Archive for the 'Teaching/Education' Category

Student Spelling – Can You Guess The Words?

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Lyn at Sleepless Juggler had a post recently in which she provided some spellings by first graders and had her readers try to guess the words.  This morning I had six “struggling” third grade writers in my room to take a state-mandated writing prompt.  I copied some spellings from their papers.  Can you guess the words?


hole tell




woiet dicey



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Is schooling REALLY so bad that people must “unschool” and “deschool”?

Monday, February 5th, 2007

I wrote a post a few days ago about unschooling.  A couple people took the time to comment, and I took the time to visit a few unschooling websites to learn more about it.  Sometimes I read about something that just fascinates me, and this is one of those times.

At school today I sat with children in the various reading groups that I teach, and I thought of the accusations in the article on unschooling that I read.  I wondered if those accusations are true:  Have we public school teachers truly created a one-size-fits-all world where children are not valued or trusted?  Are we shoving kids into classes with people the same age and trying to “make everyone come out the same?”  Are we crushing children’s natural curiosity and creativity.  Are the children in schools unhappy?

I looked for “crushed” children – for unhappy children.  I looked for teachers and situations where children were being forced into a one-size-fits-all mold. 

I watched the children in my class, and I watched the children in the hallways.  I saw a lot of happy children.  I saw a lot of laughing children.  I saw children who were pleased with their learning and children who were excited to be at school.  I saw children interacting with each other and with teachers and parents. 

In one of my groups, a second grade girl pulled a tooth and was thrilled that I had a little plastic tooth-shaped container to give her to keep the tooth safe until she got home with it.  The other children in the group were interested in the process and asked her questions about her tooth as she worked to pull it.  It was a “learn-able moment.”  Tomorrow I plan on reading Trevor’s Wiggly Wobbly Tooth by Lester Laminack to that group because I know that they will enjoy it and will make connections to the story.  If I didn’t share the book with them, they’d miss the opportunity to read a funny story about an event similar to what happened today in class.

Other things I observed at school today:  I saw a teacher express concern that one child was not wearing a long-sleeve shirt and was shivering.  The temperature outside was in the teens.  I saw our guidance counselor find several warm shirts to send home with the child.  The school had already provided a new coat for that child at the beginning of cold weather. 

I talked with a couple of teachers who came to me and asked about helping children who were struggling with some aspect of reading.  Each conversation was based on that particular child’s needs and interests.  Two different children stopped me in the hall to ask if they could come and read with me.  The hallways were filled with comfortable places to sit and read.  Smiles were the norm everywhere.

I saw children curled up on cushions reading their favorite books, and I saw others drawing pictures.  I saw children working together to complete a project.  A group of six first graders was working in the computer lab researching topics of their choice.  

In other words, there was a lot of nurturing, caring, learning and socializing going on.   Children were obviously valued and trusted.

Of course logistics demanded that some clear-cut rules were followed at school.  That’s the way it is in life – not just in school.  It has nothing to do with creating cookie-cutter students, but with creating a physically, educationally and emotionally safe environment.

Maybe in years past there was an emphasis on keeping all the kids on the same level and studying the same thing.  However, schools aren’t like that anymore.  When I think about the articles and blogs on unschooling that I’ve read this week, I realize that their criticism of schooling just doesn’t ring true for what I see and experience everyday – and what I have seen and experienced over the past 25+ years of working in public schools in several different states.  My own two children went to public schools, and my granddaughter is in public school. 

I’m sure there were some kids at my school who didn’t have a particularly wonderful day today.  However, I saw nothing to indicate that any child’s spirit was being crushed or stifled in any way. 

It’s fine with me if people want to unschool their children.  However, the thing that puzzles me is this:  Why do unschoolers feel the need to vilify schooling in order to justify what they do?  Why not simply say, “This is how I want my children to learn.”  Period.  Not because their children would be CRUSHED in a school or because schools are all about creating cookie-cutter students.   I suspect that unschooling parents might have had a bad experience with school.  Perhaps that is what led them to their decision to unschool.  Admit that’s the reason, but don’t dismiss the entire schooling experience because of that.

