Saturday, November 3, 2012

New report - Overcoming Barriers Implementing CC

ASCD released a new report funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation --- "Fulfilling the Promise of the Common core State Standards: Moving from Adoption to Implementation to Sustainability."  downloadable from
This article realistically describes the current issues that confront districts and teachers. Educators are unclear about focusing instruction.  Not enough opportunity for school leadership to learn and understand the standards and their potential for changing the learning and teaching paradigm.  Because of this teachers  are 'charging ahead' with short-cut methods such as correlating verbiage to state standards ignoring the level of rigor, mastery, and depth of change needed to meet the expectations of college and career readiness in the Common Core Standards.
Excellent article but I realize that full implementation of Common Core will take some time to happen.  All the ducks are scattered will take some time to get them all in a row.

Now that we've started our own shifting of reading and math instruction, is it working for you and your students.  More Rigor?   More Relevancy?  Close reading?

Common Core:  7 Recommendations for Effective Implementation.  David Nagel. 11.1.12. The Journal - Transforming Education through Technology

What's Happening in California is Happening Here Too!

Actually what is going on in California regarding algebra is going on in many states and districts with other subjects besides algebra.  There has been a long-standing debate on when algebra should be taught - 8th or 9th grade.  California is now easing up on their law on textbook adoption.  Now the state will come up with recommendations, but individual districts are free to make their own choices - not just in text book choices but in other resources including digital.
In developing textbook adoption, California maintains the attitude that there is quality control in state adoption.  Many worry that loosening these requirements will affect quality of instruction.
Not all states have state textbook adoption processes.  But all states & school districts are finding that resource materials in changing quickly in their quest to "align" to Common Core.  The state will be bring a list of supplemental materials to the state board to "bridge the gap" between existing instructional resources and the common core.
My questions to our readers are (1)  Should teachers rely on state decisions for textbook adoption? (2)  What kinds of instructional resources do classroom teachers need?  And who or what entity makes these decisions?
(3)  What freedoms should teachers enjoy in individual districts and schools?

Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks.  Erik W. Robelsen. 10.24.12.  Education Week - Premium Article

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Surprising Finding re: Homeless Students in Minneapolis

Interesting article describing the realities of homeless students.  First study of homelessness and test scores by Cutili examines not only  lower scores but the reasons behind them.  Interesting comments by students who somehow find time to do homework.  There is a subset of homeless students (45%) who scored average or better than average.  Researchers say more studies are required to find out what is being done to support these students in schools.
Our Title I teachers may be teaching homeless students, although they may not be so informed.  School administrators can keep this information confidential.  If you have taught homeless students before, how have you helped them succeed?
Note:  Try using the audio feature on this website.  Really neat!

Study: Homeless students in Minneapolis score lower in math reading tests.  10.30.12 Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio, MPR News.

Wisconsin : Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

The Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge is a recent addition to the overarching Race to The Top Initiative.  Awards will be announced by the end of the year.  Wisconsin was not awarded the grant on the first round.
I've tried to find what the 2nd submission looks like but could not find it on the DPI website.  If someone finds it, please let me know. Please post a comment with the link for other readers of this post.
( I'll post the results of the competitive grant at the end of the year when the winners are announced.)

5 States Pursue Second Round of Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.  David Nagel. 10/30/12. (Transforming Education Through Technology)

Governor's Veto Powers Over DPI - Struck Down

Wisconsin has been in the news recently in matters pertaining to the governor's power over supervision of the state schools.  A ruling from a Dane country judge ruled that authority over the state department of public instruction is the responsibiltiy of the state superintendent of schools.  This part of Act 21 was ruled unconstitutional.  The matter is being appealed.

Please keep any comment you may have non-political which is a policy I would like to retain in my blog.

Wis. Judge Overturns Gov.'s Education Powers.  10.30.12 Associated Press.  Madion, WI .Education Week  Note:  Unless you are a "registered guest," Education Week will not allow the full article to be shown. 
Because of this restriction, I looked in JS Online and found another article about the same decision
Judge strikes down law giving Walker new powers in setting DPI rules.  10.30.12 Jason Stein. JSOnline

Old Topic, New Interest (?) in Timed Tests

This excellent article from became a premium article in Education Week Teacher.  Now with a larger audience, perhaps this important topic an be addressed seriously.  In our current system, only students IEPs or 504 programs are allowed extra time in taking standardized tests.  Why should students have to go through M-team evaluations before being allowed more time in testing.  Educators know that time is a false metric so why do we allow this to continue to happen?
Maybe, maybe this topic will get the headlines it deserves and in the current environment of new test creation, the matter can be dealt with fairly.  Amen!
        As you can tell, I am convinced that timed tests do not offer a reliable way to assess student understanding of a topic.  I do agree, however, that some skills do need timed tests to achieve examples: basic math facts or basic sight words.  What are your feelings about this topic?  More importantly, if you agree, how do you think timed testing could be permanently dropped in student assesments? 
Please share your thoughts.

Off the Clock:  Giving Students More Time to Demonstrate Learning.  Kyle Redford. Education Week Teacher - premium article courtesy of

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Working With and Within Connected Classrooms

Like it or not we are teachers in a digital world and it behoves us to learn two important things:
     (1)  Fostering technology tools that engage students and enhance learning
     (2)  Learning and sharing among ourselves as we plunge into infamiliar territory.
The author recommends different strategies to engage students in a world wired for distraction. Educators themselves could turn to Personal Learning Networks to improve their own use of digital tools.  There are several suggestions for steps to take and chats that may help teachers.  We can all learn from each other and use our LE Intranet to pose questions and share thoughts, strategies, and lessons.

Q-and-A:  Tips for Navigating the connected classroom.Melissa Greenwood. 9.13.12.  SmartBlog on Education.

Important Ideas About Giving Feedback to Students

Author, Jan Chappuis  carefully explains how to give feedback to students.  The question, "How Am I Doing?" is a natural and important one.  Our administrators ask the same thing.  How are my 3rd graders doing?  4th graders? and so on.  Chappuis quoted a 2001 study that found that only one-third of 131 studies examined did feedbak improve learning.  So what's wrong?  Chappius states that the giving of feedback isn't the cause, it's the acting on feedback that determines how much students learn. 
This is an important lesson for us as we hold our 1:1 data chats about and our conversations with kids about their MAP RIT scores.  What have you learned after reading this article?  How might your conversations change?  Please share your remarks with your colleagues.  They will help others.

"How Am I Doing?"  Jan Chappuis.  Featured article in Educational Leadership September 2012. Vol 70, Number 1, pp. 36-41.

Green Bay School District Changes Curriculum to CC

I thought you'd like to read this article from the Green Bay Gazette about the school district revamping the curriculum to meet Common Core State Standards.  I was interested in the feedback from the teachers. The article illustrates math more than reading.  To my knowledge we don't have a similar comparison here in Wisconsin.

(Note: later featured article in Accomplished Teacher by SmartBrief - 10.28.12)

Curriculum changes emplasize critical thinking.  10.20.12

Friday, October 26, 2012

What is a Teacher's Role Using Tech Tools?

Salman Khan of the  free and popular Khan Academy website has often stated that his videos and other tech tools do not replace classroom teachers.  Instead they make teachers even more important.  One reason is that they give teachers real time data to diagnose weak points and design appropriate interventions. 
I've recommended Khan Academy before as a wonderful website to help our T1 students in math especially.

