Diane Ravitch Speaks out on Common Core: the history and its implications

This article is too important not to share:

Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch, written by Valerie Strauss and published in the Washington Post

Diane Ravitch

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

 

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Technology Think Tank: EDMODO– a Communication Hub for Education

TTT Edmodo logo

Are you looking for a communication hub for your students/classes/teachers? Edmodo, a free website, also available as IPhone/ IPad app and a Google Play app, simulates a Facebook-look for education. Several teachers in my district are using Edmodo to connect with students, other teachers (in our own building to as far as around the globe) and parents (if desired).

TTT ED 1 Benefits copy

Because the look and concept resembles Facebook, it appears familiar and user friendly almost immediately.

TTT Ed POSTER Communication copy

Unlike FB, it’s as private as you want it to be. You can restrict it to a class or even a group of individuals, so privacy is not a concern.

TTT ED 1 USES

Teacher sharing: teachers can pose questions, post ideas, link to other professionals in any discipline from any district (from within the US and overseas).

TTT ED POSTER Collage copy

Establish classes: with a unique class code, students could sign into a class page where students

  1. Receive notifications on their smart devices as assignments are added or notes/ alerts such as a message you want to get out to one class or several classes
  2. Find linked assignments, complete w/ due dates and directions.
  3. Upload assignments for grading
  4. Confer with friends from their class individually or on a group basis
  5. Engage in a class/group discussion not unlike a blog
  6. Take a quiz
  7. View their grades for Edmodo assignments to track their progress
  8. Take a poll
  9. Receive badges for goals accomplished

TTT ED POSTER Discussion

Create groups within a class: for group assignments, the teacher can set up groups within a class as a hub to store files, send messages or have a dialogue with other group members.

Post student work for reference or to share with other classes or absent students in the form of images or links. 

TTT Ed Student Work

Establish a class calendar for viewing as a planner for teacher & students. 

Maintain a library of assignments added and those saved from other teachers. Organizational capabilities include establishing folders within classes. 

Enable a parent feature, so parents could check their children’s assignments. 

Promote discovery of other lessons, research, applications, and connections with other teachers. 

Grade and track students’ progress. Portability allows me to grade from my IPad! 

Download educational apps, like SUBTEXT(which I will feature in a later blog) for free and purchase.

TTT ED 1 Drawbacks copyNot all of the features on the website are available on the apps. For instance, when I want to add an assignment, I always do so from the website. 

There is a lot to it, so I’ve basically had to teach myself (it’s extremely user friendly), as there isn’t anyone on-site who is an “expert.” Several of us have adopted its use and share findings as we stumble upon them. 

Edmodo-specific apps are unique to the IPad (tablet), so you need a class set of IPads (tablets) to utilize some of them.

Give it a try! And please, provide some feedback if you do. Additionally, I’d like to hear from any of you who have used EDMODO (successfully or otherwise) and please share any other communication hubs you do or do not recommend. Thanks.

Think Tank Poster copy

 If you found this helpful, please LIKE this post. And stay tuned for more Technology Think Tank posts!

Talking the Talk: Professional Book Club

It’s been made fun of, in jest– I’m presuming– but YES I belong to a “professional” book club, which means we (a group of teachers from the middle school and high school) choose a book with an educational topic, read it w/in a month or so, then meet to discuss it at one of the teacher’s homes over cocktails and appetizers.

tony danza book

This month’s selection was Tony Danza’s I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had, in which Danza share’s his experiences teaching one course of English at an inner city Philedelphia school for one year that is being taped for an A&E reality show Teach: Tony Danza. While Danza admits the show didn’t meet with success, primarily due to his conviction NOT to make a drama out of the lives of his students. He vehemently fought with producers who wanted to “stage” certain events for a television audience, something that Danza refused again and again. I gained a lot of respect for Danza, who had wanted to be a teacher before falling into the acting business, as he takes the job seriously and becomes quite empathetic as well as creative in trying to reach these students. What struck me most was that here is a virtual outsider to the teaching profession, and in the midst of all of this criticism of teachers and unions and education, in general, as of late, he goes into this school– from an objective standpoint– and sees what we see on a daily basis times six. I only wish the legislators who were making the decisions about the direction of education would put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, and do one fraction of what Danza did before putting their uninformed practices and philosophies about education in ink.

Rose book

During our book talk, I’m reminded of Mike Rose’s Lives on the Boundary, a teacher who takes illiterate, intellectually deficient, inner city kids and transforms them into students who are motivated to learn by making them part of the conversation.

conversation

The word CONVERSATION being the key to education. “A good education helps us make sense of the world and find our way in it,” says Rose, something I’m a huge proponent of. How is this achieved? By reading (various texts), listening to and sharing with others, by experiencing, by making connections across texts and personal, educational and environmental experiences. We need the conversation: between students and their peers, between teacher and students, between teachers and their colleagues, between administrations and teachers, between politicians and administrators and teachers, between parents and teachers, between parents and students, and so on and so on. Somewhere along the way, communication/conversation has been lost. Even Danza states, “Students retain ideas best through discussion.” We’re so caught up in the red tape and statistics, common this and common that, standardized tests and data driven instruction, that we’ve lost what is at our very core.

While we began this journey (the “professional” book club) as an effort to bridge the gap between middle school and high school teachers, we’ve found that, fundamentally, we are not so different from one another as we originally thought. Inherently, we have the same goals for our students and ourselves. This has become as much a personal journey as it is a professional one. Out of our own time, because we care, we take the time to talk the talk about making this profession a better one. Our conversation always begins with the book as the focus, then moves into threads of topics that stem from the ideas discussed in the book– student issues, climate issues, pedagogical issues. Together/ collaboratively, we are better in sorting out the issues we face than we would be by just ourselves. To me, this is a microcosm of what is NOT happening in education and needs to be.