EDUCON 2010 – THROUGH THE EYES OF A VIRTUAL ATTENDEE

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)


This has been a GREAT weekend! I was able to attend the EduCon Conference at the SLA Academy in Philiadelphia yesterday and today.
I wasn’t able to attend it in person, but went virtually via Elluminate and Twitter. I would have much rather been in Philadelphia being part of the excitement and conversations that were happening there this weekend. But it was not to be this time. I got to watch and listen in on the conference and was able to participate in some of the back channel and Twitter parts of the many of the presentations and discussions that were happening there. I got to listen to Education leaders like Stager, Richardson, Lehman, Parisi and a bunch of lesser known, but important figures in EdTech online communities that I follow most every day.
The first morning was a little rough, as the student moderators, presenters and the rest of us became comfortable with using Elluminate to participate in the conference discussions. As we learned more we were able to do more with the tools available. That afternoon and the second day went very smoothly :).
The overall content of the conference was excellent and the many side conversations were great. Going to it virtually, just did not lend itself to the same level of excitement and synergy that you get when you go to a great conference – sitting at your desk looking out over your back yard was rather anti-climatic. I did learn a lot, but did not have that big emotional lift and re-energization that many were talking about as the conference wound down.
At least I was able to be the fly one the wall and listen in. I just wish there was a way for the back channel to be part of the presentation too, but that will come in time and the future of Education looks promising when viewed from the lenses of the presenters at EduCon.
Now we just have to get more the High level Educational leaders to attend conferences like this to see what educators really think of their educational reforms. I don’t mean just District level leaders, there needs to be people from the State DOE’s and Federal DOE attend these sessions to see what the “grassroots of their “industry” wants for the future.
I will not hold my breath, I get the impression that State or Federal Educational Reformers have their own agenda and that attending an event or conference like this and being questioned about their great ideas is not what they want to hear. We are not part of their echo chamber. At times it seems to me it is as though we educators are the “Elephant in the room” that no one wants to actually see, have to acknowledge or listen to. We can’t possibly be right, after all we are only teachers and it is only our classrooms that they are reforming.
Enough editorializing and standing on a sopbox pounding my drum loudly for no one to hear.
I do want to thank Chris Lehman, his staff and the students that put on EduCon and did a remarkable job at ensuring that those of us who couldn’t attend were able to listen in. I hope that I will be able to attend next year’s conference and make the personal connections in addition to the online ones I have been fortunate enough to make.
This Tweet from #Educon will stay with me for a long time and kind of sums up a lot of what I saw and heard this weekend.

This one from Chris Lehman

These have been said before, but they do say a lot.
Remember it is about the kids, not you or I, so do the right thing for the right reasons and remember they only get one shot.

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STEREOTYPING OF NON TECH TEACHERS

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

I had an interesting conversation with a teacher who doesn’t really use technology in their classroom this afternoon. In the short time I have been in my school, I have come to respect this person’s teaching ability and their opinions on teaching, I believe that this person is an excellent to outstanding teacher and a leader in our building. However, this person does not use technology in the classroom very much beyond word processing and powerpoint.
When we were talking, I discussed and championed the idea of embedding technology into the curriculum to help prepare our students for their future. This person, simply said that they agreed 100% with what I was saying. The also stated that this person just doesn’t have the time with all of the other work they have, the amount of changes that are in the proposal stage to the curriculum and the level of need (the disparity between the high and lower level kids in the same classroom) that our regular education students are showing in the classroom to learn the technology enough to be comfortable to teach with it. There it is again lack of time and comfort level to use in teaching situations.
We discussed that the computer teacher had been for a while been having voluntary after school trainings on the MLTI program software for teachers, which had helped her some, but that this had been discontinued due to time issues and the number of after school meetings that teachers have to attend.
I have been listening closely to online conversations that sometimes revile teachers who don’t embrace technology as lazy, not willing to advance themselves, that they are doing a dis-service to their students or a multitude of other less than endearing comments regarding these teachers. I have to admit that I sort of jumped up on that bandwagon.
After my conversation this afternoon, I know that this teacher is not lazy and that they work their butt off to do as much as they can for their students. This person is trying to get comfortable enough to use technology in the classroom and wants to see technology in the classroom. However, for this person there simply is just not enough time in their day to get everything done and unfortunately, technology just has not gotten high enough to the top of the priority list to get into that classroom.
I know that many out there will say well then this teacher should just make time. That is not reality we all have just 24 hours in the day and we all have to prioritize our interests, work and personal lives. Something has to give. In some cases it is teachers and how they use or don’t use technology.
This conversation made me re-think some of my previous thoughts about non-tech teachers in the echo chamber that we sometimes have in the EdTech community. Not all of those teachers we malign are bad teachers, some or even many of them care deeply about our students and the progress of technology in the classroom. However, simply due to the many committees, leadership positions, classroom sizes, test prep and other duties (including having a bit of a personal life) they do not have the time to actually become technically savvy enough to use tech in the classroom.
Maybe we need to look at individual situations, instead of stereotyping all teachers that don’t use EdTech as bad teachers. Sometimes we know it is attitude or the other negative stuff we talk about in the EdTech world, but before we vilify all non-tech teachers, we need to ensure that this is what is really happening.
I plan to make it my mission to help this person with tech in the classroom as much as I can, if they will help me to be a better teacher which I do think they can. I think that this will be a fair trade 🙂

