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 ...


"Textbooks should be used like a dictionary, not a novel." Unknown For the first time in our educational history a majority of the states across the U.S. will have the same teaching standards, which many educators have wanted for decades. Many of those states are doing a great job building curriculum maps for teachers. Some states are doing something really unique; they're actually getting teacher and administrator input in the process. School districts, and the teachers and administrators within those districts, like what the common core offers to students. It focuses more on depth than breadth. Over the years ...


"Good people know that high stakes testing has limited value and they keep operating anyway. They don't let testing get in the way of doing the good work they want to do to get kids prepared for life." Todd Whitaker In education we have a habit of using terms so often that we push staff to a place where they do not want to use them anymore, which means they are in jeopardy of not being engaged in the process. We have seen it with terms such as "differentiated instruction" and "hands-on learning." If we're not careful it will happen ...


Recently there was a story in Education Week entitled Push is On to Add Time to School Day, Year (Fleming). Some schools are adding time to their school day and school year. If done correctly, this will allow teachers the time to focus on great instructional tools like Project-Based Learning (PBL) and perhaps offer students the time to create service learning opportunities within the school district. In the Washington Post, there was a story about schools that are researching the idea of a four day school week (Layton). Four day weeks are created by schools in order to cut costs (i.e....


Every student should be able to get lost in their imagination from time to time. As we grow older there are so many times that we are too busy to retreat within ourselves to imagine bigger ideas. We need to encourage students to do that when they are younger so they can strive for something new in their lives. Students should be exposed to experiences that provoke thought and inspires them to want to find a path to follow in life. Sometimes they do that by surrounding themselves with good friends and play games on whatever the new hot item ...


The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt's 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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