Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Translating school administrator into English

Pelham parents rushing into a short Thanksgiving week were probably a bit bewildered when they received an email blast from school Superintendent Dennis Lauro.

I mean we all like to get messages on “continuous improvement,”that was the superintendent’s theme, but I’m sure the timing must have left people scratching their heads–running from store to school to holiday destination–if they had time to read the thing at all.

Read the rest of my column (linked bit late due to travel) at Pelham Schools Chief’s Email Blast Translated, Explained, Reviewed – Pelham, NY Patch.

Khan Academy is big business

Khan Academy, the best online math site around, got the New York Times treatment this week as the big feature on the front of Business Day. Not sure why it ran in business, except the free site operated as a non-profit should send the mega-education publishers like Pearson running for the hills screaming: “Where’s my business model? I’ve lost my business model!”

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jesse Roe, a ninth-grade math teacher at a charter school here called Summit, has a peephole into the brains of each of his 38 students.

via Khan Academy Blends Its YouTube Approach With Classrooms –

Visiting a newspaper press

Newspaper printing presses are big-machine loud and inky-greasy dirty. Up close, they look like steam-punk contraptions out of an earlier industrial age. And for me, when I first saw one, magic made out of metal.

I’d like to say my reaction stemmed from something philosophical, say based on the realization of the role a free press plays in a democracy. I’d like to have been thinking of a turn on that phrase Woody Guthrie put on his guitar: “This machine kills fascists.”

read the rest of my column at Pelham Elementary Students Hear, Smell and See the Magic in a Newspaper Press – Pelham, NY Patch.

Fun with journalism

I began my adventure in teaching online newspapering to fourth and fifth grade kids back in January at Pelham’s Colonial Elementary School and added the second, Hutchinson Elementary School, last month. I’m having more fun in journalism than I’ve had in 2o years.

You see, being the jaded journalist is a bit of pose. How can you have the one thing a great journalist needs— curiosity—and be jaded? The kids bring this incredible curiosity to the job, plus energy, and no jade.

One of my favorite moments is when the kids launch their new paper. I have each one type in a few letters of the URL, and then they count down, 5-4-3-2-1, and one of them pushes the enter button. I watch them, not the screen. Up comes the paper and eyes go wide. A couple whisper “cool.” The kids at Hutch did that two weeks ago with the Hutchinson Bear. Check out Pelham’s newest online newspaper.

Any day a newspaper starts up—even one reported and written by nine- and ten-year-olds—is a special one. What’s been started is going to get the news out for months and years to come. The kids don’t know to give up on that good work. And I’m not going to give them reasons to.

Progress on math

When I wrote a column on Pelham’s elementary math curriculum seven weeks ago, I did so with some trepidation. I wasn’t afraid of controversy or outrage. Hardly. I felt the greatest of all writer anxieties: I’d be ignored. The words “math” and “curriculum” in the headline? Instant turn-offs, right? Time to start reading the police blotter.

Boy was I wrong. By the rough measures I have available, the column on Investigations in Number, Data, and Space was the most popular I’ve written. It’s had the greatest number of reader comments, the second highest number of Facebook recommends, and I’m pretty sure it lasted at the top of Pelham Patch’s Most Popular Articles box longer than any other I’ve done yes, that’s a box your columnist obsesses on.

read the rest of my column at Ink By The Barrel: Towards Better Math in Pelham – Pelham, NY Patch.

My son explains ADHD

The following words my ten-year-old son wrote as his personal essay in fourth grade:

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hearing Disorder. Here are three facts I’m going to tell you about. What is ADD? What is HD? And what types of medicine can help.

ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. That’s the first part of ADHD. This is a question you might ask: “Why don’t they call it ADDHD?” Well, most people just use ADHD for short, instead of ADDHD.

read the rest of my column at Ink By The Barrel: My Son Explains ADHD – Pelham, NY Patch.

Smartboards and iPads

Technology will set us free, and save education even? I think not.

Questioning Our Mania for Education Technology

By Jack Schneider

The solution to the nation’s education problems is as simple as binary code: a smartboard in every classroom, an iPad in every backpack, and wikis across the curriculum.

That seems to be how the logic works these days, as reformers in foundations, government, and school districts pour billions into educational technology projects.

There’s only one problem: It doesn’t work.

via Education Week: Questioning Our Mania for Education Technology.

Multiple choice questions

Okay, get a tight grip on your No. 2 pencil. Knuckles white? Here’s your first question. Who said:

“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.”

* Jon Stewart

* Will Rogers

* Roy Rogers

* Stephen Cobert

Pencils up. Okay, did you get it right?

read the rest of my column at One Multiple Choice, One Essay, and a Chance at Better Schools – Pelham, NY Patch.

A writer writes

The thoroughly modern me finds it a surprise that the old description, “the three R’s,” is so valid in education today. I am no basics-only advocate. But reading, writing and math are the core of Planet Education and influence, like gravity, everything else. Math is required to move into sciences like physics and chemistry, and writing to answer questions in those subjects as well as all the social sciences and humanities. Reading is required to prosper in any of them. It’s of greatest importance we get it right when we teach the big three.

Last week, I outlined the problems with Pelham’s elementary math curriculum, Pearson’s Investigations in Number, Space and Data. This week, I want to describe the outstanding writing program we have in kindergarten through fifth grades.

read the rest of my column at Ink By The Barrel: A Writer Writes – Pelham, NY Patch.