Here is an incredible open source, free link.  If you teach Math, Science, Humanities, work with test prep or have your own high school student this is a fabulous site to pass on.  If students have Facebook or Google accounts they can access the exercises that are in a game format.  It is pretty extensive and very impressive. Check it Khan Academy (at home or on your smart phone).

A teacher friend sent me a link to Quizlet.  I’ve been using ever since.   According to its website:

Quizlet is the largest flash cards and study games website with over 2.5 million FREE sets of flashcards covering every possible subject. It’s the best place to play educational games, memorize vocabulary and study online.

Check out the Vocabulary Instruction  page for more resources and strategies!

Have a good weekend!

The McKinsey & Company released a report titled “Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching.”  I’ll summarize the findings of the report:

  • The most effective factor in an effective school is the teacher – Duh.
  • The U.S. doesn’t have a systematic or strategic policy in place to attract and retain top-tier teachers.
  • Reform efforts, i.e. Race to the Top, focus (almost exclusively) on current teachers and their effectiveness, giving very little attention to recruiting future top teachers with strong academic backgrounds.
  • Singapore, Finland, and South Korea recruit 100% of their teachers from the top 1/3 of graduating classes compared to U.S. that recruits 23% from the top 1/3 (and 14% for high poverty schools).
  • Makes the assumption that top-tier teachers have a strong influence on student / school achievement

What best practices to recruit and retain top-tier teachers can we learn from other countries with high performing school systems?  The report detailed a few findings:

  • Admissions to their rigorous teacher education programs is highly selective
  • Some governments pay tuition, fees, and stipend for those selected – NICE!
  • Admissions monitors the market place, taking in less applicants as the job market tightens.  The benefit is increased job security.
  • More $$$ for teacher salaries
  • Increased opportunities for advancement and professional growth

What are your thoughts?

Teaching is a demanding profession.  The perception that teachers work only 6 hours a day and have plenty of time off is NOT REALITY.  Teachers pour our hearts, souls, and, sometimes, our whole lives into educating our future.  Teaching can quickly become all-time consuming.  We can find ourselves (over) committed to school committees, coaching, assisting at sporting events, running after-school clubs, chaperoning dances, tutoring, advocating for education reform, reaching out to parents, participating in professional development, and so on.

Beginning teachers, for numerous reasons, want to get involved at school, drenching themselves in the school culture and all that comes with it.  Be careful novice teacher.  There is a balance that we all must find between our personal and professional lives, and this balance is different for each of us.  My advice is to take time for yourself and family, relax a bit, and reflect what your balance is.  Achieving balance among all aspects of your life: family, friends, love, hobbies, etc., is a struggle, but worthwhile.  Having a centered life will sustain you for the long-term, avoiding being burned-out or having troubles at home.  Ultimately, this balance will lead you to be a more effective teacher based on the premise that our personal and professional lives are – at a basic level – interwoven and trouble in one area will eventually affect other parts of our life.

Remember in these hectic days of September and October to keep perspective and acknowledge that it’s okay to put yourself first.

Google Alerts can be a useful tool for current teachers and job seekers.  Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

Some handy uses of Google Alerts includes:

  • monitoring current on education initiatives, trends, and reform, and
  • keeping tabs on your school or schools (districts) that you would like to work in.  Knowing this information may give you an advantage over another job applicant.

Go to http://www.google.com/alerts to sign-up.

Few subjects get teachers fired up more than discussing homework policy.  Should you give homework?  How much?  How often?  Should parents be involved?  What about late penalties?

Here’s a good post on teachers’ perceptions of homework.

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/2010/07/fair_and_unbalanced.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+TeacherInAStrangeLand+(Teacher+in+a+Strange+Land)

This is a must see video: http://www.acslaw.org/node/16387.  Cory Booker’s message is a good reminder that we have a noble responsibility that is greater than ourselves.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, during the final event at the 2010 ACS National Convention, gave a passionate, personal call for all Americans to do something to advance equality, making the nation a more caring one.

America is a great nation that has seen many dispiriting and disastrous periods, but we should all strive to create a fairer and more just country for all individuals, Booker said.

He described the struggle of his parents in the late 1960s to purchase a home in New Jersey. Realtors attempted to block the family’s efforts, arguing that allowing an African American family to move into a New Jersey neighborhood would destroy the place. His family, with the help of young activist lawyers, was eventually able to move into the New Jersey town. “As our father affectionately called us, the four raisins in a tub of vanilla ice cream,” Booker noted.

“And this is how I grew up – in an affluent, at that time, all white town in northern New Jersey,” Booker said. “And I sat around a table where pictures of Thurgood Marshall were apparent in my house. Where the poetry of Langston Hughes filled my ears as bedtime stories, where busts of presidents like John F. Kennedy sat there watching me eat my eggs in the morning.

“But yet my parents made it very clear to my brother and me every single day – you did not get here on your own,” Booker continued. “‘All the privilege that you have young man was paid for by someone else, you drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty that you did not dig. You eat lavishly from banquet tables that were prepared for you by your ancestors. You have an obligation; you have a burden – a righteous, glorious burden, because this nation is not finished. We have so much work to do. So this was the charge of my brothers and my life.'”

Mayor Booker said that the more he ventured out into the world, the more he realized his parents were right.

“That we were living in a world that has come so far, but yet is still is so short of what we say to our kids – like a chorus to our conscience in schools from east to west – stand up and declare that we are one nation …. ” He continued, “But that we are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all — for all. But I could take you to classrooms no less than five miles apart and you could see that is just not true yet.”

Booker urged the gathering of law students, lawyers, activists, academics and others in the grand ballroom of Washington’s Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, to not lose hope and to strive to achieve equality for all.

Last month signaled a milestone; we had 8,455 visitors for June.  This is up 25% from last year!

Thanks for spreading the word.

I bunkered down in the elementary school library to catch up on some reading.  Shortly thereafter a veteran teacher guided a young student to a table and chair about 20 feet from me.  I continued to read, but listened to the student – teacher exchange.  The student was learning about math, receiving remediation during summer school.  The student looked up to the teacher- eyes wide open – and excitedly inquired: “Wow.  How many books do you think are in here?”  The teacher responded, “Not sure.  Start your math worksheet.  Hang tight and I’ll be back.”  The student exhaled and just stared at the worksheet.

What happened?  Teacher, you missed a fantastic opportunity  to engage the student in the world of math.  Why didn’t you launch an investigation based on the students’ inquiry?  You could’ve incorporated exactly what the student was learning in meaningful way, assisting the student in unraveling the importance of number sense (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and estimation).  You missed the beauty of taking a real-life problem, and then COACHING the student through PROBLEM-SOLVING.

I couldn’t resist.  Once the teacher left, I jumped in.  Within minutes the student and I were plotting our journey to figure out the number of books in our library.  This made me reflect on how many “teachable” moments we miss as teachers, AND how we – all educators – frame and project our views of math to the students.

Check out this video:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html