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May 7, 2012
Commentary: Does the Growth Model make sense?
Educator Marc Waxman has some questions about the Colorado Growth Model, which is being replicated in several other states.
May 7, 2012
Commentary: How to show appreciation to teachers
Middle school teacher Mary Nanninga offers some pointed suggestions about how to show teachers they are appreciated.
May 4, 2012
Editor's blog: Colorado "doodler" state finalist in Google contest
Take a moment to help a Colorado teen win a $30,000 scholarship and Bayfield Middle School get a $50,000 technology grant as part of Doodle 4 Google. Vote now.
May 4, 2012
On Gestalt: A School Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts
Schools are complex environments, strewn with relationships amongst adults with a multiplicity of roles and allegiances, complicated by the volatile and competitive relationships of children striving to understand their place in the world. To work in a public school is to daily navigate treacherous political and interpersonal waters, work on various teams, alternately pressure and commiserate with parents in meetings and on phone calls, and conference with children to steer them through issues they encounter in their relationships with others. Relationships comprise the foundation on which the real work of schools reside. Teachers meet with one another to plan curricula and assessments (or at least, they should), examine and share student work, analyze data, and share resources and ideas on how to manage children with challenging behavior or inadequate academic progress. Students often have strong relationships with multiple adults in the building, such as the security guard, the secretary, another teacher down the hall, or a trusted paraprofessional or school aide. Teachers use tricks to capitalize on these relationships, distracting students in crisis by asking them to deliver pretend “mail” to other teachers, or sending them to a corner or outside the classroom with a co-teacher or paraprofessional to “de-escalate” and engage in a problem-solving conversation. As a special education teacher, my students often engage with a number of adults on any given day as part of their services delivered via their Individualized Education Program (IEP), such as counseling, speech-language therapy, one-on-one tutoring (SETTS), or occupational therapy. Many of my students are also English language learners (ELLs — gotta love all the acronyms, eh?), and are also pulled for small group English as a second language instruction. This year, I am teaching in an inclusion, co-teaching classroom, and my general education students are also sometimes pulled for academic intervention services (AIS) and dance practice for a school performance. Many of them also attend after-school programs most days of the week. Now think of how many adults contribute to the education of the students I am responsible for. And the farce that is value-added accountability becomes apparent. How can you possibly disaggregate my individual impact on a student from the collective impact of the school environment and that individual student’s work with other adults?
May 3, 2012
Commentary: Failed bill a blow to teacher freedom
Veteran Poudre schoolteacher Cally Stockton bemoans the demise of a bill that would have let teachers cancel union membership at any point during the school year.
May 3, 2012
Commentary: Blended learning transforms teaching
Charter school leader James Cryan and advocate Myles Mendoza say education may finally be moving into the digital age with the growing blended learning movement.
May 1, 2012
Fifth-graders learn to be healthy consumers
A new program in Colorado aimed at teaching fifth-graders to make healthy food choices is modeled after Ski Country USA's popular fifth grade passport program.
April 30, 2012
Commentary: Teachers weigh in on Common Core
Teacher Kate Mulcahy says the success of Common Core Standards depends on teacher involvement.
April 30, 2012
Commentary: University Prep inspires hope
Ben DeGrow of the Independence Institute extols the virtues of University Prep, a new Denver charter elementary school.
April 27, 2012
Editor's blogs: "Free" game apps that come with big iTunes bills
This editor was shocked to see her most recent iTunes bill - and so was her 9-year-old daughter. Turns out free game apps can be insidiously misleading when it comes to the upgrades needed to play them.
April 26, 2012
Commentary: Using research correctly
Researcher Kristin Klopfenstein takes a look at how data morphs into myth and finds there's little incentive to correct misperceptions.
April 26, 2012
Book 2: A Poem About Testing
Anaisbely Franjul is a seventh-grader at M.S. 118 William Niles in the Bronx. She wrote this poem after taking last week’s state reading exam,…
April 25, 2012
When Turnaround Came To My School
A week ago, as I walked into Flushing High School to start my day, there was a strange energy in the air — a mixture of anxiety and strangely, a little optimism. In the mailroom there was a colorful bulletin board of pictures from a recent rally held by teachers and students on the sidewalk in front of our school. The images were uplifting: smiles and enthusiastic faces marching together for a common cause — to save our school from possible "turnaround," a form of closure. The reason that morning stands out so vividly in my mind is that the public hearing about the city's plan was to take place that evening. The fact that this was real — and that this was really going to happen — set in when I passed the auditorium around 1 p.m. and saw the final adjustments being made to the tables, chairs, and microphones that would facilitate the contentious meeting. I was unexpectedly hit with feelings of sadness and resentment; the auditorium where I had participated in so many concerts, plays, poetry readings, and awards ceremonies was being “invaded” by bureaucrats who had never visited our school, or interacted with any of our students. I joked with my students that it felt like the penultimate scene in "E.T." when scientists set up shop in Elliot’s house. As I recount the details of that evening, there will be one recurring theme: I am so proud of my students! An hour before the hearing began, about 15 students gathered at the end of a hallway to make posters supporting our school. The posters expressed many different ideas: “Save Our School," for example, or “You Can’t Destroy our Dreams" and “137 Years Strong, We Belong!” The poster-making session was accompanied by lively discussion that included anger, optimism, pessimism, and cynicism. “How can they close our school?” one student asked. “Mr. Albertson, do you think there is any chance that they may vote to keep our school open?” In a nearby office, students helped each other draft and edit speeches that they would present at the hearing. We walked to the auditorium as a group and immediately signed up to speak. Some of the students meandered through the growing crowd and were collecting signatures on a poster reading: “Save our School!” Within minutes there was no free space for any additional names.
April 25, 2012
Commentary: Take care with ECE planning
Van Schoales, head of A+ Denver, makes a case for careful planning of early childhood education programs.
April 24, 2012
Commentary: A better path to literacy
Author Angela Engel says expanding the state preschool program, rather than approving a controversial bill, would do more to advance early literacy.
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