Have any of you used these videos?  How have they worked or not worked for your students?
Did you redefined your role as a teacher? Share your comments with others below.

What Does the 'Khanification' of Education Mean for Teachers?  Anthony Rebora. 10.23.12. Education Week Teacher - Teaching Now;postID=8280457481016555168

Are You Hesitant Using Technology Tools?

All of us at one time or another question have questioned our ability to use technology in productive ways. We may hesitate to use a certain tool when our traditional way seems just as good and less of a hassle.  This article addresses our doubts and offers useful ideas when learning and using different tech tools.  All of us can apply one of more of these tips.  I'll list them here but please read the article for further explanation.
  • Give Yourself the Time to Learn
  • Put On Some Blinders
  • Put Away Your Preconceptions
  • Evaluate Potential Usefulness
  • Practice What You Preach
Do any of these speak to you?  What have you done to feel more confident?  What have you tried that is new?  Please comment below.

Tips for Tech-Cautious Teachers.  Brianna Croley. 10.24.12 Education Week Teacher - Premium Article

Coping With the "Bad Stuff in Life"

As you are well aware, many of our students have some pretty serious situations going on in their lives outside of school.  Counseling is an Title I option that has been exercised in only one of our schools.  Some of our T1 students are "coping" with serious issues in self-distructive ways.  This article is sensitively written and examines various circumstances that we as adults may have gone through or are going through and translating our experiences to help the students we teach.  The embedded link to the Brain Works Project is extremely valuable to us as teachers in our professional and private lives.  Please check that out.  Here is the link...

Anything you'd like to share?  (Please don't identify certain individuals.)

After You Crash and Burn: Coping Skills for Students.  Peter DeWitt. 10.25.12.  Education Week - Finding Common Ground

How Can WIDA Help us Teach our T1 ELL Students?

Rather than the typical teaching of English in bits and pieces (language functions, i.e., suggestions or complimenting, vocabulary or grammar) ELL teachers will have to move to teaching in an activity and giving students the supports they need to participate in an academic activity using language.  WIDA is cited in this article as a resource to help teachers make these adjustment. Efforts to ramp up ELL teaching in various school districts are described.  Excellent article for our T1 teachers.
What issues do you see are positive steps forward?  What seems to be the most probematic for you?
Note:  Since this was a article featured in a recent Spotlight, it was written last April.  Check the WIDA website for the final version of the English language development standards.

Language Demands to Grow for ELLs Under New Standards.  Leslie Maxwell 4.25.12 Featured article, Students required to go well beyond grammar, vocabulary  in Education Week Spotlight

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to Reach the Unreachable

Popular author and blogger for Education Week, this article by Larry Ferlazzo in ASCD's Educational Leadershiip  is well researched and offers excellent thoughts and strategies to engage students who are unmotivated.  We all have at least a few disengaged students, I'm sure, in our Title I classses.  Ferlazzo approaches the topic in the same way school reformers approach school improvements with their initial question,  "What do effective schools look like?"
Here we experience the issue from a skilled teacher's point of view.  How do they think?  What do they say?  What do they do?
In your comments, please share what you think, say, and do to engage your disengaged students.

Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do.  Larry Ferlazzo. Educational Leadership. October 2012 Volume 70 Number 2
ASCD.  Students Who Challenge Us,-Say,-and-Do.aspx

New Recalibrated WKCE Scores Dive DEEP!

We all have been aware that the Wisconsin DPI was going to recalibrate the current WKCE scores to align with national standards.  We all have been prepared that MPS and Milwaukee's choice schools for a lower profiency levels.  Well, the results are in.  Are you mentally prepared?  I wasn't.
Personally, I had not forecast the dive would be as deep as it is.  Read article for specific data.

Proficiency plummets at voucher schools, MPS with new test scoring.  Erin Richards. 10.24.12 JSOnline

The Challenge of Offering ELLs the 'Right to Rigor'

This is a WOW article and hopefully all of you teachers of ELLs read and comment on this post.  Guest blogger, Cathering Gewertz discusses David Coleman's remarks about the ELL's right to rigor in the annual meeting of the College Board.  Coleman is the new president of the College Board and his remarks are indeed refreshingly different.  Meeting participant, Lily Wong Fillmore assures us that ELLs can handle complex text if teachers are given the training to teach complex texts to English learners...."no more watered down text"  stating that there is no way out for them. They become trapped in lower levels of learning and can't catch up to their English speaking peers.   He also stated what is rather remarkable..." You should hold us accountable for making assessments worthy of you and your best work."  The college board would be hostile to tests that fall short of assessing authentic learning. 
This calls to mind our own attempts to teach ELLs.  After reading this article I would like to learn more about the kind of teacher training Coleman wants to see.  - All of us in LE could benefit from this knowledge.
Please express your thoughts about Coleman's discussion with the College Board members.
{I am interested in reading the Comments to the article, but I've posted it just a few minutes after it was published so there are none at this time.}

College Board Puts Spotlight on Needs of ELLs, New Kinds of Tests.  Guest blogger, Catherine Gewertz. 10.24.12 Education Week - Learning the Language

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What is the "Real" Role of Technology in Learning?

Justin Reich, in this reflective article recommends two books on teaching that addresses the incredible power of compelling questions and how to build learning experiences that derive from those questions.  Reich works with educators and districts to leverage new technologies to improve student learning. 
The two books he recommends my be familiar to you:  Understanding by Design by Wiggens and McTighe and What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain.
What roles does technology play in your Title I class? 

Before Technology, The Power of Asking Questions. Justin Reich. 10.11.12. Education Week EdTech Research.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Does it Mean to be Career Ready"

This article brings clarity to "college and career ready," the phrase we hear repeated over and over again.  There are several embedded links that are quite informative as well.  I'll list the author's 4 broad skills, but please read the article carefully for further specifics.
1.  Adaptability
2.  Communications
3.  Technology
4.  Workplace Experience

Teachers of middle and high schoolers should find this a high priority read.  Our 21st Century Skills and HOTS focus in our Title I classes should give the students some progress in advancing these skills.  Specific areas could make for a beneficial discussion with your students.
Have you had some of these discussions already?  What have you learned?  Have your students learned?

What It Means to Be Career Ready.  Anthony Jackson. 10.19.12. Education Week. - Global Learning

Why Students in Urban Schools Are a Challenge

Guest blogger, Michael Albertson writes about specific challenges that are major contributors to poor student outcomes in urban schools.  He explains 4 aspects of these struggles that often go unmentioned in public discourse.  I'll list them here, but please read the article for further explaination and documentated examples.
1.  Disconnect between life at school and life at home
2.  Language
3.  Hesitancy to Trust Adults
4.  They Know and See What Society Thinks of Them on a Daily Basis

My experience and yours too probably see the same challenges.  The important questions is what can "we" do in our contacts with our Title I kids.  What are some ways, we can broadcast our successes to a larger audience?