I believe it is interesting to note that the article I posted about earlier in the week stated that most unschooling parents are college graduates.  College graduates are the ones who can afford to criticize schooling.  I remember RT’s grandfather – an amazing man who was never able to go beyond grade school because of family obligations.  He always told us to “get all the schooling you can because that’s something nobody can ever take away from  you.”  He was looking at school from the perspective of someone who didn’t have access to it – and he wanted it.  He saw the value of it.

Sure, there are some bad schools and bad teachers.  But do we throw out all the wonderful and positive aspects of schooling just because some aspects are not good.  Why not address the real issues in schooling rather than give up on it entirely.

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Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

I read a new book to two preschool classes recently: Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie, written by Judy Cox and illustrated by Joe Mathieu. It’s a great read-aloud for young children, from preschool all the way through second or third grade.

Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!
Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!

Mrs. Millie is a teacher who teasingly uses the wrong (but similar) words.  Her students must supply the right ones. For example:

“It’s nine o’clock. Time to write, ” Mrs. Millie says. “Get out your paper and penguins.”
“Don’t be silly, Mrs. Millie! You mean our paper and pencils!”

The illustrations go along with the malaprops, and the children with whom I’ve shared the books have enjoyed many laughs over the pictures.

This would be a great book to use in discussing word choice in writing.  It will also help children learn to look at words more carefully and notice the differences in similar words.

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“Making Connections” with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, by Mem Fox

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Part of my job as a reading specialist is to teach demonstration lessons on reading strategies.  It’s one of my favorite parts of my job because I get to work in classrooms with children and teachers.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is an excellent book to use for teaching children to make connections as they read.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

The book is packed with wonderful “connection-maker” writing.  Wilfrid Gordon helps Miss Nancy, an elderly neighbor who has “lost her memory,” regain old memories and make new ones.

Prior to reading the book aloud to the children, I remind them of what it means to make a connection.  Then I introduce the three kinds of connections:  text to self, text to text, and text to world.  I give each child three sticky notes and ask them to write down any connections they make as I read the story.

As I read, I stop frequently to share my own connections (modeling).  In the “memories make you cry” part, I tell about my father’s death.  In the “memories are warm” part, I tell about the time when I was a child and we had an ice storm. The electricity was off for a few days, and my entire family slept around the fireplace.  It was cold outside, but inside we were all warm and safe.  As I read I also stop occasionally and let the children share the connections they’ve written.

As I read and share my own connections, I stress how my connections help me understand the story and the characters better.  When Miss Nancy remembers her brother who went off to war and never returned, I can understand how she feels because I remember the last time I saw my father before he died – waving bye to him and not knowing he’d never return.  Be prepared at this point in the book to have some children share heart-rending stories.  It’s sad, but it’s a part of their lives, and they’re eager to share them. 

And immediately afterwards you’ll get to the part about “memories make us laugh.”  Then the children can share their funny connections.

“Memories are more precious than gold” makes me think of the memories I would never give up for any amount of money.  Even young children have such memories.

At the end of the lesson we talk more about the purpose of making connections.  I always tell the children they can keep their sticky notes with their connections, or they can just throw them away.  They almost always choose to keep the records of those connections/memories.

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A Snow Day – NOT . . . YES!

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

So this morning at 5:00 I checked the news and found out that my school system was starting 2 hours late because of snow.  I wrote about my frustration with the powers-that-be for not going ahead and canceling school for the day.  That post is the one immediately before this one.  So scroll down and read it first to get a little background.

Since teachers have to be at school on time – even if school is delayed for two hours – I headed to school.  Okay, I wasn’t EXACTLY on time – After all, why hurry?  I was only about 20 minutes later than I usually would have been.  I would still be at school almost two full hours before any kids.

Our driveway is quite steep, but I had no problem with it.  However, I drive country backroads to get to school, and I had to drive pretty slowly on one road, in particular, that had snow and ice on it.  I was grumbling to myself about how the roads sure didn’t look safe to me, when my cell phone rang.

It was about 8:10 A.M.  I answered my phone, and it was an automated message from the school system.

“After studying the roads further, we have decided to cancel school for today, February 1st.” 

After 8:00 A.M. they decide to cancel school!  Unbelievable.  Every single teacher who had followed the rule about getting to school on time was most likely already either at school or on the way to school by that time.  I wonder how many had to turn around at the next safe place, as I did, and head back home. 

Wasted time.  Wasted gasoline. Wasted effort.  If the school system administration had cancelled school to begin with, they would have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble.

