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Showing posts from October, 2016

When Students are Thinking, Students are Learning

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       I was recently introduced to a fantastic list of 100 questions that teachers can ask in mathematics class that will encourage students to think and reason and share their thoughts with each other.  A portion of these 100 questions are in the graphics in this post.  The rest can be found here.

       The questions are separated into categories that help students to:
Work together to make sense of mathematics.Rely more on themselves to determine if something is mathematically correct.To reason mathematically.Evaluate their own processes and engage in productive peer interaction.Gain a better understanding with problem comprehension.Learn to conjecture, invent, and solve problems.Learn to connect mathematics, its ideas, and its applications.Persevere.Focus on the mathematics from activities.        Every parent that has ever received the unimaginative response of "Fine." to the question, "How was school today." understands the frustration of trying encourage a…

The Time Has Come to Question Everything We Do in Education

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Why is the school day six-and-a-half hours? Why is the school year from September to June? Why do have to use Carnegie Units in high school? Why are grades so important? Why does every class have to have a textbook?Why do I have to use a pencil in math class? Why does high school start so early in the day? Why do schools compare themselves to each other? Why do I have to memorize things that are easily found online? Why does the teacher do most of the talking in class? Why do we rank students in high school? Why do we brag about high grades and not about high learning? Why do have student desks and chairs? Why do all of the chairs face in the same direction? Why is there 14 years of schooling from Pre-K to high school graduation? Why?
       Cars change; buildings change; clothes change; planes change: people change; the world changes.  Why don't schools change?  
       Why?

The Struggle for Change in Our Schools

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       This sign hung at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts this week during the annual MassCUE conference.  "MassCUE" stands for the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators.  The conference was also sponsored by the M.A.S.S. (that is, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents).  The sign begs the question, Why is it that schools (education) is not changing if everything around the schools are changing?  I think I know the answer...

       The sign reminds us that the world is changing.  Indeed it is.  The changes that have occurred in the world have been driven by market forces such as efficiencies in manufacturing.  They have been driven by technology such as computers and cell phones and the capacity of these technologies (and others) to accomplish tasks much faster and easier.  The sign says the workforce is changing.  One big factor is the lower demand for low-skill jobs.  Less workers are needed to do a job that took more workers a few decad…

High School Graduation Rates Continue to Rise

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       In the 2014 - 2015 school year, the high school graduation rate rose to 83.2% according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  This is modern day, national success story.  Twenty years ago, the national high school graduation rate was only 71% and it only rose a couple of percentage points from the 1998 - 1999 school year to the 2005 - 2006 school year (to 73%).  In the past ten years this important statistic has risen ten percentage points.  This is an amazing accomplishment!

       Our educational system is big.  17,000 school districts; 100,000 schools; 50 million students; and 3 million teachers.  This accomplishment isn't due to the effort of just a couple of school districts; or even just a couple of states.  This incredible increase says that we as a country have made it a priority to do everything we can to see to it that students graduate.  We understand that the world that our students will inherit requires an educated mind if we want these future adult…

Schooling Isn't a Game to be Won

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       Americans love competition.

       We follow sports teams.  We compare our Olympic medal count with those from other countries.  We brag about having faster cars and the newest cell phone, and the whitest teeth.  At times (it seems) everything is a competition; that we are always trying to surpass what our neighbors have or can do.

       This sense of competition (unfortunately) extends into our schools as well.  Our students want to know who got the highest test grade, who takes the most Advanced Placement courses; who got the best report card grades.  We are constantly comparing ourselves to each other.

       When it comes to schooling, I have a statement for our students (and their parents):


       School isn't a soccer game, it isn't the Olympics, and it isn't a Reality Show to be won.  School is about learning.  Some students will excel in some areas, some might excel in all areas (or appear to excel on all areas), and most will probably be average.  The go…

Why Can't High School Classrooms Be More Like Elementary Classrooms?

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       Every level of schooling from elementary school to high school has its challenges.  Among them are teaching to the academic and age level of the students.  No one wants second graders to read high school level novels and it wouldn't be appropriate to take 15 minutes of class time to explain to high school students how to use scissors.

       However, when teachers create a learning environment in their classrooms there are some aspects of learning that are true for both elementary and high school students.  One of these is the idea that when students are engaged in their learning, they tend to do better.  There are plenty of reasons why this makes sense, and they apply to little kids as well as teenagers (and adults).

       In elementary school, while it may be true that the children are more excited about learning and school just because little kids are generally happy and willing to do what they are told to do; it is also true that their teachers work hard to make the lea…

Breaking News: High School Is Not Supposed to be Boring

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       Too many parents have this idea that says, "If it was good enough when I was in high school, than it's good enough for my kids."  Of course, they hated it when they were in high school.  But for some reason, they are "OK" with the same boring classes and senseless assignments for their own children.

       I'm talking about high school classes with:

students sitting in rowsteacher always standing in the front of the roomworksheets, worksheets, worksheetsvery little (or none) students discussing, asking questions, or working togetherhomework on stuff they already know how to dono use of educational technology        I've seen high school classrooms with multiple students who have their heads on their desks and the teacher seems to be "OK" with this.  Too many classes in which the teacher asks the class something like, "Do you understand?" and one student says "Yes" and the teacher assumes that everyone in the class und…

Three Years; 200 postings; 50,000 views

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       Three years ago today I began this blog with the modest words below.  It has been a learning and a reflective experience to write about education in America.   I've considered some controversial topics and I've praised the many excellent people that work within the walls of our schools everyday. And I've receive great feedback from my readers; their stories and ideas.

       Thank you follow joining me in this journey.  There is always so much to do; so much to say.  And together we can do it all.



First Post from October 3, 2013It's 6:30am; "No time like the present." (Right?)  So here is my first post; really my introduction to this blog.  This blog that I have said to myself for years (and to others) that I should write.  So here is the beginning.

The blog is called, What's So Good About about Education?.  The purpose (the vision) is to highlight the good things that occur in American education every single day.  There are lots of sources out ther…

Good Enough Isn't Good Enough

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       Schools, educators, teachers...they are never satisfied.  We are the ultimate Olympic athletes when it comes to our desire to constantly improve.  In education, "Good Enough" is never good enough.

       While it is often true--though not in all schools--that most students do fine; most students learn to read pretty well, most students move on to the next grade, most students graduate.  There are always some students that don't or that struggle to reach these accomplishments.  And even for those that do succeed, What is our standard for success?  Is it a passing grade?  Is it to barely exceed the minimum?  Is it to be merely good enough?

       The best teachers are constantly striving to find ways to reach all of their students.  The students that do what they are told and are able to "succeed" in school without much effort should be pushed to do more.  The students who always excel academically should be pushed to do more.  And the students that strugg…