In a new ad attempting to illustrate the decline of U.S. schools, the nonprofit advocacy group StudentsFirst, founded by former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, plays off both the wave of excitement about the upcoming summer Olympics and the arguably overdone "fat man dances" slapstick routine. Take a look: Twitter is abuzz with both praise and disparagement of the ad, which Rhee proudly previewed yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press. "Funny and yet sad," said one proponent by tweet. Meanwhile, blogger Gary Rubenstein, dependably critical of anything Teach For America-related (Rhee was once a TFAer), deconstructs the ad's ...


The passing of Donald J. Sobol, the author of the popular Encyclopedia Brown series, recently prompted the editors of Flavorwire to dig up some of their favorite book series and post their version of the 10 greatest young-adult series of all time.


In Inside Higher Ed, Jonathan Golding, a psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, recounts a successful experiment in using a Facebook group page as a kind of community hub for one of his larger classes. Though skeptical at first, Golding says he was impressed by how enthusiastically his students took to the page and, without much prompting, began using it to exchange ideas and help one another in the course.


The satirical newspaper The Onion went after Teach for America today, with predictably comic results.


The American Civil Liberties Union has filed what it calls a "groundbreaking" class-action lawsuit against the state of Michigan for failing to educate students in a Detroit-area school district. The suit hinges on a "right to read" provision in Michigan's constitution, which says students who do not pass the 4th and 7th grade state reading tests should receive "special assistance" to bring them up to grade level. In the Highland Park School District, 65 percent of 4th graders and 75 percent of 7th graders are not proficient in reading, the ACLU documents. The case also has an interesting instructional technology ...


Here's a teaching idea from an English teacher in Scotland that may come as a surprise: using spam emails to teach persuasive writing and other lessons to your students.


The search for reliable methods of gauging teacher effectiveness, a dominant education policy issue over the last several years, has centered on classroom observation tools and value-added measures. But another potential indicator has emerged and is starting to pick up momentum: student surveys.


At the Journey Schoolin Aliso Viejo, Calif., technology does not play a role in the classroom until students enter the 6th grade, and even then the emphasis is not on gadgets but on civics.


Here's a new take on continuing education for busy teachers: Corwin, together with California Lutheran University, has just launched a professional development initiative in which teachers can acquire one unit of graduate course credit for reading a Corwin book—yes, any Corwin book—and completing a written assignment within three months.


While at the NEA convention today, I flagged down a few delegates from a sampling of states and asked the following: What should be NEA's main priority right now? The major theme at the convention so far has been the union's push to re-elect President Barack Obama. Do you agree this is where the organization's focus should be? Here's a smattering of the answers I heard: Re-electing the president should be "the immediate one, but there are lots of other related and unrelated ones. Standing up for ourselves, improving our brand and marketing for teachers. [Negative branding] kills morale and ...


Ariel Sacks recalls an interesting exchange from the day she went down to the district office to submit her materials for her very first teaching job: The middle-aged woman who processed my paperwork was friendly in that way only New Yorkers can be, and chatted me up a bit. When she gave me the thick envelope with the certificate and other information in it, she told me, "I can see you're a bright one. It won't be long before I see you you back up here with a district job." Eight years later (and still a teacher), Sacks ponders the ...


A Chicago Tribune piece tells the story of one teacher's battle with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from abuse she endured from a group of students at a Chicago public school.


Campaign rally or Representative Assembly? At some points yesterday it was hard to tell. The 8,000 or so delegates of the nation's largest teachers' union gathered in Washington for their annual convention heard one message above all others: Vote for Obama in November. Just outside the assembly hall, attendees traded off Sharpees to write notes to the president on a massive banner entitled "NEA Educators for Obama." A portrait of Obama and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel hung above the hall entrance. The RA began in its usual raucous fashion, with blaring pop music (Shania Twain's "I Feel Like ...


Hunter Gehlbach, an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, says that, to truly improve teacher-evaluation systems, schools should take a lesson from professional sports teams. In evaluating player performance, he explains, NBA, NFL, and MLB coaches and personnel managers today go well beyond high-profile "traditional statistics" like total points scored or batting averages and take into account a host of contextual metrics that measure more subtle contributions to team success. (To take one example: In basketball, teams use a "plus-minus" metric to look at the scoring differential when a particular player is in the game.) ...


Teachers, you may want to be sitting down for this one. The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, adopted June 9 at the state convention in Forth Worth, seems to take a stand against, well, the teaching of critical thinking skills. Read it for yourself: We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. As a top commenter on a Reddit thread ...


To boost teacher retention and student achievement at high-poverty schools, states and districts must first look to improve working conditions for teachers, concludes a new report by The Education Trust, a Washington-based nonprofit group. The report profiles five school districts that have focused efforts on bettering teacher support and development—specifically by strengthening leadership and encouraging professional collaboration—and have shown promising or positive gains as a result. The report follows on the heels of the recent annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which found that teacher satisfaction has dipped to its lowest point since 1989. That annual survey...


In a Huffington Post column, Boston teacher Lillie Marshall says that taking a year-long leave of absence after her fifth year in teaching gave her the "renewed vigor and resources" she needed to continue in the profession and, not coincidentally, made her a much better educator. She extrapolates: Often, what teachers need in order to stay in the classroom is permission to step out of it for a time. It gives us perspective, balance, and new skills. Whether teachers do this by taking on hybrid roles, or by a whole year's leave of absence, we educators must cultivate ourselves as ...


Dominick Recckio, an accomplished high school student who blogs for Edutopia, surveyed students at his school on their homework habits and then wrote up some tips for both teachers and students on easing the nightly process. Within the post, he offers this reminder that students are often appreciative and receptive when teachers put work in a real-world context: What could be a better way of answering students' biggest question—"When am I ever going to use this?"—than by showing them? There are many ways this could be done. Teachers could assign students the task of finding their own applications...


By guest blogger Colette Marie Bennett, author of "To Pass or Not to Pass? The End-of-Year Moral Dilemma" Two weeks ago, I composed a First Person piece that questioned whether I should pass or fail a student in my English II class who could meet many of the benchmarks but had failed to complete the assignments. I could not justify a passing grade. The post was published in Education Week Teacher and received a spectrum of replies that ranged from the hardline stance of "flunk her" to a more forgiving "grades are meaningless so pass her" position. Some responses questioned ...


Grockit, the online test prep company, has recently launched a new social learning site similar to Pinterest, but designed specifically for educators and students, according to T.H.E. Journal, an education-technology news magazine. On Learnist, users can "pin" YouTube videos, audio clips, and other content they find on the Web to digital bulletin boards, which Grockit calls "learn boards." The boards can be organized by theme or lesson and shared on other social media sites. Users can comment on individual posts, and educators can reorder materials on their boards. A recent article on Mashable said Grockit founder Farbood Nivi ...


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