Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 14

Welcome to the fourteenth edition of The Carnival Of Education. Here we have assembled a variety of interesting and informative posts from around the EduSphere that have been submitted by various authors and readers. As with other editions, those entries that were selected by us appear at the bottom of the page. We believe that this collection represents a wide spectrum of topics, political/educational viewpoints, and writing styles.

As always, the secret for having a well-attended Carnival is publicity. Please consider helping to spread the word. The more folks that know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will "drop-in" and visit the midway. Trackbacks, links, and general advertising are all appreciated by the editors as well as the participants.

The guest host of the Carnival's next road trip will be announced next week.

An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the fifteenth edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive your contributions no later than 10:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, May 17, 2005. The Carnival midway will open here at the 'Wonks next Wednesday morning. Get our easy-to-follow entry guidelines here.

And now...let's take a stroll down the carnival midway...

How does one measure good instruction? Is it a series of planned acts, like bypass surgery? Or is it like woodworking--a craft unmeasurable without knowing the endproduct? Measuring good instruction is one of the most challenging tasks confronting educators today. In a two-parter, last week's Carnival host Jenny D. considers some of the possibilities. See part I here, and part II over there.

The always controversial topic of merit pay for teachers is the topic addressed
in a well-reasoned post over at A Constrained Vision. Katie takes a look at the various types of merit pay proposals that are currently being discussed among educators, as well as the pros and cons of each. Whether educator or parent, beginner or policy wonk, there is something for everyone in this post.

It is said that no good deed goes unpunished. The Democracy Project is telling us the story of Larry Neace, a popular high school physics teacher in Dacula, Georgia, who was fired from his teaching post. In spite of his outstanding record, Mr. Neace was dismissed because he marked-down the grade of a star student athlete
who went to sleep in his class. (We hope that the Gwinette County Board of Education will reconsider their decision. This is no way to reward a teacher's 26 years of service.)

The State of Connecticut's disagreement with the Federal Department of Education over provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act is one of the most talked-about topics in public education today. NO is a site that is written by Jack "F," who is a classroom teacher in Juneau, Alaska. This week, Jack
is telling us about the struggle between Connecticut's Attorney General Betty Sternberg and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

Merit pay and teacher tenure are also on the mind of Darren, over at Right on the Left Coast. A California classroom teacher, Darren supports the idea of merit pay. Having said that, Darren asserts that in his efforts to hit the teachers union, Governor Schwarzenegger
missed and hit the teachers instead when it comes to teacher tenure. (Darren makes the first reference to Garrison Keiler's Lake Woebegon that I've seen in the EduSphere.)

The end of the school year is always hectic. Even though she is working on her master's degree, Girlontheescape is also teaching six classes! And she's maintaining her site, Se Hace Camino al Andar. This week, she gives us
a peek at her very busy schedule. Check out her photo of an excellent introductory activity that she did with her students!

A study has concluded that less than half of all seventh grade students are capable of correctly converting one-fifth into a decimal. Sound familiar? We are sure that this was shocking news when the study was published in 1923. (The more things change...) Chris Correa shows us a New York Times article from that year about
an innovative [in 1923] math program that reflected the thoughts of John Dewey. Here is a sample:
In this method arithmetic becomes the handmaiden of other studies. One leads to another. In the seventh year fine art class, geometry comes to the aid of the children working at design in baskets and bowls. In hygiene the children have tables giving their actual weight and the normal weights for their years. With what they have learned in arithmetic classes they chart these facts into tables and graphs.
Pioneering educator John Dewey's ideas remain as influential today as they were at the beginning of the last century.

What happens when an inner-city high school teacher invites his students to invent their own endings to an otherwise dull play about the Underground Railroad? (See today's banner quote.) Mr. Babylon
took that risk and got some very unpredictable results. In one class, only four students in managed to turn-in anything at all. Don't miss the "script" that Mr. "B" has transcribed. (Would someone please tell me how teachers can possibly be held accountable under NCLB when "students" like these refuse to even attempt the work?)

There are useful teaching workshops, and then there are those workshops that are a complete waste of one's valuable weekend. Last Saturday, Polski3
was lucky enough to attend the first kind and shares a couple of teaching "tips." And the name of the workshop? Rules of Engagement: Winning the War on Student Apathy.

There have been a number of recent instances where people have claimed to be victims of "hate crimes," only to have their claims later proven to be fraudulent. Over at Spunkyhomeschool, Spunky tells us about how local authorities indicated that
vandalism committed against her family's home was not a hate crime even though anti-Christian slurs and symbols were spray-painted everywhere. An officer told Spunky that only certain minority groups and religions qualified under the rules for hate crimes... In a related post, Spunky shows us a hate-crime-in-progress.

Suppose it is the future - maybe a thousand years from now. There is no static cling, diapers change themselves, and everyone who is anyone summers on Mars. Sounds good? Or maybe the denizens of the future would rather visit us here in (their) archaic past. Rhymes with Right
has written a post that let's us in on the first (and only?) convention for time travelers.

