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Showing posts from January, 2010

Teacher Evaluation + Student Test Scores + Merit Pay = Controversy

Author Disclaimer
A combination of President Obama's State of the Union Address, an NPR broadcast this week, and the ongoing debate in the media motivated me to write this particular post. It's a tough topic, but I'm going to attempt to tackle it with as much grace as possible. Please feel free to comment at the end and share your thoughts.

The State of Education
President Obama made an impassioned call for education reform in his State on the Union Address on Wednesday, January 27.


Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city.

For ma…

My Rant on ER Inefficiency in the Digital Age

My blog post is late this week, but I have a pretty great excuse. In the past 24 hours I fell skiing, felt a pretty horrible pain in my left foot, managed to make my way down the hill on just my right ski (only because I have been skiing for 26 out of my 29 years on this planet and I'm a decent skier), limped into the lodge to report my injury to my mom, iced/elevated/wrapped/ibuprofen..... and finally gave up and decided it wasn't going to get better. I had to go to the Emergency Room up here in North Conway, New Hampshire.

So here is my question.... why did my visit to the ER take so long? The process was inefficient and frustrating for me, and I was definitely NOT the patient in the most pain. I can't imagine how awful it must have been for the guy in his early 20s who had a separated shoulder, or the woman who was pale white and clearly nauseous.

Here is the process. First I went to the ER at 5pm last night.
1. Go to front desk.
2. Sit in waiting room to fill out paper wor…

Cool Tool for School: Weebly

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What is Weebly?
The National History Day organization runs competitions around the country in which students in both junior and senior divisions are challenged to conduct broad scholarly research and demonstrate their understanding and analysis of a topic through papers, exhibit boards, documentary movies, live performances or websites.

This year NHD introduced a new free website design tool called Weebly. Since some of my sophomore honors students would be using this tool to design their NHD projects, I thought it would be wise to learn the tool myself. Since then, I have become inextricably hooked and have used Weebly in a variety of ways.

Uses for Weebly... So Far!
1. Freshman Research Project
Freshmen arrive at high school a bit bleary-eyed and overwhelmed. Often, but not always, high school is their first introduction to in-depth research and annotated bibliographies. Instead of introducing the research process with the traditional paper assignment, I thought I could challenge my 9th …

Wikipedia: A Reflection on My Editing Experience

My most recent assignment for my graduate class was to make an edit to Wikipedia that remained for at least one week.

Although I now teach high school, I spent the last two years teaching at the 8th grade level. I attended training for and taught throughout the school year using the History Alive! curriculum. So, I thought I would see what Wikipedia had to offer regarding their programs. The only entry happened to reference the text that my district purchased to fit the new curriculum map for Social Studies 6-12; The Medieval World and Beyond, so I had experience working with it. I was disconcerted to notice that the entry was extremely biased and, although backed up with links to outside information, contained no balanced information whatsoever.

A quote from the article as I found it:
The book was criticized for having religious propaganda and stating Muslim myths as fact. When a reviewer on Textbook League asked an officer of TCI to tell him what the source or sources of the textbook…

Ten Years of Tech: Life Will Never Be the Same

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As we ring in the new year, and the new decade, there are many things for me to reflect on. Over the past decade I have graduated from college, started a teaching career, gotten married to a handsome and patient man, started and completed law school, passed the bar exam, and had a beautiful baby girl. 2010 is the year I turn 30. Surprisingly enough, I'm not upset about it. I remember when my husband hit the big 3-0 he lamented the loss of his twenties. As I look back, though, I feel as though I have come a long way. I have earned those years and I'm proud of them. While some of my contemporaries long for our careless college days, I wouldn't want to go back in time knowing that there are so many more exciting things ahead.

I truly believe that education has come a long way in the past decade too. Much of that progress is due to the incredible dedication of teachers who are always looking to improve their instruction. Those of us who are constantly taking classes and trying …