Well, here's one way to spur student engagement: A group of teachers at Jennings High School in St. Louis has produced a rap music video to get their charges motivated for state-mandated end-of-course exams. According to St. Louis Today, the teachers wanted to do something out of the ordinary to convey the importance of the tests to their students. "The hope is that when students get a test placed in front of them, they realize, there's been a big to-do about this. This is a big deal," said one teacher. The video has certainly succeeded in making an impression: Students ...


Dan Brown, a Washington-based teacher who contributes to our Teaching Ahead virtual roundtable at times, has a compelling discussion going on on his Teacher Leaders Network blog about the "5 Worst Things a Teacher Can Say to Students." According to Brown, the No. 1 "absolute worst and most frequently remembered wounding" statement a teacher can make is: "I get paid whether you [fill in the blank] or not." The ranking of that phrase rang true for me. In visiting an alternative school for an upcoming story about project-based learning, a 17-year-old student who had just transferred there from a traditional ...


In a post I wrote yesterday, a blogger offered 12 cons for using social media in schools, one of which was the risk of cyberbullying. One thing her post didn't mention is that cyberbullying can be difficult to pin down--so there's an accompanying "con" that schools have to navigate the murky waters of online speech.


On The Daily Grind teacher-blogger Mr. McNamar muses that the P.A. systems used each morning in schools around the country are woefully out of date. Even those savvier schools doing TV broadcasts are behind the times. He writes: In a generation where schools are constantly looking to draw their students in and engage them, it seems to me that we are missing many great opportunities to deliver messages through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Youtube. Schools are still fearful of these social media sites, and the result is a greater divide between the students and the school leaders. Charlie Osborne, ...


Monday night, I had the chance to see Lisa Delpit, author of our upcoming Teacher Book Club selection, "Multiplication Is for White People:" Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, speak at a restaurant/performance space in Washington. The event, hosted by the nonprofit Teaching for Change, drew a packed house of mainly teachers and administrators. Delpit gave a short, informal address, telling several anecdotes from the book, and quickly turned it over to the audience for questions. Significantly, every single educator who asked a question of Delpit came from a charter school. This was interesting to me because in her ...


Talk about merit pay: A trio of educators from a Maryland school district—suspected to be in the Baltimore area—have claimed a share of the recent $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. The winners have chosen to remain anonymous, but they have been identified as a special education teacher, an elementary teacher, and an administrator. And here's the interesting part: According to lottery officials, the three have said that, despite their newfound wealth, they are committed to remaining in their current careers. A Baltimore Sun editorial points out that this says something about the nature of teaching: How revealing...


In an Education Week Commentary, educators Jeffrey P. Carpenter and Scott Weathers argue that the Trayvon Martin case, in which a 17-year-old African-American youth was killed by a neighborhood-watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., is an imperative teachable moment.


Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said union members are showing "overwhelming" support for a strike, according to the Chicago Tribune. CTU and the Chicago Public Schools have been in contract negotiations for four months and are still far from coming to an agreement. The parties have been embroiled in conflict for a while now over the district's implementation of policies that extend the school day and tie teacher evaluations to student performance. In the current negotiations, according to the Tribune, the union has asked for a nearly 30 percent raise over two years—24 percent next year and 5 percent...


A new survey of middle school students published by Raytheon finds that there is a dramatic increase in the number of students who "hate" math (from one in 10 to one in five) between the 6th and 8th grades. The survey also reveals that 61 percent of middle schoolers would rather take out the trash than do math home work. On the bright side, only 20 percent would rather get a shot at the doctor's office. While 39 percent of the students surveyed did cite math as the most important subject for their future careers, only 28 percent of them ...


The New York Times reports on a study finding that when people put on a white doctor's coat, their ability to pay attention increases sharply. Scientists conducting the study, which was published on the website of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, were looking into what they call enclothed cognition—"the effects of clothing on cognitive processes." It's an offshoot of a field called embodied cognition, which Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the head of the study, described as the notion that "our thought processes are based on physical experiences."...


