Everyone uses worksheets but it can be very depressing to see a pile of dittos on a teacher's desk waiting for students as they enter a classroom to begin the day. Although there is always a time when worksheets may be appropriate, dittos can be a symbol of a lack of creativity. We must try to limit there use in classrooms. As class sizes rise and high stakes testing pressure increases we are running the risk of boring students to tears by using death by ditto. Death by Ditto is the overuse of using dittos to educate students. The overuse ...


"Educators are now used to data being used as a hammer rather than a flashlight." Jonathan Cohen On Saturday morning I went out to breakfast at a small café near my home in Albany, NY. When I was sitting at the high top table waiting for my order, I overheard two older men talking about bullying. They were probably in their late sixties or early seventies. One of the guys was talking about a show that he saw that focused on bullying. He said that there was a teenage boy who was small in stature and he spoke to the ...


Report cards have long been the focal point of the first parent-teacher conference of the school year. In the mind of the teacher, as well as the parent, it always made sense to have the report card sitting front and center as they discussed the academic progress of a child. However, instead of making grading the focus of the conversation, many school districts are making the student the center of attention by having parent teacher conferences without the report card. Over the past few years some school districts, including the one where I am a principal, are taking a new ...


Recently, New York State test scores were released to the public and showed that students scored lower in the areas of ELA and math than in previous years. The results were quickly announced by the media. Even the national news chimed in to report the devastating results of the high stakes tests. News stories appeared about how our students are doing worse in reading in math than ever before. The New York State Education Commissioner put out the following statement. "Student outcomes have been stubbornly flat over time. The Regents reform agenda is designed to change that, by driving long-term ...


Most days, Robert walks into his elementary school with his head down. It's not that he doesn't like his teacher or school, it's just that is how he likes to walk. Students quickly walk past him on the sidewalk and the hallway because he walks so slow. They smile, laugh and talk with one another as they pass him one by one. They're not laughing at him but they're not inviting him into the conversations either. Robert has a hard time getting his schoolwork in the right place, so his teacher has to remind him where to put his homework ...


We take the mystery out of learning because we have a habit of talking at children and not to them. As many schools prepare for parent-teacher conferences they should consider involving the students in the process. It sounds like a radical concept to involve the student in the process of discussing their academic progress but it is an approach that many schools use and it has been around for decades. It's called Student-Led Conferences. For a long time schooling has focused on one to glow on, one to grow on and one to go on. During the conference, teachers tell ...


Facebook certainly has made life interesting over the past few years since its inception. For those of us over 30, we have been faced with the opportunity to see those people from high school that we long forgot about. There was a time when we only had to worry about seeing high school friends every ten years when we attended our high school class reunions, which is why some of us skipped our ten year reunion. My own high school experience, where I graduated in 1989, was not stellar and many of my classmates that I reconnected with were surprised ...


Every year we have students who need a "tune-up." A tune-up is when they need to see the principal because they had a one time issue with a student or teacher that needs an administrative intervention. Sometimes students are beginning to show a pattern of behavior and it is a good time for principals to step in and talk with the students about their behavior. I enjoy doing a tune-up with students because it involves a conversation where we try to get to the heart of an issue. For a long time, I have felt that screaming at a student ...


"The sky is falling. I saw it with my eyes. I heard it with my ears. Some of it fell on my tail." Chicken Little Many educators have spent the past couple of years dealing with the realities of our economic crisis. Our budgets have been voted down and we are forced to do more with less. Schools are in crisis mode and are at the verge of collapsing. Schools have an increase in mandates, a decrease in funding and are seeing a rise in social issues (i.e. homlessness, parents losing jobs, etc). This may sound overly dramatic but ...


Growing up with four older siblings was always interesting. At a young age I learned how to share, and privacy was non-existent until a few older siblings got married and moved out of the house. My brother Jody is three years older, although everyone thinks he's younger, and we spent a great deal of time together as kids. He lives in Bahrain but we still talk and see each other often considering the distance and he still tortures me from time to time. One of his usual lines is is, "I failed recess...you know why? Because I don't play!" ...


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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