June 2007 Archives

Brian of An Audience of One loves his job as a school administrator in Tulsa, Okla., because he can make a difference in the lives of students. Unfortunately, he can’t make their choices for them. One of his students—a 7th grader—was recently arrested and charged with murder. He wasn't a particularly difficult student, says Brian, but he lacked motivation: I remember catching him in the hall a few months ago, asking him where he was supposed to be, listening to his lame excuses, putting my arm on his shoulder, and walking him to class. I told him...


Konrad Glogowski, from the blog of proximal development, is blogging about blogging—in his classroom. The high school teacher had his students keep track of their yearlong research projects on individual blogs and, at the end of the year, requested they take time from calculating their grades to tell him what they learned. Although many of his students felt strongly about their topics and enjoyed the blogging experience, most planned to stop researching once the school year was over. This is why he says June is the cruellest month. This is what happens when we compartmentalize learning into neat chunks. ...


Can’t make it to the annual National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), but you’re aching to know what’s going on? Or, you’re there and you need to have your fingers in every pie? NECC has a listing of international teachers and techsperts who are blogging from the conference. Check out Kids.Cable.Learning. The Cable in the Classroom’s Web site “advocates for the visionary, sensible and effective use of media in homes, schools, and communities.” The site explores the value and ethics of the Internet in today’s classrooms and offers free podcasts on related themes, ...


Jim Anderson, of Washington Teachers, reacts to an article from The Seattle Times that shows how standardized lessons, like those developed by committees in Bellevue, Wash., can inhibit learning. Bellevue Superintendent Mike Riley, who advocates for a nationally standardized curriculum, says an inconsistent curriculum is “at the heart of what’s wrong with education in America.” Riley modeled his managed curriculum, developed mostly by teachers, after this belief. Anderson prefers the system at his old school, where standardized lessons reflected teacher and student autonomy. Most importantly, he says, change came from the bottom up. We saw that certain students weren't ...


Mister Teacher of Learn Me Good sounds off on a Virginia school's strict no-touching policy, under which students can reportedly be sent to the principal's office for hugging or high-fiving. Seems a bit excessive, says Mister Teacher: Now if said hugging went on for 15 minutes and involved hands in suspicious areas, I could see the merits in this policy. And OK, so you don't want to promote sexual promiscuity amongst middle schoolers, thus the no handholding rules, but high-fiving??? Are you kidding me?… He offers a nuanced solution: Hey "school officials" (if that IS your real name), how about ...


British teacher, Mr. Chalk, ponders the “real reasons” why students can’t sit still or be silenced in class, including: Fed on a diet of sugary drinks and snacks throughout the day, many kids are in a constant hyperactive state. To excuse this, a whole load of medical problems have been dreamt up by drug companies eager to sell new products to the gullible. Every register is chock full of acronyms and excuses such as ADD, Bipolar Somethings, Aspbergers, Oppositional Defiance Nonsense and of course ADHD. Here's a handy tip: if your own child is naughty just send a letter ...


Renee Moore of TeachMoore responds to a Los Angeles Times editorial by Jonah Goldberg titled “Do Away With Public Schools.” She says Goldberg’s article—which proposes that the government simply require kids to go to school, provide tuition subsidies to families in need, and then get "out of the way"—implies America cannot educate its children. Moore begs to differ. Neither past nor present failings (some of which, by the way are greatly exaggerated) of public education are sufficient cause to throw up our hands as a nation and leave education at the mercy of the market economy....


Graycie, from Today’s Homework, nostalgically reflects on the end of her first year as a teacher in 1986: My first year was also the first year for that particular principal. He had his faults, but that man knew how to close down a school. When we re-entered the building for the inevitable faculty meeting and room clean up and paperwork marathon, we were greeted by the strains of the Hallelujah Chorus played full blast over the PA system. The windows of the building actually rattled. Teachers danced up and down the hallways. I think we were shouting because everyone’s...


As Washington state teacher Mr. McNamar, from The Daily Grind, teaches his students about themes in literature, he draws some disturbing connections between the totalitarian society in George Orwell’s 1984 and some school systems. As my students discussed Orwell's 1984, my mind drifted away from their intriguing recap of plot to what Orwell's themes would look like in a public school system. The first thing to go would be freedom of speech. Teachers, administrators, or curriculum facilitators would no longer be allowed to speak freely about what the Central Office (Big Brother) dictates. Once all avenues for dissent had ...


Q6, an assistant principal from Southern California, reflects on the four weeks in May he spent “losing his mind” while administering Advanced Placement (AP) Exams. For the students, it’s about inflated GPAs and college credit; for the parents, it’s about prestige, family honor, and one-upping the family down the street; for me, it’s about getting the paperwork right and giving as many tests as necessary using the fewest resources. In a word, AP tests embody education as a whole—do it well, do it better than the other guy, and do it cheap. He sarcastically highlights some ...


Inspired by the Portable Princess, 33-year veteran social studies teacher Dennis Fermoyle answers the question, "If you could change anything at all about the education system in the U.S., what would it be and why?" Among his suggestions: Give teachers the authority to remove disruptive and blatantly apathetic students from their classrooms. (In other words, give classrooms teachers the same power that coaches of high school athletic teams have.) And he knows whereof he speaks, because he's a hockey coach, too. See more from his wish list....


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