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Wed Mar 25, 2015 at 09:00 PM PDT

This Is Why We Are All Opting Out!

by kavips

Reposted from kavips by Lorikeet

School Board Meeting


1. General opt out questions
What is the US DOE’s position on the opt- out movement?
Has any school district in the United States of America ever lost federal funding for opting out of standardized testing? If so, which districts are they?
Can parents and students legally opt out?
Is opting out encouraged or discouraged by the district?
If students do opt out, will they receive effective instruction during test time?
If so, what exactly will students do while others are taking the test?
Where would the opt-out instruction take place? Would they be in the classroom with the students taking the tests?

2. Choice and opting out
What happens if your child wants to apply to a magnet or charter school and they opt out of the exam?
What happens if your child is in a magnet or charter school and one opts them out of the test?
What if you apply for choice and you opt out?
Will students who opt out be considered absent?  
Will the teachers’ evaluations be compromised if parents opt out?

3. Growth model?
When will students take the standardized tests?
When will the district receive student scores?
Will the test allow us to effectively measure student growth during the year?
Can you explain the growth model of testing and discuss whether this test would be considered an example of one or not?

4. Data privacy
Where does the data collected go?
Is it protected?
How do we know the data is secure?
Could there ever be a security breach?
Does the district control the data once it is collected?
Who controls it & where is it stored?

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Sat Mar 21, 2015 at 02:35 PM PDT

Teachers' Lounge: Dracula

by annetteboardman

Reposted from annetteboardman by annetteboardman

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my interdisciplinary class reading And the Band Played On, and the resulting discussion.  The second book I have assigned this semester is the 1897 novel Dracula.  We wanted to have a book that was made into at least two different video productions. The students in the senior class (the one paired with my introductory class) are starting tomorrow running Dracula films on Sunday afternoons, and leading an associated discussion; those in my class are to attend at least two of the screenings, but I would not be surprised if many went to more than the minimum.  After all, Dracula is a pretty good read and they have had a lot of interesting things to say in the discussion.

Follow me below the winding Transylvanian mountain road for more.

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Reposted from guts of a liberal by annetteboardman

There is an increasing call to arms by education privateers across the nation that state legislatures should remove tenure from education. The argument has been made that tenure can lead to a school having burnt-out old teacher who can't be fired, and your child may get that teacher. As a teacher, I can tell you first hand this scenario could and has happened. However, this is not the norm. It is a rare exception. In fact, tenure is the most powerful tool teachers and parents have to ensure that students are getting the best education possible.

Tenure has been twisted and skewed by those who wish to privatize our public education system. Tenure is becoming a dirty word that parents oppose and state lawmakers are striking down in the name of “reform”. This needs to change, if parents care about the success of their children, they are going to want them to have tenured teachers.

So here is to setting the record straight.

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Reposted from annetteboardman by annetteboardman

I just turned in preliminary grades this past week -- advisory marks that are provided to the students after four weeks.  It is too early to know what the final mark will be for any certainty, but I do know what the habits are of highly unsuccessful students, and I have seen those play out clearly already.  Some are really not connected to class performance, but are an indication of how seriously the students are taking the class.  Sadly, I do tend to take this very seriously, and I really would like my students to do so as well.

You can take this as a rather cranky prof heading into midterm or a wise older aunt giving you some advice.  If you are a student (or have one heading to school or university soon), you might want to keep these in mind when you or yours walk into my class.  If you are a teacher, I am sure you have your own ideas and experiences.  Please share!  (let me know I am not alone)

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Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 06:55 PM PST

Will you be here next week?

by thagerdc

Reposted from point B by annetteboardman

I am constantly reminded of the uncertainty and vulnerability of my adult students each week when I am invariably asked the question, “Will you be here next week?”

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Reposted from Jud Lounsbury by annetteboardman

The latest Daily Caller, Inquisitr and Fox headlines scream out, "State Takes Over School District That Had to Make Teachers Wear Underwear."  

I don't know about you, but seriously?  I'm for the teachers and all, but teachers not wearing underwear?  You people have lost your minds!  You're supposed to be teaching basic chemistry, not Basic Instinct.  And, everybody knows you've got to wear a bra, when you're teaching algebra!  

In other news... what?  ...There's more to the story? Shut the front door!

