Sunday, March 25, 2012

The old grey lady justifies my job, so I don't have to

Hey, it's my first social media blitz, where I post something to all my social media fora at once!

The New York Times writes about the benefits of bilingualism.  Conclusion?  People who speak two languages are smarter.  At all kinds of things.  Many of which have nothing to do with what we think of as linguistic processing.   Including, evidently, inappropriate punctuation to increase dramatic tension in a sentence where none would normally exist.

Anyway, read the article.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spread the word to end the word

I've used this Ta-Nehisi Coates quote before, but it bears repeating: " "[...I]t's always wrong to treat individuals as a 'collection of others.'"

Some students have gone even further, taking aim at one of the two most odious epithets I hear every day. Good on them.

PTHS: Spread The Word To End The Word 2012 - "I'm Eric" from McCoy Studios on Vimeo.

This is my new need-five-minutes-of-community-development lesson plan.  I'm left with one doubt: Is this part of my initial lesson on how to behave, or is it something we watch as a response to an incident?  Either way, I'll bet my 7th graders will have to watch it by the end of the coming week.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Partial success: This year's debates

So we have finished our debates in English class this year, and while they weren't an unqualified success, they were much improved over last year.  Students' arguments were much better prepared and much better structured.  They didn't quite work all the way through the structure; their closing arguments were more like summaries than rebuttals, but they paid enough attention to their opening statements to make their summaries.  Their cross-examination questions were often actual questions, and not just statements.  Their statements of position were consitently backed up with traceable research, and if their sources were sometimes less than reliable, at least they weren't articles from the Onion.  I haven't read their reflection papers yet, but it seems like they have gotten more out of it than last year's class.

There are things that they didn't do, a clear indication that they didn't know they were supposed to do them.  As often as not, they just read off of their source material, which means that I saw the same 4 speeches 6 times.  I don't know that they ever understood why I had them research both sides of the argument, but they did give some indication of arguing from a place of sympathy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flipping Spanish class

My colleage Brendan and I frequently talk about flipping our classrooms--assigning initial instruction as homework, in the form of videos of us (or other teachers) delivering the content.  This would free up class time to answer questions or work on more intensive projects.  We look for Kahn Academy videos and other methods of providing content. Right now it's just talk, but I think we are (independently of one another) going to spend some time this summer trying to make it happen. 

Peter Pappas outlines how he started flipping his classroom, and how we might start even before the year is out.

As a bonus Peter Pappas blog entry, he answers the question, "What would schools look like if students designed the school?