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As standardized tests descend upon the K-12 institutions across the District of Columbia–in the form of the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (affectionately, “DC CAS”)–I find myself amazed by the entire show. Here are 4 key points: Standardized tests reveal ironies. Standardized tests create stress. Standardized tests induce sleep. Standardized tests bring out the best in…

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We found ourselves in a magical place: a school where the disruptive signals of cell phone communication would not reach.  A location so pure that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile bars exist solely in one’s dreams.  Instead of electronic beeping, we heard the soft and steady pitter patter of rain on the roof of the classroom. …

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This is a follow-up to my first “Economics and Education” post (available here).  In it, I compared the weak school culture that many poor schools exhibit to the deflationary spirals that countries in economic crisis often experience.  One of the major points I made was that schools could get “stuck in a rut” of poor…

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This is the second in a three-part (maybe more?) series that applies economic theory to aspects of education (introduction in Part 1). ***** I suspect that an ingrained notion exists among CMs that student achievement is a function of expectations.  Once a teacher raises the bar for what is expected in the classroom, students will…

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This is the first in a three-part (maybe more?) series that applies economic theory to aspects of education.  I was not inspired to do this by anyone or anything.  I am not “forcing” the connections either.  Instead, this series recognizes the fact that when I think of issues in education I often think in terms…

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Feb 26 2010

Cradling the Community

I’m slowly feeling like a part of my local community.  I care about local politics, I am concerned about local issues and I am participating more in whatever forums I can.  This slow increase in civic engagement makes me happy.   It also makes me understand the value and impact of TFA’s mission. ***** I recently…

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I Rhee-cently read this piece by Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.  I suggest you Rhee-d it too.  Rhee-ly.  I Rhee-lize that I haven’t commented on a “macro issue” in a while; with Rhee’s help, I make my Rhee-turn now. (No more word play.) Rhee’s thesis is bold, but gave me…

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Everyone around me knows that I like to drink the TFA Kool Aid.  I sip it for breakfast, imbibe it at lunch while I’m resting and gulp it down before going to bed.  Being the nerd that I am, I’ve had the TFA Core Values up on the corkboard in my room since I arrived…

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Dec 20 2009

Sketches of Immigrant Dreams

Despite the inequities of our public education system–that is, the ones that organizations like TFA are trying to address–I think sometimes we forget that there are many world citizens that can only dream of the quality of education that even some of our nation’s worst-performing schools provide.  In particular, I am thinking of the many…

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Despite all the (wonderful) talk I hear about 21st-century skills, standards-based education reform, the Teaching and Learning Framework, one major conversation that I think we ignore is the one centered on the physical environment in which our students learn.  No matter how good a school is at staying on top of the latest pedagogical best…

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Dec 04 2009

An NCLB Primer and Case Study

A few weeks ago, I had to put aside the lesson that I was doing on author’s purpose in order to clear up a misconception that a student was attempting to spread in my classroom.  AH complained about how ridiculous it was that so many students in our class were failing.  She argued that teachers were…

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When I asked my students to free-write about what they were thankful earlier this week, I noticed that many of them mentioned that they were “thankful for living another day.”  Although oftentimes people say this as an expression, I know that many of my students mean this literally. One of my students just lost her…

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In the month or so since its unveiling, the library has grown into a central part—if not the center—of my English classroom. To refresh your memory, here is the library before the project began. In this library update, I will recount the wonderful ways in which this terrific text tower has changed my students’ lives…

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Nov 03 2009

An Attendance Heat Map

In the past, I’ve talked about the power of visualizations.  I think there is so much that a simple image can convey that mere words can’t.  I don’t have a box and whisker plot today, but I have a stunningly-simple “heat map” that gives you an idea of the pervasive attendance problem in my classroom…

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Oct 23 2009

Why We Reread

Many of my students see no value in rereading.  A few weeks ago, we read Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”.  When we announced that we would be reading this (brilliant and suspenseful) story, some students complained that they had already read the story and “knew the ending” (as if that was all that were…

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Oct 18 2009

A Picture (Worth a Thousand Words)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I say, “true.”  But I also say that there is actually something more powerful than a picture worth a thousand words.  That would be a picture worth a thousand words and some words to accompany that picture. Before the words, the picture:

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Sep 24 2009

Teacher Rally @ DCPS HQ

The controversy in DCPS is coming to a head.  A September 18 memo to principals with instructions on how to carry out the reduction in force (RIF) was leaked to the web yesterday.  Today, Michelle Rhee declared that the cutbacks were caused neither by mismanagement nor malice. This afternoon, a teacher rally was staged outside…

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Sep 10 2009

Finally, A Placement!

Only yesterday, I was lamenting the fact that I was still unplaced.  Well, it turns out the wait is over: I will be reporting to a high school tomorrow morning.  The 5 weeks and 5 days that I’ve spent in DC waiting for a placement has finally come to an end.  Hopefully, what that means…

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First, a little placement update.  I’m one of three DC CMs still unplaced.   Although I should expect to be in a co-teaching situation by the end of this week, there is a possibility that I will not be in a permanent teaching position until well after October 1st, which is when the official DCPS…

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Jul 16 2009

Cash For Kids?

I recently gave a lesson in which my students analyzed how an author uses context to support his/her position in a non-fiction text.  As a “Do Now!” warm-up exercise, I asked them to lay out their position on the statement, “we should give cash to students who perform well on exams.” While the whole cash-for-kids…

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The first days of summer school prove just how important strong school administrators are.  Over the course of the week, I’ve already heard my fair share of administrative catastrophes.  If our goal for the summer is to take failing students and help them pass–i.e. to “close the achievement gap”–I don’t think some of the administrative…

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Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

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