Great Video on a New Way to Teach Math

May 17, 2010

Check out Math Teacher Dan Meyer’s critique of contemporary math curriculum and instruction methods. He references an amazing quote from Albert Einstein:

The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.


NYC Campus Director Position Opening Now!

April 28, 2010

This is an incredible opportunity to lead an entire program: Coach a team of young educators, partnering with school administration, advocating on behalf of the field of out-of-school time all the while not losing connecting with students…

Citizen Schools is a national education non-profit that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Campus Directors are the leaders of our dynamic after-school and extended learning program sites nationwide — full-time professionals committed to making our mission of educating youth and strengthening communities a reality every day.

As a Campus Director, you will:

  • Set an instructional vision
  • Lead educators
  • Recruit, train and coach volunteers teaching apprenticeships
  • Build relationships with children and families
  • Work with school administrators and teachers to change school cultures
  • Join an expanding network of committed staff and alumni

If you crave an inspiring, engaging and demanding career move that will provide you with daily opportunities to build skills in leadership, communication, staff management, community building and more, join Citizen Schools as a Campus Director.

To read a more detailed job description, and to apply, please visit: Campus Director Position. You may contact Danielle Wessler at with any questions.

A True Hero of Urban Education Reform Passes

March 31, 2010

The legendary teacher Jaime Escalante died yesterday. Portrayed in the great film, “Stand and Deliver”  Escalante taught Math at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles from 1974 to 1991. He’s best known for the incredible outcomes of his students on the AP Calculus exam.  After 5 years of teaching at Garfield he defied the expectations of his fellow teachers and administrators by preparing 5 students from Garfield to take the AP Calculus exam, two of whom passed. This was an act that had never been accomplished by Garfield students. By 1987, 73 students at Garfield passed the AP Calculus test.  A pioneer in the fight for educational equity, Escalante was once asked “Do you think American education needs to be restructured or reformed?,” he replied, “One hundred percent.”

A week’s worth…

March 24, 2010

Has it really been 12 days since our last post??? TeachBreakthroughs is not observing good blogging etiquette. In any case, there’s been a bunch of great articles over the past week we wanted to update you all on:

Charter School debate on NYTimes blog: Geoffrey Canada (Harlem Children’s Zone), Richard D. Kahlenberg (Century Foundation), Jeffrey Henig and Luis Huerta (Teachers College, Columbia) and Michael Goldstein (Match Charter Public School) share their insights on the Charter School debate in New York City.

Some inspiration! In Chicago, the seniors at Urban Prep Academy just learned that their senior prom will be at no cost because 100% of the graduating class is going on to 4 year colleges. As a public Charter School, the school admits students based on a lottery system.

Innovation in our sector: As an innovative national non-profit, Breakthrough is among an incredible group of education non-profits pushing the boundaries of social change.  Check out this paper by the folks at Common Good Careers for a new take on an exciting sector.

Great Teaching in High Need Schools: For years, education reforms have been lamenting economic structural limitations to achieving educational inequity. Perhaps chief among those: great teachers are less likely to work (or stay) in struggling schools in poor neighborhoods. The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institute just released a strong paper entitled, “America’s Teacher Corps.” In it they discuss how evaluation and incentives can work hand in hand to make schools better over all and incent great teachers to work in high need schools.

Middle School as The Academic Pivot Point! There’s a reason we focus so closely on the middle school years. The folks at EdSource released a paper on academic outcomes for middle school youth.

Prez’s Nobel $$$ Goes to College Access

March 12, 2010

Yesterday the White House announced that President Obama will donate his Nobel Peace Prize award of $1.4 million to a handful of charitable organizations, the majority of which work on issues of College Access.

Cheers to our partner orgs!

$250,000 to Fisher House

Fisher House is a national non-profit organization that provides housing for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers.

$200,000 to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, President Obama asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to create the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to raise funds for long-term relief efforts in Haiti.

$125,000 to College Summit

College Summit is a national non-profit organization that partners with high schools to strengthen college-going culture and increase college enrollment rates, so that all students graduate from high school career and college-ready.

$125,000 to the Posse Foundation

The Posse Foundation is a national non-profit organization that identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse’s college and university partners award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. The scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent.

$125,000 to the United Negro College Fund

The United Negro College Fund plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college through scholarship and internship programs.

$125,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation’s leading Hispanic scholarship organization, providing the Hispanic community more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country. In its 34 year history, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has awarded close to $280M in scholarships to more than 90,000 students in need.

$125,000 to the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation

A non-profit organization funded by foundations and companies, ALEF supports and enables young men and women from Appalachia to pursue higher education though scholarship and leadership curriculum.

$125,000 to the American Indian College Fund

The American Indian College Fund transforms Indian higher education by funding and creating awareness of the unique, community-based accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities, offering students access to knowledge, skills, and cultural values which enhance their communities and the country as a whole. The Fund disburses approximately 6,000 scholarships annually for American Indian students seeking to better their lives through higher education. The Fund also provides support for tribal college needs, ranging from capital support to cultural preservation curricula.

$100,000 to AfriCare

AfriCare was founded in 1970 and has more projects in Africa than any other U.S. based charity, reaching communities in 25 countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Its programs address needs in three principal areas: health and HIV/AIDS; food security and agriculture; and water resource development.

$100,000 to the Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute promotes and supports community-based education and literacy, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Institute’s co-founder, Greg Mortenson, was also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee this year, whose book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time, recounts his attempt to successfully establish dozens of schools and promote girls’ education in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Exciting Progress Made in the Common Core State Standards Initiative

March 10, 2010

At long last the national partnership between the the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers has produced a first proposal for a universal set of academic standards for both Math and English for our nation’s public schools. This has the potential to be a watershed moment in the world of education policy. Instead of a fragmented unequal set of standards in various states (born out of the No Child Left Behind legislation) these universal standards will move our country one step further toward ensuring a world class education for young people in this country. Check out Sam Dillon’s NYTimes article for more.

Designers of these standards highlighted several key elements that should make them successful: they say the standards are concise and vertically aligned–from grade to grade there is connectivity in content.  It’s an exciting moment of progress. A variety of educational and business groups and even the White House have all lent their immediate endorsement. Let’s see what happens to the proposal!

Amazing Article on Teacher Training in NYTimes Mag

March 3, 2010

Data Driven Teaching, Assessment Techniques, Incentive Based Teacher Pay Programs, Scaling What Works, Recruitment Strategies, Management vs. Instruction, and a new Teaching Taxonomy are all on the table in Elizabeth Green’s recent article “Building a Better Teacher,” in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. It’s a great read.

Green’s article focuses on Teacher Training guru and founder of Breakthrough partner Uncommon Schools, Doug Lemov’s journey to name and share his Teacher Taxonomy. His goal: to make a common language for his teachers to use with his students in order to raise student achievement in his network of Charter Schools.

At Breakthrough we’re excited to pilot a standardized Teacher Training model across half of our sites in Summer 2010. We know there is value in a common language and a common set of practices. As we look toward the future, we’re hoping to take part in the work that Lemov is leading.

Take a second to check out the really cool interactive videos on teaching!