April 2009 Archives

Will Richardson explains that, in the not too distant future, reading will no longer be considered a solitary pursuit. It's a shift in literacy, he suggests, that teachers need to be attuned to--and can perhaps take advantage of. He also points to a good place to start....


Scott McLeod announces the creation of blogtweetcook.com, a wiki on which educators who blog and use twitter can share recipes. OK then ... (P.S. At first I was assuming that by recipes he meant blogging or twittering strategies or best practices. But he means actual recipes. There's one in there for banana muffins.)...


Like many ed-studies graduate students, Robert Pondiscio of the Core Knowledge Blog read Brazilian theorist Paolo Freire’s canonical book Pedagogy of the Oppressed in school. The work—which opposes the “banking” concept of teaching—has long been held up as a must-read for educators, but a recent City Journal article by Sol Stern has Pondiscio thinking about why that is. Sol Stern examines the curious case of Freire and asks how his “derivative, unscholarly book about oppression, class struggle, the depredations of capitalism, and the need for revolution ever gets confused with a treatise on education that might help ...


Testing week just wrapped up in the Washington, D.C., public schools, an experience that convinced Mr. Potter of Harry Potter and the Urban School Nightmare that, “the real problem with education reform is not the kids, it's the adults.” Among the events that transpired: school administrators decided that 10th graders at the school would do math and reading prep all day, every day for the entire month of April; a parent sent allowed her kid to go on a two-week vacation right in the middle of the semester; and a BBQ that was promised to students as a reward ...


Mister Teacher thinks it's wildly unfair that, on Texas' standardized exams, most students are not allowed to be given any assistance in reading the questions. In some cases, he argues, this means that knowledge of particular subject areas isn't what's being tested: So what it comes down to is that these kids are taking a series of reading tests. Some of them are ABOUT math or ABOUT science, but they don't strictly assess those subject areas as much as they assess whether or not the child can read the questions, some of which are highly complicated....


Happy birthday to Ariel Sacks of On the Shoulders of Giants, who just turned 30! That milestone has got her thinking about her career objectives. There are issues to consider like further schooling and earning a livable wage (tougher to do when you live in New York City). But most of all Sacks wants a position that doesn’t exist. I know what I really want—and I'd like it sooner than later. I want the opportunity to take on a hybrid role, where I would teach half a load and use the other half of my schedule for teacher ...


Can teaching really be a "fallback" career, as many people who’ve lost jobs in the private sector are hoping? What separates the good teachers from the not-so-good? The New York Times blog, Room for Debate, has gathered several worthy opinions on the subject from ed professionals. Here’s a sampling: Patrick Welsh, English teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., and education writer: "The notion that anyone can teach is pure myth. No matter how much one may know or how altruistic one may be, some people are just temperamentally unsuited to teach and are toxic ...


As an educator, Nancy Flanagan is heartened by the much-e-mailed and -posted YouTube video of an ever- expanding collection of people dancing to "Do, Re, Mi" in Central Station in Antwerp, Belgium: Just watching it made me confident that we--the teaching profession--can make a convincing case that life is no good without imagination....


Travis of Stories From School reminds teachers that it’s important to get out of your classroom and into the faculty lounge sometimes. He gives three big reasons to visit the faculty lounge: CONNECTIONS—Nothing joins people together like talk of sports or Survivor, neither of which I like, but these interactions create continued connections that, in turn, create a sense of comfort. No need for a rope course to create a team. Go to the Faculty Room. COMFORT—Once the connections are made, comfort will set in. Some call this “team mentality” but I see it more as a ...


An English teacher's nightmare: Out for a walk recently, Hobo Teacher noticed a sign in front a shop displaying the quotation “To be, or not to be”—signed Anonymous! On inquiry, he discovers that prioprietor just forgot the source of the quote and didn't bother to look it up. Where has he seen this attitude before? Yep. That sounds about right. Those are my students—rather making the slightest effort to be accurate, just slap something up there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with a student after they failed an essay, and ...


Doug Noon tries to explain to his middle school students—and himself—why they have to take standardized tests. The response he gets when he mentions that all students are expected to pass the tests by 2014 is notable: Loud guffaws and unsolicited comments broke out all around. ......


Running up against motivation issues in the classroom, Assistive Principles wonders why some groups of students are more driven than others. I've been working all school year with lower-income seventh and eighth graders who, were it not for the constant prodding by the school staff, couldn't be bothered to walk upright let alone learn anything. For a year now, Assistive Principles says he has worn the district’s scarlet letter for making a comment that led his co-workers to think he "didn't believe that all kids could be successful." Though he can’t recall making the comment, he does hope ...


Robert Pondiscio of The Core Knowledge Blog reports that the drawn-out, nationally-reported battle over evolution and science teaching in Texas has prompted state legislators to consider taking away the Board of Education’s power to set curricula and approve textbooks. Those duties would instead be handled by the state education agency, a legislative board, or the commissioner of education....


NYC educator finds it difficult to muster much sympathy for well-to-do families who, because of the recession, are now having to consider sending their children to--the shame!--public schools. Maybe now, he suggests, more people will realize how important good public schools are to a neighborhood....


Will Richardson writes that, with the growth of interactive technology and virtual communities, kids today will lead lives that are far more transparent than most adults are accustomed to. In light of this, he says, educators need to a better job of modeling effective transparency and public interaction in their own lives: The fact that they are veritably “un-googleable” in terms of finding anything they have created and shared and perhaps collaborated with others on troubles me on a number of levels. First, I can’t see for myself whether or not they are learners. And, almost more importantly, I ...


Hobo Teacher has a teaching nightmare - all the more frightening, he says, because it was pretty much just like his regular job....


In a quest for new ideas, Ms. Yingling is taking an informal survey of school libraries. Hat Tip: Teacherninja....


Scott McLeod of Dangerously Irrelevant is interested, like most of us, in staying informed about the economic crisis. In his latest blog post, he pours through data and provides charts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about layoffs and growing and shrinking job markets. The information, he finds, says a lot about high schools and what they should be teaching. Among McLeod’s findings: -The percentage of unemployed people with “Less than a high school diploma” is more than double that of people with “Bachelor’s degree or higher.” -Labor industries like construction and agriculture are facing the ...


Bill Ferriter addresses the eternal question - well, it has come up occasionally around here, anyway - of whether it's snobbish or arrogant not to follow everyone who's following you on Twitter. For his part, he chooses to follow only a select number of people, and thinks that's perfectly in keeping with the function of the tool (especially for educators): After all, I'm trying to learn from the people that I'm following, and that's hard to do when good ideas are buried under piles and piles of messages. My decision to follow a small handful of people--instead of everyone who ...


Doug Noon argues that "what works" education research--on which NCLB achievement goals are predicated--simply entrenches a status quo conception of schooling that, in his view, avoids the big picture. He notes: Critical thinking and innovation in the classroom can, and should, include activity besides what might work in our present - broken - policy environment....


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