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WITH ALL DUE RESPECT

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com) (this remains one of my all-time favorite blog posts)

RANT ALERT – I will probably get myself in trouble but here goes…

With all due respect to:

  • the President of the United States and his staff
  • the Congress and their staffs
  • the State Governors and their staffs (Maine for me)
  • the State Boards of Education (Maine for me)
  • the Teacher preparatory programs at the University/College levels
  • the Educational Consultants
  • the Corporations who sell educational products
  • and everyone else who thinks that they have latest answer to the problems in our classrooms
JUST SHUT UP!
When was the last time any of the above were actually in public classrooms for more than a few hours or at best a day or two, for an observation of carefully selected classrooms.  Almost all of these visits are what I classify as dog and pony shows or photo ops where leadership get to see everyone on their best behavior, with everything all cleaned up, after all we don’t want to embarrass ourselves when powerful people visit.
When we do this those people, don’t get to see the reality of what is going on in that school that they spend a few hours at, but woe be the teacher that doesn’t have a neat as a pin classroom or misbehaving students during this visit.  I know that it is unreasonable for high profile leaders to actually be in one place for any amount of time, they must rely on their staff’s for that level of information and it is those staffers that must provide honest and accurate appraisals of educational proposals.
In order for those staffers to provide pertinent information to the leadership they first must have experience in the areas they are advising people on. If they don’t how can they realistically provide accurate advice, if it is even wanted????
What would a quick staffing analysis reveal on how long it has been since:  Staffers who’s job is Education policy; Department of Education personnel at the Federal and State levels; University/College professors and all the others who provide input to K-12 education policy; actually taught in the K-12 classroom. I believe that those statistics would be very enlightening to the rest of us. Unfortunately, it might also show how out of touch those policy makers are with what the real impact that their policies are having in the K-12 classrooms of today, not how it would have been when they were last in the classroom 5-10 to even 20 years ago which was a different set of kids and a different set of issues.
I would love to see a requirement that every other year Department of Education (Federal & State), University/College teacher preparation program professors and their staffs – be required to teach for at least two weeks in their specialty in a so-called poorly performing K-12 school/classroom.  Letting the regular teacher(s) observe them in action and remind those advisors/staffers or professors of the difficulties or challenges of teaching in the K-12 classroom, not just observing and making suggestions – which is quite easy to do. This would give those who are policy makers a brief, but representational idea of how their policies affect the students and their teachers and remind them how “easy” it is to change a student’s interest in education.
When DOE, College/University or even consultants come to a school how often do they interact with the students or the teachers and who is their actual audience? A one to two day seminar for staff doesn’t cut it for finding out first hand what is happening in a school. You find out so much more after that first week, your newness wears off and some of the glitz is gone, the intimidation factor isn’t as big a factor. It would be then that the policy makers and teachers would see much more quickly what educational policy they are proponents of actually works or not and what possible impacts it will have on the classroom teacher.  A reality check so to speak.
Teachers and local Administrators all know that there are problems in the classroom and most of us are working our butts off to try to fix them and continue to teach our students. However, in my opinion many of the regulations and laws and regulations have been passed recently or that “leadership” are thinking about passing are not/will not do what is expected in our classrooms. They have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Don’t get me wrong I have a great deal of respect for the hard work, knowledge and dedication that many politicians, DOE staff (Federal & State) and preparatory program professors and educational consultants have and do (as a former State employee in another department). You all work very hard and I believe you think you are doing the right things when you suggest or implement these changes. Most if not all of these educational leaders have a lot more initials after their names than I ever will and have pertinent information that I am not privy to, which impacts their decision making process.

