Friday, July 15, 2005

So many things to write, so little time...

I'd rather be outside.

But I have lots of stuff to post.

We are in the process of hiring a new science teacher. Mr. Kelvin will, in all likelihood, be placed in another school by TFA. I can't go into all the drama here, but basically, in order to create more balanced teams of experienced/inexperienced teachers, we decided to move two of our newer teachers to different grade levels next year, though obviously keeping them within their subject areas. This was unpopular, as they want a second year teaching the same thing. Understandable, but it makes NO SENSE to put all your experienced teachers on one team and all your new teachers on another. The problem is, technically the move is outside their licenses due to grade level. So, one of them complained to TFA, and although he qualifies for an extension to teach more grade levels, the other teacher doesn't. Basically, the teacher who complained is still going to be moved to a new grade but he will take the CST and get his extension, while the other teacher, Mr. Kelvin, will be placed elsewhere by TFA, because they refuse to allow him to teach outside his license. TFA probably would not have known until it was too late for them to object, had his friend not brought it up... anyway, they made that bed, now they are going to have to sleep in it. I feel kind of crappy about how it all went down, although I also think this is best for our school and our children in the long run.

As of today, we had to fill that spot, and quickly. Luckily, one of our other new teachers knew of a good science teacher from her old school who was looking for a new job. We called her, she came for an interview, she seems like an incredibly good fit, and now it's just a question of her principal releasing her. That could be politically tricky, as we already hired two teachers from that school, but each of those teachers found us on their own. Still, it's not for certain until the principal signs the paper.

*****

In other news, our colleague who was in the hospital is doing much better, and will be leaving for Texas for out-patient rehab in a week or so. He can walk, talk, remember everything, and is nearly back to normal (except for the missing pieces of his skull, which they will eventually put back).

*****

Check out these two articles from the AFT's magazine, American Educator

Ask The Cognitive Scientist Okay, so we all know that some kids are visual learners, others are kinesthetic learners, and others are auditory learners. Right? Well, kind of. This article says that while differences in learning style do exist, they aren't necessarily that important for learning most kinds of information. Furthermore, material should be taught in the format most appropriate for that type of content, not in the format geared for the type of learner. What does this mean? Well, teachers can stop including contrived ways of hitting all the learning styles in their lesson plans, and can focus on developing the best possible way of teaching a particular topic.

We have seen that the mind uses different representations to store different types of information and that these representations are poor substitutes for one another. That indicates that teachers should indeed think about the modality in which they present material, but their goal should be to find the content’s best modality, not to search (in vain) for the students’ best modality. If the teacher wants students to learn and remember what something looks like, then the presentation should be visual. For example, if students are to appreciate the appearance of a Mayan pyramid, it would be much more effective to view a picture than to hear a verbal description.


I think this article is a breath of fresh air. I have long suspected that just because you touch something or move doesn't mean that (a) you've learned the actual material or (b) a kinesthetic learner will learn that material better. Kinesthetic learning is the creation of muscle memory - great for learning to ride a bike or maybe use a new piece of equipment efficiently. I also find many of the activities included in lesson plans to target each type of learner are really forced and seem to have minimal value in actually conveying new information or ideas. I'd be curious to know what YOU think, so go check out the article.

Exploring the Summer Activity Gap A disheartening article about the ways that kids from different income brackets spend their summers, and how that affects their achievement.

*****

I read a terrific book about grading; will post on that later tonight or tomorrow.

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