Saturday, October 6, 2007

Well, the Sky Hasn't Fallen...Yet

I don’t have to explain that there has been quite a debate over school vouchers, so many might be actually surprised that Georgia, one of the lowest carvings on the education totem pole, has actually instituted a voucher program. During debate regarding the Special Needs bill many Georgia legislators argued the program was simply a method of bringing private school vouchers into the state through a back door method. Basically the back door consists of changing the word “voucher” to “scholarship”, but providing parents with a check is the same no matter what you call it.

I’m not necessarily against the program; however, I’m just very interested in how this will all work out……

As with many new initiatives in education Georgia’s new Special Needs Scholarships got off to a minimal start mainly due to timing and notification.

Here’s the way the numbers currently look based on news articles that appeared last week-----The Georgia Department of Education notes there are currently 200,000 students classified as special needs. Of the 200,000 only 5,750 actually applied to attend one of the 115 private schools deemed “approved” by the Georgia DOE. However, out of the 5,750 students who applied for scholarships ony 904 will actually receive the monetary award for this school year.

What could the reasons be?

Well, one of the main requirements state the student has to have an IEP not just a 504 plan. Even though parentals rights are covered at annual meetings with special needs parents that part of the meeting is often rushed and I get a general feeling that many parents don’t educate themselves on the whole process. As with anything in education some special education teachers do a great job of communicating effectively with parents while others.....

Another requirement is during the previous school year students had to have attended a Georgia public school between the FTE count days in October and in March. Unfortunately my experience with many of the special needs students is they move frequently and play school and school system hopscotch.

Another problem has to do with the date the bill became a law. Governor Sonny Perdue signed the legislation in May, 2007 which meant education officials had to scramble in order to notify private schools regarding an application process to be eligible for students and to notify the parents of special needs students. Obviously there were holes in the process.

By the time parents learned of the opportunity many of Georgia’s private schools had already closed their registration process for the upcoming year, and the state DOE didn’t finalize their list of eligible private schools until July. Many Georgia systems begin their school year during the first week of August.

It would seem, however, that more growth will expand the scholarship program as time goes by much like Florida’s Mackay Scholarships.

A list of the private schools in the program as of July can be seen here.

What do you think about the scholarship process to provide more choice for special needs students?

Monday, October 1, 2007

More Student Excuses...

The other day I posted 13 excuse notes received by teachers.
Here are a few more:

1. Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his fathers fault.

2. Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.

3. Sally won’t be in school a week from Friday. We have to attend her funeral.

4. My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the Marines.

5. Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.

6. Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Received an Award!

Many thanks to Eric over at Secondhand Thoughts
for awarding me with his Wednesday award where he spotlights various blogs. I sincerely appreciate the mention. Eric stated in his post he would like to see regular posting going on here at Best Practices. I would too!

There are certainly enough topics in education for me to be snarky about….and being snarky is one of the indulgences I allow myself now that I’m inching ever closer to the wonderful world of retirement.

Eric, I’ll try to do better.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kid Nation/Sad Nation

I understand that reality television is now entrenched in American culture, but I don’t watch it. Believe it or not I don’t even watch American Idol. I don’t have to. It’s become so mainstream all I have to do is watch the news or listen to conversations around me to know who was voted off or who did what. Why waste time watching?

Kid Nation is the latest reality show offering to be seen shortly on CBS. I believe with any media craze there are lines of decorum and what is proper. I believe the production of Kid Nation has crossed that line.

There are several instances surrounding this Lord of the Flies redoux that don’t seem to be following best practices.

*I find it disturbing that a group of program creators sat around in a room brainstorming new programing ideas and decided it would be a great idea to take a deserted ghost town in the Santa Fe desert and drop 40 kids there simply to see what would happen. Let me repeat that……to simply see what would happen.

* I find it sad that people employed by various networks cannot come up with any type of creative programming other than shows that often humiliate participants and help to feed voyeur tendencies. Hollywood unions have also begun to charge reality television is merely a greedy ploy by production companies and media outlets to avoid expenses for storylines and scripts. In a recent AP article union officials charge that reality shows do have writers that should be compensated according to union guidelines and that some of the contestants/performers/participants could be covered under collective bargaining agreements. If charges like this is what it will take to finally end garbage television (not that it was that great to begin with) I’m all for it.

*It disturbs me greatly that parents signed away their rights including decisions regarding medical attention for the sum of $5,000. A New York Times article reported parents had agreed to allow their children to “do whatever they were told to do by the show’s producers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week or risk expulsion from the show.” Decisions regarding medical attention were left entirely up to CBS and producers. As a parent I find this fact appalling considering four children drank bleach. There had to be a cameraman around…..why didn’t someone stop them?

*I’m also disturbed that in order to film the episodes students had to miss several weeks of school including the month of April. That’s testing time in my neck of the woods, and in my district I believe those six weeks of absences would be unexcused. Oh, but wait. Silly Me! Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Parent----nevermind----- it’s ok because your child is going to be A STAR!

*Screen Actors Guild representatives became involved after complaints from parents, members, and former young performers who were “appalled at the way [the] kids [from the Kid Nation show] were treated.” After taking a look at the contract the Kid Nation parents signed the deputy national executive for SAG said, “it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such egregious provisions for any performer, let alone children.”

This article from September 5th discusses the contract parents signed a bit further. The lanuguage of the contract prevents parents from suing CBS even if their child died during the “inherently dangerous” shoot.

The article continues: The contract said that the show was “inherently dangerous” and could expose the minor children to “uncontrolled hazards and conditions that may cause serious bodily injury, illness or death.” In the first paragraph it reads, “By signing this Participant Agreement, I represent that I have read, understood and voluntarily agreed to abide by it’s terms and conditions and have explained to the Minor the contents and the meanings of this Participant Agreement to the Minor.”

Just in case Junior didn’t grasp the legal ramifications explained to him, the contract posted at TheSmokingGun.com. goes on to say, “I acknowledge that by signing this Participant Agreement, I will be giving up certain legal rights on behalf of myself and the Minor.” Parents also signed a clause that released liability in case of “emotional distress, illness, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, pregnancy and death.”

*A May article in Variety states: the goal for the children is to build a functional society. They have to pass laws, choose leaders, and build an economy. There are situations where children are given choices between things they need and things they want. The producer, Tom Forman, suggested real-world tasks such as preparing a group breakfast, doing hard physical chores like fetching water, and making group decisions constituted an educational experience in its own right. While many educators simulate economic situations in their classroom to teach the basics of economics, I wonder how many of my colleagues would still be teaching if we allowed even a modicum of the things we see presented in the show's trailer?

