Teaching Vocabulary

I wish teachers would stop assigning weekly word lists for students to memorize (and then forget). I like this explanation from the LiteracyHead folks:

By the way, LiteracyHead has some of the best resources around for teaching writing/reading.

Teachers Who Love to Learn

I’ve just spent the day at Collegiate School in Richmond, working with teachers on inquiry learning. I came away knowing the students at Collegiate are in good hands. Good hands.

And that’s such a good feeling. As I watch twitter, read blogs, and browse news headlines, it’s easy to get discouraged. About kids, teaching, school. Life. But today I was able to work with teachers who are digging deep to find ways to reach kids. It’s not so hard, is it? We know what matters. And it’s not the tests we give at the end of the year.

We spent some time talking about questions…and this popped up in my reader today:

“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
― Albert Einstein

Yes, the questions.

Following My Own Script

One year I was asked to teach a course at the last minute. A friend, an inspiring and creative teacher, gave me her plans to follow.

Frankly, it didn’t work. During the year, I remember being frustrated, often feeling like a failure. But I couldn’t figure out why following her plans was so difficult.

Now, years later, I know. I can’t follow someone else’s script. And I want my students to have more control over their own learning. That’s not to say I don’t ever want to ask students to work together, read a book together, or focus on an issue I offer up. (And my friend who follows her own script is masterful in this.) But to me, true learning comes when students have choices, and teachers follow their instincts about direction and shaping the culture and curriculum of the class.

Whatedsaid posted this today:

Talented actors can perform to anyone’s script and bring something of themselves to the role. But most of us find it easier to perform to a script of our own creation, which reflects our own beliefs, values and ideas. We need to question things that don’t feel right. We need to follow our instincts. We need to listen to our inner voices. We need to take risks and experiment with our ideas. We need to create our own scripts…

Edna Sackson offers tips here.

What Matters?

This came across my RSS feed, and I  nodded, agreeing with the report that many students who have been targeted for remedial work in community college may have not been prepared for the kind of work expected of them after high school.

Teachers dug deeper for the source of students’ collegiate struggles. After sharing lesson plans and curricula, they learned that while teachers at both levels called it English, they were teaching entirely different things. High school teachers taught mostly literature, focusing on characters and story lines in many classic works of fiction. Meanwhile, English faculty in the community college were teaching students about argumentation and writing clearly to inform, persuade, and describe—key skills needed to succeed at work, think critically and contribute to their community.