Road Show Wednesday

15 October 2008

I've been on the road all week---and am away again tomorrow. What a long strange trip it's been, too. While I catch my breath and try to capture some thoughts to share with you, why not click on over to this week's Carnival of Education? It's hosted by Eduwonkette, who's cleverly included posts into a debate format. Be well read and entertained simultaneously!


A Lifelong Carnival of Learning

01 October 2008

Be sure to head on over to Mathew Needleman's place today to visit this week's Carnival of Education. I'm busy busy with ~60 other educators today, but am looking forward to joining you on the midway later. Someone save me a caramel apple!


Carnival Escape

24 September 2008

It's a busy day here with meetings aplenty, fires to douse, and potholes to dodge. If you're like me, and need a happy place to visit, why not see what this week's Carnival of Education has to offer? Mamacita is ghost-blogging over at Steve Spangler's place and has (per usual) done a great job of putting together a diversity of posts from around the edusphere. So go on over and forget about your cares for awhile this Wednesday.


Meetingful Wednesday

10 September 2008

This week's theme at work has been "all meetings...all the time," which doesn't make for much to write about. Why not click on over to this week's Carnival of Education, where the Core Knowledge blog has managed to put together a [insert collective noun for blog entries] of great posts? You'll be glad you did.

Anyone has a suggestion for the collective noun we should use, leave it in the comments. Personally, I'm leaning toward "cloud."


Feast for the Senses

27 August 2008

It's Wednesday: Carnival Time. So, beat your feat over to the last one before school kicks off for another year.

Since the word Carnival implies flesh, why not also visit Fleshmap: Studies of Desire? Most of it is safe for work (if you're reading this from there); but know that there are images of body parts of all types in case your employer might frown on such things. The site contains an amazing display of information on the senses of "touch, look, listen." One of my favourite visualizations relates to music (click to embiggen, or better yet, go see the original page):

"What do we sing about when we sing about the body? The chart, based on a sample of thousands of songs, tells the story. The size of the circle corresponds to how often that part is mentioned in a particular genre." Anyone want to guess which column represents hiphop? :)

Enjoy your Wednesday. Get out and give all of your senses a feast to remember.


End of Summer Carnival

13 August 2008

With all of the changes in my life, it's nice to have some things to count on. This includes the Carnival of Education, hosted each week by someone in the big wide edusphere. This week, Joanne Jacobs has taken on barking duties and has put together a fine selection of posts.

I start my new job dark and early in the morning. So, I'm headed out to enjoy the last day of summer holiday. Enjoy your Wednesday!


Wednesday Distractions

30 July 2008

While I'm away giving my workshop and tending to other interesting business today, have a look at this week's Carnival of Education. It's hosted by The Chancellor's New Clothes and, as usual, contains a round-up of great posts from around the edusphere.

Too heavy for you on a summery Wednesday? Why not try some of these instead? After all, one cannot live by education feeds alone.
  • It's Lovely! I'll Take It! has quite the collection of real estate listings, bringing a whole new level of understanding to the term "fixer upper."
  • On a diet? No? Well, either way, you won't be hungry for dessert after looking at these Cake Wrecks. This is what happens when good baking goes bad.
  • If bad grammar and punctuation make you twitchy, then don't visit Apostrophe Abuse, Apostrophism, the English Fail Blog, or the Grammar Blog. However, if you are stout of heart, then I highly recommend you have a look at all of them. I tell my students that if they can't be good examples, then they'll just have to be terrible warnings. These blogs are full of warnings...often hilarious ones.
Here's hoping your Wednesday is full of laughter and learning!

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Hardcore Wednesday

16 July 2008

If you've ever hosted a Carnival of Education---and done it well---then you know it is a lot of work. It is good "community service" for the edusphere, to be sure; but, one must plan on several hours of reading, organizing, and writing. In spite of all of that (and having a life), Mamacita is hosting her second Carnival in a row! This week she has posted it over at Steve Spangler's blog. Go have a read and give her some love, will ya'? She's hardcore when it comes to the Carnival of Education.


Shall I Compare Thee to a Carnival's Day?

08 July 2008

Mamacita has done a glorious job with this week's Carnival of Education. Get on over to Scheiss Weekly (Just As It Says) and take a midsummer's day stroll along the midway.


Carnival for a Travel Day

25 June 2008

I'm just in after making my way back from Texas. While I work on unpacking my mind and luggage, please do enjoy this week's Carnival of Education over at Where's the Sun?

Back to regular posting tomorrow!


Carnival Power-Up

18 June 2008

Pass the Torch, a blog about empowering youth, is hosting this week's Carnival of Education. Check the link throughout the day as technical difficulties have plagued her (as they did with the Carnival over at the Education Wonks a couple of weeks ago). The interwebs are behaving badly these days, but perhaps the collection of posts will give you hope.

Today is the last full day of school for me in my morning district---then I'm done at 10 tomorrow and 9:30 on Friday. As for the afternoon district, we're done at the regular time today and tomorrow, with tomorrow being the last day. It's hard to get excited when there are still papers to push, exams to mark, and final grades to handle. But it won't be long until The End sinks in and summer holiday will Power-Up.


Mini-Carnival Wednesday

11 June 2008

You can visit this week's Carnival of Education over at Learn Me Good. I also have a collection of posts of note that I hope you'll enjoy:
  • Dina over at The Line has posted her personal Report Card for the school year. I usually do a post like this when I reach the end, but I might just say "Ditto." in terms of what she's written. It's a great reflective post summoning up all those things we as teachers want to be for ourselves and students.
  • Doug of The Blue Skunk Blog recently gave a commencement speech which encompassed Everything I Know in 15 Minutes. It's chock full of great stories and advice. Even if you aren't setting out on a new pathway in life, I urge you to read it and think about rejuvenating yourself for the road you are already taking.
  • John is wondering "Will 'Everybody' Come to School?" This is his first part of a short series of thoughts on Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody" and its implications for eduction. As regs here know, this book has been much on my mind, too. I am enjoying seeing what ideas it is sparking for others.
  • A Letter to My Colleagues is on Susan's mind from 21st Century Learning. It's a thoughtful post on how technology is and will continue to change education. Teachers may never be obsolete, but those who can't grow may find themselves in that position.
  • You may have seen a new term out and about: Edupunk. Visit David to read more about Anarchy in the Classroom. I can certainly identify with the need to shift our pedagogy---even if that means taking matters into our own hands.
Click away and spend a Wednesday with some worthwhile reading from around the Edusphere!


Carnivalia on the Fly

04 June 2008

Who among us edubloggers has not had the dreaded experience of having a post eaten? Sometimes, even "Autosave" is no saviour. With this in mind, click on over to the Education Wonks and give them some love. They slaved all Tuesday evening over a hot Education Carnival, only to have the interweb elves steal it. They did manage to triumph and a delightful collection of posts from around the edusphere is just waiting for you on the flipside.


The Voice of Reason

27 May 2008

Please head on over to Mrs. Bluebird's place and check out this week's Carnival of Education. It is truly an oasis of thought and reason in an insane world.

Don't look for the voice of reason in this district. I'm trying to prep my tenth graders to work with my kindergartners next week. I wanted to use GoogleDocs to coordinate my different class periods---and allow them to communicate with the teachers in the other district. As feared, however, the district techs believe that GoogleDocs is a filthy site, not worthy of passing through our filters. We can't have children actually collaborating on a project, now can we? (Never mind that the kindergartners can access GoogleDocs in the other district if they wanted to.) Why, we would surely be leading kids into a lifetime of internet debauchery if we allowed them to create and share a lesson plan on tidepools or otherwise learn about these collaborative tools. Shame on me.

I am exaggerating, but only slightly. The interesting thing is that only "docs" are blocked by the filter---not the other social tools in Google. Now that my kids have accounts (a story unto itself), I could actually share this post with them using Reader, along with comments about why I was sending it. We could build a common calendar for the remainder of the school year. And more. But we can't use the word processing feature because one person in this school district doesn't want us to do so. Perfectly reasonable, right?

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Strangely Enough, It's Carnival Time

21 May 2008

Wednesday always seems to sneak up on me. I see it on the calendar. I know it arrives at the same time each week. And yet, racing along at the speed of light as the school year comes to a close means that Wednesday just seems like some sort of fantastic visitor. What do you mean, it's Wednesday? Already? But I haven't accomplished enough to be this far into the week. Waaah!

