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I have seen a blaze of anti-Common Core sentiment sweep through certain states. These groups that are protesting the Common Core are counting on you not doing your own research and thinking about the Common Core in-depth. There are several FALSE claims you will hear in relation to Common Core that you need to think about. You can verify this at www.corestandards.org.
First, the Common Core is not a national curriculum. The full name of Common Core is “Common Core State Standards” (aka CCSS) meaning they are benchmarks we want our children to achieve, but how to achieve them is left up to individual states and local communities. Many, many companies are competing for schools’ dollars by offering diverse and varied curricula if schools don’t want to write their own. The feds are not driving Common Core for implementation or for assessment.
Second, the Common Core does not dumb down the curriculum (the same people claiming we are dumbing down the curriculum also gripe that we are introducing difficult concepts too early—which is it?). On average, we see rigorous standards applied 1 year earlier than we were applying them under the Missouri Grade Level Expectations. Missouri has consistently had the 2nd and 3rd most rigorous state achievement test (MAP) in the nation and now we see an even more rigorous test coming next year. In fact, we just piloted the Common Core assessment in the district and students and teacher alike commented on how much harder the test was than the MAP. One question I saw was substantially different than the MAP test. On MAP, a kid would be asked a math problem and then given a set of choices: A, B, C, or D. On the Common Core test, I saw a 5th grader answering questions that went something like this, “Suzy was given the following math problem.” A word problem followed. “Suzy read the problem, formed a plan to answer the problem with six steps.” A numbered list of 6 steps followed. “Suzy got the following answer which was wrong. Find which step in Suzy’s method was wrong, explain why, and correct her answer.” Folks, a kid has to think a lot deeper to answer that type of questions than a multiple-guess test.
Third, there is a lot of other mumbo-jumbo being tossed around, but opponents keep piling up argument after argument against it until you aren’t even sure what they are referring to anymore. The argument expands to gripe about socialism, anti-Christian movements, abortion, tracking, cost, and I don’t know what else. But those things are other policy and legislative concerns that activists are lumping in with Common Core because they don’t understand it.
In a nutshell, here is a Common Core kindergarten standard:
RF.K.2(a): Recognize and produce rhyming words. The standard then recommends “Halfway Down” by A. A. Milne and “Singing Time” by Rose Fyleman although districts can use “Mary had a Little Lamb”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, or any other district approved literature. The concept can be further developed through artwork, song, science, math, and vocabulary. The curriculum is developed at the local level while the assessment will be used to determine if a student can indeed recognize and produce a rhyming word.
Let’s try another one in 3rd grade:
RI.3.9: Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic. The standard recommends “Sarah, Plain and Tall” and “The Storm” although districts can choose any literature they want to have students compare and contrast. By the way, this is something we were trained heavily in during my doctoral program in order to conduct academic research…and here it is in 3rd grade Common Core!
L.5.5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. Exemplar texts include “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “The Little Prince.” Informational texts include, “Who is Neil Armstrong?” and “Women Explorers of North and South America.” If we don’t like any of those, we can choose any literature we want.
Can you feel Obama’s fingertips reaching for your children’s minds yet? If you are confused where the socialist agenda is, I’m with you. But then again, no one has shown you what the real standards look like. Any standard can be written to reflect local control, with local lessons, local activities, and local formative assessments. The board will approve any curriculum that is generated by our own local teachers and reviewed by our own local administrators, myself included.
Finally, there are some real nice components of Common Core that I want to point out:
Reading is broken down into Literature, Informational Texts, and Foundational Skills. Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language are strands of the standards. Reading and writing aren’t just isolated to classic works, but standards are given for reading to be taught in Social Studies classes, science, and other technical subjects.
Here is an example of the “Integration of Knowledge and Ideas” in grades 9 and 10. Standard RI.9-10.9: Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts. These are four powerful, patriotic, truly American pieces of history that our kids should be grappling with. The teacher moves from the “sage on the stage” lecturing about what these pieces mean to the “guide on the side” helping students hold democratic readings and discussions about what these authors may have intended and what they were dealing with from a historical context. Students must “delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.”
The Common Core State Standards are designed to provide a framework of standards that are Internationally Benchmarked, rigorous, and broad enough to allow states and local boards of education create a locally controlled curriculum designed to meet the needs of local children. Go to www.corestandards.org and read through the standards to see for yourself. Nothing is perfect. Education is a practice. Common Core is another step forward in that practice. It isn’t evil, destructive, or anti-American. It is an opportunity for people with an axe to grind to use it as political smoke and mirrors to advance their own agenda. Don’t let the smoke get in your eyes.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Newest Policy Points Revisits A Nation at Risk
ASCD’s newest Policy Points (PDF) takes a closer look at A Nation at Risk, the 1983 report on the state of U.S. education that launched a spirited and ongoing debate about the quality of our public schools. This issue of Policy Points examines the specific recommendations of the report, the accuracy of its dire prediction about “a rising tide of mediocrity” undermining the nation’s well-being, and the evolving school reform debate the report kick-started three decades ago.
