Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Curriculum?

Three years ago, I created a Sports Literature course as a Senior elective. The course offered the opportunity to explore culture and sports through novels like The Sun Also Rises and non-fiction like Friday Night Lights. Though sports are a part of those two texts, the greater value comes from the themes they present to the reader. Interestingly, The Sun Also Rises has a Lexile score of 610 and Friday Night Lights comes in at 1260. Readability has rarely been an issue in the four previous semesters.
However, it seems that this year the elective course is filling the role of credit recovery. It is already clear that these two central texts to the course will be problematic for the majority of the students. So I am left scrambling to figure out what to do. The secondary problem is that very few of the students are into sports--or doing homework.
This leaves me wondering what to do when the curriculum for a course is absolutely not going to work for the students placed into the course.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living the Dream

A few years ago a good friend of mine founded a charter school in New York City. Inwood Academy for Leadership is looking to continue its success and grow its brand. Please check out his blog at Strongschoolculture.
My own hope was that this year I could focus on a professional growth plan directed at improving the school culture in my own building. Unfortunately the powers that be think all teachers in our building should focus our professional growth plan on their expensive new intervention toy. So much for differentiation.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Forgive me, for I am about to sin.

Via Joanne Jacobs, I came across Scott Carroll's piece on what made him successful. While my district, and many like it, tell me, the teacher, that it is my ability to differentiate and my ability to teach vocabulary that will make a student achieve, Carroll insists that the family structure is even more important.
What I like about Carroll is his insistence on the fact that it doesn't take a college degree to understand the importance of reading to your child or expecting that homework is done. It doesn't require advanced learning to teach responsibility.
My own parents, who did not graduate from college, read to us constantly; and I can't imagine my parents ever allowing me to disrespect another human being, or a bathroom stall.
Yes, I know. I am in direct violation of the "progressive" education movements. I shall go to confession and confirm that my sin is ever before me.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Tate,

Today is your first day of Kindergarten. Yes, you have attended pre-school for two years, but this is different. For one, you will have to ride the bus, or as your uncle and I used to call it, the "Cheese Wagon."
I know you are excited, but I can also sense your anxiety. You are wondering whether you'll be big enough; you are afraid it might be too hard. Daddy is wondering whether all of the teaching your mom and I have already done will withstand the influences of the other kids.
Every day since we started bringing you to pre-school, I have told you this: Be kind, compassionate, and polite; and, I love you. Now I'd like to add to that: Try your best and take risks.
Even though all of the research is trending towards boys performing less than girls, schools can still be a place of limitations. Someone is going to tell you that "Girls can't do that" or "That is for boys." But you know better. Be the Pioneer Princess that you already are. Continue to be great at math. Keep being curious about science. Never let a chance to read something pass you by. Create a story. Express yourself artistically. Embrace a challenge.
So there you have it, babygirl. What it comes down to is this, be you.

I love you.