Nancy, however, is much more calm and put together than I am. In fact, she's managed to synthesize a delightful Carnival of Education this week. And she didn't have to break a sweat. Go have a look at Teacher in a Strange Land and see what's happened in the edusphere since last Wednesday. You won't be disappointed that it's Wednesday.


Pop Quiz Carnival

07 May 2008

Get out your handy-dandy Dixon Ticonderoga #2's and head over to Bellringer's for this week's Carnival of Education. It's in "selected response" (a/k/a "multiple choice," "multiple guess") format, but here's a hint---click on the links for the right answer. Enjoy this unique presentation and wonderful collection of posts.


Carnival of Education #169: Road Trip!

30 April 2008

“Jane! Stop this crazy thing!” The Science Goddess laughed as Mamacita looked askance. “I’ve always wanted to say that…and since you’re driving this big yellow dawg across the countryside, don’t expect it to be the last time.”

“Yes, well I’m all for exploration. Too bad we don’t have Steve Spangler here to keep us entertained.”

“Not to worry. There will be plenty of entertainment on board. Are we ready to hit the open road?”

Nancy looked a bit nervous. “I’m not sure everyone’s going to fit on this bus. Maybe a cross-country road trip isn’t such a hot idea.”

“Nonsense,” said the Goddess. “Besides, we need a break. Let’s get started, shall we? Kiri---how about you get us organized using your strategy for having kids line up?”

Mathew jumped up to help. “I’ve learned that greeting students on the way into class each morning determines almost everything that happens thereafter. You get them lined up and I’ll make sure that they start things off with a smile.”

“And I can help things stay on a positive keel,” added Larry. “In fact, I have a list of 11 actions to take to maintain good management.”

“With this crew,” said the Goddess, “we’ll need all the help we can get.”

Once everyone was settled, Mamacita started down the road.

“Interesting that we’re starting off in Washington,” said Nancy. “Did you read about Carl Chew---the teacher who refused to give the state mandated test to students? We need to carefully consider what’s right for America’s schools.”

“I did. I'm not sure that he’s a hero,” J.M. Holland said. “That might differ from your opinion, but I do agree that we need to think about where we stand.”

Bill looked over. “I don’t think he’s a hero. I think teachers need to realize that they’re not the only ones at the table. They have to understand that the best decisions are those that are made when a variety of perspectives are considered and respected as plans are developed and implemented. After all, someone beyond us might just have something valuable to add to the conversation about our kids.

“You want controversy?” asked Darren. “How about teachers who put nude pictures or make questionable remarks on their Facebook pages? Maybe there should be more thinking about accountability.”

“I agree,” said Carol. “Seems like some teachers are making dumb choices with their social networking, in my opinion.”

“It’s not just teachers,” added Strausser. “I have students who have taken nude pictures of themselves or engaged in other risky behaviors---and they think nothing of it. It’s a scary cyber-world out there.”

The Elementary History Teacher joined the conversation. “Now, now---let’s not throw out any babies with the digital bathwater. I find that blogging is professional development at its best. I’m a much better teacher because of my personal learning network.”

“And imagine what such a network will be like as today’s youngsters grow up. I think that people would learn so much from just watching their own kids interact with a digital environment,” said Laureen.

"I've been learning a lot, too, about working in digital environments," said The Science Goddess. "I've had to step back and say 'Whoa.'"

Heather chimed in at this point. “Creative Commons Licensing will be more and more important in a world of eLearning. I have some tutorials to share, if you’re interested.”

Somewhere in the back of the bus, a group was singing “This is the song that never ends…”

“Oy.” IB a Math Teacher covered his ears. “Perhaps that group should have been on the short bus, if you catch my drift.”

“Even if they should,” said Daniel, “It’s quite the minefield to navigate when suggesting that a child might need to be tested for special services; but, I have some strategies and conversational protocols to share if you need them.”

IB shook his head. “It’s not identification we’re having a problem with, it’s the IEP meetings and their outcomes.”

“Are we there yet?” someone shouted at Mamacita.

“Don’t make me pull this bus over!” she yelled back. “You know that there’s going to be a test on all of this, right?” She sighed. “I sure miss the days where the lessons were more important than the test to those outside of the classroom as they were to those within. The daily experiences are what kids carry with them for a lifetime.”

Wendy spoke. “I’m still doing those sorts of lessons. You should see the problem-based learning students engaged with in order to learn about ponds. Their teachers had some very thoughtful reflections to share about the project.”

“I was thinking about the same sort of thing while visiting Biosphere II this week,” said the Loony Hiker. “What a great opportunity for student learning.”

“Maybe we just need to approach testing differently,” added Heather. “I really try to help my tweens have the confidence to realize that they are ready for the test---they’ve been working hard to learn all year in my class. Now, they just have to show it.”

Rob looked uncertain. “Times have changed, and I’m not sure it’s for the better. Teachers used to have a lot more authority in the classroom. I think I might agree more with Mamacita.”

“It’s true,” added Muse. “Sometimes, the tried and true ways of doing things---like teaching Hebrew---are better than the newer forms of instruction.”

“But unless we focus on changing instruction,” said Dave, “we can’t eliminate that from our discussions of why the achievement gap remains. We have to know that we’ve tried all we can that is within our control before being able to say that the students’ home environment is the cause. We have to change ourselves---not kids.”

Corey nodded. “I could agree with that, I think. While it’s easy to wonder if America’s entire education system is failing, we really have to focus on fixing what we can. We don’t need to start over.”

“It’s also important to not look at America’s high achievers as being so different from those in other countries,” said Matthew. “We might like to think that successful students in China and India are entirely focused on their studies, but if you take a closer look---as I have---you’ll see that they’re not so one-dimensional.”

“Still,” started the Eduwonkette, “we can’t ignore context when examining problems found within the school. I was taking a closer look at the recent outbreak of violence in Chicago, and I think that community level factors are very important in our discussions about what’s happening inside of classrooms.”

Jo said, “Speaking of violence, I’ve been thinking about the martial overtones present in ed reform. I’m not sure I like the words we’re choosing to describe what is happening in classrooms.”

“Are you including ‘A Nation at Risk’?” asked Sarah.

“I was thinking about that, too.”

“You know, it’s the 25th anniversary of that publication. I think that educators are continuing to be called to argue and work toward social justice as a result of that document. Maybe it is a call to arms, after all.”

Dan moved into the next seat. “That could be, but I think it’s causing some schools to play a game in order to save themselves from AYP. All it takes is reclassifying a few students here or there to change the subgroups and make it look like you’re closing the achievement gap.”

“There could be all sorts of reasons,” added the Goddess. “Hey, Mamacita, any chance of pulling into a rest stop in the near future?”

Mamacita nodded. “I’m sure we could. It’s about time for a snack, too.”

“In the meantime,” said Scott, “maybe we should consider some of those other reasons. For example, perhaps we have strayed too far from the basic mission of schools to provide a strong curriculum, discipline, and values for students.”

“I’m not so sure. I think there’s a struggle between experienced and new teachers because new teachers have the tools and know-how to make change happen---and this threatens the old guard,” said The Chancellor’s New Clothes.

“Perhaps we just need a different power structure,” said Matt. “I think a teacher led school (one which resembles a law firm model) would be very successful."

The Right Wing Prof nodded. “Or maybe schools need to take student evaluations of teachers more seriously. I don’t think that what students say is unsurprising---or at least it shouldn’t be to veterans of the classroom.

“Looking at how teachers are paid wouldn’t hurt, either,” added the Education Wonks. “Good teachers would welcome accountability.”

“Exactly,” said the Prof.

“At least you all are working,” said Old Andrew. “We’ve been on strike in the UK, trying to figure out all of this while ‘scabs’ were covering for us in the classroom.”

Mamacita pulled the bus to the side of the road, just in time for a picnic lunch by the world’s largest ball of twine. Educators piled out of the bus to stretch their legs in the sunshine. Three math teachers pondered the volume of the twine.

Ed said, “These real world examples of using math aren’t as good as abstract symbols.”

