July 2009 Archives

Ferriter jumps into the gender-gap debate, saying that schools by their nature might well be rigged against boys. For many teachers, he charges, characteristically energetic and impulsive middle school boys are "walking disruptions to be dismissed and disciplined." And it only gets worse in high school: They spend more and more time sitting in one place listening quietly to teachers who are lecturing for hours on end, sending the subtle message that knowledge is held by those who are in charge. They either conform—pushing their energy and creativity to the side and beginning to believe that there is something ‘wrong’...


Attending an education-policy conference recently, Cindi Rigsbee was amazed at the disconnect between what policymakers and academics say about teachers and the work that teachers actually do on a day-to-day basis. In her words: "It didn't take me long to realize that there are very bright folks who don't really know what's going on in our schools." Part of the problem, she says, is that it's easier for big wigs to make blanket (negative) assumptions about teachers than to address other, perhaps more complex factors that influence students' academic performance. But Rigsbee also thinks that teachers do a poor job ...


Tweenteacher takes a humorous yet not altogether farfetched look at what happens behind closed classroom doors on testing day. OK, so the day of the test, I walk down to the farthest place on the other side of the world and pick up a box that has all my testing materials in it, signing away my firstborn should I lose a pencil. I walk into my classroom, and at the bell there soon appears my testing group that consists of 36 students I’ve never seen before. Students, you see, are not necessarily assigned to classrooms they’ve ever been ...


This past weekend, Ryan of I Thought a Think decided to take to the numbers and analyze actual testing data to determine the “Most Valuable Teacher” from a group of four 1st grade teachers. He stumbled upon a problem pretty quickly: he ended up finding different points of statistical analysis that qualified all four teachers as the “winner.” Teacher A’s class experienced the highest rise in scores during the year, while Teacher C’s class’ average score trumped the rest, and Teacher B and D earn their keep by raising their students above state-standard lines. The varying outcomes led ...


Mr. McNamar grapples with the question of how to teach English effectively in his blog, The Daily Grind. He bravely declares his shortcomings, detailing his perceived inability to help a student with still-developing writing skills. Writing instruction continues to be a weakness in my skill set. I have great confidence that I can take a student who writes well, and guide them towards truly effective writing — or what I call refinement. Taking a student whose skills are still in the development stage and moving them towards a higher level of communication, that's where I struggle. I can point out a student's...


With the Education Department reportedly planning to change the name of the No Child Left Behind law, Nancy Flanagan says she's still working on a recommendation, but is pretty sure it will include the word "investment." Nations whose systemic education results are uniformly impressive invest continuously in people. And we should, too. No euphemisms, but lots of hard work. Meanwhile, we can all take solace in the fact that the department has decided to get rid of the NCLB-branded plastic red-schoolhouse entranceway to its headquarters--which, as Flanagan memorably puts it, "looks like someone grafted a Bob Evans" onto the building. ...


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