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Showing posts from November, 2014

Clubs, Plays, and Sports

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The purpose of school is to educate.  The old saying of "Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic" still holds today.  Textbooks and grades and homework and studying and writing reports; school is about academics and learning and growing intellectually.

       Still, every teacher and every researcher will tell you that students who are involved in extracurricular activities at their school will tend to do better on the academic side of schooling than students who are not involved.

       From elementary to middle (and certainly in high school), schools offer a wide array of groups for students to join from sports to clubs to music groups and even academic teams (!).  Joining a group in school gives students a chance to see and play with different students who share a common interest.  Sometimes students who struggle with the academics and who would otherwise avoid coming to school will have great attendance because they want to be involved in their club or team--and they lik…

Invitation to Guest Blog

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My blog talks about the good things that our happening in our public schools.  Teachers and parents and students and administrators who spend a lot of time in public schools always have a lot of stories of successful students and hard-working people and teary-eyed, special moments.
       I want to invite you to share these positive stories on my blog.  It can be a couple of paragraphs, or it can be one thousand words.  Please feel free to add pictures and videos.  If you are interested, contact me via cincottapeter@gmail.com.  Write "Positive Stories" in the subject line.  Or send me a tweet @cincottapeter.        We know there is lots of great things happening in our public schools.  Let's hear what you have to say!



This is our finest hour

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Do you remember the scene in the movie Apollo 13 when guy said "It would be the worst disaster NASA's ever experienced." and the Ed Harris character said, "With all due respect sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour."?

       After all of the problems that had taken place over the past few days, he believed in his team at NASA and he believed that the astronauts would return safely to earth.  He knew that it would be the hearts and minds of the dedicated professionals at NASA that would ensure this outcome.

       Have you ever looked at your school or school district and said "This is our time to shine.", "We could be the best school district in the country.", "This is our finest hour."?

       Dedicated professional educators working together can do amazing things in the most difficult of situations.  We live in a world with answers to the most difficult educational questions.  Where we don't have clear answe…

We Must Do Better - Part 3

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This post is part three of a three-part series titled We Must Do Better.

       I love public schools; and there is a lot to cheer about when it comes to the ability of public schools to prepare students for their futures.  But there are three major areas in which public schools must improve if we want to see ourselves as providing a world-class education to our nation's children.

       1) We must raise the achievement of poor children.

       2) We must increase graduation rates.

       3) We must provide continuous, high-quality professional development to our teachers.

       It isn't that there aren't other areas that can and should improve in our public schools.  But improvement in these three areas are absolutely critical if we truly want our school system to be exceptional and of the highest quality for all of our students.

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We Must Do Better Part …

We Must Do Better - Part 2

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This post is part two of a three-part series titled We Must Do Better.

       I love public schools; and there is a lot to cheer about when it comes to the ability of public schools to prepare students for their futures.  But there are three major areas in which public schools must improve if we want to see ourselves as providing a world-class education to our nation's children.

       1) We must raise the achievement of poor children.

       2) We must increase graduation rates.

       3) We must provide continuous, high-quality professional development to our teachers.

       It isn't that there aren't other areas that can and should improve in our public schools.  But improvement in these three areas are absolutely critical if we truly want our school system to be exceptional and of the highest quality for all of our students.

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We Must Do Better Part 2…

We Must Do Better - Part 1

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This post starts a three-part series titled We Must Do Better.  I love public schools; and there is a lot to cheer about when it comes to the ability of public schools to prepare students for their futures.  But there are three major areas in which public schools must improve if we want to see ourselves as providing a world-class education to our nation's children.

       1) We must raise the achievement of poor children.

       2) We must increase graduation rates.

       3) We must provide continuous, high-quality professional development to our teachers.

       It isn't that there aren't other areas that can and should improve in our public schools.  But improvement in these three areas are absolutely critical if we truly want our school system to be exceptional and of the highest quality for all of our students.

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We Must Do Better Part 1 - Ac…

Should we abolish Grades in our schools?

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Why do schools assign grades?

       Grades and grading are such natural parts of our educational system, it seems almost silly to ask this question.  It's like asking, Why do people walk?, or Why do have eyes?  Still, if we think about the meaning and purpose of grades, I would say that most people have an answer to this question.

Grades provide a measure of success in a student's learning.

       Grades tell us our ability in a particular academic area.

Well...maybe that is what grades are supposed to do, but (in reality) do grades serve other purposes?  If you are a teacher, have you ever given a student a bad grade because the assignment was handed in late?  Have you ever taken points off of a test because a student was talking during the test?  In these instances, the grade was determined (at least partially) based on a student's behavior and not on the student's ability.

       As a student, have you ever received a good grade and learned nothing about the th…

Great Learners make Great Teachers

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In education, collaboration is powerful.  Teachers who seek out advice and ideas from multiple sources--within their school, within their school district, on twitter, via journal articles, etc.--probably have the most engaging classrooms.  Teaching is not a profession that expects perfection in the first year.  Indeed, it takes three to five years to develop the skills necessary to become a truly effective teacher.

       Hence, schools that allow for and encourage time for teachers to meet, are really encouraging teachers to constantly improve.  Our best teachers are always looking to improve and always searching for better ways to reach their students.  That's why teachers who love learning become great teachers.  They study how students develop ideas and they help students to build on what they know.

       The TEACH100 website has recently developed the Teach100Mentors.  They have honored me by allowing me to be part of this special group.  I am always glad to impart w…