Burning Questions from Teachers: Meet Our Realities, Mr. Duncan

Burning Questions from Teachers: Meet Our Realities, Mr. Duncan

Here is a blog that offers questions to US Secretary of Education. These questions, I believe, are exactly what we should be asking. The focus is right where it should be.

A sample from the blog:
• How can we trust you if you support merit pay based on student achievement and charter schools that undermine public education? You said recently that a child who has a good teacher for three years has scores that show it. If a child has a bad teacher for three years, the scores show it. What about that child’s home life? Do they go to bed hungry? Do they live in fear? Who are you to determine if a teacher is bad or good. You have never been a classroom teacher. You do not know the realities we face in the classroom every day.

•Research correlates economic status and nutrition to school achievement, much more so than teacher performance. How are we meeting the fundamental needs of our children first and foremost so that they are physically prepared to meet our academic standards. Teachers can teach children who are safe, well fed and rested. Teachers should not have to focus on these factors when they enter the classroom, but many go above and beyond to meet these needs of their learners since their professional performance is judged solely on test scores.

•If funding is linked to test scores, and high performing schools are rewarded, how can The Secretary of Education justify further neglect of the schools that need the most aid?

An interesting read.

Sushi & 6th Graders

“Can we go to real lunch now?” My students asked.

It was spring and my sixth graders had studied Japanese history and culture. Trying to bring some authenticity to my classroom, I asked the owner of the nearby sushi restaurant to make samples for my students.

The next morning, just before lunch, my sixth graders sat in a circle on the classroom floor, their handmade tatami mats in front of them, shoes off, desks pushed against the wall and classmade scrolls with haiku lining the walls.

Our Vice Principal walked into the room carrying a platter she had just picked up from the sushi restaurant. “Lunch is here,” she announced.

Excitedly, the students looked up as we placed one sushi roll on each student’s plate. The boys picked up their pieces with their chopsticks, bit into their rolls and announced, “Blech”. The girls tentatively took small nibbles from their sushi rolls perched in between the chopsticks. Everyone downed cups of tea.

“Sure, go to lunch,” I said laughing.

Funny thing, I don’t like sushi either.

Free DVD from History Channel-America The Story of Us

Here’s the info. taken from their website:


America The Story of US — premiering on HISTORY™ April 25 at 9pm/8c — is a six week event that provides a fascinating look at the stories of the people, events, and innovations that forged our nation. It will provide you with an unprecedented opportunity to bring our nation’s history to life for your students. This 12-hour series will be supported by educational materials tied to curriculum standards and is copyright cleared for Fair Use in the classroom by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities.
* HISTORY is offering America The Story of US on DVD to every school in the United States. School must be an accredited public, private or home school, grades K-12 and college. In order to receive your school’s DVD, your school principal (grades K-12) or Dean of Students (college) should fill out the request form below. HISTORY strictly limits each school to one request. DVD requests must be made prior to July 1, 2010. DVDs will be mailed around August 2010, and free shipping is included in this offer.

C-SPAN Educator Conference

My favorite non-profit is at it again!

C-SPAN Classroom’s 2010 Summer Educators’ Conference July 12-13 in Washington, DC.

Twenty-five lucky teachers (6-12 grades) will be at C-SPAN’s headquarters in the heart of Washington, DC.

Airfare to Washington, two nights’ hotel stay (July 11 and July 12) and meals during the conference will be provided by C-SPAN (and registration is free!).

For more information go to their website. The application link is here too.


Apply! Go! Say Hi to Joanne Wheeler for me!

3×5 Cards and Elizabeth Green

In the recesses of my closets and my storage unit, I have my teaching boxes. I know you all have them; boxes of art supplies, books, math manipulatives, holiday/cultural exhibits, rock collections, etc. Well, I was searching through the boxes that held files, mostly files of former student work, but I came across a few 3×5 cards. I had 3×5 cards for every student where I wrote down dates and times of disruptive behavior.

Here are the highlights from 1992 from a student I’ll call “Elizabeth”.

Elizabeth Green
9/16 12:45 Fighting with Melissa in line
1:05 Drawing when told to put it away
2:15 Pulling arms into t-shirt and pulling t-shirt over her head
9/17 9:05 Running in the library
9:20 Running again after being told not to by librarian
9/21 10:05 Brought video game to school causing problems during Computer Lab
12:50 Gluing paper to her forehead
2:00 Walking around room with paint on a paper, dangling it in front of her and in other student’s faces.
2:30 Putting torn up paper bits on Derrick’s head.

Then another card for Elizabeth:

10/7 11:30 Kicking legs of desk
11:55 Stabbing George with a pencil and giving answers to assignment to Derrick
10/15 8:40 crumpling paper while I was giving directions
2:25 Drew with pen on Derrick’s back
10/19 11:15 Calling Ricardo “Stupid”
1:15 Playing with ruler trying to hit Mark
1:40 Threw Crayon across the room

There are more, but at this point, I’m wondering whatever happened to Elizabeth Green?

Oh, wait, there’s a letter I wrote to her parents also. Now I remember – they didn’t believe their daughter could do anything wrong. I had to turn copies of these into my Principal.