Friday, October 18, 2013

Ten Words to Cut from Your Writing

I don't usually even read Entrepreneur, and I contend that some of these words can be used occasionally, depending on need and poetic license.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I love my son's science teacher.

Actually, I love all my son's teachers.  And the administrators, counselors, and amazing after-school supervision folks.  Every last one of them.  So many folks in his new school environment have shared with me little passing stories of how much they enjoy having my son there.

But this vignette focuses on his science teacher.  It helps you to know, for what I am about to describe, that my son has an identified issue with visual motor coordination, as well as limited short term visual memory.  Long story short, copying stuff down, and any writing by hand really, is pretty much torture for him.

So when he gleefully reported, shortly after the school year began, that he was glad he got THIS particular science teacher because other kids had already taken "TEN PAGES OF NOTES" on the first day with the other teacher (which I highly doubt, since they're, y'know, nine years old), I already knew she had worked her way into his heart.  And I kept hearing about all these great hands-on things they've been doing to explore concepts in physical science.  "Great!" I thought, "My kid needs all the hands-on he can get!" (What kid doesn't?)

Yesterday was especially fun though.  They went on a field trip to see a play (this was not for science class), so he got to miss several classes.  Let me tell you that field trips, especially those that enable him to miss classes, are the best thing EVARRRR to my child.  So I asked, already knowing the answer would be swimming, what his favorite thing of the day was.  Without even stopping to think as he took another bite of his burrito, he blurted "swimming." (They're doing swimming in P.E. this week.)

So I returned to a question I asked every day when I picked him up from summer camp/school a few months ago: "Besides swimming, what was the best thing about today?"  Fully expecting him to tell me about the field trip to the theatre, I was surprised when he responded: "Science."

Not one to lose my composure in a Taco Bell, I replied, "Cool. Tell me what was going on in science."

"We played with wind-up toys to learn about speed."

Awesome.  Good on you, Ms. A.  This then led me to ask him if he knew the term velocity (he didn't) and some speculation about how we might say that word in Spanish.  I told him I knew the word for "speed" in French.  We then talked about some other stuff.  Much of it probably had nothing to do with science.  But that class activity made an impression on him.  Even more than being in full dress uniform, riding a bus to another city, and seeing a play did.

And that's why I love my son's science teacher.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Homework -- Where do you stand?

I've been thinking about homework a lot lately, and not just because it takes my own kid an inordinate amount of time to do what should take him less than an hour.

A couple of interesting articles, both in The Atlantic, have crossed my path recently, and I thought I'd share them.  If nothing else, maybe they'll get you thinking about how you feel about homework, and whether your ideal matches what you have found to be practical for the classes you teach.

The first one I read is My Daughter's Homework Is Killing Me.  A father shares about his experiencing doing all the same homework as his eighth grade daughter.  I have to say, I enjoyed the article a lot, and I could sympathize, but I worry that some people may find his open use of marijuana off-putting and use it as an argument to discredit the rest of what he has written.  Overlooking that, if you need to, I'd love to hear how much his experience resounds with you.  Teachers who are also parents, have you had similar experiences?

The second article, Should I Stop Assigning Homework?, has an English teacher questioning whether she should -- or even CAN -- give up this ages-old tradition of our profession.  She references some other materials on the subject, including her own previous writing on this topic, and provides links to what she and others have said, as well as some research findings on the case for and against homework.

I would absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE to get my colleagues to weigh in here with their thoughts.  This blog is also open to the entire Internet, and I would love to hear what my edtech peeps and others out there in the blogosphere have to say on the subject.