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Past Issues | October 20, 2014 |
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1. Promoting Excellence for All Thunderclap

Educators have an easy opportunity to help all students in Wisconsin achieve, while exploring new technology, through the Promoting Excellence for All “Thunderclap.”

The focus of the Promoting Excellence for All project is a collection of 39 strategies for closing achievement gaps, vetted by Wisconsin teachers and administrators from schools shown to be closing these gaps.

The Department of Public Instruction is looking for about 200 more educators with Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr accounts to sign on, with any or all of these accounts, to the Thunderclap campaign.

The concept of a Thunderclap is simple: anyone who signs on to the campaign will have their social media account(s) automatically send a message at a predetermined time.

The message can be personalized if desired. In this case, the boiler plate message is: “Let‘s keep working to close the achievement gap in WI. Find successful practices and use #exc4all to join the effort,” with a link provided to the Promoting Excellence for All site.

Snapshot of the Thunderclap from the site

To join the Thunderclap, go to

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2. Madison, Marshfield Produce 2014 AP Scholars

Brian Luo of Memorial High School (Madison) and Neehal Shukla of Marshfield High School are Wisconsin’s Advanced Placement (AP) State Scholars for 2014.

The College Board Advanced Placement Program recognizes the top male and female students in the 50 states and the District of Columbia each year for their performance on AP exams.

“Through the challenging coursework offered by the Advanced Placement program, students are exposed to the rigors of college while in high school,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said. “They learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and look broadly at issues which are skills that are the foundation for success in college and careers. Congratulations to Neehal and Brian on your high school accomplishments in the AP program; best wishes in your postsecondary studies.”

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3. White House Listening Tour for Native American Students in La Crosse

The White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) is bringing a listening tour on school environment to the La Crosse Center convention hall in La Crosse, Sunday, October 26, 2014, 9:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.

School environment issues such as bullying, student discipline, and offensive imagery and symbolism are the focus of the event.

The tour is inviting Native American students and families to attend. Students are encouraged to bring a 3-minute testimony to present to the public or have videotaped privately.

The feedback will be compiled and provided to President Barack Obama with recommendations on how to ensure that Native American students receive a high quality education.

The La Crosse event is hosted by the Ho-Chunk Nation. The national tour kicked off October 10 at the Indian Community School in Franklin (a suburb of Milwaukee). After La Crosse, it moves on to Troy, New York.

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4. Attendance – Parent Letter

Analysis of Wisconsin school attendance data confirms that good attendance in grades K-2 is predictive of good attendance throughout a student’s K-12 education. The evidence is also clear that students who miss as little as 10% of school in early grades score significantly lower on standardized tests in grades 3-8.

In other words, establishing good attendance in early grades is key to improving student success.

Parents are key to school attendance, especially in elementary school. To help schools reach out to parents, the DPI provided a sample letter earlier this fall. Although written from the vantage point of the beginning of the year, it can easily be adapted for use at other times. Ongoing, frequent reminders of this message in communications with families and the community can be a powerful way to help students.

The DPI also recommends the materials to improve school attendance available at

This information and other materials can be found on the DPI’s School Attendance page.

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5. Literacy Breakthroughs Training

A training offered by the DPI and other organizations aims to help educators implement “Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success.”

The training, intended for principals, school teams, teacher leaders, K-12 district leaders, superintendents, and all educators interested in improving reading and writing in their school and district, features author and former teacher Regie Routman, who will draw on her experience as a mentor teacher (she has taught in classrooms at most of the elementary grades), reading specialist, learning disabilities tutor, instructional coach, and staff developer in diverse schools.

At this engaging and interactive event, Routman will aim to help literacy leadership teams discover how to capitalize on the crucial connection between literacy and leadership and how teachers and principals can lead the way to more effective literacy instruction for all students, including second-language and struggling learners.

Routman’s latest book, Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success, a 360-page textbook for staff, is included as part of the $225 registration fee.

The workshop, November 11, 2014, at Monona Terrace in Madison, is presented by the DPI, the Wisconsin State Reading Association, Wisconsin Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (the local affiliate of the group which published Routman’s book), and cooperative educational service agencies (CESAs) 2, 5, 6 (Literacy Center), and 12.

For more information, contact Mary Ann Schwandt at CESA 6, 920-236-0562.

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6. “Aspirations in Computing” Award

Female high-school students can apply for an award recognizing not only achievements but also “aspirations” in the realm of computing, from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

Winners receive prizes, gadgets, and scholarships, and can join a community of like-minded technical women and IT professionals in Wisconsin.

The experience can open doors, as it did for Minnesota student Amanda S., who in a NCWIT blog post talked about her computer coding internship at Symantec Corporation, gained through the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing:

“The progress I’ve made is clear and it was because of the accountability needed to work on a team, and the help my team gave back to me. I’m now more confident in my abilities, feel more comfortable giving and receiving feedback, and feel genuinely supported and reaffirmed in my choice to continue pursuing computer science....


“Before this internship I had never had code peer reviewed, and kept mostly to the confines of my local sandbox, cranking out small and silly applications. Today I have felt the pride in seeing my code reviewed, reviewed again and reviewed once more. I have later gone on to present this code at the end of sprint demo and it was absolutely awesome.”


Winners are selected based on computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

In addition to national awards, the Wisconsin affiliate gives awards to applicants within the state.

Information at the Wisconsin affiliate’s wiki, includes help for girls to prepare their application, a recruiting document answering “What's In It for Me?” and a promotional flyer.

Applications must be submitted online at no later than November 2, 2014. Winners will be announced in December.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Promoting Excellence for All Thunderclap

2. Madison, Marshfield Produce 2014 AP Scholars

3. White House Listening Tour for Native American Students in La Crosse

4. Attendance — Parent Letter

5. Literacy Breakthroughs Training

6. “Aspirations in Computing” Award

DPI-ConnectEd comes from the office of State Superintendent Tony Evers
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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374