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Archive for the ‘EduBlogs’ Category

 

carnival of education

Welcome to the Carnival !

I am honoured to host the Carnival of Education, now in its 133rd avatar. Thanks Ed! It’s been quite an exercise, but I’ve tried my best to make it fun by including everything that was submitted to me and organising it into categories.

 

Thanks to all those who contributed and took the time to fill up the survey questionnaire I sent out. I am including the results at the end of the post post.

 

Next week’s carnival will be hosted by Matt Tabor. Mail him at mktabor@gmail.com by 11pm EST on Tuesday, August 29, 2007 or else use this handy submission form. Thanks to Lennie for last week’s carnival.

Hang on now for Here we Go!

 

Leading Schools

The first chapter of Freakonomics, a huge bestseller (read a superintendent’s post on it here) talks about how incentive govern economics. Incentives are it says, simple means to urge people to do more of a good thing and less of a bad one, they are bullets, levers and keys: tiny objects with astonishing power to change a situation. Dave Johnston brings Economics into school with a post on why School Districts Need the Right Incentives.

Teacher Salaries have always been a huge source of debate. Paying his employees well is a must for every Leader. IB a Math Teacher presents a comparison between US and Finnish (the country consistently ranked #1 in OECD surveys on student achievement) teacher salaries. After you read this, you may be surprised to find out that several Indian teachers are paid between 20-25% of what teachers in the US are (adjusted for exchange rates and purchasing power).

In an article that will shock every school leader, I was surprised to learn that 1 out of 8 children in US schools are on retalin, a drug that impacts behavior, cognition, appetite, and stress and can have negative impact on the brain major impact in adulthood. Lennie contends that Ritalin is used in Government Schools to modify the behavior of students to make them fit into the one-size-fits all systems that these schools employ.

This post was not written for teachers or administrators in school, but can help all of us. Phil presents 13 Steps to be Productive saying”Ever wonder why some people are so productive all of the time while other people never accomplish anything?” I’m sure Christian over at Think: Lab was reading- I wonder how he finds the time to write several quality posts a day!

 

Oh My God, This Cannot be Happening

Is that a Bird? Superman? No its an Elementary School Principal! Jo Scott-Coe introduces us to a Principal who thinks that spending a day on the roof may encourage teachers to get better ‘fodder for lessons’ Head over to School Performance Anxiety–No More Gimmicks! for some Laughs!

I’m putting this post right under the one about our Fiddler-on-the-Roof Principal above, because it talks about a stand taken by the British Univeristy and College Union that’s equally stupid and egregious (or both). Read Darren’s post about the boycott of Israeli Universities here.

 

In the Classroom

Here is one thing that you would not believe closes achievement gaps. Getting children to Chew Gum in Class! A teacher was persuaded to do this even when when the policy strictly prohibits it because it (brace yourselves) helps the children think. I’d have put it in the ‘crazies’ section above if it weren’t for the teacher’s concern for her student’s achievement that made her break the rules and try it.

Asking questions is at the heart of a learning organisation and learning classrooms. Joanne Jacobs suggests that it might be the best way to go when teaching History (which she says is way better as a theatre for the higher reaches Bloom’s Taxonomy than Social Studies).

Several kids trip on word problems because they can’t translate the question being asked into a mathematiucal equation. What does it mean to find two-thirds of six they ask? If your kids are have trouble with this and more, read Denise’s post on Pre-algebra problem solving tools. The comment on the post (and maths problem) with the 3 salesman is worth a read too: its a variant of a classic problem that foxes most at first go.

A teacher’s influence can last a life time. Sometimes it is due to a negative incident that leaves a lasting impression. That’s what Ms.Teacher wrote when she submitted her post to the carnival. Check out her very readable reflections over in her post, The Influence of Teachers

Giftedness is a concept and term that most Educators love to use. Jeremy. in his excellent Conceptions of Giftedness, in light of DVD finding informs us that unfortunately, most of these educators may not agree or know what giftedness means. He presents an overview of scholarly definitions and a series of links to a recent finding that instructional videos aren’t effective in teaching language skills to infants.

Ever wonder why teachers in NYC are so psychotic? (!??!) Head over and check with Dr. Homeslice who’s surprised by the keywords that have driven traffic to his site.

 

Back to School after the summer?

Summer means Teacher Development. Carnival newbie Jennie, who’s just endured this version of Teacher Hell and is probably happy to get back to school, wonders why so many seminars are scheduled when Conferences are what really get the teachers going.

Joel, who’s become a bit of a 10-Tips and 7-Ways-To-Do-Things Guru, presents The Twelve Days of Teaching – a series of articles that may be be interesting to read before you start teaching again.

You may also want to consider visiting a wiki set up by Dan Myer to help you get prepared for a new term of teaching (this is not a carnival contribution, I’ve added it).

If you are a new teacher or are advising one this year, it would be helpful to read Graycie’s e-mail exchange with a New Teacher that has some excellent tips and the Right Wing Professor low-down on getting it right the first time around.

Ms. T talks about engaging lower-income and minority families in the school this year, using her dismay over the poor-attendance at her school’s recent back-to-school Open House as a context.

Former Wilmington Mayor Jim Sills shares her concern as he claims that “absence of parental participation plans (meaning budgeted finances and assigned personnel) has contributed to African-American and low-income parents (a) not feeling any “significant sense of ownership” of public schools, and (b) having low levels of parental participation in Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings. Unfortunately, we are left with a very large contingent of low-income parents, who feel ill equipped to give their children sufficient personal support in school settings.” Hube thinks that Sill’s enthusiasm may be misplaced and presents his own view on the subject in Once again: Teachers “not doing enough.

Best of luck to all of you starting the new school year! As you do so, read California Teacher Guy’s rather humorous poem on what he didn’t do last summer and Why He Is Rested and Ready to Go.

 

Grading

The best thing about blogs is sometimes the open-source stuff that gets shared- the Science Goddess has put out a draft of her standards-based grading policy on her blog. She’d like your comments! Go have a look- its definitely worth a read as is the discussion developing on the post and this wiki set up by Eric, Repairman, Miss Profe, Exhausted Intern and others on Grading.

A few weeks ago, there was a debate about Austin Lampros and his resignation from a Manhattan School that was activated by a ruling that no student should be given less than 45% marks, irrespective of performance. Now, R.Pettinger, an economist from across the Atlantic presents Are British A Levels Getting Easier? where he examines how lowered standards have doubled the percentage of students getting an A on their national exams.

 

Achievement Gaps and Standardised Testing

Here’s a Quiz for you- the winner gets a Testing for Dummies Handbook. What could the passage below be referring to?

We implemented a national literacy strategy in primary schools, followed quite rapidly by numeracy using the same model: Large-scale reform driven from the top down; designing all the materials at the national level and training everybody in a cascade out; using the accountability system to publish results and school inspection to check that people were adopting better practices.”

NCLB did you say? Nope, it’s the British version that now been imported to the US Shores in Ohio. Read more about it at Middle Shool World

What causes achievement gaps? Race? Parental Income? IQ? Expectation? Parental Pressure? Chanman’s got the lowdown on his post Quotable Crap about the “Achievement Gap”

One person who doesn’t need to read Chanman’s post is Margaret Spellings who seems to have got it all figured out. In a recent statement she asked, “How do we close the achievement gap and prepare all children to succeed in the global economy? To me, the answer is clear—the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Building on the success of this landmark law will help ensure we keep our promise to have every child learning on grade level by 2014.” Read all about it over on EduWonk’s post The Spellings Report: Margaret Heads South!

 

What Schools can Learn from Businesses and Funding in Schools

At a (private) school I worked at, parents were customers and so were students. Fees were income. Annual Days were Marketing promotions and Parent Relations was under a Public Relations Department. I hated the terms but liked the premise. Nancy Flanagan gets into the details on what schools can learn from big business in Business as Usual while Jose Vilson says that “much of the relationships we have in the educational setting have scary similarities to politics, corporate or otherwise” in his review of the book 48 Laws of Power.

Bill Ferriter, who writes for the same network that Nancy does, also handles a similar issue- the question of Funding, Accountability and Donor Relations in Schools- all things we can learn from business about. His post, Just What is a Republic Anyway?, is in response toone on the DeHavilland Blog titled The Upside of Less Education Funding.

I humbly present another post on state funding for education, arguing that higher-ed subsidies that are keeping large numbers out of primary-school should be re-evaluated and maybe, done away with.

Staying with funding and money; Norm Scott presents Oh man, did your readers leave stuff out! that tells you where dues money goes in the largest local teacher union in the nation

 

Essential conversations with our children

What should we tell our children and what should we not? Presenting three articles that touch different angles on this- NYC Educator talks about discussions with children on homesexuality and sex. I present a post on the death of Adnan Patrawala a 16-year old student in Mumbai who’s death may have been abetted by Orkut, an incident that calls for a more careful exposure to social networking sites. To round up is Jeff’s post Putting them in a Bubble (this is not a carnival contribution, I’ve added it).