“Maybe so,” said Denise, “but they’re a lot more interesting to look at.” She smiled. “I just used some real examples to help students work with combinatorics.”

“But I’ve been starting with abstract rules in order to teach students about bases,” said Jose.

Linda overheard the conversation from the other side of the ball of twine. “I wish I had more time,” she said. “There’s no way I’m going to finish teaching all the topics I’m supposed to before the end of the year. I’m furiously downsizing my lesson plans.”

“I wonder what would happen if you let them listen to music while they worked?” said Jim. “It’s made a difference in my classroom with student progress in reading.”

“Teaching is quite the experience,” Mister Teacher said. “I’ve been thinking that there should be a game show which would give people a realistic chance to experience the life of an elementary school educator.”

“Would that be the prize…or the ‘lovely parting gift’?” asked Mrs. Bluebird. “Sometimes,” she said, “even students find that they reap what they sow and get their comeuppance.”

There was a commotion at the picnic area. Edna was dancing around, swatting at some bugs. “I’m afraid,” she said, “that my true colors about insects have been revealed to my students, too.”

Hube watched the scene with amusement. “That’s almost as crazy as what I was reading about.”

“And what was that?” asked Robin.

“Well,” he continued, “in Arizona, there’s a bill in the legislature which would keep public schools from teaching anything that is anti-Democratic or counter to Western Civilization. It’s a case of dumb meeting dumb.”

“I was thinking the same thing about banned books,” she said.

“All right,” said the Goddess, “it’s time to move on. Let’s get back on the bus. We gotta head down the road to get to next week's Carnival!”


Last Chance to Carnival

29 April 2008

In case the calendar is not being your friend at the moment, this is a gentle reminder that entries for this week's Carnival of Education are due today by 6 p.m. PDT. You can use the form over at the BlogCarnival, or e-mail me your info directly (the_science_goddess[at]yahoo[dot]com). Look for the Carnival to roll into this space for Wednesday. Come join the party!


That's Wednesday, for You

23 April 2008

You know what? It's Wednesday again. This means that there is another edition of the Education Carnival to explore. It is being hosted by The Education Wonks this week. They are always a tough act to follow, but I'll do my best when the Carnival rolls into the space next Wednesday. Start polishing your links now and sending them over!


Spring: When a School's Thoughts Turn to Fall

19 March 2008

As I write this, I can hear the first frog of spring croaking outside the window. He has apparently awakened from his long winter's nap and is looking for a little action. The songbirds have returned, the bulb plants are blooming. Renewal is the theme of the moment. Spring has sprung.

In the schools, there is a different sense of purpose. It is time to think about next year. No, the current year isn't over yet. (We're somewhere around 70% complete.) Budgets, hiring, and "I wish we would have..."'s from this year need to be contemplated before schools go into their summer estivation mode. It is as if we reach a point in the current year where it is too late to make any significant changes in course, so we just have to plan to do things better the next time around.

Working for two districts---and in two different roles and school types---has given me a different look at these processes. In one district, it's every teacher/program for itself. The goal is to be as cutthroat as possible in order to preserve yourself. It's not very pretty and while I don't think that anyone feels good about it, I haven't seen any leadership to make things change. The other district is more interested in instruction. There are budget issues there, too, but it is not the only thing that is talked about. The discussion begins with "What's good for kids?" and then goes from there. That makes a lot more sense to me.

I have always liked the "do over" aspect in education. I like knowing that there is another chance just a few months away...that someone else will take your kids and move them to the next level while you work your own magic with a new batch. We get to try, try again.

To celebrate spring, why don't you head over to this week's Carnival of Education at So You Want to Teach? You might also visit the Students 2.0 blog. Here is the description: We are students: the ones who come to school every day, raise our hands with safe questions, and keep our heads down. Except, now we have a voice—a strong voice—to share our ideas through a global network. What an awesome and powerful thing to have a group of students join the dialog, adding in their classroom perspectives. Go have a look!

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March Madness Carnival

12 March 2008

Is grading getting you bogged down? Does Spring Break seem too far away? Why not dribble on over to this week's fine Carnival of Education over at Learn Me Good. It's madness over there, but you can sweat away your cares.


Old School Carnival

05 March 2008

The Education Carnival has gone home to the Education Wonks. Wander on over and make your Wednesday one to remember.


The Carnival Continues

30 January 2008

Be sure to check out this week's edition of the Carnival of Education hosted by Creating Lifelong Learners.

Some other points of interest from Education Week:

Expand your horizons this Wednesday!

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Beginnings and Endings

02 January 2008

It's the first Wednesday of 2008---and therefore the first Carnival of Education for the new year. "So you want to teach?" is hosting this 152nd edition. Go see what everyone else is thinking about for education in 2008.

Today is my last day of winter break. Yes, we have a 2-day work week this week, beginning bright and early tomorrow morning. Between end of semester activities and the 14-page to do list for my grad class, I'm going to be one busy little Goddess this month. It's a good thing the weather is unpleasant so I won't be tempted by my gardening. :)

Speaking of new and old, the blogrolls have been updated. I know I should do this more often. I am always adding new feeds to my Google Reader, but don't always remember to place them here, too. Also, a few edubloggers have now gone MIA. I miss them, and if they return to the edusphere, I'll be happy to add them once again to my blogroll.

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Midway Holiday

26 December 2007

Suffering from post-holiday malaise? Is your bank account empty? Why not enjoy some free entertainment over at this week's Carnival of Education? Ably hosted by History Is Elementary, it is a wonderful collection of education-related posts. My hat is off to her for putting this together for the Edusphere while the rest of us were taking time off on Christmas Day. Click on over and get a calorie-free fill-up for your brain!



19 December 2007

If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and festivities, head on over to this week's Carnival of Education over at the Education Wonks. And wish them a happy holiday while you're at it.

In case you are up for more partying, you can join me this afternoon. I'm having a nice fete after school at my home. We have people from 4 school districts, an educational agency, 7 schools, and 2 offices gathering for food and drink. You're welcome to join us!


Memelicious Wednesday

12 December 2007

Sandra is a true multi-tasker. She is a self-described "microbiologist and molecular biologist turned tenured biotech faculty turned bioinformatics scientist turned entrepreneur. My passion is developing instructional materials for 21st century biology." She makes me feel downright dull by comparison; however, her blog (Discovering Biology in a Digital World) is a must-read for me. It scratches two of my itches at once: hardcore biology and classroom education.

An aside: If the biology stuff isn't how you roll, then click on over to this week's Carnival of Education, hosted by The Colussus of Rhodey.

Ms. Porter has tagged me with a meme that I think I may have done before, but surely there are seven more things I can think of to reveal...

The rules are:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

  2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.

  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

  4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Without further ado...
  1. I'm a morning person. Yes, one of those people you love to hate. I don't know how it happened. I would much rather be a night owl---there's so many more cool things to do. As it is now, I wake up early and full of energy to get going on the day. It sucks as much as one might imagine.
  2. I don't like to gamble...not even play the nickel slots...not even with other people's money. ("Can I quit now?") I do like card games, but rarely get to play.
  3. I've never changed a baby's diaper nor touched the belly of a Buddha-ish pregnant woman.
  4. I make a damned good margarita. Y'all should come over sometime and I'll knock you nekkid with one. The secret is in the sweet and sour. I boil lots of sugar, water, and fresh squeezed lime juice with a couple of cinnamon sticks. That gets mixed with tequila, grand marnier, and a splash of orange juice. They're sneaky, but ohsosatisfying.
  5. I am a firm believer and supporter of open records for adoptees. I think it's shameful that they are the one class of citizens who are not entitled to their own (original) birth certificates---even moreso that the US won't ratify an international human rights agreement because the agreement specifically describes open records. If you need another place to give charitable contributions, please provide help at Bastard Nation.
  6. Is there a cooler job on the planet than being a Mythbuster? I think not.
  7. I have a polka dot fetish. I don't know why I'm so drawn to the pattern, but I can hardly resist it. When I have my blog template overhauled---it must have dots.
So, there you have it. And now, it's your turn...
If there are others who want to play, join in! The "rules" are a bit squishy as it is---how am I supposed to tag "random" people, fer cryin' out loud. :) Share with us.

