You know that amazing feeling of sitting at a picnic table on a riverbank with a light spring breeze, a cup of coffee beside your open marble comp book, and letting it all flow out through your pen onto the riffling pages? Or even being transported to the same sort of zone but under fluorescent lights and acoustic tiles in a standard classroom? Your students don't. At least, it's highly unlikely that their "peak writing moments" occur anywhere except in front of a qwerty keyboard, I've concluded, after doing a writer's notebook assessment recently with my ninth graders. The process ...


I confess I’m tapped out at this point with writing about the Boards. My recent Post article was cathartic and now I want to move on. For example, a good topic today would be the six-figure teacher. Imagine that. A charter school in New York that gets rid of all the administrators so it can pay teachers closer to what they’re worth, at the same time paring things down to the basics: 3 R’s plus Latin and music. Beautiful. I hope it succeeds with flying colors. But I will drag myself away from this attractive shop window, ...


Readers of a certain age will remember a catchy Paul Simon tune with the chorus, “Well, I'm on my way, I don't know where I'm goin' / I'm on my way, I'm takin' my time, but I don't know where… “. I’m not sure why Simon’s carefree narrator is so desperate to say goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona, or even exactly what he Julio are doing down by the schoolyard. But I do know the hook captures something essential—and increasingly rare in schools today— with its refrain about aimless wandering and the openness to discovery that comes ...


“Teaching for the Test” came out in the Washington Post Magazine a little over a week ago, and if I ever cursed my word-count slashing editor, I’m sorry for that evil wish and now I wish her well. There’s something about holding it in your hands. The canoe, and the article about it that took me a year to live and write. Five minutes of fame is cool, but what’s cooler still is that I told the truth. And the response has been remarkable. Right now there are 85 emails in my inbox from readers who were ...


After two years of growing my own here on Teacher, I am finally using blogs in my own classroom. And I’m wondering what took me so long. This is a real live example of the pace at which technology gets integrated in a meaningful way into one’s practice. These days we throw a lot of money into Smart Boards and other electronic widgets for our schools. Some take, some don’t (what ever happened to laser discs?). The good stuff is only good insofar as we teachers are able to use it effectively. Not as shiny tech bells ...


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