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Localizing Learning. The Edcamp Model

Ever get the feeling that the professional development (pd) you get in your in-service days just doesn’t inspire you? Or drive your practice? You’re not along. A few envisioned something a bit different. Edcamp founders and organizers Kristen Swanson, Ann Leaness, and Christine Miles began their ASCD12 session with two things: 1. A backchannel discussion […]

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Education Reform: An Order of Magnitude Improvement

Imagine the present corporately promoted education reform effort as a truck, its tires nearly flat from the weight of the many unexamined assumptions it carries. On board: An assumption that punishment and rewards effectively motivate; that machines can measure the quality of human thought; that learning is hard, unpleasant work; that what the young need […]

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Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic. The Challenge of Motivation.

One of the most difficult tasks a teacher faces is motivating students to learn. While some students have a natural love of learning, others arrive at a class under protest and act as if they’re being tortured rather than taught. Teachers must find a way to motivate these challenging students. A teacher can tap into […]

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Promoting Discussion and Participation in the Classroom

Participation and discussion in the classroom helps students become engaged with the lessons and provides them the opportunity to develop their own ideas on discussed topics. Many educators, masters degree holders, and experts believe that a student who is engaged and developing his own opinions and thoughts on the subject matter is more likely to […]

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How to Maximize the Classroom Learning Environment

How to Achieve the Optimal Learning Environment in the Classroom While many theories exist for how the classroom environment directly attributes to student success, there are common threads that you can use in your classroom practice no matter what level of learner you teach. Whether you are influenced by the historical lab school movement of […]

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How Bill Gates can be an education hero

A couple of days ago I watched and read the transcript of Fareed Zakaria’s CNN primetime special, “Restoring the American Dream: Fixing Education.” Zakaria talks to Bill Gates, whose five-billion-plus investment in schools has bought him a seat at the head table of education reformers. If I’d gotten any response from my previous attempts to correspond with […]

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Not Just for Field Trips Any More: 7 Ways to Ignite Learning at the Art Museum

When we, as educators, think back to our own school field trips to art museums, we tend to remember being paraded around the galleries, being talked at and given a lot of information, and … well, tuning out.  And let’s face it, this has not changed dramatically for most students today, who may still find […]

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Boots with Laces-border

Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps: Is it Enough?

The legacy ingrained in the collective history of our country is one of individual agency. In order to succeed in the U.S. you must “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and succeed despite any odds set against you. We tend to view education as an equalizer, a means of succeeding in spite of circumstance. We’ve […]

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1389.4 Holocaust A

Emerging Trend: Educating for Humanity

In a faculty meeting this week, a colleague shared the following Holocaust survivor letter with us. Dear Teacher, I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness: Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and […]

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Improvising is Good Teaching

In Larry Cuban’s recent blog post Jazz, Basketball, and Teacher Decision-Making, he serves up two excellent analogies to help readers understand the complex nature of teaching.  In the midst of a jazz improvisation or a sporting event, an individual makes one decision after another, each one a reaction to the moment.  On one level, that might […]

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Teaching with a No-Technology Day

Technology is a dominating force in education, but twenty-five years ago, most classrooms didn’t even have a single computer, let alone a roomful. With today’s students the most plugged-in generation to ever walk the earth, the value of technology is often taken for granted. More than that, overexposure to technology can actually change how the […]

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The Service of Democratic Education

The following address was given by renowned Stanford professor, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, at the commencement ceremony for Columbia University’s Teachers College when she received the college’s Distinguished Service Award on May 18, 2011. I could not be more honored than to be awarded this recognition from Teachers College, one of the places of all those […]

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Wisdom: A Missing Focus

You’ve likely heard the chatter. Educational reform seems to be to be the obsession of the moment in Educaburgh. Testing’s good! Testing’s bad! Take this acronym and call us in the morning! Here comes our superhero! No, it’s just a guy with an eraser that can change standardized test answers in a single swipe. Join […]

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10 Reasons Merit Pay Sucks

I am not a lazy teacher.  I do not have low expectations.  My students aren’t failing the standardized tests.  However, I don’t want my value as a teacher to be determined by a merit pay system. Here’s why: Ambiguity: It’s too hard to measure “quality teaching” in a quantifiable measuring system.  Sure, we can create […]

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How to Support Teachers

Below is an infographic illustrating what teachers feel is most important toward improving instruction. (Click on the image for a closer look.) Its data is telling to be sure. At a minimum it can serve to illustrate the gap between merit pay proponents and educators themselves. Perhaps we should look at this graph and wonder: […]

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Roll of Pennies

The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries

The following excerpt is from a NYTimes op-ed by Dave Eggers and Nineve Clements Calegari on May 1, 2011: WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in […]

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Who Evaluates Teachers, and Why?

Over at EdWeek, Stephen Sawchuk recently wrote an article about teacher evaluation and assessment, titled Wanted: Ways to Assess the Majority of Teachers.  The article provides an informative look at various ways that teachers, their unions, administrators and districts can join together to improve teacher evaluation.  Those of us at Accomplished California Teachers welcome any focus […]

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Smokey the Bear Says, “Fires Allowed Here”!

Want to give your students transformative learning experiences? You’ll need these: Engagement Content Relevance Students must be engaged and involved to the point of being vested in the outcomes of the experience. They must encounter content that deepens their knowledge base and provides them with the intellectual tools they need to be successful. And the […]

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My Inner Pollyanna’s Ed Reform Blue Sky

Even amid the heated debates & discourse, my inner Pollyanna still dream’s big. Here’s my blue sky, if I had my way: 1. United Teachers They become a force to be reckoned with. Politicians, news outlets, and policy makers take notice and make room at the table. They ask teachers questions like, “What can we […]

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