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January 2012 Archives

Too Much Parental Involvement?

On the New York Times Room For Debate blog, Florida high school English teacher Scott Sterling questions the feasibility—and wisdom—of a newly enacted New Hampshire law that requires schools to provide alternative lesson options to students whose parents or guardians object to assigned content. Given the elasticicity of what parents find "objectionable" these days, he writes, the law will essentially create a new layer of Individual Education Plans for teachers to deal with: Instead of just having to accommodate the students with documented learning challenges, the teachers will now have to tailor lessons for Johnny, whose parents ...


Update: Teachers No Longer Working for Free

Teachers in the Chester Upland School District, who had agreed to work for free when the district announced it was facing bankruptcy, will continue to receive paychecks.


Obama: Stop Bashing Teachers

Both Alyson Klein and Stephen Sawchuk have great roundups of President Obama's comments on education during his State of the Union address last night.


National Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced

Just a quick heads-up: The Council of Chief State School Officers has announced the finalists for the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. They are: • Gay Barnes, an elementary school teacher in Alabama with 21 years of experience; • Alvin Aureliano Davis, a high school music teacher in Florida; • Rebecca Lynn Mieliwocki, a 7th grade teacher in California; and • Angela Wilson, a teacher with the Department of Defense Education Activity who is currently working in a middle school in Italy; The winner will be announced this spring. More on the finalists and the process here....


Changing Classroom Reading Instruction

At a gathering held by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, the panelists touched on teachers' practical instructional concerns as well as more general problems associated with school leadership, professional development, and curriculum.


Has the Textbook of the Future Arrived?

In case you haven't heard yet, Apple Inc. announced yesterday that, in partnership with major textbook publishers, it has developed a series of digital textbooks designed for the iPad. (Don't say we didn't warn you.) The textbooks, to be listed at $14.99 or less, include multimedia elements such as video, audio, 3-D graphics (for features like study cards), and highlighting functionality. Here's a demonstration of the Life on Earth science textbook by a YouTube tech reviewer....


Wikipedia Blackout Makes Lesson Planning Impossible

As you probably know by now--thanks to either the widespread media coverage or a failed Internet search this morning--Wikipedia and several other websites instituted a 24-hour blackout today in protest of two anti-piracy bills under consideration in Congress.


Is Your School 'Bold' or 'Old'?

Will Richardson brainstorms towards a working definition of "bold schools" (as distinguished from "old school"): ...schools that really are trying to move toward a technology-rich, student-centered, inquiry-based learning practice that effectively prepares kids for the required skills and dispositions and realities of the world today and yet also prepares them to pass the test and satisfy the current expectations of parents and policy makers. Places, importantly, where those two things are not mutually exclusive ideas. He also lists nine qualities (from "learning-centered" to "provocative") that he believes are associated with such schools. (I guess coming up with an even 10 ...


Classroom-Projects Grant Opportunity

Heads-up: Starting next month, the Kids in Need Foundation, in partnership with Elmer's Products Inc., will be accepting applications for "Teacher Tool Kit" grants of $100 to $500 to support creative classroom projects. The projects must be selected from a database of award-winning lesson ideas compiled by the foundation. (The database looks like it could be a pretty useful resource in and of itself, incidentally.) Grant determinations will be based on financial need, the applicability of the chosen project, and the number of students who will benefit....


How Much Should Teachers Make?

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof points to a new Harvard study finding that good teachers—as defined by value-added test score analysis—have a profound long-term effect on students. According to the study, he notes, an average-size 4th grade class with a strong teacher will go on to earn $700,000 more in their life times (in total) than a class with a poor teacher. Gleaning the potential policy implications, Kristof says the study demonstrates 1) that we need to provide higher pay to good teachers and 2) that value-added ratings do in fact "reveal a great deal about...


When Cross-Curricular Lessons Go Wrong ... Really Wrong

A Georgia elementary school has gotten a flurry of unflattering media attention over the last week, since 3rd graders took home a math assignment with questions about slave beatings and cotton-picking. The worksheet, created by a 3rd grade teacher at the school, went home with four different classes. According to ABC News, one of the assigned word problems asked: "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?" Another read: "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" A third question asked students ...


Pa. Teachers Agree to Work for Free

Teachers in Pennsylvania's Chester Upland School District have agreed to continue working even though the district can no longer afford to pay them.


Survey: Majority Say U.S. Teachers Underpaid

More than half of Americans believe that U.S. teachers are underpaid, according to a national telephone survey by Poll Position.


A Payne-ful Discussion

On his blog Borderland, teacher Doug Noon laments the reading assignment he was given over the winter break—Ruby Payne's Framework for Understanding Poverty. He writes: This is to prepare us for the indoctrination session [part of his school's improvement plan] to follow upon our return from our break. I'm going to read the book since I opened my mouth at a staff meeting and said that many people disagree with Ruby Payne, and "Would we have a chance to air dissenting points of view?" Referencing a number of other poverty experts, Noon takes particular issue with Payne's reported thesis...


How Essential Are School Librarians?

School librarians in California are being forced to defend the continued viability of their trade.


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