Tag Archives: Public School

Common Core Lessons & Material for English & Humanities

V. Donaghue, “September—Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books” [1940]. WPA Poster Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

V. Donaghue, “September—Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books” [1940]. WPA Poster Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Edistement!, a division of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has released a series of Common Core Lesson plans for the 2014 school year.

The resources are organized into categories of Literature & Language Arts, History & Social Studies, and STEM/Humanities. They are common core aligned and include objectives and activities.

These are great resources for educators going back to school! You can check out the catalogue here.

When Should Students Become Responsible For Their Own Success?

Paul Barnwell

I don’t blame Steffon for his distrust issues; after all, he’s bounced around from foster parent to foster parent.  I don’t blame Sara for her constant angst and depression; after all, she’s just come out of the closet and receives no support from her parents, who now remind her daily that she’s going to hell.  I don’t blame DeAnthony for his shockingly sparse vocabulary; born to a single mom with five other siblings, nobody read to him before he attended school.  And I don’t blame Angela for her emotional outbursts–she witnessed her mother get murdered in their trailer several years ago.

These are all real students I’ve had over the years–names have been changed, of course–and at this point, I can only pray that my attempts at guidance have helped add enough academic and life skills to their arsenal to become happy, productive, citizens.


Advising students who carry massive social…

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Even America’s Top Students are Ill-Prepared for College

Elaine Tuttle

Elaine Tuttle

I have had the privilege of working for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program for 7 years and have never been more amazed by the level of brilliance and ingenuity amongst America’s Youth.  In her piece at the Chronicle of Higher Ed, their Executive Director, Elaine Tuttle Hansen, highlights the fact that it is not only America’s low achieving students that are struggling to acquire core skills necessary for success in college, but our top students as well.

She notes that: “What’s changed is that today, college readiness is more often a hot topic for educators and policy makers focused on at-risk students.” This focus, for laudable reasons, on at risk children has largely left gifted and advanced students out in the cold. This is especially problematic for bright children in disadvantaged homes.

“…the focus on low­-achieving students in public schools has disproportionately left more smart minority and low-income kids behind, creating a well-documented ‘excellence gap.'”

Elaine highlights programs, like CTY, help to engage and promote gifted youngsters  thus giving them a leg up when it comes to college life.

“Take David, a college student I heard from recently, who loved the summer program he took at the Center for Talented Youth a few years ago. But it wasn’t enough to save him from being so bored in school that he “coasted” through elementary, middle, and high school and his first two years of college. ‘By the time I found academic work that challenged me, … I realized my work ethic and study skills were atrocious, in large part, I believe, because I had never been forced to use them,’ he said. ‘I would like to know the person I would have become had I been engaged as a young learner.'”

Unfortunately, gifted summer programs (even those with generous outreach and scholarship programs) remain out of reach for many underprivileged children. To read Elaine’s argument, see her article in the Higher Ed Chronicle as well as her interview on NPR’s “Tell Me More”.

Independent Schools, Independent Teachers: Freedom and Responsibility – Independent Schools, Common Perspectives – Education Week

Independent-Schools_Common-PerspectivesThe other day a thread appeared on the National Association of Independent Schools online communities speculating on aspects of the great freedom that independent school teachers have to create curriculum and assessments suited to their strengths and to the particular needs and interests of their students and their schools. This got me to thinking.

This freedom has long been a classic double-edged sword. The virtues of “teacher autonomy” in independent schools were extolled to me even before I entered the field back in the Nixon era. As another veteran of that era commented in response to an earlier post here, the idea long prevailed in many schools (and perhaps still does in some) that a teacher would be taken to the door to the classroom, handed a textbook (a.k.a. the “curriculum”), and assured that paychecks would clear until June, short of some act that would rate firing for cause. What happened in the classroom would, by some sort of gentleman’s agreement, stay in the classroom, and the teacher would seldom be inconvenienced…


Once Upon a Time, Teaching Was Considered a Profession – NAIS

This month’s National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has an interesting article on the modern evolution of the teaching profession for good and for bad. It addresses how the role of standardized testing and concepts of ‘merit based pay’ have impacted the development of pedagogy and classroom culture.

Increasingly, teachers in both the public and independent sector are being asked to teach the same material in the same way at the same time so that standards and accountability measures can be established.

The degree to which “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” legislation and related reforms have negatively impacted teachers’ abilities to act in a professional capacity is only beginning to get the attention it deserves. The most offensive examples belong to the public sector, but, increasingly, independent schools have also borne the brunt of the global assault on teacher professionalism. In classrooms and schools across the country, teachers are under attack and the public trust that many teachers once enjoyed is threatened by the media, politicians, school boards, and sometimes even by fellow educators.

I count myself fortunate that I work in an Independent School that values teacher independence and creativity – my administration and colleagues supported my recent grant proposal to attend an innovative Ed Tech conference this month and a Global Education conference in La Jolla a few months ago. but even we have been hit (to a lesser degree) by the recent political attacks lobbed at the profession in its entirety.

I highly encourage you to read this article and look forward to your own thoughts. You can read the article in its entirety here.

Do School Children Eat Like Prisoners?

An info-graphic produced at Daily Infographic tackles the issue of school food and child nutrition. As our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is addressing the issue of childhood obesity and nutrition in her Let’s Move! project, our schools are failing abysmally to feed our children healthy, nutritious meals or even to provide them with the option.

Disturbing elements of school food: most children are provided less than one serving of fruit (and almost no vegetation), while overly-processed starches are par for the course. While prisoners are by no means being fed organic roughage, they are provided a half cup of vegetables and a full serving of fruit (verses no vegetables and 1/2 serving of fruit). Even more disturbing, fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King actually test their meat products ten times more often than the FDA for pathogens, bacteria, and content levels. Fewer than 1/3 of schools meet Federal standards for saturated fat contents in their meals.

Is eating healthier more expensive? Of course (but not as much as you would think). However, a better diet is linked to fewer behavioral problems, lower levels of obesity, higher IQ, and lower rates of heart disease and cancer. In the long run, feeding our children a healthier diet is less expensive than the health issues that a poor diet learned in childhood will ultimately foster. One individual that is doing a lot to raise awareness of the quality of our school’s foods and healthy, inexpensive alternatives is Jamie Oliver – check out his Food Revolution webpage and sign his petition! You can view his Ted Talk on this topic here:

This Speech was the winner of the Ted Prize in 2010. Help Jamie to achieve the goals he has outlined in his Ted Prize.