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Summer Notes

Books to Read:

New Kelly GallagherMake Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana 
Notes for Art: Group Project for the First DayExpectations from group projectexit question


Recent posts

The Cruelest Month

I know T.S. Eliot favored April as the most cruel, but we teachers know that May is… even more so these days.Most importantly, it is the final testing month. National ‘assessments, state ‘assessments’, district ‘assessments’, school ‘assessments’… on and on. It’s impossible to actually get anything done. Toss in graduation activities, planning for the upcoming year and the 2011 bonus, lay-offs and transfers, and you have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to save money by simply shutting down school entirely except for a few test proctors. Meanwhile, there seems an air of hopelessness permeating the education world. Plans to lay-off thousands are coming to fruition. Schools are being closed, despite protests. Charters are increasing where they can whether they should not. Unions have lost a lot ground and teachers are trying to decide if it’s even worth it any more to continue talking about education. (not that I blame anyone for that, we all have lives to live)For myself, I know that…

“They Don’t Get It”

I hear that a lot these days. It used to be mostly from various teens trying to negotiate the drama unfolding in their lives as they wandered into that no-man’s land between adult and child. These days it’s from adults trying to navigate the education scene these days.So many people talking and no one listening. The other day I was reading a post by a blogger I’ve been following for several years. Before there was such a thing as “blogging.” We all know spring is IEP review season. This blogger wrote about his daughter’s. Among the various elements, there was the discussion about the state assessment tests. She did not pass. There was discussion about what this means… and why said student needed to pass this test. Would she be taking a modified test?While reading, all I could think about was what would happen to that child as she entered middle school and high school. A history of not passing the assessment test vs. teachers who will now be evaluated on how many students pass that tes…

Where the Money Is… or Isn’t.

We’re starting our wind down for the school year. Most state testing has finished, although there are still the End of Course (EOC) exams to be done and AP tests start next week. College acceptances have been received and deposits sent back. Students are a little stunned to realize that only six weeks are left and that there aren’t many assignments left with which to rescue their grade.My formal last observation for the year was today. I was a bit nervous – things haven’t gone well for others and who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Once again, I am reminded that working in education is only slightly less political that working on Capital Hill… fewer political  ideologues, more personal vendettas.The deadline for RIFs and transfers looms. Basically, we greet each other in the morning, at lunch and after school with the words “have you heard anything?”, every day. God forbid anyone is out of their normal spaces at any point in time. The rumors immediately start flying. I guess …

College Advice

If you teach seniors, Saturday’s Dear Abby may have caught your eye. Students get the message throughout their high school years that all they have to do is get good grades and the world is their oyster. Then in the final semester of their senior year reality dumps on them like a brick wall in a earthquake zone.  They don’t get accepted to college of their choice; they can’t afford the college of their choice; scholarship applications are denied… the real world is not a helping hand up. It’s a harsh competition for diminishing resources.When confronted with a student whose dreams are… umm… altered… because of money, I try to point out the positive. “A large college may not be the right choice for you, but are you determined to get a college education? If so, I know that you can find like-minded students. I, too, attended a well known party school. It also had a strong Honors program, a multi-national student body and some of the most out there technology on the cusp of being widely kn…

The best laid plans…

Apparently plan 13 for next year has me keeping my job in my current position. However, plan 12 had me moving to a different school and the state legislature has not fully made up it’s mind yet, so the best guess is that we’ll know what’s going on in September. Until then it’s all supposition.FWIW, plan 12 had my department scared poop-less. Another teacher has already been signed up to attend an AP conference and is not happy about it. Then I mentioned that all the RTI coaching duties would have to move to someone else and the look on their faces was priceless. The mix of fear and horror was somewhat touching… I would definitely be missed.Back in the student’s reality, senioritis is coming on full strength. Two more months and they’re free! Of course, this means that concentrating on the mundane information from classes is extremely difficult. I mean, this is their LIVES!!! people!!! What college to choose? How is it going to be paid for? Should I just go to work? Where will I live? …

Research Based

One the biggest problems I face in working with reading intervention students is the curriculum. Or rather that lack thereof… As a part of the whole Response to Intervention (RTI) process, the only resources we are allowed to use are ones that are research based. Ones with lots of research behind them, showing that they worked on x number of students and raised their reading level by y points in z amount of time. Or that they monitor progress for x students, showing improvement based upon y test. I’d say it’s really boring, but if you’re in the business, it’s a little interesting. It is, however, not like reading anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence is very interesting. It’s a story of how program x worked for teacher y and all the students became voracious readers. There’s a plot! Conflict! Possibly even movie rights! Not a lot of numbers, but a lot of touching and heartwarming sentiment.For high schools students (NOT “secondary” – which in RTI land really means 7th graders), there…