Education

So You are an Education Commissioner?

The Education Commissioner is a strong supporter of public education and works to maintain the integrity of our public education system. The Education Commissioner will also work to support, build, and enrich the educational process at all levels of PTA.

K. Patricia Cross stated, in her article, “Learning is About Making Connections” that “ … new research on the brain … provides growing evidence that learning is about making connections – whether the connections are established by firing synapses in the brain, the “ah ha” experience of seeing the connection between two formerly isolated concepts, or the satisfaction of seeing the connection between an abstraction and a “hands-on” concrete application.”

Local PTA Leaders can create these “ah ha” moments by finding ways to provide opportunities for students that show “links to learning”. Through meaningful family nights, literacy programs, support for spelling bees, geography bees, and history and science fairs, PTA’s can be a valid resource for helping children increase in their knowledge and have fun at the same time. It is important for Local PTA leaders to also be a source of valid and reliable knowledge of what’s happening in the education arena in the state of Utah. This knowledge can be gained by attending council, region, and state PTA meetings where critical information is shared on education policy.

Utah PTA Education Commissioner

Local PTA members are invited to sit on the Utah PTA Education Commission. The Commission meets three times a year and discusses education policy throughout the state of Utah. Specialists from the Utah Board of Education sit on this commission.  Various specialties include early childhood education, federal programs, parent, family, and community engagement, certified teacher librarians, trust lands, special needs, etc.

The Utah PTA Education Commission works to support local PTA leaders, parents, and families in the area of public education. Check out the Areas of Focus to see if we can help you. The Commission works to be a resource of current information in what is happening in the public education arena federally and in Utah state through policy and legislation. Members represent parents on various education committees throughout Utah, and network with education stakeholders to help parents, teachers, and students achieve the best outcomes. The Utah PTA Education Commission also seeks to be resource for programs that local PTA Units can implement to improve family engagement and learning opportunities in their schools.

Education Commissioners in the local PTA units can work to create a positive public-school environment by creating opportunities and activities that build relationships and collaboration among administrators, teachers, and families, and link to learning. As the Education Commissioner in your school, you may become the person that people come to when seeking answers regarding education. Check out the Resource Guide and Parent Guides to help you learn more about education topics that affect Utah students and families.

If you would like to receive periodic updates on education news, particularly policy and legislative education news, send me an email. Updates will be sent out weekly during the Legislative Session between March and January and as needed other times of the year.

When your PTA enhances the learning of students in your school, I’d like to hear about it. Please send me an e-mail and let’s share the successes that are happening across the state.

I look forward to working with you during my term as Utah PTA Education Commissioner

LeAnn Wood
leann@utahpta.org

 

Attached Documents: 

Mission and Goals of the Utah PTA Education Commission

The mission of the Utah PTA Education Commission is:

1. To become knowledgeable about the issues which affect the education of students in the state of Utah.

Be a resource for parents and PTAs by providing better communication and a valid source for information.

2. To take positive action to further the purposes of PTA in promoting the welfare of children and youth at home and at school.

Be pro-active in Legislation.

Updating Resolutions.

Re-frame family engagement by celebrating all family successes with Social Media Initiative: #AllinForKidsEd

3. To promote programs which benefit and strengthen education through parental involvement.

Support for Advocacy Conference

Support PTA Day at the Capitol

Meaningful Sessions at the Utah PTA Leadership Convention

Enhance the partnership between Community Councils and PTA.

Areas of Focus of the Education Commission

The Education Commission provides an "umbrella" for many PTA projects and activities. The Chair of the Book Fair or the Dropout Prevention program, the organizer of the Read-Athon or the Geography Bee can be your local connection to the Education Commission at Utah PTA.

Click on one of the focus areas below to find resources that might be just right for your school!

 

  • Advocacy is how every parent can stand up for their own children or support education opportunities for all students.
  • Reading and Literacy programs can help the students at your school make greater progress toward reading proficiency.
  • "STEM" Education consists of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.
  • Social Studies and other academic subjects can include financial literacy, character education, arts education, etc.
  • Promoting Post-high school and vocational aspirations can be even more effective when you start early. We are collecting ideas for your College and Career Readiness programs!

Find resources for these areas of focus by clicking on the boxes above!

