Writing instruction is under assault. Already, so many folks are cutting corners on it because the weight of bubble tests rules the administrator's roost... and while admins will say writing instruction is important, they also say that about music, art, technology and so on.
But when they cut our resources, they show their priorities. And writing is not one of them.
We get test prep materials, intervention courses and remedial interventions up the yin-yang... and… Continue
Today is my first day of summer vacation. My school was one of the last to close in the state of California which means that I am fried, frazzled and freakin' spent.
On one hand that's good because to me it means I left it all on the table. I gave sweat, blood and tears this year. I also laughed a lot. And as I reflect upon my recent blog posts, I realize far too much of the joy of what I do day in and day out is NOT evident in my writing.
There is no way to work in a school today without the very clear recognition that the cracks are expanding. The question is, how do we prevent ourselves from cracking up amid the crumbling?
Kids used to just fall through cracks. But "kids", at least as the phrase's original connotation indicated to me, implied single kids (despite the use of the plural which I took to mean "one at a time.") Or it meant a certain type of kid. It left one with the impression that a "kid… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 26, 2009 at 5:30am —
"Reading" is a more fractured experience than ever before. Simply put, there are different types, different means and different levels to it. And unfortunately, in our schools we are mistakenly conjoining conversations about reading things such as Les Miserables in with reading twitter, with reading the lifestyle page of the USA Today, with reading an email and with reading GQ magazine... as if reading is reading is… Continue
Let's be honest... to a quite certain extent America is have a crisis of administrative leadership in our schools. It's the unspoken calamity. People blame teachers for all that is wrong but the truth is our nation's principals and vice principals are woefully under-prepared and under-resourced to do their jobs... which really is all about empowering me with the ability to better do my job.
Look at my school, for example. We have only 1 principal and 3 VPs in charge of… Continue
Look, I am not a snoot. I believe in the value of work -- real work -- and I hold tremendous admiration for anyone who straps it up and puts in an honest day's effort for an honest day's pay. But there's a part of me that has to laugh -- so I don't cry -- when I read things like… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 23, 2009 at 5:30am —
Okay, I am not saying the book is dead. No way. But reading is changing. It already has.
And this change will continue. And our schools MUST get on the bus if we are to serve the needs of our students in a manner that is authentic to the needs they will have over the course of the next few decades.
Responding to reading in schools is changing as well. After all, for a whole lot of years our schools have been almost Pavlovian about the manner by which we… Continue
Teaching kids who are not motivated to learn wears on you. Sure, Hollywood movies make it all seem as if being in a job where a large amount of kids who are not motivated to participate in their own education simply requires one simple "epiphany" (either by the teacher or the students) in order to right the ship and send everyone off into a bright, bold and bountiful future... but the reality of it is much different.
It challenges you. It frustrates you. It… Continue
Barry said I could put my writing here so I thought I'd start with the only story I've ever sold. This is a children's story and it comes straight from my life. As you read it I hope you can see some connections for using it with your classes. I would love to have any of you use it. If you do decide to use it, please let me know. I'm going to be reading this on the Robins Falls Story Time on Blog Talk Radio. This will be on Wednesday, June 24, 2009. I hope all of you will tune… Continue
Just found out a freshman of mine, Rosa, up and moved to Texas over the weekend.
No notice. No official checking out of school. No goodbye. Just Texas.
Also, no final exam, no final project, no completion of her last few assignments for my class or anything remotely tied to properly closing down shop. We have two full weeks left of school but not for Rosa. According to her friends, she's left Los Angeles for good. And why?
A really interesting report was just published that essentially equates me, a teacher, to a widget. By that they point out that public education views me as a replaceable cog, an indistinguishable influence on the overall productivity of public schooling which assumes that the work I do can be replicated by any other widget who meets the same criteria for being hired that I do.
I am immediately struck by a few things about this… Continue
The world of television is changing. (No, prime time sitcoms are not being forced to shut down once and for all due to their pervasively mind-deteriorating fare. I mean these shows aren't just intellectually insulting -- I think they actually make you dumber if you watch them. More on that another time.)
Nope, TV is going digital. Or rather it's gone digital. We are now in the era of all digital broadcasts and for those who did not get with the program, they are being left… Continue
I'm very glad to be in the company of so many talented writers and teacher, it's an honor and hopefully some of your expertness will rub off on me. I started writing at thirteen, that's been about forty-six years ago. I learn that I could write my soul down on paper when I needed too. My writing is a pick me up, when I'm down and a pain reliever when I'm in pain. I've learned that I can write myself in and out of any scenario, and I can be whom ever I want to be and live in any… Continue
At some point -- hopefully before my grandkids enter school -- America is going to go to growth model assessments.
And once they do, watch out!
As I just blogged about yesterday, Newsweek issued a list identifying our country's best high schools... but this doesn't seem to take into account one of the most critical measures of any "teacher's effectiveness":
HOW MUCH DID THE STUDENTS GROW OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEAR?
Newsweek just came out with their annual list of America's best high schools. On one hand, I really do love this list. Why? Because year in and year out it brings education to the front page of one of America's most popular magazines. And as the old saying goes, there ain't no such thing as bad publicity -- just no publicity -- and our country sure could use some extended dialogue about our schools. Particularly our high… Continue
A New workshop that turns rigor to vigor Creating ALL STAAR Writers and Readers : Success at STAAR through Engaging Teaching of Expository Writing and Non-Fiction ReadingTeaching reading and writing should be a joyful dynamic interactive process, not a bore. Alana Morris and I will show you the best practices in reading and writing that will help your students excel on the STAAR test without the drill and kill approaches that make students groan. Join us for two idea-packed days of classroom…See More
Here is a place to share ideas that transform students into lifelong writers and help them succeed on any writing test, including STAAR. Download lessons from Barry Lane, Gretchen Bernabei and Alana Morris to add to your tool box. See More