Archive for August 2008

Enriching Education By Connecting K-12 Teachers   Leave a comment

Okay, I’ve taken the leap and started a group on Facebook: Quality K-12 Education: Taking the Next Steps.

Yes, I did “do” some serious thinking about it but in the end, social media is what more students are interested in. Don’t believe me? Ask your students how many have a page in Facebook and/or My Space. These outlets are here to stay.

I am thinking it’s time to harness a tool like this for teachers to band together. The purpose of my group is to provide information that includes current reports and research, educator feedback, teaching methods and strategies, events, and curriculum in an effort to discover the “best practices” K-12 educators can implement to build a dynamic learning environment in their classroom.

Join me in my group and contribute you wisdom, questions, and ideas. I look forward to participating with you. Click here to go to the group web age in Face Book.


Posted August 31, 2008 by Jack in educators network, Face Book

Spotlighting Innovative Strategies and Teachers   Leave a comment

Technology, Cross Curriculum Learning
Such is life in Whyville, a Web-based virtual world that provides inquiry-based education for middle school students. Created by University of Texas professor Jim Bower — a former professor at the California Institute of Technology and founder of CalTech’s Pre-College Science Initiative — Whyville looks and feels like a game to the kids who use it. For teachers, it is one more tool for delivering lessons in a package that delights their students.

The EAST Initiative: Students Use Technology to Promote Collaborative Learning
Students helping students and using technology with project based learning. Ready to be inspired? The read this article and watch the video. Yes, the teacher, Tim Stephenson, is to credit for his persistent initiative and commitment.

Kindergarten Goes Virtual
Here are two words I never thought would go together: kindergarten and virtual. The content being offered is across the curriculum and totally interactive. Check it out.

Teacher Magazine (requires free account sign up)
Cindi Rigsbee, North Carolina’s 2008 teacher of the year, has spent most of her career working at disadvantaged middle schools and was used to poor teacher morale, but when she switched to a new school before classrooms were even finished, the teachers began to work together in a newly formed professional-learning community. The experience, she says, was transforming: instead of trading woeful classroom tales, educators collaborate to boost student achievement.

Posted August 30, 2008 by Jack in best practices

Startling Facts – Real News – On High School Graduation   Leave a comment

“If three out of every 10 students in the nation failing to graduate is reason for concern, then the fact that just half of those educated in America’s largest cities are finishing high school truly raises cause for alarm. And the much higher rates of high school completion among their suburban counterparts – who may literally live and attend school right around the corner – place in a particularly harsh and unflattering light the deep undercurrents of inequity that plague American public education.”
Cities in Crisis – an Analytic Report on High School Graduation

Published April, 2008

I will say it till I’m blue in the face, lessons have to meaningful to students in order to capture their attention. That means in many classes a reinvention is necessary. What is an ideal instruction model? I think Project Based Learning is as long as the lesson has been connected to students lives outside of class. Why? It is a method of learning that allows students to collaborate with each other, work with their hands, and gives teachers a framework to work with individual students or small groups. Get my free eReport on implementing Project Based Learning when you purchase an annual subscription for $19.95 ….. less than two movie tickets and a box or popcorn.

Posted August 28, 2008 by Jack in Curriculum, higer education, student value

A Secret to Building an Improved Learning Environment   Leave a comment

Students have stimulation form so many sources …. flashy billboards, television shows that carrying four plus character streams per episode, advertisements blitzing volumes of images in barely seconds, and so forth. They have so many choices, that’s why as K-12 educators the key to capturing their attention is by relating the lesson material to their life.

To obtain a free eReport with information about using Project Based and Service Based Learning in K-12 classes click here. Check out this current news and research on meaningful and relevant lesson material ….

Ten NYC schools to pilot Core Knowledge literacy curriculum
The pilot program, which will involve about 1,000 children, represents a shift from the Bloomberg administration’s longstanding approach to teaching children to read, known as “balanced literacy.” Under that approach, children are encouraged to select books that interest them, at their own reading levels, from classroom libraries. The theory behind the approach is that it is more important to ensure that young children are truly engaged by books than to dictate that everyone read the same thing. (NY Times)

Why classic literature fails to resonate with modern teens
Teens raised on video games and YouTube have an increasingly rocky relationship with classical literature, and high school English classes are partially to blame, writes high school English teacher Nancy Schnog. If teachers really want to instill a love of reading, they should assign books that resonate with teens before delving into classic literature, she writes. (Washington Post)

New academy aims to hold adolescent girls’ attention
Tatshianna Pires, 9, loves school, and a girls’ academy set to open next week wants to keep it that way. With no boys, small classes and extra-long school days, the tuition-free academy aims to keep 60 urban girls in the fifth through eighth grades from dropping out and to help them steer clear of truancy and early incidence of pregnancy. (Boston Globe)

Posted August 28, 2008 by Jack in curriculum design

Understand Learning Results …In Less Than 10 Minutes   Leave a comment

I think everyone will agree that results are probably the key to understanding how effective K-12 education is or isn’t. The question becomes what results need to be analyzed. How can we be sure the examination of performance provides valid and reliable data? That is to say, will the examination measure the same data each year again and do all participants have an equal opportunity?

Here is a site, Measuring Up, that provides result data on every state for K-12 over a number of years on a variety of topics. It also allows you to compare state results using different topics. For example, you can compare AZ, CA, and NY on subjects within participation, achievement, and affordability. Perhaps the best stat here is being able to see the number of students going on to two or four colleges, after all isn’t that the ultimate goal of high school? Sure a high school diploma is great, but if you don’t go to a technical school, college or university to get some skills you’re bound to be part of the service sector working for minimum wage.

Check out Measuring Up and tell me what you think.

The Power of Education   Leave a comment

High school must include teaching academic skills with life skills to students. But how does that translate to college? Well, take a gander at the links below. Herein lies the evidence that just having academic skills won’t cut it. Sure, they are a good start, but being successful in the projects described below means a student brings some quality life skills too.

Examine Killer Bugs
Students work in state-of-the-art labs to learn about infectious diseases.

Working with Monkeys
Work here has created significant breakthroughs in biomedical and behavioral research.

This program uses idle PCs, you can hook yours in to SETI, thus creating a supercomputer to analyze data from radio telescopes.

Create Video Games
An Ivy League school that offers a degree in game design to support academic studies, including artificial intelligence and computer animation.

Posted August 17, 2008 by Jack in academic, behavior, college, life skills, SETI, video games

Books & Laptops – tools that keep on giving   Leave a comment

As a former educator from an inner city high school, where students of less privilege are the majority, I have learned more about myself in four short years than I knew possible. At the same time, I discovered acres about smart kids in bad circumstances, the power of hope, along with streams about what to hang onto and what to let go of….

This last week I finished reading A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. A truly remarkable story of a remarkable student … particular poignant for me as it brought those subtle issues I dealt with in my classes – every day- to the surface …. ahhhh, so there are people “in the know” that recognize the issues … but so little seems to be accomplished with all the talk …. I guess – as usual – it rests on the shoulders of classroom teachers to accomplish learning since teacher are the front line of education.

Laptops for less that $200 provide an opening for those of less privilege. Check out the the program at One Laptop Per Child. You can donate or request laptops here. This is the right program to provide useful technology where it can do the most good – in a classroom full of creative and energtic minds.

If you know of a classroom in need of these excellent tools let me know.

Posted August 11, 2008 by Jack in laptop technology, OLPC