Netflix Show ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ Raises Concerns

The Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why is based on the book that was released 10 years ago. It follows a group of high school students as they follow the story that was left behind for them by their classmate who died by suicide.

The trailer and advertisements for the series can be misleading.   In watching the series, young people and teenagers could perceive the message that suicide is a viable and/or romanticized option. The content of the series is extremely graphic with troubling scenes throughout each episode, which may be difficult for the teenage mind to watch and process in an appropriate way. Continue reading

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Focusing on family buy-in, a Connecticut district shifts to mastery-based learning

how-competency-based-education-is-changing-mainstream-learning-infographic-550x575WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — When Kylie Jones brings home her report card, it doesn’t have any A’s, B’s or C’s. The Windsor Locks High School freshman belongs to the first cohort of students going through middle and high school under a new system. Traditional grades no longer exist, children get extra help based on their individual learning needs and classrooms run very differently.

The small Connecticut town, just south of the Massachusetts border, is in its fifth year under a system that asks students to master specific skills in every subject. They can’t just do all their homework and ask for extra credit projects to obscure the fact that they didn’t truly learn something.

Superintendent Susan Bell likes to say 24 credits and a D-minus average — what used to be the cutoff for graduation — is not enough. Continue reading

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Future Ready Schools Releases Publication “A Guidebook for Success: Strategies for Implementing Personalized Learning in Rural Schools”

rural_guidebook_cover-232x300To prepare all students for college and a career, many schools and districts nationwide have turned to “personalized learning,” a student-centered approach that tailors instruction to students’ unique strengths and needs while engaging them in challenging, standards-based academic content. Largely an urban phenomenon, personalized learning can also address the unique challenges facing rural schools, and a new publication released today by Future Ready Schools®(FRS) offers them a step-by-step guide for how to do so.  Due to their remote nature, rural schools face difficulties attracting effective teachers and administrators, transporting students to and from school, and keeping up with fast-evolving technology, including high-speed internet connections, says A Guidebook for Success: Strategies for Implementing Personalized Learning in Rural Schools. At the same time, however, rural schools typically serve as the centers of their communities, drawing in young and old citizens and creating strong personal relationships that stretch across generations. Continue reading

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OPEN NH Spring Session Courses Start Soon. Register Now!

OPEN NHOPEN NH Spring Session courses start April 12 and continue through May 30.

NH e-Learning for Educators is an online professional development program run by the Office of Educational Technology at the NH Department of Education. Online facilitated courses and self-paced tutorials are delivered through OPEN NH, which uses the Moodle Learning Management System to deliver our cost-effective statewide online professional development courses and tutorials.

The following courses are being offered in the Spring Session:

  • BP-08 Using Reflective Writing to Develop Metacognition in the Classroom
  • BP-12 Creating a Successful Response to Intervention Plan
  • CE-03 Aligning Curriculum with Standards and Learning Expectations
  • IE-02 Collaboration in the Digital Classroom
  • SE-04 Parental Involvement Strategies to Enhance Student Achievement
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3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do

by John McCarthy, Education Consultant, Advocate for Student Voice in Learning on Edutopia at

mccarthy-where-teachers-differntiate-lessons-460x345In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and crew are so intimidated by the Wizard’s enigmatic personality that they struggle to talk with him on equal footing. Fear and frustration overwhelm them as they blindly accept a suicide mission to slay the Witch of the West. In return, they each receive a treasured prize: a heart, a brain, courage, and a way home. Ironically, they already have these gifts — which they only discover after unveiling the man behind the curtain posing as the grumpy wizard.

Differentiated instruction (DI) casts a spell on educators as to how it meets all students’ needs. The skillset required to differentiate seems mystical to some and incomprehensible to others in this environment of state standards and high-stakes tests. Where does one find the time? The reality is that every teacher already has the tools to differentiate in powerful ways for all learners. I address some of these elements, such as assessment fog, in other Edutopia posts. Continue reading

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Rock On! How I Taught Focus to a Class That Wouldn’t Sit Still

by Natalie Catlett, Practicing Artist & Art Teacher on Edutopia at


Photo credit: © Schaefer

As a teacher, every now and then we come across a class with an abundance of energy. Sometimes so much energy that teaching seems like an impossible mission. Students fidget with their hands, feet, dance in their stools and engage in constant side conversations with their classmates.

Any time is a good time to tell a secret or share an interesting dinosaur fact. (Don’t we all love learning about dinosaurs?) Last year, I inherited a first grade class that fit the description above. They were curious, they were bright, but it was clear from day one that they needed help to channel their excess energy. I didn’t want or expect them to sit statue-still; much to the contrary. I always encourage active learning, collaboration, and ongoing participation in the classroom.

However, I wanted them to understand the importance of balance. When you come across a class that is constantly in a highly agitated state and this begins to interfere with their learning, something needs to be looked at more carefully. My fellow teachers and I were constantly asking ourselves, “How can we help this group?”, “What strategies can we incorporate in our classrooms?”, “What tools do they need to be more at peace with themselves?” The conversations were endless. The strategies were endless. And so was their energy.

Since our school works in a transdisciplinary manner, teachers across subject areas often collaborate. At the time, students were learning about rocks and the rock cycle with their homeroom teacher. In Art, I wanted to explore rock sculptures. I was hesitant to explore this theme at first, anticipating possible conflicts due to the groups agitated temperament, but decided to move forward.

Little did I know the powerful effect rocks and rock-sculpture building would have on them individually and as a group. Continue reading

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Group of 12 Senators Urge FCC to Protect E-Rate Program


Contact: Maria McElwain (Blumenthal)  (202) 224-6452

Giselle Barry (Markey)  (202) 224-2742


March 7, 2017


E-Rate Program helps ensure neediest schools and libraries have affordable Internet access 

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today led a group of twelve Senators in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect the E-Rate Program. By ensuring the neediest schools and libraries have affordable Internet access, the E-Rate Program has given students access to modern teaching tools that expand their knowledge and prepare them to enter the 21st century workforce. Chairman Ajit Pai’s recent decision to retract a report detailing the E-Rate Program’s success has stirred concern that the new Administration will not support the vital program.

“E-Rate helps schools and libraries in every state by supporting access to modern communications and the Internet. Such access is critical if we are a country that is serious about preparing and educating our children for the digital age,” the Senators wrote. “The simple truth is that E-Rate has been nothing but extremely successful in helping schools and libraries in all 50 states have access to vital funding that ensures that kids in schools and libraries have high-speed Internet access and wireless connectivity. Your actions threaten to roll back progress made in all of these states and disrupt schools and libraries’ carefully planned multi-year budgets. Accordingly, we call on you to guarantee that this treasured program will not be undermined in any way under your watch.”
Continue reading

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