Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Introducing ... Common Core Standards

North Carolina is one of 44 states that have adopted Common Core standards - a state-led effort designed to "provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce."

Sounds good to me. But are we missing the mark? Are we really getting to the "core" issues at hand?

Walking out of a meeting today where we were introduced to this new process, I struck up a conversation with a very sharp, seasoned teacher at my school.

He mentioned that these standards probably won't apply to the courses he teaches, as they are specialized electives. "That must be wonderful - to have the freedom that comes with teaching such electives," I said.

He replied that yes, there is latitude to teach what he wants; however, he lamented that his students aren't at all interested or engaged. They just don't care about learning.

I thought for a minute and responded, "You know, these great new standards and the countless man hours that went into their creation don't really address the problem. We as a nation don't prioritize education."

We exchanged a few more thoughts: Teachers are constantly pushed this way and that, as curriculum constantly changes. The real problem runs far deeper than standards, or revisions to Bloom's Taxonomy.

As I've said before, we're collectively putting a polish on a bruised apple. Train, test, reteach, push kids, plan, prepare, collaborate, incorporate technology ...

At the end of the day we either celebrate education as a culture, or we don't. And currently, we don't.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

File Cabinets on Google Sites - My New Friend

As a student teacher and first-year teacher, I wrestled with where to store documents online. I'm talking about things like a course syllabus, parent forms, etc.

My solution was to host them on a free Microsoft site, and link to it from my Google site - a messy, multi-step process.

The entire time the answer was right in front of me - Google Pages' File Cabinets. I'm already using Google for blogging, calendars, feed reader, email, Google Alerts, and a lot more - so it makes sense to keep everything consolidated and accessible from one easy dashboard.