Overlooked:  Students in Urban Schools.  Peter DeWitt.  10.19.12.  Education Week - Finding Common Ground

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Engage Your Students in Math

Jose Vilson has followed recent discussions about the teaching of math, math anxiety, and whether all math curriculum topics are really necessary for most jobs.  So many students feel such a failure. 
To counteract negative student responses, Vilson has 5 principles for assuring that all students can enter into the math, and also for creating the conditions for math success.
I'll list the 5 principles but you'll need to read the article for further descriptions.
  1. Allow More Mistakes
  2. Support Their Struggle
  3. Let the Kids Teach, Too
  4. Answer a Question with More Questions
  5. Personalize the Questions
Have you used any of these strategies yourself?  How effective were they?  What else might you try?

Engaging Students in Math.  Jose Vilson. 10.15.12.  Edutopia

Teaching Math Outside the Box

This article is so excellent and an wonderful story of a math teacher engaging students in real world problems that affect household management and the business  world.  Combining her prior experience in the corporate world and further teacher education she has inspired her students in learning.
You may have a bit of trouble reading the article.  The publication is by subscription, but you can read a limited number of articles of the next 30 days.  I had no trouble and the article was featured in SmartBrief.  In case you have difficulty accessing the article, contact me because I copied it in Word.

Teaching outside the box: Kathi Christy gets creative to make Northwest Middle students think.  Donna Isbell Walker. 10.17.12

The Big Picture To Encourage Deeper Learning

This is an interesting article from a larger perspective - that of systems, leadership, intellectual missions, the use of technology, state policies, new school models, better tests, and habits of mind, among others.  If you are looking for specific strategies that encourage deeper learning in your Title I classes, you will be disappointed because that is not the focus of this article.  However, if you are interested in a different paradigm that will facilitate deeper learning to improve our education offerings, then it's a good read.
Note:  I almost didn't post this article because of its generality and probable non-interest to our LE staff.  I could very well be wrong so I am offering it here for you to make that judgment.
Any Comments?

10 Strategies to Promote Deeper Learning. Tom Vander Art. 10.17.12. Education Week

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Changing Definition of "Best Practices"

Honest article about what makes or does not make a good teacher.  Contradictory pedagogy is often forced upon teachers to get the best results.  What to believe?  What to discard?  The last paragraph summarizes  the arguments for a definition of what constitutes a "best practice."....    it is important to remember that in this ever-changing and subjective field, there never has been—and most likely never will be—a universal definition. As we work toward a better understanding of the dynamics of student learning, good teachers will continue to reflect on their own practices and build their own optimal pedagogy. 
The question we as Title I teachers should ask.....What best...(or effective)....practices work with our kids?

When 'Best Practices' Conflict. Shara Peters & Jody Passanisi. 10.9.12. Education Week Teacher - Premium Article.

How Do We Solve the Online Testing Dilemma?

School districts in many states are uncertain of their technological capacity to give Common Core State Standards assessments in 2 years.  Issues range from the type of device, to the bandwidth needed,  funding available, & trained staff.  There is a wide range of school preparedness, from "ready" to "haven't really thought about it".  I like the ending quote from Raj Manhas of Washington State who says that, "somestimes when national policies are made, the corresponding resources are not planned for.
We cannot assume that all schools nor students are digitally prepared to take online tests. Can the situation be solved in time?  Question is, How do we interpret the results we do get in 2015?

Are You Tech-Ready for the Common Core?  Michelle Davis. 10.17.12.  Education Week - Digital Directions

NCLB Waivers: Different Goals for Different Folks

It's interesting to see what different states did when revising their academic goals under NCLB.  Most states received federal waivers set different expectations for different subgroups of students. The waivers issued by the Dept. of Ed. let states abandon the goal of 100% proficiency in reading and math but instead hold schools accountable for passing rates that varied by subgroup - as long as those schools make significant gains in closing the gaps in achievement.  Only 8 states set the same targets for all students; 34 states have new accountablility plans.  Wisconsin is a bit different.  Read to find out why.
What do you think about the different types of waivers?  Which makes sense to you?  Is Wisconisin fair?

States Punch Reset Button With NCLB Waivers.  Michele McNeil.  10.17.12 Education Week - Premium Article.

Monday, October 15, 2012

IRA Guidelines to Help Struggling Learners with CC-RLA

This is a must read article for all of us making the shift in our teaching to close reading of complex text, an important challenge of Common Core.  Here a committee from the International Reading Association (IRA) gives teachers guidelines to help students master reading skill levels more difficult than the students are used to reading.  The committee suggests that CC states the challenge is more for students who are about to leave school ready to work and learn.  In the meantime, we have all kind of other children - in our case - struggling learners and dual-language learners.  This is important stuff for all of us in LEX.  They suggest more skillful instructional scaffolding, i.e., rereading, explanation, encouragement and other supports within lessons.  Good to hear!

Reading Group Issues Guidance for Common Core. Catherine Gewertz.  10.9.12 Education Week - Curriculum Matters.

Ideas To Use Videos for ELLs & Non-ELLS

This thoughtful article is useful when we plan video supplements to enhance our reading lessons.  All suggestions connect to the Common Core Standards for ELA Grades 6-12.  Well worth your time to read and consider how these ideas could fit into your plans for ELLs. Also consider how they might work for your non-ELLs
The 8 ideas are listed here, but the titles won't mean much unless you read the article to see how the thoughts fit for ELL students.  Excellent examples given.
1.  Critical Pedagogy
2.  Back to the Screen
3.  Language Experience Approach
4.  Dubbing
5.  Novelty
6.  Video Clips and Questions
7.  V ideo and Reading Strategies
8.  Inductive Learning

What are ways you use videos to encourage deeper learning in your Title I classes? 

Eight Ways to Use Video With English Language Learners. Larry Ferlazzo and Katie H. Sypnieski.  10.10.12. Edutopia

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Very Cool Annotating Tool!

Various tips come from a Stenhouse newsletter to my mailbox.  You might want to get it too.  www.//

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this annotating tool.  I have not tried it yet but I think we could use this ourselves as well as introducing it to students, especially the Strategic Reading Study Skill students with access to computers.  It would make a wonderful 21st Century application to our Close Reading process where we usually annotate text with paper and pencil.

Show students how to annotate as they read Web text.  Markup lets you draw on any web page  Drag the drawing tools to your book marks bar and you're set. No cost.  Nothing to download and install. On the Markup webpage, all you have to  do to get Markup on your computer is click on the icon and add to your favorites.  When you make notes on a webpage, click the bookbarlet to load the Markup toolbar. 

For those of you who are interested in trying it, please share your thoughts with others.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Dream School - Not Anytime Soon

This article is an excerpt from Will Richardson's new book, Why School: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere.  As you read his excerpt, I'm sure you'll see that his ideas about relevancy to real world application are very exciting.  However, this adventureous approach will never go over in our overly regulated educational buraracy and impossible to evaluate teachers and student achievement.  A dream it is and a dream it will stay, I'm afraid.
Your thoughts?  What would your dream school look like?

Should We Connect School Life to Real Life?  Will Richardson. 10.5.12. MindShift

Taking Ownership for "Our" or "Their" Goals

Taking responsibility for one's own learning is a key part of 21st Century Skills, but the key word in the article title is "OUR."  As we discuss MAP test scores and other classroom goals with our Title I students we need to make sure those goals are also the student's goals.  If not, then taking responsibilty for them will not be taken seriously.  Sometimes we adults -  teachers and parents - determine the goals and wonder why the kids aren't taking responsibility for them.  Read this article and see what can be done to remedy these situations.  If you are a parent, you'll find this useful too.
Share you parents.

