Monday, October 31, 2011

More on "Getting it right"

For some truly spooky Halloween fun, check out this video on teacher evaluations by the NBPTS!

(No, it's not supposed to make sense.)  (EDIT: The joke above isn't supposed to make sense.  The video below IS supposed to make sense.)  (EDIT AGAIN: All right, my clarifying statement didn't clarify.  Ignore all my writing and just go to the link to watch a video about a report about a study about teacher evaluation.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why I do what I do the way that I do it

Because...'s more important for my students to speak than it is for them to conjugate verbs.
...there is only so much time, and I have to make it count.
..."I took three years of Spanish in high school, and I don't remember a thing."'s the best that I know how.  It's not the best possible, but it's what I've got.
...they have their phones.  Why shouldn't they be allowed to use them? colleagues are brilliant.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A little Friday night naturalia

5 minutes of wandering through El Yunque, Río Grande, Puerto Rico.  It's good for the soul.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Unit cohesion is definitely lacking

A review of the year so far

I'm continuing my work this year on tightening my unit plans and making my curriculum an actual curriculum, instead of things I do one after the other.  The particular focus this year is on the ELA class.  We're training with Annette from the ISD, in accordance with the roll-out of the Common Core standards.  I've gotten better every year I've done it.  Except this year.  My units don't feel like anything.

I have no recollection of how I made my units last year feel like units, except through extensive repetition of the theme.  This leads me to wonder if my units were actually as good as I thought they were.  I've gone back over my unit plans and my lesson plans.  The unit plans, at least for Spanish class, look good on paper: a common theme, usually based on a cultural learning goal, attached to three to five communicative learning goals, each supported by a variety of structured input and output learning activities.  Most of them have several learning styles built in to them.  Most of them are everything I think they're supposed to be.

The lesson plans are less clear--they're working documents, so I often use shorthand phrases for activities (usually) detailed in the unit plans.  But sometimes they're burst-of-inspiration, let's-see-how-this-flies activities dreamed up just before Monday morning.  And of course they don't reflect 100% how the lessons were taught.  Towards the end of the school year, I stopped planning past halfway through Thursday, knowing full well that something in every class was going to keep me from getting any further than that.

But I watch similar lessons, based off of very similar (nearly identical) unit plans, this year, and I think to myself, what are we doing here?  What are we building up to?  I don't think I've lost the fire or the creative spark, but everything feels flatter than it did last year, more purposeless, less directed.  And if I feel it, you can bet the students are feeling it.

So the solution is to...what?  My next idea is to make communicative projects a more integral part of each unit's assessment.  As I type this, it occurs to me that once upon a time I had as a goal to do with chapter tests entirely, and have each unit's assessment BE the communicative project: a presentation, an interview, something which would require a range of communicative competencies to complete successfully.   So maybe by building the projects back into the unit plans, into the position of primacy I've always intended they should have, I'll be able to give the units the direction I feel they're currently lacking.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


In their infinite wisdom and their continuing efforts to "reform" "education" (read: make teachers do more and harder work for less money; the sorry ingrates should be grateful they have a job), the Michigan Senate introduced a bill to make Michigan a "Right to Work" state (SB 729, sponsored by Meekhof (R-West Olive).

No, wait.  The bill would only apply to Michigan's education unions.

No, wait.  It would only apply to education unions with membership greater than 50,000.

So it would only apply to the MEA, but they can't say that, because passing a law attacking one particular institution is unconstitutional.  Or something.

The sponsor argues that it will create jobs are something, like in Mississippi.

In unrelated news. the unemployment rate in Mississippi is 10.2%.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Getting it right" update

One can find the pdf's at this site, were one so inclined.  More about this when I have the time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I will want to know more about this

My e-mail box gets a daily dose of NBPTS propaganda.  It's a useful summary of recent news in education, and it is honestly these days where I get a lot of the most up-to-date stuff I post about here.  (Except the things from my local birdcage liner.  Those I get from the website of my local birdcage liner.  Which I don't use to line my birdcage.  On account of I view it on a $1000 computer.)  Also interspersed with the useful stuff is adverts for NBPTS products disguised to look like useful stuff.  However, since NBPTS is a net force for good in the teacher development world, even their ads are generally useful stuff.

Case in point: They're having a webcast right now to announce the release of a report called "Getting It Right: A Comprehensive Guide to Developing and Sustaining Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems."  I would like to log in to this webcast, but I'm not going to.  The dishes ain't gonna wash themselves.  However, I will be watching like a hawk to see if they release the report in pdf form.  I'd like to read it.  If we're going to evaluate teachers, we should get it right.  And an organization called the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards probably has something useful to say on the subject.