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It's the Most Wonderful Day of the Week

05 December 2007

Wednesday is big stuff here in the edusphere. Go on a bender of reading at this week's Carnival of Education. It is hosted this week by So You Want to Teach. Enjoy!


Noble Carnival

28 November 2007

Matt-a-matical Thinking is hosting this week's Carnival of Education. There are awards for every entrant, with no evening gown competition required. Go and cheer on your favourites!


Hosting the Carnival

21 November 2007

Another week, another Carnival of Education. Head on over and have a look! The NYC Educator has served up a heaping helping of Thanksgiving delight.

If you haven't played host, I'd like to encourage you to give it a go. I look at it as a community service for the Edusphere. For me, it takes between three and four hours to put together. I try to spread out the work between Sunday and Tuesday. Links are continuously sent via the blogcarnival submission page. I try to sort through them as they come in, because several are spammish in nature. I copy and paste the URLs into a document along with its title, author, and a brief description about the post. This makes grouping things for the final version a lot simpler. So far, I'm the only host who tries to string things together as a single narrative story, but I have seen so many creative ideas for organizing the information.

Give the Education Wonks a shout if you can take up this gauntlet. I highly recommend it!


The Haunted Schoolhouse Carnival

31 October 2007

“What are you supposed to be dressed up as?” asked the Repairman.

“I’m Virgil. You know? The Aeneid? The Inferno?” replied the Science Goddess. “I’m your guide on this tour, after all.”

“Works for me, but I’m not so sure about this whole haunted school idea. I’ll bet this creaky old place has plenty of horror in store for us.”

They started up the steps, easily passing through the gate. “Gee,” said Mike, “This school has about as much security as mine does. Maybe they have the same admins who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.”

“Just the word ‘admins’ sends a shiver up my back,” added Greg. “Did you read about the one who went unpunished for something that would have a student under a ‘zero tolerance’ policy expelled?”

“Yeah, well, the administration in my district can’t seem to make up its collective mind about whether or not teachers should be using novels in their language arts classes,” said Jo.

Mamacita perked up when she heard the discussion about novels. “Gosh, some of those books from my childhood are still influencing me today. It would seem important to have them.”

“Agreed,” said Jo.

Joanne looked at the visitors, all dressed in costumes. “I wonder if this school ever allowed children to come in costume at Halloween? Some schools these days have changed their policies.”

At first, all seemed quiet in the building. There was no trace of ghosts on the stairs…but a low moan started from down the hallway. “Those are the sounds of teachers who have been toiling away,” said the Goddess. “Let’s move down to see what has happened to them.”

In the first room, they found Chanman, buried under thousands of miniature skateboards. “These things bugged the life right of me. I hope you aren’t suffering as I have.”

The group scurried away, wondering what would be in the next circle of schoolish hell. They found Frumteacher, her soul tired from dealing with bullies in the classroom and the Woodlass, whose hands had become staple removers in an effort to rid the classroom of neverending clutter.

Siobhan said, “I can empathize with Frumteacher. There but for the grace of Spellings go I. I’ve certainly been thinking a lot about respect in the classroom.”

The group toured further down the hallway to find Carol, forever crafting and balancing her deadlines. “Can’t you see how easily just one small thing throws it all off track?”

Peeking on Darren, they could see him cutting up stacks of Che Guevara t-shirts. “Why are these allowed in school?” he wondered aloud.

The moans grew louder as the band of brave explorers found the staff meeting area. Bill was rattling his chains inside. “How are we ever supposed to make sense of the data when there’s measurement error?”

Mike shuddered. “I don’t think they’ll be getting out of there for a long time.”

“Do we have time for a stop at the restroom?” asked Ms. Cornelius. “I don’t want to be graphic, but those last scenes nearly scared the…well, you know.”

“The lounge is just ahead.” said the Goddess.

Mister Teacher asked, “Will you be browsing in there the way I see some students doing at my school?”

“Heavens, no!”

They entered the teachers’ lounge. Inside, Mamacita and Mrs. Bluebird were chatting. “Trick or treat!”

“No treats here,” said Mrs. Bluebird. “In fact, I’ve heard some things recently that I wish I hadn’t.”

“Me, too.” Mamacita sighed. “There are just some things I’ll never understand about how some children are treated.”

The group noticed some stairs leading to the basement. “Do we dare go down there?” one of the group asked the Goddess.

“No. That area is a special pit reserved for those teachers who have sexual relations with a student.” She answered.

Nancy joined the group at this point. “Yes, sadly enough. I was just writing about this very issue in Sex, Lies, and Newspapers.”

As was I,” said Marcella.

Dave said, “Maybe we need to be more selective about who we invite to join the profession.”

“And maybe we need to be aware that kids are growing up all too fast these days,” added the Education Wonks.

The group moved upstairs. “This is the area where unresolved issues go,” said the Goddess.

“Like what?” asked Ms. Cornelius.

“For example, whether or not the idea of schools as ‘dropout factories’ is really new. Matt certainly thinks that they aren’t.”

“Or,” said VJack, “the value of an education. Will we ever determine what that means for students---especially at the college level?”

Dave said, “I’m more worried about the watering down of standards and expectations at the public school level. What was the LA Times thinking with its recent editorial on NCLB?”

Ms. Cornelius screamed. “Aaaaaah! Don’t say that…acronym!”

Dave apologized. Dy/Dan said, “If you really want to squirm, read ‘Why Schools Don’t Educate.’ I did. Stop by sometime and read my response.”

“Better yet,” said Matthew, “Have you seen the brouhaha over Bill O’Reilly and Media Matters over the state of American History Education. I got sucked into that one, even though I had tried not to at first.”

“I was thinking about what you mentioned, VJack,” said Henry. “Perhaps more people should see what advice Thomas Sowell has offered about choosing a college.”

“Or maybe it’s not all about college,” added Lynn. “I think we need to do more to individualize education for students.”

“Either way,” said Maureen, “there continues to be a disparity of science education offerings to students.”

“Not to mention the continuing data coming in about differences in gender performance in math.” added Eduwonkette.

“What’s that racket over there?” asked the Repairman.

“Just the same old hem and haw about Unions,” said the Goddess. “At the moment, Ms. Teacher is in their corner, but Muse is upset with hers for thinking the membership is too dumb to notice that a lower salary was negotiated.” The group cast pitying eyes their direction.

The NYC Educator sighed loudly. “No matter what happens, there’s a continued lack of support for teachers. They’re no better off than a processed sandwich."

The group moved along to the final stairway, moans and groans fading into the distance.

“Up here are our more successful tales,” said the Goddess guide.

Pat offered some tips on using a Student Job Description in place of classroom rules while the Fresh Geeks suggested some ways to have students work with digital art.

“Even in the midst of chaos, some order can be found…to co-opt a phrase from Nietzsche,” said Judy. “Why, even in Detroit, you can find some urban success.”

“Maybe, just maybe, reducing class sizes could solve many issues,” offered Bogusia.

“Certainly couldn’t hurt. That, plus some lessons for schools from dead CEOs,” said the Eduguru.

The group laughed. “And with that,” said the Goddess, “shall we away for some treats…maybe even a little ‘brew’?”

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this week’s Carnival of Education. If you are interested in hosting one of these extravaganzas, please contact the Education Wonks at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Next week’s affair will be hosted by Right Wing Nation. Use the blogcarnival submission form to send your post.


Last Call for Trick or Treating

30 October 2007

Hey, you---you with the edublog. Tomorrow is the big party right here in this space: the Carnival of Education is rolling into town. It'll be a special Halloween edition full of all manner of tricks and treats. Come join the fun by sending me your link (the_science_goddess [at] yahoo [dot] com) or use the submission form over at Blog Carnival. Come over and play!


Carnivalicious Wednesday

24 October 2007

History is Elementary is hosting a fine Carnival of Education this week. It's chock full of ideas to discover. Click on over there and peruse the midway. Next week, the Carnival will appear right here in all of its Halloween splendor.


Teachers and Kids Say the Darndest Things

17 October 2007

I asked the other teachers in the department who teach biology if they wanted to team up for some "intervention" (Can't we just use remediation?) work with kids. I know that a school in the area has worked things out such that once kids have been identified as able or unable to meet a particular standard, teachers who have the same prep during the same class period team up. One teacher takes all of the students from the two classes who are at standard and does some enrichment...the other teacher takes the remaining kids and does some things to try to get the kiddos up to standard. Seems like a beautiful plan to me.

My collegial inquiry has been met with the sound of chirping crickets. Sigh.

I did have one teacher mention that she just "fits in the standards" where she can and is not really sure about which kids need help. (Perhaps it is not surprising that she is also the one completely mystified by the disparity between the course grades kids earn in her class and their science WASL scores.)

Okay. I get the message. If I want my kids to be able to be successful, there's not going to be any help. It's a good thing for me, then, that my kids are starting to step up to the plate. For example, I had a young man check with me yesterday about the conclusion he had just written for his lab. He said, "I really want to do better with these." Dude. So, of course, I talked to him about what was working well and what needed beefing up. You should have seen the little cheer and dance he did today when he showed me the new and improved version---and I told him it was darned good. Motivated to learn? Almost too good to be true...and definitely the highlight of my week.

Want to read more about what teachers and students? Head on over to this week's Carnival of Education. The Education Wonks have put together a marvelous array of posts.

Watch this space for a special Halloween edition of the Carnival of Education. Be ready to get your spook on!

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Bonus Carnival

10 October 2007

For today, please head on over to this week's Carnival of Education---a fine affair hosted by The Tempered Radical at the Teacher Leadership Network. It is, as always, a movable feast of educabilia. Or something like that. Anyway, click on over and feed your teacher soul. You know you're hungry!


Doin' It Wednesday Style

03 October 2007

Married to the Sea
had this perfect graphic. And why shouldn't we celebrate Wednesday? It's the day when the Education Carnival rolls into town. This week, it's hosted by Evolution: Not Just a Theory Anymore. Go and celebrate Wednesday with a fine collection of posts.


Wondrous Wednesday

26 September 2007

Head on over to this week's Carnival of Education. It'll make that slide into the end of the work week all the more fun!


Never Too Busy to Carnival

19 September 2007

I have a very busy day at hand---so if you've come here looking for insight...come back tomorrow. :) If you're looking for inspiration, however, just click on over to this week's Carnival of Education. There are lots of wonderful posts to peruse!


Short List Wednesday

12 September 2007

I recently listened to a parent describe one particular frustration with a teen. When it came time to get ready to go somewhere, the parent would tell the kid that they needed to leave in ten minutes...and before then, would the teen take out the trash, put the dog out, and get the laundry out of the dryer. Five minutes later, the teen was still sitting around playing video games. The parent was fit to be tied.

Teen brains are still growing. Frontal lobes don't always do what they should, which means that things like planning, remembering lists, and concepts of time don't fire on all cylinders. Giving a young teen a verbal to do list and a time limit is a recipe for disaster. (Meanwhile, other parts of the brain haven't developed enough to interpret the emotions shown on others' the kids can't even see that you're pissed off.)

In the classroom, when I have a "to do" list for kids, I keep it short, always visible, and try to smile in spite of gritted teeth every time I'm asked "What do I do next?"

The list for Wednesday is very short. There is only one item and it's easy to do because I'll include the link: go to the Carnival of Education. It is hosted this week by History Is Elementary and is the finest collection of posts to be found in the edusphere. Enjoy! (Okay, it's a two-item list.)

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Back to School Carnival

05 September 2007

What better way to relax after a return to the classroom than by strolling the midway of this week's Education Carnival? Grab a beer (if that's your thing), a colleague (safe touch areas only), and/or other accompaniment and see what edubloggers the world over have to share this week. You'll be glad you did!


Renewing Habits

29 August 2007

A new school year is upon us. Have you let your Education Carnival reading slip over the summer? Today's a great day to get back into the routine of things. Matt Tabor has put together a delightful end of summer read. Won't it feel good to be regular again?

If the Carnival isn't enough for you, or if you prefer a bit of an appetizer before you head over to the feast, here are an article which recently caught my eye:

Massachusetts is struggling with closing the achievement gap. Not news, you say? Well, this is about teachers. More than half of minority teachers in that state are failing the teacher certification exam.

Education officials say the gap is making it harder to bring more diversity to the state's teaching ranks.

The problem is so persistent that a special state task force of teachers, state education officials and hiring directors has been set up to find out why minorities don't do better on the tests.

Sally Diaz, a vice president at Emmanuel College in Boston and a member of the panel, said one test shouldn't make or break a career.

"One of the fallouts which is particularly upsetting in our experience across the colleges is fewer and fewer students of color are even going into teaching because word has gotten out that these tests are very difficult for them," she said.

Some minority applicants say the tests includes questions that white applicants and those with liberal arts backgrounds can more readily identify with, such as questions about ancient literature or investing in the stock market.

Diversity among staff---as well as cultural proficiency skills---are major issues in many schools and districts these days. I don't believe in lowering the bar for certification, but we also need to look at the barriers (perceived and real) that may be present and keeping people from entering the profession.

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Hearty Carnival

22 August 2007

Vivek has done a tremendous job this week with hosting the Carnival of Education. I know that some of you are going to say I'm a carnival snob, but I best like those carnivals where there's enough information about the posts to pique your interest and get your fingers to do some clicking. This is just one of those carnivals. As someone who has hosted these beasts, I can attest that it is no simple feat.

I submitted my post from a few days ago that has my draft of a standards-based grading policy. For those of you who might be interested in where I next took my thinking, have a look at my brand spankin' new gradebook. There are four worksheets in the file:

  • One is for tracking formative assessments. I plan to record a score of 1 - 4 for these, but interestingly enough, I do not plan to show the score to students. I will provide two kinds of feedback on these assignments for students consisting of (1) specific example(s) of what was done well and (2) a question to prompt thinking. Why keep a score for myself? Because I still need to keep my eye on the big picture. For example, how many kids look like Level Two students? To paraphrase The Shrub, "Is my children learning?" I do not plan on using the scores to assign a final grade for kids---this is just for my own reference in planning.
  • The second worksheet is for tracking summative assessment scores. These will be used to calculate report card grades. Although there are 3 cells available for both the formative and summative worksheets, this is just a starting point. I can adjust as necessary. I like using Excel for this because it will easily show me the median within a set of scores and/or quickly graph scores so that I can look for trends.
  • I have another worksheet where I can keep track of which assessment is which. I will then transpose the corresponding item number into either the formative or summative sheets.
  • Finally, there is a worksheet for anecdotal evidence. I was thinking about using a system similar to this one for classroom walkthroughs in order to keep track of things I informally see or hear when kids are working in class. But I need an way to organize and store that. So, I'm going to try an Excel worksheet in the gradebook.
It's possible that I may add other worksheets with student data (e.g. standardized test scores) as the year goes on. Obviously, I would not use this data in order to determine grades. Like the formative assessment data, they would be reference points for me.

I like that this makes my gradebook more "portable." I can use it on nearly every computer and don't need any special program to access it. As always, any ideas and/or feedback you have are much appreciated.

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Bonus Carnival

15 August 2007

I usually take the easy way out on Wednesdays and just direct my readers to the current Carnival of Education. I am certainly doing that---and it's a great Carnival to spend some time with---but I saw an article yesterday that caught my eye. I thought I might share it, too.

Jay Mathews of the Washington Post is reporting the results of a study in which "researchers examined what happened to 4,248 families that were randomly given or denied federal housing vouchers to move out of their high-poverty neighborhoods." Interestingly enough, seven years later, it was determined that changing neighbourhoods for families did not lead to higher student achievement.

Some critics, and the researchers themselves, suggest that the new neighborhoods may not have been good enough to make a difference. Under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Moving to Opportunity program, one group of families received vouchers that could be used only to move to neighborhoods with poverty rates below 10 percent, one group got vouchers without that restriction and one group did not receive vouchers. Families with the restricted vouchers moved to neighborhoods with poverty rates averaging 12.6 percent lower than those of similar families that did not move, but not the most affluent suburbs with the highest-performing schools.

"There is a wide body of evidence going back several decades to suggest that low-income students perform better in middle-class schools," said Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior fellow at the Washington-based Century Foundation. "But, in practice, Moving to Opportunity was more like moving to mediocrity."

