Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Post - What is truly scary?

My Halloween Post - What is truly scary?

After having endured the positive and negatives of social media for years while doing what so many people attest is really great work at my school, I have come to the following conclusion - Facebook is scary.  No change that, Facebook gives a platform to people who are scary.  While so many great things can be accomplished via social media, Facebook and other platforms provide folks who have an agenda the opportunity to bully folks who truly don't deserve it.   Where else in your life, or in this universe, can you say whatever your want, free from repercussions or reprisals?  While I sometimes feel the desire to fire back at the haters, when you get into an argument with a fool, after a while it's hard to tell who is the fool.  So I guess I'll just drop back and punt, turn the other cheek, and take solace in the fact that karma always catches up these folks.  It's like you should never go to the grocery store when you are hungry.  You should never post when you are upset or angry.  Me?  Not angry, just frustrated.  And a little sad.

Monday, October 30, 2017

22 Page Views?

Come on now!  That last post on Real Writing was good.  It only got 22 page views today???  I guess that's what happens when you post like once a year and people stop reading your blog. Please feel free to share that post, as well as my blog address with folks who might be interested in trying to stop the "big stakes testing" runaway train from completely derailing any hope that public education might have in the years ahead.  Thanks for reading and spreading the word.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What is Real Writing?

When you think about why and how you write as a "grown up", do you ever have to respond to a question after you have read a story or an article in a magazine or a newspaper? (e.g., . "Write an essay analyzing how the author’s organization of the passage helps the reader to understand the tasks. Use information from the passage to support your response.")  This Text Dependent Analysis prompt, or TDA, comes directly from the South Carolina Department of Education website and is a sample of the type of question contained on the SC Ready writing assessment for 9 and 10 year olds in South Carolina.  There are a number of writing tasks that I take on as a "grown-up". Thankfully it's not responding to a prompt like that one.  How would you respond?  I know, right?

Unfortunately, most of my "grown-up" writing is centered around responding to someone's inquires via email.  While lacking opportunities to be creative, being an effective communicator in the genre of " email writing" is critical.  I don't tweet, but there a numerous examples in today's political world of what happens when folks that aren't necessarily the best writers in this genre open their mouths and open the floodgates.

I like to fancy myself a fairly effective "real writer" as well.  I write a weekly newsletter to my school community that has been very well received over the past four years by an audience of about 250 readers.  This blog has over 100,000 page views.  Hopefully some of the visits and revisits to my blog are related to the enjoyment folks get from reading my posts.

My point to this post (yes I am finally getting to it) is that writing should be about creative expression, not about formulaic responses to TDA's.  I want my students to love writing, to be excited about the possibility of sharing their thoughts and feeling with others in their lives.  I want them to be able to write mysteries, and poems, and love letters, and fables, and blog posts, and lyrics to songs, and anything else that shows who they are and who they hope to be.

Unfortunately, as long as there are TDA's, and whatever else the test makers come up with in the future to "judge" writing proficiency,  kids across this country will learn to hate writing.  And that my friends is a crying shame.   In the words of Gustave Flaubert, The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.  

I believe we are going down the wrong path.


Friday, October 20, 2017

So how do you judge a school's success?

So how do you judge a school's success? How good is your child's school?

Does anyone really believe a school's performance can be determined by how a subgroup of the total school population, sometimes as young as 8 years old (that's right - 8 years old) scores of a battery of tests that are entirely too long, while at the same time too narrow, written (devised is probably a better word - sounds a little more contrived) by educrats who have no idea what skills or knowledge our kids will need in the future?  In the words of Chris Berman, "C'mon man!"

Even the folks at ABC news get it. (I know, shocker!) In a post entitled Future skills: Report reveals tools school kids will need to thrive in jobs market of 2030, the authors outline what schools should be focused on as we prepare kids for this uncertain future.  You can check out the post at the following link:

As I read this and almost identical articles about what kids will need to succeed, I see so little correlation with our current curricula.  Why?  It's a classic "tail wagging the dog."  As long as we spend hours, change that, days, change that, weeks, change that, months in pursuit of putting up a good score on state mandated accountability tests, we will continue to do a tremendous disservice to our children.  The saddest part to me? So many folks in this business who I believe truly want to do what best for kids, have gone down the rabbit hole, like lemmings into the sea.  I think about the Lorax (note: The author's name deleted here to avoid controversy), who stood up, confronting the madness and said, "Who will speak for the trees?" Well, "Who will speak for the children?"

"C'mon man!"

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Checking In...

Hi All,

I just wanted everyone to know that I am still alive, still trying to change the world, and still so crazy busy that I have not been able to carve out the time to post.  My apologies.  I'll be posting more often in the coming days, talking about technology and what's going on at Carolina Voyager Charter School.  

I'll also be using my blog as a personal therapy tool as we try to avoid going down that rabbit hole where so many schools have gone, chasing test scores and preparing kids for testing rather than life.  Yeah, our kids didn't do as well as they had done the year prior on the end all and be all state assessments and we find ourselves doing a lot of self-reflection.  I'll keep you "posted" on our progress.

Thanks for reading!