Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Versatile Blogger continued plus my grad school rambling October 1, 2011

Filed under: bloggers,blogs,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 am
Tags: , ,

Since I haven’t been a faithful blogger of recent, I’m going to take the time to tap my go-to blogs (in addition to Franki and Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading):

Sarah @ The Reading Zone

Karen & Bill @ Literate Lives

Stacey and Ruth @ Two Writing Teacher

Abby @ Abby the Librarian

Travis @ 100 Scope Notes

Jen @ Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Katie @ Creative Literacy 

I could keep going, but I have to get back to the task at hand today, which is to make a huge dent, if not finish my gazillion hours of documentation for the hours and projects that I have done TO COMPLETE MY PRINCIPAL LICENSURE!

(I won’t start in on how Muskingum University changed all the requirements for principal licensure over the summer and the new licensure candidates have to complete only 2/3 of what we who have been in the program for only six additional months have to complete or how all those extra courses they made me take cost my family an additional $4500. I’ll just stop with WTH!! and go back to focusing on something positive. I’ve now admired my problem, acknowledged there is nothing I can do about it and am moving on.)

The finish line is within sight! I never, ever thought I was going to get a principal licensure, but that past three+ years have moved me down a path I didn’t anticipate for myself back when I was a very happy fourth grade teacher. (see my first post as Scaredy Teacher/Squirrel)

 

HB 136 could create a finacial crisis for Granville schools! September 29, 2011

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:18 pm

HB 136 could create a financial crisis for Granville Schools; will you please help me tell our legislators?

Posted by Jeff Brown, Superintendent

September 26, 2011

 

Families and Friends of Granville schools, I want to draw your attention to some important pending legislation that could have a very negative impact on our school district!  House Bill 136 would require public schools to send your public tax dollars, along with those provided by the state, to private and parochial schools when students leave our schools.  This could result in a significant financial crisis for our school district.

 

Currently, the Granville Schools must pay $5,782 for each student who leaves our district on open enrollment, which includes other public schools, digital or online schools, and charter schools.  Of the $5,782 price tag, only $2,162 comes from the state of Ohio, and the balance comes from local tax revenue.  Yet, this legislation proposes expanding this voucher program to include all private and parochial schools.

 

I understand and support that choice is necessary for parents and students in areas that have consistently low performing schools.  I am opposed however, to giving tax dollars to private institutions that will financially penalize successful, high performing school districts such as Granville.

 

Here are some of the projected negative effects of this proposed legislation:

 

  • The private and parochial schools that would get money under the voucher program created in the bill do not have to comply with all the same regulations as traditional public school districts.
  • Private schools are not required to take all students, as traditional public schools do.  Therefore, high-performing voucher students from well-rated schools could end up crowding out students from lower-ranked schools.
  • There is little-to-no evidence that current voucher programs have increased academic achievement.
  • The bill could interfere with the connection between the viability of a community and the strength of its schools.

 

HB 136, sponsored by State Representative Matt Huffman (R), created the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings Scholarship (voucher) Program (PACT), a new statewide program allowing K-12 students to use a voucher to attend private schools.  Click here for a copy of the latest version of the bill.

 

The bill:

  • Expands vouchers to students in all school districts, regardless of the academic report card rating of the school building or school district.  The only qualifier for eligibility is household income.   Students whose family income is less than $95,000 would qualify.
  • Allows a phase-in period for students currently enrolled in private schools to be eligible for the voucher.
  • If the private school tuition is less than the voucher amount, it allows parents to bank the excess dollars for college tuition and textbooks at any private school or college in Ohio.
  • Deducts funding for the voucher from the resident school district’s funding.

 

During recent house testimony, Marc Schare, president of the Worthington Board of Education said funding the vouchers would upend the premised under which (local) residents approved the taxes, and he likened the program to taking local library levy money to buy residents gift certificates to Barnes & Noble.

 

I believe this is not a “choice” bill; it is an attack on public education.

 

The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO), the Ohio PTA, Ohio School Psychologists Association, and the Alliance for a High Quality Education are united in their opposition to this bill, stating…

 

“We are strongly opposed to this legislation and believe the voucher would be turning the state’s obligation to provide a thorough and efficient ‘system’ of public education into a private benefit, resulting in an unprecedented level of voucher expansion that could impact every school district in the state!”

 

I hope you will consider the effects of this proposed legislation on our schools and consider writing to our state lawmakers to express your concern regarding HB 136:

 

Representative Jay Hottinger

Phone: 614-466-1482

 

Senator Tim Schaffer

Phone: 614-466-5838

 

If you have questions regarding this legislation, please feel free to contact me via email or phone 740-587-8111.  I appreciate your consideration of this important issue.

 

 

Reflection on Friedman, Robinson, & Pink April 28, 2011

Filed under: 21st Century,school,TED — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:34 pm

It seems like I spend a great deal of time reflecting on, writing about and discussing the many changes that education is going through.