Harvard University sociologist William Julius Wilson said that although the families that were studied moved to neighborhoods that weren't as poor, they still had many disadvantages. Three-fifths of the families relocated to neighborhoods that were still "highly racially segregated," he said, and "as many as 41 percent of those who entered low-poverty neighborhoods subsequently moved back to more-disadvantaged neighborhoods."..

They cite several possible explanations why students' performance did not improve when their families moved to less poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York areas. Some families returned to poorer neighborhoods after sampling a more middle-class environment. "For many families who remained in their new tracts, the poverty rate in their neighborhood increased around them," the researchers said.

Stefanie DeLuca, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist who wrote the second report based on interviews of Moving to Opportunity families in Baltimore, said many of the parents had little faith that better teaching in better schools would help their children. They felt it was up to their children to make education work.

I'm still pondering what all of this might mean. Student achievement is such a network of factors. Teacher quality is said to have the largest impact---and many studies have claimed that children in high-poverty areas have fewer highly qualified teachers than students in other areas. So, if moving kids to a place where there are (ostensibly) better teachers didn't raise achievement, what's the deal? Did the last statement in the article (up to children to make education work) represent a factor which over-rode what happened in the classroom? Was moving the family away from its known environment and support system too much "culture shock" to overcome? What do we do in order to ensure that all students have access to a high quality education?

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Get Thee to a Carnival

08 August 2007

Look...there's just no other way to really say it: click over to this week's Carnival of Education. Every Wednesday, someone steps up to the plate to host a compendium of posts gathered from the four corners of the blogosphere. Mike has done a fine job of compiling these digital solid gold hits. Show him a little appreciation and contribute to your own edification in the process. I didn't feel like I had anything stellar to offer this week, so I'm going to sit on the sidelines and cheer on the others. Get thee to the Carnival!


Friends and Neighbours

01 August 2007

You all know what time it is, right? It's time to stop by and visit this week's Carnival of Education. It's hosted by Dr. Homeslice, who claims that it's hot in the city. (Thanks, I've got a Billy Idol song stuck in my head for the day.) As always, this is a great opportunity to make the rounds and visit with your friends and neighbours. Darren's post about the NEA and Democracy (or lack thereof) had me cheering. While I can't claim to be looking at it through his Republican lens, I can certainly sympathize with having to deal with the "U-bot" hypocrisy.

Speaking of friends and neighbours, I've been taking some time this week to catch up with some "ex-pats" from the office: people who have moved on to other roles or districts. I think my favourite quote so far has been that "there is life outside of the district and healthy cultures do exist (and kids, not adults, are a focus)!" It does my heart good to know that they're well and happy. I always think that I'll do a better job during the school year of keeping up with these contacts, but I have to admit I don't do as well as I would like. Schedules are full and there is rarely time for more than anything other than a quick e-mail or phone call. Someone once told me that you make time for the things you want to make time for---to say that you don't have time to foster relationships is a copout. He was right, and yet there is only so much time and energy to go around. Sigh.

Anyway, I'm heading back to the Carnival to read a few posts and then it's out into the day to see what promise it holds for me. I hope you get out and visit with your friends and neighbours, too.


Home Improvement

25 July 2007

It seems like a lot of school personnel use the summer for working on their homes, in addition to some self-improvement. After a week of off and on rain here, the paint job on my house is nearly done, I'm busy redoing some planting beds in anticipation of the fall (bulbs) and next spring (flowers and veg), and slowly-but-surely working on some small indoor projects (like fixing the fluorescent light over the sink). With duties for school beginning in two weeks, time is growing short for me to deal with the long list of home improvements.

If you're one of the lucky few who can sit back today and enjoy a cool beverage, why not head over to this week's Carnival of Education. It is once again most ably hosted by the genial Mike in Texas. As always, this is our weekly opportunity to edify our minds, feed our teacher souls, and perhaps dodge another chore in the yard. :)


Copping Out

18 July 2007

Okay, so I don't have a lot education-wise to share at the moment. I'm busy with some other personal projects (like getting the house painted and some new trees planted), so hop on over to this week's Carnival of Education. You will find that many fine minds are still focused on the topics at hand, as opposed to gallivanting around the yard with shovels and water hoses. Since these sorts of activities tend to give one some think-time, I hope to return tomorrow with something education-y to talk about. :)


Wednesday Cool/Kewl

11 July 2007

It's supposed to be insanely hot here today (near 100), which wouldn't be a big thing if this part of the world believed in central air conditioning. The fact is, there really aren't that many days where it's we just have to suffer on those days. We are fortunate enough here not to have a reputation for being stoic. I plan to take advantage of that and whine. A lot. If you're sweltering too, here are some suggestions for distracting yourself from the evil sun.

The Education Wonks have a fine Carnival this week. For those of you keeping score at home, this is the 127th edition---and it's still looking fresh as a daisy.

A few days ago, I wrote about the research-practice gap. Interestingly enough, so has Greg over at LeaderTalk. He writes about being inspired to do something about it as well as his plan to get things moving in his world. He's going to be an effective principal: a rebel with a cause. This is a fantastic post to read and think about today.

Prefer to go shopping? Let me recommend Pencil Things to you. Yes, in real life, I'm very low tech. Happiness is a cedar-based pencil with a very long sharp point. This place is nirvana if you enjoy anything pencil related. I love these little sharpeners, for example. I have to say that this seller is one of the best and easiest to work with that I have ever encountered. I placed my last order on the 4th of shipped that same day...and I had things in hand by Monday.

Finally, I made this picture my new desktop wallpaper:
I wish I could give proper credit for it (it was found on Yahoo! News and they only credited AP). Even if the moias of Easter Island didn't make the final cut for the Seven (New) Wonders of the World, they're still darned fascinating to me. Makes me ponder my own future travel plans. I have so much left to explore.

Good luck to everyone riding out the heat today!


Carnival: July 4th Style

04 July 2007

The NYC Educator is hosting this week's Education Carnival. There's a fine collection of posts to peruse if you're trying to avoid the heat, fumes from the barbecue, or that view of the neighbour in the beer-stained undershirt. Enjoy!


Got Some Catching Up to Do

01 July 2007

Regular blogging will recommence shortly...after I've had a chance to get back into the rhythm of daily life. In the meantime, might I suggest you peruse this week's Carnival of Education? Mike in Texas has one of the most unique voices in the edusphere and he's put together a delightful summer road trip for you.


Education Carnival #124: Back to the Beach

20 June 2007

“I’m telling you. That sand gets everywhere,” said Ms Cornelius.

“Don’t I know it. I thought it was just this thong bikini bottom that was chafing. Whose idea was it to have the Carnival at the beach, anyway?” asked Mamacita.

The Science Goddess looked amused. “It was me. I thought that after a year in a stuffy classroom that we needed to get out and about. What did you bring as a beach read?”

“Well, I was just reading up on the amount of Ritalin prescribed to children these days. Some of it might be warranted, but I’m not so sure every prescription is necessary. How much is enough?"

Me-Ander peeked over her sunglasses. “I know just what you’re talking about. We didn’t need that in my day in order to pay attention in class."

“We used to have junior high kids who would arrive at school and then get a cup of coffee in the office. Their parents asked us to do that in lieu of Ritalin...and it worked like a charm,” said the Science Goddess. “Of course, I’m not so sure about an admin building in the area that just dropped fifteen large on an espresso machine.”

Mamacita “Perhaps if kids had more attention at home—especially from their dads, they would feel more secure at school. Where are all of the dads these days?”

“I don’t know,” said Darren, “but I was thinking about home visits by teachers. I’m not so sure that these are really necessary, but I do think that they would help build a partnership between home and school. I’m going to head over and see how the grill is shaping up.”

A group of men were congregated around the barbecue. Frosty beverages abounded.

“...what I’m saying is,” said Dave, “that we need to have better accountability measures for failing schools.” He poked at the coals.

“But would that include smaller class sizes?” asked Matt.

“It certainly could.”

“Well, I think that smaller class sizes would mean lower quality physical plants for kids. Imagine all of the portable buildings that would have to be brought in,” Matt replied.

“Meanwhile,” added Mark, “I think that NCLB is emphasizing mediocrity over excellence. Has anyone thought about the impact of all of these reforms on gifted and highly capable students?”