The Responsibility Myth:  Asking Kids to "Own" Our Choices.  Bob Sullo. 10.3.12. The Whole Child Blog - ASCD

2 History Reading Strategies - Which Way is Better?

The author's purpose in this article, I don't believe, is strategic reading, but choosing from an array of possibilities, the one most suited to long term understanding.  When you read this article, analyze the differences between the two history teachers' lessons.  Both are using reading strategies, and one is widely used by content area teachers applying strategic reading to their lessons. LEX uses this often.  The contrasting lesson with the other teacher is entirely different.  Why?  Does does the subject content make a difference?  After I read this article, I realized how important it is for Title I teachers to maintain contact with the classroom teacher to be apprised of what he/she is already doing.  The question is, "How can Title I support the lesson?", the same way or offer a different approach.  Share your thoughts.

Getting Students to Think Like Historians. Jeffery Nokes. 10.2.12.  Education Week Teacher- Premium article

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do You Agree or Disagree with these Tech Myths?

I'm sure our LE readers will agree with some remarks and also disagree with Andrew Marcinek's research.  It's always good to be aware of contradictory views.  Here is the list of myths but you'll have to click on the article to read his explanation.
  • Myth 1:  The Digital Generation Needs Technology
  • Myth 2:  The iPad is Simply a Tool
  • Myth 3:  It's Not a Distraction
  • Myth 4:  Creating or Purchasing Textbooks for the iPad is a Grand Innovation
  • Myth 5:  Going 1:1 with iPads Teaches One Product

Check out the many inbedded links

Please comment on your views.

Dispelling the Myths About 1:1 Environments. Andrew Marcinek. 10.5.12 Edutopia - Technology Integration

Classroom Tested Activities to Teach under CC

I particularly liked this summary article because the selected RLA activites have been tested in the classroom as teachers moved to incorporate Common Core standards.  This is the same approach our LE team did when we tested out ideas for ELL lessons. We got rid of those that didn't work and refined those that did to become better.
Even though two activities were tested in New York we could do parallel activities in Milwaukee.  Another two excellent ideas for Informative Writing and  Argumentive Writing,.  These activities involve writing, but the reading counterpart is right on.
As we compile and try our own activities this year it will be important to evaluate how they work with our Title I students.  Keep track of them and we can share them with your supervisor and present them at our staff meetings.

Common Core Practice / Floating Buddlas, MacArthur 'Geniuses' and Fracking.  Sarah Gross, Jonathan Olsen and The Learning Network.  New York Times.

Some New Ideas to Improve Parent Conferences

We know that engaging parents is one of the toughest aspects of our job.  We try, try, and try again and then responses are so limited, always less than we had expected or "hoped."  Your supervisors have gone through important parts of good conferencing with you. 
         Here is an article that includes those points but a few different ones as well.  The writer appears to be an upper middle class parent and she and her husband experienced horrible conferences.  She lists 7 ideas that would improve the conference including a different one....figuring out a comfortable seating arrangement with no barriers.  Sitting across a desk or table reinforces herarchies.
Interesting read.  What do you think?  What have you tried that has been successful? Please share with your supervisor.

Seven Ideas for Meaningful Parent-Teacher Conferences. Nancy Flanagan. 10.5.12. Education Week Teacher

Sunday, October 7, 2012

US Students Compared with Peers in Other Countries

Decision 2012: Education Policy. 10.6.12.  JSOnline - Crossroads.
Here is the latest comparison of U.S. K-12 students with their peers in in other parts of the world.  As you might have guessed we continue to lag behind other countries. True also, as you might have expected, white students outperform minority students continues to be a problem.  The charts show the top 10 countries and the bottom 10 performing countries in both reading and math.  As you also might have predicted, our US students perform better in math than reading.
[My opinion on these broad-based studies is that the U.S. is a very diverse country, not only in race, but in culture, family values, religious orientation, economic classes, regional differences, language and others to name a few.  Comparing our U.S. K-12 students to countries without this diversity can be very misleading and somewhat  skewed.  However, as other countries become more diverse, as we are seeing happen now, results may look different in time.  Regardless of my opinion, it is important and revealing to us that we certainly have work to do on many levels:  curriculum, teacher training, student preparedness to learn, parent engagement, good leadership and collaboration among stakeholders.]
How do you feel about this study?  Are we on the right track with Common Core? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Using Interactive White Boards - Good and Not Good

In his popular blog on Education Week, Larry Ferlazzo organizes many of his articles by asking the readership for questions.  He poses key questions and gets multiple responses.  His question, “What Are the Best Ways to Use Interactive White Boards?” brought many responses from a variety of readers.  I thought you might like to read this article that answers this question from a variety of readers.  As a result of reader responses, he developed a ‘list of online resources for IWB use’ ….see embedded link.  Many readers responded with other website ideas….see embedded links.
You will find that many teachers seemed clueless and had minimal training.,
You might want to investigate some of the recommended links and test them with your students. Share you findings with your supervisor.

Response:  The Best Ways to Use Interactive White Boards.  Larry Ferlazzo 10.1.12. Education Week – Q & A Classroom

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Personalize Context for Algebra Students

Excellent article that highlights recent research showing the value of personalizing context to help students struggling with algebra.  This study from Carnegie Mellon University, "Using Adaptive Learning Technologies to Personalize Instruction: The Impact of Interest-Based Scenarios on Performance in Algebra" is downloadable pdf in an embedded link.  There are several ideas explained that could help our Title I math teachers.
Several other studies have shown that math personalization results in increased achievement.  "Changing context" could be difficult or as simple as learning students' interests  to formulate relevant questions. 
What has worked for you, not just in algebra but in other math concepts?

Studies Find Payoff in 'Paersonalizing' Algebra. Sarah D. Sparks 9.26.12 Education Week - Premium article

Here's Some Relevant Algebra Examples

As you probably already know our Title I students flounder in algebra.  Looking for common examples of how algebra can be used makes so sense.
Honner lists these examples but you'll have to read the article to learn more.  [Be sure to check out the many comments to this article....more examples there too.]
  1. Mathematically Modeling Morgages
  2. Evaluating Colleges
  3. Calculating Car Costs
  4. Algebra of the Election
  5. Do the Metro Card Math (you'll need to change this to Milwaukee County Transit System
  6. Olympic Algebra
  7. Redo Those Recipes
  8. Solve for Stocks
  9. Population Growth, Footbal, the Economy and More
  10. Is Algebra Necessary?
Are there other relevant examples you have used in your algebra class?  Your colleagues would be most interested.

N Ways to Apply Algebra With The New York Times. Patrick Honner. 9.26.12 The Learning Network - New York Times

Salman Khan Talks About the Value of His Website

In case you have never visited Khan Academy, please do so.  I recommended the website last year as a valuable supplementary resource for our Title I classes, especially in math.  In this article Khan explains how his videos are not intended to replace teachers but provide interactive opportunities for students to practice math at their own pace.  It is a free website available to all and is continually upgraded and new topics added.  For those of you who have used the website, please share how you used these resources in small groups.  How did the videos help?