National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

More than 30 years of research shows that family involvement promotes student success. No matter what their family income or background may be, students with involved parents are more likely to:

  • Earn higher grades and test scores
  • Enroll in higher level academic programs
  • Are promoted on time and earn more credits
  • Adapt better to school and attend more regularly
  • Have better social skills and behaviors
  • Graduate and go on to postsecondary opportunities

    Karen Mapp “Learn to Change the World: Linked to Learning” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDPY1t8E6Cg

With this goal, PTA has created six standards that will guide school communities in forming Family-School Partnerships. They are:

Standard 1: Welcoming all families into the school community—Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.

Standard 2: Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.

Standard 3: Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Standard 4: Speaking up for every child—Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Standard 5: Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

Standard 6: Collaborating with community—Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.

For more information about how to implement these standards in your school, please read Family-School Partnerships on the National PTA Website.

PTA Take Your Family to School Week

When you are planning activities for the month of February, think about this:  

PTA Take Your Family to School Week is just one of the PTA programs revitalizing parent involvement in education. PTA has worked to bring families and schools together since its founding on February 17, 1897.  Each local unit should host an event during that week, because research shows that when parents and families are involved, students achieve and have more success in school. 

You will find more information on the National PTA "Take Your Family to School Week" webpage.

Literacy Programs For Your Local PTAs

“Involving families in reading fun, activities, and training is integral to creating a strong network of readers. Families (along with other significant adults in the reader’s life) can support and promote reading at home by making reading an everyday, even causal, activity.” Leslie Preddy, October 25, 2016 https://blog.schoollibraryconnection.com/tag/reading-promotion/

Your PTA can help families develop an understanding of simple ways to support the skills of literacy by supporting reading programs and sponsoring literacy events.

Literacy Programs for Your Local PTA:

Want a program that can help engage parents and community members to help your school? KSL Read Today can help this happen. Read Today is a high impact literacy program that pairs struggling readers with volunteer tutors. Their mission is to connect families, local businesses, organizations, and religious groups to their local school to make a difference in their community. The purpose of Read Today is to help students become proficient in reading. Read Today works directly with AmeriCorps in the schools. AmeriCorps administers the program, uses the STAR tutoring program to train volunteers, collect data, and ensure quality and consistency. KSL creates awareness, recruits tutors, provides incentives and celebrations with Chopper 5 landings and literacy events. Partners who share our goals include, United Way, the Utah State Office of Education, PTA, and Prosperity 2020. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can visit www.readtoday.com.

Utah PTA encourages local units to help recruit the volunteers necessary to put the STAR tutoring program to work in your schools.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Make reading a daily activity that is fun for the whole family!

Summer Reading to Keep Children Academically Ontrack --and Enjoying it!

There is clear evidence that the summer break from school results in what is often called the “summer slide,” referring to the academic back-sliding for many students. Taking a break from reading during the summer can put students at risk. Make sure your child is maintaining his literacy level by encouraging summer reading. 

Attached Documents: 

STEM Education

STEM is the acronym used to refer to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A student's proficiency at STEM subjects gives the student confidence and greater problem solving skills. It is also a good predictor of  post-high school success, employment security, and lifelong income. What can YOUR PTA do to create STEM opportunities at your school this year? How about a math or science night?  Here are some resources from National PTA and other great sites!

1. Summer Brain Games from Chicago’s Museum of Science + Industry
http://www.msichicago.org/experiment/summer-brain-games/activities/more-activities

2. Design Squad – ideas for science and engineering activities in an informal setting. Design squad is also a TV program with episodes that can be viewed online.
 http://pbskids.org/designsquad/

3. How To Smile – Engineering and science activities for kids from Pre-K on.
https://www.howtosmile.org/

4. NASA for Kids & Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Ideas for making pop rockets, pizza box solar oven, and paper comets.
https://www.nasa.gov/kidsclub/ or https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/

5. National Engineers Week – Provides tested activities to introduce in the classroom. They also have biographies of a variety of engineers.
http://www.discovere.org/

6. SciGirls –  An online extension of the PBS program, engages girls in STEM through hands-on projects and inquiry-based learning.
http://pbskids.org/scigirls/

7. Science Buddies – Provides ideas for science fair projects and at-home science experiments.
https://www.sciencebuddies.org/

