Today we had to tear down a longhouse in our main hallway. The longhouse was built by our fourth grade teachers and students during our No Testing Week. We had to take it down for a variety of reasons. It was only meant to be temporary; much like our week where we felt free from the constraints of our constant top-down mandates provided to us from our state and federal education departments. The longhouse was amazing, not just because it was the collective hard work of many. The longhouse reminded many of us of the days long ago when we ...


All students have strengths, and most of those strengths are not assessed through high stakes testing. It seems that all we hear about in education is how...or whether, our students are achieving. Although not a bad topic to discuss, it is often tied into high stakes testing. Many of us in education would like the achievement discussion to include so much more than a test our students take over a few days which are created by a few large publishers who also happen to publish the textbooks used in our classrooms. All of which happens to be a billion ...


"It's like hearing the same song too many times on the radio. After a while people turn the station." The word "bullying" is used on a daily basis. We usually hear it for the first time when we're watching the news in the morning as we get ready for work or school. There are sad stories from around the nation about children who are being bullied by their peers. The media often focuses on the worst stories of bullying because those are the ones that make the headlines. However, there are millions of more stories happening every day that hopefully ...


"I naively assumed that Twitter was a place for people to narcissistically blab their every move, and after reading "Why Educators Should Join Twitter," my mind was changed and I joined. My life is changed! I finally feel like I have others whose lives revolve around education the way mine does". Jaime Mendelis, Binghamton, NY A couple of my friends have the availability to work from home a few days a week. I have this image of waking up, putting on a pair of sweats, grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting at my laptop to begin my day. No ...


During the week of November 28th through December 2nd, our school participated in our very own No Testing Week. I must admit that I hardly slept Sunday night because I was eager to see what teachers had planned. It's not that we are totally driven by data and have to test every day but it certainly does feel as though we are consumed by testing. Testing and assessment are very different. We can assess students' understanding of concepts. Assessment is a powerful tool that all educators need to understand. Testing, however, is something different. It may have started as a ...


"It's no cop-out to acknowledge the effects of socioeconomic disparities on student learning. Rather, it's a vital step to closing the achievement gap." Richard Rothstein In our present economic climate, where it seems that politicians are completely disconnected from the people who voted for them, schools have a serious issue with poverty. It doesn't matter whether it is a rural, urban or suburban school district; the number of students living in poverty is rising, which can be devastating to their education. There is a great deal of research which indicates that poverty can severely effect a child's education. Poverty has ...


If educators are not promoting a respectful climate in a creative learning space, then they're just moving furniture. Today, I saw two first graders working together to open a thermos. Although this is a situation that happens every day in schools across North America, it was nice to watch them figure the situation out together. I was standing next to them but they did not ask me to open it for them. First graders think I'm pretty strong! Instead, one held the thermos while the other one turned the top. A great thing happened...it opened and they did not ...


Great teachers know that they don't have to know it all. They just have to know their resources. Many times when we're struggling with the issue of meeting the needs of our students or those of our teachers, we search for great websites. Websites from experts can help inspire us to make the necessary changes in our classrooms or schools. However, many times they may require a membership or fee, which can limit the amount of help they provide. Through our searches we may find free sites. After negotiating our way through the sites we find resources to use with ...


Later on, I found my niche. It wasn't baseball; it was school, and running and art and music. Dad and Mom had taught me that life is special. It doesn't always work out the way you want--sometimes it works out better. A few years ago I wrote a story entitled Catcher's Mitt for Grief Digest. Unfortunately there are not enough books on the subject of grief for children and publishers like the Centering Corporation, which publishes Grief Digest, are one of the few organizations that focus on the topic of grief. There are so many children affected by this subject ...


In late July I decided to join Twitter. To be perfectly honest with you I had no idea what I was supposed to do when I got on there but I heard so much about it I thought it would be a worthwhile experience. The only concern was that we have so many distractions already in life that I wasn't sure that I needed to add one more the list. I consider myself fairly technological, and given the amount of time I spend checking e-mail I know that I am "connected." I have a "Smart" phone, IPod, IPad, laptop and ...


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