Throughout May on www.wholechildeducation.org: The New Poverty
In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. These “poor kids” don’t fit the traditional stereotypes—two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. In the United States, the economic downturn has dramatically changed the landscape, and districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families.
Join us as we share what new—and old—solutions we are using to support learning and ensure that each child, whatever her circumstances, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on the current economic downturn; its result that many families and children face reduced circumstances; and implications for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Guests include Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa., and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University. Parrett and Budge are also coauthors of the 2012 ASCD book Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.
ASCD Leader Voices
Arkansas Governor Signs Whole Child Legislation
Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe signed a new bill into law that promotes a whole child approach to educating the state’s children. The legislation (PDF) establishes a Whole Child Whole Community recognition program and aims to measure the comprehensive well-being of children and how well stakeholders are meeting their needs according to the five whole child tenets and their indicators as identified by ASCD.
The recognition program will acknowledge and highlight the work of Arkansas educators, parents, community members, and policymakers who support the whole child. The legislation also indicates that one purpose of the recognition program is to help spur systemic collaboration and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and to promote a shift from narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts that recognize the crucial out-of-school factors that influence teaching and learning. A diverse state working group will work over the course of a year to recommend a framework and process for recognizing exemplary whole child and whole community successes.
Congratulations to Arkansas ASCD, which played a crucial role in supporting the bill’s development and introduction!
Rhode Island Passes Whole Child Resolution
The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a joint resolution (PDF) supporting a whole child approach to education that ensures each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
The resolution affirms that to educate Rhode Island’s children effectively, the state must pay attention to factors within and beyond its school buildings as well as integrate efforts among schools, families, and communities. In addition, the resolution expresses the assembly’s intent to model whole child concepts in its own work and to join with other stakeholders who support the whole child.
Congratulations to Rhode Island ASCD(RIASCD), which worked hard to have this joint resolution introduced into the Rhode Island legislature!
To help the state fulfill its commitment to whole child education, ASCD and RIASCD offered some initial steps (PDF)—organized by the five whole child tenets—for educators, parents and community members, and policymakers to take. RIASCD also highlighted some of ASCD’s free resources to help the state put its whole child vision into action.
South Carolina ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
Weasked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states.In the seventh post of the series, South Carolina ASCD leader Josh Patterson writes about the challenges and successes that South Carolina has had with CCSS implementation.
The Effective Principal
What we see through our research, reading, and conversations with principals and school staff is that to see what an effective principal is, don’t look at the person; look at the effects of her leadership on student achievement, school culture and climate, teacher effectiveness and satisfaction, and community relationships. As the wearers of many hats, principals are crucial to implementing meaningful and lasting school change. Read more on the Whole Child Blog.
In April, we looked at what qualities principals in today’s (and tomorrow’s) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Donna Snyder, manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD; Kevin Enerson, principal of Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota (an ASCD Whole Child Network school); and Jessica Bohn, an ASCD Emerging Leader and principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina.
Also this month on the Whole Child Podcast, we talked with educators from Oregon’s Milwaukie High School (winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award) about how they meet student and staff needs, taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for all. Guests include principal Mark Pinder, assistant principal for curriculum Michael Ralls, assistant principal for student management Tim Taylor, dean of students Donnie Siel, and teacher leader David Adams.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
Killeen Independent School District Deepens Professional Development Partnership with ASCD—Killeen Independent School District (ISD)—whose more than 6,100 staff members serve approximately 42,000 students—is deepening its relationship with ASCD to meet its professional development goals. Read the full press release.
ASCD Publishes Leadership Guide on Transforming Any Teacher into a Master—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom by best-selling education author, renowned educator, and professional development expert Robyn R. Jackson.
Never Underestimate Your Teachers offers school leaders a new model for understanding great teaching as a combination of skill and will, and it's the first book of its kind to support leaders as they facilitate teacher growth in both areas through differentiated leadership. Jackson shows readers how to design and deliver targeted professional development to help each teacher realize his or her potential and achieve great results for the benefit of every student. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Common Core Academy Supports School Leadership Teams Across the United States—ASCD is bringing its inaugural ASCD Common Core Leadership Team Academy to Chicago August 5–8, 2013. This intensive four-day professional leadership experience offers groups of administrators, teacher leaders, and nonprofit and higher education partners an accelerated plan for putting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into routine practice. Read the full press release.
