pink and blue brains?!

The title of this article is intriguing; the premise is also fascinating.  According to Lise Eliot’s research, there are no significant differences in the way male and female brains work.  This is good news for teachers, but there is more involved in learning than just the way the brain is wired.  We still need to consider the differences that arise because of students’ varied interests and learning styles–whether they are based on gender,  culture, or other factors.  We still need to treat students as individuals–regardless of how our brains work.

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Are you smarter than a teacher?

When I was an undergradate at Longwood preparing to become an English teacher, one of my professors told me that I was too smart to be a teacher. Even though it was a compliment, it really ticked me off. That was a long time ago, but that professor may have read this new report. According to “U.S. Found to Recruit Fewer Teachers from Top Ranks,” an article by Liana Heitin in the October 15, 2010 Education Week, “Countries with the best-performing school systems largely recruit teachers from the top third of high school and college graduates, while the United States has difficulty attracting its top students to the profession, a new report finds.”

The article suggests some ways that we can recruit the best students to become teachers and perhaps see that we all get more respect.

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glad I missed it

I am so glad that I didn’t catch the Monday, Spetember 20, Oprah episode in which she had guests–none of whom were teachers–talk about the appalling state of education in the U.S.  I, too, would have been in a white heat of anger, but I doubt if I could have been as eloquent as Britton Gildersleeve, who responded with this letter to Oprah.  Her closing sums it all up:

“If you want real change, invite real teachers to your show, Oprah. The irony is that the conversation seems to valourise teachers, saying that ‘good’ teachers can change things for kids. So can smaller classrooms, food, adequate resources, the freedom to teach according to a child’s needs. But then, that’s not what the ‘experts’ are saying, is it? Unfortunately, the ‘experts’ have no real experience with students. Or teaching. Or classrooms. They only know how to tell the teachers in the trenches what to do?”

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Filling buckets and lighting fires

This op/ed piece by Caitlin Moore in Educational Leadership is very insightful.  Of course, she is right that we must both fill buckets and light fires if we want our students to have rich learning experiences, but it is her comment on our attitudes toward our students that really resonated with me: “Yes, many students’ knowledge stores are terrifyingly empty. But I work to respect all my students for their wisdom. All of them have some experience or insight that enables them to access sophisticated concepts.” Our ability to fill buckets or light fires is completely dependent on our ability to appreciate out students’ abilities. Do all teachers understand that?

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textbook company horrors

I need to stop reading articles about education!  This one in Education Week about a Texas “controversy” about presentations of Islam and Christianity in textbooks makes my blood boil.

The influence of textbook companies is frightening, but the influence of states like Texas on what our students are taught is also terrifying.  Textbook companies print what will make the most money–not what is accurate or well done.  What do you think?

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Banning books–will it ever stop?

I was disgusted when I looked at my NCTE Inbox this morning to find that another school system is banning books. In this case it was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a book  by Sherman Alexie about a teen from an Indian reservation who decides to attend a white high school.   This book won the prestigious National Book Award in 2007 and is just the sort of thing that could lure middle and high school boys into reading–and enjoying it!  Unfortunately, the school board banned it from classes and even the library because it contained “descriptions of masturbation, sexual language and foul jokes, along with themes encompassing racism, alcoholism and violence.” Of course, there “are also descriptions of how the protagonist, Junior, tries to realize his dreams while surviving both life on the reservation and at a new school,” but who cares about that?

Here is the press release about the entire wretched affair from which I snatched quotes.

This same edition of NCTE Inbox also contained a link to “An Unusual Introduction to Native American YA Lit,” a piece in The Washington Post that resores my faith that there are teachers out there being given the freedom and resources to accomplish incredible things in their classrooms.

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Hello, World!

This was the original screen I found when I first set up this blog:

Welcome to Longwood Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging! If you need some help getting started, please refer to the support documentation here

I fixed some punctuation and added this:

I hope we will use this blog as a way to learn and communicate.  I want us to think of ourselves as writers, readers, and producers as we blog.  Tatiana is going to help us get the technology set up so we can focus on our ideas instead or worrying about the nuts and bolts of how blogs work!

I also added a link to this cool video on 7-year-olds Talk about Learning Shakespeare  and these funny pix of my grand daughter Evie visiting Australia.

I am going to try uploading the Hairston grammar file, inserting it, and including a mouseover with credits here. Now I want to see if I can upload the standards regular Word file.

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