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How many reforms can dance on the head of a #2 pencil? (1-13-11)
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I was pondering today, as I often seem to lately, why I had a headache. It’s not just because I teach middle schoolers that I had a headache. They usually don’t give me a headache anymore, frustrating though they might be. They are, after all, middle-schoolers. It makes sense that they frustrate me. No, what Read More >>


Day of Blogging on Education Reform (from 11-22-10)
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On this, the National Day of Blogging on Education Reform, I return after a long absence to offer a few thoughts. Maja Wilson recently posted a piece to the Huffington Post about how she’s come to hate the word data – she compares it to a swear word. I recently journaled about other words I Read More >>


Tolstoy-ian Teacher Evaluation (from 8-25-10)
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Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (which I’ve read, thank you very much, but not in the original Russian) begins with the observation, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I’ve sometimes wondered if I really believed that to be the case, but the phrase has stuck with me. It recently occurred to Read More >>


Re-Purposing Education (from 8-21-10)
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I’ve recently had a dawning realization, one that I haven’t heard anyone else out there discuss. I was thinking about Maja Wilson’s terrific book, Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment recently, and was struck again by the idea that the multiple choice test, as developed originally, was designed to serve a “gatekeeper” function. The original IQ tests, designed by Read More >>


My Summer of Creative Teaching (from 8-20-11)
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This summer I taught for the month of July. And I was blissfully happy. My wife, Andrea, and I tried having our own creative writing camp, which we called “Write Away!” It ran for two weeks (nine days, actually), and then I moved into the second half of my summer, teaching at the HATS Program Read More >>


Priorities
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Questioning over answering Curiosity over standards Thinking over compliance Originality over regurgitation Wonder over certainty Students over scores Inquiry over ignorance Creativity over conformity Relationships over rules Ambiguity over arrogance Learning over letter-grades Humanity over harshness Meaning over meanness Investing over assessing Tools over rules Exploration over everything


All Subjects not Created Equal (from 7-24-10)
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Our system is currently obsessed with measurement, with numbers, statistics, and data. I can only assume that the system is being run by a lot of Math People. I have nothing against Math People, though I have never, ever been one. My son is a Math Person beyond compare (but he is also that rarity Read More >>


What Really Matters ISN’T Data (from 6-16-10)
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It’s been a while since I posted. The last month or so of school I was heavily involved in working with my 8th grade classes on creating and publishing novellas on Lulu.com. Between three advanced/Gifted classes, we published– I think– about 13 or 14 short novels. Most students worked in groups of their own choosing; some Read More >>


Merit Pay for Pundits? (from 4-20-10)
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After reading the Orlando Sentinel’s and Mike Thomas’s increasingly opinionated and vituperative columns in support of Senate Bill 6 (now vetoed) and merit pay, I’ve had to ponder how merit pay would work for a newspaper columnist. Thomas and other pundits are very big on “measuring” teachers’ success. How do you “measure” a columnist’s results, Read More >>


Why Background Knowledge Matters (A Comic Strip Essay)
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I recently finished reading Natalie Wexler’s article “The Radical Case for Teaching Kids Stuff” in The Atlantic Monthly. She makes the case that we need to stop neglecting elementary school science and history education in the name of spending more time on reading strategies. Teachers have been encouraged to limit science and history (as well Read More >>


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