Archive for the ‘Classroom styles’ Category

Closing the achievement gap: We’ve been building vocabulary. How about also building character?

What sets children on a successful path in school and, hopefully, in life?

The current belief is that it’s how much children know, so we buy math flashcards for 3-year-olds and sit toddlers down in front of “Baby Einstein” videos. We eliminate recess to direct more time to reading and numbers.

But is the answer stuffing information into children’s brains at earlier ages?

A new book suggests that we are focusing on developing the wrong abilities. What might contribute more to children’s success — especially children growing up amid deep adversity — is persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self confidence,  said Paul Tough, author of “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character,” in a telephone interview.

After visiting classrooms, campuses and laboratories and interviewing teachers, researchers, chess masters and students, Tough concludes that the most significant skills children must learn …

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Former college prof and AP teacher: Advanced Placement is “one of the great frauds” in high school today

The Atlantic offers a provocative essay maintaining that AP classes are a scam and over hyped.

The piece is by John T. Tierney, a former college professor who also taught AP classes at a high school. (According to his bio, he received his Ph.D from Harvard and B.A. from Johns Hopkins. He retired from Boston College in 2000 and later taught American government and American history at an independent high school.)

There is research that students who take AP classes and AP exams perform better in college. However, increasingly, college professor complain to me that AP classes are not the equivalent of college courses, which this author also contends. (I hear that complaint most often from Georgia Tech math professors.)

However, I also hear from high school students in dual enrollment programs that the AP classes at their high schools are much tougher than the intro classes at their local colleges.

There is no doubt that AP is being promoted to high school students as a necessary …

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Value-added: What values are being measured? Do we only value test scores?

In his meeting at North Atlanta High School, APS school chief Erroll Davis referenced the controversial district study measuring how much value schools are adding to their students.

At the meeting Tuesday, Davis said North Atlanta High added 10 months of learning  to its students in a single year. The average is nine months.

In contrast, Davis said Early College High School at Carver added 17 months with a much higher population of  students, 80 percent, receiving free and reduced lunch than North Atlanta.

Atlanta is looking at both teacher and school-level value-added as part of its Effective Teacher in Every Classroom initiative. Using test scores, researchers are calculating how much “learning” Atlanta students gain in the standard school year.

The AJC has a great story up this morning on the new program with a list of the scores for all APS schools. In Atlanta, the highest value-added was the 17 months at Early College High School.

The lowest was posted by Therrell …

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State senator on why he opposes amendment: Best charter schools are those approved by local boards, not state.

Yesterday, I posted a pro charter amendments piece by two Georgia House members. Now, here is a piece in opposition by a Senate member, state Sen. Steve Henson of DeKalb, the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

By Steve Henson

As we approach the Nov. 6th general election, Georgians will be asked to make their voices heard on a number of important issues. From the President of the United States to local government representatives, voters will head to the polls to determine who will make governmental decisions on their behalf.

One critical issue voters will decide on doesn’t have a name or political platform; yet, it has the potential to drastically change the face of public education in Georgia for our children and grandchildren. The Charter School Constitutional Amendment on the November ballot would reshape the way we fund secondary education.

The charter schools ballot conversation has focused on the idea that public schools are inferior to charter schools. Supporters …

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Why don’t we follow lead of countries well in front of us?

I have heard researcher Marc Tucker speak on several panels on international education and always found him compelling. He is president of the National Center on Education and the Economy and author of  “Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading System.”

In this blog, he makes a point that seems lost in the current push for expanded school choice: “A growing number of countries are surpassing the United States in student performance and are spending less per student than the United States.  Not one has used choice and market incentives to do it…Wherever these theories have been turned into policy in the field of education, they have not produced the advertised results.  They have neither raised student performance nor lowered costs at the scale of a state, province or nation.  The record actually shows that they can even make things worse.”