In India, several schools are attempting to bring in grandparents into schools- acknowledging that the contribution of these elders in the children’s education can be significant and that in Inidan families where generation stay together it’s important that the Elders are on board with the school their grandchild goes to. Dana talks about a British example where elders are encouraged to come to school and share experiences with kids and adds that this may be an implicit vote for homeschooling. Read about it on her post – Bringing intergenerational experiences to the schools.

Emilie Buchwald once said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” If you want to know what she meant or how to get there read 30+ Teacher’s post on Eleven Ways to Help Your Child Read Well.

WordMama writes a straight-from-the-heart letter to parents who may discover their child needs Special Education.

 

College

Got students or children going to college? Judy’s got some Health Tips, Pinyo talks about the 7 mistakes he made when he went to college, Robert provides you 5 tips on how to get that Calculator to function like a dream while Zantor provides tips on working smarter. If they still haven’t got the financing tied up, look at Robert has got tips on Scott’s post on 32 Weird Scholarships Almost Anyone Can Get.

 

Blogging about Teaching and Education

If you were inspired by Karl’s “Did you Know” Film and want the inside scoop on how Friedman’s World is Flat, Dan Pink’s A new Kind of Mind and speakers the NECC Conference collaborated to kickstart it in his head- go on over to Dr. Jan’s Blog to read The History of “Did You Know” with Karl Fisch and to listen to her podcast interview with him.

Almost 3 weeks after Scott McLeod posted his research on the Top EduBlogs, debate on its methodology and veracity rages on. I am enjoying the debate! You can too by reading Scott’s riposte to the suggestions, comments and questions raised.

We all know teaching can be tough and writing in the little time it leave you with can be tougher. So, when one shares experiences about it through writing on blogs, its frustrating when it gets you pilloried. Andrew, over in Britian, talks about his teaching and experience with blog critics at Just For The Record, I Don’t Hate The Kids

In a related post, Isabella Mori, a counsellor over in Vancouver, talks about her experiences with blogging about Education and Psychology as she debates the difference between blogging and research.

To round up the Carnival, Mister Teacher suggests that I should thank you all for reading and also Thank the custodians who make our teaching duties a lot easier and happier.

One last thing before we go. If, like me, you too wonder who contributes to the Carnival- you have your answers here. Of the 50 contributors to this Carnival, 30 returned my small survey form- I have included the analysis below.

 

 

USA Bloggers Dominate the Carnival of Education

50% are Teachers

50% have been blogging under a year

Blogging in Class is Alive and Well

 

All Contributors were also asked to send in the names of 2 blogs they read daily. Of the responses we received, Joanne Jacobs had the highest Readership (8 votes). Her blog was followed by The Education Wonks and EduWonk (Education Sector Blog) with 4 votes. California Teacher Guy, Weblogg-ed, Edspresso, Right on the Left Coast all got 2 votes each while Education Intelligence Agency, April May, College and Finance, NYC Educator, Principled Mom, NYC Public School Parents, AcademHack, EdWeek, Ms Whatsit, The Thinking Stick, Second Hand Thoughts, Eduholic (Teacher Magazine Blog), It Shouldn’t Happen to a Teacher, Homeschool Buzz, Why Homeschool, Tutor 2u, MathNotations, JD2718, Sicheii Yazhi, Repairkit, What It’s Like on the Inside and The Red Pencil got 1 vote each.

Hope you enjoyed the Carnival. You can access an archive of the previous carnivals here. Thank you all for reading!

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about how important it was to make the EduBlogging experience richer for everyone by expanding the network to include less-read but deserving bloggers.

 

Nancy Flanagan, Michigan Teacher of the Year 1993 who writes over at Teacher in a Strange Land was the first awardee.

 

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT AWARDThis week I am glad to present (violins, cymbals and a drumroll please) the winner of the 2007 International Reading Association Presidential Award for Reading and Technology and Ford Foundation 2002 awardee, Larry Ferlazzo.

 

Congratulations, Larry!

 

For anyone who has an interest in language teaching (especially English), Larry’s ESL blog and accompanying website is a must visit. With links to over several thousand activities, games, applications for language learning, social studies and the arts plus several more classroom activities, it can help you get your students engaged, excited and eager to learn!

 

I spent some time there earlier today and found some cool freely downloadable stuff including:

 

1. Talk Dog: TalkDog, uses audio modules (on Describing, Listening, Being Fair, Understanding, All About Communicating, and Finding Out More.) to teach speaking and listening skills to ESL learners.

 

2. Scribd: Immediately uploads typed documents written by students alongwith audio versions of the same. Read Mr. Ferlazzo’s story of the two sons uploaded on the site here.

 

3. Phrase Builder and SpellingTime – as the names imply, websites that help with vocabulary and grammar construction. Both are very simple to use and, at first glance, have the potential to be immensely useful for the ESL classroom.

