Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Child Struggles in School: Where Does the Problem Lie?

In a conversation recently with a caring, conscientious teacher, she commented that she had success working with struggling learners and helping to make them feel smart.

But when they got to the next grade and perhaps had a teacher that wasn't as effective at reaching those children, or perhaps thought there was a pace for learning and students should stick to it, or perhaps simply saw the onus for learning as being on the student, the students really struggled again.

She worried that perhaps she had led those students to have an unrealistic view of themselves by not being more up front with them about being struggling learners. She wondered, despite her success helping those students to learn, to feel successful, and to feel smart, if she shouldn't be more direct with them about being struggling learners, to prepare them for possible pain and disappointment later.

And I caught myself wondering, is the problem that each child isn't where the school is in the curriculum?

Or is the problem that the school isn't where the child is in the curriculum?


We Must Invest in Our Early Learners

Throughout my career as an educator, most of the initiatives, opportunities, and concerns about public education seem to have focused on the upper grades, on high school.

And yet, if we want the biggest bang for our buck, the largest return on investment, it is the opposite end of the spectrum we should be focusing on. We need to be putting our education dollars behind pre-school and early childhood education.

And business owners know its true! Watch this video from the Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG):

Three of the MELIG's key members are retired high ranking military officers: retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Earl Adams, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Ralph Leonard, and retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carmichael.

MELIG also commissioned UMaine Economics Professor Philip Trostel’s Independent Cost-Benefit Analysis of Early Childhood Investments in Maine. The summary of the independent analysis suggests that costs for early childhood education programs would be recovered by the time a student was 14, and over the life of the child and into adulthood would continue to offer a 7.5% return on investment.


Valentines Day: Showing Love and Care of Others via Technology

The bad things kids (and adults, too) do with technology seem to get a ton of press. Kids “hacking” their school devices, playing games instead of doing learning activities, going to inappropriate sites, intentionally damaging equipment…

Platform for Good blog

So it was quite refreshing to find a post called “14 Ways People Showed Love Online This Year” (but, then again, what would you expect from a blog called A Platform For Good?!).

Besides, it's Valentines Day, and it's nice to remember that love isn't reserved for our partners and our families, but is also represented by how we show care for others.

So take a few minutes to explore this article.

And maybe think about:

  • How might we shift focus in the public from kids being bad (especially with technology), to how they can also be very, very good?
  • How do these examples give us ideas for our own classrooms?
  • How can we engage students in academic content, while they get to contribute to something they find to be of social significance?
  • How else might we leverage technology to show love and care for others?

Happy Valentines Day!


The Problem With Grades Based on Averages

Our district is working towards customized learning, which includes changes in school structures to allow students flexibility of pace and approach to learning, demonstrating proficiency in a progression of learning targets, within an environment that keeps kids interested in coming back to learn each day.

During a conversation at our School Committee meeting this evening, about why high school students had gaps in their learning, our high school principal suggested it was because of our inefficient system of basing grades on averages. He provided an analogy for why schools should move away from averaged grades and toward a proficiency based system. (Which, in my opinion, was one of the best explanations I've heard of why we need to change that.)

His example:

Imagine taking your car to be inspected. It comes out from the inspection with a new sticker, and the mechanic tells you, “Your lights work great, and your blinkers work great, and your tires are in good shape. But your breaks don't work. But when we averaged the performance of each component, you passed.”

iPads, Digital Badges, and Professional Development – Our New Project

Auburn Schools is starting a new project: the Distributed PD Project, working to support teachers leveraging iPads for teaching and learning. The project includes establishing a professional learning curriculum, modules to delver that curriculum and Digital Badges to acknowledge and document learning.

This video provides an overview: