  • and the dreaded Not Demonstrated

You must meet all the criteria for developing to be proficient. You must meet all the criteria for developing and proficient to be accomplished . . . Fine, except two strands in a single sub standard might not always go together. For instance, global awareness is in the same sub standard as demonstrating knowledge of your content. Really? I know what they want. They want us to make sure that our content is seen in the big picture of how it can be used in the world, but sometimes we just have to practice the algorithm. Doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme if they can’t do the math first.  Another one is on assessment – the use of formative and summative, but in the same category is assessment of 21st century skills. Math isn’t a 21st century skill on it’s own? Now, I’ve got to develop assessments that distinctly measure 21st century skills. *whew*

I’ve had one artifact presentation meeting and I learned a few things.

  1. Don’t just throw all your stuff in a box and sort through it the weekend before your first artifact meeting.
  2. Know the standards and sub-standards backwards and forwards. Since there are some gray areas and overlaps, this will help tremendously in deciding which artifacts or evidences work best where.
  3. Use a list similar to this one so you can see examples of what kinds of things can be used under the different standards.
  4. Make a table of contents. There are so many overlaps on the instrument that you may not be able to remember in which section you put a particular evidence. Also, I’m planning on notating it so questions may be able to be answered without the time consuming location of the item. Even with a TofC – we are talking tons of items.
  5. Focus on your weaknesses. Purposely place those items into your lesson plans to use and then purposely gather some evidence.  Evidences for your areas of strength are going to come easily.
  6. If an agenda is not provided, keep a handwritten one for every meeting, PD, etc. Do it right in your calendar and it’s all in one place.
  7. Don’t try to do it alone. If there was ever a time for collaboration, this is it. I felt a bit rushed and didn’t utilize this as much as I would have liked. But as we talked, one teacher would mention an item and it would make me think of something I’d done that I could use. Then we’d brainstorm and come up with others. Also, other teachers remembered things I’d done that I had forgotten.

I really wanted to display mine in some kind of unique way: a powerpoint, a website, a blog. I just waited to late this year for that. It was too big a bear when I sat down to organize, but in searching for ways to present, I came across this site:

NC Teacher Evaluation System of Cataloging and Collaborating

I didn’t get a chance to use it, but I did scan through it and it looks good even if it doesn’t appear too many are using it. Something to think about if you don’t wait until the last minute like I did!