Joanne wandered by on her way to the volleyball court. “Regardless of all these things, people will still blame the teachers. It seems like popular culture likes to ridicule public education...or maybe they just undervalue it.”

“Would you look at that?” said Scott as some teens walked by. “What is the deal with the clothes some kids are wearing? The slogans on them don’t always reflect the most positive things. Ready to go play, Joanne?”

The Repairman was serving. “I’m saying that the way that we calculate grades might have been based on what was easy...but with software, teachers can use better measures.”

Mrs. Chili received the serve. “Oof. I’ve been thinking a lot about grading, too. Maybe we should chat after the game.”

Change is difficult thing to effect,” said Scott, joining the game. “I’ve been blogging all week about that. Stop by and read my wrap-up.”

Dana spiked the ball over the net and high fived Learn Me Good. “I’ve been trying to learn about Understanding by Design...and epic saga of change in and of itself. Not to mention trying to find a way to impact graduation rates.”

Learn Me Good looked at his hand. “You know, high fives are being banned by one district.” He looked over his shoulder. "Darn it. I think I'm getting a sunburn!"

“I do wonder about the Dearth of Common Sense these days,” said the Science Goddess. “What is it with all of these zero tolerance policies?” She walked over to help Mike get the s’more ingredients ready.

“How’s your summer?” she asked.

“You know, it didn’t start off well. Did you see that terrible news about the tragedy in Baytown where four young teens were killed or seriously injured? And you know that somehow, teachers will be blamed for their poor performance in school.”

“I saw that,” said Scenes from the Battleground, opening a package of graham crackers. “There really does seem to be some poor student quality these days.”

Hakim looked over. “This is why I think character education is so important in the schools.”

“It is,” said Frumteacher. “It really surprises me how much my view of ‘difficult’ kids has changed over the course of this year. It makes for a bittersweet good-bye at the end of this school year.”

“I’ve had some ambivalent feelings about the end of the year, too,” said Teaching in the 408. We just had a ‘graduation,’ but it was really more of a promotion from 8th grade.”

“Do your students do course or teacher evaluations?” asked Mr. McNamar. He had just come in from surfing. His wetsuit dripped and made the fire hiss. “Mine do, and there were some very interesting comments. I’m not sure that the students know me as well as they think they do.”

“I know just what you’re talking about,” said the Reflections Project. “I’ve been doing some thinking about the recent set of course evaluations I received from students.”

The Education Wonks grabbed a few marshmallows to toast. “I wonder if those would have any impact on merit pay? Or will it just be student achievement, like they’re considering in Minneapolis?”

“Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad,” said Bogusia. “I think that a higher teacher salary might lead to better education in the classroom.”

“Could be,” said Aquiram. “Or maybe it’s just a reflection of community affluence. Meanwhile, do teachers really practice what they preach in order to effect better education? We need more people using best practices...not just talking about them.”

Mike nodded his head. “I agree. I think the best way to learn about teaching is to get in there and do it.”

A group wandered over to a log that had washed up on the beach. They were getting ready to watch the sunset.

“Technology is definitely an issue,” said Dan. “We really need to help educators with how they design their graphic communications. I have some great ideas to share.”

“I’ll have to take a look at that,” remarked Matthew. “I’ve been looking at whether or not there is racial discrimination in educational technology. As long as groups aren’t excluded, does it matter if this area is dominated by one population?”

“Technology can be misused, though,” said Jill. “Have you seen the cheating methods students are devising these days? I wonder how we can help kids make better choices.”

“Maybe it’s all of the tests. It seems to me,” said the 13th floor, “that we need some sort of test for all of these standardized tests. What the states measure is certainly not equivalent to the NAEP...or one another.”

The sun was setting on another Carnival. The Science Goddess started helping the others pack up their materials. “Thank you, everyone, for helping make this such a success...and for helping me celebrate my 800th post! Please be sure to join in the ‘Sesquicen-Carnival’ over at Education in Texas next week. Get your posts to Mike (mikea3_98[at]yahoo[dot]com) or use this handy submission form no later than 10 p.m. CST on Tuesday, June 26. Have a restful and rejuvenating summer!”


Time to Hand in Your Homework

19 June 2007

Tomorrow is Carnival Day. Once again, I am proud to host this weekly review of the best thoughts on education from around the web. It's going to be a great party. So, if you haven't done so already, please send your permalink to me (the_science_goddess[at]yahoo[dot]com) or use the BlogCarnival submission form. Entries are due by 6 p.m. PT this evening. Assuming that there are no unforseen incidents, the Carnival should be in this space by early tomorrow morning. Please join us!


As Easy As 1-2-3

13 June 2007

The Education Wonks are hosting the 123rd edition of The Carnival of Education. For those of you who are already out for the summer, visiting the Carnival and reading through the posts is a great way to spend some lazy time. For the rest of us still-working gits, it's a way to keep focused until school is officially out.

Next week, Yours Truly will be hosting the Carnival. Get your posts ready to (g)rumble!


So There's This Carnival...

06 June 2007

You know---the one that's always on Wednesdays? It features education related posts from all over the edusphere? Yep, it's time to head over and check out this week's Carnival of Education.

Here are my picks 'o the week:

What are you waiting for?


Differentiated Carnival

30 May 2007

For a bunch of educators, we bloggers really cater to the visual learner. So today, it's time for some other learning styles to get their props.


Kinesthetic: Simon says "Stand up." Simon says "Turn around 1 full turn." Touch your ear. Hey...there was no Simon Says that time. Simon says "Sit down and get comfy." Simon says "Click this link and enjoy this week's Carnival of Education.

Interpersonal: Go read this week's Carnival of Education and then write a blog post about which links caused "a-ha!'s" for you.


Carnivalicious Wednesday

23 May 2007

Have you been over to Ryan's place for this week's Carnival of Education? Why not? He's put on a heckuva sparsely totient show for you. Click on over and do your part to support edublogging here in the evergreen state.


Time to Walk the Midway

16 May 2007

It's time to stroll on over to the Education Wonks and see what there is to see along the midway for this week's Carnival of Education. I do think that now that things are moving on to summer, perhaps the Carnival should move to the beach and be along the boardwalk. Who's with me?


Quickie Carnival

02 May 2007

Dr. Homeslice is hosting this week's Carnival of Education. (It's #117, for whoever out there is counting.) The presentation this week is a series of one-line invitations to read.

It reminds me a bit of a summarizing strategy I've used with students. They'd read a piece and then I'd ask them to sum it up in a single sentence of 20 words or less. Some of my favourite classroom "arguments" among students centered around the word choices for these sentences. It was a great way to engage a lot of kiddos.

Anyway, do click on over to the Carnival and see what there is to see!


The Big Finish

27 April 2007

It's been a very busy week...more on that later. In the meantime, if you haven't samba'd over to this week's Carnival of Education, now's a great time to shake your groove thing/tail feather/booty and head on over to the Wonks. There were a couple of posts about grading policies which caught my eye---but I haven't had time nor headspace to process yet.

I have second grade teachers today as the big finish to my week...and some vodka chilling in the freezer for a big start to the weekend. :)


You Must Be This Tall

18 April 2007

My first or second year in this area, I saw a young girl (16 or 17 years old) wearing a t-shirt that had a dashed line straight across the bust line. The words above said "You must be this tall to ride this ride." Funny? Very. Inappropriate for school? Ah, yes. So, off she went to change her shirt.

But hey, regardless of size, you can ride any of the great posts over at this week's Carnival of Education. Click on over to Dan's place and engage in a little digital action.

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Mid-week Detours

11 April 2007

If you haven't taken the sidetrip yet, click on over to this week's Carnival of Education, ably hosted by the godfather's of the edusphere: The Education Wonks.

This week is also your last chance to vote in the Best of Blog Awards. You can vote every day---go support your favourite edublogger!

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Spring Breaking

06 April 2007

I'm back from a few days away to rest, recharge, and relax. Regular blogging will continue momentarily. In the meantime, if you haven't checked out this week's Carnival of Education, click on over!


Ease On Down the Road

28 March 2007 this week's Carnival of Education. As always, there are great posts, lively ideas to debate, and cotton candy to get you sticky.


