October 2012 Archives

I finally had a chance to watch a documentary I've been meaning to get to for several months now called "Schools That Change Communities."


In a post on the Accomplished California Teachers' blog, English teacher David B. Cohen writes that the advice for schools that trickles down from the business world often seems to envision "a rigid hierarchical system built on simplistic notions of threat and reward." So he finds it ironic that, at least based on a recent perusal of The New York Times' Corner Office feature, this perspective tends to run counter to the priorities innovative CEOs embrace in running their own companies. He concludes: To the extent that individuals and organizations have some similar behaviors and dynamics, it's worth looking to ...


Schools are closed across the East Coast today as cities and towns recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, now considered one of the worst storms in U.S. history. For educators in other parts of the country looking to give students some perspective on the events of the past couple of days, The New York Times' Learning Network blog rounds up review questions on Hurricane Sandy's composition and impact. See also its updated page on Teaching and Learning About Hurricanes. In addition, Scholastic provides a teaching resource on hurricanes, and Discovery Education offers a lesson plan (grades 6 to ...


For several hours—while traveling on a bus through Florida—Weingarten participated in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread on the popular social news site. She answered questions on everything from Common Core (which she called "a big opportunity") to absent-teacher reserves ("I tried to close the Rubber Room several times") to her salary (around $360k, or 3.5 times what she could have made as a teacher in NYC). She also faced numerous accusations that she was dodging, cherry-picking, and "spouting talking points." One redditor chided her: "Don't shake the bee's nest if you're allergic."


At an education summit today, Florida Governor Rick Scott said he wants to give teachers debit cards so that they no longer have to pay for classroom supplies out-of-pocket. The proposal is part of the Republican governor's 2013 education agenda, which you can find here. The agenda itself does not offer specifics on the debit cards, but a press release explains that they would be "supported by state, district, and hopefully private sector funds." Many teachers around the country already receive as much as several hundred dollars in stipends for school supplies. However, as we recently reported, some districts have ...


Denise Pope, a lecturer at Stanford University and the author of Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students, says that cheating is highly prevalent and possibly growing among high school students. She identifies two primary reasons for this: 1) Students see examples of cheating by successful people all around them (e.g., on Wall Street, in politics, in sports, etc.); and 2) they have gotten the impression that their grades matter more than their efforts to learn and grow intellectually.


In a recent post, online-learning expert Will Richardson criticizes the "Khanification of education"—the seemingly widely accepted process by which "anyone with a passion can make a video and be given 'teacher' status." But Richardson also thinks that the growing influence of Khan Academy and similar "flipped classroom" resources raises urgent questions for real teachers in terms how they define and distinguish themselves in the current education environment


Last Friday (Oct. 20) was National Day on Writing, as declared by the U.S. Senate. Our stellar new book blogger, Amy Wickner, wrote a nice post about it here. If you didn't get a chance to celebrate with your students, don't fret. November is NaNoWriMo—or National Novel Writing Month, as declared by the Office of Letters and Light. Many teachers take this opportunity to get their students started on longer writing projects. In fact, last year 2,000 schools participated in the official program, which challenges writers to complete a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) narrative by Nov. 30. ...


At Lighthouse Private Christian Academy in Gulf Breeze, Fla., which is located next to the town's zoo, the elementary and middle school students have the opportunity to engage with exotic animals in their science classroom once a week for a class period, reports the Pensacola News Journal.


While flipped classrooms are still all the rage in some education circles, teacher and blogger Shelley Wright explains why her "brief love affair with the flip has ended." Wright initially turned to the flipped model as a way to help her and her students get through "the large and sometimes burdensome amount of content" required by her biology and chemistry curricula. She hoped having students watch lectures at home and do hands-on activities during class would prove a "transformative learning experience." And it did—just not exactly in the way she'd envisioned. Rather than a new way of teaching in and...


The British press has been having a good time noting that one of the recently named Nobel Prize winners in medicine, U.K. scientist Sir John Gurdon, wasn't exactly a student whom teachers expected great things from. In his office in Cambridge, Gurdon reportedly keeps an old evaluative report from his science master at Eton secondary school above his desk. The conclusion could hardly be harsher: I believe [Gurdon] has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can't learn simple biological facts, he would have no chance of doing the work of ...


PBS LearningMedia is now accepting applications for its Teacher Innovator Awards, a program it operates in partnership with The Henry Ford museum complex.


Nearly 2,500 U.S. schools have committed to participating in this year's "Mix It Up at Lunch Day," an initiative created 10 years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program to help reduce students' biases and misperceptions. On Oct. 30, students at these schools will break social norms and sit with someone new at lunch. According to the Teaching Tolerance website, "students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn, and Mix It Up day "encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries." The site points to research indicating that "interactions...


Jonathan Kozol, at age 76, has new book out entitled Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America. In it, he looks yet again—reportedly in career-summation mode—at the devastating consequences of America's failure to provide equitable educational opportunities in disadvantaged neighborhoods.


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