Watching Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” lecture was very interesting on the heels of having read Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. There seems to be a real convergence of thinking materializing on behalf of American society. Both Pink and Friedman seem to state that if we (as Americans) are not careful, we will be caught while we are asleep and will not be able to recover economically as a country. Similar to Pink, Friedman, paints a very clear picture of how forces, that are as opposite and as powerful as Pink’s Abundance, Asia, and Automation, need to emerge if we are not succumb to trailing behind China, India, and other countries as an international powerhouse.

Friedman illustrates clearly how Netscape’s internet browser, the development of personal computers and their ability to revolutionize workflow have already changed the world more in the last ten years, than in the previous one hundred years. Browsers, dot.com, fiber-optics, digital formats have all had a major contribution to the change. His encyclopedia example of uploading (creating your own information-Wikipedia) versus downloading (taking someone else’s information-either through a computer disc or purchasing a set of books) illustrates that a new form of creativity needs to emerge so we can connect and collaborate. His ‘new’ iron rule of business, “Whatever can be done, will be done” has resulted from value created horizontally based on who you connect and collaborate with versus the vertical hierarchy that we’ve had historically. Individual creativity, and what inspires, enables, and empowers us is going to be more important than in the past.

I would agree with what Thomas Friedman states in his lecture and book. Even within my own small world, I have seen the need to think more and more globally and how to apply that thinking to the world I live in. The advantages of creativity, invention, and innovation have been more and more revealed as I have moved from my classroom teaching position to the district level curricular position. Being able to think outside the normal box of traditional roles of education is going to be what helps schools survive the massive changes we are just beginning to experience through with House Bill 5 and Kasich’s biennium budget, not to mention the need to rethink education to help our graduates be competitive with other graduates from around the world. Changes in education that I’ve heard described in the past month are putting us on a whole new playing field. While others have discussed the need for 21st Century Skills, Friedman explains is really why what is being said is relevant and timely for all of us.

The essence of Sir Ken Robinson’s message is also similar to Pink. Robinson asserts that creativity must be given a higher interest in education, especially as the education of today’s kindergarteners will need to not only take us into future we can’t imagine, but help us survive that future. Children have tremendous capacity for creativity, but the current education model we use, that of the school as a version of an industrialized factory, is snuffing not only the creativity, but the capacity of creativity. We need to rethink the traditional hierarchy of subjects that not just America has, but other countries as well, with arts on the bottom of the educational heap. Instead of the traditional stereotype of academic achievement, modeled on the higher education model, we need to rethink intelligence to be more inclusive. Robinson states that if we don’t “radically rethink our view of intelligence”, we will lose all hope for the future. Creative capacity needs to be appreciated for the hope that it is.

I have watched different version of Sir Robinson’s lecture over the past couple years, and every time I see it, I am struck by how true I believe his words to be. Creativity and the arts have not been appreciated in the past like they will need to be in the present and future. The traditions of education and American society of the past several hundred years are not going to be able to help keep America as the economic and cultural superpower we are used to being. Just the sheer volume of English speaking citizens in non-USA countries, should be enough to convince us that we need to up our game if we want to remain competitive. In Pink’s words, Asia, Abundance, and Automation, have put us into a different version of reality than any of our parents would have been able to imagine for us. We do not have the ability to anticipate how different schools will be in ten years, much less fifty years, and if we don’t start growing the creativity capacity of our children, we won’t be able to keep up or survive the changes.

What really resonated with me about these lectures is the idea, that in reflection, the world has changed drastically in the twenty years since I’ve been teaching more so than in the previous century. I can look back at the beginning of my teaching career and remember clearly that there were no computers in classrooms. There were a few DOS models around that secretaries used for managerial work, but most people did not know how to work them. I can remember clearly the first time I saw an internet browser and a dial-up modem and how it was nothing to sit waiting for an hour for something to download. I can remember clearly when an AOL CD-Rom or disc came in the mail weekly as well as inserted in every magazine that would could purchase. I can remember going home at lunch to use my internet at home because there was no internet at school. What Robinson and Friedman’s lectures bring to mind for me is that those recollections for me will be as memorable later in life as my parents talking about the first television they ever saw. The technology is now such a part of everyday life, that is something that everyone, including my own students and children take for granted.

The lectures also brought into light for me the notion that as drastic as those changes were for me in the past twenty years, we are bound to see that much progress or change in the next four years, or three. As the speed of progress and the rate of information created increases, it is not enough to reflect on changes between then and now. What is important is for us to realize that we can’t even imagine what technology and therefore life, education, economics, will look like by the time my eleven year old learns to drive in five years. If I am honest with myself, high school as we’ve known it for the past several hundred years, will never look the same ever again. Credit flex, online schools, and educational options in Ohio, has opened up not just the doors to high school, but removed the walls and ceiling completely. In order to hold onto our educational excellence or advantage that we perceive we have, my school district, and every district in America, will need to reinvent themselves as quickly as possible. It won’t be hard for our students; it will be hard for our faculties.

