Friday, December 24, 2010

What I learned this week 12/25/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I learned this week 12/23/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Ban fiction from the curriculum - Hopewell, NJ, United States, ASCD EDge Blog post

Ban fiction from the curriculum - Hopewell, NJ, United States, ASCD EDge Blog post

I apologize if you need to register (it is free) in order to read this article....but it has me thinking about some earlier learning I've done.

Grant Wiggins (of UBD fame) has written a provocative post suggesting we ban fiction. Okay, not necessarily ban it but perhaps rethink it in terms of how much of it makes up our reading curriculum.

Wiggins argues that fiction is a leisure activity....ie not many of us will have a job in which we will be required to read fiction. Instead most of us will be reading heavy duty non-fiction such a reports or other technical documents...yet this type of reading makes up only a small fraction of what children read in school and based on NAEP scores kids aren't very good at reading non-fiction.

Couple that with what Willingham and Hirsch say about reading success being tied so closely to background knowledge it makes me wonder if we might be doing our students (especially boys, Wiggins says) by not reading more nonfiction.

Something to think about for the LA committee as they work on reading lists etc.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I learned this week 12/22/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Students Know Good Teaching When They Get It, Survey Finds - NYTimes.com

Students Know Good Teaching When They Get It, Survey Finds - NYTimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/education/11education.html?_r=1

Researchers are studying value added measures and looking for other measures that correlate well.

Turns out student surveys seem to be a good way to figure out the teachers who "add value".

Student surveys reveal that the following statement correlate to value added teachers:

Classrooms where a majority of students said they agreed with the statement, “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time,” tended to be led by teachers with high value-added scores, the report said.
The same was true for teachers whose students agreed with the statements, “In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes,” and, “My teacher has several good ways to explain each topic that we cover in this class.”
Teachers whose students agreed with the statement, “We spend a lot of time in this class practicing for the state test,” tended to make smaller gains on those exams than other teachers.

I don't think the article mentions the age of the students being surveyed. At what age is a student able to objectively and thoughtfully answer these questions?

For a number of years our school administered a survey called CSImpact or something close to that. It surveyed all stakeholders....including students as young as grade 3. In addition, we also gave our own student surveys. I thought the gathered data was not only interesting but relevant and for a number of years (before NCLB) it drove much of our improvement efforts. However, for a variety of reasons, we no longer give the survey.

I've asked us to give some type of students survey but the idea hasn't gained much traction.

After reading this article I think it is time to start asking again.


What I learned this week 12/21/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Announcing the 2010 Edublog Awards Winners! – The Edublog Awards

Announcing the 2010 Edublog Awards Winners! – The Edublog Awards
http://edublogawards.com/announcing-the-2010-edublog-awards-winners/

As we come to the end of another calendar year I like to reflect on the year we are so close to completing. Part of that routine involves going through various end of year lists that other people post on their blogs. Of special note I especially like to look over best of the year music lists, music videos, books, children's books, movies, cookbooks.

There are many posts and lists that contain the above information. But when it comes to my online teacher resource/materials "best of" list I only really have one GO TO list and that is the Edublog award winner lists. This list is a great way to find new blogs and other online resources of which you need to follow.

I've reviewed the entire list and plan to add the following to my Google Reader feed:

http://kirstenwinkler.com/
http://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/the-2-interactive-whiteboard/ (influential post, but I will also subscribe to the blog)

To further explore for other resources:

Enjoy the list!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I learned this week 12/16/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/theyearinreview
Enjoy the YouTube year in review which also included the top 10 videos by viewership of the year.

#1 was......



Can't say I liked the song but I love the creativity and it inspired me to see if I could autotune to work on Audacity.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What I learned this week 12/10/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Learning without Borders





Definitely worth the time to watch this videos....excellent job of getting to where we are at right now in education in terms of reform, improvement and technology's impact.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What I learned this week 12/07/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What I learned this week 12/03/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A’s for Good Behavior - NYTimes.com

A’s for Good Behavior - NYTimes.com

Interesting yet brief article detailing how one school is making the transition to standards based grading.

Several quotes from the article really stood out for me and made me ask some interesting questions that all teachers in our school should reflect upon.

Do we suffer from "grade fog"? -- ie do our grades communicate student learning or mastery of content or more than that. If it is more than that can our students and parents really know how well they are doing?

Do we grade for compliance?

What percentage of our grades reflect a student doing, saying, or acting a way we have asked or told them to do. Do we grade for completion of work or mastery demonstrated by the execution of that work?

Are grades flexible enough for a student to improve upon them as they are able to do so? If a student fails a test or doesn't score well do we allow them to retake the test. Yes, making a new test is a pain, but isn't the goal of the test for teachers to also help determine what and how much a student has learned. If the test does reveal that a student isn't learning as much as expected do we give the student a chance to continue learning and show their mastery at a later date?

If we allow the students do retake a test which grade do we use? The first one, the most current one, or an average of the two. I'm guessing most teachers would say an average of the two. Mathematically it makes sense....using a second test to raise the first. However, if we are using grades to show what a student has learning/mastered/achieved shouldn't we just use the second measure since it is closer to real time.

When a sprinter runs a race we don't average the various heats together. What matters is what they do in the final run. Shouldn't we extend the same courtesy to our students?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What I learned this week 11/29/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Technology to Engage, not Distract | Connected Principals

Technology to Engage, not Distract | Connected Principals

There is plenty of discussion about student engagement these days or more accurately the lack of student engagement in the classroom.

Teachers are always commenting in the lunchroom or wherever they congregate that this year's kids don't listen as well as last year's students. I've even heard teachers say they fear for our nation's future as our students just aren't very good listeners.

