October 2008 Archives

Bake sales might be a thing of the past for California schools. Robert Pondiscio of The Core Knowledge Blog reports that traditional bake sale sweets are being barred by new state nutrition guidelines. California schoolkids who want to raise money for field trips and extracurricular activities will have to think of something other than holding a bake sale. Cookies, cupcakes, pizza and other goodies exceed the fat, sugar and caloric limits set by the state’s legislature for foods sold on campus. State guidelines passed in 2005 limit the calories, fat and sugar content of snacks sold in California schools. ...


Doug Noon of Borderlands wonders how social justice teaching got such a bad name: Inquiring into our history, sources of power in society, current events, and discussing race and stereotyping does not preclude observing high academic standards. And there’s nothing subversive about such discussions unless you admit that the moral order has already been undermined. I’m not interested in indoctrinating anyone. My only agenda is activating some gray matter, and acknowledging the value of participating in public discourse, none of which is emphasized in any official reform agenda. Nancy Flanagan agrees: Please deconstruct this for me, a child ...


Nancy Flanagan is saddened to hear that negative campaigning has trickled all the way down to 1st graders....


NYC Educator provides a different (and cynical) perspective on the United Federation of Teacher’s court battle for the right to wear political buttons. In his eyes fighting for teachers’ rights to wear political buttons in class seems odd when there are so many other problems like teacher pay and class size to deal with. Take heart, UFT members. Sure, you're working more days than anyone in the area, and you're still being paid less than your neighbors. It's certainly true that our canny leaders managed to negotiate the worst contract in my 24 years as a teacher without even ...


Do the powers-that-be need schools to falter in order to have a somewhere to place the blame for society's failings? J.M. Holland makes the case: If politicians allow for poverty to destroy lives, then education can be expected to clean up the mess, and if it can't well then there is something wrong with education and it needs to be fixed. If politicians can't provide equal opportunities for all of its citizens through the job market then the schools can take a few licks if they can't make everybody above average. Most of all, the "politics/business as usual" ...


Ariel Sacks, a middle school English teacher in Brooklyn, got a chance to tell a group of foundation heads, economists, and policymakers what it takes to keep top-notch educators in high-needs schools, and she clearly did not disappoint. Among her points: Teachers in hard-to-staff schools need help shifting our focus from survival to quality teaching. We need support and motivation to invest in our own practices rather than simply responding in the moment to all the challenges that come to our way until we are too tired to think of anything else....


Mister Teacher reports on the mood in Dallas, where 460 teachers are scheduled to be laid off this week (with the announcement now expected to come today): Tomorrow is going to SUCK. It is going to be atrocious. Hellacious. God-awful. Battlefield Earth-esque. Considering the district somehow acquired a $84 million budget shortfall, a student makes a pertinent point: The other day, one of the kids in Mrs. Math's class asked her what was going on, since his parents had been talking about the news. So Mrs. Math explained how the district had made some mathematical mistakes when adding money. The ...


Bellringers acknowledges her status as a VIB (very important blogger) and accepts a marketer's offer to review Peg Tyre's book The Trouble With Boys. Then she discovers it's a darn good book: Now I really only intended to read just a few pages. Instead, I rather surprised myself and kept turning the pages. I’m more than half way through and highly recommend it. (And, I’m not just saying that because the book was free.) But what this book does is make you think about all the things (yep, those things again) we do to kids--intentionally and unintentionally--and to ...


Bill Ferriter offers some experienced-backed advice on one of the greatest pedagogical challenges known to mankind—i.e., keeping middle school students interested in class. His trick is to play on the typical idiosyncrasies of that age range to his instructional advantage. For example: Middle schoolers are hard wired to wrestle with issues related to justice and injustice because they're beginning to think beyond themselves for the first time---losing the egocentricty of the elementary years. Middle schoolers are hard wired to wrestle with issues related to justice and injustice because they're beginning to think beyond themselves for the first time---losing...


Hobo Teacher, who teaches English, is not optimistic about Teen Read Week: The way things are going nowadays, celebrating the reading by teens for a week is like celebrating such rarities like Find a Four Leaf Clover Week or Lightening Strikes Twice Week. Heck, we might as well have a Dog Read Week! Sounds like he could use some encouragement from The Book Whisperer....


What does effective teaching have to do with the invention of chunky spaghetti sauce? More you might think. J.M. Holland explains....


Christine Gralow from the NYTimes Lesson Plans blog is volunteering her time to the Capital Campaign Advisory Board of the Equity Project charter school that will open in New York City in 2009. The school is promising to pay its teachers $125,000 yearly salaries, a plan that, in Gralow’s eyes, could revolutionize education reform. When I recently saw an ad for a $125,000-a-year teaching job at a New York City charter school, my first thought was that it must be some sort of phishing scam … I realized [the school] was not only legit, but potentially revolutionary in ...


Cindi Rigsbee, North Carolina Teacher of the Year, shares her secret for movitating students: biscuits from Bojangle's....


Do interactive whiteboards encourage poor instruction? Edu-techies Doug Johnson and Wesley Fryer (among other commenters) discuss. See also Johnson's follow-up. Correction: In my original post, I mistakenly wrote Doug Noon when I meant Doug Johnson. Apologies to both Johnson and Noon. Thanks to alert reader teacherninja for the heads-up....


The Public School Insights blog posts a interesting interview with Reijo Laukkanen, a veteran of Finland's National Board of Education. Asked what explains the consistently high international rankings of the Finnish education system, Lukkanen starts with a one-word answer: Teachers. Other eye-catching points: We don't have any evaluation of teachers. The working morale and the working ethics of the teachers are very high, and we can also trust that they are competent; they know what to do. *** [In Finland] only a small [number] of those who apply to teacher education can really get there. For those in upper secondary education, ...


What should you do when a student is struggling to understand a concept you've been teaching? Maybe nothing, according to Mr. Pullen of Elementary Educator: Our students are like ... butterflies. Will we allow them to struggle with academic material so that they can emerge with strong and independent minds that are ready to soar to new heights, or will we cripple them by continually “rescuing” them from such struggles?...


Susan Graham says that this whole Wall St. bailout mess could have been avoided if the powers that be had only been paying attention to teacher bloggers. Science teacher Anthony Cody, in particular, was way out in front (which will not be surprising to anyone who knows him)....


Nancy Flanagan highlights recent posts on music education from around the teacher blogosphere and reveals the top-five guilty-pleasure songs on her iPod....


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