*There are no eliminations on the show and children can leave anytime they want, but a five pointed carrot is waved in front of participant’s faces. The ultimate gold star is given away in each episode…….it is worth $20,000. Even my very young students would understand how helpful that would be to family finances. Should this sort of pressure be placed on children twelve and younger? I don’t think so.

If mom and dad want to be reality tv stars and air their dirty laundry so be it, but it is a sad day in America when we allow children to be the focus of a “What if” experiment.

My policy of not watching reality television will continue.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Carnivals Are Open


The Georgia Carnival can be found at What a Concept!

The Education Carnival can be found History Is Elementary.

….and I find this appalling! One of the kids involved was 14. They were returning to school after the lunch hour with the things they were stealing including loaded guns.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Carnival Is Town!


The 136th Education Carnival can be found over at History Is Elementary.
Make sure you check out Elementaryhistoryteacher's other posts as well. I always learn something when I head over to her blog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remember 9/11




Find out more regarding this progect at Brave Faces

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

13 Words of Advice Regarding Great Parent-Teacher Conferences

If August/September means it is back to school then conference time is just around the corner. Here in my neck of the woods progress reports come out this week. That means next week I’ll be receiving frantic phone calls and e-mails from parents wanting to meet with me.

This week’s 13 list centers on things parents would like teachers to know regarding having a great conference.

Parents say:

1. Please tell me at least 3 good things about my child’s behavior, character, or academic work before you launch into “the problem”.

2. I’m sorry I have to bring my child’s younger brothers and sisters. I know it’s distracting. Could you have a few picture books or puzzles out for little hands to stay busy with? I’ll try to remember to bring a favorite toy or snack such as raisins or Cheerios, but I might forget.

3. Can you have adult-sized chairs for us? I cannot concentrate or speak well if my knees are up around my ears, and I’m sure you can’t either.

4. It is ok to tell me you don’t know something when I ask a question, but please help me by hooking me up with a source or person that can help me.

5. I don’t want to appear rude by showing up and interrupting another parent’s conference. Could you close the door, and place a conference schedule outside your room? A chair might be nice as well so I can sit if I arrive early.

6. Please remember this is my child we are speaking about. I get a little emotional and sometimes irrational where he or she is concerned. That’s what parents do….sometimes.

Help me by staying calm, and lead me back to the focus of our conversation when I wander. The most important things I need to hear from you are:

*is my child attentive during lessons or off-task
*exactly where does my child stand academically in comparison to others in the class as well as nationally (show me the test scores)
*which areas does my child excel in
*tell me how my child gets along with others
*exactly how long should the homework take

7. Understand that sometimes it is simply not feasible for me to come in and have a face-to-face meeting. It does not always mean I don’t care. Be willing to have a phone conference with me.

8. If you feel my child has multiple problems please don’t overwhelm me with several items all at once. Choose one or two of the most pressing issues and let’s work on those first. Maybe the solutions for the major problems will help solve the other issues.

9. Please don’t speak in generalities such as, “You certainly have a sweet girl.” I know this. She’s my child. Tell me something specific such as, “You daughter consoled another student who was having a bad day. She’s so giving.”

10. Please check my child’s permanent record and invite the correct custodial parent. I’m sorry we have to confuse you with step-parents and grandparents. The connections are confusing and all the different names are confusing, but please make sure the custodial parent is called for conference so that we don’t cause any further family hostility or confusion.

11. Remember that I’m not a professional educator. Please don’t use professional language or abbreviations I know nothing about. I understand school environments have changed since I was in school, but I tend to relate my child’s school experience with my own. Also, if you want to discuss a problem my child might be having I can assist you better if you have a few suggestions for me.

12. Ask for my opinions. Remember to ask me if I have any concerns or questions.

13. If we discussed a problem and possible solutions please follow up with me in a few days to inquire if I am noticing a change and to let me know if you have seen a change.

Ok, all you parents out there head on over to the comments and tell me what you think.

In your conference experiences, what made a great conference and what caused them to fail?

I promise to pass along the good and the bad. :)

Thursday Thirteen rocks. Visit the hub to join in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

High School Reform: One Parent's New Course List

I read something the other day that simply infuriated me.

Perhaps it was the fact I had received three separate notes from parents that morning wanting me to cut their precious baby some slack. One poor baby couldn’t complete ten math problems for homework because he had football practice. Another poor baby needed a seating change because she might learn more if she sits next to a particular student. Unfortunately, I am already aware that the particular student is now the little girl’s boyfriend since I had already confiscated one of those “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” notes the day before. The third parent was upset her poor baby had to wait until 11:30 for lunch when last year lunch was at 11:00.

I love meeting parents at the first of the year, but really...some go entirely too far.

What I read involved a blog post where the writer was posting certain high school courses they would add if they had control over upper level curriculum.

I know the blogger meant well, but as an educator the post really disturbed me.

The blogger was lamenting that schools don’t do enough to train kids for the real world. Then a list was presented of courses the blogger would like to see all high school seniors take such as:

1. Money: What a checkbook is, how to balance one, why credit cards are the enemy. Of all the things on the blogger’s list this is the one I can really agree with simply because it fits in with math and economics standards.

2. How to do laundry and clean your living area. What are we supposed to do? Build on a laundry room in every high school and purchase sorting bins for every student. I do see a great benefit of helping the kids with their laundry---mainly because I am so sick of smelling foul smelling clothes that are a result of sitting in someone’s washer for no telling how long before the adult in charge remembers to dry them.

3. How to cook a week’s worth of healthy food. While I am not a supporter of many of the menu choices I see in my school cafeteria (pizza served with mashed potatos) perhaps this would be a better class for parents in order to provide better choices than drive-thrus for dinner.

4. Auto care and maintenance or how to use public transportation. With regards to this suggestion and number 3 I do wish we would include more vocation type classes again in the curriculum. Like it or not we do have a segment of the student body who would benefit from these types of classes.

5. For women only: Your body, your cycle, your health, your pleasure. One section of the blogger’s explanation was someone should talk about masturbation. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the responsibility of teaching “how” or “reasons why” to students. It’s not my place.

