All posts tagged: education

In God We Trust

So little time, so much to talk about. This one just sprung up, however, so I felt compelled to write sooner, rather than later, especially considering that it is currently in the MN state government system. For some reason, the Minnesota State Senate has decided to add an amendment to the education funding bill that would allow our nations motto “In God We Trust” onto our school walls. Their argument? It would add more faith to schools. Honestly, I kind of figured that it was a religious argument in the first place, but no matter what their argument is, the words themselves do a great job of alienating families who don’t share those same faith practices. In a post, which was supposed to drop today, but now has to wait, I am going to talk about how the language we use shapes our views and is shaped by our views. This is just another piece of evidence. When a source of authority, the government in this case, takes a side on religion and puts it …

Teachers as Martyrs

Recently, an article has made the rounds from a fellow teacher named Beth Wallis. In the article, she asks that legislators, and the general public, “Stop equating teachers with martyrs.” I couldn’t agree more with her words, and I am glad that educators are finally taking action and not accepting what is put on our plates. It’s tiring when you constantly have more than you can handle, but have to continue on whether or not you have completed the tasks. Jennifer Gonzales from Cult of Pedagogy compiled a list of things that teachers wanted administrators to know. It’s a great list that I think every person who even votes for a school board should read. However, I’m going to quote the first item on the list because I feel that it is most pertinent to the conversation going on nationally about the value of our teachers. It deals with the issue of a teacher’s time, and what we are expected to do within that time. “If your school is like most, it’s already set up …

Testing is Over!!

I know that I haven’t posted in a week or so, but testing has taken a lot of out me. Can I be honest here? I hate ACCESS testing. It is the largest waste of time we have in the ELL world. For those who don’t know what that test is, let me sum it up. The WIDA Access test is a battery of 4 tests; listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each test is designed to take a certain amount of time, which can vary between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. YES, I said HOURS. Plural. This is where my problems with the test start to unfold. The tests, again plural, take up an inordinate amount of time. Then you have the speaking test. Let’s talk about the speaking test. The speaking test can only be done with up to 8 students in a room, at a time. Take 176 + students and divide that by 8 and you end up with 22. 22 groups, on 6 different class / grade schedules, with numerous absent students …

Why the word Rigor irks me.

This blog wouldn’t be called The Life Argotic without me taking on some buzzwords. So this will be my inaugural buzzword debunking. I’m fairly certain it won’t be my last. Education is full of them. Every time I hear the word rigor, I cringe and brace for whatever is coming next following that word. Why? Because the majority of the time it’s being used, it’s being used as a euphemism to mean weak and not enough. Not enough of what “I” (the person looking in) think is rigorous because “I” (again the person looking on) don’t think it’s hard enough. Let me use an analogy. If I asked you to cycle 100 miles right now, and you weren’t a cyclist, you might say that it’s too rigorous. But to Chris Froome, the 2017 Tour De France winner, he would say the opposite. So if you instead decided to ride 10 miles, would it be fair for me to say that you aren’t being as rigorous as Mr. Froome, even if you are pushing your hardest …

Tutuorial Teaching­ Part I

A few posts ago,  I talked about how teaching procedural knowledge was important. As I was assessing my students today, I realized that I failed to scaffold the procedural knowledge part with visuals, lists, and modeling. By the end of my third time teaching that lesson, my board was covered with instructions and models to help my students become more familiar with the expectations; but it still wasn’t enough. This led me on a 2 hour YouTube binge where I procrastinated until stumbling upon a eureka moment. There are a lot of things that we can learn from professional YouTubers when it comes to procedural knowledge. Once I realized that procedural knowledge teaching is basically making a tutorial, I started taking notes on the best tutorials I could find to see what I could learn. This is what I found. The first thing I noticed is that YouTube has a huge advantage over teachers in that in videos you can scrub back and forth if you miss something or don’t understand. This is super important for our …

Using types of knowledge as a building block in lessons

One thing that I took away from last year, was the use of different learning types. When I first read those words, learning types, my mind immediately drove to my experience in philosophy classes. Thankfully, I don’t have to go back to epistemology. The next thing I thought about and wanted to stay away from, was learning styles. Side note; learning styles are absolutely unproven pseudoscience. In fact, when it was tested, people were completely inaccurate in judging their own style (that didn’t exist) and were found to be in a balance of each “learning style” that was dependent upon what was being taught. Anyways, this theme about types of knowledge seems to be resonating with me lately. In the last post I talked directly about using one type, without mentioning what that was because I didn’t even think about it. In fact, most of the time we don’t think about it. And I’m talking about procedural knowledge. The how part of how we gather our information. When it comes to setting daily goals, especially …

MELED 2017; What I learned (Part 1)

There is so much information that is presented during a conference that it’s difficult to comprehend everything in one sitting, or even 5. Fortunately, I took notes. Yet, sometimes it’s just nice to feel affirmed in what you think you know, what you are already doing, and what you think should be done in the classroom. Today, that is what I am going to focus on because I feel it’s important to remember and celebrate what we are doing well for kids. Warning! – This article is about grammar. But have no fear. There are many resources listed below, including a cheatsheet! So wipe the sweat from your forehead, let your pulse come back down, and read on. I have always argued that using grammar as a tool for teaching kids to dissect certain parts of speech in reading is beneficial. Bridget Erikson agrees. The strategy she presented was called syntax in close reading. The name needs work, I agree. But let me explain a bit more. Most teachers who do think-alouds (myself included) often take …

Power Tools – How to effectively use flash cards.

Many new studies have come out showing the power of recall on memorization and performance in school subjects. Personally, when you don’t have a lot of supplies or funds, all the new research can be quite daunting. However, I have found that using flash cards, even at the elementary level, can be extremely effective when it comes to teaching vocabulary in small group settings. All you need are a few 5 x 9” cards (or simply cut up scrap paper into rectangular squares) and you’re already 90% of the way done. The next, final, and most important step in the process of using any recall technique, like flashcards, is to model how to make and use the cards. A lot of people, myself included, often take for granted the techniques that we remember from when we were younger. Just like any other skill, this has to be explicitly taught. From what to write on each side – what information is important and what can be discarded, to how to effectively place images on your cards …