Is it that they aren't good listeners or is it that they just aren't "buying what we're selling"?

I would urge all teachers (even those reporting good engagement in their classroom) to view their classroom from the perspective of their students.

Answer these questions:
Could you really handle being a student in your own classroom?
How engaging would the experience be?
Would you be tempted to tune out?
How much do you spend "lecturing" or reciting facts to your students?
What percentage of the time are you in charge of the information?
What percentage of the time are you the students in charge of the information?

Before you tell me it is easy for me to judge you, I need to tell you that I judge myself fairly harshly in answering those questions.

I don't think of my classroom as lecture, but I do spend plenty of time presenting what Marzano would call "procedural" knowledge. I want the students to know what buttons to press when in the software we use. In fact I spend so much time talking procedures that they don't nearly enough application time. How can they learn the "procedures" if we don't spent nearly enough time with the independent practice? It is a battle that I struggle with each week. At what point have I given the students enough knowledge/information that they can move to independent practice? Sadly, I don't know the answer to that question and mainly it is because the answer is different for different learners and I need a formative assessment to get a better sense of when they are ready to move forward.

So what say you, would you be able to survive your own class?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I learned this week 11/08/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Douglas Reeves' articles

I've long been a fan of Doug Reeves and his ideas for improving education.

The Leadership and Learning Center makes many of his articles available for us to read.  Among the more recent (and always interesting) articles are:

The Write Way
http://www.makingstandardswork.com/sites/default/files/articles/article-1011-asbj-wrtie-way.pdf
Writing improves achievement....we need more!

Fixed or Multiplier


The qualities that make someone a great superintendent (leader)

Focus: The Forgotten 21st Century Skill
http://www.makingstandardswork.com/sites/default/files/articles/09-fall-the-trillium-focus-the-forgotten-21st-century-skill.pdf
Now what was I doing before I found this article?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The secret of self-control : The New Yorker

The secret of self-control : The New Yorker

Fascinating article about the research done at Stanford University related to "self control" and delaying gratification. The research finding is so relevant to teachers and especially parents.

As I read the article I wondered how my own kids at that age would have treated the marshmallow situation.

Now older but still children they are slowly learning to wait. Learning to work hard and save money for the things they want. I often have problems with the things they want (why are those American Dolls so expensive!) but I do try to instill in them the importance of only buying what they can afford.

Re: The American Girl Doll my wife disagree. For the cost of one Amer. Girl I can buy 1 really nice "generic" doll and have $80 left to put in savings or something else. My wife sides with the "specialness" of the American Girl doll. Perhaps my gender renders me unable to understand a $100 doll. And yes I would feel the same way about a $100 set of Legos.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What I learned this week 11/01/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Education Week: Character Education Found to Fall Short in Federal Study

Education Week: Character Education Found to Fall Short in Federal Study

Gulp....character education programs might not be all that!

Recent study from the US Dept. of Education titled Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children. How is that for a mouthful?!

Not sure I would print this (all 656 pages of it) instead I would read the summary linked above at EdWeek.

In a nutshell it appears that researchers have the impact of various "character education" programs and found that basically after several years of implementation with many factors considered the programs don't appear to have conclusive impact on the students they are meant to "mold and shape" despite other conflicting reports that have shown various programs to have a positive impact on students behaviors and value systems.

As a teacher I am a bit disappointed as our school has pushed its own hybrid of programs for several years now. It has been a substantial commitment in materials and time with regards to teacher training and classroom implementation efforts.

However as a parent I am not surprised. I would like to think that the values I raise my children with are the values that they take with them to school. Unfortunately for teachers, there is no one set of universal parent values although I think the vast majority of parents could agree on a pretty good core set....religious or not.

Our school doesn't really collect meaningful data that can be contributed to the success or failure of our own unique program called SEEDS. However, as someone who has observed the program since its inception in our school I will say one positive aspect of the program is the common set of vocabulary and expectations related to student behavior.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I learned this week 10/19/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I learned this week 10/14/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What I learned this week 10/09/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I learned this week 10/08/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What I learned this week 10/05/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What I learned this week 10/04/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What I learned this week 10/02/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I learned this week 10/01/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I learned this week 09/29/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Lawrence O’Donnell Has The Last Word On Snooki And Education | Mediaite

Lawrence O’Donnell Has The Last Word On Snooki And Education | Mediaite

For the sake of full disclosure I must admit that I have never seen Jersey Shore, I don't understand the fascination with the Jersey Shore characters. But watch the video embedded in the above post to hear Lawrence O'Donnell's comment about challenges educators face and how it relates to Jersey Shore and today's teens.

Isn't the responsibility for teaching/raising our kids a shared one?!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What I learned this week 09/26/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Voki Demo from Melissa

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Study: Paying Teachers for Student Performance Doesn't Raise Test Scores

Study: Paying Teachers for Student Performance Doesn't Raise Test Scores

Vanderbilt just completed a study in which they offered incentives for TN math teachers....if their students scored "significantly higher" than expected on a statewide testing. In a nutshell authors of the study said "merit" or "performance" incentives did not raise test results.

From what I've read of the study it simply was "teachers raise the scores and you get more money." If higher scores were found that would mean that teachers were holding back, right. I don't think teachers are holding back. Why would they do that? Perhaps they are waiting for a better paying study.

At the same time teachers in the study said they did not change the way they were teaching just because they were in the study. So if the teaching doesn't change....then why would we expect the learning or test scores to change?

As I've said before, improvement is not about working hard. It is about finding the right thing(s) to work on and then working hard.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I learned this week 09/21/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What I learned this week 09/20/2010


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.