The Rise of the Tech-Powered Teacher. Salman Khan.  10.3.12. Education Week - Premium Article

How Can We Help ELL Families with Common Core?

Some school districts with a large number of Spanish-speacking families have offered  information about Common Core (as well as the new assessments that will follow) for these families. The National PTA currently offers a handbook in English and Spanish with plans to publish them in other widely spoken languages.  That is good to hear because our schools' population includes ELL families with other home languages.
This effort is a monumental task considering that the standards present a big shift in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  The challenge is also difficult for teachers and English-speaking parents.
Do any of your schools offer Common Core information to parents of English-speakers?  Spanish speakers?  If so, please describe the parent outreach.  Is there a way Title I can be of help?  I probably think "Not yet" in most instances but I may be wrong.

Educating ELL Families on Common-Core Standards. Lesli Maxwell. 9.19.12.  Education Week - Learning the Language

How Can Checklists Help You And Your Students?

If you are a lover of checklists (and I know some of you are), then this article is your perfect resource for any kind of checklist you, your parents, and your students can think of.  If you are making your own, there is even a  link to ""do's and don'ts."
There are three categories of checklists and direct links to see them
  1. Students - 12 different types for various purposes
  2. Parents - only links:  Supply list and Parent-Teacher Conferences
  3. Teachers - 16 general checklists
The author's favorite online list manager, Remember the Milk, integrates with Google Calendar, iPad, iPhone, and Android.
For you list lovers in LE, what works for you?

A Definite Guide to Teacher Checklists.  Todd Finley. 9/27/12. Edutopia;postID=7227453885306896286

Friday, September 28, 2012

Think About Technology In New, Creative Ways

This excellent article about educational technology focuses on intelligent use of tech tools and how teachers might think beyond copying examples to new opportunities using  tools in ways that the human brain can't handle very well, such as large amounts of data.  People's attitudes toward technology can be negative especially after a device breaks down. 
       Mike Bock takes the view that all technology will break down but that we must be tolerant.  I like this quote from him, "When our cars break down, we don’t immediately get back on horses. And we don’t teach horseback riding in school. When technology breaks down, we fix it and move on."
       An important part of his message is so typical of teachers' mindset.....we think we have to teach everything and then add tech on top of that.  Examine your own attitudes toward your first experiences with technology....Your first computer... Your first experience with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.......Your first try at internet browsing.  See how much you have learned since then!  Now think of your Title I kids.  What can they learn if we stay out of it and just "let them be?"
Share your thoughts.
Q & A: Quest for ‘Digital Wisdom’ Hinges on Brains and Machines.  Mike Bock. 9.28.12. Education Week

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Use Games to Engage ELLs - Part 2

This is the second of two articles on games for ELLs written by Larry Ferlazzo & Katie Sypnieski.  The authors point out learning tools of various games, such as Bingo to teach vocabulary and "Sentence Sramble" for grammar and punctuation. Games that require students to make materials is a useful activity in itself.  Please check out the embedded link to hundreds of resources, "A Collection of the Best Lists on Games." 
In your search, you might want to contribute to LEX's recommended online games by evaluating some of them according to our rubric on the intranet.

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part II.  Ferlazzo & Sypnieski.  9.26.12.  Education Week Teacher

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Relevant Word Problems Improve Performance

While the focus of this article is on algebra, the article generalizes to making all word problems relevant to the lives of the students.  Studies have shown that students try harder and more motivated to improve their performance. The National Council of Teachers of Math (NCTM) says it is particularly difficult for students to make the switch from looking at a concrete artitmetic problem (Example:  cost of a sweater on sale for 20% off) to the generalized arithmetic in algebra.  I suspect our Title I math students have difficulties making this switch more frequently.
Well worth reading and thinking how you could "tweak" your word problems to better relate to practical situations familiar to your students.
What examples do you have to share?

Studies Find Payoff in 'Personalizing' Algebra.  Sarah D. Sparks.9.26.12. Education Week-Premium Article

What Can We do to Help Parents with CC?

This excellent article has embedded resources that help parents understand the expectations of Common Core.  For our purposes I found the link to the guides by grade level, available by pdf downloadable in English and Spanish.  These printable 2 page flyers are also excellent for all parents of Title I Students. The Spanish version would be great for parents of Spanish-speaking ELLs.  The guides are brief, understandable and to the point.  Here's the link to the PTA Parent Guides
Another very helpful website for parents of ELL students is Colorin Colorado
An aside project:  All of us in Title I should produce an easy to understand explanation of MAP test scores, but the project is on hold because some schools are already using the MAP test and the students will be tested twice.
Any ideas?

Educating ELL Families on Common-Core Standards. Lesli Maxwell. 9.19.12 Education Week - Learning the Language.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How Would You Choose a Math Textbook?

Many districts and schools are deciding which math textbook to choose.  In researching the effect of textbook choice upon student achievement, there is little reliable research available.  Only two states have collected data so making curriculum decisions based on research is extremely thin.  The most "popular" curriculums are Saxon Math, Silver-Burdett Ginn Mathematics, and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Math.  So how have states/districts made curriculum decisions?  To answer this question please reference the frank remarks quoted by Beverlee Jobrack, author of The Tyranny of the Textbook.  She explains the educational publishing industry is driven by "sales and marketing teams."  Problem: 
How in the world will decision makers align curriculum to Common Core Standards?  Do you question statements from various publishers, "Yes, we are aligned to Common Core Standards."  Who needs to look deeper? 

Study Finds Achievement Differences Tied to Curricular Choices. Erik Robelsen. 9.20.12.  Education Week - Curriculum Matters

Friday, September 21, 2012

What Does a Good Citizen Look Like Today?

The celebration of the 225th anniversay of the signing of the U.S. Constitution was held in Philadelphia on Sept. 17. What does it mean today all these years later to be a productive citizen in the United States.  That National Conference on Citizenship, National Constitution Center, and Partnership for21st Century Skills is exploring changes and  how best to prepare young people to meet modern-day challenges.  The authors note the many ways things have not changed.  People grapple with many of the same things today that they did 225 years ago.

The partnership outlines 4 key 21st century skills and competencies that are needed. 

* Knowledge of economic and political processes.
* Skill in understanding what is presented in the media.
* The ability to work well with others, especially diverse groups.
* Creativity and innovation to solve problems in new ways.

How are we doing in Title I to promote these skills?  Share some things you have done.

Op-ed:  What citizenship means for the 21st century.  9.17.12 Kellogg & Herczog.

Use Games To Engage ELLs - Part 1

Teaching basic concepts is a fun way to engage ELLs.  Example: Monopoly to teach money and dice to teach odds.  Games contribute to retrevial of information in long term memory.  Interactive games with other students provide opportunites to use all domains - speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  "Using" language rather than "thinking" about language promotes faster development.
The authors name six criteria to judge whether we want to use a game in our classes.  (Similiar, but not the same as our LEX rating system for computer games)
Those of you with ELL students, what games have you played that use all language domains?

Using Games in the Ell Classroom, Part I.  Larry Ferlazzo & Katie Sypnieski. 9.13.12  Education Week Teacher

Will Computer Testing Affect Student Achievement?

