Thursday, July 29, 2010

NCLB changes!

I was very excited last night when I got a request from Fair Test to contact my congress person about NCLB (No Child Left Behind) changes. I have been waiting for some organization to help me focus my frustration and make a difference in this cause.

I feel torn. On the one hand, I want kids to have more skills than they often end up with from their schooling. On the other hand, testing doesn't seem to me to be the best way to get there. The tests being given in Minnesota are long, boring, way too difficult, and have actually increased the dropout rate. That's not the direction we should be going!

I will be looking at the recommendations on Fair Test website- let me know what you think. The recommendations are here:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Innovation is hiding all over the place!

I was very impressed with stories from Summer Institute. There are lots of cool, innovative teachers out there making a difference in kids' lives! I'm glad to have met them, and I hope to continue the dialogue as years go by. Project based learning is a great addition to the world, and EdVisions has made some wonderful contributions.

I was reminded that I really want to recognize and honor all kinds of activities, and not just things that look like "work". Just as much of the best learning happens during informal sessions at conferences, so does much of student learning happen informally, when kids are chatting or surfing web pages. In fact, one student said "this project started because I was off task" and it was a very cool learning experience.

I truly wish there were people in Minnesota interested in starting a democratic school with no requirements except attendance and following the school rules. These schools recognize all these different types of learning. That would add one more choice for Minnesota families.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sharing our stories

I'm presenting at a summer institute next week. I'm not one of those people who is good at lecturing- especially to adults, whose needs I have trouble reading (kids are easier- you can tell in a second when they are bored or confused!).

My goal is to find ways for us to share success (and failure) stories so we can get help from each other. I lke making solid connections with other people, where we are peers and become empathic and caring toward each other. Then we aren't as worried about impressing people or looking stupid as we are about just assisting each other to the best of our ability.

I know this goes against the grain of an "institute", but hopefully the spirit can come through even a different format. Wish me luck!