But when you roll in for that 1-2 day seminar or visit, telling us the changes that are necessary and then you are gone, you don’t realize the possible or probable long-term negative effects those policy changes have on the classroom, the students or teaching staff.  If you do, do you dismiss them as necessary and don’t try to think about what the impact is to those implementing your policies in the classrooms. Well out here we do think about it and it affects us daily because we are attempting to implement the laws and regulations policy makers have implemented whether we agree with them or not.  We don’t get to pick and choose what ones we will follow or not – we have to do them in order to keep our jobs as teachers.
More centralized control of education has not made it any better at the local level where most K-12 education happens, standards have not made our students any smarter, standardized testing has not made our students better students. These plans all sounded good initially, had great intentions, but are they working, have they actually made a difference in the students education?  I don’t believe so.
Bad laws or regulation are not blamed for not improving education or not working, it is the teaching staffs and local administrators that get the blame, from those that don’t want to admit their ideas didn’t work and should be changed.  I don’t mind trying new things, but when they don’t work admit it and move on – don’t cook the stats or lower the bar so that you meet the standards which makes everyone look bad.
Everyone in education and government needs to stop posturing, shut up and discuss openly and freely what actually works in classrooms – remembering to actually listen to those who actually are in the classrooms – not just give us lip service and then ignore us as the “elephant in the room”.   Please implement what will work or allow us to experiment with new methods that show potential with the absolute minimum of regulation and law necessary for oversight.
Maybe it is time to return education back to the local level where there could be at least more opportunity for excellence instead of an overall mediocrity that we appear to be heading towards in our public schools, with our present centralized control leaning system.  Centralized systems seem more interested in accountability, rhetoric and finding blame than actual progress in educating our students.
Sorry about the rant, I have been reading too many stories on how our leadership is going to or has made education better over the past couple of weeks and just got tired of the game.
Our leadership needs to focus on what the students need, not what other adults or corporations need or who gets the money (which I think is more of the issue than anyone wants to admit).
 

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CLASSROOM FIEFDOMS

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

How many people actually know what goes on in a teacher’s classroom every day, besides the students and the teacher? The real answer is no one.
For the most part teachers can do pretty much as we please with the day-to-day running of our classroom. We are trusted that we have the best interests of our student in mind and the actual amount of direct supervision we receive in our classrooms is typically very little. As long as we have lesson plans, show that our students are making some progress, turn in our paperwork on time, put reasonable grades in the grading system, don’t have too many parents sqawking about how we teach and when we have our administrative observations we teach to the lesson plan and the kids are not too unruly. Our administrators leave us alone to do our thing, they are just too busy doing their thing.
This independence that many of us enjoy is why we have great teachers doing wonderfully creative things that motivate and create students who are as good as any students in the world.
Unfortunately, this same independence and lack of supervision are why we also have some terrible teachers. Those who may be either unknowingly or purposely holding our students back due to their own inadequacies, poor attitudes or lack of teaching abilities.
So for good or ill, with few exceptions our classrooms have become our little fiefdoms. Much the same as when Kings and Queens entrusted the care of areas of their domain and the people living there to their titled nobility. As teachers we have the power to impose our will on our students, discipline, evaluate and determine to some extent our student’s future. We are the Lords and Ladies of our classrooms and woe be to anyone who comes in and either tries to tell us how to or gives us feedback on what we are doing. That last sentence may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but I have witnessed how some teachers react when an “outsider” or even another teacher comes to their classroom and makes some suggestions. Sometimes it is not pretty.
How easy is it for teachers to write a reasonable lesson plan, do not much more than photocopy a worksheet from a lesson plan someone else wrote, follow the “book”, give reasonable grades, yet teach their students (ahem subjects) nothing of the excitement and love of learning that should be being taught in the classroom.
An even worse scenario than above is the teacher who fake teaches, they write-up the lesson plan but make no attempt to follow it (it is just a piece of paper); make the students do assignments, but not grade them; give grades based on popularity, not merit, etc. Unfortunately, all of these things and more have been and are being done in some classrooms – it is cheating the students and our profession, but is done all the same.

