September 2008 Archives

Ga. kindergarten teacher Christina Shunnarah, one of the bloggers for NYT's Lesson Plans, reflects that the 95 percent of her students' cultures that lie below the surface are the most important. Besides the obvious cultural markers of food, fashion and folklore, Shunnarah says that teachers need to pay attention to elements of 'deep culture'--concepts of beauty, approaches to problem solving and personal relationships, eating habits, facial expressions, to name a few. But before understanding their students, teachers need to understand their own backgrounds, and how they react to different cultures. In order for me to be as effective as possible ...


Doug Noon of Borderland imagines what life would be like if education reform got the same treatment as the Wall Street bailout. If education reform worked anything like the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan now on the table, we’d have seen government officials immediately call for implementing a plan that, as George Bush would argue, “matches the scope of the problem.” We’d see the debt ceiling raised, with hundreds of billions of dollars committed to resolving the crisis, and no demand for accountability. For Noon, the bailout illustrates education reform’s low-priority status in the American government. ...


English teacher Ariel Sacks is rethinking her grading schema. “Just what is a class participation grade?” she asks. “How is it calculated? I’ll come clean and say that I’ve mostly been making mine up.” While looking over the state standards—which emphasize reading, writing, and speaking—with her colleagues one day, Ariel realizes that participation, for her, is really about making “meaningful spoken contributions to class.” And now, as I rip apart my less than useful practice of making up class participation grades, it occurs to me that I should just get rid of it, and create a ...


Chris Lehmann at Practical Theory takes on the idea that schools are preparing a 21st century workforce. It would be better to start with the premise, he says, that we teach because we care about our students, and not imply “that education is something we do to kids in service of the larger need of society – and a market economy." Instead, if we talk about schools that help students become 21st Century citizens, we can speak to their need to be engaged and involved in their entire world. We can talk about how our hope for them to find their ...


A nice read for a Friday afternoon: California Teacher Guy discovers the dreaded school superintendent is actually a pretty nice guy....


huffenglish explores the plight of high school English teachers who are tired of writing extensive, thoughtful comments on students' papers, only to be subsequently be asked, “Why’d I get a B?”...


Mei Flower, who by the way has a great "about me" description, is trying out some student-directed instructional methods, but admits she's having a difficult time giving up control: I am introducing literature circles in my reading classes. I'm nervous about it, because it takes the control out of my hands and gives it to the kids; they're supposed to direct their own learning. I hope it works. It's supposed to help them become better readers and develop their metacognitive ability. I started today with my largest class, which had six groups of four. Two groups got right to work, ...


Teacher blogger Anthony Cody has an excellent and informative post on the befuddling condition of education in California. In response, Nancy Flanagan points out that California was once the model for progress in public education, but has lately "passed some truly weird education legislation."...


Will Richardson puts in a plug for a new book called Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. His blurb: "You can add this to the chorus of smart people who see what’s happening as 'tectonic.'"...


Mister Teacher, a 3rd grade math teacher, is teaching his kids to compare number values by using the "alligator mouth eats the greater number" trick. They seem to have gotten the idea: Almost all of them had the inequality sign pointing the right way on their exercises, but almost all of them had drawn HUGE inequality signs, complete with jagged teeth, forked tongues, and in some cases, firey breath. And by the way, if Pac Man was involved in your learning of this concept, you're apparently showing your age....


Two NYC education bloggers are debating Green Dot charter school’s recent decision to unionize with the United Federation of Teachers and what it means for teacher tenure at the school. Edwize, a UFT sponsored blog, supports the decision, saying it gives teachers at the school excellent protection. Teachers working at Green Dot New York Charter School are guaranteed “just cause” for any disciplinary action, including termination. Not only does this ensure fair and consistent treatment, it also surpasses the state’s tenure law as the school’s just cause commitment applies to all employees, not just those who have ...


Ariel Sacks reports that her school is doing a nice job of giving experienced teachers meaningful leadership roles—something you don't hear all that often unfortunately. The result, she says, is institutional progress: The wonderful thing about the teacher leadership opportunities at my school is that they truly allow teachers to solve problems and guide the progress of the school. Teachers have so much input and autonomy that there is amazingly little resistance to progress. There are no outside people condescending to us, telling us what to do, and meeting with that classic teacher response (which is often conveyed only...


J. of Mildly Melancholy started a new job this year and, from the sounds of it, is having some some major stress and confidence issues....


