Blogs on All Grades

Blogs on All GradesRSS

For the last ten years, we've worked one-on-one with students from elementary school through graduate school. No matter their age, no matter the material, when you ask what they're struggling with, students almost universally name a subject: "math," "English" or, in some instances, "school." Doubting that all of school is the issue, we then ask to see their last test. After some grumbling, the student digs down, deep into the dark, dank recesses of his or her backpack, and pulls out a balled-up, lunch-stained paper that, once smoothed out, turns out to be the latest exam.

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Chris Hare, PMP, CSMMarch 19, 2014

This question -- "Mom, what is project management?" -- was posed to me by one of my sons last year. It's a simple query, but crafting the answer to accommodate a child's lens of my career was a bit more challenging. So here was my response:

"It's the profession of planning, organizing and managing many things, including people and projects, for example."

A follow-up question by my other son within earshot was, naturally, "What's a project?"

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Ben JohnsonMarch 19, 2014

After a hard day of teaching, I often plop down on my desk chair at home and gaze up at a framed drawing hanging on the wall above my desk that a dear friend of mine gave me. It is a detailed depiction of a pair of wood ducks serenely floating on a calm pond. One of the ducks is male that has brightly colored feathers and beak; the other is female that is plain gray and nondescript. Yet both are at peace and comfortable with each other.

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Elena AguilarMarch 18, 2014

During the month of March, in many educational settings, women's history is addressed. Images of famous female leaders are pulled out to decorate walls; special assemblies are held; picture books are read; girl power is acknowledged and celebrated. This is all good, but there are some next steps that educators (both men and women) need to take if we're going to truly empower girls and set them up for leadership roles. We need to offer expanded definitions of leadership, take on the "Lean In" vs. "Recline" debate, and walk the talk.

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Josh WorkMarch 18, 2014

After participating in an exciting webinar on Libraries, Technology, and Implementing Common Core provided by AASL, I began to think about how the role of the school-based media specialist is evolving. The implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and rapid integration of technology in schools around the country has created a shift in instructional design and practice. I have found the most valuable school-based resource for brainstorming, discussing, planning and implementing anything to do with technology has been my school's media specialist. Following are a few ways that your media specialist could help you, and how the CCSS has impacted their roles.

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Stacey GoodmanMarch 18, 2014

Recently, I showed a group of students in my high school art class a film called Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink), about a seven-year-old boy named Ludovic who identifies as female. Ludovic has an active imagination, but is bullied by both adults and other kids who are unnerved by his desire to wear dresses and play with dolls. The film challenged my students to broaden their understanding of gender and identity and led to a discussion about ways in which our imaginations are limited when we are forced to be who we are not. It also reminded me of other examples in which character is forced to choose an identity, such as the movie Divergent, based on the popular trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth.

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Judy Willis MDMarch 17, 2014

If we hope to construct enduring understanding in our students, it's critical that, now more than ever, we know their strengths and interests. By incorporating students' strengths and weakness into authentic learning experiences from the beginning of each unit, while at the same time including opportunities for feedback, metacognition and revision, we promote a variety of cognitive and emotional benefits that can lead to academic success.

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Everyone is abuzz about a new short film called The Science of Character, which explores the research behind character development and encourages us to focus on our character strengths for greater personal and community well-being. I've featured a trailer for the film below, and then chosen one video for each of the seven highly predictive character strengths distilled by KIPP schools, in partnership with grit researcher Angela Duckworth, and psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson (authors of the groundbreaking book Character Strengths and Virtues). I hope these videos will inspire you to celebrate #CharacterDay on March 20th, and to think about the importance of character every day!

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Ben JohnsonMarch 14, 2014

I was reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley and couldn't help wondering what our schools would be like today if we were forced to teach without the technology (including copy machines). She describes three school settings in South Korea, Finland and Poland as being devoid of the technology U.S. teachers take for granted, and how, especially in math and science, their best students outperform our best students by a wide margin. I agree with the premise of her book: good teaching and high expectations make the difference, and technology is icing on the cake. My concern is that we are at a point where our students spend more time using technology and less time actually learning.

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Nicholas ProvenzanoMarch 13, 2014

Forgive the pun in the title of this post, but I couldn't help myself. The temperatures are starting to rise, and teachers need to shake off the winter weariness to make it through to the end of the school year. I've got some great tips on how you can inject some much-needed energy into your teaching and end each day with a smile on your face.

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