There is no more important skill than reading!

So I was reading this morning and came across this article.  Literacy is important for all students.  It opens doors for children and it opens them wide.  We are teachers who teach kids.  We DO NOT teach subjects.  “I am a band teacher!”  WRONG!  You are a teacher of children, not a teacher of a subject.  We are all charged with giving kids skills to take action in the 21st-century global community and in order to do just that, they need literacy skills.
If you want kids to get good at writing, have them write.  If you want kids to get better at reading, have them read.  But have them read and write about things they are interested in.  Yes, Hamlet is important, but so are things students are interested in.
  • The Most Important Lesson Schools Can Teach Kids About Reading: It’s Fun – Jeffrey Wilhelm & Michael Smith – The AtlanticReading is indeed crucial to success in school and in careers.

    tags: reading literacy education

    • “The kind of literacy necessary for 21st-century employment requires detailed understanding and complex comprehension.”
    • “If America’s students are to remain competitive in a knowledge-based economy, our public schools must greatly accelerate the rate of progress of the last four years and do more to narrow America’s large achievement gaps. It is an urgent moral and economic imperative that our schools do a better job of preparing students for today’s globally-competitive world.”
    • Reading is indeed crucial to success in school and in careers.
    • In our study of the out-of-school reading lives of 14 eighth graders who were avid readers of texts often marginalized in schools
    • We found that our participants were remarkably articulate about why they read what they read.  Here’s what they taught us.
    • One reason our participants read was to experience the pleasure of entering a story world.
    • Perhaps our most striking finding is that our participants drew pleasure from using their reading to help them become the kind of people they wanted to become, a kind of pleasure we termed “inner work.”
    • “[Reading’s] like being a detective almost. It’s taking the evidence and the information and everything that’s happened, taking all that and putting it together. Processing through it and seeing what ends connect, and then finding, once all those ends connect, what that last piece is.”
    • We’ve come away from our study thinking that teachers of reading and literature need to make pleasure more central to our practice.
    • instructors should be mindful of the variety of pleasures that readers experience and not privilege intellectual pleasures, the characteristic province of school.
    • If we want students to embrace reading now and always, then we need to keep at the forefront of our attention the rich, complex, and profound pleasures of reading

Starting Proficiency in the Classroom

Ten years in the classroom is now approaching.  Last year I got adventurous with my professional goals and decided to link using Facebook as one of my goals.  At first, I was scared about going down that road and so were many others, but it worked out just fine.  This year I may have gone overboard….

Back in March, I had a reflection time that took me to a place that I felt was being a responsible educator, I examined how students were truly doing in my classes.  From the first look it would appear they were doing great, and for the most part, they were.  But there were some that were not performing at the level that their grade said they were.

At this time I decided to get even more adventurous.  The State of Oregon recently adopted HB 2220 which defines proficiency and lays out the groundwork for schools districts to start implementing in the coming years.  While our district is not based on proficiency, I took it upon myself to implement a full proficiency-based system in the classroom.

As the year progresses, I will be posting my trials and tribulations on this blog to share with all of you.

Failure is NOT an option! Or is it?

We put a great deal of emphasis on that our schools are failing and that our kids are not learning in schools today. It is true, the American education system is in a triage situation and needs to have attention placed the critical needs. Many parents and teachers are concerned with the fact that students are failing classes, even I am. But take a moment and look at what failing truly is. Does a child learn something by failing? In my opinion, they do. They learn how not to accomplish something. Failing does not mean unsuccessful, but we place great emphasis on the fact that failing is unacceptable. Let’s take a look at some famous failures.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Failure!

At 30 years old, Steve Jobs was forced to leave the company he build from the ground up. Failure!

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he lacked “imagination” and “original ideas”. Failure!

Oprah Winfery was demoted from being a news anchor because she was “not fit enough for television”. Failure!

Albert Einstein could not speak until the age of 4 and teachers told him that he would not amount to much in life. Failure!

It is important for us as educators to let every student know that failure is just a rehearsal for success.  Kids are worried about failing, and they should be, but when they do, and they will, they need to know that they are not failures as a person.

Traditional testing has become very degrading to those students who see a number that is not considered passing.  But those same students could go out and fix my truck without much hesitation and go to work as a mechanic and make twice what I do.  So which one is the failure, the student who has volumes more knowledge than I about mechanics of machines or me, the guys with two college degrees, two masters degrees, and an almost completed Ed.S?

This reminds me of a Big Bang Theory episode where all four guys were driving and something happened to Leonard’s car.  He asked, ” Does anyone here know anything about the internal combustion engine?”  Every one of them said, “Yes, tons.”  “Does anyone here know how to work on the internal combustion engine?”  Their reply, “Absolutely not!”  That was three guys who all had terminal degrees and Wolowitz of course (BBT fans will know why that is funny) who had immense knowledge of many things in this world but could not even fix their car.  Are they failures?  I would say at that moment for that circumstance they were.  Again, being a failure at some things is not bad.  Failure is just a rehearsal for success.  I fail regularly at taking out the trash and helping with the laundry, just ask my wife.

Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than Video

Flipping the classroom has become a large passion of mine. It is one of my ongoing professional goals to implement next year.

I have to agree with these four bullet points. Poor video lectures are worse than the live version of the same lecture. They need to be engaging.