Recently found … 10/27/2011

  • tags: commoncore Standards education Common Core

    • The Common Core State Standards are one of the most significant initiatives in American education in decades. Yet the swiftness with which they were developed and adopted has left educators uncertain about exactly what they are. A number of myths about the standards have emerged.
    • Myth #1 The Common Core State Standards are a national curriculum.
    • Myth #2 The Common Core State Standards are an Obama administration initiative.
    • Myth #3 The Common Core standards represent a modest change from current practice.
    • Myth #4 States cannot implement the Common Core standards in the current budget climate.
    • Myth #5 The Common Core State Standards will transform schools.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 10/20/2011

  • tags: charter education educational reform charter schools

    • While charters are designed to facilitate innovation and academic success for students, not all charters are created equal, so the boom might not be entirely good news for kids.
    • overall, charters have a mixed achievement record. Stanford’s 2009 CREDO study, which remains the largest comparison study of charters and traditional public schools, found that only 17 percent of charters performer better than their traditional peers.
    • while they offer more personalized learning experiences, charters aren’t immune to the pressures of standardized testing
    • The question too few people are asking is what’s happening in those highly effective charter schools to make them work so well? Instead of ensuring that those ideas are passed back to traditional schools and to other charters, districts are handing out new charters like candy, creating an atmosphere where pretty much anyone with some semblance of a plan can open a school.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Blog Action Day 2011: Food

I realize that food is a tremendous source of inequity in the world … some folks have too much, some too little. However, I decided to write about the connections we share through food traditions.

Food is an important aspect of culture and connection. In our diverse household, we dye easter eggs and hide matzoh in the spring. We eat latkes and Christmas cookies in the winter. Food is an important part of our celebrations and a way to maintain a connection to our family’s diverse ethnic background.

When we travel the world, food allows us to explore other cultures … both for good and ill. I was adventurous, eating market-stall dumplings in Beijing, only to pay the price for several days after (eating undercooked meat!). We played it “safe” in  Egypt, ordering pizza from a very western hotel room service, only to find it was not any kind of pizza we had ever met. We’ve endured more traditional English breakfast sausages than can be counted …

But mostly the food adventures have been glorious. In Cairo, when I tried Turkish coffee for the first time, every waiter came out of the kitchen to see how I liked it. In Athens, my daughter and I ventured into a grocery store to buy olives and pistachio nuts – and then sat by the water at sunset eating one of the best meals we’d ever had. We sipped high cream tea with friends in Winchester, munched on croissants in the Dordogne, and sipped red wine in Rome.

Some of my favorite moments have come when my daughter realized as she ate noodles in China, or pasta in Italy, that we all share so many foods – but it’s a culture’s individualization through spices, sauces, and cooking styles, that make them unique. We are the same and we are different.

I pity Americans who visit another country and spend a moment in McDonald’s or Burger King. The whole point of traveling is to see someplace new, experience another culture – step out of your ordinary routine world for a little while. It will return, soon enough.

Recently found … 10/12/2011

  • tags: coaching education learning pedagogy

    • The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.
    • For decades, research has confirmed that the big factor in determining how much students learn is not class size or the extent of standardized testing but the quality of their teachers. Policymakers have pushed mostly carrot-and-stick remedies: firing underperforming teachers, giving merit pay to high performers, penalizing schools with poor student test scores. People like Jim Knight think we should push coaching.
    • Workshops led teachers to use new skills in the classroom only ten per cent of the time. Even when a practice session with demonstrations and personal feedback was added, fewer than twenty per cent made the change. But when coaching was introduced—when a colleague watched them try the new skills in their own classroom and provided suggestions—adoption rates passed ninety per cent.
    • every teacher has something to work on. It could involve student behavior, or class preparation, or time management, or any number of other things. The coaches let the teachers choose the direction for coaching. They usually know better than anyone what their difficulties are.
    • Knight teaches coaches to observe a few specifics: whether the teacher has an effective plan for instruction; how many students are engaged in the material; whether they interact respectfully; whether they engage in high-level conversations; whether they understand how they are progressing, or failing to progress.
    • Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components.
    • Good coaches, he said, speak with credibility, make a personal connection, and focus little on themselves.
    • Coaching has become a fad in recent years. There are leadership coaches, executive coaches, life coaches, and college-application coaches.
    • Coaching aimed at improving the performance of people who are already professionals is less usual. It’s also riskier: bad coaching can make people worse.
    • The greatest difficulty, though, may simply be a profession’s willingness to accept the idea. The prospect of coaching forces awkward questions about how we regard failure.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 10/01/2011

  • tags: assessment college SAT

    • Go to college somewhere. It doesn’t matter where. Go to a college your parents can honestly afford. Study something that fascinates you, not something you think is “practical.” No matter what you major in, you’re still going to graduate with virtually no skills and have to start out at the bottom of whatever field you pursue. College is about broadening your mind and sharpening your intellect. Take a few classes outside your comfort zone. You may find you like modern dance/physics/calligraphy. Appreciate that you are surrounded by adults who know more than you and are hungry to share their knowledge with you. Befriend your professors. You get more out of them that way.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.