In a first-person piece we published yesterday, Kyle Redford contends that teachers should give students a grade for oral expression, just as they do for written expression. While "assigning concrete values to conversation is less tidy and more challenging than assessing written work," she writes, doing so gives students who struggle with writing a chance to demonstrate—and be compensated for—their understanding. In addition, she continues, "much of what students are asked to do once they leave school hinges on their ability to express themselves in conversations. Shouldn't we give them credit for developing and deploying that skill in...


In what Washington state officials are saying is the largest-scale test rebellion they've faced, the parents of 70 students at an elementary school in Everett, Wash., have opted out of federally mandated standardized testing.


Not sure what to think about this one: According to a story in the London-based Guardian, teachers who spoke at the recent annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, an educators' union in the United Kingdom, vented that student behavior has gone significantly downhill since caning was banned in schools 25 years ago. "The forms of discipline currently available to teachers for dealing with inappropriate behaviour remain totally inadequate," said one teacher from London. The teacher was not advocating a return to corporal punishment, the story notes. He was, apparently, just sayin' ... Other educators blamed the rise in ...


Last week, the New York Post broke the story that the NYC Department of Education had "banned references to 'dinosaurs,' 'birthdays,' 'Halloween' and dozens of other topics on city-issued tests." The Post called it a "bizarre case of political correctness run wild." The DOE offered the justification that such topics "could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students." The Post reports: Dinosaurs, for example, call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists; birthdays aren't celebrated by Jehovah's Witnesses; and Halloween suggests paganism. ... Even "dancing'' is taboo, because some sects object. But the city did make an exception for ballet. ...


The Valley News Dispatch, which covers New Kensington, Pa., reports that area educators have differing views on whether the advent of technology is hurting students' spelling skills.


Still more on the potential benefits of meditation for schools: A new study out of University of California at San Francisco finds that regular meditation practice can improve teachers' emotional well-being as well as help them become more aware of others' feelings, according to PsychCentral. The study, to be published next month in the journal Emotion, involved 82 female school teachers who underwent a customized 8-week meditation training program. The researchers chose teachers for the study because their work is seen as particularly stressful and fast-paced. In addition to reducing indicators of stress and depression, the training appears, as a ...


Michael Cholbi, a contributor to an interesting teaching philosophy blog called In Socrates' Wake, reviews recent research discounting the influential theory that students have distinct learning styles that teachers should try to cater to (which is not to say, he cautions, that students don't have important learning differences). He adds that adherence to the learning style theory can have "Dweck effects" on students, causing them to adopt fixed mindsets about what they can and cannot learn. He expands: And if, as I have argued before, disciplines tend to come with certain learning styles built in (philosophy requires strong verbal skills, ...


Our Classroom Q&A blogger Larry Ferlazzo (who seriously seems to have more time in the day than the rest of us) has been appointed to California's newly launched Educator Excellence Task Force, designed to make recommendations on teacher evaluation and professional development (among other things). Ferlazzo, a one-time community organizer, acknowledges that he is by nature skeptical of the efficacy of task forces but he thinks this one, chaired by renowned teacher advocate Linda Darling-Hammond, has a chance of making an impact. Congrats and good luck, Larry....


The ever-impressive Atul Gawande—surgeon, New Yorker contributor, and public health researcher—has provided plenty of blog fodder for us here at Teacher over the last few months. And his keynote address at the 2012 ASCD Conference on Sunday was no exception. Gawande began by explaining why he'd been chosen for the address. "We have something really fundamental in common. As doctors and teachers, we are both privy to the secrets of people' lives," he said. When he began writing about his work as a doctor, he said, he became more and more intrigued by the question of "how we all...


In a recent Education Week Commentary piece, William J. Oehlkers and Cindy DiDonato argue that, for new tech platforms like tablet computers to reach their educational potential (and not become mere classroom distractions), they must be used in the context of project-based learning: In project-based learning, students identify an authentic, messy debatable question, inquire as to possible answers, and respond by making a presentation, producing an innovation, or planning an event. They use technology to search for information, communicate with others locally and abroad, store vital information, and present their findings. We call this version of project-based learning technology-inquiry education, ...


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