Is Big Brother watching you? Janet is a primary school teacher in New Jersey. Her site, The Art of Getting By, gives us a great first-hand account about her state's annual standardized assessment and an "I.Q. Test." Here is a taste:

Let me just say I dread the time of score getting. I dreaded it as a child and I knew I'd dread it now. I dread it, because I feel for those kids. I know we tell our kids to try their best and that's all we ask, but big brother is watching more closely than you and I will ever know.
We hope that it's springtime in Snow Lake, Manitoba, which is the home of teacher Clarence "F" who writes over at Remote Access. This week, Clarence pleasantly surprises us with a couple of websites for kids that feature (free) games that actually have some educational value. (One of these sites, hotwheels [dot] com takes us down memory lane.)

As bloggers, anytime someone has news regarding The Fair Use provisions of the Copyright Laws, we ought to
give that person our closest attention. Assorted Stuff has brought us the cheering news that a federal judge has made a decision that continues to protect our rights and our privacy. (Now if we can just keep Congress from prying...)

Dan "M" is very concerned that his district no longer has the best interests of students at heart. His site, A History Teacher, is reporting that the district is actually
getting in the way of his teaching. Worse, Dan is contemplating a change in districts or even leaving the teaching craft altogether. (As a California teacher myself, I know that changing districts can be a very expensive proposition, due to loss of seniority.)

We get excited whenever we learn of a post about student-written weblogs! Bright Mystery has submitted
a comprehensive post that shows what an effective student-written blog should be, as well as what they should not. (Sadly, the EdWonks' school district doesn't allow school-sponsored student blogs, and, in fact will not allow any "blogger" site [such as this one] to be displayed at my campus.)

One would think that school textbooks would be checked for accuracy. But this is not the case. At What It's Like on the Inside,
they are giving us the skinny on the fact that many of today's science textbooks are full of factual errors. (As a history teacher, I've found plenty in our texts.) One science book even has the Earth revolving around the Sun in the wrong direction!

Dave Shearon
has a hilarious post that uses Sam Cooke's classic song "Wonderful World" (Don't know much about history... Lyrics here) as a prescription for educational reform. Don't forget to take Dave's educational Poll!

What happens when a lower-level employee arbitrarily changes the dates from A.D. to C.E. on a large number of high school diplomas? Interested Participant
is telling us that when Louisiana Education Superintendent Cecil Picard discovered that a change had been made to the official high school diploma without his authorization, he ordered them to be recalled and destroyed. (All 53,000 of 'em!)

Isn't it great when public education supports the performing arts? Mark Lerner
is reporting the latest from the William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts as the school winds-up its inaugural year. Among the activities: a faculty performance, ribbon cutting ceremony, carnival, and evening party. (Wouldn't it be nice if all schools had this kind of community support? But I think that it's leadership's job to both lead and inspire. Educational leaders should go out into the community and grab the support.)

Thousands of people pay thousands of dollars in order to take courses that promise to improve one's score on a standardized test or professional certification examination. Multiple Mentality is warning us about
an expensive scam that has fleeced some 300,000 persons with an ineffective preparation scheme for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and Bar Examinations.

Another source of long-term controversy among educators has been that of sex ed. At Stop The Blackmail!, a the author, (who is a parent) makes an interesting proposal: Why not
remove sex education from the schools altogether and put it back into the hands of parents?

I think that just about everyone can agree that an educated citizenry are the best guardians of any democratic system. Over at up Going to the Mat, they are
bringing to our attention the alarming news that students in New York City don't know their social studies.

And now for some entries that were selected by the Editors:

Every k-12 school teacher should consider taking a look at
an outstanding post written by Ms. Frizzle, who is a junior high school science teacher in New York City's Bronx. Whether you are an education student, beginning teacher, or veteran teacher, (such as myself) Ms. Frizzle gives some lesson planning tips that most of us could learn from.

For all of those teachers (like myself) whose Districts did little or nothing in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week or National Day of the Teacher, the classroom teacher who writes over at A Series of Inconsequential Events
has written a post for you. (We hope that administrators and parents who read this will remember that it's teachers who often exert the most positive influence in their students' lives.)

Number 2 Pencil is telling us about
the bizarre case of University of Delaware student Frank Tenteromano. This student got caught cheating on a quiz in his Business Ethics class and was suspended. Invoking what we at the 'Wonks have come to term as "The Universal Response," this individual filed a lawsuit demanding reinstatement. Tenteromano alleges that he was not cheating because he did not know that he was taking a quiz!

Joanne Jacobs
has a great take on the controversy surrounding those error-filled science textbooks as well as the general "dumbing down" of science curriculum. And it's not just happening here in the United States, but in Britain as well!

Finally, here at The Education Wonks,
we offer our thoughts on intrigue and intolerance at Rhode Island's Roger Williams University. This particular instance involves the following: V-Day, The Vagina Monologues, P-Day, The Penis Monologues, a large, friendly male character named Testacles, and a very flustered University Provost named Edward J. Kavanagh.
Carnival Archives

The first edition can be seen here, the second here, the third, here, the fourth, here, and the fifth, here, the sixth, here, the seventh, here the eighth, here the ninth, here the tenth, here the eleventh here the twelfth here, and the thirteenth, over there. To get to EdWonk's main page, (with a variety of education-related posts) please click here.