This minority of teachers are able to suck the love of learning out of their students and are the reasons that so many students hate, hate, hate school and the reason why so many outside of the education profession want to “clean up” and “improve” how we “teach”. We all have had experiences with these kinds of teachers either as students or seen it in fellow teachers. They may even be a nice person, but suck at being a teacher.

So have our classrooms become too much like little fiefdoms and lack transparency (the new buzzword)? I believe that they are and can see several parallels to the middle ages fiefdoms. Some fiefdoms were run in an outstanding manner, were progressive and improved their subjects lives. While others were poorly lead, didn’t provide proper supports, damaged their subject’s ability to be productive and needed to be replaced.
So how do you run your fiefdom?
I am pretty sure of where I stand in how I attempt to lead my little fiefdom and probably most of the readers of this blog believe the same as I do, but how many of us know of teachers who treat their classroom fiefdoms poorly and harm their students/”subjects”? What can we do about it? There are no easy answers for that question are there?
Photo of Sir Galahad fromhttps://facultystaff.richmond.edu/~rreilly/Arthur/hughes_galahad.jpg

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FIVE GOOD THINGS THIS WEEK

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

This is a picture of how I usually feel by the end of a week at school! I want to do something a bit different in my blog for the next few weeks to see how it works.
I looked back and re-read some of my more recent posts, it seems that sometimes I focus on the negative sides of things – I guess it goes along with getting old and cantankerous. 🙂   That is not how I really am and would like to believe that I am a much more positive person than that.  So once a week I am going to go over the top 5 positive things that happened in my classroom during the week.
1. I am really proud of this one – a student who had significant attendance problems has come to school everyday for the past 3 weeks. When I pointed that out to the student simply smiled and said “I know” Then called me Dr. Evil with a big grin, this student has been calling me this for the past 2 months – I am not sure where it came from, but it is being done now with good humor and the right way, even though at first it may not have been…I guess I am evil because I am actually making the student work in class? 🙂
2. One of my classes was getting a bit out of hand, so I decided to talk with them openly about how I was feeling and asked for their input on how to improve the class. They gave me some ideas, some of the suggestion are good ones and are the direction we will be heading when the new semester starts. We have a 90 minute block and in there I try to schedule in 2 5 minute breaks. The students wanted a 10 minute break half way through which I agreed to and then without prompting one of the students (one I would never have expected it from stated) “If we owe you work or if our name is on the board for a warning or lunch detention etc. before the break, no free time on the laptop and they will have to do their make-up work before they can access “free time.” It showed a different side of this student and even more surprisingly the rest of the class agreed to it. It really kind of made my day 🙂 I still have to think about how hard I will enforce the free time thing, because some students just need to get away from school for a few minutes and the laptop does allow it. I know consistency but….
3. One class is actually excited about the book Monster and is reading parts from the book instead of listening to the tape. It is a lot more fun for the kids and I think they are getting more out of the book than listening to a CD.
4. I have one student that has fought me tooth and nail about Silent Sustained Reading all year and on Wednesday, that student asked if during break he could go down to the library to get the second book in a series for SSR and then sat down and read it without saying anything negative and then filled out the reading log without being prompted.
5. One student is having a lot of problems with coming to school and staying the classrooms, everyday this week there was school he attended my class, actually did work and wasn’t asked to leave because of his negative behaviors (came close a couple of times, but pulled it together and stayed). Hopefully, things will go even better next week.
While none of these are major victories in the grand scheme of things, they are significant to me and I think to the students as well. I just have to keep reminding myself that these small victories over the course of a year can result in huge differences in the student and their attitude towards school.
I want to remind myself of these small “victories”, they did make me smile when I thought about them.
Photo from flickr.comhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/clearlyambiguous/50048014/ uploaded on October 6, 2005 by <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/clearlyambiguous/ / CC BY 2.0″>Clearly Ambiguous