ASCD Summer Reading List Identifies 10 Books That Can Transform Teaching and Learning—In the spirit of promoting year-round professional development, ASCD has assembled a diverse list of books essential to educators who seek to improve their practice over the summer months. These books—organized by how they help educators transform teaching and learning—offer readers the opportunity to dive deep into the hottest topics in education, including using data to focus improvement, project-based learning, child development, and neurodiversity. All books are currently available in paperback and e-book formats. Read the full press release.
Arkansas Governor Beebe Signs Education Reform Law Supporting the Whole Child—Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe has signed a new bill into law that promotes a well-rounded whole child approach to educating the state’s children.“An Act to Establish the Whole Child– Whole Community Recognition Program; and for Other Purposes” (Senate Bill 1051[PDF]) outlines a plan for the Arkansas education system that ensures Arkansas students receive a whole child education. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Staff Expand Association’s Ability to Design, Deliver, and Evaluate Professional Development Resources—ASCD welcomes three new staff members to the association’s Program Development Work Group. Dr. Andrea Muse has accepted the position of director of research and program evaluation, Jen Thompson will serve as director of program management and process improvement, and Elizabeth Thurman has joined ASCD as director of customer engagement and product support. The additions of Muse, Thompson, and Thurman expand ASCD’s capability to design, deliver, and evaluate the crucial professional development resources today’s educators need to learn, teach, and lead. Read the full press release.
Recently, my 8th grade English language arts students were writing our guiding question at the beginning of class. This is a routine activity that takes about two minutes. Some students write faster than others and finish in as little as 60 seconds.
As I meandered my way around the tables, looking in and chatting with small groups and individuals, I noticed one student, who had finished the task and was copying a friend’s homework. “I see something important is due in science today,” I said. The two girls looked up sheepishly and nodded. The copier asked if I was going to take the papers. “Why?” I queried. “I’m not hurt by your cheating; you are.” The cheater only shrugged and went back to copying. Her cohort grinned and shrugged, right along.
Are educators responsible for cheating?
Research indicates that cheating is on the rise, especially in high schools and colleges. Donald McCabe, a Rutgers professor, believes rampant cheating is due to the stress of competition that schools present. “I don’t think there’s any question that students have become more competitive, under more pressure, and, as a result, tend to excuse more from themselves and other students, and that’s abetted by the adults around them,” McCabe told The New York Times last year.
McCabe and other luminaries, like Harvard researcher Howard Gardner, believe the Internet may also shoulder some of the blame. Students, they claim, don’t understand honor codes and plagiarism, so they are quick to “borrow” content they find in a simple Google search.
It’s not the Internet, it’s grades!
I would argue that there is a much larger root to this problem. When I asked the girls in my class why they were so willing to copy their science worksheet, they quickly acknowledged that they needed the points to maintain a good grade. “Hmm,” I wondered aloud, “you never cheat in my class. Why is that?” They didn’t contemplate the question for even two seconds. “There are no points or grades on your assignments,” the copier quickly said, “so there’s no reason to cheat.”
A smile quickly brightened my face. “So, what do I value?” I asked, beginning to move away, so I could engage another group of students. “Learning,” the two said, almost in unison.
So, would you like to eliminate cheating in your class? It’s easy! All you have to do is abolish grades. Give your students feedback about their work, and allow them the opportunity to revisit activities and projects and improve them, in order to indicate mastery learning.
Cheating will disappear, and, best of all, your students will become independent learners.
To learn more, get Mark Barnes' new book, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom (ASCD 2013) here.
Have you ever had the chance to meet your favorite celebrity? To shake his or her hand and even have a casual chat over lunch? I have. . . well, sort of.
I recently attended the ASCD Annual Conference in Chicago. This was a tremendous weekend, filled with fun and learning opportunities. As an ASCD author and presenter, I spent time with luminaries at the education publishing and professional development giant, including the publisher, editors, department heads, publicists and other authors. These people are solid professionals and smart educators. I presented on results-only learning, signed copies of my book, Role Reversal, and I even participated in a videotaped interview for the ASCD website. All of these were thrilling experiences.
The most amazing part of the weekend, though, was meeting people I interact with often on Twitter, people I hadn't met in person until the conference. I have communicated on Twitter and via email with some of my favorite authors and thought leaders -- people like Daniel Pink, Alfie Kohn and Donalyn Miller. Meeting any of these remarkable individuals would be thrilling, for sure, but I felt no less awed, when I met some key educators I follow on Twitter.
