The Sacramento Bee recently interviewed a few male teachers in the Sacramento, Calif., area, on their thoughts about showing affection toward kids at school. According to kindergarten teacher Paul Ferreter, his teachers' union instructs educators to refrain from touching students, which means that even a pat on the shoulder is out. But Ferreter says that he still gives his students what he calls a "sideways hug." "I'm taking that risk because I think it's important," said Ferreter. Bryan Nelson, founder of the national nonprofit Men Teach, which aims to recruit more males into the teaching force, said hugs are appropriate ...


Hopefully, Bill Ferriter of The Tempered Radical found shelter in a comment-proof safe house before, in a recent blog post, calling graphic novels "the literary equivalent of Jersey Shore." He argues, with some anecdotal evidence, that graphic novels take away the need for students to think while they read. Further, he wonders (and worries): Will students who are hooked on graphic novels ever be terribly excited about picking up a text where they've got to do the imagining on their own again? Think about it: Can YOU imagine trying to imagine—or wanting to imagine, or seeing a need to imagine—after...


School districts across the country will soon welcome Chinese teachers into their schools once classes begin. According to the Los Angeles Times, 176 teachers from China have been chosen to participate in a guest teacher program put together by the College Board and Hanban (the Chinese government's Chinese Language Council) in order to help "expand Chinese instruction in the United States." The program, which started back in 2007, aims to assign Chinese teachers to schools in the U.S. that lack a pool of teachers who can teach the language, culture, and history of China. UCLA recently hosted workshops and ...


Are some principals really handing out iPads to teachers without any plan for how they are to be used in the classroom? Appears so from an inquiring e-mail Bill Ferriter recently recieved from a language arts teacher friend. Always ready to lend a hand, though, Ferriter comes to the rescue with some nice advice on using the iPads (and presumably other tablets) in combination with a Google Docs forms tool for observation-based formative assessment: Wouldn't it be cool to carry your iPad around with you while student groups are working? Then, every time that you interact with kids and learn ...


The SOS March in Washington has ended, but Kevin Carey, the policy director at the Washington think tank Education Sector, is still in a state of confusion about what it was really all about.


In an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times, Ellie Herman, a charter school teacher in South Los Angeles, takes on the now-trending argument that great teachers can make up for larger class sizes. That view, she says, essentially romanticizes the practice of great teaching and disregards the diversity and complexity of students' needs: Our children--even our children growing up in poverty, especially our children growing up in poverty--deserve to have not only an extraordinary teacher but a teacher who has time to read their work, to listen, to understand why they're crying or sleeping or not doing homework. To ...


Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently signed a bill that prohibits teachers and students from "friending" each other on Facebook. KSPR, an ABC affiliate in Springfield, Mo., reports that Senate Bill 54 forbids any kind of social networking activity between teachers and students in which they might exchange "private" online communication. However, the law does not prohibit all teacher-student contact online. ABC says that teachers can set up fan pages that are open to the public, and students can "like" their page. According to Governor Nixon's website, the bill, also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, is meant to ...


The consensus at an education-policy forum on developing great teachers and leaders, held in Washington on July 27, was that teacher-centered efforts that support professional development and effective performance evaluations have the most impact on improving instruction. The briefing, hosted by two education nonprofits—the Washington-based National Commission on Teaching and America's Future and the Portland, Ore.-based Chalkboard Project—featured six panelists who each shared their recommendations on how to improve state- and district-level teacher policies across the country. Rather than engaging in a back-and-forth discussion, panelists took turns presenting their policy solutions to the audience of fewer than...


Four out of 10 new public school teachers hired since 2005 came through alternative teacher-preparation programs, according to a survey just released by the National Center for Education Information. That's up from 22 percent of new teachers hired between 2000 and 2004.


The Walton Family Foundation will invest $49.5 million in the national Teach For America over three years, according to a release from the Bentonville, Ark.-based nonprofit organization.


The Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended its new homework policy just two months after it decided to limit performance on homework to 10 percent of a student's grade. According to the Los Angeles Times, LAUSD superintendent John Deasy said that the policy, intended to ensure grades indicate what students know rather than what work they've done at home, was implemented without proper feedback from constituencies. "While well-intentioned, I am not confident that the initial policy received sufficient comments and general input from parents, teachers and board members," Deasy told the paper. However, the Los Angeles Times added that ...


At an event yesterday promoting a National Council on Teacher Quality report about teacher preparation (see Stephen Sawchuk's piece), the conversation quickly became contentious when it turned to an impending teacher-education school review. In 2012, U. S. News & World Report will publish the findings of an NCTQ review of all 1,400 schools of education in the country. Each school will receive an A-F letter grade—a notably different methodology than the college ranking system U.S. News is known for. The study has caused a firestorm that in some ways mimics the debate over whether value-added models should be used...


Student test scores from 100 District of Columbia public schools still under investigation for cheating in past years were used in value-added calculations that were incorporated into some teachers' evaluations this year, which could have created an falsely high start for the students.


Were student test scores from DC schools where the cheating investigations are ongoing used to evaluate teachers?


U.S. teachers spend more hours per year on classroom instruction than teachers from other major developed countries, according to data from 2008 (the most recent year available) collected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Wall Street Journal reports that among the 27 member nations tracked by the OECD, "U.S. primary-school educators spent 1,097 hours a year teaching despite only spending 26 weeks a year in the classroom—among the lowest among the countries tracked." Meanwhile, the OECD average time spent on instruction is 786 hours. Despite this statistic, the Journal explains that in a separate...


New York Times human rights columnist Nicholas Kristof drops in on "his beloved old high school in Yamhill, Ore.," and finds it beleaguered by budget cuts. The experience prompts him to contemplate the decline of America's belief in the importance of broad, public education and to question government spending priorities: How is it that we can afford to double our military budget since 9/11, can afford the carried-interest tax loophole for billionaires, can afford billions of dollars in givebacks to oil and gas companies, yet can't afford to invest in our kids' futures? UPDATE 7/19: Calling Kristof's piece "uninformed,"...


Frustrated by a lack of opportunity for teachers to participate in policy decisions, a Florida teacher has launched a new website which aims to connect teachers across the state and address issues important to educators. Mike Rychlik, who teaches at SAIL High School in Leon County, Fla., told Florida Today that state leaders have done little to include teachers' input in discussions surrounding legislation changes and education reform, and so he decided to take matters into his own hands. "It's pretty depressing to go to House and Senate meetings and listen to education committee discussions, to hear how uniformed they ...


Film critic Roger Ebert is fuming mad about a "retold," intermediate reader version of The Great Gatsby published by MacMillan. The book employs greatly simplified prose, comes in at less than half the length of the original, and seriously muddles the ending. For Ebert, the whole project amounts to literary and educational malpractice: There is no purpose in "reading" The Great Gatsby unless you actually read it. Fitzgerald's novel is not about a story. It is about how the story is told. Its poetry, its message, its evocation of Gatsby's lost American dream, is expressed in Fitzgerald's style—in the ...


As part of a summer professional development series, Edutopia is offering free tutorials on Web 2.0 tools that are popular with teachers.


In a cost-cutting move, Illinois has eliminated writing from the state's standardized exams for high school juniors. Well, it's just one grade, you say. Not so fast: The state scrapped the writing portion of the standardized exams for elementary and middle schoolers last year. Some educators contend that the change won't necessarily affect students' writing skills. Schools will continue to teach writing as a part of literacy development and language arts, they argue, and students will still have to prepare for the written portions of college entrance exams. Dr. Janice Neuleib, executive secretary of the Illinois Association of Teachers of ...


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