Stupidity is alive and well in school administration.

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A Snow Day – NOT!

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

The night before a possible “snow day” at school is restless, at best.  You don’t know if there will be school the next day or not, and so sleep is a little tentative.   Around 5:00 this morning I woke up and checked the TV.  There were long listings of closed school systems.   My school system, though, decided to open two hours late.  As I told RT many times, that is SO stupid! 

We have TEN extra days built into our school calendar for such occurences.  Every single school day is a few minutes longer than required in order to build up those extra days.  I don’t remember the last year that we used even half of the built-in snow days – and only once since I’ve lived in Tennessee have we used them all.   That was about 17 years ago when we had an ice storm that closed schools for a week.  Typically, we have a couple snow days during the school year.

With all those days “in the bank,” why open schools two hours late? It messes up everybody’s schedule a lot more than having no school at all.  Just give us the day off and be done with it!   The lunch schedule will have to start immediately after the school day starts.  It’s just crazy.

The really stupid thing is that on days when schools open late, the teachers are still required to be there on time.  I’ve never understood how roads can be dangerous for the students but not for teachers.  Of course they cover themselves by telling teachers not to drive on dangerous roads, but WHY even have that in the guidelines to begin with?  If the roads are too dangerous to transport students, then they’re too dangerous for teachers, too.

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Deciphering Kids’ Spelling

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Lyn, at Sleepless Juggler, is a first grade teacher.  The other day she gave her blog readers a quiz  of “mystery words” that her first graders had spelled.  Can you figure out what these words/phrases are?


Lyn has the answers in this follow-up post, but try to figure them out for yourself before clicking over there.

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Unschooling: Free-form education

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

There’s a new term that is getting some publicity lately.  It’s “unschooling” which means learning that involves no formal schooling.  There is no curriculum.  No lesson plans.  No guidance about what to learn.   The children decide what they want to learn and how they will learn it.  

There was an article on unschooling in The Tennessean last weekend:

Unschool parents: Kids can be own best teachers

educators fear free-form style leaves learning incomplete

It’s midday on a Friday, and 9-year-old Miyana flips through a book about dragons before her attention turns to making Valentine’s Day cards at the kitchen table.

Her sister, Aeyah, 7, across the table, expertly threads a needle and sews a tiny cape for a clothespin superhero.

While other children their age are quietly sitting in a classroom, the Fisher-Miller children have the freedom to pass the time without order and doing as they please in their pursuit of knowledge.

Younger brother Ocea, almost 2, drops marbles into the bell of a trumpet. “He’s using it as a funnel,” says their mother, Suzanne Fisher-Miller. Brother Khai, 5, plays noisily with two friends, the back door slamming shut as they run in and out.

What may look like bedlam is a radical style of home schooling that the Fisher-Miller parents think is best for their children: unschooling. It’s child-directed or child-led learning. Some call it relaxed home schooling. Topics aren’t learned until a child expresses curiosity, and they’re dropped as soon as the child is ready to move on.

Their curriculum is whatever interests them in life. There are no textbooks in their East Nashville home, nor lesson plans, schedules or tests.

The fact that topics are “dropped as soon as the child is ready to move on” is a little sad to me.  Does that mean that children are never pushed to stick to something they’ve started?   I probably never would have learned anything about chemistry or biology in such an environment.  I don’t think it is a bad thing to insist that children learn about topics they’re not particularly interested in.  I’ve actually BECOME interested in things after being made to study something I had no interest in initially.  My initial reaction is that unschooling limits a child’s learning.  The unschooled child is limited to whatever experience he/she has gained thus far in life.

Their parents say this unconventional style of learning shows respect for their children as full human beings who can learn lessons from everyday life.

Children, they feel, don’t need to master reading or multiplication tables until they’re ready. These families reject the structure of formal schooling that, they say, crushes creativity and curiosity.

Yes, formal schooling CAN crush creativity and curiosity.  However, it certainly isn’t a given, and in high quality schools with high quality teachers, it doesn’t happen.  In fact, creativity, curiosity and individuality are encouraged and supported in good schools.

But some education experts — and even fellow home schoolers — feel this free-form style could lead to gaps in learning. They are afraid children do nothing all day or develop strengths but ignore their weaknesses.

