November 2008 Archives

Robert Pondiscio at The Core Knowledge Blog has some suggestions for a California calculus teacher who is offering product placement on student tests to cover printing expenses that were shaved from his school's budget. The cost to place an ad is nominal--$10 on a quiz, $20 on the chapter test, and $30 for one on the final--and he's made more than enough to cover his printing costs and to help others in his department. But Mr. Pondiscio says teachers shouldn't stop there. Just about every elementary school teacher has taught probability or graphing using a packet of M&Ms. ...


Ron Isaac of edwize is a big Thanksgiving fan. For Mr. Isaac it is the holiday teachable moment in America—all about family harmony and absent of corporate corruption. He goes on the record to all-but-declare its holiday perfection. Thanksgiving Day stands alone among American holidays. Its inspiration is timeless and universal and it lends itself to teaching across all curriculums and cultures. There’s nothing about that holiday that is irksome to anybody regardless of national, political, or religious ideology. And its original meaning has not been eroded by entrepreneurs or braggarts of any stripe. Thanksgiving Day is about ...


The teachers in Tim Stahmer’s school district have been getting lots of email reminders lately that their budget is going to take a hit as the economy continues to slide. While this is certainly going to create serious problems, Stahmer doesn’t know if it will be all bad. Ok, so no one’s getting a raise, class sizes will be increased, an assortment of programs will be scaled back or cut, and we’re certainly not going to be buying new technology. However, I’m wondering if that last part might not be an opportunity. Stahmer says that ...


Dennis Fermoyle of In the Trenches of Public Ed sees a potential glimmer of hope in America’s dire economic situation: better student performance. In his experience, students work harder in school when they’re concerned about their future employment. Fermoyle used to teach in a town where students were all but guaranteed good employment after high school working for the taconite companies, the town’s main industry. I remember asking one mediocre student, who I thought had some talent, why he didn't try harder. He turned to me and said, "Why should I? [After I graduate] I'll be making ...


Some students at Hobo Teacher's high school have taken up illicit bicycle jousting (using other kids' bikes, no less). HT's not exactly wild about the idea that teachers are now expected to intervene: They want me to go up against savages who have used their wits to arm themselves with vehicles for destruction. What is this? Mad Max? Tina Turner was right; we don’t need another hero....


The news that the Dallas school district has been assigning fake Social Security numbers to employees gives Dallas educator Mister Teacher reason for pause: Meanwhile, I'm thinking I might need to take a look at my own social security number. I always was suspicious of the fact that it was so easy to remember, but now I'm guessing 555-55-5555 is probably fake as well......


Back in 2004, outgoing national teacher of the year Betsy Rogers made a commitment to work at a disadvantaged school in Alabama for five years. In an inspiring recent post, she reflects on what she's learned: Being at Brighton has been the greatest challenge and learning experience of my career. Even though I have not been a classroom teacher at Brighton as I first imagined — and so desired — I believe I have been able to make a difference. I know I am a better teacher today that when I was named Teacher of the Year. I have grown in so ...


Doug Noon of Borderlands reviews the latest on assessment reform, arguing that the current standardized testing regime used in schools is too simplistic and too top-down to give teachers the means to create real learning gains. He offers a memorable analogy: If we’d have used an NCLB-style approach to the Apollo moon mission, President Kennedy would have simply ordered NASA to fly conventional airplanes higher and higher until they fell out of the sky, and then blamed the pilots for lacking the will and the know-how to get the job done. If you're interested in this topic, it just ...


A D.C. charter public school teacher has had enough. Hat tip: DCist....


Dangerously Irrelevant isn’t a huge fan of the way professional development is currently run. He’s got five big ideas on how to improve it, including not wasting time on multi-day PD workshops and looking inside the schools for expertise. Most interestingly, he proposes student led professional development workshops for technology training. When it comes to digital technologies, our kids often are (or, given the chance, could rapidly become) the experts. We ignore this expertise in most school organization. Shame on us. The kids get the learning power and social/emotional benefit of being teachers and leaders. Adults and ...


Doug Johnson sees lessons for schools in the Obama campaign's intensive use of social networking sites to reach out to voters. Might one of the victories of this election be that social networking sites will be seen by more educators as educational and civics tools, not just for recreation? I hope so....


