I’ve owned this book for a few years, and can’t believe I’ve just started to read it now! It brings Cicero, and Rome of the 1st century BC, to life. This is a must read for anyone whose teaching touches upon Republican Rome. (And if you’re a US History teacher and your teaching doesn’t, then shame!)
Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician

I’ve owned this book for a few years, and can’t believe I’ve just started to read it now! It brings Cicero, and Rome of the 1st century BC, to life. This is a must read for anyone whose teaching touches upon Republican Rome. (And if you’re a US History teacher and your teaching doesn’t, then shame!)

Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician

cooperativecatalyst:

So here is the skinny on grading and assessment. I must first admit, it is something that we constantly have to work on in my building. Do the assignments that we ask our students to complete in our classrooms have a purpose? If the answer is no – then stop assigning them – like, now.

There are several areas that we should focus on when bringing purposeful assessment to your building:

Drop the Zero

100-point grading scales are mathematically inaccurate – it is a fact. We must stop the use of the zero in our buildings immediately. The zero holds six times more weight than any other grade that we can assign students. Use of the zero in our grading practices could potentially eliminate a student’s chances of passing a course in the first semester. This is what I refer to as the Grading Abyss. It is a pitfall, that when students fall into it, they will act a fool in your class as they have no mathematical chance of passing your course – even with a 100%.

Laws of Averaging State: 0% + 100% = 100%; when we divide that by 2, we get 50%. A failing grade. Bummer.

Read more about dropping the use of the zero here.

Are Your Grades Polluted?

Do you know why we grade students? You should.

Grades, at least at the middle and secondary levels, are about student proficiency with the standards that we teach. Anything else that we grade students on – other than proficiency on the standards – pollutes your grades. Say, if you grade students on participation (subjective) or behavior (subjective) – the grade becomes a reflection of much more than the student’s proficiency on the standards you are teaching. Parents when they see an A or a D on a progress report would not know whether the students are proficient on the standards, or are just a compliant student in your class.

Your grades are polluted. You can read more about grading pollution here.

Meaningful Feedback

Grading for completion? C’mon… you know you’ve done it. I was guilty of it during my early years in the classroom.

If we assign students work, we owe it to them to provide them with meaningful feedback. Checking (and assigning grades) for completion is nothing but “busy work”. Our students know that and they are on to us.

What if we grade for completion, but a student actually doesn’t have a clue about what they are talking about. Hypothetically one could pass a student that knows nothing about the content area that we are teaching them in. Again, bummer. We would be guilty of contributing to just passing students on.

If you assign work – provide your students with meaningful feedback.

In schools across this country, we must tighten up our grading and assessment practices. The ability to assign grades comes with a lot of power. With great power, comes great responsibility.

If we haphazardly assign grades and award credit without reason, we are going to produce students that are not proficient in any areas. On the other end, we are also failing hundreds of thousands of students every year based on what? This question is especially important when we reflect on the reasons for the 1.2 million high school dropouts that we encounter each year in the United States.

So, I ask that as you begin the new school year that you look hard and redefine assessment in your classroom, schoolhouse, or district. Go forth and do great things.

(via adventuresinlearning)

I’m putting together a presentation on engagement strategies for middle school Latin teachers, and came across this post. It includes some nice descriptions of measuring engagement in the classroom:

The Engaged Classroom

In the engaged classroom you will observe that all students are authentically engaged at least some of the time or that most students are authentically engaged most of the time.  Passive compliance and retreatism is rarely observed and rebellion is non-existent.

The Compliant Classroom

The compliant classroom is the picture of traditional education. This type of classroom is orderly and most students will appear to be working so it would be easy to infer that learning is taking place. However, while there is little evidence of rebellion, retreatism is a very real danger as it is very common in the compliant classroom. 

The Off-Task Classroom

Retreatism and rebellion are easily observed in the off-task classroom. This type of classroom is each-student-for-them-self so you will see some degree of authentic and ritual engagement, along with passive compliance as well. Teachers in the off-task classroom spend most of their time dealing with rebelling students rather than teaching lessons that engage.

gjmueller:

Nebraska school suggests teachers avoid calling students boys or girls to be ‘gender inclusive’

A Lincoln middle school staffer gave teachers training documents advising them not to use “gendered expressions” by calling students “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen,” but to instead use more generic expressions like campers, readers, athletes or even purple penguins to be more “gender inclusive.”
Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel told KLIN Radio’s Drive Time Lincoln show Wednesday he was “happy” and “pleased” with the training materials because the school district wants all children to be successful and not feel like outcasts or be afraid to go to school. He said the school district needs to be inclusive and educate and understand all children and address bullying.


Some will scoff at this, but when you really take a moment to think about it, pretty much everyone exhibits some sort of gender-based bias. For those of us in the business of educating every student, this is something worth pondering. One of the many aspects of education that is not “tested”… thank goodness!

gjmueller:

Nebraska school suggests teachers avoid calling students boys or girls to be ‘gender inclusive’

A Lincoln middle school staffer gave teachers training documents advising them not to use “gendered expressions” by calling students “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen,” but to instead use more generic expressions like campers, readers, athletes or even purple penguins to be more “gender inclusive.”

Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel told KLIN Radio’s Drive Time Lincoln show Wednesday he was “happy” and “pleased” with the training materials because the school district wants all children to be successful and not feel like outcasts or be afraid to go to school. He said the school district needs to be inclusive and educate and understand all children and address bullying.

Some will scoff at this, but when you really take a moment to think about it, pretty much everyone exhibits some sort of gender-based bias. For those of us in the business of educating every student, this is something worth pondering. One of the many aspects of education that is not “tested”… thank goodness!

