If you need testsandgrades to know if your child is learning then you don’t know your child. #abvote #abed #edchat #edtech #bced
Joe bower « 5 Recent Cooperative Catalyst Posts 2011

cooperativecatalyst:

Inclusion and Standardized Tests

Plans can be important… but it’s important to ask who the plans are for. Most school districts have education plans. So I want to know… who are these education plans for? I am familiar with one school district’s education plan where one of their goals is Inclusion of All Students. The priorities for this goal … Continue reading »

Support Save our Schools

On my Twitter avatar I have chosen to show support for American educators who rightfully see corporate reform efforts to link their pay to student test scores and eliminate tenure as a direct assault on their profession. The Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action will be held July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, … Continue reading »

Recipe for depression

Saying nothing and keeping quiet is a great way to get along with and live with others, but it makes it hard to live with yourself. If you are looking for a recipe for depression, simply resign yourself to being an agent of your employer. Define your learning as something done to you by others. … Continue reading »

Heightened Control

Despite what conventional wisdom tells us, heightened control and demands for obedience are the worst responses to defiance. Where there’s no relationship, there’s no trust. Where there’s no trust, we resort to manipulation and dictates. Compliance and obedience become the name of the game, and for most kids this spells disaster.

Sample Testing

People who need something quantifiably simple and repeatable to judge how well schools are doing find test scores to be remarkably convenient. Test scores can then be used to fill colour coded spreadsheets that act as a carrot for the successful schools and a stick for the under-performing. The problem is that even the most … Continue reading »

Comment Posted by Carol Black on "Are Teachers Activists?" « via Cooperative Catalyst

hese are such important questions.

If you look at the phenomenon of collaborative “cheating” in school, for example, you’ll see that it represents a child’s choice of the value of loyalty to a friend over compliance with a structure that tries to pit her against her friends in a competition for adult approval. (This value contradiction should be obvious when we hear the old admonishment before a test, “Don’t help your neighbor!”)

This same value placed on loyalty and mutual support is evident in groups of kids who choose to defy all authority, define their own idea of socially desirable (or “cool”) behavior, and hold in some contempt the child who strives to please authority figures. These kids’ bond to one another, their willingness to sink or swim in the world together, is given precedence over the system’s desire to measure them against one another in order to provide them with differential rewards.

The interesting thing is that both the most and the least privileged social classes tend to evidence an emphasis on group bonding and mutual aid that transcends the competition of the school system. The upper classes always take care of their own, and if one of their children does not perform well in school, he can still become President of the United States! Crucially, however, this social code excludes 99% of the population from its vision of group loyalty and support.

Kids in the poorest communities often know that they can’t expect justice from the system, and so they bond to one another in defiance of it. They understand that what the system offers is a chance for 1% of them to escape to join the upper 1% of society, but that 99% will be left behind. Again, this often leads to resentment of the child who takes advantage of the offer to “rise” out of the community.

Instead of insisting on a competitive zero-sum vision of “success” and then judging kids as “dysfunctional’ when they resist it, we could, as you suggest, be taking this evidence of children’s natural loyalty to their friends as a positive social value that can guide us in creating learning opportunities which are not in conflict with it – not to mention a society and an economy which are not in conflict with it.

The opposite social values, however, are structured deep into the system. The first thing that would have to go is grading.

 Posted by Carol Black | December 10, 2011, 12:32 pm
I Am the Ninety-Nine Percent, And Actually I’m Pissed « Cooperative Catalyst

drachenfang:

adventuresinlearning:

What about our demands?  What about that list, that agenda, that bulleted list of talking points?  How can you claim to occupy education if you don’t have a goddam list?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you my list that I wrote down in five minutes:

  • Listen to students, parents and teachers and allow them to be an integral part of the decision-making process.
  • Foster creativity. Bring back theater, music and art.  Let kids do plays and paint murals.
  • Abolish grades, standardized tests and homework
  • Get rid of coercive, behaviorist methods of discipline
  • Let kids move.  Bring back recess and PE
  • Provide healthy meals.  Let kids plant gardens and pay attention to where their food comes from.
  • Encourage critical thinking and questions that can’t be answered in a worksheet.
  • Support the caregiver’s right to choose a model that fits his or her own child
  • Adequately fund education so that teachers are paid a living wage
This is by no means comprehensive, but I think it’s a do-able start. 

I agree with most but there are a few sticky ones. Abolishing grades is impossible. We can move away from a letter grade system but speaking as a teacher you must have some system in place to determine the extent of a student’s understanding of the material which is fairly standardized across the board.

