A report released this week, based on survey results from 57,883 students in grades 6-12, found that only slightly over half of students feel that their teachers care about them.


In an Education Week Commentary, Joanne Yatvin, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, argues that the Common Core State Standards in language arts, with their emphasis on informational texts and building content knowledge, are overly academic for students in the early grades: For young children, the focus on academic vocabulary seems strange. At this time in their development, would it not be more sensible for children to learn words connected to their everyday lives and their interests rather than to things and experiences as yet unknown? In a blistering rebuttal, the Core Knowledge Foundation's Robert ...


In a July 2011 blog post, I pointed out that the D.C. public school system was using test scores from 100 schools still under investigation for cheating to calculate value-added scores that would eventually be incorporated into teacher evaluations. So some D.C. teachers were at risk of having students enter their classes with falsely high scores, which would make it difficult for those teachers to bring students' scores up. At the time, DCPS spokesperson Fred Lewis told me that one teacher with a value-added score who was deemed ineffective had started an appeal process. It appears that Washington ...


Edutopia has an interesting story about a principal at a troubled San Francisco middle school who instituted (among other holistic changes) twice daily meditation sessions for students. The results, according to the piece, have been dramatic: Suspension and truency rates at the school are down, while GPAs and teacher retention are up. "I definitely saw a correlation between [students'] behavior, being more manageable in class, and their beginning to meditate more," says a special education teacher at the school. In a related post, education psychologist Daniel Willingham, who admits he once would have rolled his eyes at this sort of ...


Still more from the ever-active teacher-accountability front: Under a provision in Ohio's new state budget law, thousands of teachers in the state's lowest-performing schools will have to take licensure tests anew this fall, according the Dayton Daily News. The requirement—apparently the first of its kind—applies to all teachers in core subject areas whose schools end up in the bottom 10 percent on the state's Performance Index, which is based on combined standardized test results. According to the Dayton story, core subject areas seem to include just about everything outside of P.E. Proponents of the measure say it will...


Prominent Edublogger Alexander Russo, somewhat reluctantly, has jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, creating a pinboard called "Hot for Education 2012." (Why am I not surprised to see our tireless teacher-blogger Larry Ferlazzo up there?) Pinterest, if you're not familiar with it, is the latest social-media craze. Often described as a scrapbooking tool, it lets you organize and share images—and other tidbits—gathered from around the Web. If you're interested, New York Times tech writer David Pogue has a helpful introduction. You might also try this round-up of pointers put together by (who else?) Ferlazzo. We hear that teachers...


A Brooklyn special education teacher published an op-ed in The New York Times this weekend outing himself as a "bad" teacher, as defined by his district-mandated evaluation. The author, William Johnson, whose students have a wide variety of disabilities, recalls the observation that earned him the "unsatisfactory" rating: His assistant principal walked in when a student with emotional disturbance was cursing and throwing pencils. Johnson sent the student to the dean and was marked down on his evaluation for not following the school's discipline procedure. Johnson writes: I was confused. Earlier last year, this same assistant principal observed me and ...


Last week, The Weinstein Company announced that its appeal of the R rating given to its documentary "Bully," which takes a close look at bullying in America's schools, was denied by the Motion Picture Association of America.


Bialik--who playfully described herself as a "nerd" several times during the interview--is one of many actors to get involved in education initiatives.


I'll admit that I myself was poised to blog about the New York Times' finding that teacher quality is widely diffused throughout the city—which Fordham's Mike Petrilli called "jaw-dropping news." Thankfully a few interviews and deadlines got in the way, and I didn't get to it before Philissa Cramer at GothamSchools roundly exposed that the whole thing is "not really news at all." The Times article, addressing the much-debated release of 18,000 New York City teachers' value-added scores, states: [T]eachers who were most and least successful in improving their students' test scores could be found all around؏in...