Pi Day Midway

14 March 2007

It's a very special Wednesday, ladies and gentleman. Not only is it Pi Day here in the states (it's celebrated in July, elsewhere in the world), but it's also time for this week's Carnival of Education. How lucky can one get? If you work up a hunger strolling the midway, head on over to to shop or send an e-card. Perhaps you might like to play some Pi Day Games or do some activities related to this unique number. Pi Day comes but once a year...


Education Carnival #109: Staff Development and the Edublogger

07 March 2007

Staff development had begun. Eduspherians sat in their table groups, dubious of the need for the day’s events. The Science Goddess could see that a few teachers had already snuck out their marking to do during the training.

“Now, now...none of that. Give today a chance! I promise that there will be no cutesy icebreaker games.”

There was an audible sigh in the room.

“I understand that the Right Wing Prof has something to start us off?”

“Ah yes,” he replied. “I have some fabulous tips for new teachers. I really think those new to our group would find them helpful.”

“I agree,” said the Goddess. “In fact, I’d like to contribute some advice for those new to blogging. By the way, I’d like to introduce the Exhausted Intern and The Teacher with a Bad Attitude.”

The perky Intern stood up, not looking exhausted at all. “Thank you! I’m hoping that someone today can help me understand why the least experienced among us are often given the most difficult of teaching assignments. It just doesn’t seem to make sense.”

“That does seem a bit counterintuitive” said the Teacher with Bad ‘tude. “It reminds me of the issue around trying to provide every student with some sort of award. Is it really such a hot idea to falsely beef up their self-esteem?”

Several heads nodded in agreement. “I’d like you to work with your table groups for the next few minutes,” the Goddess said, catching a few eye rolls. “You were asked to think about some current issues and brainstorm some ideas for the next meeting. I’ll leave you to it.”

The Grading group immediately started their banter. There appeared to be a great deal of interest in this topic.

“You know,” said DeHavilland, “maybe the issue isn’t grade inflation as much as it is the system. What would happen if teachers did the grading but there was an independent evaluator?”

Joanne jumped in next. “That might at least be one way to take steps. I’m trying to get some advice on how to help a kid who wants to learn, but whose teachers seem to only grade for effort, rather than academics.”

“I’m not sure how much grading might actually have an impact,” Dan said. “I’ve spent part of this week thinking about what it means to be able to predict failing grades.”

“Perhaps what’s important is how you choose to intervene when you think a kid is at risk of failing,” probed DeHavilland.

“Intervene? Are you kidding me? I have a story about a school board which is continuing its attempts to change the grade of a student. I just can’t believe it,” said Dr. Homeslice.

“Nice job with the Carnival last week!” said the Goddess before moving to listen in on another group’s conversation.

Miss Profe seemed a bit flustered. “How can you say that, Colossus?”

“Because I saw it. At least one university is now teaching world languages without professors. It does seem problematic.”

“But,” said Miss Profe, “Learning a second language requires thinking...although this week my students didn’t seem to want to engage with that.”

The Intern perked up at this conversation. Many years as a world languages teacher had provided many similar frustrations. “See?” said the Goddess. “I told you this would be a good place for you.”

“English can be just as frustrating...or exciting,” said Dana. “Just this week, I had a great experience doing a seminar with my students on who really killed Romeo and Juliet. Maybe I could share a few tips.”

The Hoosier Schoolmaster giggled. “My classes worked on Romeo and Juliet, too; but things did start off on an interesting note...after I asked for a kid to play Peter...a small part. Ahem.”

Scenes from a Battleground overhead the comment from his table. “Have you had any parent complaints?”

“No,” said the Schoolmaster.

“You’re lucky. I’ve had such ridiculous complaints made against me.”

“Some people just don’t get it,” said Ms. Cornelius.

“You’re telling me,” claimed the NYC Educator. “I had a kid who was bound and determined to be busted for throwing a bagel—not a muffin, as his teacher claimed.”

Aquiram looked up. “So what happened to the kid? I’ve been trying to sort out whether or not there’s a difference between a punishment and a consequence. Maybe you would have some insight to share.”

“It’s not just the kids,” added Ms. Cornelius. “The apple does not often fall far from the tree—which can be a most unfortunate thing. Let me tell you about a parent conference I had this week. Perhaps the world is truly made for people who aren't cursed with self-awareness.”

“Just send those kiddos over to me,” said Mrs. Bluebird. “I’m a magnet for bad kids as it is.”

Chris laughed. “Some kids are just plain gullible. Have any of you had students playing with that ‘Peter Answers' site? Let me tell you how it works.”

“Technology can really be a double-edged sword sometimes,” remarked the Goddess.

“Indeed,” said Matt. “It’s turning out to be one more thing which enables helicopter parents. As if they needed more help.”

“On the other hand,” remarked Rebecca from Information Age Education, “something like Squidoo can be a great classroom tool. You should see what I’ve been able to do with it for math.”

Denise asked, “Have you made a page about story problems? I’ve just written some helpful hints for solving those.”

“You could certainly Squidoo with something like that,” Rebecca replied.

IB a Math Teacher sighed. “I’d just be grateful to have kids in class once in awhile. What’s up with all of the field trips these days? I had to send a note to my colleagues excusing kids from these so they could be in my class!”

“Brilliant!” exclaimed the Intern.

“Once you get them there, you have to carefully consider how best to reach the kids,” said the Elementary History Teacher. “I know that some of my colleagues dread such staff development, but I think that until we expand our knowledge of instructional strategies, we’re not going to be able to support more students’ learning.”

Linda nodded. “Effective teaching should aim to prevent mistakes. And that can include direct instruction.”

“Schools do have big issues to handle these days,” said the Goddess.

“Case in point,” said Darren. “How should a school deal with the death of a student? It’s a rare event, we hope, but different each time.”

Mr. Lawrence jumped in. “Or what about the school with the meth-dealing principal? I’ve subbed at that school. I’m thinking that since society doesn’t place a high value on educators that they’ve begun to believe it. Maybe that’s why there’s all these stories in the news.”

“Speaking of news stories,” said that Education Wonks. “Have you seen how upset people are now getting that Pizza Hut rewards readers with coupons for free pizza?”

“Sheesh,” said the Goddess. “I wonder if those same people complain that libraries are making kids obese by encouraging them to sit still and read?”

Carol nodded her head. “There does seem to be a lot of junk food out there. Just last week I was working with some reading groups. We got to talking about their breakfast habits and I was amazed at what they ate, if anything. It made me wonder if this was part of the reason they were low readers.”

“Maybe parents just aren’t good at arithmetic these days,” said Mamacita. “You know, the kind that shows they understand value, not cost. It sure would help their kids.”

“Schools do have a lot to handle these days, especially with AYP concerns,” said John. “They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t in terms of the support they provide the lowest achievers.”

Bill looked over. “And what will happen as school choice becomes more of an option? It doesn’t seem to me that we can really treat them along a capitalist sort of model. A failing school is not the same as a failing business.”

“It isn’t,” said JD, “but just as we are mindful of supporting student learning, we must also be mindful of eroding teachers’ contracts. We can’t expect teachers to take on more than they should.”

The Goddess made it over to the final table. “What’s been happening with your curriculum this week?”

“My kids and I worked with some owl pellets—even started off the week with a poem, if you can believe it,” said Terrell.

The ChemJerk added that he had been thinking about the teaching of comparative religion at the high school level. “It’s not the material, but the approach that makes the difference,” he said.

“That sounds a bit philosophical,” said Allison. “It reminds me of what I’ve recently been pursuing. I’ve been interested in examining the idea of whether or not literature makes you a better person. Maybe it just makes you feel more alive.”

The Tour Marm smiled. “Nothing could be better for that than getting out and flying a kite. I brought some ideas to share for integrating it into your curriculum. This might be just the thing to do with kids after all of the spring testing.”

“Very good,” said the Goddess. “What a fabulous discussion today! Please take a few moments to reflect on your conversations and jot some notes in your journals. Remember to bring these with you to next week’s meeting. It will be over at The Education Wonks. Please be on time—just to remind you, that’s 9:00 PM (Eastern) 6:00 PM (Pacific) next Tuesday. Send your agenda items for this 110th convocation to owlshome[at]earthlink[dot]net or use this link. See you there!”