Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Notes

Notes on a few smaller stories this week:

-A new CPRE report find that most "teachers focused on what students do (procedural) rather than what they understand (conceptual)" (p. 27).  If I were to criticize teachers, my one criticism would be that they tend to focus more on what's happening at a given moment and how it's happening than the big picture.  And that has little to do with any personal quality of the individual teacher, it's just a fact of life when one tries to manage 20-30 kids at the same time -- if procedures aren't followed, chaos ensues.  Every time somebody came into my classroom, they were checking to see what procedures I was using and whether kids were following them and not whether kids were deeply understanding the material I as presenting.  I think one could argue that math instruction with following rules rather than teaching understanding, which is the position of these two math teachers when asked "what's wrong with math education in the U.S.?"

-AERA, the largest educational research group, has started a new website, called "Trending Research Topic," that includes free links to journal articles relevant to current debates.  The first topic posted is the common core (hat tip: EdWeek's Inside School Research blog).  I'm not sure where they'll go from here, but it's a fantastic idea with a lot of potential.

-A new report on "integrated student supports" finds that schools utilizing wraparound services had some limited positive impacts on students across seven evaluations.  Expect to hear much more from researchers on this topic in coming years.

-A new report finds that charter schools in Chicago expel kids far more frequently than do traditional public schools (61 per 10,000 vs. 5 per 10,000 students).  And they're not the only charters to do this.  What's left to figure out is whether we should be more aggressive with expulsions or other similar actions in traditional public schools or whether this says something negative about charter schools.

-Here's a pretty impressive poem by an 8th grader that's worth 90 seconds of your time (you'll see why when you reach the bottom).  And here's the transcribed text if you can't read the image.  I'd add that this poem posted by another twitter user from 10 years prior is quite similar and, in some ways, better . . . but let's hope this kid didn't see that until now.

Embedded image permalink

-I wrote last year that TFA seems to make people either hubristic or humbled.  Here's a case that sounds like it will be the former:

Bell has been deemed a “model teacher” even though this is her first year in the classroom and instead of studying four years to be an educator, she went through TFA’s seven-week crash course.
“Yeah, isn’t that interesting,” she says. “I’m not saying teaching is easy. Teaching is a craft. And I’m only going to get better every day at it.”
But Bell says she was “more-than prepared” and encountered “no surprises.”

Coming next week is the start of a multi-part series on the ways in which urban poverty affects academic performance.  I'm excited for this, so I hope you're ready . . .

No comments: