Thinking About Education

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. ~Socrates

Honeymoon Over? Consult the Little Prince

An excerpt from that wonderful treasure, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “That is strictly correct,” I said. “But why do you want the sheep to eat the little baobabs?” He answered me at once, “Oh, come, come!”, as if he were speaking of something that was self-evident. And I was obliged to make a great mental effort to solve this problem, without any assistance. Indeed, as I learned, there were on.. Read More

Tiger Basketball

  Inspired by one of my young students, this poem is especially for children who prefer visual art expression to reading and writing   TIGER BASKETBALL   I see the lines I see the color   They are bold And they are bright   I see a tiger in the basketball I see a panther in the night   I love to paint I love to draw   It doesn’t matter If “was” is.. Read More

The Discrimination Behind “Easy” Grading Practices

  There seems to be a growing trend to revise grading practices so that courses are easier to pass. Some have called such practices the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” but how is bigotry ever soft? When inflationary practices began several years ago at my middle school, teachers and administrators were quiet about them; they weren’t sure they wanted parents to know that, for example, if a student turned in nothing or made.. Read More

Data Central = Bad Karma

  Public schools in my area have developed a new karma over the last decade: data central.  It was student central for a while, but alas, like many other movements in education, it was replaced by something perceived to be bigger and better. What could be more scientific and certain than basing decisions on data? And which data are the most important?  Student performance data, of course. We measure our schools by how.. Read More

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” ~Plato

  There has been a lot of talk about how best to evaluate teachers lately, especially with the “new” movement to include student test data as part of a teacher’s evaluation. Diane Ravitch’s blog has provided much evidence about how student test data has been shown not to be a good measure of teacher quality. So what is a good measure of teacher quality, and why is this question one we find it.. Read More

Eduspeak: “Authentic” Reading

  I have another story to tell about reading–a story about educational trends that may lead us astray if we get too caught up in them. “Authentic” reading is one such trend in Language Arts. I have heard principals deny programmed reading materials to Reading and Language Arts teachers because they were not “authentic,” and current “best practices” dictate that we use only authentic texts in our classrooms (these are texts that readers.. Read More

The Lost Art of Storytelling?

  My parents are the most literate people I know. They are in their 80’s and still attend a monthly book group where group members, including retired English professors, discuss an important book they have all read. They still learn and grow from such an experience. As a group they understand, connect, enrich, and enlarge upon the stories they read and tell. There is nothing quite like a discussion of a good book.. Read More

I. A. Richards and Reading Diagnosis

  Reading teachers, diagnosticians, interventionists, tutors, and all readers interested in honing reading skills might appreciate reading (or re-reading) the classic work Practical Criticism by I. A. Richards—at least the part where he explains the principal difficulties of readers. His list deals specifically with reading poetry, and the difficulties his students have with critiquing poetry, but I think the same difficulties can occur in other types of reading as well. Interestingly, his book was.. Read More

Opening our Eyes, Ears, and Minds to Reading

  Students who struggle with reading, or perhaps anything, do so for different reasons. The most rewarding and interesting part of my graduate work in literacy was learning how to diagnose and then design appropriate lessons for individual students who struggled with reading or writing and find ways to solve their problems or at least get around them. As a core classroom teacher, there is little time to delve so deeply into individual.. Read More

The Carrots and Sticks of PBIS

  “PBIS” stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Support. This is one of the groundswell initiatives moving through the schools in our area right now. It’s hard to argue with its premise: let’s focus ourselves on promoting good behavior rather than on punishing bad behavior. Let’s celebrate victories not wallow in failures. Let’s be positive, not negative. Sounds good on the surface. If you look at research about motivating human behavior, however, we.. Read More

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