‘Trusting your children’

When Miyana asked her mom where carrots came from, the family took a field trip to a farm. Learning often emerges in their childish games, like the time Miyana created play people from orange peels and started figuring out how many of them would have to share if she only had three forks.

Her mother, however, did not turn that moment into a structured math lesson about division. Rather, she let it unfold at Miyana’s pace.

Twenty-five Nashville-area families are on an unschooling list-serve group, but many more families in the area unschool, perhaps as many as 300, said Fisher-Miller, who established a Nashville unschoolers group last year.

“It’s trusting your children to learn for themselves,” the 33-year-old mother said.

“Learning comes from the inside. You cannot make a child want to learn,” she said. “In today’s school system, it’s not a love of learning but it’s ‘Let’s push facts down your throat and have you regurgitate it.’ The best thing I can give my child is to love to learn.”

I agree that there is way too much emphasis on learning facts for high stakes testing in formal schooling.  You can’t FORCE a child to learn, and since our base of knowledge is growing by leaps and bounds daily, the best thing you can do is to foster a child’s natural love of learning.  However, I don’t see how learning and a JOY for learning can be accomplished with no structure at all.

Author Resa Steindel Brown, an educator and national expert on child-directed learning, said now, more than ever, parents should explore alternative education styles to match the fast-paced world. Youngsters are children of the Information Age, a time of technology and fast media, she said.

“The way our children take in information is much faster and involves more of their sensory perception — think TV, the Internet and Podcasts,” Brown said. “The way they pursue information is different from sitting in a classroom with a book reading it from front to back.”

Is it best for children?

Some educators expressed concern that this free-form style of education isn’t good for children.

“If unschooling is curiosity-led, not all children are question-askers,” said Cindy Benefield, who oversees home schooling for the state Education Department. “If they’re focused on one area, the child may know everything about gardening but won’t know multiplication tables.”

“It’s risky to put all the eggs in the child’s basket,” said Mary Jane Moran, an assistant professor of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, where she instructs future teachers of pre-kindergarten to third-graders. She has not studied unschooling.

“If children are the only lead horses, then there is no educational map through which they are led in a purposeful way,” she said. “It’s random starts and stops. Therefore, there is less opportunity for deep learning.”

It may be better to have a negotiated partner ship between a child and and a parent who knows the child’s needs and abilities, Moran said.

“You can make curriculum come alive and make it more relevant and tie it in to real-world experiences without throwing out structure,” said Terry Weeks, 55, a professor of educational leadership at Middle Tennessee State University and the national teacher of the year in 1988 when he was at Central Middle School in Murfreesboro.

Retired Metro schoolteacher Clata Miller is a grandmother of unschoolers and feels torn over the learning philosophy.

“I would be doing things differently, but I can’t say what they’re doing is not going to be successful,” said Miller, the grandmother of Miyana, Aeyah, Ocea and Khai.

The Franklin woman would prefer a more planned and thought-out learning environment for her grandchildren but respects the hands-on approach their mother takes to tap into the children’s interests.

“But as an educator, I feel you have to use your knowledge and experience as an adult to bring to them the things they need,” Miller said.

What about gaps in learning, worries Tina Bean, a former Metro schoolteacher who home-schools her 7-, 9- and 11-year-olds.

“It’s fine to cater to their interests somewhat, but sometimes you have to say, ‘Sorry, you have to do this, too,’ ” said Bean, 39, who lives in Antioch. “My 11-year-old, given his druthers, would never do spelling and always do math.”

The leader of a Montessori school, which also follows a child-centered philosophy but with some structure and limits, explains society’s reluctance to accept unschooling this way:

“I think that’s because people ultimately do not value children or trust them,” said Sherry Knott, executive director of Abintra Montessori School in West Meade and an admirer of unschooling.

People don’t value children or trust them?  That’s ridiculous.  Not valuing or trusting children has nothing to do with choosing more structured learning.  Rather, it is an understanding that children need direction and guidance.  We don’t emerge from the womb fully cognizant of what we want and need in life. Aimless and purposeless meandering around topics and skills doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests.

“They do not think children are capable, when in reality they are,” Knott said.

School systems rejected

Families often turn to unschooling in rejection of what they see as a one-size-fits-all school system they say crushes curiosity and creativity. Advanced children get bored waiting for classmates to catch up, while slower learners can fall between the cracks.

