Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lots to read

Right.  I've started re-reading I read it, but I don't get it by Tovani.  My summary of the first couple of chapters will be up...erm, as soon as I finish reading the first  couple of chapters.  Chapter 1 is in deceptively simple storytelling form, so I'm not sure I caught the lessons from it.

Also, my textbooks came in.  I'll be taking a course in elementary Spanish methodology from a private college, starting in a few weeks.  As it happens, the two textbooks for the class are books I've written about here before--Languages and children, 4th ed., by Curtain and Dahlberg, and Teacher's handbook, 4th ed., by Shrum and Glisan.  So hopefully I'll have a chance to at least start reading those before the school year starts.

I'm writing syllabi for my new classes, although I'm still not certain which levels of English (or, for that matter, Spanish) I'll be teaching.  The grading policy should be about the same for each class, unless the district has a grading policy I don't know about.  And I'm VERY excited--I think I finally have a workable portfolio outline, something that my students can start working on from Day One.

And every teachers' website on the Internet is firing up with "Good first day of school" posts, and I've been trying to catch as many of them as possible.  Below are a few, so I can close the blessed tabs, along with a few words of take-away for each.

Using literature the first weeks of school.  From Elena Aguilar at Edutopia, a few books that a middle school teacher can use to set the tone for reading and community-building from Day 1.  She suggests Seedfolks, by Fleischman, The house on Mango Street by Cisneros, and The library card by Spinelli.  I can definitely use Mango Street; Aguilar even suggests a few ways to do it.

Start of the year routine and handouts.  Some typically excellent suggestions from the always-excellent Heather Wolpert-Gawron.  Random seating chart; beginning-of-the-year handouts; Find-a-Fib activities (X true things, 1 false things, you guess the false things); creating Works in Progress and Portfolio folders; a sample of content; and introductions to class-specific elements, like websites and positions.  I do a lot of these things already, so it's good to see them confirmed by somebody I have a great deal of respect for.

The best kind of teacher evaluation--Larry Ferlazzo writes about how to evaluate teachers the right way.  Regular observations by people who know the teachers, the students, the school, and what good teaching looks like; multiple sources of data; regular feedback from students and parents; and self-reflection.  This enforces the idea of collaborating to improve student achievement, and helps teacher leaders to know what areas need improving.  It sure beats blaming teachers for rotten test scores.  Ferlazzo also has his own blog:


Larry Ferlazzo said...

Glad you found my piece useful!


JohnCosby said...

Thanks for stopping by! I'm delighted that Valerie Strauss at the Answer Sheet introduced me and others like me to your work.

I enjoyed reading about REAL teacher evaluations. One of the great issues during my career as a teacher will be evaluating teacher effectiveness. Your piece moves the conversation in the right direction.

Incidentally, your take on the LA Times article has been right on the money.