Re:  New computer writing testing from NAEP.  This article is noteworthy for two reasons:  (1) our nation's students perform poorly on writing skills, (2) the writing test evaluated details about what, and when word processing tools were accessed.  Although we in Title I are not involved with writing skills, we will be using computers for student testing for the first time. There is a natural evolution to test students using computers so all of us need to pay attention to what details our students seem vulnerable.  Soon, all sections of the NAEP test will be comuterized as well as state testing. 
After our first experience with MAP testing, what have you noticed about our student's facility with computers?  What might need to be addressed with our testees?

NAEP Shows Most Students Lack Writing Proficiency.  Nora Fleming.9.13.12.  Education Week - Premium Week

How Does It Feel for Homeless Student?

This is a "Wow" article and an eye-opener for some of our teachers in our schools who have students living in poverty and sometimes homeless.  Armando Gutierrez writes this sensitive piece from one student's point of view.  Not to be missed! 
What ideas can you share with your colleagues that may help other students like this?

You Don't Know Me. Armando Glutierrez. 9.19.12  Education Week

Friday, September 14, 2012

What is Deeper Learning? Can We Assess It?

In a study released by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in Washington, deeper learning was examined carefully.  (See The National Academies Press

The study focused on what skills are important to learn for the world outside school and how we can teach students to use deeper learning to apply what is learned in one situation to another.  James Pellegrino one of the authors of the report defines the 3 areas of competence as: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal.
I have posted similar articles on this subject, so you might want to explore more Common Core articles.
The questions to ask in our Title I classes are key:  Are we relevant?  Are we giving enough students enough time to explore meanings and relationships?  Are we connecting concepts to process?  Are we asking probbing questions?  Is teamwork or other means of collaboration offered?
As we experiment with these adaptations this year, please offer your thoughts.

How Do We Define and Measure "Deeper Learning"?  Tina Barseghian. 9.13.12.  Mind/Shift

Global Awareness - How Are Our Students Doing?

This study by World Savvy measured high-school graduates', aged 18-24, competency of world knowledge.  This quote from William Gaudell, of Columbia University concludes that...
..."the work that remains to be done in terms of preparing young people for the global future they are inheriting. The US can no longer be satisfied with an education that is not world class both in character and caliber. The time to reorient our focus is upon us."
World Savvy: 2012 Global Competency Survey    (available download pdf )

Erick Robelson, blogger for Education Week - Curriculum Matters expands on future implications of the lack of world knowledge in high school graduates.  He notes that students themselves wished they would have had more opportunities to discuss world events and spend more time taking foreign languages.  Some students, did say that teachers tried to incorcorate a more global approach in their classes.
LEX, Title I has global awareness as one of the 21st Century Skills we are trying to cultivate with our students.  Is this a difficult "add-on" to an already crowded curriculum in our 2 hours per week?  Given our access to more technology available to us, how can we incorporate global happenings in our everyday lessons?  Is it possible?
Comments please.

David Who?  Survey Finds Young Adults Lack World Knowledge. Erik Robelsen. 9.12.12. Education Week - Curriculum Matters

Dogs Help Struggling Readers

While I don't recommend bringing your dog to your Title I class, this story reminds me of several situation where dogs were used as silent, gracious listeners.
  1. Our neighorhood library brought a calm golden retreiver and his handler to the library once a week so that children could read to him.  Great success and very popular with young children.
  2. For several years when we had the prescriptive program at Atlas, the teachers recognized that Hmong children were very reluctant to read aloud to their teacher, mainly because of cultural respect for persons in authority.  Hmong children even have difficulty giving their teacher eye-contact.  I took it upon myself to dress up a big, old stuffed dog from my daughter's childhood and added a hat and a tie around his neck.  He was "Fred."  Fred had his own private space in the room.  Children went to him to read and often brought Fred back to their table.  Worked wonderfully!
  3. Two of our participating schools in the past had a time-out corner in the "office" where students needing a 'time out' came to stay.  There were stuffed animals, books, and chairs.  In no time, children were reading to the stuffed animal and calmed themselves down.
We certainly could renew "dogs" in reading sites with young children if there is enough space.  Struggling readers do not like to read aloud alone and much prefer choral reading, much like my tone-deaf self who needs a good singer next to me to carry a tune.

Any similar ideas?  Share them with us.

Education assistance dogs help students with reading.  Angela Ward. 9.9.12. Longview, Texas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Evers Announces New State Test Plans

Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction announced a new approach for testing Wisconsin high school students.  He is requesting $7million from the state to fund  ....
  • all 11th graders to the the ACT standardized college admissions exam
  • a separate career skills test startin ghe the 2014-15 school year
  • all 9th and 10th graders would take a pre-ACT test starting that year - also....EXPLORE test in 9th grade, PLAN test in 10th grade, and WorkKeys skills test in 11th grade.
WorkKeys measures skills such as reading, math, listening, locating information and teamwork to help students understand how they can improve their skills for better-paying jobs, according to ACT.

There will be new computer-adaptive standardized tests for elementary and middle-school students to be fully implemented in 2014-15.

We'll just have to wait to see how these plans work out.  We live in interesting times, don't we?  Question is, how prepared are we as Title I teachers?  Is Wisconsin on the right track?

Cluster of new exams proposed for all high schoolers – Wisconsin would use ACT, pre-ACT tests to gauge progress.  Erin Richards 9.12.12. Journal Sentinel.


Minnesota State Math Test look a Lot Like MAPS

The new online state math test piloted in Minnesota shows shows increased student achievement.  Computer access was a problem for small schools: one principal says he bused his students to use the computer lab 3 times a year in a nearby high school.  Seems like students are taking these tests seriously.  Students received results immediately which led to their incentive to improve. Teachers have been able to target instruction for those having difficulty. [Interestingly, unlike Tennessee, test results did not count in student grades nor count in teacher evals.]  Inequalities in testing environment will be strategized, as well as which of the potential 3 tests will be used as the measure of student achievement.
There are lessons here for us in Title I, I'm sure.  After we've gone through testing this year, let's evaluate strengths and weaknesses in MAPS.  Keep you thoughts in mind and let us know.

Minnesota's online math tests earn high marks.  Magan ad Webster. 9.12.12. Pioneer Press

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sticky Notes - Cool Ideas!

Ben Johnson lists and explains the power of the simple sticky note with 10 examples, many of which could easily be used in Title I.  He concludes it is a simple way to get student feedback, give praise, help with organization, study helps, and give behavior remarks.  Really great tips!
This article is not to be missed!
Any other ideas you've used for sticky notes?

Tools for Teaching:  The Amazing Sticky Note. Ben Johnson. 9.10.12.  Edutopia - Student Engagement.

Can We Help Our Introverted Students in Title I?

We teachers love stimulating discussion, collaborative teamwork with students actively engaged in our lessons.  After all we're trying to adapt our lessons to meet  the 21st Century skills in Common Core.  So what do we do with that reserved, very shy  student who rarely responds and doesn't particate in collaborate work with other students?  These are our introverts.  Can we change them?  Do we want to change them? 

"Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., makes the case that the brain chemistry in introverts is markedly different than that of extroverts. In short, processing pathways in introverts are longer and more complex than the pathways found in extroverts, thus it takes them longer to process information, which causes a problem in our schools."

We live in a extrovert-dominant world and forget to provide the environment needed for introverts.  One answer seems to lie in the internet - an ideal space needed for them to learn and freedom to explore.  Collaboration with others can be done alone in collective creations and sharing opportunities.