They also shun traditional home schooling because it follows the same mold of telling children what they need to be taught and how to learn it.

“The object of school is to make everyone come out the same. That whole concept offends me,” said Chelsea Gary of Franklin, who is unschooling an 18-year-old stepson, Chris, and her other two children, ages 3 and 5. There’s nothing a school system could do to persuade her to enroll them, she said.

Chris, nestled in an oversized red beanbag in his bedroom, said he hated reading until his parents pulled him out of school in California in December 2005 so he could direct his own education at home.

“I’ve learned more in the last year than I ever did in public school,” said Chris, who spent the first few months “deschooling,” getting used to his educational freedom.

A giant TV, shelves of CDs and a nearby computer loaded with video games are easy distractions in the typical teen-age bedroom. But Chris said he’s not tempted because he’s more interested in what he’s reading, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

“Topics I don’t like, I skim it,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool idea. I focus on things I want to use in life.”

Life, he hopes, will mean either being a rock star or chef — that’s why he spends the afternoons working at a Panera Bread cafe or rehearsing in a heavy metal band. He’s not sure if he’ll go to college.

“I want my children to grow up retaining all their creativity and interests they were born with,” his stepmother said. ” I can’t imagine someone crushing that out of them.”

It’s not a new idea

Unschooling, while still an underground movement, has been around as long as modern-day home-school education — and some say as long as humans.

Each family has its own approach. For the Fisher-Millers, there’s an emphasis on nutrition and money management.

“Honestly, what do children really need to know when they graduate from high school — to balance their checkbook, change the oil in the car and check the tire pressure, real-life things,” said Suzanne Fisher-Miller. “I think those things are just as important as history, math and reading.”

Today’s unschooling parents tend to have college educations. Fisher-Miller has a high-school diploma and started a math degree.

They are often two-parent households in which one parent stays home.

“I thought I would never be a stay-at-home mom. I’d been a photographer and artist,” Fisher-Miller said.

Her husband, Brian Miller, too, put his photography career — and its long hours — on hold and took a pay cut to work at a Wild Oats Marketplace so he could be home with the family by 3:30 p.m.

At home, they practice “strewing,” leaving books, games and other interesting items in their children’s path for them to discover.

Isn’t that just a roundabout way of directing” their children’s learning rather than letting the children determine their own “interesting items”?  Plus, it is inherently dishonest.  Instead of showing a child an interesting book and being upfront and saying, “I think this is a great book.  Would you like to read it with me?” they’re “strewing” it in their path.  I think it’s likely the kids see through such a ruse.

That’s not to say there is no parental involvement.

Rather, these parents said, they must be totally aware of the needs of their children and able to find resources to seek out information, whether that’s the local librarian, an entomologist at a nearby college or the grocer who can explain an exotic fruit.

To critics who say their children are missing out on socialization, they say there’s plenty of time to make friends outside the home, whether it’s visits to museums and the zoo with other home-schoolers, weekly gatherings of home-schoolers at a park or tae kwon do lessons, they said.

“Instead of being shoved into a class with people the same age, they can choose to be around all kinds of different people,” Gary said.

Unschooling parents talk about respect for their children, who in the outside world are often treated, wrongly they believe, as “lesser humans” without much say in things.

They trust their children to gain the knowledge they need within their own time frame.

“Elijah hates writing, coloring, and painting,” unschooling mother Amanda Slater, 30, of Hermitage said about her 5-year-old.

“It’s never a thing he chooses to do. I assume at some point, he’ll want to. I don’t like children being forced into something they’re not ready for,” she said.

“Elijah’s not writing now, and that would get him in trouble in school,” Slater said. “School wouldn’t wait for him to read or write until 8 or 9 or let him do multiplication and division in kindergarten, when he’s ready for it.”

Likes books, doesn’t read

Miyana loves books. The pile in the living room. The stacks they check out of the library. The hundreds of shelves full at the bookstore.

However, the 9½-year-old doesn’t read yet.

In an unschooling household, that’s no reason to sweat.

“What’s important to us is that she learn at her own pace,” her mother said. “We feel that the joy of reading is just as important as learning to read, and we don’t want to force anything.”

That kind of pace would not be tolerated in formal schooling, she said.

The brown-haired girl has an extensive vocabulary and can read some words but other times turns certain letters around — like “b” and “d” — because of dyslexia, her mother said.

“When she does start reading, she’ll be reading way above her grade level,” Fisher-Miller said. That’s been the case with other unschoolers who were delayed readers, she said.

Take the now-adult children of author Brown, a home-school program director in California who raised her children to learn at their pace at home.

Her oldest son did not start reading until he was 9, and by the time he was 11 he was taking electronics courses at a local college, Brown said. By 14, he was a computer system administrator for Warner Bros.

“The age of normalcy to read is between 3 and 9,” said Abintra Montessori Executive Director Sherry Knott. You’ll find 9-year-olds in public and private schools who aren’t reading yet either, she said.

But assistant professor Moran said a 9- or 10-year-old who is not reading yet could be at risk.

“There are sensitive periods of development when children are open to new kinds of information,” Moran said. “If a child is going on 12 and finally comes around to reading and everyone else has been reading for four or five years, she’s disadvantaged academically and socially.”

By the time the Fisher-Miller children reach high school age, their parents believe they’ll be learning completely on their own.

“A lot of parents would get nervous. ‘Are they learning enough or getting enough?’ I don’t have that anxiety,” Fisher-Miller said. “I really believe in my kids.”

I hope things work out well for both Fisher-Miller and her children.  I have to admit, though, I have my doubts.  I hurt for 9 1/2 -yer old Miyuna who “loves books” and yet doesn’t have someone who will show her how to read them.  Her enjoyment of books lacks dimension and depth.

Unschoolers are fortunate that one of the parents can afford to stay home full time and provide the opportunities for their children to learn at their own pace and about their own interests.  The vast majority of families don’t have that luxury. 

To me, it seems like an enormously self-centered style of learning.  The children are essentially being told that only the topics and subjects THEY are personally interested in are worthy of being studied.  Their world is immediately narrowed.

Yes, there are some awful schools.  There are some awful teachers.  Some schools and teachers stifle children’s innate curiosity and enthusiasm.  There are some absolutely wonderful schools and teachers, too.  I’ve worked in public schools in several different states for over 25 years, and the truly awful schools and teachers are definitely in the minority.  Don’t “throw out the baby with the bathwater.”  Just because there are bad schools and teachers, don’t give up on the enormous benefits that are available via formal and guided learning.

And finally, I think unschoolers sell their children short.  Children enjoy being challenged in their learning.   Through reading about and learning about things that might not be of particular or immediate interest to them – or topics they were unaware of previously – children expand their schema and realize that they ARE treasured as capable learners – and that they are not so intellectually and emotionally fragile that they can’t accept guidance and direction from their parents and/or teachers.  They also learn to value the abilities, knowledge and understanding of others.  They recognize that others (students, teachers, parents) have insights that can be meaningful or helpful to them.  This type of learning builds genuine self-esteem.

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No Child Left Behind – Football Version

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

For the ones of us in education, the follow little analogy will make sense.  It has probably been making the email rounds for awhile, but today is the first time I’ve seen it.  Hat tip to my fellow teacher, Nancy.

No Child Left Behind – Football Version 

1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship. 

2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or of their parents. 


3. Talented players will be asked to work out on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren’t interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don’t like football. 

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th game. It will create a New Age of Sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimum goals. 

If no child gets ahead, then no child gets left behind. 

If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and to support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad football.

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The 104th Carnival of Education

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Welcome to the 104th Edition of the Carnival of Education.  What fun it has been to read all the submissions!  Thanks to everyone for such enthusiastic participation in this carnival.  Now, on with the carnival!

School Governance and EduPolicy

Alexander at This Week in Education writes about “School Reform Hurricane: The Atlantic Monthly’s Amy Waldman On The New Orleans Recovery District”

EdWonk at The Education Wonks tells us about a Rhode Island Catholic school that has adopted a silent lunch policy in “The School of Silence.”

Expecting youngsters to be “silent” while eating lunch is like expecting a politician to tell the truth or be silent.

At the DeHavilland Blog, Brett asks if we are “setting the wrong standards.”

Ruth Joy at Detocqueville’s Daughter writes  about “The Future of Catholic Schools – Who’s Kidding Who.” 

Brandon at Florida Citizens for Science discusses curriculum standards for middle schools and Science FCAT.

Bucky at a Brown Bag Blog analyzes what went wrong with the Houston school district’s “cutting edge” teacher bonus pay system with the post, “Bone Us Pay.”

Michelle at NCLB: Let’s Get it Right discusses the same bonus pay in “Houston, We Have a Problem.”

Yesterday, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) began distributing $14 million in bonuses to teachers and other school staff through its new pay for performance system. This system was developed with no real input from teachers and–surprise–it turns out that teachers have no clue why they did or did not receive bonuses. 

Edspresso posts a series of reactions to President Bush’s State of the Union Address last week.  There’s a lot to read there.  So don’t get lost over there!

Patrick at The Psychology of Education looks at a new book that addresses “shadow children” and what the author claims is the #1 problem in education.

Matt at Going to the Mat writes about “A Better School Funding Mechanism.”

Michelle at Texas Ed writes about the drop-out problem in “No really?”

Brad in “I Liked the Book Better” at HUNBlog writes:

We need to know how well we’re doing in the classroom, and we need to know how effective our teaching methods are, but using high stakes tests to tell us the answer is like condensing a novel into a movie.

Doc at Dr. Homeslice tells about the phenomena of parents going on strike to support teachers in  “California Craziness:   LA, Bakersfield! Parents on Strike.”

Rory, at Kitchen Table Math, The Sequel, argues that the debate over new and old math isn’t a war, it’s more of an insurgency.

Teaching and Learning

Darren at Right on the Left Coast was listening to talk radio one morning on his way to work and heard another teacher Giving Teachers a Bad Name.

In “Hey, White Teacher!” Ms_Teacher shows us that “when students notice our differences, the connections that can be made are awesome.”

 John at Pick the Brain  discusses the two types of cognition in “Learn to Understand Your Own Intelligence.”  Since I preach metacognition to my elementary students daily, I really identified with this post. 

Elementary History Teacher discusses the use of literature in her classroom in “Let Them Read a Book!”


Several people wrote about blogging this week – blogging by teachers and/or students.

Russ at The Student Help Forum explains, “Why School Students Should Blog.”  He makes an excellent point:

The current trends in teenage writing that were caused through SMS and other instant messaging services could be eliminated through blogging. Who would want to read anything similar to:

“Gr8 day!!! Went sk8in. G2G. Cya!”

By creating a blog where students are judged by real people, decent content will need to be created.

Dana, at Principled Discovery, has another take on the use of blogging in education.

While blogging may have a use in education, I don’t see how it will “revolutionize” anything. Too much emphasis might have the opposite effect to what is desired.

The Reflective Teacher and  Dana at HuffEnglish started collaborating about a Holocaust project via comments and email as a result of a blog post.  The resulting project may end up in book form.

Joshua, at Learning, The Gravy Way, presents “The Monotillation of Traxoline” (which I would award “title of the week”) about the problems students and teachers face when they do not share the same level of understanding.

Denise at Let’s Play Math presents “Percents: The search for 100%“.

From the Classroom

The Sleepless Juggler, Lyn , compares her day with first graders with organizing earthworms.  Just reading her list of what went on in her classrom during one 7-hour day left me exhausted. 

Mrs. Bluebird has been noticing pencils lately – and it’s not a good thing.  Does “Dixon Ticonderoga” ring a bell?

In “A Poem to Start the Week: Love that brother!”  Terrell at Alone on a Limb writes about his use of Sharon Creech’s book Love That Dog in his 4th grade classroom.  That’s one of my favorite books, too.

Inside This Teaching Life

Graycie of Today’s Homework, provides us a humorous look at Professionalous Developmentation. 

Mamacita in “. . . in which the teacher finds she is learning far more than her students” at Scheiss Weekly writes:

I will always hold with academic excellence, but I have since learned that there are many different kinds of academic excellence. I have also learned that no amount or category of academic excellence can hold a candle to ethical excellence, or a good work ethic, or simple kindness.

Teachers can be bullies, too,” says Miss Profe at it’s a hardknock teacher’s life.

Ms. Cornelius at a Shrewdness of Apes tells us exactly why she hates wrestling.  I happen to agree with her.

Mike at Education in Texas finds out that it was just as he expected regarding a grant proposal he made to purchase new educational software and new computers for his school’s computer lab.  Was he sabotaged?

The Science Goddess at What It’s Like on the Inside got my attention with her title,”Kinky Teachers.”  Her post includes words such as masochistic, sadistic, hairshirt, flagellate, guilt, multi-tool.  It is quite a read.


Linda at Life Without School write about “So What About Science?

Of Interest to Parents

As the grandparent of a kindergartener who has had up to two hours of “homework” on a school night, I can identify with Beau of Fox Haven Journal who writes about “Kindergarten University.”

Lisa at Let’s Talk Babies tells us “How To Save For College.”  Her post made me SO glad my two are already out of college.

By 2024 the cost for a 4 year degree will range from $161,463 to $331,059, depending on if you child goes to an in-state public university, and out-of-state public university, or a private university. 

Higher Education

Ted at Campus Grotto has written that The Most Popular College has received more than 50,000 applications for the fall of 2007.  Can you name the school?

Dr. Madeline Daniels writes about new degree programs being offered online and elsewhere in “Together We Learn (Part II)”.  What we usually think of as “traditional” teaching methods really aren’t traditional at all.

Truly traditional methods involved storytelling (i.e. sharing the experiences of elders, hunters, and workers), even dance, art, drama and role-playing through activities that mimicked real life tools and chores. Lectures in a crowded room are really a very modern invention, and a not very effective one at that!

Madeleine Begun Kane offers us an “Ode to the Bar Exam” which provides a little legal humor.

Pushpa Sathish at Online University Lowdown presents “Big Cities on Top of Online Education.”

As part of his job, The Travelin’ Man from Stuff You Oughta Know reads college applications.  He shares his insights about “Why Letters of Recommendation are Irrelevant.”

Jane at Career Ramblings writes about her first day of teaching college level students in “The Experience of Teaching Business Students.”


Mike at Connecting the Dots has been looking at blogs and  video podcasts from Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.  In “Iraq from the Inside” he asks, “ How are kids learning about this war and what role should their schools and teachers play?” 

Laurie at Trivium Pursuit tells us how to “Learn Movie Making with Stop Motion Animation.”

Caroline and Alvaro at Sharp Brains present “Lifelong learning, literally: neuroplasticity for students, boomers, seniors…“  It’s all about “brain fitness.”

Aquiram at Teaching in the Twenty-First Century is looking for resources in the form of themed music to go along with history and literature topics.  Can you provide some suggestions? 

Internationally Speaking

Sometimes teacher comments need a practical translation – not only in American schools but in Korean schools as well.   Jeonjutarhell at Skillet Blogging (love that blog name!) gives us some great examples in “Little Lies…”

Initiating conversations in English. Asked me if she could go to the bathroom.

Good at picking out key words. Tells me every day is Tuesday.

A leader in the class. Your evil daughter controls the classroom with an iron fist and is without a doubt the biggest bully I have ever encountered.

Vibrant and enthusiastic. Finds staying in his seat akin to riding a bucking bronco. Eight seconds is about the limit.

No major behavioral problems. Hasn’t killed anyone yet.

Beginning to pick up sight words! Can now read “I” and “a.”

Kelly, over at Ogretmen, writes about Litigiousness and Entitlement at the Turkish school where she teaches.

Joseph at Learn Chinese offers a Chinese vocabulary game.

Inside the Blogs

In “Fifth Grade Smarts” Joanne Jacobs tells us about a new Fox TV show that will give adults questions taken from fifth grade textbooks.  Can adults answer fifth grade level questions?  It might prove interesting.

Mr. Lawrence at Get Lost, Mr. Chips says, “I Can’t Stand This Book!“  Do you have a book that you just can’t stand?  Add your choices to Mr. Lawrence’s list.

Mr. Teacher at Learn Me Good writes about favorite TV teachers.  Do you have any candidates for him to consider?

Taking Care of Carnival Business

Look for the 105th Carnival next week at This Week in Education.  Your entry should be submitted by 9:00 p.m. (Eastern).  Send submissions to thisweekineducation (at) gmail (dot) com.  You can also use THIS HANDY SUBMISSION FORM.  

The complete Carnival archives can be found HERE.

And finally, thanks to EdWonk at The Education Wonks for giving me the opportunity to host the Carnival of Education this week.

That’s it for this week’s Carnival of Education.  Thanks for stopping by.

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