Friday, June 24, 2011

A brief thought for further consideration

According to research, a great way of teaching background knowledge is to teach key vocabulary.  (Marzano has something rapidly approaching 6 books on the topic.)  It is very possible to know some information or possess some skill without having the vocabulary for it; for example, children from Spain conjugate verbs in the second-person plural imperfect without ever knowing what those words mean.  Another example is a basketball player who knows nothing about physiology or trigonometry, but has a free-throw average of 80%.   It is, however, very difficult to teach a concept without a shared vocabulary.  To give a skill without a vocabulary would involve simply modeling a skill over and over, and having the student mimic it.  To give knowledge without the vocabulary...again, modeling, maybe?  That's tougher, I think.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Portuguese Friday

A student sent me this link.  Great song, cool video, tight execution.

Edited to add a link to the lyrics.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Education reform, unions, first principles

Or, More Questions than Answers

I'm bashing my head against two posts: this one from Shawn Gude, and this one from E.D. Kane.  trying to figure out what it is that bothers me about them.  I agree with nearly everything they both say, but neither of them it for me.  In 6 Traits writing speak, I would give them a 5 out of 6 in Ideas, without quite knowing why.

Favorite lines:

"Ends are often regarded as self-evident. It’s a bit more complicated than agreeing that, yes, we all want an education system where students are well-educated. Reform discourse needs to include discussions of first principles, end-games, and educational values" --Gude

"[T]here is no doubt in my mind that corporate for-profit charter chains would be a mess; that the influence of the big foundations can create perverse incentives; and that the top-down approach of many reformers is a bad approach." --Kane

Things I have trouble with:

"So I support the unions, I just think they also need to reform. And I support the idea of charter schools and school-choice, I just don’t support the profiteering off of education that some reformers and corporate interests seem to want. I think charters, like unions, can be a great force for progress." --Kane

How do unions need to reform?  He seems to be in favor of all the things that unions do.
How can charters be a force for progress?  What do they bring to the table?  I'm glad that both of these people (much better than me at this stuff) are leery of charters run by for-profit companies.

In the end, we're left with the beginning.  Why do we educate our children?  Do we want to make our students ready for the workplace?  Well, yes, but is that all schools are good for?  If so, then we should probably just go back to apprenticeships as our primary vehicle for education.  That way, the cost is borne by the companies who will benefit from their labor.  If we want our schools to do more for our students than that, if we want students who think about things, if we want inventive, creative thinkers, that's something different.

And, of course, if we want schools to be vehicles by which the children of the rich and powerful remain rich and powerful, we have models for that, as well.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sudden insights

I'm putting the wraps on SY 2010-2011; it's proving to be deceptively difficult. I'll have a year-end review and a summer to-do list up, probably next week.  In the meantime, a few random thoughts:

1.)  In my Spanish classes, I'm shocked to discover that a great deal of my assessment of comprehension is in fact an assessment of production.  This is not a new problem for me; I seem to remember having written about it before.  I wonder why I haven't done anything about it yet.  Maybe it's because writing tests is hard. (/whine)

2.) This from my friend Qandeel:

I told her she was confusing coffee with crystal meth.