(via shapefutures)

paperbeast:

Another All Hallow’s Read poster! Always adored this idea and really hope it catches on. Happy haunts!

paperbeast:

Another All Hallow’s Read poster! Always adored this idea and really hope it catches on. Happy haunts!

(via neil-gaiman)

It’s one thing to to desire the best education for ALL of our children. It’s another thing entirely when you throw down money, hand pick friends to lead the reform, and completely cut out education professionals. Would you establish a brand new hospital without consulting doctors? Would you establish “virtual clinics” that didn’t staff trained medical professionals? Yet in corporate-led education reform, this sort of thing happens all the time. You might recall Bloomberg’s idiotic appointment of Cathie Black to head the NYC schools:

Black had had no previous experiences with the public schools. She hadn’t attended them (as Joel Klein had). She hadn’t taught in them. She hadn’t sent her children to them. In one of her first public appearances after the appointment, she said, “What I ask for is your patience as I get up to speed.”

She lasted 95 days on the job, and seemed baffled as to why she was fired. Frankly, more baffling is why she was hired in the first place.

Most of the school districts where corporate charters have been established are high poverty, urban districts. Public schools in such environments face significant challenges, and in addition to educating the children, these schools are often a major source of healthy food, health care, and safety. It is no surprise that hungry, sick and fearful children do not do well on tests. These factors are outside the control of a school. Can impoverished children learn? Absolutely. Is education a ticket out of poverty? Yes. However, how dare we criticize such schools when we, as a society, refuse to mitigate the effects of poverty. Charter schools are marketed as island fortresses in the storm of poverty and “bad public schools”. Those who buy into this approach are insulating some children, but how does this change the entire system? 

Bill Gates, the Walton family and the other oligarchs claim to want to lend a hand and help raise up a future generation of well-educated young people who will be the productive citizens of tomorrow. That is admirable, if in fact it is the real motive. However, when their corporate interests take over individual schools, or even entire school districts, they are unable find a way make things work. They can’t even figure out whether the students are the customers or the product. (Here’s a hint: they are neither.) 

I challenge the oligarchs, especially the Waltons: If you want to help break the cycle of poverty, then start by paying the parents of these children a REAL working wage, and provide meaningful benefits. (Notice that Walmart just eliminated health care coverage for part-time workers.) Support your schools by providing opportunities for your employees, the parents of the children, to do some of the things the parents of children in high performing districts do routinely: volunteer; attend parent-teacher conferences; attend extracurricular events; stay home with a sick child. Once you do this you will realize that a school is more than just teachers and staff and children; it is an integral part of a community.

"Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (via neuromorphogenesis)


not all those who wander are lost -j.r.r. tolkien

not all those who wander are lost -j.r.r. tolkien

(Source: sh1re)

Tags: Education

At my post-observation meeting with a principal years ago, he asked if I had noticed the boy who was standing in the back of the room next to his desk for pretty much the entire lesson. “Why yes,” I replied. “If he doesn’t stand and move, he just can’t focus.”

My principal commented on that being a good strategy to deal with the boy, who actually had been something of a discipline problem in some other classes. Sometimes it’s the smallest non-conformity that can make, or break, a student’s learning.

Docendo discitur. 
~Attributed to Seneca the Younger

Docendo discitur.

~Attributed to Seneca the Younger

Maybe this is how we reach the pundits and politicians - let them take the tests our poor children are forced to suffer through. My favorite part of the article: “We’re trying to teach students twenty-­‐first century skills— how to speak, how to use technology. That’s not what this test measures.  It’s not an accurate measurement of our students.”

I’ve always suspected that many charter schools are either incapable, or just unwilling, to meet the needs of ALL students. As many “reform” pundits push for more online courses, and even online charters, I keep wondering how they can address the needs of every child. Here’s an example of a school that not only did not meet a student’s needs, but it also had the nerve to graduate her. How many other students are being failed in this way?

chopper-two-hopper:

adiemtocarpe:

Desks in rows, everything covered… Time for our first Standardized Test.

This is so dumb. All year you create things to hang up to aid in learning and for the kids to use as resources and you’re so happy when they finally do and stop asking you because they know where to go to find their answer, then you say, “Ha! Figure it out on your own!”
We’re allowed to keep everything up in IL and I think that’s the only smart rule we have for testing. Other than snacks. But that may not be IL only. ;)

I couldn’t agree more!

chopper-two-hopper:

adiemtocarpe:

Desks in rows, everything covered… Time for our first Standardized Test.

This is so dumb. All year you create things to hang up to aid in learning and for the kids to use as resources and you’re so happy when they finally do and stop asking you because they know where to go to find their answer, then you say, “Ha! Figure it out on your own!”

We’re allowed to keep everything up in IL and I think that’s the only smart rule we have for testing. Other than snacks. But that may not be IL only. ;)

I couldn’t agree more!

terriwindling:

Once upon a time there was a girl, there was a boy, there was a poor woman who wanted, there was a queen who couldn’t have, there was a witch who lived under, there was a green frog at the bottom of, there was a troll, a tree, a bear, a bright-eyed bird who knew the secret of, there was a fairy who had lost, there was a child who had found, there was a wizard who had made, there was a princess who had broken, there was a story trying to be told. Listen. The wind is speaking.

terriwindling:

Once upon a time there was a girl, there was a boy, there was a poor woman who wanted, there was a queen who couldn’t have, there was a witch who lived under, there was a green frog at the bottom of, there was a troll, a tree, a bear, a bright-eyed bird who knew the secret of, there was a fairy who had lost, there was a child who had found, there was a wizard who had made, there was a princess who had broken, there was a story trying to be told. Listen. The wind is speaking.