Open Letter from MTN

June 2009

Dear Friends of Marin Teaching Network:

Since 1980, Marin Teaching Network (formerly Education Task Force) has served Marin districts, school sites, teachers, and ultimately students, in a unique collaborative network. The genesis for the organization grew from the need for greater coordination and communication among the loosely coupled elementary districts whose students graduated and attended the Tamalpais Union High School District. Over its 29 year history, Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, and Trustees have gathered as a community to share curriculum and instructional strategies, develop common learning outcomes, administer and analyze performance assessments, and maximize human and financial resources in a shared services model. Literacy, Math, Social Studies, Foreign Language, a Science Kit lending program, and data management and analysis, among other areas, have been supported by member district dues, grant funding from the Marin Community Foundation and others, and the in-kind donations from the Tamalpais District (in terms of facilities and staff support) and educational leaders (in terms of time, expertise, and governance) across Marin County.

With the current economic crisis affecting all corners of the economy, the MTN Governing Board voted to put the organization on hold (as of June 30
th) for the next academic year (2009-2010) with the hope that as the financial outlook improves and stabilizes, that core services could be re-instated. In the meantime, the MTN website will be available with its Math and Literacy open source materials, and we hope that you will continue to access the valuable resources available online.

More than ever, we hope that the spirit of collaboration and the sense of community continue so that all students are afforded the greatest learning opportunities possible. On behalf of the Marin Teaching Network Staff (past and present), we thank all of you for your contributions, participation, leadership, and steadfast commitment to Marin students.


Dale Davidson, Greg Hamilton, Cathy Marsh, Gretchen Muller, and Anna Pilloton
Marin Teaching Network Staff

Revised MTN Spring Literacy Assessment Series

Literacy Program Development and Writing Assessment Workshops:
Grades K – 2 Teachers on Thursday, May 14 from 8:15 – 3:00: This workshop will focus on the introduction of tools used to develop rubrics for emerging writers, instruction, and writing program development. 
Grades 3 – 5 Teachers on Tuesday, May 19 from 8:15 – 3:00: This workshop will focus on both narrative and expository writing units, tools for developing rubrics, and instruction and writing program development specific to your grade level(s) and the direct writing assessment genre(s) you are teaching.
Grades 6 – 8 Teachers on Thursday, May 21 from 8:15 – 3:00: This workshop will focus on both narrative and expository writing units, tools for developing rubrics, and instruction and writing program development specific to your grade level(s) and the direct writing assessment genre(s) you are teaching.
5th Grade Growth Over Time Writing Assessment on Friday, May 15 from 8:15 – 3:00: Participants will share writing samples and discuss findings from their review of 5th grade writing and share next steps in terms of teaching strategies and writing curricula to support 5th grade writers.
8th Grade Portfolio Assessment on Friday, May 29 from 8:15 – 3:00: Participants will share 8th grade writing samples, discuss findings from their review of 8th grade writing at their school sites, and share next steps in terms of teaching strategies and writing curricula to support 8th grade writers.
If you would like to attend any of the above workshops, please RSVP as soon as possible by e-mailing Greg Hamilton ( or Dale Davidson (
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Greg via e-mail or phone (415-945-3735).

Summer Fulbright Opportunity

The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program is currently seeking elementary level teachers or administrators with Spanish proficiency and strong cross-cultural skills to act as teacher trainers and make presentations on general education topics in Uruguay for three weeks in the Summer of 2009.

URUGUAY SUMMER Application Postmark Deadline- Monday March 30, 2009
(If you need additional time for references to be mailed in, please contact our office by March 30th to request an extension.)

If you have any questions regarding eligibility or sections of the application, please contact Sonia Barre at (202) 314-3526.

For more specific information about this Uruguay program and the application please visit the OTHER OPPORTUNITIES page of our website:

Please feel free to pass this along!

Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program
600 Maryland Ave., SW Suite 320
Washington DC 20024
202.314.3527 phone
202.479.6806 fax

Spring Literacy Formative Assessment Workshops

Sign up now for the Spring Literacy Formative Assessment Workshops beginning in May. Check out the information by clicking on Literacy Workshops in the left-hand column.

MTN Direct Writing Assessment Season

The Direct Writing Assessments for 4th, 6th, 7th, and high school are beginning.

SVMI Principal as Instructional Leader Workshops

Each year the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative holds two workshops for principals. This year’s workshops focus on English Language Learners in December and Performance Assessments in January. For more information, download the flyer.

