September 2008
Vol 5 No 9

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.9 September 2008

Cover Story by Hal Portner
High Quality Teaching:
The Intangible Element
The cornerstone of quality education in our schools is what happens between teacher and student.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
It Was Something Close to a Miracle

»More Tools for Classroom Fun and SuccessCheryl Sigmon
»Time Flies!Sue Gruber
»"Getting to Know Each Other"Activities, part 2Leah Davies
»Our Back PagesTodd R. Nelson
»Using a Butterfly Analogy to Explain the Hierarchy of Social DevelopmentMarvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman
»The First Day of Hell? and Still No Job! How Do I Stay Positive?Kioni Carter

»The Music, Movement, and Learning Connection
»Notes And Quotes From My Summer Reading
»Chinese Royalty and Cedar Wood, The History of the Pencil
»Teaching and Stress: Symptoms and Cures
»September 2008 Writing Prompts
»Learning About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
»Donna’s Lesson Plan Files For Music Teachers
»A Teaching Guide for The Secret Life of Hubie Hartzel
»Virtual lab

»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»Ineffective teachers? and Laura Bush's speech on July 28
»School Photographs for September 2008
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: September 2008
»Video Bytes: Brainiac science; Puppies lulled to sleep; Pilobilus dance; and More
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for September 2008
»Live on Teachers.Net: September 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Peanut Free School?
»HELP! First Time Teaching Kindergarten!
»"I don't have a pencil [again]!" Does anything work?
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


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Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
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Cover Story by Hal Portner

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Kioni Carter, Marvin Marshall, Cheryl Sigmon, Marjan Glavac, Todd R. Nelson, Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, James Wayne, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Lisa Bundrick, Panamalai R. Guruprasad, Donna Ransdell, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Susan Rowan Masters, and YENDOR.

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IMHO - Educators Speaking Up

Teachers.Net Community

Ineffective teachers? and
Laura Bush's speech on July 28

We were impressed by the following posts from Teachers.Net chatboards as especially thought-provoking, well-articulated and civil positions on interesting topics, so we are sharing them here in case you missed them. We encourage you to use the Discussion forum following the posts to react and continue the dialog.
Teachers.Net Community
September 1, 2008
Ineffective teachers?

Every time there is a shift in political thinking or a major issue, schools are given a new task.

Posted by Mae in Texas on the (general) Teacher Chatboard

  1. Has it occurred to anyone that we educate more children today than at any other time in world history? We have not failed as educators. We simply haven't found a way to reach and teach every single child in America...yet...But, we continue to strive towards that goal. It's not failure - it's continuous progress and improvement.
  2. I've never met a teacher who believes they are a poor teacher. I've never met a teacher who wants to be a poor teacher. Ineffective teachers do not realize they are ineffective, and the ones who do realize it work to become more effective. Effective leadership can make a difference in the lives of ineffective teachers.
  3. The outside world believes education can solve the world's problems. Every time there is a shift in political thinking or a major issue, schools are given a new task. As a society we need to determine the purpose of schools and stick with it. Unfortunately we try to use schools as a "quick fix" solution to a multitude of problems, and when things go wrong - who gets the blame? Teachers, of course.
  4. The way to school improvement begins with each individual teacher. We will not continue to improve as long as we keep dropping our standards for teachers. Alternative certification has become a desperate attempt at recruiting new teachers. The low teacher pay scale and low expectations open the doors to allow just about anyone to become a teacher (even if the shoe doesn't fit). Politics, testing, unreasonable demands, and lack of respect for teachers in general drives the best teachers out of the classroom. Even the most committed teachers can only take so much before burning out. If we want more effective teachers we must set higher standards, have higher expectations, pay accordingly, and value and respect a teacher as a professional. JMHO...Mae

Laura Bush's speech on July 28

Posted by pr

I wonder what the margin of error is for a 7 year old, who doesn't want to test, after 15 minutes on his own?

I think I just figured out what it is that frustrates me so much about NCLB.

In her speech Laura Bush compared teachers to doctors [noting that] we don't expect a doctor to perform surgery without the tests to diagnose the problem. The doctor also shouldn't learn surgery techniques on the operating table.

I have felt amazing stress to get my little guys tested, diagnosed, categorized, etc. since I have been teaching second grade, again. (Two years, this year the third, after 8 years at third grade).

Doctors do not have to test and diagnose their patients. They generally send them to a lab, where others conduct and interpret the test and send the doctor the results.

A doctor doesn't have to test his/her patients with 19 other off-task patients in the room. I have tested children with music class going on the other side of the room, and 5th grade orchestra tooting in the next. I assess my students in the computer lab with other children needing assistance all the time.

Our state testing is done with children in charge of their pages, bubbling, reading, etc. I never really thought about it, but part of my job evaluation is based on the whims of 7 year olds.

When they do an opinion poll on the presidential candidates, there is a 4 point margin of error. That is one adult directly answering the questions of another adult. I wonder what the margin of error is for a 7 year old, who doesn't want to test, after 15 minutes on his own?

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Fifth Annual Reading First National Conference


Using data and research to guide decision-making has been standard practice in medicine, in business, and even in advertising for decades. We're just beginning to use research-based practices in education -- and on behalf of students, parents, and teachers, thank goodness we are. (Applause.)

As Secretary Spellings likes to say, "We would never ask a doctor to learn surgery on the operating table." Our teachers have the right to expect the same level of professional development. And as a direct result of Reading First grants, more than 100,000 teachers across the country have been trained to implement high quality, scientifically based reading programs. This emphasis on staff development is key to Reading First's success.

But just as we would expect our doctors to have good training, we would also insist that they diagnose an illness with testing results to see what's wrong. Testing is an important part of teaching, as well, and it's an important component of Reading First. Too often in the past, because we didn't assess, we moved children from first grade to second grade to third grade -- until they ended up in the ninth grade unable to read even basic sentences. And, as every teacher in this room knows, it's not unfair to expect third-grade students to read at a third-grade level. In fact, it's our obligation. (Applause.)

If you spot a post on one of the chatboards that you think should appear in a future IMHO, use the "Share" button inside each chatboard post to email it to the Gazette editor with IMHO in the subject line. If it is a Teachers.Net mailring message that impresses you as an exemplary one, forward the email to the same address. You don't have to agree with the opinion stated; submitting simply means that you think it worthy of others' attention.

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