 

Thanks for reading and before you leave don’t forget to visit his blog right over here.

 

Here’s to a bigger and better learning circle Larry; all the best!

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This post is the second in my series of Up and Coming Blogger Posts.

 

The first, A Bigger and Better Teaching and Learning Circle mentioned how expanding the EduBlogsphere and hearing less-heard voices currently on the fringes would improve the blogging experience for all of us exponentially. Getting more people involved is my new thing, my new cool.

 

This post begins what I hope will be a weekly custom: Every Saturday it will be my endeavour to introduce you to a blogger whose writing you should check out. I have laid down 3 simple criteria for identifying these bloggers:

 

a) A Technorati Authority of 25 or less.

 

b) One post in the last 10 days and at least 5 in the last two months (this would give me a large enough sample of posts to decide on whether the writing appeals to me as also to exclude bloggers who write sporadically).

 

c) Focus on personal, opinion-driven writing, rather than on posts linking to other writing without comments by the writer herself.

 

The chosen blog will be linked on my site, will always be linked every subsequent post in the Saturday Spotlight sessions, and will hopefully get some traffic going towards her blog that should get her to write more and write better. A recent convert to blogging myself, I know how important readership numbers and feedback can be in the early days.

I have also tried my hand at Photoshop (first attempt ever) and created a badge the blogger may like to display on her site (there is a smaller version of the one below, Nancy!)

 

 

 

Saturday Spotlight

 

 

The blogger who kicks off the Saturday Spotlight Award is Nancy Flanagan who writes at Teacher in a Strange Land

 

Nancy has been blogging since the start of 2007, but is no newcomer to Teaching. A Doctoral Student, Nancy is a 31-year teaching veteran and has a varied career that spans Teaching (web and classroom), Providing consultancy to the Michigan Ed Department, and running all-line communities and workshops to promote Leadership in Schools. She was also Michigan Teacher of the Year 1993.

 

Congratulations, NANCY!

 

She has a warm and thoughtful writing style and she gels teacher and administrator persepctives quite eloquently. Most of her posts are comments on reports and surveys emanating from Research Universities and Think Tanks- I found her post on Tracking Students by Achievement Standards quite interesting and extremely well-written.

 

I hope you will visit her blog, read her posts and write in with comments. We need to motivate her to write more often than she does. Here is her link again:

Teacher in a Strange Land

 

Happy Reading!

 

More about Up and Coming Bloggers:

 

1. Eric Turner over at Second Hand Thoughts runs, I found out through his comment on my first post in this series, a similar exercise. You can access his latest blogger finds right here. (I love his Green Blackboard Award!)

 

2. Dr. Scott McLeod has been posting information and comments on new bloggers intermittently. You can access his range of posts starting with this one on Pete Reilly.

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In response to Dr. McLeod’s question on how his survey on the Top EduBlogs can be improved, I had put forward 5 suggestions. You can read them here.

One was that the rankings should reflect blogs that are currently popular, blogs that are fresh. In the same post, I recognised my limited understanding of internet metrics, site ranks etc.

This morning, I decided to read around on Technorati and see that their Authority Rank really meant. Here’s what I found.

On Technorati, only links to you from the last 180 days count towards your authority. So, it does seem that the EduBlog rankings show the fresh, now popular stuff.

MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB

It also means that if I want to keep Ms.Teacher or Clay’s Beyond School consistently ahead on the Technorati scoreboard, I need to link to them at least once in 6 months. One link from One Blog = One Authority Point on Technorati.

Before one of you Good Samaritans go on and send several links from your blog towards this one, let me tell you that one blog gets one vote for every other blog. So even if I link to Ms. Cornelius’ Shrewdness of Apes 15 times, she will get only 1 Authority Point.

Another interesting point. Technorati does not distinguish between a ranking from a Top Ranked Blog and a less ranked one. So, a link from Inside Higher Ed (Rank #1) or from Christian’s Think:Lab (Rank # 22) will not count for more than the link from Exhausted Intern’s Not enough Hours (Rank # 569) or Kelly Christopherson’s Educational Discourse (Rank #650), all sites I like to visit (the first two are old bookmarks, the latter two new discoveries I am savouring).

However, Google does make a distinction. Its PageRank alogrithm gives greater weightage to sites with more pages linking to them, so if Christian at Think:Lab were to link to you it would do more to bring your page higher up on Google than if I were to link to you.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my learning for the day. Hope it gave some of you something new too.

Btw, I encourage you to visit all the links above, they are some of the blogs I enjoy reading.

(image courtesy: Inky Circus)

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