Data can tell educators and students where they have been successful and where they need help, but too much data can make those same educators lose focus of what they are supposed to be doing, which is educating students and creating a safe and nurturing environment. Data is quickly creeping into the daily lives of teachers and administrators. Everywhere educators turn they are asked if they are making decisions based on data. As much as data is important to instruction, the more the word gets used, the more there is a chance that it will clumped into the junkyard of ...


Last week, a story about book banning in the Tucson Unified School District appeared in newspapers (NY Times) and blogs (Larry Ferlazzo). Tucson USD allegedly banned books on a variety of topics but mostly those related to the oppression of ethnic minorities, one of which was Rethinking Columbus edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. The banning was all part of a decision by some Arizona state politicians to shut down the district's popular ethnic studies program. As schools are trying to engage students through the use of 21st century skills there are others schools that are still practicing the ...


No Name Calling Week is about so much more than just name calling. It's about what name calling symbolizes. It's pretty common for kids to call each other names. If you ever grew up with siblings, you probably got into a few fights with your brothers or sisters and called them a few names during the confrontation. When anger and frustration hit, it's pretty easy to slip a few bad words into the equation. After a fight with a sibling, the first thing your parents probably had you do was apologize for calling them names. Maybe you felt badly or ...


"All kids can achieve if they are given the correct opportunities, but currently, that is not happening. And that needs to change." There are so many outside influences affecting our students these days. Many of us cannot fathom ever living the way some students have to. There are parents who are incarcerated for drugs, robbery or murder. Even saying it out loud seems like it cannot be real. Focusing on school is hard when the situation at home is so difficult. I grew up in a middle class suburb north of Albany at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. My ...


Last weekend I was on #elemchat with my colleagues near and far on Twitter and the topic of discussion was service learning. Service learning can be defined in many ways but it is primarily when students work on a project together for their community or communities far away. It is such an important learning experience for students to be involved in and it should be replicated in every school. Service learning is a spin on both community service and project based learning (PBL). Sometimes community service and PBL involve individual projects or small groups working together but service learning involves ...


"At fourteen you don't need sickness or death for tragedy." Jessamyn West Peer relationships can be complicated. Students who get along today may not get along tomorrow. Research shows that there is a great deal of storm in stress in adolescence and the smallest of issues can become the biggest of problems. With an increase in social media and texting among kids as young as elementary age, the issues that used to be considered small can be blown out of proportion on the internet. Hurtful words and arguments seem worse when they are seen in print or through e-mail. Those ...


Children are not supposed to be perfect all the time. Adults certainly aren't! When I was in seventh grade I had to go to the principal's office. My early teenage brain had gotten the best of me and I was rude to a teacher, which is something that did not please my mom and I heard about it when I got home. The middle school principal was eight feet tall. Ok, maybe not eight feet but he was huge. The mere fact that I had to go see him made me cringe with fear. To be perfectly honest, I thought ...


"Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from." Al Franken Lately, I have been thinking a lot about our present state of affairs; whether we are looking at education, politics or the economy. I wondered what lessons our students are learning from all of these situations that surround us. As I watch the news, scan the comments on Twitter or read Facebook messages, I have sensed a great deal of anger, ...


When looked at correctly, failure can teach us where we went wrong in the first place, and how we can learn to pick ourselves up again in a pursuit to succeed. We seem to have a problem with failure in America. Not in the sense that everyone is failing, but more in the way that failure is seen as the thing that must not happen at any cost. We are surrounded by children who get a trophy just for showing up, while we have others who will never get a trophy even though they work hard every day. Unfortunately, in ...


This time of year can be a bit nerve racking for schools. The fun and excitement of the holidays is behind us, and the spirit that comes with those days tends to begin sneaking away from our psyche. In the public school system, especially after the past few years, this is a time many of us fear because it is when the budget season really kicks into high gear. Any school district that is worth their weight in salt has been talking about the upcoming budget since the last one ended. However, during the summer and fall when school is ...


The opinions expressed in Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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