In an op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York University History Professor Jonathan Zimmerman writes that historically U.S. teachers have often been restricted from honestly critiquing the country's military conflicts—and may have even less leeway now than at any time since the 1960s. This is an especially important matter as we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he argues: To be sure, the best teachers have always taught their students to probe, question, and think. And on Sept. 11, they'll do it again. Who attacked us, they'll ask, and why? What did we do...


If the Facebook "Like" count at the bottom of this CNN article is any indication, you've probably already read "What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents." (214,000 Likes in 24 hours? Really?) But if somehow this eluded you, it's an opinion piece by Ron Clark, author of The End of Molasses Classes and founder of The Ron Clark Academy (and Oprah sensation). In a "tell it like it is" tone, Clark asks parents to stop making excuses for their kids, allow them to fail sometimes, "be a partner instead of a prosecutor," and give teachers the benefit of the ...


An interesting resource for you: Journalist and author Kathleen Cushman, a one-time Teacher Book Club featured guest, is producing a series of videos for the nonprofit What Kids Can Do called Just Listen: Students Talk About Learning. The idea is to bring greater exposure to kids' own ideas about why school matters to them and what they hope to get out of their education. That theme is very much in line with Cushman's written work and research, in which she emphasizes that understanding kids' perspectives is an essential part of sound and engaged instruction. The first installment in the series ...


A special education teacher will be among the contestants on this season's "The Amazing Race," the CBS reality show in which teams race around the world while tasked with sundry obstacles and "roadblock" competitions, according to DisabilityScoop. Jennifer Young, 26, from Stone Mountain, Ga., who will be racing with her younger brother, says her work in the classroom has prepared her to perservere in the face of challenges. And she may need all the perserverance she can muster. From the DisabilityScoop story: Other contestants on the show include a pair of "Survivor" winners, two Olympians, a former NFL player and ...


By Education Week Assistant Editor Erik Robelen. This post originally appeared in Education Week's Curriculum Matters blog. The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new Web page with resources to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Just yesterday, we posted an EdWeek story on teaching 9/11 and related issues. Also, we have a collections page on 9/11 with plenty of archived stories.) The topics included on the Education Department page include 9/11 and the Constitution, a look at how "ordinary citizens acted in extraordinary ways" in response to the attacks, and the ...


The current education reform ethos has centered on improving individual teachers' effectiveness and accountability—through merit-pay programs and the use of value-added performance data, for example. But in an interesting article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Carrie R. Leana, a professor of organizations and management at the University of Pittsburgh, argues that reformers have overlooked another, perhaps even more important, factor in school improvement: the level of interaction and collaboration among teachers within a school, or what she terms a school's "social capital." When teachers have strong ties with their peers, Leana says, student achievement invariably goes up. Here,...


An NPR health story reports on psychologists' growing doubts about the idea that teachers should tailor their instruction to different learning styles. "We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these," says Doug Rohrer, a psychologist at the University of South Florida, "and until such evidence exists, we don't recommend that they be used." Instead, adds University of Virginia Pyschologist Dan Willingham, teachers would be better advised to focus on similarities in the ways students learn. For example, the story reports, adding variety to lessons—"mixing things up," as Willingham phrases—and spreading information...


Teachers in one Nebraska school district who don't work to stay fit and healthy will pay for it—literally. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Neb., is attempting to reduce health care costs through a new wellness program aimed at prevention. Full-time employees will undergo a medical screening, including a health-risk questionnaire and blood test, at the beginning and end of the school year. Those who decline to participate or don't meet certain yet-to-be-determined health indicators—likely related to blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index—will have to pay 10 percent of their health...


In the Washington Post, English Teacher Patrick Welsh reviews Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools, Steven Brill's much talked about chronicle of the current education reform movement. Welsh says the book is fascinating for the "privileged glimpses" it provides into key developments and strategy sessions, but thinks that Brill's perspective is based on a faulty premise: Like many of the reformers he admires, Brill operates under the misconception that the U.S. education system is thoroughly rotten and that lousy teachers are the principal contributors to its decay. "American public education [is] broken," Brill writes, and has "collapsed...


