Note: Erik Palmer, an author from Denver, Colorado is a guest blogger today. Haphazard. That word best describes our approach to teaching speaking. Yes, every teacher at every grade level in every subject has oral language activities: discussions, book reports, research presentations, Socratic seminars, dialogues, read alouds, debates, and many more. But very few teachers specifically teach students how to do those activities well, and every teacher seems to have a different idea of what it takes to be an effective speaker. I worked with a team of four fourth grade teachers who all planned language arts activities together. They ...


"Speak up, be a leader, set the direction - but be participative, listen well, cooperate" (Bennis, 2003). Sometimes I wake up feeling brave and when I find myself in social circles I out myself as a school administrator. The reactions are often mixed. Some people are scared. Some are impressed. Others don't know what to say. Some of the more friendly people will talk about their memories of their school administrators and I often wonder how my students will describe me in the future. There are always a few who say, "I wouldn't want your job." The latter statement is ...


Once a month I do parenting segments with Subrina Dhammi and education segments with Elaine Houston on WNYT which is the NBC affiliate in Albany, NY. Subrina approached me a few weeks ago about new legislation being introduced in New York State and wanted to do a news segment on it. It was entitled Drop Outs Don't Drive. Students drop out of high school through a couple of different mechanisms. One way they can go through the process of dropping out is through a meeting with their parents, guidance counselor and school principal. Parents are allowed to "sign them out" ...


"The high stakes test culture runs almost totally counter to what we know about how people learn. It causes us to engage in professional malpractice on a regular basis." Carol Ann Tomlinson There is nothing better than watching high-quality instruction. Seeing students engaged with their teacher, doing hands-on activities, or debating about an issue is very exciting. Great teachers easily float from a planned lesson to a teachable moment. If you are fortunate enough, you may get a chance to capture the first moment a student falls in love with a subject that will guide them to their first career. ...


"Approximately 1 in 20 children experience the loss of a parent before they reach the age of 18" (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990). We have many students who are confronted with the loss of a parent, whether it's through drugs, alcohol, accidents, suicide, disease or war. Although it is a sad subject to focus on, it is important that as educators, we understand how to help students get through this very difficult situation. They will remember where they were, who they were with, and how the adults around them helped them deal with the loss of a parent. ...


The other day I took a trip down to New York City to meet up with three of my friends from the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Having coffee with Joseph Kosciw (Ph.D.), Senior Director of Research & Strategic Initiatives, Robert McGarry (Ed.D.), Director of Training and Curriculum, and Daryl Presgraves, Communications Director is an enjoyable experience because all three have a wide variety of knowledge and approach their work in diverse ways, which is very healthy. We learn so much through conversations with others. A good conversation can get us to expand out thinking patterns and perhaps ...


After the blog I wrote about safeguarding LGBT students a few weeks ago I heard from many readers. However, Christine, a special education teacher from Minnesota said, "Many of my students are also ostracized because of their behavior, socialization style or lack of style, and/or learning difficulties. It is not ok to treat anyone disrespectfully. It is amazing to me that this is 2011 and we as a society are still struggling with this concept." After Christine's e-mail I reflected on the past sixteen years I've been in education and the stigma I have seen that is attached to ...


We live in an increasingly complicated world. Some of us have a moral compass that is shaped by our experiences. We all have our own opinions on what truth, beauty and goodness means. However, we also meet people who have diverse opinions of those three virtues and thus problems ensue. Our society has changed a great deal. The implementation of technology and the need to remain connected 24/7 has many implications for all of us. In addition, in order to meet the demands of mandates and high stakes testing, some of what we taught to students that offered a ...


"Students should certainly think about what they read, but they should read something worth thinking about" (Ravitch, 2010, p. 20). 21st century skills is a common topic of discussion these days so I decided to use my 21st century skills and do a search on career and college readiness. The search garnered 21,800,000 hits. From college reports to consultant and businesses offering unique ways to meet the career and college readiness goal, there is certainly a great deal of support and research out there. However, not all of it is very beneficial. Although we are educators and it ...


"Atheism is a non-prophet institution" (Fletcher, 2010, p.43). I'm a huge fan of children's literature. Some of my friends get star-struck when they see celebrities but I get tongue-tied when I meet children's authors that I admire. I met Tomie dePaola at a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference and couldn't speak. I love cracking open books written by Phil Bildner, Mark Teague, Loren Long, Emily Arnold McCully and Moira Fain, just to name a few. In Albany, where I live, I am surrounded by awesome nationally-known children's authors such as Coleen Paratore, Eric Luper, Peter ...


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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