Monthly Archives: October 2012

Corwin Common Core Institute

Around 850 participants. We will presenting two sessions of two hours each. I am very excited by the opportunity to learn from the other Corwin authors and I look forward to sharing what I learn on this blog. Let’s get the show on the road!

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Getting to the chalk face and Elvis

We are in Memphis for a couple of days of sightseeing before working with teachers and coaches at the Corwin Common Core Institute on Thursday and Friday. This is always an exciting prospect because it gives us the opportunity to exchange ideas with the people who are working on the front line (or at the chalk face) with students every school day. We hope that the participants who work with us will learn something that can inform their practice. We know that we will learn much from them.

But today? It’s Elvis!

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Diane Ravitch's blog

A retired principal, Pat Buoncristiani, writes to describe what she learned in many years of experience..

She writes:

When I was the principal of a struggling Title 1 school I grappled for the reasons behind my children’s difficulties. Others would make suggestions – it’s because their parents don’t care, it’s something about their race, it’s because they have bad role models and so on. It seemed apparent to me that the underlying cause of all this was simple and yet extraordinarily difficult to deal with. It was poverty. Until we deal with the rising tide of poverty in our society too many of our children will continue be swept by this wave into lives that fail to provide them with the means to be effective, enriching members of our society. The soil is poverty and the plant will not grow true and straight in such an environment. Some schools have…

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Where will we find the poets?

The Common Core Standards have many admirable features. I always like to look at the verbs, and I find a lot that refer to thinking. In mathematics students are asked to construct viable arguments, critique the reasoning of others, communicate precisely, make sense of problems and persevere in solving them and apply the mathematics they know to solve problems. All good. In Language Arts they will be asked to describe relationships, determine meanings, compare and contrast, cite evidence, analyze and evaluate. That’s great too.

But something is potentially lacking in the Language Arts curriculum. In Reading, students are expected to experience a variety of genres, including poetry. But in Writing the focus is firmly on writing arguments, informational and explanatory texts, and the construction of narratives. There is no mention of poetry in writing other than as a side bar that explains that the inclusion of poetry writing is entirely at the teacher’s discretion.

I understand the importance of making our students “college and career ready”, but I also believe our society is enriched and deepened by its commitment to the arts and to the aesthetic elements of our culture.  Poetry ought not to be an optional extra. From the ancient Greek poets to the beat poets, concrete poets, poets of the absurdist movement and voices of our present generation, poetry has been a reflection of the heart of humanity.

Poetry is a particularly important medium for children because its freedom and essentially inventive nature allows children to play with their language as they learn to master it and bend it to their uses. By writing poetry children learn to appreciate the music of language, the rhythms of words, the power of the pause, the brilliance of individual words and the unexpected power of particular word combinations. To deny our children the opportunity to write poetry is to deny them a vital path of effective language learning and an insight into one of the most important paths in our literate culture.

As assessments inevitably follow standards, school districts will keep their focus firmly on ensuring that students are becoming proficient in the things that will be measured. I profoundly hope that leaving poetry to the discretion of the teacher does not push to the margins.

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Where should the money go?

Where should the money go?.

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Where should the money go?

From the New York Times, October 8th 2012.

“The News Corporation said on Monday that its education division would operate under a newly formed brand called Amplify.

In partnership with AT&T, the division will offer digital learning tools to kindergarten through grade 12 students, part of the media company’s strategy to tap into the multibillion-dollar public education market.

The announcement is part of a larger restructuring by the News Corporation as it prepares to split into two separate publicly traded corporations. The education division, led by the former New York City schools chancellor Joel I. Klein, will join News Corporation’s newspapers and its HarperCollins book division in a newly formed publishing company. The more lucrative entertainment assets, like cable channels and movies and television, will form another, larger company.

Amplify will begin piloting its digital learning tools in the 2012-13 school year, News Corporation said. AT&T will provide 4G tablets, Wi-Fi service and technical assistance.”

o-o

So Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch want to tap into the multi billion dollar education budget eh? Why is this not comforting?

When will we realize that successful education depends on highly skilled teachers and not on Ipads?

Why are we not investing in teacher pre-service education so that every new teacher has been selected from among our highest achievers and enters the classroom with a clear understanding of how children develop and learn and which practices enhance and extend that learning?

Then, perhaps, we will be able to do what the most successful systems do – leave them alone to get on with the job they have been well prepared to do.

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/news-corporation-forms-new-brand-for-education-division/

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Will Australia and New Zealand Succumb to GERM?

Australian readers may find this very interesting in the light of my blog posted today – “Don’t Forget the Kids”.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Australia and New Zealand are in the cross-hairs of the privatization movement. New Zealand is fighting back.

You will like the table in this link comparing GERM principles to principles of learning.

In the left cell is testing; in the right is education.
In the left is New York origin; in the right is Finland model.
In the left is standardize; in the right is customize.
And so on.

GERM, you may recall, is an acronym for the Global Education Reform Movement, which thrives on testing, accountability, competition, punishment, and choice. Choice=privatization, which may be the reason for all the preceding steps. Pasi Sahlberg of Finland created the GERM metaphor in his valuable book, “Finnish Lessons.”

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