Archive for the ‘education’ Category

DBQing the rubric

Watch your rubric before you DBQ the column below. Cathy is spot on. Cluttered language is a big problem in education. Where else would English be turned into English language arts (a triple redundancy using a double modifier)?

For the love of phonemes!

It’s back to school time again, which, for parents means that we run the risk of being confronted with jargon. That may go down well in the fine teaching academies of our country, but only raises question marks when you’re trying to understand what your children are doing in school. (A tip of the hat to Rich Zahradnik, whose column last week inspired this one.)

via Moms’ Talk Q&A: A DBQ, By Any Other Name …. – Pelham, NY Patch.

Secret of their success

One of my occupations is adviser to the student newspaper at my son’s elementary school, the Colonial Times. Our local Patch interviewed the fifth-grade editors of the paper to find out the secrets of their success:

Eight months after it successfully launched the district’s first online newspaper, the Colonial Times’ staff continues to provide cutting-edge journalism.

via Secret of My Success: Staff of the Colonial Times – Pelham, NY Patch.

What I love is how simple and direct are their answers. And I mean simple in a good way. They get right to the heart of the matter. What turns us into such wordy monsters?

New new new math

Tom Lehrer, brilliant satirical songwriter and very smart mathematician, penned these words:

It won’t do you a bit of good to review math.

It’s so simple,

So very simple,

That only a child can do it!

Pelham parents struggling to help their elementary kids with the Math Investigations textbooks would be forgiven if they thought Lehrer wrote the lyrics yesterday. As he says in his introduction to the song, which is about a subtraction problem, “but in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what youre doing rather than to get the right answer.”

Read the rest of my column at Singing the Blues About Pelhams Elementary Math Program – Pelham, NY Patch.

Troubled homework

When I wrote about homework in the Pelham Patch in June, I mainly focused on the meaningless minimums set by some school districts, including ours in Pelham. This piece from the Sunday New York Times, by a writer expert in the science of learning, points out how important quality is over quantity. The techniques, developed by studying how “children absorb, retain and apply knowledge,” make homework smarter. I’m for that.

WHEN you think of America’s students, do you picture overworked, stressed-out children bent under backpacks stuffed with textbooks and worksheets? Or do you call to mind glassy-eyed, empty-headed teenagers sitting before computer screens, consumed by video games and social networking sites, even as their counterparts in China prepare to ace yet another round of academic exams?

via Quality Homework – A Smart Idea –

The shoulders of giants

Back to school is a fresh start, that clean slate with the promise of new lessons and approaches. I wish we could get that clean slate—or smart board these days, I guess—in the great American debate over education reform.

We’re heading in the wrong direction, according to one critical report I read recently. It shows that the ideas backed by all of the different factions in the U.S. debate—corporate reformers, unions, union bashers, charter schoolers, budget cutters, standardized testers, test haters—won’t help us catch up with the countries that lead the world. We need a reform do-over.

via Why We Need a Clean Slate on School Reform – Pelham, NY Patch.

MA in Tolkien

The Mythgard Institute opened this fall as an online academic outpost for the study of all things Tolkien. You can earn an MA in English on J.R.R., with the first diplomas handed out spring of 2014. “Most of all, we hope to provide students with new opportunities to study Tolkien and related works seriously and with academic rigor, either for their own enrichment or towards the achievement of a degree,” the Institute says.

First and only course for this fall is “The Great Tales: Tolkien and the Epic.” As the institute notes, quoting Sam Gamgee approvingly,  “Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?”

I thought I was having fun when I took a single course in Tolkien and C.S. Lewis during senior year of college.

Credit the often fun Geek Chic Daily for reporting this first (to me at least).

The first day of school

I wrote about the last day of school in one of my early Pelham Patch columns back in June. I would never attempt one on the first day of school after reading the piece by the late Mike Levine linked below. The editor and writer got it so right that his column was re-posted by his paper, The Middletown Times-Herald, two and half years after his death and is now shared around the Hudson Valley on this big day.

Quick, before they leave this morning. Take a good look. Touch their faces, run your hands through their hair.We got antsy with them last month, but now we want time to stand still. Like falling leaves and chilly mornings, some great force signals us today. We are aware of life passing. See the kindergartner with a brave, bewildered smile watching her mother cry as the school bus pulls away. The high-school freshman with a lump in his throat hears his father whisper everything will be OK. Brothers and sisters who fought all summer now hold hands.

via Mike Levine: The first day of school |