Lessons Learned In Combat

#Whatif? Gets Personal

If you haven't been living under a rock, you are aware of the Twitter hashtag #whatif that almost immediately went viral after Secretary of Education (sic) Arne Duncan tweeted this question on December 30: https://twitter.com/arneduncan/status/550014511084609539 Two days later, on January 1, Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post highlighted some of the most compelling #whatif tweets in… Continue reading #Whatif? Gets Personal

Education, Lessons Learned In Combat

The Value(?) of Worksheets

I used to pat myself on the back when I would make the worksheets I subjected my students to rather than use the pre-made blackline masters I'd find in the backs of my Scholastic teacher's guides. This was years after the mimeograph held its odiferous reign in copy rooms across the country, and years before… Continue reading The Value(?) of Worksheets

Lessons Learned In Combat

A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Excellent insight into a typical HS student’s academic experience. Well worth the read.

Granted, and...

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys. 

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…

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Lessons Learned In Combat

No More Language Arts and Crafts

Wise words from Donalyn Miller, who is not afraid to write what many of us feel. We can do better. We must do better.

Donalyn Miller

I’ll admit that I hold my children’s teachers to a higher than reasonable standard. Would you want my kid in your English class? As a parent, I could be a burr in your saddle. I get that.

I’m not a harassing parent, I promise. Most of my children’s teachers have no idea who I am, other than Celeste and Sarah’s mom. That’s how it should be.

On the other hand, my children’s teachers don’t know who Penny Kittle is. They don’t know who Kristin Ziemke is. They don’t know who Kelly Gallagher is.

Heck, my children’s teachers don’t know who Nancie Atwell and Lucy Calkins are. It doesn’t matter if they’ve read my books about teaching reading, but it does matter when my children’s teachers haven’t read a book or article about teaching reading in 20 years.

A line divides parents who know a lot about reading and their children’s…

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Education, Lessons Learned In Combat, Literacy

An Important and Magnificent Day

Today is an important and magnificent day. Today marks the day that Ms. Wright, kindergarten teacher extraordinaire, launches writer's workshop with her students. The scene is expertly and purposefully set. Reams of paper sit patiently, waiting to be filled with swirling colors, bold lines, and grand ideas. Brand-new markers gleam. Pencils capped with bright pink erasers lean… Continue reading An Important and Magnificent Day

Education, Lessons Learned In Combat

Teaching the Who, not the What

Throughout the ten years that I worked as a classroom teacher, I remember spending hours upon hours (upon hours) each summer working to develop units and "bare bones" lesson outlines that would give me some sense of what my school year would look like. I would devour professional books and educational web sites--there were few teacher blogs… Continue reading Teaching the Who, not the What

Education, Illustration, Lessons Learned In Combat, Literacy

Everything I’ve Learned about Illustration Study…

..has not yet been realized. After all, I only began dipping my toe into these lovely waters two years ago, when I first read Katie Wood Ray's fantastic book on the subject, In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study (2010). But in that short amount of time, I have learned some… Continue reading Everything I’ve Learned about Illustration Study…