Methods of discipline… as teachers we have lost many methods of discipline to the extent that we are near toothless and when the kids realize this then you just have an absolutely degenerate snowball building up. Personally I would like to see educational discipline taken a step back in time. It cannot do so for every child obviously and really all students are taken on a case by case basis but consequences are essential for disruptive behaviors in the classroom. The less and weaker they are the more disorder you allow to snowball to the extent that the learning of the group is jeapordized.

Not much can change if we don’t question the whole system. Grades and behavioral discipline are very much the products of the traditional system. The system needs to be changed holistically if we are going to truly transform education, but you can eliminate grades in many ways, within the system. Grade only want you must, for many that might mean only at the end of the semester. For others, you can have grades be a partnership between the students and the teacher. Change is not going to be easier, and it might take taking flack from students, parents and fellow teachers, but in the end the learning and the teacher in benefit.

Let me know if you want info on removing grading. Joe Bower, a teacher from Canada has start a collective of teachers removing grades from their classroom. He has stories, and ideas on how to make it work in many different types of schools.

Life with Boys: Dear Teachers

I want to say this is a very nuanced response and I would encourage you to continue to respond to other posts with this kind of nuanced even if the blogger who you are responding to is not. Tumblr is hard for real discussion.

I think your approach is great, and I understand in your original post, that maybe you were standing that you think teachers and parents need to do a better job of really communicating assessment….

For me, I don’t like grades, because they do not encourage real meaningful assessment for the student, the teacher or the parents. However, it is the standard of a wide range of classrooms and schools. Real meaningfully assessment takes more time and a more thoughtful relationship with students. I believe until teachers and students and parents are able to have these types of relationship… we will deal with the type of miscommunication that is occurring on tumblr and recently with Ron Clark’s post. 

I have many ideas on how to support these types of relationships, but currently all we talk about is efficiency  and standardization. Learning is measured by being able to pass a tests or cram knowledge into your head. I think we need to move beyond that, and honestly I think the basics can be taught by doing project based learning and more passion based learning. I think in a way, that is what girl with a lesson plan was trying to get at. It got a little lost, since it was so reactionary in tone.

Also the basics can easily be learned now with personalized learning models IE webs based or khan Academy, if education at that level is just acquisition of knowledge. It should be self paced and not fragmented like it is now, or based on grade level or age.

I personally think if we did that, it would free up so much time for more meaningful engaging work, that taught more than the basics and really connected learning and life.

Also just to push you a little more, if we are truly going to teach the basic, don’t you think there are a few more important basics we don’t teach…..

for example, how to talk to doctors, lawyers, and auto mechanics.

Or how to do your taxes, make a meal for your family or design self directed learning. even How to start a business, How to change a law, or how to peacefully organize change, or the most important, how to live in a democracy….

I think question of the purpose of education should be asked to every parent, teacher and student. I am not sure there is one answer…. or should be, but i think it is a question that needs to be brought more out in the open. 

always open for deepening the tumblr community by engaging in real conversation and discussion… feel free to challenge me respectfully on anything.

-Adventures in Learning 

lifewithboys:

adventuresinlearning:

lifewithboys:

For instance-If a student doesn’t understand a word, we were taught to continue reading and try and glean the meaning from the surrounding sentences and paragraphs.  These days ANY word remotely new will have a footnote in it, and the definition at the bottom of the page!  Come on!  That doesn’t happen in real life.  How often do you read a magazine article that comes with its own little dictionary?  Kids need to learn this stuff!

I just wanted to make a comment on this part of your post.

But most magazine now do have little dictionaries on them, because most magazines today are either web based or viewed via a ipod app. Reading comprehension has little with knowing the definition of every word and everything to do with being able understand the meaning.

I actually think people you struggle with reading can be better readers in the end, because they have to look up words and have to glean the understanding.

A boy I work with is a brilliant reader, but hardly understands what he is reading but he only reads the words, and does not think about what they mean… he is 7…

just to broadening the discussion, what do you think the purpose of school is and why do you hold so much sway in “grade level” and such.

I have been studying education for the last two years and still have little understanding of why they decided the standards for reading… and I have studied it. 

In relationship to your own sons, what have you done to encourage critical reading and critical writing?

Excellent point in regards to magazines being web based, BUT while many magazines do have websites, etc…they also have print magazines.  And many of them do NOT have dictionaries within them.  I am not saying that kids/adults can’t read an article and then turn around and go look up a word they don’t understand, BUT there are also ‘tricks of the trade’ that can be used to help kids get a better understanding of what they just read without googling every other word.