6. For men only---questions answered. The blogger stated, “I don’t know all the questions a boy has as he becomes a man, and I couldn’t dream of planning a course for it, but they should be allowed to ask them and be given the answers. See my response to number 5.

7. Money doesn’t grow on trees---how to get and keep a job. Apparently the blogger is upset at the cluelessness of 20-something coworkers. Someone should tell them they shouldn’t go out drinking on a work night. Someone should teach them how to dress at work. Heck, we can’t even get them to dress correctly for school even at the elementary level. Why would it make sense that we can teach them how to dress for the business world?

8. Manners---they matter. This course would cover thank you notes, chewing with your mouth closed, keeping elbows off the table, etc. The last time I told a student to get his elbows off the table during lunch I received a nasty note from the mom which led to a two hour meeting in the principal’s office. No thanks…..

9. Prince Charming is not coming to save you/what to do if you don’t marry rich----Schools need to teach this?

10. Health---When to stay home, when to call the doctor, when to go to the ER. Again, this might be a great seminar for parents. Children arrive throwing up, with high fevers, and with the full knowledge of the parent who sheepishly replies when called at 8:05 a.m., “Oh, I thought he’d get better.” In the meantime I have a sick, crying child on my hands, vomit all over the room and some of the other kids as well.

The last three are such mine fields I don’t think I need to comment. They are soooooo self-explanatory.

11. There are others in the world beside you

12. Your opinion matters----teach students to make decisions on their own not based on their parents opinions. Teach students to stand up for what they believe in.

13. Religion---God is too big to be just yours.

The comments to this post were equally infuriating. Here are just a few:
“Excellent list! I totally agree!”
“Wow…..I can’t even pick a favorite!”
“I’d send my kids to every single one”
“Hallelujah!”
“This list should be submitted somewhere for serious consideration for kids education!”
“I wholeheartedly agree. If the school system would listen we might get more competent adults.”

I would hope by now you might know where I’m headed with this.

Do you agree with me that the majority of the suggestions on the list are things parents should be teaching their children?

By middle school my children were sorting their own laundry and washing their clothes as well. They also had a bank account where their allowance was deposited.

Children learn not so much by what we tell them, but by what we show them. They learn to eat correctly, they learn correct manners, and they learn how to make competent decisions regarding their health and in other matters when they see their parents making competent decisions.

While it is important for educators to model certain behaviors for students it is not our job to parent them.

It really disturbs me that so many parents are willing to simply turn over their children to a school system with the thought that it is the school’s reponsibility to train a child to follow the correct path in all things.

When did it become my responsibility and the job of my colleagues to raise children?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

I thought this was interesting....instead of just adding Mexico I would also insert China, India, and any other country where American jobs have been outsourced.

Cheaper labor costs does not mean better, safer products.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Excuses...I've Got 13 Excuses!

Here are 13 excuse notes teachers have received from parents….believe it or not. The spelling and wording are exact from the notes themselves.

1. My son is under a doctors care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.

2. Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.

3. Dear School: Please ekscuse John from being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 31, and also 33.

4. Please excuse Gloria from Jim today. She is administrating.

5. Please excuse Roland from PE for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.

6. John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.

7. Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.

8. Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.

9. Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.

10. Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.

11. Please excuse Pedro from being absent yesterday. He had (diahre) (dyrea) (direathe) the shits…[words in the parentheses were crossed out].

12. Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.

13. Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.

Thursday Thirteen rocks. Visit the hub to join in.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Five Ways to De-Clutter Your Classroom

While your classroom has your name on the door it really belongs to the students. The majority of your classroom should be devoted to student exploring and learning. If your students can’t move about your room because you have piles of belongings, items stored in stacked pasteboard boxes, or large bulky items in every corner perhaps it is time to take stock of what you should keep and what needs to disappear.

1. First of all I begin each year by physically going through every drawer, every cabinet, and every closet reorganizing my teaching materials and other assorted items that find their way into the classroom. If I haven’t used the items in at least two years out the door they do.

Don’t just throw the items away; afterall many things you decide to get rid of might actually belong to your school system. I recycle. I pile up everything that needs to disappear and I send my colleagues a memo letting them know it is time for my annual “Free to a Good Home” sale. I also remind everyone that it is first come, first served. By the end of the day the majority of the items are gone.

2. If you have taught for a long time it’s easy to accumulate old projects, stacks of posters, and other realia that goes along with various units you teach. While pasteboard boxes are easy to come by at the local Walmart or grocery store I’ve opted for sturdy, plastic containers that make my room less cluttered looking. The pasteboard boxes get beat up over time, and just look junky. Every unit I teach goes into a plastic container and is labeled appropriately. They are colorful and stack neatly. Best of all little mice and nasty bugs don’t eat their way into the boxes.

3. You may decide some items are just too precious to get rid of; however, they don’t really need to be stored in the classroom. Perhaps it’s time to move a few things back home. For example, one year I taught a lower grade knowing the next year I would return to a higher grade. Instead of cluttering my room with items I didn’t need that year I took the items home…..after weeding out unnecesary items, of course.

4. Keep the traffic pattern in your room in mind when arranging computer stations and desks or tables. There’s nothing worse than having your room all done and realize once students arrive that you have a bottle-neck of traffic in an area. When arranging seating for students, I don’t tuck the chairs in….I place them in such a way that they are where they would be if a warm body was sitting in them. In this way I know if there is enough room to move around easily. Remember, you want to be able to move about the room as well.

5. I would guarantee that most of the items you have stacked on your desk that you haven’t gotten to yet are really not necessary. Here’s my proof----last year at open house time I ran out of time and took that stack of never-ending stuff from my desk and placed it in a container to make the area neater. Then I promptly forgot it.

This year before open house I went through the container and was surprised to find out that what I thought was pending matters last year was actually unimportant. Most of it was thrown in the trash.

A colleague has a system she uses that works well for her. If paperwork sits on her desk at the end of the day it must be handled before she can leave the building. She told me that suddenly all of those items that she used to accumulate such as a flier for a possible field trip, or a magazine article that might be helpful in a unit suddenly found their way into three categories-----thrown way, delegated to someone else for them to act on, or actually filed with the unit box the idea pertained to. A decision could be to keep the item or get rid of it when it was time to teach the unit.

What type of strategies do you follow to keep from being so cluttered?

Secondhand Thoughts has some great links to pictures of other teacher’s classrooms. Go take a look.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is the Barbie Bandit Really Accepting Responsibility for Her Actions?

