Joanne Yatvin: What Is a Good School?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Joanne Yatvin has been a teacher, a principal, and a superintendent. She wrote these reflections on what constitutes a good school.

A few weeks ago, a New Hampshire teacher, Shawna Coppola, shared her ideas about what makes a good school, in contrast to the schools that are celebrated because of high student test scores. Although I agree with much that Shawna says, I want to take the challenge she voices at the end of her piece to describe my own view of what a good school is.

I first put my own definition and description of a good school into words a long time ago when I was asked to write a review of a book about a disintegrating school that was rescued by a new principal. I repeat it below with only a few word changes to reflect contemporary terminology and my own growth.

In my view a good…

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Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn | MindShift

When students use their bodies in the learning process, it can have a big effect, even if it seems silly or unconnected to the learning goal at hand. Researchers have found that when students use their bodies while doing mathematical storytelling (like with word problems, for example), it changes the way they think about math. “We understand language in a richer, fuller way if we can connect it to the actions we perform,” said Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago.

via Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn | MindShift.

Standards May Achieve Equality, But Not Equity

Dr. Bob- Blog Curator:

I have consistently opposed Common Core though it may improve teaching it does not address the one factor that will make it fail and that it fails to address equity (low SES) students and will fail because of it just like NCLB did.

Originally posted on the becoming radical:

Michelle Morrissey makes a case for Common Core in By ‘Common,’ We Mean Equity:

When the Common Core State Standards emerged, it was both a shock and a revelation — for the first time, the dominant model said that my students, who live in low-income neighborhoods and are predominately Hispanic or African American, would have some guarantee of the same kinds of educational experiences that students at high-performing schools across the country have. All students would be asked to do the hard stuff—and reap the benefits of those high expectations.

Setting aside the inaccurate hyperbole (“for the first time”) and that every single round of standards embraced in the U.S. since the 1890s has come with the exact same set of claims (and then has always failed, thus a new round of “better” standards), the fundamental problem with chasing better standards is that standards may achieve equality, but not…

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What Does a School Need to Enable Learning Based on Student Competency? | MindShift

Many teachers have long been frustrated with static, canned curriculum that doesn’t seem connected to kids’ lives, and testing requirements that drive the learning experience. So they, often in partnership with daring leaders, are pushing back, trying to find ways to meet the long-held goal of educators: Meeting each student’s needs and helping all to be successful. Three main ways schools are attempting this work are through technology use, an emphasis on personalizing learning and moving toward a mastery-based or competency-based evaluation system. While not all the same, these approaches share some commonalities and require significant structural changes to the education system if they are to be implemented well.

via What Does a School Need to Enable Learning Based on Student Competency? | MindShift.

Newer studies say online instruction neither harms nor benefits the average university student – The Hechinger Report

A new paper sheds some light on this question. The author sorted through the best studies on online university courses published in the past couple years, and concluded that online education, or partial online instruction, is neither worse nor better than traditional face-to-face instruction.

via Newer studies say online instruction neither harms nor benefits the average university student – The Hechinger Report.

Educational Technology Guy: Slack – free, easy to use, communications/collaboration platform – great for teams and schools

Slack is a free platform for instant team communication and collaboration. It allows you to create “channels” according to specific topics, issues, projects or teams, which gives everyone access to all the conversations and information circling around. You can include messages, files, images and videos in the channels. This can replace email, chat and video conferencing.

It also integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive and Hangouts, and Trello. It also has a very good search feature. It is web based, with iOS and Android apps.

via Educational Technology Guy: Slack – free, easy to use, communications/collaboration platform – great for teams and schools.

You be the Judge: Are the @DFER_News Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?

Originally posted on Cloaking Inequity:

You be the judge. This post will discuss the highlights— or perhaps lowlights— of the Democrats For Education Reform (DFERs), a very powerful Wall Street funded organization who some say are seeking to profit from public education. The Seattle Education blog argued,

Democrats for Education Reform is a political action committee supported largely by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores, high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control, and alternative teacher preparation programs.

Jeff Bryant reported on the framing that the DFERs prefer,

In an interview featured on the website of a conservative D.C.-based think tank, [Marc Porter Magee] has stated his intentions of “breaking up the old ways of thinking in the Democratic Party … by asking: How could we solve conservative problems with liberal means, and liberal problems with conservative means?”

On their website…

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60 Non-Threatening Formative Assessment Techniques

As frequently as a chef needs to check a sauce for taste, teachers should check for understanding.

These can be formal–formative or summative assessment, multiple choice, short answer, essay, matching, and related iconic “test” forms. But they can also be informal–conversations, gallery walks, sketches, and more.

We recently shared the Inconvenient Truths of Assessment, and one of the takeaways from that post by Terry Heick could be that rather focusing on the design of assessment, we could instead focus on a climate of assessment.–a classroom where snapshots of understanding are taken frequently and naturally, without the stress of performance for the student, or the burden of huge, unmanageable data results for the teachers.

via 60 Non-Threatening Formative Assessment Techniques.

How Should Learning Be Assessed? | MindShift

There is already a strong backlash against politicians and school administrators because of high-stakes standardized tests, and the way results are used to justify school closures. Some parents and educators have encouraged families to “opt out” of tests, such as those related to the Common Core State Standards, as a way to protest these practices and the effects they are having on children, families and communities. However, Yong Zhao, education professor at the University of Oregon, recommends that parents, educators and policymakers go a step further, and use the moment to re-examine the role of testing—and the issue of accountability—more broadly.

Tests are just one form of assessment, he points out, and limited in what they can accurately measure. Important qualities such as creativity, persistence and collaboration, for example, are tricky to measure, because they are individualized and situation- or task-specific (someone may collaborate well in one group setting but not in another). And no test can measure whether children are receiving “a quality learning experience that meets the needs of individual students.”

via How Should Learning Be Assessed? | MindShift.

Pearson’s Yellow Brick Road

Originally posted on parentingthecore:

I have never been happier that we refused to allow my fourth grader to take the PARCC. Yesterday, I asked her what she’s heard at school about the PARCC tests her peers have been taking. Although she has never sat for a PARCC test herself, she was able to tell me that some of the 4th grade PARCC reading passages were from the Wizard of Oz (apparently one passage was about the Emerald City, and another told the story of the Tin Man). So in theory, if your child has not yet sat for the 4th grade PARCC, you could embark on a Frank Baum marathon this weekendto give your child a leg up on his or her upcoming PARCC test.

This is one of the many logistics issues that has never made sense to me about the PARCC test security protocol: especially in the age of social media…

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