8. Techbridge – Inspires girls to discover a passion for technology, science, and engineering.
http://www.techbridgegirls.org/

9. Wonderwise – Through multimedia kits, introduces students and teachers to women who work in the sciences.
http://wonderwise.unl.edu/

10. Zoom into Engineering – For parents, this PBS site offers fun hands-on science and engineering projects like Gumdrop Dome and Egg Bungee Jump.
http://www.pbs.org/parents/zoom/engineering/

11. Rosie Revere, Engineer – Rosie Revere tells the story of a girl and her dream to become a great engineer.  The author’s site has many fun science links, including one to the Rosie Revere, Engineer STEM Event Kit.
http://www.andreabeaty.com/rosie-revere-engineer.html

https://www.scribd.com/doc/243346679/Rosie-Revere-STEM-Event-Kit

12. STEM + Families: Hosting a Math Event sponsored by Mathnasium.  Mathnasium will provide free math nights for your school. They bring the games and PTA provides the tables and the volunteers. For more information contact a local mathnasium.
https://www.pta.org/stem/math/toolkit

13. What’s happening at the STEM Action Center Utah?
https://stem.utah.gov/

 

Secondary Programs -- Post-High School and Vocational Information

In Secondary Schools, we include the students in our PTA organizations, making them PTSA!
Together we can help them prepare for life after high school. Some of the resources that may be helpful to you in planning programs or activities -- or just having available information -- are below. Just click on the words that are highlighted in blue.

Find out what you can do to help your child prepare for life after graduation. Check out the new website at Step Up Utah! This site has information for parents and students, K-12, on how to prepare for college or other post-high school certificates. It's never too early to start thinking about it. Parent of elementary school students will find information and a kids fun page.
PTA leaders, talk to your school counselors or administrators to help plan events around college and career readiness. Step Up Utah has resources for you.

Utah Futures helps students prepare for their future careers with individualized plans. Check it out with your student!!

March 2 Success is a free tool to help middle and high school students prepare for success in college. 

Utah Women and Education is focused on encouraging women to be prepared for, start, and finish a college degree.

Social Studies and Other Academic Areas

 

Teach your kids to recognize false advertizing! March 2-8 is National Consumer Protection Week. It would be a good time to to teach kids to be smart consumers. Try out some fun online games that challenge kids to comparison shop to make wise purchases and to recognize false advertising.

The Consumer Action Handbook also offers information on a variety of consumer topics.

 

The Museum in the Classroom -- or Home

The National Gallery of Art’s Children’s Video Tour - Time Travel is an exceptional online resource that takes students on a tour into famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt Van Rijn, Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet and more. Each featured painting has a video that brings the painting to life by providing commentary about the artist, the model(s), and interesting details about each work of art. Students can explore “Saint George and the Dragon” by Raphael or learn details about Mary Cassatt’s career by clicking on her painting, “The Boating Party.”  If you can’t take your students to the museum, this is a wonderful way to bring the museum to your students.

Financial Literacy

There are many reasons that children should learn to save and spend money wisely. Parents may be interested in resources that help them to teach financial literacy at home. PTA leaders may want to craft an activity at the school around this theme too.
Check out Money as You Grow, an online, interactive tool to give families a guideline for teaching kids 3 to 18 (and even beyond) important money lessons, like how to make good choices when spending, how to avoid debt, and why it's important to save for an emergency.

Civics Education

A series celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the United States' Constitution was developed by Lydia Nuttal in Morgan, Utah and is being used in the Morgan School District. It is found on the Morgan City website. It is called "Forgotten American Family Night Stories" and is easily adapted to family, PTA meeting, classroom, or after school program use. Ms Nuttall holds the copyright but has given permission for non-commercial use.

Here are links to the first five sets of materials: January, February, March, April, May. Check out the Morgan City website for additional topics!

Civics Education has a champion in Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The project she is promoting is called iCivics and can be found at this website. It features games that kids can play from the website and also has lesson plans that can be adapted for the classroom or an AfterSchool program. Click here for a blog report on Justice O'Connor's motivation and involvement.

Find resources as varied as our country at Kids.gov.

