Friday, May 14, 2010

A new homework policy…but what to do about reading homework

New homework policies have been “turned in” from all grade levels. I have read various drafts of them and I think they are well done.

We do have one lingering issue….or at least I have on lingering issue.

How do we handle nightly reading as homework? Currently we ask kids to read 20 minutes per night. Most teachers have the kids keep a record of some sort indicating what was read. Parents sign off on the form as a sign of validation.

We know that perhaps the best way to improve reading skills is to read. We know that the best way to increase vocabulary is to read. We know that the best way to build background knowledge on various content areas is to read. Because we believe in the importance of reading we make it homework to ensure that all kids read for fear that if we didn’t make it homework kids might not read and then the skill development we are seeking (as well as love of reading) might go by wayside.

But grading students for their at home reading seems a little backwards especially since we are aiming for intrinsic motivation to those big lifelong goals we have four kids. Yet we impose an external motivator or sometimes punishment if they don’t work on that lifelong goal of becoming a lover of reading.

I’m torn on the subject as there are some people will say we are doing a disservice in punishing kids for not reading or at least giving the appearance that we will. The disciplinarians in us are afraid that if we don’t impose some type of “accountability system” that students will not do their reading. When actually I think some of us realize those same kids can just as easily avoid reading and forge the calendar or whatever final type of form they have to fill out.

Is our time spent developing and enforcing a compliance system of reading homework doing harm to those kids that are voracious readers (and we certainly have lots of those)? Do adults keep lists of pages read and answer questions to open ended questions about the books they read? Of course they don’t, so why do we expect kids to do it? Can’t those “system” actually interfere with their enjoyment of the reading?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Social will education respond?

I'm not sure how all educators and more importantly education leaders (because they get to make the rules) but at least one principal in New Jersey wants nothing to do with social networking and is telling parents to get their kids off of it.

The article says parents are supportive of the principal. I'm not completed surprised by this, but am guessing not all communities would lean that way. Also wondering if the parents are also against social networking or just generally supportive of their child's principal.

Perhaps both.

I'm not saying I am rushing out to get my kids on social tools (they aren't old enough) but I do realize it is something I want to teach them to use responsibly. It doesn't appear to be going away. If you can't beat least educate the heck out of it!

Social Media Revolution

Thought provoking video inspired by "Did You Know"...however this one features data nuggets related to Social Media (ex. Facebook).  The numbers are staggering....the real question is "how will education harness the power of this tool" or will we do what we usually do as the school system (look away or bury or head in the sand or simply think it doesn't apply to us)?