Philosophy of Education at a School

The Academy will prepare elementary school students for rigorous secondary studies through exceptional foreign language programs, outstanding academics, and rich extracurricular activities. Its innovative interdisciplinary programs will instill within its graduates a global perspective.

Based on a pressing community need as described by local parents and community leadership, the Academy will prepare students in grades K-6 for both knowledge-based careers and lives as members of a democratic society through classwork that emphasizes global awareness and continual enrollment in foreign language classes.

This is the philosophy of education of a charter school. I took the above from a website and removed the name, but honestly is it any different from most schools? Are they really saying anything?

Rigorous – a word without a clear meaning

Outstanding academics – has anyone really believed that schools would skimp on the academics?

Rich extracurricular activities – I love how this is a bonus in charter schools, but an extra available for cutting in public schools.

Prepare students for knowledge based careers; lives as members of a democratic society; and global awareness (through foreign language) – I think this is part of the mission statement of every school in the country.

When we think philosophy of education why are we thinking content? Why don’t we think of method of delivering content? Especially at a charter school.

Try this for a philosophy at your school – We will meet our mission blah, blah, blah, all the stuff above, through classrooms that emphasize student independence, project based learning, critical thinking, measured through informal formative measures daily. Graded through student portfolios.

Or perhaps that is too liberal and wishy-washy. Your school would rather emphasize a back to the basics curriculum. – We will meet our mission blah, blah, blah, all the stuff above, through strict classroom discipline, expert content delivery, measured through objective testing, and graded through accomplishment.

Now which school would you like to send your child too? Better yet rewrite a school philosophy that works for you.


Alphabet Game and Scratch

I created this for a kindergarten teacher

She loved it and easily discovered students who needed practice.
Students who need more help can work with aide to practice.

Iterations for future.
Scratch allows you to remix
Each student who remixes has their own copy of the program they can use at home with their parents.

  • Students can draw their own alphabet, take pictures and use those
  • Students can add the voice so that the picture pauses for a few second and then says the name of the letter or sound of the letter.
  • Can also add phonic sound blends.

So a bit of time to remix this yourself or have your kids remix it and leave me a link to your program in the comments.

Chat in the OPEN

I was going to make a storify this morning, but I see Christina beat me to it.
I feel I have understood the concept of OPEN intuitively, perhaps because of my early use of Linux and Copyleft software. I see sharing in the open not as a place to put my finished work that I can give away for free, instead it is a big melting pot. I put out the stuff that I use or am working on so that teachers can use it, but also so they can improve it.
As a teacher I have never felt any of my lessons were ever finished, especially if I taught the same lesson more than once a day. I was always making changes to respond to the actual situation. I would never expect a teacher to take one of my lessons and use it right out of the box.

School Reform

School reform. The idea pushed by some is that we can rate teachers by effectiveness those measured as least effective are to be fired and replaced with effective teachers.

First question: How do you rate the effectiveness of teachers? Value added measurements has been proposed, but of course is statistically inaccurate. Principals of course could observe and rate teachers. That has been done for years and as it turns out upwards of 90% of all teachers are rated effective. At first glance, this sounds wrong, until you realize that while a teacher may be the most influential person in a child’s educational life that influence only goes so far.

Second question: How do we find better teachers? Are the students who get the highest grades the best? Are those with the most content knowledge the best?

Third question: If we replace 10% of the teachers this year and scores don’t improve do we replace 10% again next year? Do we give the new teachers a grace period to learn how to teach?

Really, this whole thing has been an excuse to show this clip from Torchwood?

Looking at Student Work

A method of teacher professional development is LASW, or Looking At Student Work. The full description of one of the methods of LASW is here.

I want to modify it a bit, because I have work here from two students and two teachers. The same basic assignment, though.

I want to know which assignment is better at meeting the standard? Which assignment is more likely to encourage writing? Which assignment would you rather see in your classroom, or from your student?

Story by Neenan262

Story by Neenan262

Story by Birdy Bus 262

Story by Birdy Bus 262

Google Add-ons

Google Add-ons

Google has introduced a new feature for Google Drive. Add-ons, similar to scripts I suppose, are tools you can add to your Google documents to help facilitate certain processes.

Track Changes – Allows you selectively take changes being made to a document. I’m not sure how well this would work with 50 people in a document, but I would have liked to try it the other day as I let 30 freshman have edit rights on a document at one time without impressing on them the need for respect and citizenship. (It was not a pretty site and made the document almost unusable as they started changing everything willy nilly.)

Lucid Charts – I know some teachers in the district love this and I thought they might like the idea that they can easily go from document to mind map or flowchart with ease.

Easy Bib – I’m sure anyone asking students to write research papers will appreciate the ability to create bibliographies. Format in MLA, APA, and Chicago style.

Pro Writing Aid – Not sure if this will be any good, but any help in writing can’t hurt either, or maybe it can. I don’t know I’m a math person.

Kaizena – voice notes now even easier.

WorkFlows – At first this doesn’t sound helpful, but imagine this, “Student forgets to turn in work. Teacher grades everyone elses work and moves on to next assignment. Student turns in work and complains that the teacher still hasn’t graded it.” Enter Workflows, now student must add workflows to document and get teacher signature. Teacher is notified when work is turned in later or changed and can then go back and grade assignment.

These add-ons are new and these are just the first ones out of the gate. Expect them to get better and new products to be offered on a daily basis.


@gcouros and #ice14

George Couros was the Friday morning keynote speaker for ICE14. I missed it an and kind of glad because watching it later allowed me to take some notes. It was almost 30 minutes before George started speaking in this video. Then it was a while before I actually started taking notes, so yes I did miss a few.

My takeaways from listening:

Minute  43 Change is an opportunity

Minute 53 stop fighting your students for their attention.

Minute 59 This changing technology can be even more powerful than the old school stuff you love give it a chance.

1 hour Isolation is a choice

1 hour 5 minutes not just a video newsletter, but a school leader interacting with students

1 hour 11 minutes This student is racing home to read and write

1 hour 12 minutes would you want to be a student in your own classroom

1 hour 20 minutes Innovative Spanish assessment

1 hour 21 minutes are kids creating because of us or in spite of us?

1 hour 24 minutes interview yourself

1 hour 25 minutes create a hub for your student work

1 hour 34 minutes stop saying hey kids don’t be horrible

1 hour 35 minutes one kid

1 hour 37 minutes you’re awesome why wouldn’t I share it.