May 2007 Archives

Bogusia of Nucleaus Learning offers an instructive explanation of why schools teach advanced math. Teaching advance math is like teaching a baby to walk. Of course, it is not absolutely necessary, and we could get around with only arithmetic (and many people do this). As teachers, however, we should realize that the world is designed for people who know advanced math, and instead of crawling, with the skills of math our students can get up on two feet and run....


Epiphany in Baltimore, a high school English teacher, is fed up with the “benchmark” tests he is supposed to administer to students in preparation for the state's High School Assessments (HSAs). The system, he says, is an inefficient mess: The benchmark tests have been nothing but the recycling of HSA questions already released on the Maryland State Department of Education website. Basically, the [Baltimore City Public School System] is spending nearly a million dollars to a company to recycle and repackage questions into benchmarks for the students of Baltimore, something that any teacher worth his snot has already done. It's ...


Hobo Teacher on the last day of school: Don’t ask me how it went. The only thing I can remember was a bunch of shouting and shoving, then I blacked out. I woke up later in the day in the school’s dumpster with a skull-splitting headache and a copy of my sign-out sheet with all the signatures on it. That was good enough for me....


The Science Goddess of What It’s Like On The Inside is used to having students tell her secrets in her classroom and going to the proper authorities when those secrets require intervention. But, as a district curriculum specialist, she now has colleagues divulging secrets about other teachers, administrators, and employees. I get all sorts of things whispered in my ear about what's happening with various departments and programs. It frustrates me because as much as I am ready, willing, and able to listen to whatever teachers wish to share, I'm often powerless to do anything about it. But if ...


Doug Johnson of Blue Skunk comes away impressed from a virtual conference he attended on the educational potential of Second Life. However, he acknowledges educators'—and his own—doubts about the simulation program's place in the classroom: Many educators seem to have a reticence about Second Life as a teaching tool, even those folks I would otherwise consider visionaries in other ways. Yes, Second Life has an "adult" side to it. Yes, it is crash prone, slow and unreliable. Yes, there is a steep learning curve to creating content for it. Yes, it sounds just like the WWW of about...


Renee Moore, a member the Teacher Leaders Network, says you can gauge a teacher's level of professional engagement by his or her answer to the question, "What you are you doing this summer."...


Fred the Fish of Are We Doing Anything Today? recently fell behind in grading, and it started taking her two hours a day to catch up. It got her to thinking: Though I'm sure someone, somewhere in the blogosphere has asked this before, how much time do people spend grading. Is your 55 minute prep period enough to cover your bases? Good question. And she's gotten some informative responses....


Mister Teacher of Learn Me Good uses former NFL running back Ricky William’s pay-per-play contract to devise a unique performance-based pay plan for teachers: Sign us on at some base salary -- let's say $25,000. But we can increase our take-home by documenting events from the following list. Teachers would get paid for every occurrence of the event, not just one time. Staff meeting ........................................................................$200 Fire drill ..............................................................................$150 Being pulled out of class to attend a meeting ...................................................................$500 Receiving a new child any day after the first day of class ......................................................................$1,000 -- if they don't speak English .................................................................$2,500...


Retired teacher Nancy Flanagan—now a doctoral candidate in education policy—thought it would be nice to go back to her old school as a substitute. Easier said than done: I calculated that it would take three days of subbing to cover the registration fee alone—not counting the unpaid day of substitute training by a real live former teacher, the fingerprinting fee (and the pleasure of spending a morning at the county jail to accomplish that), the original certificate replacement costs, and the darned TB test. It would be October before I broke even....


Sam at clean up on aisle life delves into issues of race and power in education, noting that the racial makeup of the teaching profession is by no means lost on minority students: Last year one of my students asked why I was white and he was black. One of my friends had her students tell her that she was not white, because she was nice to them. My roommate and I have discussed how obsessed our students become over our blue eyes. They are very aware of the differences between themselves and their teachers, which means they must be ...


Andy Carvin of learning.now has mixed feelings about a university's decision to deny a student her teaching degree after she reportedly encouraged youngsters in her student-teaching class to view her MySpace page, which contained a picture of her titled "Drunken Pirate": When the story first broke, I must admit I had my own knee-jerk reaction. What were they thinking? Denying a talented young woman her degree because of one stupid photo was crazy! But now that more information is coming out from both sides, I’m beginning to feel very torn about the situation. ... [I]t gets more complex ...


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