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MERIT PAY – SPECIAL EDUCATION

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

I have been following the debate on teacher Merit Pay issue for a few years now. Which means I have followed it as a teacher and as a non-teacher. So this morning I did what most everyone does sooner or later I Googled it (yes – I know there are other search engines) and came up with over 380,000 hits on Merit Pay for teachers, I read the first two pages and came away more confused and had more questions than when I started.
Why do I care about Merit Pay? For pretty selfish reasons mostly, it could affect how I will be paid in the future and that could impact how much money I have in my pocket. It is not my over-riding “thing”, but how much I am paid for what I do is important and does impact my job choices to a certain extent. Then there is the fact that the President of the United States favors merit pay and so do many people who are in positions of educational AND political leadership, so that means there is some fire, not just smoke around this issue. It also does mean that it will probably happen in some form in the near future.
There appear to be some many pros and cons to the merit pay issue – but one con really jumps out at me.
Most of the merit pay proposals that I have read about are in some way tied to standardized testing. Now if you have read my blogs for any length of time, you will know that I am not a fan of the over-reliance on standardized testing and in the manner many in leadership are using it for, since the passage of NCLB. I am also realistic enough to know that standardized testing and how it being used for measurement purposes is not going to go away anytime soon, but that is a whole different post.
I am going to relate this blog entry more towards Special Education, but I believe it might apply to all students and teachers. Historically, our special education students don’t show their progress on standardized tests. Most of our students are at the bottom of the scales and show little to no growth from year to year. Once in a while we hit things just right and there is a huge jump either due to a sudden maturation, things are different at home, a medication change, etc., not because suddenly a “super” teacher came into that classroom. Usually it is because of something beyond the teacher or the school’s control.
Often a special education student’s progress is made in non-quantifiable or things that are not academically related (i.e. “Johnny has only been suspended for fighting 3 times this year instead of 10, Sam was able to feed himself for the first time or Sally has made it to school every day for 3 weeks in a row, whereas before she only came 3 days a week”). That kind of progress which is huge to the student, their family and the teacher, but is not measured on standardized testing and is not normally tracked as part of a teacher’s evaluation. It is more the true measure of a successful Special Education Teacher than a score on a standardized test.
Tying a Special Education teacher’s possible merit pay to how their student’s perform on a standardized test would penalize this category of teachers considerably more in contrast to our peers and would not be a true representation of our effectiveness (which I don’t believe standardized testing would for any teacher).
It would be like politicians being paid based upon their percentage ratings in multiple polls, but someone else gets to pick which poll will be used. Politicians can attempt to influence their numbers by working on the individuals being polled, but they do not have any input regarding the questions that will be asked or how those would be scored, they would just get to see the final outcome.
Then linking those results to a base amount and making them eligible if funds are available for merit increases and not having their seniority or other things they do well enter into how they are compensated for the services they provide. There would be a great amount of hugh and cry from those politico’s who would be affected by that change. Yet they wonder why educators are not jumping on the merit pay bandwagon.
That is how I feel about the tying merit pay to standardized testing – not very comfortable. I can cajole, push, motivate and all those other things we do in the classroom to try to get our students to learn, but when it comes to the day of the test, I have no way to ensure that that student will attempt to do their best, if they will even try or if they will even show up. No number of after test pizza parties or words of encouragement will motivate a student who doesn’t want to be motivated.
There has to be a way to combine good performance in the classroom with seniority as well. I know that I will be a better teacher in 2-3 years than I am today and that increase in ability should be considered also when it comes to computing my pay.
Is merit pay coming to the teaching profession? I believe so, there are too many powerful people who support it. How they implement it will be the question that I am worried about. Will it be implemented fairly using actual measurements that show what is expected of a “superior” teacher or will they take the “easy” way out an tie a teacher’s ability to earn that merit pay to standardized test scores? Right now if I had to bet, it looks like those in power will take the easy way out, which is unfair to all teachers.
What are your opinions on merit pay? Is it a good thing? Am I way off base when it comes to merit pay and special education? Should we tie our pay to standardized testing? To me my research on merit pay simply raises more questions than I can find answers to.
Merit pay is not a bad thing that some make it out to be and not the salvation of education as other make it out to be, but like anything else, it will be how it will be designed and implemented, that will determine if it is a good thing or not. That is what concerns me — the possible designs that are being considered.
Put very simply put it’s all about the money – who gets it and who doesn’t.

