November 2012 Archives

TEDEducation has been putting together some very cool short lesson videos combining animation with instruction by high-profile educators.

In his Washington Post education column, Jay Mathews reports on a mother's frustration in getting teachers to understand and provide accommodations for her gifted children who struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and executive function disorder, an inability to self-organize.

At a session on teacher effectiveness at yesterday's Excellence in Action National Summit in Washington, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman offered some lessons learned for legislators and state leaders looking to implement revised teacher-evaluation systems. The information he presented may be instructive for educators as well, since Tennessee was one of the first states to go down this perilous road. Tennessee is in its second year of using a new statewide system that bases 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation on observation ratings, 35 percent on student-growth measures, and 15 percent on other measures of achievement. Last fall, Education Week ...

When Michigan students eventually take the Smarter Balanced Assessment—the Common Core State Standards-based exam that the state has signed on to adopt in 2015—they'll do so not on paper, but online. According to the Detroit Free Press, the change "marks a dramatic shift occurring in education: The traditional paper-and-pencil, fill-in-the-blank exams could become as much of a relic as learning cursive and using blackboards." About 35,000 students across the state recently participated in a pilot program in which they took social studies exams online, reports the paper. And while some schools struggled to find enough computers...

New York City math teacher José Vilson has a nice post-Hurricane Sandy refection on schools' often-under-appreciated role as the hub of community.

A holiday teacher blogosphere roundup: Inspired by a session at a recent National Writing Project meeting, Bud the Teacher encourages educators to take 5 minutes to write about a teacher or mentor for whom they are thankful. Middle school teacher Bill Ferriter, as if on queue, expresses thanks for teacher-technologist David Jakes, whose thinking he says is helping him transition from being a "Yes, but" to a "What if?" type person. U.S. New and World Report's High School Notes blog, taking a slightly different approach, collects teachers' responses on what, in spite of everything, they are thankful for this ...

The Oregonian provides a glimpse into a school district that has instituted a late-start for students on Wednesday mornings so that teachers can get together for mandatory data-team meetings.

In a SmartBlog post, middle school teacher Mark Barnes argues that homework is at odds with the goals of effective instruction today: This practice of assigning homework, simply because it'[s] something that's always been done, is not only absurd and outdated, it is undermining effective 21st-century teaching and learning. Most teachers link homework to grades so the students who don't do homework don't learn the material—mainly because not enough teaching is being done in class—and many would-be learners grow to hate school because they wind up with poor grades and, ultimately, feel like failures. ... Meanwhile, educators...

At a locally organized TEDx conference in Costa Mesa, Calif., last month, former Los Angeles teacher Nigel Nisbet explained how he turned chocolate bars into geometry problems to get kids hooked on math.

From the Associated Press: "A teacher in the southern Idaho town of Declo is being criticized after she had her fourth-grade students use permanent markers to draw on the faces of children who failed to meet reading goals."

In response to a national report on teacher absences, columnist Dan Rodricks of The Baltimore Sun wrote that he was dismayed to learn that 35 percent of teachers in Maryland missed 10 or more days of school in the 2009-10 school year. "I'm a union man, but I'll tell you one thing: The men and women who fought for and won sick-day privileges for teachers did not think there would be this kind of abuse of the privilege," wrote Rodricks. However, he also acknowledged that teachers have "stressful jobs and that they work in an environment with lots of germs." ...

According to the Atlantic's Jordan Weissman, both AFT president Randi Weingarten and former New York City Schools Chancellor and current News Corp. education head Joel Klein—staunch adversaries in many other matters—have recently floated the idea of instituting a "bar exam" for aspiring teachers.

In the Huffington Post, Stephen Chiger argues that the Common Core State Standards, with their emphasis on higher-order thinking, present an opportunity to re-conceptualize teachers as intellectuals, as opposed to mere caretakers or instructors. He writes: Surely, a nation of teachers whose instruction satisfies the Common Core must also be one that immerses teachers in this same type of learning. A learning community that fails to nurture the intellects of those who serve as its pillars becomes stagnant and divorces teachers from the fundamental value of being lifelong students. Worse yet, it models an adult life jarringly out of concert ...

A new study published in the Elementary School Journal finds that the main reason new teachers leave the profession is not the insane workload or the lack of resources but, alas, their principals

Thirty-six percent of teachers nationwide missed more than 10 days of school during the 2009-10 year, according to an analysis of federal data by the Washington-based Center for American Progress.

In a post on Edutopia, New Jersey high school teachers Jonathan Olson and Sarah Gross review the success they've had in creating Twitter dialogues for students and teachers (and parents) throughout the presidential campaign

New York City middle school teacher and parent blogger Launa Schweizer reports on The New York Times blog, Motherlode, that her students were "emotionally all over the map" and unprepared for their usual classroom lessons upon their return to school after Hurricane Sandy had forced area schools to close for several days.

Heads up if you're in the storm-ravaged Northeast (or if you know a teacher who is): Donors Choose, the nonprofit that collects donations to support classroom projects, has a launched an effort to connect donors with teachers in schools that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Teachers can get more information here

Women speak up less than men do when they are outnumbered, according to The Deseret News, but when women do talk, they tend to change a group's outcomes.

Forbes' education blogger James Marshall Crotty argues that the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy presents an opportunity for educators to acquaint themselves with "challenge-based learning." The concept was apparently developed in 2008 by Apple Computer in collaboration with a group of educators as a way to give students more authentic and engaging learning experiences. Crotty explains: As outlined in an Apple white paper, Challenge-Based Learning encourages students and teachers to work together to define problems, propose solutions, and then execute those solutions. This allows students to physically do something, rather than simply learn about a subject. Students also have an ...

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