English Language Arts Dinner Seminar

Middle school English Language Arts teachers are cordially invited to join Tamalpais Union High School District English-Language Arts
teachers at an English-Language Arts Dinner Seminar on Wednesday, November 12. The guest speaker for the evening will be Jane Juska, author and teacher. Jane Juska taught English for thirty-three years in high schools in Minnesota, Ohio, and California; five years at St. Mary’s College, and five years at San Quentin Prison. She is a published writer. Her first book, A Round-Heeled Woman, was published in 2003, followed in 2006 by Unaccompanied Women. Before that, Jane’s work appeared in magazines and anthologies. She has just finished a new novel, and is finishing her memoir of forty years of teaching. She lives in Berkeley, California. Information Flyer

Algebra Everywhere!

During mid-October, there were 3 big summits and forums focussing on Algebra. Some of you may have attended one or more of them. On October 8, a statewide summit sponsored by ACSA and School Innovations & Advocacy was held in Sacramento. This summit was a chance to hear many of the key policy makers involved in the decision reflected on the action taken by the State Board, its policy underpinnings and to look forward on implications for students, teachers and the system. On October 10, a similar summit was held in Santa Clara at National Semiconducter and sponsored by the Silicon Valley Educational Foundation. Last but not least, the 2nd of 3 Algebra Forums was held in Burlingame October 13 through 15 and is a collaborative project of the CDE, CISC/CCSESA, and WestEd. Read More...

Dana Center - Practices Worthy of Attention

Practices Worthy of Attention is a joint initiative of Achieve, Inc., and the Charles A. Dana Center. The initiative is led by Pamela L. Paek, who examined 22 program, school, and district practices that showed promise—based on early evidence and observation—of strengthening secondary mathematics teaching and learning. Our goal was to document practitioners' descriptions of what is really happening in the field to strengthen secondary mathematics education around the country. Thus, while the practice highlighted may be common, the specific structures and strategies used to implement the practice are worthy of attention. These initial investigations set out to mark these practices for future rigorous scientific inquiry by Dana Center and other researchers. Ultimately, we hope to create a community of inquiry made up of university researchers working with administrators and teachers from featured schools and districts to more rigorously research how effectively these practices improve secondary mathematics learning for all students.

Math Formative Assessment Resources

MTN’s collection of Exemplars (math performance assessments) are now available in the Resources section under Math Resources. The assessments come in grade level groups - K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 and include benchmarks of student work showing novice, apprentice, practitioner, and expert examples for each task. These tasks can be used as formative assessments.

The Misplaced Math Student: Lost in Eighth Grade Algebra

A new report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution finds that the nation's push to challenge more students by placing them in advanced math classes in eighth grade has had unintended and damaging consequences, as some 120,000 middle-schoolers are now struggling in advanced classes for which they are woefully unprepared.

As Easy as 1, 2, 3: Number Sense Correlates with Test Scores

Knowing how precisely a high school freshman can estimate the number of objects in a group gives you a good idea how well he has done in math as far back as kindergarten, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University found.

Good "number sense" at age 14 correlates with higher scores on standardized math tests throughout a child's life, and weaker "number sense" at 14 predicts lower scores on standardized tests, says Justin Halberda, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.


K-7 CA Key Math Standards

All in one place! The K-7 math standards that California has identified as key standards. These standards form the majority of items (85%) on the math CST.

NEW MTN Discussion Board

There is a new feature on the MTN website - a discussion board. Forums have already been set up for the Teacher Leader Network, Literacy Formative Assessments, and Mathematics. This is a place where you can go and post a question for others to see and possibly answer or to see what others are doing. The link is on the left-hand side or you can click here.

Algebra For All: What Will It Take? Silicon Valley Education Foundation Event


Algebra Summit 2008

Algebra For All:  What Will It Take? Silicon Valley  Education Foundation, with the support from National Semiconductor, Silicon  Valley Community Foundation, and the San Jose Mercury News, is proud to present  an opportunity to ask the experts at an algebra summit  Algebra For All: What Will  It Take? Attendees at this  one-day event will have access to thought leaders from our region and the  state, as well as panel discussions with innovative teachers, principals and  superintendents. Be a part of a solution-driven conversation around some tough  questions:
  • How do we get more students to  succeed in math?
  • What are the best approaches for  implementing Algebra for All?
  • High cost expectations in a low  cost environment? How do we manage?
  • Should there be a different  sequencing of high school math classes?
  • How do we really need to think  about and teach algebra?
  • How can the Silicon Valley approach teacher  recruitment, intervention programs, and successful approaches to professional  development?
  • How did the State Board of  Education arrive at the Algebra for All solution?
  • Is it time to create a Bachelors  Degree in Education?