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THREE MONDAYS – TWO TOO MANY

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

This was a week that was, we had three Mondays this week. The real Monday was MLK Day, which made Tuesday this week’s Monday, then we had a snow day on Wednesday which made Thursday another Monday. Stop and think how each of us react and moan or groan about having to be at work on a regular Monday, then multiply it times the number of students in a classroom who do not want to be in school anyway and then to have three “Mondays” in a week!!!
Three “Mondays” made for some “interesting” behaviors this week. Behaviors that I noticed were far more prevalent this week were:
1. Not wanting to be in class. The students were complaining more about being in school more than usual. It seemed as though they were much more vocal about how much they hate school this week. The assistant teacher and I work very hard to make our classroom a positive place for them to be in and it took a lot more work than usual this week to bring them back to a positive space.
2. Off task. On a typical Monday we have to do more hands-on, more directive work to get the students back into our routine and ease back as the week goes on. This week really messed with our lesson plans and what we wanted to accomplish the week. We changed around what had been planned and how we did things a bit this week to accommodate for the interesting conditions of the classrooms.
3. Higher-end. I won’t go into details on this one, but needless to say there were more higher end behaviors than I have had in the classroom since the first month I came into the class.
My student’s thrive on routine and consistency of those routines and get don’t do as well when they are out of those routines. While having a three day weekend is great, it is a change to the regular routine and I notice a definite difference on those Tuesdays. Add in a snow day it just makes for a very disjointed week and takes my students out of their normal routine for most of the week, which I believe directly increases their negative behaviors.
What can we do to overcome the three Mondays? Not too much, just do our best to get through them, be consistent and change our lesson plans to be more hands-on, to keep the kids busy. But most of all be consistent.
Now I don’t have scientific proof or anything other than my intuition on this one, but in my opinion weeks with three Mondays really suck.
Does anyone else out there have similar experiences with “three Mondays”?
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DO SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS REALLY NEED TO HAVE GRADES?

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

While I was out snow blowing today I had time to think about lots of things while walking behind that dreaded beast. Today I thought about why do we grade Special Education students who are in a Resource Room and are being provided “Specialized Instruction” in a subject directly in accordance with their IEP.
We are required to measure their progress for the Specialized Instruction they are receiving and rate it on their IEP, that at the same time giving a grade in that subject, we are in my opinion duplicating our efforts. I also believe that many Special Education student’s grades are sometimes inflated and do not reflect their actual progress towards achieving their IEP goals. Then when the IEP goals are actually rated, they do not always seem to correspond with the class grades the child has been receiving – to the surprise of the parent and student.
As a former parent of a Special Education student, I knew that the grades my child was receiving did not mean the same thing as a student in regular education classes. I was much more concerned about her progress on the goals that the PET developed for the IEP.
Now that I am a Special Education teacher and I have been doing this for a while (this is my 8th year), if I was made to grade my students using the same grade scales and expectations as the regular education classroom, most of my student’s grades would be receiving very low grades, usually not passing (that is why they are with me). Therefore, I and I believe many other Special Educators grade based more on effort in the classroom, more than actual accomplishments in the classroom. If we are using a true standards based grading is being used and a student has been evaluated to be at a 4th grade level, I should grade that student based on the Elementary Learning Results, not the Middle School Learning Results. In truth how many Special Educators or Regular Educators grade our students that way? I don’t believe that too many do.
So what do my grades actually mean academically to a Special Education student and their families – hopefully not that much. Most understand that the grades received in a Resource Room are not equitable to a regular education of the same grade level. The important thing to a Special Education student and their family should be focused on the progress they are making on their IEP goals. Unfortunately, in reality the IEP goals are not afforded the same weight or importance by many teachers, administrators, students or parents that grades are, when the reverse should be true.
I strongly believe that giving grades for Specialized Instruction takes the focus away from the progress or lack of progress a student is making towards their IEP goals.
I can guess a few reasons for grading special education students, but disagree with them.
1. Every student needs a GPA. After all they might become Valedictorian – it has happened to the consternation of those schools.
2. All students need to know how they compare to each other. Needless competition.
3. It wouldn’t be fair for the regular education students if special education students don’t get graded. Who our special education students don’t compete well with anyways.
4. All students need to be graded.
If you have other reasons why special education students need to be graded in their Specialized Instruction areas, please comment to let me know why you think Special Education students in a Resource Room setting should receive a grade for subjects they receive “specialized instruction”.
You notice that I have not discussed grading in inclusive/differentiated or where EdTech support is provided in the regular education classrooms, to me that is a completely different post.
So I ask again, why do we attempt to grade a student who is in the Resource Room and has IEP goals that relate to that class? Shouldn’t the IEP Goals progress be their grade for those classes. To me this double evaluation process is simply adding more insult to their disability and is not helpful in identifying whether they are or are not making progress towards their IEP goals.
I also think this would also help re-focus many Special Education teachers and Administrators on the student’s IEP goals rather than what they receive on the report card, which really doesn’t matter. Maybe then more people would look at what a student’s IEP goals actually are more than once a quarter or once a year when they rate all the active quarters at the end of the the year for the student (don’t say it doesn’t happen – it does).
So I ask again “why do we grade Special Education students who are in a Resource Room and are being provided “Specialized Instruction” in a subject directly in accordance with their IEP”.
If you have the answer please let me know, because I don’t understand it.