Note:  There are a couple of embedded links that offer more background and information about introverted students.
Very interesting.  What have you done to help your shy introverted students?  Share your ideas with your colleagues.

Embracing Introversion:  Ways to Stimulate Reserved Students in the Classroom. Tony Baldasaro. 9.10.12 Edutopia- What Works in Education.
(Scroll down the webpage to the article.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Financial Knowledge - An Issue for Teachers & Students

Here is a fantastic article about basic understanding of financial management.  Most all of us believe that a basic course in financial literacy would be great at the high school level.  But problems abound.  Not only is curriculum an issue, but teachers are an issue, because adults as a whole have little understanding themselves. Who qualifies as a teacher?  Good question.   A great read!  An important read!  Be sure to read the many comments after the article.....quite enlightening to be sure.
What is your take as a math teacher?

True or False: Many Americans Don't Understand the Basics of Investing. Andrea Coombes. 9.4.12.The Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

CC Expectations - Short & To the Point

Are you short on time?  Most of you are.  We understand that work-related duties take up most of your day. 
If you are not clear about Common Core and what is expected, this article is for you.  It's short and too the point. 
Feel free however, to explore other blog posts that offer more details and ideas for implementation in your Title I classes.  We are an important piece of the pie especially as our schools make adjustments also.  We'll help one another.

Send your questions to me and I'll see if I can refer you somewhere to find some answers. We encourage you to try different lesson styles with CC in mind and share them with colleagues at our staff meetings.

Quick Guide to the Common Core:  Key Expectations Explained.  Tom Vander Art. 9.7.12.  Education Week - Innovation

Why Should Non-fiction Be So Important?

Bill Ferriter quotes Walter Dean Myers, noted young adult novelist and National Ambassador for Young Peoples Literacy...
“We all know we should eat right and we should exercise, but reading is treated as if it’s this wonderful adjunct…We’re still thinking in terms of enticing kids to read with a sports book or a book about war. We’re suggesting that they’re missing something if they don’t read but, actually, we’re condemning kids to a lesser life. If you had a sick patient, you would not try to entice them to take their medicine. You would tell them, ‘Take this or you’re going to die.’ We need to tell kids flat out: reading is not optional.”
Ferriter continues and adds, Reading NONFICTION is not optional.  Most kids read fiction these days and he urges kids and teachers to explore nonfiction content, especially for kids over the age of ll. He urges teachers to model interesting nonfiction topics by sharing biographies and adventure stories that really happened.  Help students find books that support their personal interest is a great gift.

An aside:  My son, Dan, hated to read when he was a pre-teen.  However, you'd never guess what he was attacted to and consumed with a passion....The World Book Encyclopedia in our family room!  Book by book, he read with enthusiasm, even looking forward to each year's updates.  Today at 40 years old, he has the same kind of reading preference, looking up "stuff" to learn about things he's interested in....still no fiction for Dan!

Reading nonfiction is not optional.  Bill Ferriter. 9.6.12. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education - Literacy

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Please Don't Miss This Insightful Response to CC!

I hope all LEX teachers read this article by Marc Tucker, world renown researcher and president of the National Center on Education and the Economy.  Tucker's thoughts in this article are responses to a Washington Post article on 8.15 by Marion Brady who wrote about 8 problems with Common Core State Standards. 

Tucker responds to each "problem" with eloquent, insightful prose with thoughts that integrate and elevate the CC  standards to the larger purpose of education.
Teachers...please read this using "close" reading.  Go slow and savor Tucker's language and thoughts.

[Interesting embedded link to National Academy on 21st century skills. - Report brief about Education for Life and Work available downloadable in pdf. Click further and you can read various chapter online.]

What do you think about Tucker's response?

8 Problems With the Common Core State Standards?  I Don't Think So.  Marc Tucker. 9.5.12. Education Week Top Performers

What is The Value of Pre-Screening Kindergarteners?

We are screening our Title I students in Kindergarten and some First Graders for pre-reading skills.  This article covers both sides of the Kindergarten Screener debate - "Yes, it's and good idea" and "No, for children this young." 
Screening in this article covers more areas than our screener for pre-reading skills.  The consensus among kindergarten teachers say that the information is extremely helpful and establishes a beginning point from which to build success.
The same can be said for the value of our LEX pre-screener.  Especially with a time-frame of 2 hours per week, results will help teachers target instruction. 
For you teachers of pre-readers, how is our screener working for you?  What information has been the most helpful?  Where would you like to see improvement?  Please enter your comments below.

Should We Screen Entering Kindergarten Students for Readiness? Stu Silberman. 9.5.12. Education Week - Public Engagement & Ed Reform.

How Can We Help Digital Natives With Technology?

In an recent article published in Scientific American kids, even though they may be facile using a variety of digital tools, are "quick to become impatient and discouraged when faced with complex tasks involving digital tools."  Researchers Passanisi and Peters stress that teachers have a responsibility to help students take them beyond instant gratification to learn to discern what is relevant and what is not.  Students will need to learn that it takes time to sort data, inquire, and solve problems. 
I agree and see that our Title I shifts in reading and math is a good pathway to take.  As proctors you could see this behavior in MAP testing...don't know.  The MAP test mantra could be "Think Before You Click."
Your comments are encouraged.

Why Digital Natives Need Help With Technology.  Anthony Rebora. 8.30.12. Education Week Teacher - Teaching Now

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Is Literacy in the Digital Age?

Nicholas Provenzano, a teacher,  technology-curriculum specialist, a blogger, a convention presenter, etc. says that literacy is far more encompassing than "reading & writing,"  the standard definition of literacy in the 20th Century.  He lists 3 key items that are essential to be part of students' everyday lives...
  1. E-mail
  2. Word processing
  3. Research
While there are many other skills important with specific digitial tools, he says these are the most basic, important, and essential to compete in a global market.  He also wonders how many teachers are considered literate by today's standards?
Probably you could add to this list.  What skills do you think comprise literacy in the digital world we live in?  Add your own.

What does it mean to be literate?  Nicholas Provenzano 9.4.12 SmartBlog on Education

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do You Know About SchoolTube?

To date 40,000 schools use SchoolTube for free.  The company is the nation's largest teacher moderated video sharing website. Students upload their own videos and are shared in a safe environment.  They make TakePart reports but students cannot upload their videos unless a teacher says it appropriate to publish. Interesting, but how useful would this resource be in Title I?  Good to know about it, however.

Why thousands of K-12 teachers are turning to SchoolTube. Suzi Parker. 9.4.12 Yahoo News

Technology Skills or Just Good Educational Skills

I agree with the first comment after this article.  Four of these five skills are excellent and are mostly transferable to many educational situations and to technologies not even invented yet. 
Stansbury lists and explains her 5 essential technology skills....
  1. Online literacy
  2. Critical thinking
  3. The science behind the technology
  4. Adaptablilitly
  5. Courage
If you were to add to the list, what would you include?  With the exception of #1, do you agree with my assessment that these 5 skills are important skills with or without technology?  Your opinion please.

Five technology skills every student should learn. 9.4.12 Meris Stansbury.eSchool News

Teachers - Be Careful Using Too Much Tech!

