February 2008 Archives

Hobo Teacher doesn't take particularly well to a request that teachers at his school perform a country line dance at this year's after-prom social event: You might as well ask me to dance to an organ grinder because I see no difference between two. I am a schooled professional given a task to educate the next generation in a system that ties teachers hands at every twist and turn. I refuse to participate in something that chips away at the little dignity we must hold on to....


In a really nice post, Renee Moore shares some early-career excerpts from her personal teaching journal. Here, in an absolute gem, our young English teacher finds a teachable moment in the cultural preconceptions (not to say cluelessness) of an ACT practice item: Today during our class opening grammar activity, we came across the following sentence: “I took my dog Sam to the lake who was lame.” One of the students found this in an ACT practice exercise. The author’s intention is to create a misplaced modifier by suggesting the lake is crippled rather than Sam, the dog. However, my ...


Will Richardson argues that online learning networks represent a transformative opportunity for the teaching profession, but laments that most teachers don't realize it yet: But I would still venture to guess that 75% (maybe more) of educators in this country still don’t know that they can have a network. While most of our kids are hacking away at building their own connections outside of their physical space, most of their teachers still don’t have a firm grasp of what any of it means or what he potentials are. And even for many that do know it, there are ...


High school English teacher Emmet Rosenfeld published a well-received article in the Washington Post Magazine last week about his all-consuming but ultimately failed quest for national-board certification. In the latest post on his blog here on Teacher, Emmet provides a sampling of the responses he received from teachers and others who were moved by the article. It's an interesting range of opinion....


I knew I saw something last week about an NYC charter school that reportedly pays its teachers $125,000 a year, but I didn't have time to pursue it. Fortunately, Ms. Frizzle apparently saw it too, and she's got the details on how they do it: The school day is long, but structured to provide time for each teacher to take on one after school class and one school service position. The school service positions include most of the duties normally carried out by APs (or by team leaders like me! I mean, I already do a ton of this ...


Over at the Teacher Leaders Network, John Norton keeps his promise and provides a helpful roundup of what's new and noteworthy in education periodicals....


We don't usually highlight non-educators on this page, but in his popular blog on Slate, political commentator Mickey Kaus has a quite pertintent post on the potential tensions between Barack Obama—now, by all accounts, the Democratic frontrunner—and the teachers' unions. Among other things, he quotes an observer as saying that, during a question-and-answer exchange at a fundraiser, Obama specifically identified the unions as an obstacle to charter schools—a movement he supports. During the campaign, Obama has also spoken positively (though not in great detail) about performance pay for teachers, and has suggested an openness towards vouchers....


In pondering, somewhat guiltily, why nearly half of his students are failing his class this year, IB a Math Teacher does a quick Excel calculation on his gradebook and finds the answer: If he takes out all the zeros for missed assignments, quizzes, and tests, his students' average grade—wait for it—"goes from a 52% F to a 81% B-." But there's not a whole lot he can do about it at this point: I can't excuse the missing work because some of them are assessments. I surely can't figure out what they can do on their own without...


Update on Eduwonkette's Valentine's Week education-love-poem contest: NYC science teacher Ms. Frizzle wasted no time in making an appointment with her muse (which apparently caused her to miss dinner). After her first poem, she comments: "Is this one funny to anyone else but me?" To which we have to answer: well, er ... But the take off on Andrew Marvell is pretty ingenious....


Responding to Patrick Welsh’s op-ed piece in Sunday’s Washington Post accusing one Virginia school of having a technology fetish, blogger Will Richardson chides the tech-phobic attitudes of some teachers, saying that we need to learn with the technology, not just implement it, in order to keep pace with students. Richardson’s response is quite measured, especially compared to some of the comments that followed on his blog....


Eighth-graders preparing for a handwritten essay test wonder what font they should write in. Their teacher plays along nicely....


Bill Ferriter passes along some thoughts by new teachers on what they would really like their more experienced colleagues to know about them (but are apparently afraid to say aloud). Here's an example: As a beginning teacher, I really need my colleagues to know...that I do not understand all of the acronyms you use. When you use them with frequency, I get lost and have no idea what you are talking about. Please take time to explain what you are saying! And he's got many more....


Eduwonkette, now blogging right next door (in a virtual sense) at edweek.org, is holding a Valentine's week contest in which she's accepting love poems written to education policymakers and bloggers. This clearly demands some teacher participation. Go ahead, express yourself....


Edutech humor: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach conducts a twitter poll and gets some very witty responses....


Is he making this up? Hobo teacher says he was (apparently) accidently included on an e-mail in which his school's parent-teacher liason assured some parents, apropos of planning for an upcoming function, that "these teachers will eat anything.”...


For teachers in schools that use turnitin.com, Fred the Fish offers some helpful advice on making use of the site's student discussion-board feature as part of a course curriculum. (And for those who have qualms about the online plagiarism-busting service, she—I believe Fred's a she—offers a reasoned defense of turnitin.com in the comments section.)...


In the midst of an otherwise good week—including a fascinating-sounding game of robot basketball—Ms. Frizzle finds her teaching style compromised by an appearance of head lice in her school: Meanwhile my whole seventh period class had to be checked for lice (and there was at least one positive) and it’s been all I can do to stop feeling paranoidly itchy since then. Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck YUCK. I’ve never been the kind of teacher who is totally “hands-off” - I’ll give a kid a hug or a pat on the shoulder or whatever, despite ...


Applicants for National Board certification have to provide and analyze 15 minute video segments of themselves in the classroom. Ms. Cookie of Math Teacher Mumbo found the experience highly illuminating and recommends it as a general practice....


Holly at Education Choices offers some practical tips for substitute teachers. Among other things, she says, you should make sure you have notebook to write in (as a disciplinary tactic) and your: Painkiller of choice (Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, etc) - Students can be a pain, quite literally. The only thing worse than substitute teaching a bad class is substitute teaching a bad class while in pain. You get the feeling she knows what she's talking about. Hat tip: Creating Lifelong Learners...


Nancy Flanagan offers a trenchant response to a U.S. News & World Report piece calling teaching one of the most "overrated" careers in America. She writes: To understand why teaching is satisfying and gratifying, you must approach it as a believer in the complex, redemptive and transformative power of education. The person who wrote the U.S. News item—which, as Flanagan suggests, comes across as almost offensively shallow—clearly does not....


A number of tech-oriented teachers have recently referred to the instructional possibilities of Twitter, a sort of social network text-messaging tool. To be honest, we weren't entirely sure what they were talking about, either. But here's a very helpful post on the subject. Hat tip: Will Richardson....


TMAO of Teaching at the 408 rails at a district decision to assign police officers to his middle school. The law enforcement presence, he writes, has undermined the atmosphere of trust and high expectations that had helped dramatically boost the school's achievement and reputation. And it's a very slippery slope: We have placed our feet upon a path that will pull us back into the bucket, pull us back down into that dank place where there is no unity, no sense of purpose, no common goal, no pursuit of excellence, just a fractured group of individuals, some getting by, some ...


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