Core Knowledge blogger Robert Pondiscio makes an interesting point that I haven't seen before: The new first couples have a lot of professional experience in the education field. (But I don't know: In Michelle Obama's case, does working as an administrator for University of Chicago Hospitals - impressive as it is - constitute an education job?)...


Skoolboy, filling in for eduwonkette, runs some numbers and warns against thinking that Obama's election means we suddenly live in a post-racial society in which educational inequalities no longer persist: The odds of completing high school are twice as high for whites as for blacks, and the odds of obtaining a bachelor’s degree conditional on graduating from high school are also twice as high for whites as for blacks. ... The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency is a signal event, and the consequences of his breaking the color barrier will reverberate for many years to come. Although our ...


Cindy Rigsbee, who grew up in the still-segregated South, thinks students need to understand the significance of the country's election of an African American as president. It's a conversation that should be happening in classrooms all over America. Regardless of party affiliation, political opinion, or the color of our states on that big interactive map (my state is one of three that hasn't been designated red or blue yet), we should recognize and explain to children the reasons why this election, and the outcome, is so important. And like Mei Flower, she too thinks Obama's win offers a much-needed sense ...


We've been trying to highlight election-related posts today, but this one is too good to not to link: Teach Baltimore realizes, too late, that he apparently missed the memo about school "pajama day" being cancelled this year....


Mei Flower notes, from her teacher's perspective, that one of the most positive results of Obama's win may be its effect on African-American boys: In the past few weeks, I've noticed a difference in these students. I've noticed that they hold their heads a little higher. I've noticed that they've buckled down a little harder. I've noticed that they've looked me in the eye, and they've gotten a spark of enthusiasm, and they are talking about their futures because they believe they HAVE futures now. ... It's possible that Barack Obama will leave office without passing even one law, without forging ...


Web 2.0 enthusiast Will Richardson says it's a day for print newspaper covers (even if you can do it, with your students, on the Web). No matter how the impact of paper newspapers is declining, at moments like these, there’s still nothing like the front page of the paper, not the website, that gives me goosebumps. And in that vein, I’m cruising through the hundreds of covers from around the world at Newseum. Amazing....


Eduwonk guesses at the implications of Obama's victory. The economy was a key to the broader coalition Obama was able to assemble in this election and trumps other issues. That likely means (a) more rhetoric from our field about how education and the economy are linked and (b) despite that, second tier status for education for at least a while....


Mr. Teacher reports on the mock election at his school. Talk about your undecideds: Walking around the room while the kids were voting, I noticed that one child had put a check in the box for McCain, and he was writing in Obama's name on the write-in line. I had to explain to him how this was not proper procedure. The results, in case you're wondering, follow the trend in child voting this year. . When the kids heard that Obama had won, they went nuts cheering. I had no idea that 3rd graders were so into the political fray, or ...


Oakland science educator Anthony Cody, who grew up in a hub of student activism in the 60s and 70s, says he's never seen young people so excited about a presidential election....


Renee Moore also has some advice for the next president: Increase respect for teachers and "change the compensation system". She writes: One way to attract and keep effective teachers in high needs schools is a well-designed performance pay plan that recognizes and rewards the kind of teaching we know works with our most challenging students in our most demanding schools. Imagine a pay system that is designed to encourage and proliferate quality teaching in every classroom, not one that simply rewards people for showing up....


Scott McLeod is encouraging edubloggers to write a letter to the next president. Bill Ferriter (characteristically) wastes no time, telling the candidates to stop placing the blame for schools' woes solely on teachers: I think successfully educating all children in America requires something more than sounding warning bells and asking teachers to “pull up their boot straps” time and again. For me, improving education means being willing to significantly rethink how “school” is done in our country....


According to Will Richardson, the decline of print newspapers points to significant changes in the way information is being consumed, but schools have yet to catch on: The problem for us is that we’re still teaching like our kids are going to be reading those edited, linear, well-written newspapers when the reality is they’re not. And the bigger problem is that, by and large, we still don’t know enough about the “new” media world in our personal practice to push those conversations about change in any meaningful way. We better figure it out pretty quickly, or we’ll...


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