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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 29, 2009 at 5:30am —
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.
That's sad. Therefore,… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 27, 2009 at 11:59am —
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 —
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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 25, 2009 at 5:30am —
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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 24, 2009 at 5:30am —
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 —
As the President has made abundantly clear, he believes the nation needs more post-high school education. He's lobbying for it. He's speaking about it. He's even putting our money where his mouth is.
And then you read info like this (as reported in the Los Angeles Times) stating that University of California's freshman class drops by 6.8%:
Freshman enrollment at the University of California will be 6.8% lower this fall, a drop of 2,603 students from last year… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 22, 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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 20, 2009 at 5:30am —
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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 19, 2009 at 5:30am —
Everyone on the internet has a perspective to sell. Simply put, I don't believe that there is anything remotely related to objective data being published about our schools right now.
Look too closely at any aspect of things and you are almost assured of detecting bias. For example...
Charter schools are the big buzz these days. But are they the magic pill that's being sold? Of course not. Yet are they commendable in a variety of ways? For sure.
To that… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 18, 2009 at 10:00am —
Hmmm, will digital textbooks simply replace traditional textbooks so that the wheels of these entrenched, corporate behemoth money making machines just keep chugging right along?
Let's look at 9th grade...
Why would I pay for Romeo and Juliet when the full text of the play is already online free of charge
in more places than I can even… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 17, 2009 at 5:30am —
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?
Because her sister got… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 16, 2009 at 5:30am —
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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 15, 2009 at 5:30am —
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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 13, 2009 at 5:30am —
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?
People in schools like… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 12, 2009 at 10:03am —
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
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 11, 2009 at 11:10am —
3 Years Ago Today My Life Changed Forever. Why? Because that was the day my daughter, Sienna, was born.
What I discovered was that every cliche' about parenthood was true. And really, I doubt that there's anything I can truly add to the pantheon of conversation as far as what it means to be a dad. There's nothing I would not do for my daughter, no sacrifice I would not make, and on and on and on. She is the center of my life's wheel and I never knew what joy in life meant… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 10, 2009 at 11:18am —
Let's all get on the same page about something... kids cheat. Maybe not all of them, but certainly most
of them do -- for sure.
Oh, you doubt me? Look, I'm not trying to slander anyone here but let's look at a literal, dictionary definition of the word "cheating".
Cheating: to defraud; swindle: to deceive; influence by fraud: to elude; deprive of something expected: to practice deceit: to violate rules or regulations: to take an examination or… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 9, 2009 at 5:30am —
I spoke at a middle school in Oklahoma last year whereby the school was architecturally designed so that the library was the center of the building, the hub of the wheel if you will, and all the other hallway spokes were passageways to the various classrooms. Thereby for passing periods, all kids on campus had to cross by and through the library.
The library literally was the center of their campus. And these kids LOVED to read. Coincidence or self-fulfilling prophesy? (Do… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 8, 2009 at 5:30am —
I try not to be a hysteric about the demise of our nation's young men because it's almost trite to moan about it. And the truth is, I must admit that when I was a "young man" people were most certainly wringing their hands over me.
(Not that they still aren't but hey, old habits die hard, right? LOL!)
Like all teens, however, I had role models, people who played a large role in my own sense of identity -- even though I had never met them. And being that I… Continue
Added by Alan Sitomer on June 6, 2009 at 11:00am —