Muddling through the blogosphere

September 15, 2012
by blogwalker

Professional Artists in the Classroom

Despite cutbacks and more cutbacks and very shaky state funding for public education, teachers in my district continue to offer exceptional learning opportunities for their students.

As California voters head to the polls in November, if they have any doubts about the importance of Governor Brown’s proposed Temporary Taxes to Fund Education-Guaranteed Public Safety Funding (a constitutional amendment that would raise personal income tax on yearly earnings over $250,000 for five years, with most of the revenue dedicated to K-12 schools), maybe the video below will help persuade them.

Shawn Sullivan is a phenomenal teacher. I want voters to realize they could be paying big bucks to send their kids to private schools in the region, but I doubt they’ll be able to find an Animations class that matches the level of instruction, expectations, and opportunities afforded to Shawn’s students.

I want to further boast that the list of innovative, dedicated teachers in my district is a long one.  A year ago, I posted the link to the Teach 21 wiki, with samples of teachers from across grade levels and disciplines, sharing best practices. Currently, videographer Doug Niva, who filmed Shawn’s piece, is helping me document the cross-curricular ways teachers are weaving digital citizenship into the core curriculum.  I hope to post those samples soon.

Good things are happening in my district and across California public schools.

June 10, 2012
by blogwalker

An Amazing Student – who pays tribute to an amazing teacher

For California public schools and their 2012-13 budgets, so much depends on  November, when voters will have the opportunity to step up and support our schools by approving the governor’s proposed budget. Given the tsunami of teacher bashing still sweeping the country, I hope every district in the state – and nation – will make the effort to broadcast the efforts and accomplishments of talented teachers … teachers who change students’ lives for the better, thus benefiting society as a whole.

I personally have run out of fingers and toes to count the number of times parents and community members have shared with me about teachers in my district who have opened up new worlds of possibilities for a student.  Teachers like Sheldon High School’s Shawn Sullivan. But I’ll let David Garibaldi share a first-hand account:

Thank you Edutopia for sharing this inspiring story.  My goal for the upcoming school year it to highlight at least once a week an outstanding public school teacher – and I can already tell you that the school year will run out before I’ve barely tapped into my list:-)


May 8, 2010
by blogwalker

Waiting ’till testing is over’ – 3 questions and a quote

I certainly understand the pressure teachers and administrators at low-performing schools are under right now to raise test scores. Not surprisingly, not all teachers respond to test-prep mandates in the same way.  Many believe in the power of months of drill to improve scores, and will, accordingly, consider allowing students time for a technology-related project only  “when testing is over.”  A few brave teachers, however, integrate technology throughout the year, across the curriculum, believing that student engagement, collaboration, and creativity will boost standardized test scores.

Considering the above and knowing that the state of California is proposing to redirect EETT/ARRA funding from classrooms and, instead, add the funding to the pot of money that has already gone into over a decade of developing the CALPADS project (state’s student data system), I have a couple of questions on my mind. The questions jumped out at me this morning as I as a clicked on a Tweet from Kent Manning, which led me into his View from Here blog:

Question #1: Are students recipients of information or creators of information? – Thank you, Kent, for uploading and sharing this short gem from Marco Torres!

Question #2: Are we building on students’ strengths or weaknesses? – What if we (teachers, sites, districts, states) acted on middle school teacher Paul Blogush’s suggestion and began teaching to students’ strengths?

Question #3: What if you give a child a tool…? – First grade teacher Kathy Cassidy makes visible (and accessible) what students as producers looks like in a primary classroom.

While I do not question the value of educators having access to student data, I do wonder if extending CALPADS to the proposed PreK-20 program will actually improve teaching and learning in our state.  Will the program address the important distinctions/divides/gaps between students as consumers and students as producers? How about student strengths vs. weaknesses?

I’ll end with a quote gleaned from a conversation with CUE director Mike Lawrence, following this week’s visits to the State Assembly: “Weighing the baby does not make the baby  healthier.”

March 15, 2008
by blogwalker

A Difficult Week for California Educators – “Beware the Ides of March”

I have not heard the final tally yet on the number of California teaches who were “pink slipped” this week, but in my district alone the number is over 200! Unless there is a surprise in my mailbox today (5:00 today – the “ides” of March – is the cutoff for notification), I still have my job. Given that most of the cutoffs will go to those with the least seniority, California schools will be losing many of their newest teachers, along with the energy, enthusiasm, and innovations they bring fresh from their credential programs.

The Voice Thread below is in recognition that all of us as educators will be impacted either directly or indirectly by the 2008-09 budget cuts. I left a message earlier on Murcha’s Day in a Sentence Voice Thread, but wanted to also dedicate today’s post to this painful topic. Comments are welcomed!

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Note: Pink slip images copied from
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