A group of accomplished teachers representing Anthony Cody's Teachers' Letters to Obama campaign got a chance to express their concerns and ideas about federal education policy in a conference call with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and colleagues yesterday. Unfortunately, from the teachers point of view, it turned out to be a frustrating experience. Both Cody and Nancy Flanagan have posted accounts of the call. Definitely worth a read. UPDATE 5/26: Interesting: Cody gets a callback....


Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog tries to find "the most egregious twist of history" in Texas' new social studies curriculum standards (including some proposals that didn't make the final cut).


The education-policy community is abuzz over an article by journalist Steven Brill that appeared in the New York Times Magazine yesterday (though it's been online for a few days). Titled "The Teachers' Unions' Last Stand," the piece looks at the powerful reform forces that have coalesced around the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition (with particular emphasis on its teacher-accountabilty provisions) and at the seemingly out-of-touch—not to say doomed—efforts of teachers' unions and their supportors to resist wholesale changes to teachers' protections. One flashpoint of the article is a devastating comparison (on first blush, anyway) of a regular...


A group of 1st graders in Kansas had a hands-on lesson about cleaning up oil spills this week, with the Gulf of Mexico disaster in mind.


Diane Ravitch, explaining her recent change of heart on accountability-based reform, goes Jungian: I sometimes wonder whether you might be attracted to the things that you say are wrong--if you're kind of guarding yourself against something that secretly appeals to you. It's like people who are vehement, militant atheists; I think they could easily become religious crusaders, because they're almost religious in their atheism. You have to be careful what you choose to engage yourself with, because the thing you're fighting could be the very thing you want....


A new social network called "Togetherville" aims to be the web-safe version of Facebook for students ages 10 and under.


Ariel Sacks, on the advice of a yoga teacher, has taken to practicing mindfulness in the classroom. It's interesting stuff: When we take the time to notice things, we are creating an opportunity for ourselves to illuminate the choices we make on a regular basis, some of which we may not even be aware. Lately, I've even been taking time to notice what I notice. Do I take as much time to notice the progress one student makes, or how well a lesson went, as I do berating myself about a student who was messing around period 4? How I ...


Amid all the talk about firing ineffective teachers, award-winning educator Renee Moore argues that the real cause of poor achievement in schools might just be "ill-conceived administrative restrictions": It sounds paradoxical that those charged with being educational leaders in their buildings or districts may actually be impediments to quality instruction, but that is a truth many of us in the field have to deal with daily. She notes that, faced with clueless one-size-fits-all mandates and inconsistent policies, even accomplished teachers find they often have to resort to subterfuge to do their jobs in way they know they need to. She ...


Will Fitzhugh, editor of the Concord Review, warns against placing processes and skills above content knowledge in literacy instruction, saying that, in the manner of kudzu, they will "choke attention to the reading of complete books and the writing of serious academic papers by the students in our schools." On the Core Knowledge blog, teacher Diana Senechal seconds him and chides those who think they can have it both ways (i.e., by combining a skills-based instructional emphasis with meaningful content): Process does replace content when it is accorded the highest place on the scale of values. To put process ...


In preparation for a future project, we've been doing some reading recently on so-called 21st-century skills, so this story about an art teacher in Louisiana who teaches students how to draw from the right (non-verbal) side of the brain caught my eye. The idea, according to the teacher, Paulette Purser, is to get the students to slow down in their representational drawings and examine problems from different perspectives. This ultimately helps them become better problem-solvers, she says—one of the key 21st-century skills, incidentally. Several times during the course of a class Purser will reportedly exhort her students to slow...


A geometry teacher in Jefferson County, Ala., was paid a visit by the Secret Service after he reportedly attempted to elucidate a lesson on parallel lines and angles by illustrating where one would need to be positioned in order to shoot President Obama. The secret service did not find a "credible threat," and the teacher is not expected to be placed on leave or be terminated—though he is apparently going to get a good talking-to. "We are going to have a long conversation with him about what's appropriate," the district's superintendent said. "It was extremely poor judgment on his ...


Education bloggers react to the news that a Rhode Island is rehiring all of the teachers it had fired in a turnaround effort earlier in the year.


Congratulations to Teacher blogger Tamara Fisher! Her blog, Unwrapping the Gifted, made the "Top 50 Blogs for Teachers" list compiled by Rasmussen College. Teacher's Blogboard—although now defunct—also made the list. (It's been replaced by Teaching Now, the blog you are currently reading.) A shout out to Education Week reporters who also cracked the top 50: Stephen Sawchuk for Teacher Beat and Christina Samuels and her guest blogger Lisa Fine for On Special Education. According to Allie Gray of Rasmussen the list is based on blog content as well as search-engine page rank....


Parents from a California school district raised $2 million in two months to save the teaching jobs of over 100 teachers who received pink slips in March.


Will Richardson posits that one problem with evaluating teachers on the basis of student test scores is that it values knowledge over learning.


A recent study finds that both white and African-American schoolchildren have a "white bias"—white students overwhelmingly so.


The 93 teachers who were all fired from a Rhode Island school can now reapply for their jobs, but only half can be re-hired and they're facing off against 800 other applicants.


In an editorial, the Denver Post defends a bill just passed by the Colo. Legislature that will tie teachers' tenure status to students' academic progress: Despite hysterical assertions to the contrary, it is not meant to set up teachers as scapegoats for the sociological and economic disadvantages that their students bring to school with them. It is not an effort to fire teachers en masse. It is an effort to recalibrate their mission in a very specific way. The foundation of this measure is the firm belief that even students who come from troubled circumstances can learn. These are the ...


Twelve-year-old Greyson Michael Chance appeared in a 6th grade talent show in Edmund, Oklahoma last month and today he is a YouTube sensation. With an appearance this morning on the Ellen Degeneres Show and more than eight million views of his YouTube cover of "Paparazzi" by pop singer Lady Gaga, Chance could very well be the next Justin Bieber or better. If you need convincing, listen for yourself and check out the faces on the female students as he performs—they go from mild disinterest to shock and awe. Chance explained to Ellen Degeneres this morning how he found out ...


New York's State Education Department and teachers' unions have brokered a deal to revamp teacher evaluations by linking them to student test scores, according to the The New York Times. The agreement is expected to boost the state's chances of winning coveted federal Race to the Top money. Under the agreement, teachers would be measured each year on a 100-point scale, 20 percent of which would be based on student improvement on state exams. Another 20 percentage points would be based local tests developed by individual school systems, while principal and peer observations make up other parts of the evaluation. ...


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