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Showing posts from December, 2014

Top Five Posts of 2014

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       As I complete my first full year of blogging, here is a look at the top five posts of 2014.
#5) This is our finest hour
       This was published on November 21st.  This post recalled the Apollo 13 moving scene when the Ed Harris character said, "This is our finest hour".  I compared this to educators today that view the exciting things happening in the world of education today.  I said that today's educators do amazing things in (sometimes) difficult situations.
       I do believe that is our finest hour and we are fortunate to be teaching in this exciting time!
#4) Everyone has value
       I was inspired to write this post after seeing a middle school student in my district give a speech titled, "Everyone has value."  She told a story of a one-hundred dollar bill.  She said, if she asked anyone of they would like to have a one-hundred dollar bill, people would say, "Yes" because everyone recognizes its value.  And if she were to take that one…

Everything

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       What's so good about public education in America?  Everything!


       I guess this is my post of platitudes.  
       Years ago I taught in a middle school that was located in an area where people were struggling to make ends meet.  I met with a lot of parents during my time at this school; and spoke with a lot of parents on the telephone if they weren't able to come to the school.  At the time, I was not a parent.  And, so, I did not have the perspective of a parent.
       We know that schools are challenged to raise the achievement of children from poor families.  We had a lot of these children at this school.  I would hear teachers say that the parents don't care about education and that is why the children did so poorly.  But when I met with the parents, I would hear a very different message.
       The parents told me that they wanted their children to do better then they did.  They wanted their children to get a good education and a good job.  One parent told…

Good Teaching is Still More Important Than Technology

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     Lately, we've been spending a lot of time thinking about bringing more technology into our schools.  We say, "This is how students think."  "This is how we teach in the 21st century."  "Our students will be at a disadvantage if they don't use technology in the classroom."

       All of this may be true, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that newer and better technology is going to make our students smarter or better able to learn.  The single most effective tool that schools have to raise student achievement is the ability of teacher.  Good instruction trumps good technology every time.  The more we learn about educational technology; the more we come to understand that the technology is just a tool for learning--no different from the tools we've had in the past.

     Yesterday we had a meeting with mathematics supervisors in my state and during the meeting we had a Google Hangout discussion panel with three Educational Techn…

We're Never Satisfied

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       I was going to title this post, "We're Never Happy", but I didn't think that that would be a good title for a post about a blog that is supposed to talk about the good things about education.  (I guess I haven't caught on to the idea of catching-the-reader's-interest-with-a-provocative-title.  Slow learner [!].)

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       A few years ago public schools had a rating system called Adequate Yearly Progress.  The idea was that we would measure the progress of schools by the percentage of students who were learning at or above grade level.  Each year the target (called the Annual Measurable Objective) for what was to be considered "Good" or "Making good progress" was raised a little bit.  The idea was that after 12 years, everyone would have a target of 100%--that is, 100% of the students in your school would be learning at or above grade level.

       People would say, "1…

Digital Learning

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       This is an exciting time to be in education!
       Educators today grew up before the computer age (or as the computer age was beginning) and we  are witnessing the transformation to the digital learning environment in our schools.  We will forever be able to say, "We were there when......when our schools first got wireless internet...when our students were allowed to use digital devices for the first time...when we stopped using paper textbooks...when we first used "blended" resources and then went totally online...when we first allowed students to use cell phone as their "device" in school
       As with most major transitions, we are struggling with developing new rules and preparing for new unknowns.  Some of us are kicking and screaming our way to this new world of education; as other's of us can't run fast enough away from the past.
       And (I think) the public is struggling with what they expect from us (the public schools) as well.  P…

Students with Learning Disabilities Learn

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       There was a time when students with learning disabilities were labeled dumb or weak or unmotivated or any one of a multitude of other names from people who didn't understand anything about learning disabilities.  Over my lifetime (I'm 51 years old), that has dramatically changed.


       I'm not a Special Educator, but today every educator knows something about students with disabilities.  This is because every single teacher in our public schools receives some training in working with students who have learning disabilities.  Over the past decade, schools have made an extra special effort to improve the achievement of students with learning disabilities because (under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001) schools were partially "graded" on their ability to educate students with learning disabilities.
       Today most schools have teachers who are specially trained to work with students who have learning disabilities.  These students are gi…