I haven’t written in quite a while, but not for lack of ideas. As a matter of fact I have so many things about which to write that I have been feeling overwhelmed, and have procrastinated getting back into the saddle. Well, I’m back and have decided to reenter the blogging world by revisiting one of my earlier blogs. I wrote earlier in the school year about the trials and tribulations of trying to get 6th graders to run their own discussions about pieces of literature. Since that time I have made great progress and have had a terrific learning experience of my own. More…
A movie review of the film “The Counterfeiters” by Libby Wadman for KPCW radio, Park City
The Counterfeiters, 2008’s Oscar winner for best foreign film, is not your typical WWII movie. This is not a movie that demonstrates the vast scale of the war, or a movie that splatters the horror of the war across the screen in vivid Technicolor. No, if you want the traditional WWII movie with larger than life battles and heroes, this is not your film. If however, you are interested in a piece of the war’s history, and its impact on individuals, then this Austrian/German production is right up your alley. More…
Well, it’s hard to believe that 2007 is almost over! I for one will not mourn its loss, but wait with somewhat guarded anticipation for 2008. I am busy writing my list of what I refer to as my New Year’s Challenges. Of course the fact that it is the time of year I can mention the transition from one year to another says that it must be vacation time. A bit more than a week ago my students were all talking about what they would be doing during their upcoming vacation: skiing, traveling to Hawaii, taking a cruise, visiting Europe, trekking to Machu Picchu. You name it and my 140 11 and 12 year olds are doing it. The one thing though that I didn’t hear was, “I’m going spend some time reading!”
Despite all the myriad changes in our world since people started attending schools, some things never change. One of those things, unfortunately, is cheating. I suppose that as long we as humans have to accomplish things, there will be those who will try to find the easy way out for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it is to avoid effort, to avoid frustration, or perhaps it is to compensate for a lack of preparation. In any case, students have cheated in the past and still continue to cheat today. Why? Perhaps something called the “fraud triangle” can help to explain why it happens. The problem is what can we do to stop it?
As a group, 6th graders are really rather quixotic. Sometimes they can be very impressive by showing behaviors of maturing young adults, but then turn right around and demonstrate way too many attributes of toddlers. Despite this rather indescribable mixture of personality traits, they are a very interesting group of kids to teach. One of the times that these kids are a true pleasure to be with is when they open themselves up to try new things. Frequently, getting them to participate is like pulling teeth, but when they do, their wonderment at discovering what they are capable of is extraordinary and exciting to watch. That’s just what went on today in my 7th hour class.
Every year we as teachers face a certain challenge, that despite our best efforts, we are never able to totally meet. The challenge I am talking about is making sure that our students’ parents know about all the tools available to them to get any information they want and/or need. I am amazed at what parents today have available to them in the way of tools, and at the amount of information to which parents have access. However, at the same time, I am amazed at the number of parents who say we the teachers do nothing to communicate with them.
As I write this I am returning from an educational conference focusing on assessment and instruction. In non-educator speak that means how do we as teachers take the learning goals, align our instruction and assessments to them in a way that makes it clear to every child what it is they are supposed to do and why, and evaluate them in a way that truly represents what they have accomplished? It is the last part of this question that really interests me, but not just in terms of my students. In the education world, I have discovered that there is a lot of preaching from on high, but as in all walks of life, the very people who should be role models aren’t fulfilling that responsibility.
To voucher or not to voucher, that is the question facing Utahans:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of the public school system
Or to take tax-payer money to attend private school (remember, parents CHOOSE to send their children to these schools, they are not obligated to spend the money),
And by doing this further damage the public schools? - To hurt public schools, - to take the easy way out, -
“Ready to fall.”
Those words now spoken left me in quite the unenviable position of having to decide do I back out and live with humiliation, or do I trust a group of 6th graders to catch me?
I had taken the plunge and was now falling backward into what seemed like a dark abyss. What would I find on the other side?
In deciding what the topic of this blog should be, I realized it was staring me right in the face courtesy of the Monday, 3 September Salt Lake Tribune. Scattered throughout the paper were not one, but three separate articles on parenting and school. So, following suit, I will add my two bits. Now, I’m not a psychologist with a specialty in parenting, but I have raised my own two children and taught thousands of others (this calculation caused a number of new gray hairs to sprout), so I feel I have some credibility in this area. With the start of school, this is probably the best time to address this subject as children in school seems to bring out some of the best and worst in us as parents.