In an op-ed piece in The New York Times about the state of math education in the U.S., Sol Garfunkel and David Mumford contend that "the best way for the United States to compete globally" and to catch up to other countries' students "is to strive for universal quantitative literacy: teaching topics that make sense to all students and can be used by them throughout their lives." According to Garfunkel and Mumford, today's math courses, which go in a sequence (loosely) from algebra to geometry to calculus, don't always teach students how to apply the concepts they learn to ...


Doodling, often seen by teachers as a punishable offense, may actually be a key to science instruction, reports LiveScience, a website with science and technology news. The research, which will be published in the next journal Science, suggests that drawing helps students understand science concepts, and should be used to complement writing, reading, and talking in science education. According to LiveScience: [R]esearchers noted that many students are put off by science in school, because the rote learning method in which it is often taught forces them into unpleasant passive roles. Drawing, on the other hand, caters to individual learning ...


Long-suffering high school English teacher Hobo Teacher has developed a sure-fire way of identifying potentially disruptive students on the first day of class: It was not hard to spot the potential headaches. The trick was to just watch the students walk in for the first time and if anyone high fived anyone else, then you got problems. Because you know that it wasn't a "bring on the Puritan poetry" high five. No, probably not...


Apple is collecting used iPads to donate to Teach for America teachers in low-income schools.


Commenting on our post about educators' back-to-school activities, high school teacher Mary McConnell wonders if any other teachers tend to have anxiety dreams around this time of year. In a post on her blog on the Deseret News site, she describes her own annual sleep disturbances: I woke up this morning in the familiar panic. Usually I dreamed that I showed up totally unprepared for a class that I'd never taught before. No syllabus. No handouts. No clue what I was going to say to my class on the first day of school. It didn't matter that this had never ...


Responding to news of possible "test tampering" in New York City, NYC Educator makes a troubling prediction: Count on this—the cheating we hear about is the tip of the iceberg, and as long as we have this insane emphasis on test scores, it will grow exponentially worse. On the other hand: In a recent Education Week Commentary of interest, Gregory J. Cizek, a professor of educational measurement and evaluation at the University of North Carolina, argued that it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. School systems, he said, can maintain their emphasis on testing without leaving themselves vulnerable...


Washington Post education blogger Valerie Strauss points out that it might be a good time for schools to review—or create, as the case may be—their earthquake-response procedures. Apparently, evacuations didn't go all that smoothly yesterday in some D.C. schools, with at least one teacher "freak out" on record. Strauss also makes note of the obvious teachable moment, suggesting this is a good chance for East Coast kids to catch up with their California peers on plate tectonics theory. Nothing like a little first-hand experience to help increase engagement. ... If you're looking for starting points, the U.S. Geological...


Education Week will hit the big Three-O this year. To mark the occasion, our stellar Web Team—with help from the editors—has put together an excellent interactive timeline of the past 30 years in U.S. education. The timeline tracks key events and developments and includes applicable links to the archives. It's a must-see if you're into documentary sources of recent policital history. Plus, it's a good way to brush up on the background of current issues facing schools and educators. As you'll see, the more things change ......


Just in time to get you motivated (or terrified, depressed, etc.), a sampling from recent teacher blog posts from around the Web: Nick Provenzano, on Edutopia, offers some ice-breaking tips for the first day of school. (Our favorite: "I love to tell an embarrassing story from school.") Middle school teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron runs through her back-to-school checklist, which—just to give you a taste—includes both breaking into a file cabinet and speaking to a NASA representative. Ms. Cornelius reprises her tactical tips for new teachers (e.g., "Never threaten a consequence to a student unless you are actually...


Interesting advice: High school English teacher Epiphany in Baltimore explains that he always teaches with a view toward what students will retain from a lesson 10 years later: I always teach books with the "ten year" goal in mind, asking myself what will this kid remember in ten years? I hope some of the themes—all about injustice, doing the right thing and growing up -- are part of their blueprint. And I want them reading. I want to run into them on the street and be able to talk to them about what's on their bookshelves, and what they're...


An assistant superintendent for Wake County Public Schools in Cary, N.C., has been demoted but will continue to earn his annual salary of $131,122 to teach English, according to The News & Observer. David Holdzkom, whose contract runs through June 2013, will be the highest-paid teacher in Wake, reports the regional paper in North Carolina. The superintendent Tony Tata told the paper that confidentiality issues prevent him from being able to discuss the reasons behind Holdzkom being reassigned. However, the The News Observer reports that Tata and the school board vice chairman have "expressed frustration about getting data from ...


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