And while I understand what you are saying, it isn’t just people that have problems with reading that can become better readers by educating themselves, it’s anyone!  I love to read-fiction, non-fiction, biographies, etc, etc, and I come across words every day that I don’t understand.  I look them up or ask my husband, and in doing so I feel like I learned something that day. And in doing so, I think I am a better reader than I was BEFORE I knew a new word, or phrase or fact.

I am not saying I hold ‘grade level’ in great regards, but as a parent I use it as an easy benchmark, for lack of a better term.  My oldest son is a senior.  He is taking an AP English class that in reality is taught to Sophomores in college.  If he is reading Othello in this class, and has NO CLUE what the story is about, if he doesn’t understand what Shakespeare is trying to say, then he is in a class that MIGHT be above his level of understanding.  In the school district we live in, Julius Cesear is taught to the tenth grade honor students.  If they are in that class, it is expected they will understand the material being taught.

What do I think the purpose of school is?  Wow!  Broad question.  I think school serves a number of purposes-one is to teach the basics.  Now, a few teachers that have read my posts seem to have a problem with this.  They want to imply that the basics have changed since Roy (my husband) and I were younger-sorry, i disagree.  Reading, writing and arithmetic are still basics.  What has changed, IMO, is what kids are expected to know and when they are expected to know it.  When I was in school we learned to identify letters and numbers in Kindergarten, today (our schools districts) kids are expected to already know this coming in to kindergarten.  However, kids are still expected to learn their letters and numbers aren’t they?  We still teach kids to read.  We teach them to write, and math is still taken.  I think school teachers kids how to interact with others, be it teachers, school officials, or other students.  I think school teaches kids that there is a world beyond their home.  To put it simply kids go to school to get an education, and as they get older their strengths are identified and they find their passions in life, which often leads to them choosing a specific field to go in to for a career.

In regards to my sons.  I think one of the best things I can do for them is to show them that reading can be fun!  I read myself, a little something every day-a magazine, the newspaper, or a book.  With my older sons (17 and almost 16) if I read a book I think they will like, I pass it on to them and we discuss it as they read it.  With my 12 year old, we make sure he knows we are always open to buying him a new book, or going to the library.  Our 12 year old is required to read for school and then take tests on what he has read-the program is called “Accelerated reader”-we make sure he understands that it is an assignment and is to be done, but we also make sure he understands that he has control over what he reads.  The school has thousands of books on which he can take tests, pick one you enjoy. We will often read the book along with him, and then discuss what we have read, so that we know he understands what he is reading.  We read to our 7 and 3 year old.  We try to do it every night.  

As for critical writing-simple.  The older boys have phones, I don’t care how they text their friends, but when they text their dad and I, I ask them to use proper English.  When they send an email to their grandparents, same thing.  Again, friends…use slang, abbreviations, whatever.  But take the opportunity to use proper English and writing skills when it is presented to you.  When they have papers due in school, we familiarize ourselves with the material so that when they ask us to edit their papers we know what they are talking about.  We encourage them to talk to their teachers if there is a problem, and yes, we encourage them to question their teachers if they think something was unfairly graded, etc, etc.

I am by no means saying that I am the perfect parent, nor am I a teacher.  On the other hand, last time I checked NO one was perfect, and that includes teachers.

Life with Boys: Dear Teachers

lifewithboys:

For instance-If a student doesn’t understand a word, we were taught to continue reading and try and glean the meaning from the surrounding sentences and paragraphs.  These days ANY word remotely new will have a footnote in it, and the definition at the bottom of the page!  Come on!  That doesn’t happen in real life.  How often do you read a magazine article that comes with its own little dictionary?  Kids need to learn this stuff!

I just wanted to make a comment on this part of your post.

But most magazine now do have little dictionaries on them, because most magazines today are either web based or viewed via a ipod app. Reading comprehension has little with knowing the definition of every word and everything to do with being able understand the meaning.

I actually think people you struggle with reading can be better readers in the end, because they have to look up words and have to glean the understanding.

A boy I work with is a brilliant reader, but hardly understands what he is reading but he only reads the words, and does not think about what they mean… he is 7…

just to broadening the discussion, what do you think the purpose of school is and why do you hold so much sway in “grade level” and such.

I have been studying education for the last two years and still have little understanding of why they decided the standards for reading… and I have studied it. 

In relationship to your own sons, what have you done to encourage critical reading and critical writing?

