Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wikispace Site Up and Running

I've talked about putting my CADERS (readers and assessment) on line. As always, everything takes longer than I expect, especially when I'm learning technology. But I now have a wiki site set up and have just now begun loading the early readers. I illustrated the first two, but the remaining I'm leaving open for students to illustrate on blank booklets that can be downloaded. I'm sure I'll illustrate more of the ones online, but not now, not with so many projects to work on. The booklets will be divided according to skill taught. Instructions on the opening page explain how to run off the booklets so they become an 8-page, 2-sheet book for the students.

Come visit us:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Common Core -- Coming Soon

Well, I for one, have great hopes for the Common Core that is soon arriving in the Kansas City area. I just spent a day, examining how to link ELL/ESOL standards to Common Core, and I have to say, there's much promise in its format. Unlike the No Child Left Behind that stressed scores and little else, Common Core seems to focus on curriculum, involved reasoning strategies, and a cohesive strategy for involving our students on a much higher plane than our past curriculum has (and Kansas has strong standards). A article in Education Week goes into some early detail as to how the framers of Common Core developed their set of ideas from the best teaching practices both abroad and here. I entered teaching, full of inspiration; I have a full jolt of it again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Picture Book: Hill's "Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave"

I am mesmerized by "Dave the Potter." It's story -- that of a Southern slave who became a master potter -- is intriguing enough by itself. Add the luscious illustrations, the poetry by both author and Dave, and we are granted a wonderful addition to children's picture books.

I want to share it tomorrow with my students. Let's see -- which age? (I teach K-6). Okay, maybe I could knock off the kindergarten and first graders. The rest, yes -- despite preparation for testing and everything else. My students need "Dave the Potter."And then all the teachers...

Study: Elementary/Middle School Teachers Making Huge Impact on Young Children's Futures

In the same article I cited in yesterday's post, findings in a recent study show that children who had strong teachers in grades 3-8, as judged through value added performance, outperformed their peers later in life -- in the colleges they attended, in their lower numbers of teen pregnancies, in their salaries. I always knew it. It does make sense that students whose early years are on solid footing, who increase their skills substantially each year, will, in fact, do better as the years progress. But it's better, of course, when we move forward on proven results, not merely gut impulses.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Value-Added Approach to Teacher Assessment

Anyone who has followed the teacher assessment debate knows the complexity of the issue. Students who live in wealthier areas tend to do better than children from impoverished. Teachers who have special needs children assigned to their rooms have far more challenges to their skills and time than those who don't. Evaluation itself is a very inaccurate science.

But there's hope. An article in Slate tells about value-added approach to teacher evaluation. This looks at the growth children make over the course of a year; it also may look at successive years of a teacher's record. This tends to allow years when teachers have a more difficult class (and we've all had them) to be averaged in with more manageable years. The value-added approach doesn't expect all children to reach one single benchmark (the bane of NCLB) but rather grow in their own abilities.

It's certainly worth looking into. I'm eager to see where this might lead. I do think we need some type of assessment that helps guide teachers and administrators in an honest direction.