Well, it is refreshing to see a young person accept responsibility for their actions by saying, “Yes, I did it. I’m guilty.”

However, it’s very clear from the news interviews with her lawyer, her father and from Heather Johnston herself that they don’t think she deserves jail time.

You see, she’s special!

Dad says in the months since her arrest Heather has been working for a vacume sales company, passing her drug tests, going to church, and playing tennis. Dad says, “She’s a loving child of God that got lost.”

No, Dad, she didn’t get lost.

She made a choice---a stupid choice, but a choice nonetheless. She had a chance to attend college practically for free under the Georgia Hope Scholarship. Instead, over the summer after graduation, she chose to become a stripper and when confronted by her parents she chose to move out of their home. She was 18, a legal adult, and she made a choice.

Perhaps Dad has forgotten that God will forgive, but he also punishes.

Her attorney agrees that she should be punished appropriately, but doesn’t think she deserves any time in jail. He is asking for a combination of probation and house arrest because Heather is taking responsibility for her actions.

No, Mr. Lawyer-man, if Heather is expecting to receive no jail time for robbing a bank then she isn’t taking responsibility for her actions.

She is the same girl who bought her “stunner shades” in anticipation of her planned heist.

She is the same girl who giggled through a bonafide bank theft.

She is the same girl who gave no thought to the other people at the bank branch or inside the grocery store who might be scared, or the many hundreds of “what ifs” that could have happened involving innocent people during the event. In this Good Morning America interview Heather states she didn’t think about scaring anyone because they had an inside man.

She is the same girl that acknowledged the note contained threatening language, [but] she wouldn’t go into details with ABC News. However, sources [told the ABC Primetime program] it read in part, “Remember, I will not hesitate to kill you.”

She is same girl who remembered being very excited as they prepared for the robbery.

She is the same girl who took $10, 966 dollars from a bank….money belonging to other people, and rushed to the mall for highlights in an expensive salon (caught on tape) and shopping.

She’s not so excited or giggly now….now that she is looking at time in jail. The time in jail her father and lawyer doesn’t think she deserves because it isn’t appropriate for her. Mr. Lawyer-man states she’ll become another statistic.

She robbed a bank. She’s already a statistic. One more bratty kid who thinks the rules don’t apply to her and the more the adults in her life open their mouths the more the rest of us can understand why Heather thinks like she does.

She is the same girl who states the whole thing started as a joke stating, “I mean, it’s crossed a lot of people’s minds from what I’ve heard.”

Here is the difference, Heather, you actually did it. You stole from a bank which can earn you a ticket to jail for up to ten years.

Suddenly, I guess, the joke isn’t so funny anymore.

Mr. Lawyer-man states Heather has come a long way since being arrested, and I don’t mean to sound harsh here. I’m glad she is back at church, with her family, and making good choices.

One of the arguments made about jail time for Heather is she will become lost….a victim of the system….if she has to go to the Big House.

Heather should go to jail and so should her accomplices. Just as she had a choice upon her highschool graduation, she will also have a choice in jail. Sometimes inmates made the right choices….they accept their guilt, their responsibility, and they accept their punishment.

Though the judge accepted Heather’s guilty plea she has opted sentencing Heather until her three co-defendants have been tried.

For now....Heather waits to see if the Judge thinks the way her father and attorney does, or does the Judge think as I do.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

13 Findings About the Reading Habits of Adults...

Folks, if the adults aren't reading why should we expect children to be motivated...

1. An Associated Press poll released yesterday advises one in four adults did not read any books in the past year.

2.Of the people who did admit to reading women and older people topped the avid reader list.

3.Religious works and popular fiction were the top choices for those who read.

4.One excuse mentioned in the article for not reading is that it makes you sleepy.

5.27 percent of those polled had not read a book at all.

6.The non-readers tended to be older, less educated, lower income, minorities, rural rather than city dwellers, and less religious.

7.One-third of the non-readers were men.

8. The people who did read complete and average of 9 books for women and 5 for men.

9. People with college degrees read more and and many that said they read often were over 50.

10. Two-thirds of the people polled stated they read the Bible and other religious works.

11.Only one in five persons said they read romance novels.

12. More women than men read every major category except for history and biography.

13. The poll was conducted over the phone with 1,003 adults participating.

The publishing industry has earned over $35.7 billion around the globe…3 percent more than last year.

Hmmmmm…..someone is reading or are they just buying books and propping the bed up with them?

Join in on the fun with Thursday Thirteen!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eleven Ways to Help Your Child Read Well

One of the worst things I ever heard a parent utter during a parent-teacher conference was, “I don’t have time to read with my kid. That’s your job.”

I was shocked. As a parent myself I was absolutely offended and told her so even though my principal was in the meeting as well.

As parents WE are the ones responsible for our child’s education. We cannot know our child’s abilities or lack of abilities if we do not involve ourselves.

If your child does not see that you hold education as a high priority why should they?

It’s very simple to involve yourself with your child’s reading. You don’t have to be a reading education expert. You don’t need to know what the research says. You simply need to take some time, sit down with your child, and READ!

1. Reading aloud to your child is probably the most important thing for a parent to do. Of course, most parents do this when children are very young. For some reason though, we stop reading at a certain age---usually by fourth or fifth grade. It has been my experience, though, that all children from grades K through 12 love read alouds. As my children got older we would read together. I would read aloud a page and then my child would. Reading aloud builds fluency. This helps in building comprehension which is the key to a good reader.

2. Ask your child to tell you about a book or a story he or she has read. Can they retell the story? Can they discuss the problem/solution in the story with ease?

3. Tell your child about your favorite books at their their age. If you weren’t a reader you can visit your local book store and read through some books that were around when you were younger. Juvenile fiction is enjoyable at any age.

4. Give books as a gift.

5. Listen to your child read.

6. Play games with your child.

7. Limit your child’s time with the television. It’s always amazing to me how my students can relate the plot of Desperate Housewives or any of various reality tv shows, but when a book report is due they tell me they haven’t had time to read. They’ve been busy. Yes, they have been busy---watching television.

8. Go to the library together---not just during the summer, but visit all year long.

9. Read and discuss your child’s schoolwork. Ask questions like, “Why did you answer the question this way? What were you thinking? Why did you color it this way?” Don’t forget to put the work on the fridge as well.

10. Subscribe to children’s magazines such as Kids Discover Magazine

11. Establish a family reading time. We do it at school all the time---it’s called “Drop Everything and Read”. Why couldn’t you do this at home for 20-30 minutes once a week?