It turns out, that never was a case of a teacher not wearing underwear in the school district in question.   Yes, teacher unions often object to dress codes because they are degrading, not because they have an objection to their specific contents... such as wearing underwear.

For example:  If I'm a sheep-sheerer and you're my boss, I might object if you post a rule on the wall that says "no __ ing the sheep." Not because I want to __ the sheep, but because your rules makes it sound like I do.

You don't need to make a rule banning every ridiculous behavior that might randomly float into someone's mind, because doing so is not only unnecessary when you're dealing with a group of well-trained professionals, but it’s also is inherently humiliating to infer that employees need to be told to wear underwear.

Such ridiculous rules are not by accident, however. They are tee balls set up to feed the narrative that public schools are out of control... the school "had to make teachers wear underwear" for crying out loud!

Reposted from annetteboardman by annetteboardman

We all have those teachers and professors who have made phenomenal impacts on our lives, for good and bad, for personal and/or academic reasons.  Teachers can introduce us to new and exciting ideas or convince us to abandon a previously-loved field of investigation, build or cut down self-confidence and self-worth, and lead us to develop ethics and attitudes, for good or ill, that will last for the rest of our lives.  You know the ones I am talking about.  The good ones I know by name; the bad ones only by year and subject.  There was the Native American History teacher in 11th grade who had us fill out pre-made worksheets for a full quarter.  I remember none of that.  In contrast, Mrs. Carttar in sixth grade was probably the best teacher I had.  She was a very classic 1960s educator, dealing with what at the time was really unusual material -- Africa (I still remember loving the peanut chicken stew we ate for lunch one day, and with that class I didn't mind worksheets!), about what it was like to experience prejudice and shunning ("Prejudice Day" was a valuable experience for those on both sides of the class -- the experience was repeated with a flipping of the two halves of the class), and the friends I made there are still my closest friends from high school (with Todd I went to the first Star Trek convention in Kansas City -- we rode in on the Greyhound and my Dad picked us up and brought us home, on a weekday, no less!).  Mrs. Fambrough introduced me to Shakespeare, although I had read and seen the plays before.  In college there were Mrs. Ridgway, Ms. Mellink, Mrs. Crawford, and Mrs. Pinney, and of course, Mr. Ellis, who was my advisor when I officially declared my major.  All were excellent teachers and more importantly, they were mentors.  

Mentoring is a lifelong thing, if you do it right. Teaching and modeling are never over.  I saw Mrs. Ridgway at my 30th college reunion this past summer.  I saw her eyes dip to my nametag, and then she knew exactly what I had done, both during my time there and after I graduated.  She remembered that I had written a humour column for my college newspaper, based on the commentary of my (imaginary) cat who was a predecessor in tone of Grumpy Cat.  I heard from a co-major from the men's college down the road how she had come to his graduation, held the day after ours, and she was one of the few faculty from ours to attend theirs.  It had meant a lot to him then, and still now.  Those are the things that stick, and she still is amazing to me.  I can only hope to mean as much to my students thirty years on.

That is what it means to me to be a good teacher, to not only manage to develop ideas and knowledge that will stick with someone in the immediate semester, but to engender attitudes and abilities that will still be around in thirty to forty years.  I have not been teaching that long, but I am in my 23rd year here, and I have seen my students grown into exciting professionals, in a variety of fields.  and I hope to mean to them in the future what my school and college teachers mean to me.  

Come below the whirly-gig of glory for more.

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Reposted from annetteboardman by annetteboardman

I teach an introduction to interdisciplinary studies, which has been one of my favourite classes for the past three years that I have taught it.  It is a group of students who want to design their own majors because while we offer courses, they are not configured into majors that provide students a path to what they want to do (Environmental Studies, Media Studies, Area Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and so on).  The students are really interesting, creative thinkers, and curious, curious, curious about the world around them.  In addition to a series of assignments, including writing a proposal for their individualized interdisciplinary major, each year I assign them three text"books" -- one novel, one non-fiction, and the New York Times, which is available free of charge at newspaper racks around campus.