At the ASCD author press luncheon, which I was honored to be part of as a new book writer, I sat down with @TomWhitby, Steven Anderson (@web20classroom), Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher), @KristenSwanson and @PaulaWhite, among others. These people may not be as recognizable as Pink or Kohn, but they are clebrities in education to me, and meeting them in person was sort of like talking to movie stars.
They may not be seen walking the red carpet at the Oscars -- though some might mistake Swanson for Kate Beckinsale and Stumpenhorst for Brad Pitt -- but these intelligent teachers, bloggers and speakers are true celebrities in their field.
So, when you get the chance to meet the fantastic educators you follow on Twitter, enjoy the experience, and be careful not to be starstruck.
Cross posted at Resultsonlylearning.com
Originally posted at K2TWelve.com
The first two parts of Be Social Change and the Center for Social Innovation's three-part series on the Future of Education began with attendees sharing in small groups their personal transformative educational experiences outside and inside of the classroom. At both meetings and in both instances, the general opinion was that transformative educational experiences were personal experiences that felt "out of the box" or "above and beyond" what was expected.
What has been clear in both Future of Education Meetups is that these transformative experiences are currently missing from college and K-12 classrooms. Both teachers and students are dissatisfied with the current education system and has chosen to value.
From the educational entrepreneurs at the first Meetup, who spoke about their role in complementing and enhancing core college curriculum with hands-on job experiences, to the K-12 educators at the second Meetup, who spoke about an "educational ecosystem" and the necessity for self-efficacy and the acceptance of failure, the resounding message was that there is a disconnect between the classroom and what students want to know. Ivan Cestero of the Avenues school and a panelist at the second Meetup put it best when he said as educators we needed to "meld the passion piece with the stuff they (students) need to know."
Lyel Resner, co-founder of Startup Box: South Bronx and moderator of the second Meetup began the discussion by asking the audience: What is school for? I was reminded of something Eduwonkette wrote years ago, conveying historian, David Labaree's vision of school as an environment that nurtured children's ability to
Participants responding to Lyel's question echoed Labaree's vision. They responded that the purpose of school was to prepare students for civic engagement and to teach them how to apply their passions, as well as build their social and emotional skills.
Like going to an art opening and dropping words like "derivative" or "jejune", for the past couple of years, the password into educational cliques has been "Common Core" (sometimes "STEM", sometimes "21st Century skills/literacies"). When the topic of Common Core State Standards came up, there was no overtly negative criticism, only a cautionary thought from Ivan Cestero that the standards required "habits of mind, passion, and social skills to be meaningful."
When the issue of standardized testing came up, panelist Tim Shriver, Dream Director at The Future Project said "test scores won't matter to students if they are not hopeful about their future success." Most everyone in the room (including me) believed portfolios are a superior and more accurate assessment than test scores.
Panelist Leigh Ann Sudol-DeLyser, Computer Science Teacher & Consultant at the Academy for Software Engineering NYC, spoke of the trial and error process that software engineers engage in when writing code. She said that it was important to get students to try and fail at something and then try again. She said "self efficacy" needed to be cultivated. Students need to believe in their ability to solve difficult problems and overcome seemingly impossible challenges. Most of the room agreed with what Leigh Ann was saying.
What has interested me most about these Meetups is the pragmatism. There is a lot of talk of innovation and "new" ways, but it has been tempered with talk of "accreditation" on the college level and systems level implementation in the K-12 grades. Andrea Coleman, CEO of the Office of Innovation at the New York City Department of Education, cited her office's partnership with The Future Project. I'm looking forward to that same pragmatism in the final Meetup of this series.
“I’ve got two turntables and a microphone.”
I’m sure there are better examples of connecting multimedia in pop culture than this line from Beck’s song “Where It’s At” from 1995, but this lyric and the song title speak directly to my current upgrade idea.
I think in multimedia. I believe I always have. I suspect many of you do as well and certainly, your children and your students do. Our modern world is creating a new breed of student, all synesthetes, who learn best by involuntarily connecting words, pictures, moving images, and sounds.
In terms of modern learning opportunities and upgrades, I think Infographics are “Where It’s At.” Two turntables and a microphone, indeed, as well as a word processor and a camera and software to remix it all together.
They’ve been used in advertising and news media for decades and are starting to become a viable instructional strategy in classrooms around the world. The act of creating them addresses multiple standards and the finished product is a demonstration of integrated reading, writing, comparative analysis of text and more, all done in an illustrative and artfully designed way. The brain holds on to that. It’s mental glue.