Feel free to add other suggestions that have worked for you in the comments.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Weekend Reading Assignment

The Georgia Carnival is open for your reading pleasure over at Georgia On My Mind, and the Education Carnival is underway over at Education Matters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

13 Forms of Technology Students Want in the Classroom

An article in the July/August issue of Edutopia Magazine relates different forms of technologies kids of various ages would like to see in the classroom. While there are no surprises here---like cell phones---the varied uses these devices can serve are eye-opening.

1. Laptop Computers---they can be used all over the room…no more bulky computer tables and miles of wire. I’ve been taking classes for an additional degree online. I love it. All of my assignments are turned in online and they are returned to me with notations and grades. While I wouldn’t want to eliminate paper totally, and I wouldn’t want to go totally online with our younger students I think the idea has terrific implications for our older students.

2. Bluetooth---in case you don’t know this application allows people to transfer information from one device to another. For example, students are given an assignment to go home and find a particular type of insect or type of rock in their yard. They use a cell phone to snap the image. Using Bluetooth they can download the picture from the cell phone to a school computer. It gives a whole new look and feel to show-and-tell…..some items simply can’t be brought to school anymore.

3. Cell Phones---a new program called Mobile Prep allows students/teachers to create decks of vocabulary flash cards. Multiplication cards could probably be created as well. An auto generator could be used to create banks of questions for review. As mentioned before most children that have cell phones have cameras and video recorders right at their fingertips……

4. Digital Cameras---these can be used to photograph what’s written on the board such as a list of vocabulary words or even tonight’s homework. This could be a great motivator for the kids who act as if writing one word will kill them. Keep the pictures, scroll through the images for the week, and the child has all the notes he/she needs to study for the test.

5. Graphing Calculator--- Did you know that some versions have downloadable Periodic Tables?

6. Nintendo DS---yeah, really. There are several brain building programs and games such as Brain Age which involves simple equations and syllibication. String a few together and kids can have a competition.

7. Flash Drives---1-gig devices can be bought for $25 and they can be carried on a key ring. You can carry around all of your info on one device and move from computer to computer to work.

8. Web Cam---great for working with other classes across the nation or the world on webprojects

9. Public Address System---for music between classes....presentations, etc.

10. Video Cameras---students can create news reports from different campus locations, film a class presentation, etc.

11. Universal Remote---the perfect companion for all of the new technology

12. Ipod---Students can listen to book, and many teachers have taken to creating podcasts of their lectures/lessons for students to listen to and/or watch.

13. Sims Virtual Worlds---computer programs that allow students to create homes, towns, cities, etc. These types of programs are great for applying all sorts of content from economics, political science, and even math.

The entire Edutopia article can be found here
Visit other Thirteens!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Are You an Idiot?



I found a great quote today by the ancient sage known as Anonymous:

Never argue with an idiot; they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

That Anonymous was a pretty smart cookie.

This image is taken from an online game you can play. Here's the link:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Georgia: Dumbing Down the Test

I knew it. Many Georgia teachers know it. We’ve questioned our administrators and higher ups in control only to receive round about replies that leave one perplexed and confused regarding what the original question was.

Now maybe those in control will admit to problems with Georgia’s testing…maybe, but I doubt it.

Recently I came across a link over at Joeventures, a blog on the Georgia blogroll that elementaryhistoryteacher has put together. That link took me to a blog titled 13th Floor From Governing.com and an article titled A Test of Standardized Tests.

The article states:

The report presents the percentages of students meeting proficiency standards on their NCLB tests (which states design) compared to the percentage who are proficient on “the Nation’s Report Card”—the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The subtext: If students in a state are scoring much higher on the NCLB tests than they are on NAEP, then that probably means the NCLB tests are too easy.

…The five states where the gaps between the two tests are largest are Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi. In Mississippi, for example 88% of fourth graders scored proficient on the state reading test, but only 18% did on the NAEP reading test.

The report looks specifically at fourth grade reading, fourth grade math, eighth grade reading, and eighth grade math. In Georgia we have pass/fail requirements for certain grade levels tied in with the CRCT, our state test. Students must pass the CRCT at the third grade, fifth grade, and eighth grade levels in order to advance to the next grade.

Here are the specifics regarding Georgia from the report:

87% of fourth graders in Georgia scored proficient in reading while only 26% did on the NAEP reading test.

83% of fourth graders in Georgia scored proficient in math while only 25% did on the NAEP math test.

75% of eighth grade in Georgia scored proficient in reading while only 30% did on the NAEP reading test.

69% of eighth grade in Georgia scored proficient in math while only 23% did on the NAEP math test.

Over the last few years what I and many of my colleagues have noticed is third and fifth grade scores are generally higher than fourth grade. There is generally a marked dip in fourth grade scores every year in comparison not just in my district but across the state. It if was just our school or our district I would say there is something wrong with the instruction or discipline at those schools, however, it’s more than just a few fourth graders having a dip in their scores.

Our reason my colleages and I think is causing this is someone, somewhere has manipulated those tests in order to make it easier for third and fifth graders to make the benchmark and pass on to the next grade. Since fourth grade does not have the pass/fail option it has remained the same over the last few years.

The report cited in Josh Goodman’s article, however, points to the fact that even if the state is manipulating the third and fifth grade level tests to make them easier….even our fourth grade test does not compare in difficulty to the NAEP.

Getting back to Josh Goodman’s article he asks:

What’s most interesting to me is the question this report raises as Congress considers renewal of NCLB: Should the federal government design the nation’s standardized tests?

He makes an interesting case concerning a national test. However, will it really help? Will it help like the state test has done? Will states and school systems still have the final say over who heads on to the next grade level and who doesn’t?

Will the cut score be based more on a traditional test than the ridiculous scoring system used in Georgia?

Will requirements regarding pass/fail be upheld and not ridiculed by holding a meeting and passing along every student even though they didn’t make the required score?

Will it be a real measurement tool I can use with some certainty that it’s valid?

Seems like with every new improvement to education we simply open the door to more questions….questions with fuzzy answers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All Hail His Majesty, the Fetus!

In a recent Wall Street article Jeff Zaslow quotes a Louisiana State University professor who states that narcistic children are a product of Mr. Rogers.

Chance stated, “The semester was ending, and as usual, students were making a pilgrimage to his office, asking for the extra points needed to lift their grades to A's.