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SNOWDAY #2

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

This morning was/is the second snow day of the year. I had a feeling yesterday that we wouldn’t have school today. I was lucky this morning our school district cancelled school by 5:15 AM, so I was able to actually go back to bed and rest a little longer. It was good to take our morning walk in the light instead of walking in the dark with headlamps and reflective gear on.
When I first looked out, I didn’t see why we didn’t have school this morning, but once I got outside we had over 10 inches of snow and would have had difficulty getting out the yard without snowblowing.

The lighting is off because it was just after dawn and it was still snowing. But has a pretty neat affect on the landscape.
Now off to start getting caught up on all my special education paperwork and redoing my lesson plans to meet my students needs. 🙂
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MY DECLINING POLITICAL AWARENESS

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

Something I have noticed since I have returned to teaching is that I am much less politically active.  What do I mean by that?  While I was working for the State, I always had my radio (in the car or office) turned to NPR and my feeds in gReader were much more politically based.  I actually read the bills that were going before Congress or the State legislature, so that I knew what was being proposed, not what commentators or reporters “cherry-picked” to support their view.

Since October, my gReader feeds are a lot more focused on educational related items and my radios are set to music, not news radio.  I have lost touch with what is happening in the health care debate, immigrations policy, the international scene, etc.; the only thing that I am keeping up with now is educational policy and I really am not doing a very good job with that (Just what my PLN puts my way).  It isn’t like I ignore the news, it just seems that I don’t have time to go into any depth and look beyond what the local newspapers, TV or internet sites report.

I didn’t realize how involved politically I had been, until this morning when I had 5 emails from politically active groups asking me to do something or support them (which I had in the past) and I simply deleted them.  Then I went back over my other blog and saw how much I had focused on politics I had gotten, starting with the Presidential campaign.

Did I burn out or just get tired of the partisan politics of both parties?  Did the President disappoint me, by not providing strong and effective leadership on what the platforms he was elected on and instead took the safer middle ground?  Was it that I just got tired of the politics of hate and ignorance that we have in today’s media and world and wanted a break?  I think it was a combination of all those factors AND I believe that many other people feel the same way.

Will I get back and involved in politics to the level where I was before – to be honest I just don’t have the same level of interest or excitement that I had when President Obama was running for Office.  He energized a lot of people, but has not shown to be the decisive leader that many of us thought he would be, instead he has chosen the road more traveled.

I have found that being a teacher takes too much of my time and energy to get back to that previous level of participation, but I will continue to be an informed citizen and speak out on things that I agree or disagree with, which is my right under the U.S. Constitution.

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