August 2008 Archives

A New York Times article this week describes the challenge Florida science teachers face in teaching evolution to their students. Evolution is the central organizing principle that guides our understanding of living things on Earth, so it is very important. You might think Oakland, California, would be a place that would welcome the teaching of evolution in the science classroom, and for the most part, you would be right. But I learned the hard way that not everyone here is in agreement. Oakland has its share of students who attend fundamentalist churches of one sort or another. When I first ...

Every once in a while we get a chance to see the greatness in our fellow teachers. Last week I was with 18 of my fellow science teachers from Oakland, who took the last week of their precious summer to take on a huge task. They have agreed to build a team of mentors for the many new science teachers in our district, a project we are calling TeamScience. We will be working together to support new teachers through one-on-one support, team meetings, and in online forums. We spent the past week in Santa Cruz working with our partners from ...

When I began teaching middle school science, I thought it was going to be great. I wasn’t going to be one of those boring teachers making students memorize facts out of a book. I was going to give them hands-on activities! I knew they would love to investigate things for themselves, so I spent my own money on materials, and wrote up a lab sheet for an investigation. I was not prepared for what was about to happen. I spent fifteen minutes explaining what the steps they were supposed to follow. Then I allowed them to come and get ...

For the past six years, Nebraska educators, led by Commissioner Doug Christensen, have waged a lonely battle to preserve the integrity of assessment in their schools. Their system survived challenge after challenge, but now, even as NCLB may be on the ropes, Nebraska is implementing standardized tests. As a result, Christensen has resigned his post as state Commissioner of Education. He recently responded to a series of questions I posed to him, and as you will see, he has some potent lessons for us as we weigh the alternatives facing us related to teacher empowerment, the Federal role in education ...


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