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Thankful For: Humor

I love this Diane Ravitch post and also the words she quoted in another post from a middle school teacher who said, “I still love teaching but the way it’s structured today, it certainly isn’t as fun as it used to be, and the more creative and passionate one is about learning and teaching truths, the more you are under attack and scrutinized in your profession.”

Diane Ravitch's blog

A time to laugh and celebrate that the dumb policies of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are widely recognized as failures and will soon go into the dustbin of history, where they belong. To make a better world for children and educators, the fight goes on, to replace poor leaders and failed policies, to save public education from privatization, and to make real the elusive promise of equality of educational opportunity: for all, not some.

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Purpose of a Data Wall–Seriously?

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Rich parents demand CCSS and PARCC for their children–NOT!

“Democracy works best when we prepare students to be critical thinkers who are creative problem solvers and question authority–CCSS are preparing students to be obedient worker bees. Ask yourself why students at elite private schools aren’t being subjected to CCSS or PARCC testing? If these standards and tests are so essential to a great education, wealthy parents would be clamoring to have them for their own children. In fact, exactly the opposite is happening. CCSS and unfair, rigged exams like the PARCC are for the unwashed, undeserving poor and middle class.”

–Dr. Terri Reid-Schuster

PhD in developmental literacy

currently works as a reading specialist in Oregon, IL

What did we learn from standardized tests?

“Frankly, it never made any sense to argue that parents everywhere were hungering to compare their own child’s test score to children in other states. Maybe it is just me, but I never met a parent who said, “I’m desperate to know how my child’s test score compares to children in the same grade in Alaska and Maine and Florida. And to insist that having this information would somehow improve education or benefit students made no sense either. What we learn from standardized tests is that family income matters. Having the same test everywhere doesn’t change that fact. What if the same energy had gone into reducing poverty and segregation? We might have made a dent. Instead, our whole country is pointed to the wrong goals.”

—Diane Ravitch

What does an experienced teacher turned politician say about the direction of education?

“I saw education before No Child Left Behind. I also experienced education during No Child Left Behind up until I got elected to Congress. Basically, test and punish did not work. Because of No Child Left Behind, I suddenly had to follow a syllabus and a pacing guide dictated by the district office. There was less trust of the teacher, and that’s a mild way of putting it. We began being treated like we were a transmitter of someone else’s idea of what is good education. Effective education doesn’t work that way. Effective education is building relationships with students. It’s about teachers strategizing on how to engage students. You can’t do the canned lesson or scripted content.”

–Rep. Mark Takano of California, U.S. Congressman, 24 years of classroom experience

Three Day Quote Challenge–Day 3

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The message today from school administrators to teachers is “we are always looking over your shoulder and you need to hit the mark every single minute of the day.” The message should be “we are here to support you as you experiment in your classroom. Keep it vital, new, creative and full of growth. Every class you teach will be different. Classes and students will even have different needs from the day before. Keep trying until you find what works for this class. Education is not a one size fits all endeavor.” This message of school being a “no mistakes” zone is passed along to the students. Real learning is messy. Let teachers and students engage in the process!

Three Day Quote Challenge–Day 2

I love Robert Frost’s poetry, but I never knew he had a sense of humor until I encountered this quote:
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Three Day Quote Challenge–Day 1

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My new blogger friend, Wendy from Ramblings and Musings, invited me to participate in this three day quote challenge.

The rules for the challenge are:

  1. Thank the person nominating you for the challenge.
  2. Post a quote on your blog for 3 consecutive days.
  3. Invite 3 of your favorite bloggers to join the challenge.

My nominees for the challenge are:

  1. David  from David Snape and Friends, whom I originally started following because of an interesting post he wrote on autism.  It is also through his blog that I discovered the fantastic Kindness Blog.
  2. Shellie  from Shellie Woods who writes about marketing and life, from a Christian perspective.
  3. Kim from  Learn to Love Food. Through her blog Kim has taught me about the need some children have for food therapy and her fun approach to helping those with food issues.

No obligation–just fun, inspiration and exposure to bloggers you may not have encountered before.

My first quote has been my favorite for years.  It was my signature quote on my work email.  I wanted it always there as a reminder to the “Standardistas” that accumulating facts is not what education is all about.  Many education policy makers and enforcers (in my former school district and around the country) have forgotten that education is inspiring children to be lifelong learners.

Peter Greene: The Correct Number of Standardized Tests

Does the Department of Education really want us to go from bad to worse?

Diane Ravitch's blog

The U.S. Department of Education says that the correct number of standardized tests is 2% of instructional time.

In most districts, that would be about 20-24 hours of taking tests. Not prepping for them, just taking them.

That would be an increase in the amount of time now allocated in most places to standardized tests. Should children in grades 3-8 really sit for 20 hours of tests? Sounds nutty.

Peter Greene has a different idea. He says the correct number of standardized test is zero.

He writes:

Students need standardized tests like a fish needs a bicycle. Standardized tests are as essential to education as a mugging is essential to better financial health.

Is there a benefit to the child to be compared and ranked against the rest of the children in the country, to be part of the Great Sorting of children into winners and losers? No. Having such…

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I Am That Teacher Too (Letter 5)–Reading is a Passion, Not a Learning Objective

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Dear Former Students,

What do I hope you remember about me?

Reading, of course! Together we fell in love with the books we read. If you were in my recent classes, you will remember the magical repetitions of Pete the Cat books. For a more sophisticated enchantment, we devoured several books in the Magic Tree House series, sneaking social studies and science into our day. Who could forget the adventures of Jamie and Tom at Dinosaur Cove or Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz? Some students may be reminiscing about the aliens in The Sand Witch and the mystery and history found in Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library. Bunnicula, a great children’s mystery, was a favorite with some classes.

As a young teacher, I had experts tell me that first graders are not ready to sit and listen to chapter books. Not true! Storytellers have been recounting their tales without benefit of visuals since before the written word. Perhaps you were in the class that listened at story time to several picture books, at least one chapter in a longer book, and then BEGGED for more. I usually introduced classes to chapter books with Judy Blume’s short chapter book Freckle Juice followed by Chocolate Touch and Chocolate Fever.

We had many special literacy activities related to stories we read. For example, we discussed the meaning of Bill Martin Jr.’s Knots on a Counting Rope and made our own counting rope. In the 1st/2nd grade multiage class, we read the original version of 101 Dalmatians learning the meaning and use of many British words and enjoying playing with the unfamiliar words. We made a huge mural containing 101 Dalmatians just in time for the 100th day of school. Drama, dancing, art, music, and writing were all pulled into the process of learning to read and learning through reading. Activities did not begin and end because of the clock on the wall or the threat of an administrator’s possible walk-through. We had reading buddies once a week from the upper grades, working on social skills as well as reading skills and giving you the opportunity to read your favorite books as many times as you liked and have a positive emotional connection to reading. Our buddies benefited in similar ways with the addition of an opportunity to practice leadership and demonstrate maturity.

You amazed your parents with your beautiful poetry recitations—poems that move the soul like “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and poems that giggle the spirit like “The Purple Cow.” You recited the poems by yourself before the whole class exploring the sounds of language and gaining self-confidence. You learned to appreciate language by playing with rhymes, patterns, meter, and figures of speech. Often whole families memorized the poems, and some can still recite their favorites. Reader’s Theatre and musical Reader’s Theatre provided fun opportunities to practice reading with fluency and expression.

My philosophy was “I teach reading all day long.” It worked. I had parents tell me that their child loved reading because of me. I hope you were one of them.

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