March 2008 Archives

As teachers move away from pull-down maps and rely more and more on online resources like Google Earth, Assorted Stuff asks whose version of geography should be taught in classrooms. Assorted Stuff notes the Chinese government already has a list of 10,000 “unapproved” maps and believes that the issue will become more relevant closer to the 2008 Olympics, which will be hosted in China. Assorted Stuff urges teachers to “take some time from test prep to include our students in the discussion.”...


Hobo Teacher's school is having a paper-recycling drive. Seems like a fine idea, except that there are now "piles and piles" of paper stacked in the classrooms—which only adds to Hobo's oft-referenced fear of a grand plot against teachers (himself in particular): I know I’ve said this before, but this just confirms my suspicion that administration gets some black ops training. This has to be some sort of torture that they’re conducting. It’s like they’re trying to mess with my senses by giving me a dreadful teaching environment. I’ve got to keep an eye ...


Nancy Flanagan argues that there are disturbing parallels between the Bush administration's approach to invading Iraq and its strategy for improving schools. In both cases, she says, it "put proclamations and plans ahead of thoughtful intelligence-gathering," and now we're stuck with an unalterable "infrastructure investment" in a flawed policy....


Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach points to the interesting case of an Australian educator whose classroom blog has been disabled by a government agency—for seemingly vague reasons having to do with "risk and management issues." Nussbaum-Beach believes the incident—as well as others like it—is a challenge to all educators trying to harness the educational potential of new technologies in the schools. In short: We all need to know how to advocate for our students- and how to explain how principled changes in education need to occur if we are going to remain relevant in our student's lives. ... How would you...


Epiphany in Baltimore reports (quite casually) that his classroom has had a bucket-filling leak since Thanksgiving, and that a ceiling tile recently fell on one of his students during class. Now he's discovered that there are mushrooms growing under his book case. Lovely. How is it that we are letting kids go to school in conditions like these?...


In a "Letter to Our Next President," education scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings—author of The Dreamkeepers—advises would-be commanders in chief to reconceptualize the achievment gap as the "education debt": The debt language totally changes the relationship between students and their schooling. For instance, when we think of what we are combating as an achievement gap, we implicitly place the onus for closing that gap on the students, their families, and their individual teachers and schools. But, the notion of education debt requires us to think about how all of us, as members of a democratic society, are implicated in creating...


Eduwonkette profiles another cool teacher you should know....


A cautionary tale: Like many other teachers, literacy teacher Cindi Rigsbee figured that learning the popular "Soulja Boy" dance was a fun way of connecting with her students. Then she found out what the lyrics mean....


To motivate her students to turn in their homework, Bluebird's Classroom implemented a few controversial practices, including, giving students the answers to their homework. Homework is, after all, practice. If a kid doesn't get it, and does the homework wrong (if he does it at all), then he's repeating the wrong thing. He's learning and remembering something that is wrong. However, if you give the kid a key to check the work, then they're doing it correctly, and learning it correctly. It’s not for everybody Bluebird admits, but she says it’s worked wonders in her classroom....


The previous post may make you question whether students should be allowed to bring cell phones to school, but Will Richardson has a different view. For Richardson, just back from a visit to an NYC high school, school cell-phone bans make little economic or educational sense, from a big-picture perspective. The goal, he says, should to be teach kids how to use phones constructively for learning: To me, this is the vision thing again. In a school where there are about 300 computers for 3,000 students, doesn’t it make more sense to get creative about not only how ...


Scott McLeod of Dangerously Irrevelvant posts a selection of videos of classroom incidents caught on students' cellphones. It's not, I'm afraid, a very flattering portrait of the teaching profession—or of schools in general. Hat Tip: Learn Me Good....


Conservative-leaning education pundit and think tank leader Chester Finn has recently published an education-reform memoir, as well as an article on the lessons he's learned over the course of his career. Veteran teachers Susan Graham and Nancy Flanagan each have some ... well, let's just say, some thoughts on the matter....


Bill Ferriter warns against the tendency to equate teacher leadership with new-teacher mentoring. He asks: Does the belief that mentoring = teacher leadership limit the impact that can we have on other areas of our profession because no one is particularly inclined to see us as anything other than strong shoulders of support for beginning teachers?...


Susan Ens Funk grapples with the perennial question of how to get her 4th and 5th grade boys more interested in reading. Doug Noon, referencing a literacy text, responds that part of the problem may derive from literacy teachers' traditional emphasis on "literature to the exclusion of critical approaches to non-narrative texts. Boys tend to like informational texts more than literature." A greater emphasis on informational texts, he adds, might also make more sense in the present cultural context: And I’m not thinking about the boys’ problems with reading here, especially, as much as I’m reconsidering the how ...


Epiphany in Baltimore, a high school English teacher and baseball coach, says coaching has made him try to be a better person....


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