Additional Educational Programs for Local PTAs

Scripps National Spelling Bee: Pre-enrollment in the 2018 Bee is available now through October 14, 2017 for $145 per school
www.spellingbee.com
Open to Grades 1-8
For local information contact the following:
Bryan Scott (bryan@mycityjournals.com) or Melissa Worthen (melissa@mycityjournals.com)
801-254-5974

National Geographic Bee: On-line registration available now through December 21, 2017 for $120 per school
www.nationalgeographic.org/bee
Open to Grades 4-8

Utah History Day:
https://heritage.utah.gov/history/utah-history-day
Open to any Utah Student in grades 4-12 at no cost. Students can participate even if their school does not.

District Science and Engineering Fairs:
https://stem.utah.gov/for-students/fairs/
Rules vary among districts and location. Check out this website for more information.

Poetry Out Loud: Registration for 2017-2018 opens August 22, 2017
https://heritage.utah.gov/arts-and-museums/ops-competition-poetry-out-loud
Open to Grades 9-12

Utah State Senate Visual Arts Scholarship Competition:
https://heritage.utah.gov/arts-and-museums/arts-ed-learning
Grades 9-12

 

Attached Documents: 

Advocating for Education for Every Child

Did you know:

  • Every time you attend the Parent-Teacher Conference for your child, you are advocating for education.
  • Every time you attend meetings of your School Community Council or serve as a parent representative on your school's Council, you are advocating for education.
  • Every time you contact your District School Board member about your concerns, you are advocating for education.
  • Every time you follow education issues and email your state legislator, congressional representative, or US senator, you are advocating for education.
  • And every time you teach other parents to do any of these things, you are advocating better education for every child!

The trick to effective advocacy is knowing who to go to for any given problem.

7 Ways Parents Can Advocate for Public Education:
The research is clear: When families and communities are involved in their children’s education, students attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and perform at higher levels. That’s because educators can’t tackle public education alone. They need help from students’ families.

Here are seven things you can do to make sure ALL children have access to a great public school:

1. Serve on the school board and/or attend school board meetings where you can be vocal and persuasive. Attend school district meetings when academic issues are discussed.

2. Contact school leaders and state education officials to express support for policies that provide all children—no matter their ZIP code—with access to great public schools.

3. Talk to community and faith-based leaders about why they must be involved in the schools in their communities and fight for what’s right for children.

4. Write a letter to your local newspaper editor describing the issues your children face in school, and what can be done to help support their teachers.

5. Visit your members of Congress when they are at home so that they appreciate your level of commitment to ensuring great public schools.

6. Talk to local business leaders and military families who understand how educated citizens benefit the economy, communities, and the nation.

7. Discuss education issues with friends who may not have children in public schools. Talk about education when you’re in the grocery store, and at community sporting events. Wherever you are, talk about why it is important to support public education!
Parent Articles and Resources, National Education Association
http://www.nea.org/home/60166.htm

U.S. Department of Education Newsletters:
https://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/engagingfamilies/index.html?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Governor’s Road Map to Education

The Utah PTA President is a member of the Governor's Excellence in Education Commission. This commission consists 33 members representing the Governor’s office, the legislature, businesses, state and local school boards, superintendents, charters, parents, teachers, and principals.  For the past few years this commission has been working to create a plan that unites all education stakeholders towards best practices for student success.

The plan can be read here:

https://www.utah.gov/governor/docs/priorities/education/UT_Education_Roadmap_FINAL1130.pdf

Other Education Links

Utah Core Standards Parent Guides

Parent's Guide to Student Success

The Parents’ Guide to Student Success (below in English and Spanish) was developed in response to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics that more than 45 states have adopted.  Created by teachers, parents, education experts, and others from across the country, the standards provide clear, consistent expectations for what students should be learning at each grade in order to be prepared for college and career. Although Utah's core standards are their own, they bear enough resemblance to the Common Core Standards that the parent guides can be very valuable to parents who want to help their children flourish academically with the new state education standards.

In addition, NBC Education Nation has created the Parent Toolkit with Academic Growth Charts to aid parents in helping their children be successful in school.

Other information include:

Link to:  Utah State Office of Education Information on Utah Core

Myths and Facts on Utah Core (PDF below)

Utah State Board of Education Common Core and the Utah Education Transformation Plan (PowerPoint below)