"They felt so entitled," he recalls, "and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers."

The article further states:

Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."

Personally I always thought Mr. Rogers was a little creepy, but he was a very intelligent and gentle man who loved children and wanted them to know they were unique individuals. I highly doubt it was ever his intention to cause the narcissism that is so evident in today’s culture. Sadly however, our entitled generation isn’t just those on college campuses. It permeates all the way down through our youngest generation.

There is a huge difference in telling children they matter and they are unique and then treating children as if they can do no wrong simply because they take up space on the planet. Many parents confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. Basically Mr. Rogers is simply a metaphor that symbolizes self-esteem overload which results in mantras such as all children will receive an award though no actual work was done to receive such an award.

Alvin Rosenfeld, a Manhattan based child psychiatrist refers to the current problem as, the annointing of His Majesty, the fetus. I have had such annointed ones waddling across my carpet because they were so bloated with self-esteem. The “gimme” mentality has grown steadily worse over the years and not only includes the whiney children but their helicopter parents as well.

Zaslow’s article goes on to mention a disparity between the attitudes of American students and Asian students. Chance states that the Asian students accept whatever grade they're given; they see B's and C's as an indication that they must work harder, and that their elders assessed them correctly.

Maybe if I was on a college campus I could see what Chance sees, but I’m not. What I do see is my students that feel they are entitled come from all socio-economic situations. The difference is the environment they live in. Those parents that are preparing their children for the real world where work must be done to eat and obtain compensation look at their school work in a different way than students who live in homes where children can do no wrong and Mommie and/or Daddy will make it right no matter what.

Many psychiatrists agree that what children learn from parents isn’t so much through their words, but from their actions.

In the same scenario that Professor Chance describes I have had numerous students and parents ask for extra credit to bolster a failing grade at the end of a nine week period. This request usually comes after my many pleas and reminders regarding missing work, evidence of a failing grade through a midterm report, a missed conference or two by parents, and several phone calls from me that have gone unreturned.

My response?

I give nothing extra. Complete the work that you were originally assigned. I already differentiate, I already meet 504 requirements for Special Education, and many other alterations to curriculum. Waiting around until the end of the semester to obtain an easier assignment thinking I’ll be in a time crunch doesn’t fly with me.

Of course, it isn’t just the parents. Through the years many school officials bought into the excessive and phony adulation and the practice continues. During April and May I read many blog entries from frustrated teachers who were required to provide the Dear Ones with end-of-the-year-awards. It didn’t matter if they earned the recognition and it didn’t matter if it was slap in the face to the students who did.

We had such a requirement this year at my school. When I protested I was told by my administrator I would have a letter of reprimand in my personnel file for insubordination if I didn’t comply. When I questioned further and asked what the awards should be for I was told, “It doesn’t matter…make something up.”

My administrators weren’t handing out awards for self-esteem boosting, however. Their reasons were to simply avoid complaints from parents who desire acclamation for their child no matter the cost.

I’m sorry, but the self-esteem train has run aground through no fault of Mr. Rogers and unfortunately we will reap the aftermath of the wreckage for some time to come.

Friday, July 6, 2007

It's Carnival Time

A great best practice for teachers and parents is to stay informed. In the blogosphere the best way to do that is to read the Education Carnival. The newest edition can be found at
NYC Educator.

The video I posted regarding what teachers make is posted over at the Georgia Carnival posted by Elementaryhistoryteacher at Georgia On My Mind.

Monday, July 2, 2007

What Do Teachers Make?

We need teachers who will stand up for themselves and their profession in this manner (well, perhaps without taking God's name in vain...).



Seriously....I'm tired of teachers having to take the sole blame for society's ills. It's nice to see someone giving as well as they get.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Scholarly Writing

One way educators improve our profession is by publishing in scholarly and other types of magazines. How can the public get a true picture of education if classroom teachers don’t enter the publishing arena?

Atlantic Monthly is a great mainstream magazine that many people, not just educators, read. Experts usually advise that you check out actually copies of the magazines or their online versions before you make send in a submission so that you get the “feel” of what they are looking for. Atlantic Monthly’s submission page will tell you everything you need to know concerning a submission.

The Social Studies is a peer reviewed journal written by k-12 teachers, teacher educators, and curriculum administrators. A subscription that allows you to receive the print journal as well as have online access is $60 per year. The website states, “The journal welcomes articles that present new directions, options, or approaches.” You can submit online as long as your manuscript is double-spaced, and if references are used you utilize the Chicago Manual of Style. You also have to submit a letter stating that your submission is being submitted to The Social Studies exclusively. Complete manuscript submission guidelines can be found here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Education Writers Association

Have you ever heard the old saying “keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer?”

Many classroom teachers and school administrators more often than not criticize education writers as not knowing enough about what really happens everyday in the trenches. I’ve critisized certain journalists as well with my own verbal diatribes.

So, instead of critisizing them why not join them…..the Education Writer’s Association, that is.

Their website states “the Education Writers Association is the national professional organization of education reporters. The EWA was organized in 1947 by a group of newspaper reporters with the intent of improving education reporting to the public.

Today the EWA has more than one thousand members throughout the United States and Canada. Active members include reporters from print and broadcast media. Associate members include school and college public information officers and writers who work for educational institutions and organizations.


Classroom teachers can also join the organization as Associate members for $65 per year.

Visit the website for links to various current articles by education writers on a myriad of hot topics.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Georgia Carnival Is Up

This picture is from Savannah, Georgia. I thought it was appropriate to go along with my announcement that the Georgia Carnival is now up over at Georgia On My Mind.

Elementaryhistoryteacher does a great job keeping the carnival going plus she confounds and astounds us with making history seem easy over at History Is Elementary.


The Education Carnival is also up over at What It's Like On the Inside!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Go Visit the Georgia Carnival

The Georgia Carnival is up over at Georgia On My Mind. Go visit. You might find something of interest……they even linked to one of my postings. I guess you can skip that one, but there are many other interesting tidbits over there.

Let’s see----posts about politics including one about the Alabama legislators slapping at each other, posts about education (what’s the world’s longest spelling word?), and did you ever wonder why some lawyers call each other colonel here in the south?

It’s all there waiting on you.

Head on over. I’ll still be here.

Boy Boredom...A Way to Stop the Madness

My students have been out of school for almost ten days and I’m sure they have already announced to their mothers, “I’m bored!”