David Ginsburg, popular columnist on Education Week Teacher warns teachers that technology is important, no denying that, but it has its place.  Common courtesy tells us to focus on the people in our presence and many cannot do that anymore.  It's not that we've become less interested in each other, but rather less caopable of paying attention to each other.  Ginsburg encourages us to be prudent on your students' and colleagues'time.  Wise man, I would say!  Have you seen this happen in school?  In your life outside of school?  What's to be done?  Share your thoughts.

The New Digital Divide.  David Ginsburg. 9.2.12. Education Week Teacher

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tips on Teaching Critical Thinking

Karen McDaniels examines three areas that will help teachers better prepare students to think critically.  Excellent and worth your time. 
  • Taking On Complex Text
  • The Art of Questioning
  • Learning Conversations
I notice that technology is not listed in this article.  How might you incorporate digital learning in your lesson plans that foster critical thinking?

Enlightening Minds - Preparing Critical Thinkers for Life After High School. Karen McDaniels 6.7.12.Vol 7 Iss.18. ASCD Express

What Study Strategy is the Best?

Guess what?  The least popular study strategy is the most effective.  This article summarizes research done at the Memory Lab at Washington University in St. Louis.  http://learning

The most common way to study was to reread material but was not the most effective as a study strategy. Students who self-tested or quizzed did better.  "Tests" have gotten a bad rap, but as a form of frequent retrieval as a study strategy it is the most effective for long term learning. 
Those of you who are teaching SRSS classes for Title I students, do you include quizzing in your repertoire?  Try it with students who are having a big test coming up.

Research Finds Students Short on Study Savvy.  Sarah Sparks. 6.6.12. Education Week.

Teach Math Like a Eating Healhy Diet

Author, Robert Kaplinske compares math instruction to eating a balanced diet. Mistakes teachers make in solving robust problems:  breaking down the problem to individual skills so that students have consumed all required skills.  The math problem then no longer resemles the original form; instead, they become a collection of disconnected skills as in a textbook factory. The Common Core Standards the potential to take a more balanced approach, not the current long list of skills taught in isolation with no context.  This he says is like taking lots of dietary supplemenhts instead of maintaining a healthy diet of whole foods rather than adding a bunch of vitiamin/mineral pills.
Strange comparison, but Kaplinske has it correct.  It makes sense to teach one skill thoroughly.  How do you feel?

Eat Your Math.  Robert Kaplinsky. 6.6.12. Education Week.

Which is Better for Early Readers, Print or E-Books?

Very interesting study from the 'Joan Ganz Cooney Center' at Sesame Workshop.  Its purpose was to discover the differences in the way parents and young children interact when reading print, basic e-books, or enhanced e-books together.
Definitions E-book: digital version of a print book
                     Enhanced e-books:  offers interactive media that may include videos & games.
Kids in different reading scenarios were then tested on their story comprehension and parents were interviewed about their reading practices.
Guess what?  My blog description will not reveal the results of the study.  Take a guess and then read.  Were you correct?  How do you feel about the results?  Please comment.

Print or E-Books:  Which Are Better for Early Learners? Julie Rasicot. 6/6/12. Education Week - Early Years

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Can We Give Better Feedback To Our Stakeholders?

As teachers, one of the most important parts of our job is giving feedback to stakeholders.  We record all communications on CORE, our web-based data management program.  We don't explain these communications, just record that they occurred.  But have we ever asked ourselves what are the most effective ways to give feedback to our stakeholders.....Students?  Parents? Classroom Teachers? Administrators? 
We all know that feedback, especially to our students, can improvement student achievement.  The author, Grant Wiggens, lists and explains 7 feedback essentials:  goal-referenced, tangible and transparent, actionable, user-friendly, ongoing, and consistent. 
We need to look more closely at just what feedback is----and isn't. 
This article is a must-read for all LEX employees! All of us, no matter what our specific role is can learn important points.
Any ideas you would like to share with your colleagues in LEX?

Seven Keys to Effective Feedback.  Grant Wiggens. September 2012. Vol 70. No 1. Educational Leadership - ASCD.

Common Core Will Allow Us Do Things Differently

As Learning Exchange teachers try adapting shifting  teacher practices this year to better align to Common Core Standards, this article is for you.   The basic changes are highlighted as in other posts on my blog, but the explanations are worth reading "closely." 
Pay particular attention to #4 - Emphasis on Practices where 8 criterial for mathematical practices are examined.
Hope this article will apply to what you will change in your Title I classes.  We would love to hear about those plans.

Nine Ways the Common Core Will Change Classroom Practice.  Robert Rothman. Vol 28, No 4, July /August 2012.  Harvard Education Letter

What Does 21st Century Education Look Like Today?

Adam Bellow writes that we cannot completely define a 21st Century Skills Set just yet. [There are 87 years to go in the century he jokes.] We see shifts  and questions rather than answers. He says no one-size fits-all education solution can or will work for our 21st century citizens.
(Adam Bellow, founder of eduTecher and eduClipper, was recognized in 2011 as Outstanding Young Educator of the Year by the International Society for Technology in Education.

Here are some observations Bellow notices...
  • Educators are not only those in front of the room.
  • Students are the key stakeholder in their education.
  • Education as a "system" is a 20th century model.
  • Learning can occur at any time and anywhere.
  • 20th Century educators were used to resources in boxes or taken from the "tried & true" manual.
  • 21st Century education needs to be based on connectedness to information.  That may or may not include technology.
  • The larger classroom is without boundaries just like the larger world, tangibly and socially.
Interesting to read. And yes, we don't have all the answers. What are the questions you see? Pose them in Comments.

Seeds of Change in 21st-century education. Adam Bellow. 6.25.12 SmartBrief-SmartBlog on Education.

Working Class Parents Should Learn Education Advocacy

Several studies contrast working-class parents and parents of students in the middle or upper class in how they teach their children to navigate the school system.  Parent advocacy skills vary according to social class.  Here is a quote from Ms. McCrory Calaro from Indiana University in Bloomington.
"I find that although both middle-class and working-class parents teach children skills for negotiating with institutional authorities on their own behalf, the nature and content of these lessons varies along social class lines," she said. "Whereas middle-class parents stress the development of children's self-advocacy skills, working-class parents instead emphasize skills for problem-avoidance."
We see this in Title I, not only in parent 'disinterest', but in student avoidance in solving problems.  Asking for help is not something that seems to be encouraged, but figuring "it" out by yourself is encouraged.  On the other extreme, we have the helicopoter parent who hovers over every decision a child need to make.  Some kind of balance certainly is certainly in order.

Middle-Clss Children Learnn to Be Squeaky Wheels.  Sarah D. Sparks.  8.29.12. Education Week

Friday, August 31, 2012

Know The Power of Phone Calls Home

Title I teachers at Learning Exchange are expected to call parents at least once a month with good news.  We do often have some difficult topics to address but always begin with the positive.   Read this narrative story from a 10 year veteran teacher who has experienced the power of home phone calls. 
You might get some interesting ideas as you follow some of her scripts.  She advocates 15 minutes a day to make these calls and promises that they do pay off.
We know they do!  Any other tips you'd like to offer our fellow LEX teachers?  Please add your own 'tips & scripts' in the comments below.

The Power of the Positive Phone Call Home.  Elena Aguilar. 8.20.12. edutopia.

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