The books are designed to get students thinking about interdisciplinary evidence and ways of approaching problems through discussion and writing.  Last year, for example, we used Manahatta, a stunningly beautiful book presenting an ecological study of the island of Manhattan.  Three days were devoted to discussion of the volume (split roughly into thirds), and then students had to write about a natural history and geographical aspect of their home towns.  This year, for the non-fiction book, I decided to use an interesting epidemiological and socio-political study of the early years of the epidemic, And the Band Played On.  This was a book I remembered being fascinated by when I read it in the early 90s (it came out in 1987).  I thought it would be a good entrée into a variety of disciplinary approaches, and presented a "problem" that was not possible to understand without coming at it from many different directions.  I thought it might be something they would enjoy (it is well-written, if rather longer than I would usually assign in this class), and which would bring up many interesting issues.  The first day of discussion was on Thursday, and it was not remotely what I had expected.  I love it when my students surprise me.

Follow me below the twirly orange octopus of doom for more.

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Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 06:30 AM PST

Today, I Become a Teacher

by sbklaw2005

Reposted from sbklaw2005 by annetteboardman

Every lawyer dreams of becoming a history teacher. OK, not EVERY lawyer, but many of the ones I know. I've been practicing law for ten years. Add in my 3 years of law school and 3 years as a paralegal, and I've been in the legal profession for nearly half my life. Except for a few moments of human satisfaction (helping a veteran keep her home, fighting the big banks on behalf of a young family, getting a 8-figure verdict for a family scammed out of their life savings by a real estate swindler), I never enjoyed the practice of law. Truth be told, most of the time I was on the side of the big banks. It drains your soul.

Like so many lawyers, I found myself trapped in my own profession. While our skills translate to other fields, most employers see a law degree as a burden. Being pigeon-holed, we call it. Also, student loans, mortgage, cars, and expenses that befit the lifestyle of a moderate income attorney are too much of a burden to bear on a teacher's salary. Then something magical happened. Follow me below the orange spaghetti..

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Reposted from annetteboardman by annetteboardman

We started classes this week, and it was exhausting and exciting in equal measure.  When I was in school I almost always looked forward to the start of the school year.  I loved the supplies we got (sometimes it was even the BIG crayon box, the one with the sharpener on the back), the Big Chief tablets, and #2 pencils (if you were lucky you got ones that were different from those of everyone else).  I don't remember what mine looked like, but I do remember that this was an important aspect of the hunt for school supplies.  Glue came in bottles and you would put coloured tissue paper in the bottle to colour the glue.  I can remember the smell of a new classroom even today.  

While this is my career, a college teacher's life sadly is not quite the new discovery each year that is part of the 2nd or 3rd grader's experience.  But I still like it.  And because of the way that most US universities structure their schedule, you have a completely new beginning for almost all your classes almost every semester.  Each class has a different atmosphere, and there are always new people and new issues ever January as well as every August. It is nice to feel renewed, but it isn't something completely unknown, usually.

Come with me through the orange filigree door for some thoughts on how the new beginning has gone this semester and the concern/goal I have for one of my larger classes.  If you have suggestions on engaging students in a large, largely lecture, class I would love to hear them.

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Reposted from annetteboardman by annetteboardman

At the beginning of the fall semester I did not pick up the series I have generally been posted on Saturdays during the school year, focusing on issues in teaching at a primarily undergraduate university in a relatively isolated community.  I don't know if anyone noticed, but it was frustrating to me, as I have enjoyed the regular setting aside of time to consider things that are going on in my classes, and have appreciated the community of educators (both primary and secondary school and college/university) who have suggestions and wisdom to share.  My goal this semester is to go back to this.  So Saturday afternoons sometime I hope this series is reborn.  

It wasn't have I didn't enjoy writing the diaries, and I don't think it was because I had nothing to say (in fact, I tried something completely new in one of my classes in the fall, and it worked in some ways and didn't work in others).  But I was facing the results of an issue that was starting to arise in the spring, and didn't realize how much it would affect my semester.  

Follow me below the orange loopy thingamajig.

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Reposted from TransAction by rserven

Yesterday the Department of Education issued guidelines (36 pages) instructing schools which accept federal funding how to treat transgender students with regard to single-sex classes.

Although Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities, regulations issued by the Department authorize schools to offer single- sex classes or extracurricular activities under certain circumstances.2 In order to ensure that schools subject to Title IX comply with the Department’s requirements if they choose to offer single-sex classes and extracurricular activities, OCR provides the following responses to questions that schools should consider when assessing their compliance with Title IX. Although this document focuses on single-sex classes, some of the legal principles will also apply to single-sex schools. In order to gain a complete understanding of these legal requirements and recommendations, this document should be read in full.

Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

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