We keep fretting about all the countries outpacing us academically without …

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Georgia’s schizophrenic politics of education

Lee Raudonis is a former teacher and former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party. He is a communications consultant and writer for an education publication. He coordinates the STAR program for the PAGE Foundation. (The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.)

This is his first essay for the blog. Welcome.

By Lee Raudonis

I admit it. I am confused. I do not understand the method behind what certainly appears to be the madness of Georgia education policies. O.K., maybe “madness” is too strong of a term to use, but there is no doubt that many educators—and parents— consider our state’s approach to education policy over the past decade to be both confusing and maddening. There is not much doubt that it has been schizophrenic.

Think about it. Early in the new century Georgia was one of the first states to …

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Higher education is missing a critical element: A higher purpose

Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. He has taught at ten colleges and universities, and produced 11 books, including “The Politically Correct University.”

He has written essays for us before and we are delighted to share another one from him:

By Robert Maranto

For the hundreds of college towns across America, like mine, it’s back to school time. Confused first year students and their parents snarl traffic and ask directions at every street corner. Our local economy depends on that spending.

For 18 million students, higher education offers a bit of everything, with dozens of majors, programs, certifications, clubs, institutes, study abroad opportunities, counselors, clinics, sports teams, Olympic swimming pools, rock climbing walls, bike paths, restaurants, and deans and deputy deans of every variety. Our local economy depends on that employment.

Unfortunately, the one thing higher …

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Rewriting how we teach writing: Not everyone cares how you feel.

Do we teach children how to emote rather than how to explain in their writing? (AP Images)

Do we teach children how to emote rather than how to explain? (AP Images)

I have judged more than a dozen student writing contests over the years and found that we often rewarded trauma rather than talent. The prize would go to the student writer who survived a house fire or a serious illness. And that was because the writing simply wasn’t strong in any of the entries so we went with pathos.

Many high school and student newspapers today are full of essays and columns rather than news or investigations.  As a college newspaper adviser, I pushed students to write about regents’ meetings or tuition hikes. They preferred to pen opinion columns or movie reviews. They found covering meetings boring and restrictive. And they often were unable to summarize what actually happened at the meetings.

Another challenge was getting them to understand that they can’t rely on anecdotes to build their case. Just because a friend’s car was ticketed unfairly by campus police did not mean that …

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Using Race to the Top to pay for doctorates in DeKalb. Good idea or are there better uses for federal money?

Several of you have already commented on DeKalb’s plan to use about $345,00 of its taxpayer-funded federal Race to the Top grant to put eight administrators, including four high school principals and two assistant principals, through a three-year doctorate program at the DeKalb campus of Mercer University. So, I figured we ought to put the story out there for general discussion.

The state Department of Education has to sign off on the school system’s proposal to use the RTT funds to underwrite the doctorates and is expected to do so, possibly today.

According to the AJC:

Twenty-five other Georgia school districts also receive Race to the Top grants. But DeKalb is the only one using some grant money earmarked for teacher and school leader training to add to the 130 Ph.D. holders the system already has in leadership roles.

The idea doesn’t sit well with some in DeKalb.  “Why as taxpayers should we pay for their Ph.D.s?” asked Robert Richardson, a retired real estate agent. …

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Author of “Working on the Work” explains how the work of teaching has to change

Phil Schlechty

Phil Schlechty

In Atlanta, noted reformer Phil Schlechty, author of “Working on the Work” and “Shaking up the Schoolhouse,” said there are two current paths being touted for fixing schools by political leaders — bureaucratic centralization or fragmentation/privatization.

“I say a pox on both their houses,” he told the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation at an all-day conference Monday.

Neither path, said Schlechty, recognizes the changing and critical role of teachers in a world where information is now easily obtained by an 8-year-old with a laptop.

“We don’t really understand that the primary role of the teacher has been absorbed,” Schlechty said. “Most of us still see teachers as instructors because we see ourselves in the knowledge distribution business. Today, kids can go out and get the knowledge. What we have to become are knowledge work systems to help kids work on and with that knowledge.”

Teachers today must become …

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