When we started the Northwest Matters blog a year and a half ago, we hoped our posts would contribute to the regional and national conversations about the most critical education issues. Seventy posts and more than 35,000 page views later, we can pause for a moment to say thank you to all of our contributors and readers and to look back at some highlights.
It’s difficult to pick our favorite posts from the past 12 months. As an organization that promotes the use of evidence to support practice, we assembled our top 10 Northwest Matters blogs based on what Google Analytics tells us about how many people are checking out our site and taking the time to read the posts. Here are the most popular entries from 2015 (including a few that were published in 2014 and continue to draw readers):
Treating Language as a Strength: The Benefits of Bilingualism
December 18, 2014
Theresa Deussen wrote our two most widely read pieces ever, and this post continues to draw readers from all over the Internet. So many discussions of English language learners (ELLs) center on what these students are not able to do. In this piece, Deussen turns that thinking upside-down and looks at the various benefits of speaking, reading, and writing in more than one language. She links the advantages to research, recent policy, and community conversations about the importance of honoring students’ home cultures and language.
Six Things Principals Can Do To Support Their English Language Learners
June 9, 2015
Because the influx of ELL students is a comparatively new and growing trend in Northwest schools, there are quite a few things principals can do to help their staffs ensure ELLs get the support they need to reach their highest potential. In this post, Deussen provides a set of manageable and proven practices that can help schools get on the right track.
As Many Ways To Improve Schools as There Are Students
February 5, 2015
Nanci Schneider writes that any successful approach to school improvement must account for all students coming from different backgrounds with different abilities and needs. “School improvement—increasing student learning—requires teachers to be as sharp as a scalpel, quick as a wink, smart as a whip, and responsive to every student, including those who are homeless, those who have learning challenges, those who already know the material, and those who fit into as many categories as there are students in the classroom. This is what needs to happen all day, every day, all year long,” she writes.
Are Your Scaffolds for Supporting Students Helping or Getting in the Way?
November 19, 2014
In this post, Claudia Rodriguez-Mojica recounts observing a well-meaning teacher whose attempt to engage a student in a classroom conversation backfires. Rodriguez-Mojica walks readers through the exchange, providing insights on what went wrong. She offers suggestions on how teachers can better support students’ academic talk.
Developing Youth Through a Growth Mindset
March 31, 2015
Celeste Janssen, who directs the Institute for Youth Success at Education Northwest, writes about how concepts such as academic and growth mindsets have become powerful tools for nonprofit organizations that serve youth. She describes how Portland-area organizations have come together in a collective impact initiative to promote the idea that young people’s abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, and tenacity and that brains and talent are just a starting point.
Raising Kane: The Value of Regional Educational Laboratories
March 13, 2015
A strong advocate for the use of evidence to improve education, Education Northwest Chief Executive Officer Steve Fleischman provides several examples of the effectiveness of the federal Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) program in connecting stakeholders with research-based best practices and promoting the use of data for decisionmaking. Fleischman’s arguments refute criticism of the RELs by Thomas Kane of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Closing the Discipline Gap Where It Starts—in Preschool Programs
September 1, 2015
As Vicki Nishioka points out in this post, the statistics are alarming for out-of-school suspensions and discipline inequities in preschool programs. To counter these negative practices, Nishioka provides recommendations that can help schools reduce suspensions and eliminate discipline disparities among different student subgroups, while creating a more welcoming and productive classroom environment.
Meeting the Education Needs of Immigrant Newcomers
April 21, 2015
Teen students from other countries face challenges beyond just learning English when they start school in the United States. In this post, Mary Martinez-Wenzl describes many of the challenges students face when making this transition and lists changes in policy and practice that schools can make to better support immigrant newcomer students.
Helping Teachers Feel Successful (and Stay) in Rural Alaska
June 16, 2015
Education Northwest edited the May 2015 edition of the Peabody Journal of Education, which focused on challenges and opportunities in rural school improvement. Following publication of the journal, we ran a series of blog posts based on the Peabody articles. In this piece, University of Alaska Fairbanks Researcher Barbara Adams writes about how rural schools in Alaska and around the country face challenges in hiring and keeping high-quality teachers. Adams describes research she and her colleagues conducted on midcareer teachers that finds teachers’ sense of self-efficacy (i.e., feeling successful as a teacher) has a lot to do with their desire to stay on the job and with their ability to handle “stressors.”
Schools Performing Beyond Expectations: Improvement From Within
July 28, 2015
Danette Parsley writes about two exceptional schools in rural and remote southern Oregon, Merrill and Malin Elementary Schools, that are beating the odds through data use, high-quality instruction, community building, and strong leadership. Parsley states, “Merrill and Malin Elementary Schools—and the many other schools that perform beyond expectations—demonstrate that the words of Ron Edmonds are true: ‘We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us.’”
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