I believe it is ideal to invite the student to participate in understanding and creating the goals of their learning. Often in my reading and observation of classrooms, the students are just informed of their learning goals. They are put up on a poster or given as a rubric to the students. Are we not just repeating traditional assessment then under a new name and format? This process paints a picture of student involvement or student centered assessment, but still see the teacher or the other as the true source of assessment. Just informing the students of the “standards” to be reached or outcomes of their study is not enough. We should allow them to be an active part of the conversation and thinking around the what, how and why of their learning.
What if schools did away with transcripts? « Cooperative Catalyst

What if schools did away with transcripts?

I’m not sure how much useful data we get from transcripts. For example, I received an A in my high school chemistry class, but that’s about the only thing I remember from it. I don’t know anything about chemistry. I got an A because I followed directions. I understood what the teacher wanted me to do, and I did it.

That’s really all a grade is: a measure of the extent to which the student follows directions.

And there’s something to be said for that. If I’m hiring someone and I see that she earned all A’s in high school, I can be confident that she’ll probably show up for work on time and effectively blend in to the workplace culture. That’s important.

But it’s not nearly enough. If I’m hiring someone, what I really want to know is whether or not they’re going to add value to the organization. If all they can do is follow directions and blend in … well, there are plenty of people who can do that. How are you going to change the organization for the better? What possibilities can you show us that we never knew existed?

Don’t show me your transcript. Show me your resume. Show me what you’ve done. Show me that you know how to take a risk, overcome your fear, make something, add value.

* * *

BORING = Algebra II   A+

BETTER = Student Body Treasurer

BEST = Organized a fundraiser that raised $7,000 to make prom free for kids who otherwise couldn’t afford to go.

My response,

I been working on a living learning portfolio that would be both a resume, but also a more holistic view of your live.

Because it is great that someone can register voters or did a fundraiser, but that is not always the type of work that everyone can do, and really it is exactly what happens now in high school.

In my own experience the students in my school who had the time to do projects like that had the time because they did not need to work after school or had parents who had the time to arrange or plan these events…

So they got the scholarship, and the praise….but looking back they did not do those because of some passion to change the world or make it better, they did them for their “resumes. It becomes just another thing to add so you stand out over others in a world that pushes the idea that you must be better or best others, or you will not succeed.

So I love your idea, but it is still about measuring others against yourself.

I like stories more than lines on piece of paper. My resume never says a lot about me other then I have worked a lot.

I would rather tell you how happy I get when I cook a good meal for people and I get to see the joy on their face from eating and sharing my passion with cooking with them.

I would rather tell you how in high school, I was in 17 plays and directed 2 not because that is a lot, but because it was my life and my passion and I made sure I had every chance I could to do my passion.

I would rather tell you, how my friend and I made a short film, and saw no outside festival that was set up solely for students film makers by student filmmakers and so we made one. I would love to tell you how it lasted 5 years, well past our graduation from high school and that many of the students that submitted films have gone on to be feature film makers and budding stars. But not because it would look good on my resume, but because it the only thing i wanted to spend my time doing and I did.

I think getting rid of transcripts is a great first start, just like grades, but we also need to encourage and support a culture of students finding their passions and taking risks and enjoying life…not because it will look good to a future employer but because life is better that way…

Adventure in Learning

duckfoot's foray into life (& cooking): reply to 'adventuresinlearning' regarding "why should everyone get an a?"

Thank you for this thoughtful and powerful response. Context is often missed in the form of tumblr posts and I worried a bit I was having a one-side discussion, and I am so glad you added this. I think your assessment of your process makes sense and I wonder how you communicate it with your students. How transparent are you with your students about why you grade the way you do.

I personally almost never had a teacher really have a discussion of grading, but instead just tell us what was were grading, and why… actually hardly ever why….

This is a part of helping to transform assessment to more then just a sorting method but a tool to encourage self-direction assessment.

Golf is not my sport, I am a basketball man myself. (Go Blazers!)….

again I thank you for being open to this discussion, looking forward to more!

oh and by the way love the comment about c students… I was talking about your post with someone and I made the very same comment about grades. I was only a b student that always tried to do something above and beyond what was asked…often not to the most success, but I know personally I learned more than if I just did what was asked.

-Adventures in Learning

duckfoot75:

for all intents and purposes, i believe you misread the thesis for my article. however, since i have (many times over) read and respect your outstanding reply, i will dignify it with a response.

i made the error of not providing the context for which i wrote the previous article. currently, i…