October 2009 Archives

Mrs. Bluebird is distressed that so many parents fail to log on to her district's online gradebook system, which would enable them to track their child's work and progress. She comments: That silence you hear is the sound of parent involvement, or, more precisely, the lack thereof. ... It's like they don't even care. And we wonder why the kids don't care either....


Mybellringers explains that—from her students perspective, anyway—she probably doesn't need to dress up this year to be taken as a witch....


Bill Ferriter answers frequently asked questions on using blogs in the classroom. This sounds like a very good point: Believing that blogs are ONLY opportunities for students to practice writing skills is a fatal flaw for most classroom blogging projects. Instead of digital soapboxes, teachers and students must begin to see blogs as interactive forums for continuing conversations around topics of interest--and interactive forums require two-way participation....


If you want to improve the quality of the teaching profession, says Renee Moore, you need to start by improving the quality of teacher-evaluation systems. Apparently, we do not have systems that accurately identify teacher effectiveness or the degree of that effectiveness. Rigorous evaluation systems would not only identify quality teaching, but give each teacher a realistic, timely assessment of his/her work, identifying areas or strength and weakness; thereby, guiding professional development and support needs. My report on Moore's presentation at the Forum for Educaiton and Democracy in Washington is here....


Will Richardson doesn't like where the Obama administration's Race to the Top program is leading and wonders why "more educators aren't voicing their displeasure at the idea of being paid based on the scores their students make on standardized tests (among other things.)"...


Lesson idea watch: Mr. Teacher has his ELL students lead a "gallery walk" through their word-problem solutions....


NYC teacher Ariel Sacks describes the awkward situation of working alongside colleagues from the city's Absent Teacher Reserve, tenured teachers who have been "excessed" from their positions and have now been placed in other schools. It's not exactly a win-win situation: These three teachers, all middle aged, have 10-15 years of experience and get paid much more than I do. However, they do not want to be at my school, and they know they are not wanted either. In the classroom, they behave like incompetent substitutes. No order, no real planning, no real teaching. Some have been rude to students ...


Hobo Teacher is now on twitter. A sampling: Some sort of bird of prey just killed a pigeon at the front doors of the school. That can't be a good sign for the week to come. A student shared that "homophobe" sounds like a part of speech. Who says that I don't have an academic atmosphere in my classroom? Every week is Banned Books Week for my students. They won't touch 'em. The students are being combative. I have forgotten my teacher training. Do I puff myself up real big or fall into the fetal position?...


Cindee Rigsbee encounters a loud-mouth teacher-basher in an airport, and seeks vengeance, if only through her own sense of purpose: So I make a vow to myself to work harder at changing the public's perception of teachers. And although I can make presentations to educator groups, stand in front of thousands, shout from the mountaintops (or at least across the blog-o-sphere), I think the place I can make the most difference is in my very own classroom. I need to make sure that none of my students' parents ever refer to me in a conversation that echoes across an airport....


If they were really interested in school improvement, notes Robert Pondiscio of Core Knowledge, policymakers and pundits could try focusing on improving curriculum. But, hey, teacher-bashing is easier and gets you more attention....


With the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine now being distributed to children across the United States, the debate over vaccine safety has resurfaced, according to the New York Times. If you are looking for a H1N1-inspired lesson plan, the Times offers one today. In the Learning Blog, there are suggestions for helping students debunk myths about the flu and the vaccine. The Times suggests trying this for a warmup: Show students the first three minutes of the short video, "Watch Out, Swine Flu!", in which Ariel Kaminer, the Times's City Critic, gauges New Yorkers' reactions to her H1N1 flu prevention garb. ...


If you're thinking about doing an assignment where students send a letter to public figures, you better make sure that none of your kids chooses to write to economist Thomas Sowell.


Loonyhiker (AKA "Pat") of Successful Teacher urges teachers to take steps to increase parent involvement: All these teachers who are not making parents a major player in their classroom are really missing the boat. When you feel things are just not right in the classroom or as good as you know it should be, I wonder if you are involving the parents enough. (Hat tip: Bellringers.)...


The Washington Post's Answer Sheet welcomes a guest post from educator David C. Levy, a former curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. who now serves as principal in Bach to Rock music schools. Levy weighs in with his opinion of the arts in school, blaming the descent of arts education on the lack of training that art teachers receive. I would argue, however, that there is another reason why the arts, and visual arts in particular, are an endangered species in American K-12 education. It has been my observation that primary and secondary ...


After a rough couple of weeks, veteran emotional disabilities teacher Mrs. Ris finds herself settling into the school year: It's education's universal truth, a reality often forgotten in the moment: The crazy-paced and mind-numbing challenges of the beginning of the year are short-lived. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Things must have been pretty "crazy-paced" indeed, considering this is part of her description of a recent good day. We worked through two major blow-ups, and one of them lasted over an hour. There was whining, manipulating, sassy-talk, and even a little mild violence. It's clearly all ...


I can't trace the exact orgin of this--there appears to be some history here--but there's pretty heated war of words going on between Stephen Downs and KDeRosa of Dead Reckonings over the value of content knowledge....


Mildly Melancholy, worrying she might be headed for a mid-semester meltdown, questions the heavens: They say God/The Universe/The Great Sparkle in the Sky doesn't give you more than you can handle. But why does my administration keep packing my class list with difficult boys?...


Mildly Melancholy, worrying she might be headed for a mid-semester meltdown, questions the heavens: They say God/The Universe/The Great Sparkle in the Sky doesn't give you more than you can handle. But why does my administration keep packing my class list with difficult boys?...


Hobo Teacher, not mincing words, says teachers should have dress codes─for their own good....


Do teachers' "confidence-boosting lies" hurt students?


In the midst of a crazy week, Mister Teacher saves a man's life in a Taco Bell. On a staff-development day, no less....


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