Friday, October 31, 2014

Educational Readings - for the creative teacher!

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This weeks homework!

More bible study, less dreaming stories, less enjoyment, more memorising
Prof Spurr - best kept in Aust!!
If you think things are bad in your neck of the woods, the outlook for education is looking pretty bleak in Australia.
He complains about too much emphasis on enjoyment, which he does not believe is necessarily part of learning literature. "The idea of pupils as creatorsof literature in English needs to be kept firmly in check" he reports. Studentsown works should not be valued too highly.

American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesnt Exist
Not just American schools
We may not be getting dumber in America. But we need to get smarter in ways that match the challenges we now face. The time is now to support the role of learning in the pursuit of discovery and to embrace the powerful agency of culture.

How Students Lead the Learning Experience at Democratic Schools
Children begin as explorersthey explore the environment around them, watch others, and try out what peers as well as adults are doing. What they need to acquire, they are able to acquire quite proficiently through discovery learning.’”

Research Indicates No Relationship between Student Standardized Test Scores and Quality of Teacher Performance
Are you surprised?
Recent research from the University of Southern California has shown there is weak or non-existentrelationship between state administered value added model testsVAM, and the content and quality of teacher instruction. The study questions whether VAM data would be helpful in evaluating teacher performance and influencing teacher instruction.

Is this what we mean by close reading?
If you want to kill any love of reading, follow this example.
85 questions assigned by a high school teacher to start off To Kill A Mockingbird… Is this what we mean by close reading?

Reading John Dewey
Today as in 1897, if we could adhere to these basic principles, education would be in a much better state.

Dewey, Testing Companies, and the Origin of the Common Core
John Deweys vision of reform was a bottom-up approach that focused on the needs of the child and the expertise of the teacher. He warned against a system that relied on a lack of connection between the people in charge of planning for education and the people in charge of actually educating. What would John Dewey think of the Common Core?

Your Data Will Lie To You If You Let It
A valuable article:
So what is the better alternative to data-driven education? The answer is teacher-driven education, not data-driven.

Being Pegged, Late Bloomers and Effort
Check the following link for an article that Bruce wrote this week on a similar theme.
This is not just a story about a late bloomer.  It is also about pegging students. Smart. Academically challenged. Either label can be a burden to a student for different reasons.  Plus, how do we know for sure?  Does the teaching culture of the school exhibit one-size-fits-all pedagogy?  Are there various modes and opportunities to learn? Do teachers have the time and resources to accommodate students' varied needs?  Or, do we just love to pigeon-hole students?

This weeks contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Teachers using ability grouping contributing to growing inequality in schools!!
Dr Rubie - Davies
Although many teachers talk about groups being flexible there is research that ability groups students are placed into in their first year predicts the stream they will be placed in at secondary school.

Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn."
Loris Malaguzzi, 19201994

Report urges revamping student testing
Bruces comment: Moving away from standardised testing in the US.
The report, by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the National Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky, recommends alternatives to annual standardized tests. It says there should be far more emphasis on ongoing assessments of students as part of regular classroom instruction. Schools should focus more on formative assessments,the curriculum-based problems and quizzes that teachers give to students throughout the school year for feedback on how students are doing, in addition to locally developed alternatives to assessments, the report argues.

Next two articles: Some good advice to ensure successful project  based learning.

Minimize Frustration and Maximize Deep Learning
As we move through the Information Age, many educators believe that teachers should concentrate on crucial concepts rather than memorizing facts and students should use critical-thinking skills to build their own understanding and transfer skills and knowledge to authentic situations. But this reality is hard to create. Often, a project seems like the answer to a prayer, but without careful planning, it can quickly lead to curses and frustration.

Tips for Managing Project-Based Learning
Project-based learning (PBL) can be messy by nature, but, then again, isn't all learning? PBL is a student-centered practice. Because it allows for voice and choice for students in not only what they produce but also how they spend their time, the learning is not as structured as many educators are comfortable with. However, PBL can still be focused if educators pair content standards with a menu of choices for demonstrating understanding of those standards, rather than allowing students to do projects on whatever they find interesting.

From Bruces oldies but goodiesfile:

Bruce has been looking back at articles I wrote for him back in 2011 when my brain was working

Guest Post by Allan Alach - a 'must read' and share with others
His introduction at the time:
My principal friend Allan sent me an e-mail that was so on the mark that I asked him to extend it into a blog. To my mind it is a piece of writing all teachers and schools should read -and then pass it on to as many other people as is possible.

A post apocalyptic vision of New Zealand education if present policies continue!
One respondent used the nom-de-plume Ozy Mandias. This brought back memories of a high school English class, where we studied a poem of that name. I recalled enough of it to realise that it would provide an excellent analogy for my pessimistic view of the future of education in New Zealand.

Contributed by Phil Cullen:

School is a prison and damaging our kids
This article is a must read:
I dont mean to paint self-directed education as a panacea. Life is not always smooth, no matter what the conditions. But my research and othersresearch in these settings has convinced me,
beyond any doubt, that the natural drives and abilities of young people to learn are fully sufficient to motivate their entire education. When they want or need help from others, they ask for it. We dont have to force people to learn; all we need to do is provide them the freedom and opportunities to do so.

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