Yes, I know that’s surprising. Young men have bikes, motorbikes, pools, trips to the movies, video games, i-pods, television…..need I go on. Even with all the new fangled technology our young men get bored. Many moms lament the fact that getting little Tommy or Bobby out the house for some summer fun is difficult because they won’t leave the video game box or the computer. Instead of tanned, slim little boys we end up roly-poly butterballs.

I have found the answer…..The Dangerous Book for Boys

Watch this video and you’ll understand where I’m heading with all this….



Need more convincing…..Blogging mothers are raving about this book.

Click here on the title to order the book………The Dangerous Book for Boys

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fluff...Is This News? Should We Care?

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time online. Everytime I headed back to my Internet provider page I was greeted each time with a picture of Paris. Dear sweet Paris…..I’ve been so worried about her. I was so glad I had minute by minute updates that she was faring well her first full day of jail. This morning I was relieved to learn she had made it through the night, however just a few minutes ago I learned the jail she is at has a high rate of staph infections.

Oh the humanity!

Quite frankly I’m way past caring about Paris or any of the Trash-e-nistas whose exploits bombard us daily on webpages and television shows. When we begin to digest news about shallow and dim people we end up shallow and dim ourselves.

So, a best practice for us all would be to begin to send a message to media outlets that we don’t care. Fluff…that’s all it is. Fluff when examined very closely has pockets of empty space, its structure is very week, and its existence is flimsey….easily tossed away.

I wonder….if I provide the links to fluff news do you have the stamina to make a stand and not click through to read them. Let’s see…

Here are my top five news items that make me say bleh:

1. Inmates where Paris Hilton is serving time have had staph infections
2. Nicole Ritchie is being slammed by a weight loss group
3. Drew Barrymore likes the new clothing designs of Kate Moss=
4. Kim Cattrall takes public transportation in England=
5. John Ramsey and Beth Holloway Twitty are dating

I wish these folks well, but really…………..is this news?

Which news stories do you classify as fluff?

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Best of Parents and the Worst of Parents

These days it almost isn’t worth it to contact a parent regarding a child’s behavior problems.

You get hung up on, cussed at, and told it’s your fault the child did thus and so.

Heavy sigh.

The following pictures are a welcome change to all that. Check out these pics found at Boortz.com. Make sure you click to the next picture to see a close up of the sign the child is holding. Way to go Mom!

On the flip side is this guy.

Check out the survey in the upper right corner and click on results. As I posted this 92% of those who responded said the father’s case doesn’t hold water.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sing a Song About Testing

The Georgia Carnival is up over at Georgia On My Mind hosted by Elementaryhistoryteacher. I guess Georgia women bloggers need to get a few submissions in for the next carnival, It has some great submissions, but there isn't a female among them.

The most recent education carnival can be found at The Education Wonks.

We begin state testing on Tuesday, and we have reached the place where the rubber meets the road so to speak. I’m not going to be able to cram anything else in their heads.

I opened up my email yesterday to find the following. It had been sent to me by a colleague. She had gotten it from someone else, who had gotten it from someone else. You get the idea.

Here’s how it went:

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It’s reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.
Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers.
Their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.
The School Board is faced with no child left behind with rules but no funding;
they're caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best are not in your school
'cause they're not on the test.
Sleep, sleep, and as you progressyou’ll learn there's a lot that is not on the test.
Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you're in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed'
Cause rational discourse was not on the test.
Thinking's important.
It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to, but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now.
You need your rest.
Don’t think about thinking.

It’s not on the test.

I’m not really sure how I feel about the words contained here. I guess it does pretty much sum up the culture that mandated testing has brought us.

At any rate….the email provided a link and gave the following information regarding the guys who wrote the song:

NOT ON THE TEST

by John Forster & Tom Chapin 2007 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)

Illustration credit: John Enos

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What's on YOUR Wish List?

So as the title says....What's on your wish list?

Here's some of the things on my list:

-several large volcanic pumice samples plucked from the rivers of Oregon after a spring thaw
-crime scene tape
-Mad Cow Disease microbes (the plush kind)
-instant snow polymer
-several pieces of Lignum Vitae wood----it actually sinks in water
-one 3D Standing Wave machine
-a few Neodymium magnets (most powerful magnet material in the world)

It’s that time of year again……when the Instructional Materials Money fairy begins to flit about awarding teachers with classroom money to spend on items needed for instruction. The above is my wish list for science items.

All of these items can be purchased from Educational Innovations, Inc., a fantastic company that lives up to its name……their materials are very innovative.

Follow the link and visit their online catalog. These items are great for parents to supplement their little Einstein’s toy chest or for homeschoolers and classroom educators to use in planning motivating lessons for students.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

You Want Me To Do What?

The following has made the email rounds more times than I can count, however, this piece really sums up what a teacher faces each day in his or her classroom. I thought I would immortalize this piece here, so I always have it handy when I need it.

After being interviewed by the school administrator, the eager teaching prospect said, “Let me see if I’ve got this right…….

You want me to go into that room with all those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning.

I’m supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse and even censor their t-shirt messages and dress habits.

You want me to wage a war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for weapons of mass destruction, and raise their self esteem.

You want me to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship, fair play, how to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook, and how to apply for a job.

I am to check their heads for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of anti-social behavior, make sure all students pass the state exams, even those who don’t come to school regularly or complete any of their assignments.

I am to make sure that all of the students with handicaps get an equal education regardless of the extent of their mental or physical handicap.

I am to communicate regularly with the parents by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report cards.

You want me to this with just an Expo marker, a whiteboard, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board, a big smile AND on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps!

You want me to do all of this and then you tell me……

I can’t pray?”

Gee, after reading this again it’s no wonder I’m so tired and brain dead each evening while I work through the bag of paperwork I have to bring home just to maintain an illusion of being caught up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

All They Need Is a Little Prompting

Every educator, including classroom teachers, homeschoolers, and parents who just want a little extra for their student needs an account with United Streaming for access to educational videos, audios clips, and images.

Recently I received and update from the folks at United Streaming to advise they have added more than 500 writing prompts based on NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) standards.

All of the prompts are difficulty based from basic to more advanced. The prompts for grades 3-12 include descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive opportunities for students, and analysis prompts are included for grades 9-12.

Accompanying images that relate to content areas in literary and non-literary areas are also included.

To enter the writing prompt center log in to United Streaming and then look to the right under “Teacher Center” for the link.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

McWane Your Brain!

The McWane Science Center located in Birmingham, Alabama is a great place to take students or your own children if you are in the area.

Current attractions include a hurricane similator, a wild earth similator where riders are in complete control as they travel through African landscapes on an interactive photo safari, and Science on a Sphere is a global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data on a GIANT animated globe. Students can see atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere which is used to explain complex environmental processes. Science on a Sphere was listed on Time Magazines Best Investions of 2006 list.

The Science Quest section has over 9,000 interactive exhibits including building your own roller coaster and a laser harp. The Challenger Learning Center is a space mission similator.

Students can study and explore minerals, animal skeletons, and skulls as well as fossils and Native American Indian artifacts.

The Imax Theatre currently showing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and a show on Exploring Mars.

I’m adding the McWane Science Center to my list of summer must-go-see places!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Did You Know Georgia Has a Blog Carnival?

Did you know there is a list of bloggers for Georgia?

I didn’t until I was contacted my Elementaryhistoryteacher at History Is Elementary. She oversees the carnival, in fact, it was her idea!

My post regarding homework has been included in the latest edition of the Georgia Carnival over at Provocative Church.

Go check out the Georgians!

Friday, March 9, 2007

US May Finally Gain Education Edge: Chinese Ban Homework

I really date myself when I give my views on homework. It just isn’t that popular anymore to provide an an assignment for students, but personally I feel children need practice on certain skills. Math facts, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar are all tasks that fit the homework situation.

Unfortunately homework continues to be firestorm of controversy in the United States, and the side that wants no homework seems to be winning. I ran across an article by Bill at The Business of Knowledge regarding the Chinese, and it seems that the Chinese are now just as interested in dumbing down education as Americans are. In City Forbids Homework Bill advises students must finish all work at school, and so they won’t be too sleepy the school day will start at 8:20 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. If this trend continues across China perhaps the United States can move up the education proficiency ladder a bit worldwide.

Last night I ventured out for a bite to eat. I arrived at the restaurant about 7:30 p.m. and didn’t leave until close to 9. What amazed me was the restaurant was packed with families comprised of children of all ages. At 9 when I was leaving families with children were still arriving at the restaurant. Growing up my mom picked me up from school around 2:30 p.m. and I was completing my homework by 3 to 3:30. Dad was home by 5:30 and dinner was complete by 6 or 6:15 in order to watch good old Walter (Cronkite). Most nights we were at home without many types of activities going on except for church.

Today I have friends who still have young children and their afternoon and evening schedules are daunting. I’ve never seen so much coming and going. Recently I helped a mom out by picking up her kids who were attending a youth rally at church. Her husband was playing baseball at one location and she had a tennis match. They just couldn’t be at three different places at once. Most of my students ride a bus to daycare where they stay till 6 or 7 in the evening. Dinner is drive thru, a restaurant, or some type of boxed meal that can be heated up. I don’t guess anyone has thought that perhap the reason why students are becoming more obese is due to eating a meal of processed foods late at night, eating and then going to bed. No, I guess that would be too simply of an answer.

No condemnation here……just stating the facts. Times have changed. People have more choices. Women can have it all now---a home and a career. It just isn’t the same kind of home I remember. We have many choices for entertainment, shopping and restaurants that cater to busy families. Children have lessons of every type imaginable from ballet, to Irish Dance, to all sorts of recreation teams. Many of my students think dinner is always a quick corn dog or basket of nachos at the ball field.

So, even though I strongly feel homework given in the right way can help students and can help provide a support bridge between home and school I have thrown in the towel with assigning homework. I’ve decided it isn’t worth it.

If I send home a textbook with an assignment I get nasty notes about little Jimmy’s or Sue’s bookbag being too heavy.

If I send home a practice sheet I get accused of being the “worksheet queen” by parents, coworkers, and administrators.

If I send home a reading comprehension packet I get another nasty note that Precious Baby took three hours to read four paragraphs and another hour to answer the four questions. What mom doesn’t know is Precious Baby usually does the same assignment for me in 20 minutes because I don’t play the “I can’t” game, and Precious Baby knows this.

So, I give. My administrator doesn’t support me, parents don’t support me, and students sure don’t support me.

Yep, I give in and I’m not happy that at least in this-----Alfie Kohn agrees with me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

No Degree...But Coursework Is Free!

From Eschool News:

Educators, students, and others can find information about universities that make their course content available free of charge via the web by visiting the web site of the OpenCourseWare Consortium. The site is a collaboration of more than 100 higher-education institutions and associated organizations from around the world, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), that are creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.

Read all about it here.

The OpenCourseWare site can be found here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Can't Find the Web Page You Want?

Nothing can be more infuriating than to try and find the right page at the right time.

San Diego State University has practical tips designed to boost online search effectiveness.

To check them out, click here.

A New Wikipedia?

Eschoolnews.com advises a new informational portal that will give others another option than Wikipedia for quick details about a particular topic. The eschoolnews article found here advises Citizenidium will require users to register their names before editing any information, and states the main difference between Wikipedia and Citizendium will be “more cultural than operational”.

BUT, will it be factual, or will it allow users to slant entries according to their own agendas thereby leading the kiddies and parents astray as they conduct research for all of those performance assessments/projects?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Who Is 30plusteacher?

After 30 plus years in education I’ve seen it all and done it all.

I’ve taught many of the parents of the students I now teach and in some cases the grandparents, too.

I’ve seen education policy and strategies recycled, repackaged, and reinstituted too many times to count. Administrators, system officials, research gurus, and legislators have come and gone in their attempt to swing the education pendulum this way and that as they pose problems they can use to justify their jobs.

These problem posers come and go…….the only constant remains the classroom where teachers and students interact.

My hope here is to discuss best practices, the problems that I see as stumbling blocks for classroom teachers, and to use my experience to provide insight for educators as well as parents in a rapidly changing society.

Teaching Strategy: The Hand-Wave

In a Boing Boing post dated 2-18-06 University of Chicago researchers advised students whose teachers hand-wave learn more, and that when the hand gestures illustrated a point to one side of the main point, they did even better.

I wonder how much of my tax money was spent to fund this little gem?

Anyone with half a brain knows to point at things as your teach. How else are you going to get their eyes open and on you or get their head out of their bookbag or pocketbook while they textmessage someone?

Heck, I even bang on the board at times, and have been known to dance a little jig when necessary.

Follow the link at the Boing Boing article for the whole thing.