While the importance of creativity, collaboration, problem solving, and other “soft” skills were ones I’ve always valued for students, I think these lectures illustrate for me that it is not enough to “try” to incorporate them more, but essential that we look for every opportunity to integrate those skills into our classrooms. Instead of trying to “nice” some of our the teachers into changing, I think we might need to shove them off the dock and then teach them to swim all over again. The denial by some educators that sometimes see, that education is changing, is so strongly rooted in large portions of American teaching  faculties, that even if it were an anchor on a sinking ship, they would still cling to it. Friedman’s “rule” of “Whatever can be done, will be done,” is one that resonates clearly with me. Since I believe that I would rather have it done by me, rather than too me, my own creativity and collaboration needs to continue to be strengthened as part of a leadership team that is going to need to rethink the way we present education to our students and community.

  • If you haven’t seen Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on Ted, I actually recommend the animated version you can see on YouTube. I wish I could talk and illustrate at the same time! It would make everything I say so much more entertaining and memorable!
  • Along those lines, here is a link to the recently viewed Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat MIT lecture.
  • My favorite TED video I shared with our superintendent is Derek Siver’s talk How to Start a Movement. I’m sure there are times when you’ve been the lone nut, the first follower, or just one of the crowd!
 

What’s Keeping Me From Blogging September 19, 2010

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:06 pm

Levy Meetings replaced Curriculum Night meetings

Work replaces work. Enough Said. I can’t imagine every working anywhere but in a school.

Levy Sub-committee Meetings

Graduate Classes-Community Relations and Building Consensus-Good timing with the above meetings.

Field Hockey practices and games. The “hardly any away games” thing hasn’t really held true this year.

Flag Football practices and games. Testosterone and losing football games is a new phenomenon to me as a mom, but brings back bad flashbacks of childhood with two younger brothers.

Sleeping: without dreaming; or Sleeping with middle of the night waking

Things I’m looking forward to:

Starting a new book club book for my grown-up book club. Notice I say grown-up rather than “adult”. Taking no chances there. We meet in September and select a year’s worth of books. On tap:  Marcello in the Real World as our Young Adult pick and coming up quickly, The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Getting together with my Central Ohio KidLit Blogging friends. We are going to see Michael Grant (Gone, Hunger, Lies, and now Magnificent Twelve–LOVE HIM!). As I just started running his books through my head and trying to picture where they are in my house or office, I just remembered he is married to the fabulous K. A. Applegate. It’s probably too much to hope that she’ll be touring with him, but I’m going to bring Home of the Brave, Buffalo Storm, and Roscoe Riley books with me (Just In Case!).

 

The possibilities a new school year brings August 22, 2010

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:50 pm

A good friend of mine got a job teaching fifth grade in a nearby town. He got his job Friday. School starts Monday. I know this happens all around the country each school year, but it has me thinking.

I spent the day providing an orientation for the new teacher of our districts. I had the opportunity to look over years of new teacher orientation information. I was able to talk to all the people over the summer who had a part in orientation in the past. I spent out drafts of the outline for the day. And revised. And revised, and revised. Then was able to reflect back on all the things I wish someone had told me for my first school year (a whole other post) and then tuck those tidbits in throughout the day.

He spent the day procuring a job for the new school year.

Where else is there a job that requires you to be able to do the same job on Day 1 of year 1 as Day 180 of year 35?

Let’s say he was hired Friday to start Monday in a bank. Or in a law firm.

He would go to his first meeting Monday and orientation or the training period would begin.  Someone would make sure he understood the specific culture/expectations for his new workplace. Even though he would come with a wonderful background of college and advanced degree learning, each bank or law firm would have their own rules and procedures they would start teaching him during his training period.

My friend, and other teachers around the country, will be assigned a mentor. An experienced teacher who will answer questions and hopefully have time to look out for him. The mentor will, of course, have their own classroom and all the full responsibilities to come with it.

While most new teachers are trained in classroom management, communication, and many other important “non-academic” areas, my friend and all new teachers will need to be ready to go when the kids arrive. He will need his classroom management plan and lesson plans for the first day. The kids (and their parents) don’t want to know that he spent all weekend trying to get ready. It’s expected.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Another layer-it’s not as easy as just deciding for himself what he will expect within his own classroom walls. He will need to make sure it complements his team members’ management plans and supports his building plan. It’s Sunday before school starts Monday. While he might be lucky and find a teacher in the building willing to take the time to explain some of those nuances, he might have to wait until Monday morning, and then try to make revisions during lunch on Monday. Of course he won’t have a computer log-on of his own yet, but he can probably use someone else’s computer.

When it’s all said and done, he will do great when those kids walk in the door, and they’ll never suspect he even broke a sweat trying to get ready. After all, isn’t that what all teachers do to make sure the new school year is ready for the kids?

 

Once Upon a School January 1, 2010

Filed under: authors,reading-writing connection,school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:05 am
Tags: , , , ,

My husband came home talking about the Pirate Supply Store and their tutoring center sometime in the past year. He is a big fan of TED “Ideas Worth Spreading” tv and had seen the video of author Dave Eggers’ 2008 TED award acceptance speech. In addition, one of the guys who works for him has a friend who is affiliated with the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. I’m surprised I haven’t posted about it already.

“Founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.”

I love his dream!

 

School Visit–Reading & Writing Workshop November 6, 2009

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