What’s New? Black History Month, Bishops, Freebies for Teachers and More!

Resources for you and your classroom

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

Black History Month

Our friends at NCEA offer tips for celebrating Black History Month in your classroom or school.

We have a prayer service you can use to begin Black History Month:

Black History Month

Another Prayer Service honors Venerable Augustus Tolton. Learn about his place in history:

Prayer Service: Venerable Augustus Tolton

Kate Daneluk shares ways you can incorporate Catholic elements into this celebration:

How to Keep Holidays Catholic without Being “Weird”

A Day in the Life of a Bishop

Help your students learn what the role of a bishop is in the Church with this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Writing and College Prep

Only 1 in 4 parents strongly agree their child has enough opportunities to write to be prepared for college. Most parents reveal they want more objective feedback on their child’s writing.

Writing is a foundational skill necessary for academic and professional success. To become confident, competent writers, students need ample opportunities for practice along with personalized, actionable feedback. A new/recent survey of U.S. parents conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by The Graide Network, a provider of online grading and feedback services to K-12 schools, reveals that a vast majority of parents are not completely satisfied with either of these two aspects of their child’s education.

Among parents/legal guardians of children in grades 6-12, only 26% of parents strongly agree that:

  • Their child receives enough personalized feedback from their teachers to become a better writer.
  • Their child has enough opportunities to write in the classroom to be prepared for college.

Implementing these initiatives in the classroom is no small task and it is a responsibility that teachers cannot shoulder alone. “The average English teacher sees over 100 students per school year. Grading and providing feedback on a single set of essays is easily a 20+ hour job, on top of their ever-increasing list of important responsibilities. And that’s allotting just 10 minutes per student to closely read, reflect, and respond to a student’s work.” said Blair Pircon, co-founder and CEO of The Graide Network. “Even the most talented, experienced, and ambitious teachers are severely limited in the amount of writing they can assign and the amount of feedback they can provide to each student throughout the year due to these time constraints.”

At the same time, The Harris Poll survey also revealed that 80% of parents believe their child would benefit from objective feedback on their writing from someone other than their teacher. Objective, third-party feedback has been shown to increase student trust and acceptance of feedback, fostering meaningful dialogue and collaboration in the classroom.

In a separate survey of Graide Network users from 2018-19, 92% of teachers said the amount of time saved by using Graide Network “Graiders” for grading is very important to their success and sustainability in the classroom.

“School leaders have an opportunity to increase writing opportunities for students by investing in resources that lessen the grading burden on teachers. It is a win-win for all parties: students are open to it, parents are interested, and it would maximize teacher capacity,” concluded Blair Pircon.

Among the Harris Poll survey’s other findings:

  • Only 31% of parents strongly agree their child receives feedback from their teacher on their essays in a timely manner.
  • Only 30% of parents strongly agree they receive enough information on their child’s growth and performance on writing assignments.

Visit TheGraideNetwork.com’s Knowledge Vault for free articles to help support your writing lessons.

Special Needs News

Parents of children with special needs may take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend IEP meetings pertaining to their children’s education. Learn more from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Freebie for Teachers

Canva, an image-creating website, has a special offer for teachers:

Canva adds an element of fun to any project. It’s hands-on, interactive and delivers outcomes fast. Teachers say they watch their students’ eyes light up as they discover what they are capable of when they use Canva. We’re offering our premium product – Canva Pro – to classrooms for free. Jam-packed with value and time-saving features (plus millions of free images), Canva Pro normally costs $12.95 per month for each user. Register your class to unlock the best teaching tools Canva has to offer – from classroom collaboration to folders that help you stay organized.

Find out how you can sign up at Canva.com/education.

Summer Conference: Strengthen Catholic Identity in Catholic Schools

The 5th Annual WISE Conference June 29 – July 2, 2020 is a four-day conference on the nature, purpose, and mission of the Catholic school. Participants of the WISE Conference come to a deeper understanding of their vocation as Catholic educators, and how their calling is cherished by the Church as part of its own mission. Everyone involved in Catholic education – pastors, administrators, teachers, staff, and parents – are encouraged to attend.
The WISE Conference is hosted by the Center for Catholic Education at Aquinas College. The Center for Catholic Education at Aquinas College, in conjunction with the School of Education, serves Catholic elementary and secondary schools since 2012 by providing spiritual and professional formation opportunities in the area of mission and Catholic identity.  Aquinas College, owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, has served the formation and support of Catholic educators since 1961.

Register for this four-day event at the Nashville, Tennessee, college today.



Barb Szyszkiewicz is editor at CatholicMom.com and managing editor of Today’s Catholic Teacher.

All content copyright © Today’s Catholic Teacher/Bayard.com. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for classroom/parish use with full attribution as long as the content is unaltered from its original form. To request permission to reprint online, email editor@catholicteacher.com.