Friday, March 20, 2009

Words of Wisdom...

...from a sixth grader.

One of my former students got to appear on a panel of middle schoolers talking to fifth graders about what to expect in middle school.

His particular words of wisdom? "Don't let nobody take you down."

I'm so proud. (?)

He's the one in the picture who you can't see very well.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Education News...

...than I can write about. So I'm not going to try - just going to let those who already did it show off their work.

As with many, many districts around the state, my old district is handing out pink slips. (By the way, teachers, if any of you feel like sending me a copy (electronically or otherwise) of your pink slip/March 15 letter, I'd love to see them. My former district sent really mean ones and I'd like to see if that is the norm.

The district hasn't really known how much money it has had for some time now. This started about 6 years ago maybe, when they switched financial software and all of a sudden couldn't find tens of millions of dollars.

There are a few good schools in this district and everyone wants their kids enrolled.

A very interesting blog post about NCLB and the Corridor of Shame.

Adult illiteracy.

Phasing out schools - often the same schools the district spent a ton of money on starting, when they were on their "new small schools" kick. Seriously, some of these schools haven't been in existance 5 years yet and they're already being phased out?

I would give these lunches much less than a C+. I've tried them.

Not that history classes ever get to the Vietnam War (at least none of mine ever did), but if they did it would be good to teach this.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Subbing for the Middle Class

So, I subbed for a fourth/fifth grade combination class in my little middle class island community here in the Bay Area and found a number of differences from my old school.

1. One of the kids had an iPhone. A fourth grader. Had an iPhone. Enough said.

2. The kids were all very concerned about the economy. Very concerned. Interestingly, I would imagine their parents are hit harder than those who are already living off unemployment/welfare/SSI.

3. It came up in discussion that a lot of the kids didn't know what "renting" a house was, or what a "landlord" was, but they did know the term "mortgage."

4. There was ethnic diversity, but it was very different. Instead of being black and Latino with a few Vietnamese kids, the kids were white, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. There was one black kid and he was totally the stereotype; single mom, behavior problem, can't sit still, etc. Needless to say, he was my favorite, because I am used to that.

5. Two out of the 22 or so kids were adopted and very open about it - totally comfortable with being adopted.

6. They had a music class.

7. They had a longer lunch and recesses.

One more thing was the way that this school dealt with combination classes. Combination classes are a teacher's nightmare; almost as bad as roving teachers. My old school district actually understood that it was basically impossible to teach and assess two different curricula at the same time, and had the teacher teach just one, usually the higher grade. That has its problems, of course, but is much more manageable for the teacher. Except, of course, you have kids with big chunks of missing information and then when they go to the next grade they are bored out of their minds because they've already done this exact same curriculum.

This district has the teacher teach both curricula, which may be better for the students, but requires a lot of "OK, fourth graders, read quietly while I teach the fifth graders..." as well as double work in lesson planning, assessments, and carrying around two sets of huge heavy teachers' editions. Both ways are pretty bad. Has anyone come up or seen a better way to have combination classes?