Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Today's Reads, Views, and Links

That nefarious trip to the DQ at the end of the year

This one is a bit old, but I loved the debate, so I'm weighing in with my take on it.

Get over it.

That's my take.

Now I'm sure the mother is nice and caring and is honestly just protecting her kid.  But, on the other hand, she has the makings of a totally nutso helicopter parent.  Coaches and future teachers, watch out for this one!

I understand the school should have sent notices home.  Yes, kids have peanut allergies and the DQ is not the place you want your kid to visit if they have a peanut allergy, but come on!

I see the mother disgruntled because she didn't get her way (see what I mean about the helicopter parent tendencies).

But her allegations are rather ludicrous.

First, a field trip without chaperones?  Isn't that exactly what every single bus trip is?  Twice a day to boot!  Don't you entrust your child to this person twice every single school day?

It sets a bad example for kids so they think it's okay for them to go with adults anywhere.?? Really?

How about the example you're setting by freaking out and yelling at people at DQ?  What kind of example is that?

I recall a parent two years ago at the Shrine Circus in GF.  We all were going down to the floor for the bouncy houses and elephant rides.  Parents and kids were just hopping over the boards and onto the floor.  A security woman came down and told us not to do that.  We should, instead, walk about 20 yards and use the entrance door to the floor.

As I was leading Kenzie and Cash in that direction, I saw a parent - despite the security woman right next to her - hop over the side (which she was just told not to do).  Then she began to lift each kid up and over (which she was just told not to do).  All the while the security guard repeated that she couldn't do that.

Great example for your kids.

I couldn't help but think of this mother's situation and reaction when I saw this story.

And then the mother had to gall to tell the school board - according to the news story - that she had friends who thought the bus driver should be fired immediately if not charged with a crime.

Again, dumbest thing I've heard in my life.

There is one thing to be angry and disgruntled, and there is another thing to be a stark raving lunatic.

It's not like bus drivers are hard enough to find.  It's not like they are stealing your child and selling them for sex slaves.

If you are that disgruntled, two words will fix this: home school.


Ten jobs that didn't exist ten years ago.

I'm fascinated by this.  In fact, it's one thing I love so much about my job: trying to prepare students for jobs that don't yet exist OR trying to prepare students to survive jobs that won't exist in ten years.

I think this is why it's vital to teach kids HOW to learn instead of how to simply memorize and regurgitate and sit quiet and copy notes dutifully.


A teacher's plea: budget for books

This one hits close to home.  In my department we are looking at the importance of silent sustained reading and the importance of free reading.

Buying books does no good, though, if kids don't have the inner motivation to read and read a lot.

I was listening to a podcast that focused on the plummeting adult reading rates.  I think something like 1 in 50 adults reads for fun (at least ONE book a year too).

Why is this?

There isn't a simple answer.

But from a class I took last year on the importance of reading and teaching reading across the content areas, there are several answers.

1.  Kids today grow up in a world dominated by images, not words.

2.  Too many elementary teachers focus on reading strategies instead of content knowledge (we rarely have kids who can't read (as in they can't sound out the words).  We have kids who can sound out the words but the words don't register because kids are sorely lacking in content knowledge).  Years ago, elementary teachers used to teach a lot of content knowledge, particularly in history.  However, thanks to the high stakes testing culture that NCLB ushered in, teaching content knowledge was replaced by teaching reading strategies to get kids ready for the tests and then to improve their scores when, inevitably, their scores plummeted.  Thus, kids read a lot of short pieces to glean the main idea, facts vs. opinions, sort through inferences, and examine conclusions.  The problem seems to be that the way great readers gain these skills is through reading a lot over a long period of time.  Not in just focusing on strategies.  I would imagine the same is true for dieting.  People who are in shape eat healthy and exercise regularly over the course of their lives.  Those of us who struggle, are lazy and eat terribly.  But we are addicted to quick diets or getting expensive gym memberships.  And those quick fix approaches (like teaching reading strategies) just doesn't work.  At least work very well.

3.  Teachers need to expose kids to a variety of genres and readings in order to develop their skills.

4.  Having a kid fall in love with a book or author or series is the best way to get them to read more.

We see this - I think - at the elementary and middle schools where kids walk around with books all the time, yet the get to LHS and we give them a computer instead.

That needs to change.

I can speak first hand - and you can talk to my principal for evidence - about how well giving kids free time to read works.  My Sticky-Note book report is a favorite of my CC and CC 2 students.

Check this text out if you don't believe me -

Yes.  That's the power of recommending books kids might love.  Then you give them time to read and get out of the way.


Why am I just coming across this now?

As the end of the year approaches, inform students that their final activity (either individually or in small groups) is to summarize their learning from the year and illustrate it in some format (slideshow or images or infograph).  Here are some examples of tools that could be used to help summarize what was learned.

Initially, I thought about having each student doing it, but that would be a lot of projects to review in the final day.  So I'd opt for having students do it in small groups.

I'd have students select their favorite projects or assignments or readings to summarize.  Then I'd have them check to see what was missed (maybe in CC 2 a student loved their Sticky-Note book report and the TED Talk but they skipped over their Linchpin boards and their exploratory essay), so I'd make sure that each group effectively summarizes all that was covered.

Then I'd give them time to map it out, illustrate it, and present it.  This would also be a great tool for me to use on the first day of classes to help illustrate what we will be doing the rest of the semester.



This is a Venn diagram I created when I finished Patrick Lencioni's The Ideal Team Player.

Now, I will not claim that I am an ideal team player.  I strive to be humble, but I don't know that I truly am.  I try to definitely live by one of our core values: "It's not about us."  But I am working on it.  Always.

Ideally, if you're an ideal team player you would land right in the middle where you are smart (by "smart" Lencioni means you have people skills, not just IQ.  You can say something without pissing everyone in the room off instantly.  I recall a meeting we had years and years ago.  It was a language arts K-12 meeting.  A colleague mentioned how she didn't think the elementary school teachers were doing a good job teaching grammar.  You can imagine how well that went over.  That is an example of someone not being 'smart.').  

So that person might land in high in the "hungry" category (which means they are driven to excel in the field and are constantly reading and growing and tweaking and improving their curriculum and their lessons).  But they aren't "smart."  Are they humble? 

By humble Lencioni means who do team members react when they don't have the stoplight on them? How do they inspire and lift others up?  Do they pout when they don't get their way?  

In fact, here is a great illustration of the concept with questions for hiring and drilling down to examine each category.

Personally, when it comes to 'smart' I think I'm average.  I rarely share my true opinion (other than on this blog), so I'm not strong in asserting my opinion or challenging others, even when it's vital.  

I think I'm off the charts when it comes to 'hungry.'  I am constantly attending and presenting at conferences to learn and grow professionally.  I am on my third year of typing up what will be around 540 teaching tips that I publish on this blog every school day.  I blog about education.  I listen to podcast and read books to be a better teacher.

Now, humble.  I want to say that I'm humble.  I mean, I dub myself the chief inspiration officer of LHS, so if I don't lift others up and praise them, what good am I?  I don't gloat.  I don't brag.  I do sometimes share nice things students have tweeted at me, but that's it.  So I think I'm strong here. I just need to work more on being smart.  


Last night we watched what might be the best episode of Parts Unknown yet.  It focused on Oman, a country I never even knew existed, but it's fascinating.

Though they are Muslim, they are tolerant of women and see violence as extremely repulsive, especially when done in the name of religion.  Why are we learning more about this country and what works for them?


This was too good not to share!


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