Matthew Kay of Lesson Plans—a new group of teacher blogs hosted by the New York Times—teaches at a successful high school in Philadelphia that has figured out a way to deal with the common problem of teacher retention that many urban schools face and a way to get the students excited about school. As I write this, student laughter is floating up from our café — late on a Friday afternoon. Some have stepped out to get Chinese, and now they are back — to hang out with teachers in the principal’s office. Given every opportunity to leave, both ...


Hobo Teacher's year is off to a (characteristically) rough start. Among other things, at a school open house, a parent voiced a concern that some of the materials on his class reading list seem to promote "homosexuality and rape." Leaving aside that the books were selected by the district in accordance with an approved policy, HT is struck by the woman's conjoinment of issues: Yikes, lady—I understand that stances on homosexuality vary in this country a great deal, but putting it in the same breathe as rape—whoa. That’s a big ol’ bag of objection that she’s ...


IB a Math Teacher has caught a few of his students looking, not just once but twice....


Cindi Rigsbee, North Carolina teacher of the year, recounts her emotional appearance on Good Morning America, during which she was reunited with her long-lost, inspirational 1st grade teacher. For the next few seconds, as the video footage is showing me gasp and run to hug her, I am no longer Cindi Rigsbee, Teacher of the Year. Instead I am Cindy Cole, first grader at Bragtown Elementary, and my emotions are no longer contained, even if all America is watching! … One thing I want to remember forever: during the piece and after - there were very few people in that room ...


Edwize reports that 23 year old NYC teacher Hannah Upp has been missing since August 29. The UFT posted a $10,000 dollar reward for information leading to her whereabouts. For more information on Hannah and to find out how you can help, go to We’re Not Giving Upp (on Hannah), and join the Facebook group. 9/17/2008 Update: Missing Teacher Found According to an Associated Press report, Hannah Upp was rescued by a ferry captain after jumping from a Staten Island pier. She is in stable condition....


Inspired by two librarian bloggers (here and here) that recently tackled the complex discussion of defining and avoiding censorship in their libraries, Doug Johnson of Blue Skunk reflects on his own experience as a school librarian fighting censorship, the ALA and AASL’s policies, and the courage it takes to stand up to proponents of censorship. It takes a deceptively large amount of courage to fight censorship, to defend a wide variety of viewpoints - especially in a politically charged climate … this [is] certainly not an issue the library alone owns. How will you respond when a parent asks you ...


Teach Baltimore of More Humbly did I Teach (formerly Epiphany in Baltimore) was surprised by the large applause Sen. John McCain received after declaring in his RNC speech that he will, “help bad teachers find another line of work.” (It was) the applause that most struck me - a wild, frenzied cheer for teachers to lose their jobs. I just keep trying to imagine if the line was about another profession, like firefighters, or police officers … immediately thereafter McCain brings up the word "accountability," which is a euphemistic buzzword for standardized tests. On the other had, TB says he got ...


Just back from a professional development tour, Will Richardson says that teachers are still behind in their awareness of the way technology is changing things: The vast majority of those who I’ve been in rooms with the last three weeks have little idea of what is happening in the world and have given nary a thought to what this means for teaching and learning. How do I know that? By the “omg” comments that I hear as they are filing out. By the “Ugh…we’ve got a lot of work to do” responses. By the teacher/mother of ...


This is actually last week's news (we're a bit behind on things), but in case you missed it: The secret identity of edweek.org's uber blogger eduwonkette has been revealed. This was a very well-kept secret that, so I've heard, was driving a lot of education policy folks crazy....


Filling in at PBS's media infusion, classroom technology expert Kristin Hokanson says the growth of Web 2.0 tools makes this an exciting--and crucial--time to teach kids about the election. After all, much of the campaigning is happening in a space that is familiar to young people: For the 2008 election, all of the candidates have accounts on [MySpace and Facebook] and many other social networking sites. YouTube You Choose is a common source of political videos and MySpace Decision 08 is reaching out to younger voters. The job for teachers, Hokanson writes, is to draw out the educational value ...


Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • rick: The implication are if a State doesn't require keyboarding mastery read more
  • Jess: My high school History teacher once got onto this subject read more
  • Mister Teacher: OK, OK, you got me Julie. My master plan has read more
  • Julie: Cutting and pasting to make flip books for classroom decorations read more
  • michelle: I'm glad that you got "all but five" back. And read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags