Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Pond

With all the rain we’ve had, we’ve got a new pond across the street.  And it does not appear it will be going away.  It has slowly been getting bigger with each new storm.

You could say I am not in waterfront property, but there are trees in the pond if you get far enough into it.  Not sure if we should try slalom-water-skiing. 

These shots don’t exactly do it justice.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Something really cool

Yesterday (March 18, 2010) through a set of circumstances, I ended up with a drama class in my band room.  A couple of them had asked if they could come to my room instead of sit in the cafeteria with 5 or 6 other classes, and so I said yes.  I figured they’d come and do some work, chat, maybe even turn on some music on my classroom stereo.


I was sitting in my office slowly working through the pile on my desk, and I began to realize that I was hearing them read a script.  After they finished, they engaged in a sensitive, thoughtful, and thorough critique about what they’d read, and where it could go.  No voices got raised, nobody’s feelings got hurt.  They just talked about the script.


Which, it turns out, one of them had written.


It takes guts to put yourself out there, but with this group it is obviously safe to do that.   They showed independence, self-motivation, creativity, and kindness.  They talked through issues in the story, and found their way through them, solving little plot problems here and there.  They worked as a team.


This is not just about drama.  The skills employed by these students are the kinds of skills being sought by business leaders, college admissions officers, and society at large, which seems to be losing the civility these young people showed one another.  This arts thing is no frill – this is central to everything we are trying to do.


I was so impressed I emailed Sha Riordan, the teacher who was out sick, and copied the principal and assistant principals.  What a great group of students!


And what a way to be reminded why I went into this business in the first place.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Who is developing the Common Core Standards?

I saw the list of people that make up the committee which is developing the Common Core Standards for our country's children.  You might be surprised to know that most of them are from testing companies.  Yup - testing companies. 

There aren't educators on this list - no current high school teachers, or college professors, or even principals.  No pedagogues.  The standards are up for public comment -  I hope many teachers, students, parents will get involved and comment.

Check out the list of people on the committee:

Sara Clough, Director, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
David Coleman, Founder, Student Achievement Partners
Sally Hampton, Senior Fellow for Literacy, Americas Choice
Joel Harris, Director, English Language Arts Curriculum and Standards, Research and Development, The College Board
Beth Hart, Senior Assessment Specialist, Research and Development, The College Board
John Kraman, Associate Director, Research, Achieve
Laura McGiffert Slover, Vice President, Content and Policy Research, Achieve
Nina Metzner, Senior Test Development Associate--Language Arts, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
Sherri Miller, Assistant Vice President, Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
Sandy Murphy, Professor Emeritus, University of California ? Davis
Jim Patterson, Senior Program Development Associate--Language Arts, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
Sue Pimentel, Co-Founder, StandardsWork; English Language Arts Consultant, Achieve
Natasha Vasavada, Senior Director, Standards and Curriculum Alignment Services, Research and Development, The College Board
Martha Vockley, Principal and Founder, VockleyLang, LLC

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

President Obama's Common Core

So perhaps you have heard about the development of a national common core of education standards for our country.  On the surface, it seems like a great idea.

The problem is that, as usual, the wrong people are doing the work.  Governors are deciding.  With state school chiefs they appointed.

Let's see.  What analogy can I draw that would properly communicate the absurdity of this whole thing?

Oh - I know.  I will put myself in charge of drafting national standards and codes for new home construction.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  I will decide what kind of wood you can use, how thick the foundation will be, what kind of land on which you can build.  And I will get a bunch of my teacher friends to form the committee to help me.

Think that would work?  We would end up with some beautiful and stable houses, right?  I have no knowledge of anything related to construction beyond the 10th grade geometry and 11th grade trigonometry I took almost 30 years ago.

Would you live in a house I built?

But these people, who are NOT doing the work of educating the kids, who do NOT know anything about carrying out this sacred task, are going to decide what every child across the country should be reading. 

And if we refuse to follow, we don't get the money Obama has set aside to assist education.  In my book, that's extortion.

Take a look at this article for more information.  It will blow your mind.

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