Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to do a great deal of speaking, presenting and collaborating with educators all over the country. In talking with educators from every state as well as a number of the U.S. territories, I have gained a unique perspective of the state of education in our country. Now, I am not going to pretend to be an expert, but I want to share some of the things I have seen, heard and experienced. I will go a bit out of order from the title to explain my observations.
There are bad teachers teaching in our schools. I have seen them. I have talked to them and listened to them talk. I have heard more stories from other educators about these bad teachers than I would ever have time to share. They are out there in our schools teaching students every single day. (read more…)
In a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article titled “The Real Reason America’s Schools Stink,” author Charles Kenny highlights an interesting fact: “In the U.S., kids from homes where there are more than two full bookcases score two and a half grade levels higher than kids from homes with very few books.”
And while Kenny’s assertion — based on statistics generated by Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek and his University of Munich research partner Ludgar Woessman — is specifically referencing the bookcases of parents, my bet is that students with large personal libraries are also doing pretty darn well in school.
So what should be on the bookcases of the middle schoolers in your life?
I asked my sixth-graders that question the other day. Here are 10 of their top suggestions — written in the form of 140-character summaries that we’re planning to start tweeting out in the near future.
- Have you been illegally hiding in your attic — looking at the world through a vent?
September is National Literacy Month, and what better way to celebrate and promote literacy than focusing on the tools that students own and love: their cellphones! Using cellphones to enhance learning does not require that they be used in class. If you are in a school where cellphones are banned, the ideas shared here are also applicable outside of class.
Cellphones are a great tool for enriching literacy instruction. Here are three ways innovative educators can use the tools in their students’ pockets for learning inside or outside the classroom.
Students are reading and writing more than ever. In the 21st century, reading and writing often takes place through the lightening fast thumbs of teens. Although some parents and teachers complain that text messaging is ruining the language, research shows that it is, in fact, a benefit to students’ phonemic awareness, spelling and use of words (Yarmey, 2011; Plester & Wood, 2009, Malson & Tarica, 2011; Fresco, 2005; Dunnewind, 2003; Miners, 2009; McCarroll, 2005; Elder, 2009). (read more…)
As I was driving recently, I heard a commercial on the radio that really grabbed my attention. It was from a real estate organization that was talking about the advantages of owning a home. What grabbed my attention was a statement claiming that children of homeowners score better on standardized tests. I couldn’t believe it. Somebody was using the potential of a child’s success on a standardized test to get people to consider buying houses. Of course, I immediately thought that children of families that didn’t own their home must not be doing as well on these same tests.
At this point during my drive, I tuned out the radio and started thinking about implications of this statement, if in fact it was true. We have been told that the single most influential factor in a child’s education is the teacher. Using that as a sledgehammer statement, many politicians have pushed for connecting teacher assessment to student performance on standardized tests. (read more…)
What do educators have in common with gold-medal winning swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin or gymnast Gabby Douglas? Purpose. Greatness. Persistence.
Andrea Hajek, a director of educator engagement for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, reminds educators of their Olympian potential in a recent interview with SmartBrief education editor Trigie Ealey.
As a National Board Certified Teacher, what are the three most important pieces of advice you have for fellow teachers returning to school this year?
As I was watching the Olympics, it occurred to me that we should teach like an Olympian. Teach with a clear purpose, find the greatness in every student, and be persistent.
- Be purposeful. Teach with the students’ needs in mind. Once you develop an understanding of your students’ needs, set learning goals that are meaningful and worthwhile for that particular group of students at that time. Design instructional sequences for students to achieve those goals, assess the learning, reflect on your practice and adjust instruction.