The Chicago Tribune has a story on the apparently growing use of Twitter in 1st grade classrooms. According the article, some early-grades teachers have their students using the micro-blogging tool, as well as other kid-friendly blogging programs, to do things like send daily updates to parents or share ideas and stories with classmates. Educators quoted in the article say using blogging and secure social-media platforms helps even very young students become more engaged in writing and begin to get a grasp on today's diverse forms of communication. Younger students are "going to have an entire life that exists on the ...


A number of news stories are highlighting the courageous role that teachers played in the midst of the tragic shooting yesterday at Chardon High School in Ohio, which authorities are now saying claimed the lives of two [sigh] three students. By reports, after the gunman opened fire in the cafeteria, assistant football coach Frank Hall charged him and chased him out of the school—and into police hands. Witnesses say that Hall, known around the school as the "gentle giant," continued his pursuit even though the shooter brandished the gun at him. Meanwhile, math teacher Joe Ricci had put his ...


At a reception today in Newark, N.J., 25 teams of teachers will receive over $200,000 in "teacher innovation" grants.


Inspired by a popular YouTube meme, Ms. Eyre—who was off this week and trying at all costs to avoid thinking about New York's new teacher-evaluation plan—puts together a short list of "Stuff Teachers Say on Vacation." Here's number three, for example: Awww, heck yeah! Sale on business casual separates at TJ Maxx!...


The Washington Post's Jay Mathews—initially a proponent of the Common Core State Standards—asserts in a recent blog post that Virginia is doing the right thing in refusing to adopt the new standards. Drawing on discussions with Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless, who recently put out a report on the topic, Mathews makes the case that the standards are but the "educational fashion of the moment" and "will fail," writing: As Loveless notes, there are three main arguments for having all public schools teach the same subjects at the same level of rigor and complexity. First, students will learn...


High school social studies teachers interested in some offline professional development this summer—specifically, the chance to travel to historic sites with some like-minded colleagues—may want to look into the Founders Fellowship. The program, hosted by the Bill of Rights Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education, will take place in Washington, D.C., July 16-20, and will focus on the themes of "Civil Liberty, Commerce, and the Constitution." Attending fellows, selected based on leadership experience and interest in teaching about politics and economics, according to the website, will participate in discussion sessions with constitutional scholars and will visit...


In case you missed it, last week's Washington Post article on merit pay does a nice job of summing up the major rift between proponents and skeptics of a school reform effort that, according to the Post reporter, is "suddenly gaining traction." Daniel Pink, author of the popular book about motivation, Drive, claims that merit pay doesn't improve teaching. "Rewards are very effective for some things—simple things, mechanical things," he said. "But for complicated jobs that require judgment and creativity [i.e., teaching], the evidence shows that it just doesn't work very well." In fact, extrinsic rewards can decrease...


Ariel Sacks, who is working on a book, reflects on the difficulties of being a teacher and writing about it at the same time: Like Virginia Woolf argued in A Room of One's Own—a woman cannot be expected to write while she's cooking and taking care of children in a confined space. Her writing will suffer. I always hated that point, thinking it was narrowminded, but there was some truth to it. One needs mental space to bring the ideas out of the working memory and onto the paper. Space to focus on putting the words together. That process...


Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, makes the argument on his blog that, within current discourse about teacher evaluation, the word rigor "is getting distorted almost beyond recognition." In science, he writes, rigor is determined by a study's design and method for analyzing data. A study is rigorous if the scientific claims are backed by strong evidence—regardless of the content of those claims. However, when it comes to teacher-evaluation talk, he says, a system is deemed rigorous if it rates many teachers as "ineffective" and very few as "highly effective" (or whatever the ...


There was an interesting article in the Washington Post this weekend about how manufacturers in Michigan are having a hard time finding skilled workers to fill a now-burgeoning number of good factory jobs. The problem is that many of the state's older laid-off workers do not have the technical skills needed to operate the automated equipment that is now used in most thriving factories. Meanwhile, younger people who might fill the gap appear to have little interest in or preparation for factory jobs—in part due to the perceived "volatility and stigma" of such work. Trends in education have played...


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