In terms of the Common Core, creating Infographics of the content you are ALREADY teaching addresses the following specific standards:
If you’re looking for a quick upgrade, this is a good place to start! There are dozens of tools online that will help your students start visualizing their learning in new ways. Here are a few resources to add to your toolboxes:
By the way, in this day and age of modern learning, learning isn’t just about SHOWING what you’ve learned, it’s also about SHARING what you’ve learned. Encourage your students to use the Social Components of some of the Infographic websites. Encourage them to post to the Flickr Group. Encourage them to solicit feedback about their work and then encourage them to upgrade their work. This is AMPLIFIED learning. This is OUT LOUD learning.
This is WHERE IT’S AT!
Join Janet Hale and I as we discuss potential Upgrades at the ASCD Annual Conference this weekend. You can catch us here:
Upgrade Your Curriculum - Edge Group
Upgrade Your Curriculum Book - Now available in the ASCD bookstore
Also, if you just can't get the Beck song out of your head, and you've hummed it the entire time you've read this...here's the video:
A little over 20 years ago, I was a bright-eyed new teacher, ready to save the world one student at a time. Armed with textbook, curriculum guide and folders full of activities, shared from some generous colleagues, I bounced into my classroom daily, certain that I was making a difference.
My students arrived on time, brought materials and were largely respectful. We completed interdisciplinary group projects, played games, laughed, joked and ended each day looking forward to the next. Learning was fun, and teaching was easy, because no one was telling me how to do what I was carefully-trained to do.
Ten years passed, class sizes ballooned, and No Child Left Behind changed things. Inundated with standards, teachers began discarding projects, in favor of workbooks and worksheets, designed to help students pass high stakes tests. As each year came and went, students became more and more disgruntled, and the fun was squeezed out of the classroom.
Today, we have 30-40 students in our rooms. Our professional development consists of lectures about the Common Core, Teacher Evaluation, Positive Behavioral Intervention and a variety of other systems -- all designed to help teachers educate their tired and bored students. Like the students, many teachers are unhappy, because the bureaucracy has taken the fun out of teaching.
The days of small classes and students entering the door thrilled at the prospect learning may indeed be over, but the fun doesn't have to stop. It's up to teachers to ignore the bureaucracy and do what's right for students and for education.
Instead of bemoaning teacher evaluation and standardization, we have to do what we did decades ago -- teach the way we know is best. Instead of encouraging students to recite standards, because an evaluation rubric says principals should look for understanding, we must create engaging activities that help students flesh out the learning objectives on their own.
Throw out the worksheets and workbooks that misguided curriculum directors believe lead to high test scores. Replace them with collaboration, interactive web tools and strategies that encourage critical thinking.
Most of all, we have to laugh. We have to sing. We have to dance. We have to do anything that ignites passion in our students. And when administrators suggest that our practices aren't up to par with the Common Core and state-mandated teacher evaluation systems, we must tell them we're doing what we as the true professionals know is best for our kids -- helping them love learning.
In the end, these best practices are our best weapons. How can the bureaucrats fight that?
The use of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory) has been increasing by leaps and bounds in countries across the globe. In many countries, it has become part of national policy. In India, for example, as part of its National Curriculum Framework for School Education teachers are required to have familiarity with the concepts of multiple intelligences. Gardner himself writes: “…I have been amazed to learn of jurisdictions in which the terminology of MI has been incorporated into white papers, recommendations by ministries, and even legislation…I have heard from reliable sources that MI approaches are part of the policy landscape in such diverse lands as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands” (Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, p. 248).
At the same time, research studies based on multiple intelligences have multiplied in higher education institutions around the world. Journal articles dedicated to this subject have covered populations from areas as diverse as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Malaysia, China, and Japan. In Geneva, Switzerland, the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization, which offers programs to over 600,000 students in 128 countries, has acknowledged Gardner’s role in influencing its own approach to learning: “Howard Gardner has been influential in changing views about learning and the ways we learn. Access and equity within the IB today is much wider than it was previously. It is acknowledged that all students have strengths and weaknesses which must be supported in a strategic way for them to meet their potential.” (IB World, September, 2007).
In the Phillipines, the MI International High School in Quezon City (a suburb of Manila) puts MI theory to work in the cause of promoting entrepreneurship among its students. Students are challenged to develop real-world business plans based on ideas that emerge from MI lessons. A linguistic group, for example, developed Flash Range, a media center that creates books for teens that deal with environmental and personal and emotional growth issues. A musical group created a business called Boom Box Music, which offers musical composition and record production services. A group of people-smart students conceptualized their own family restaurant –Pastuchi- featuring a fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisines.
In Denmark, the industrial manufacturer Danfoss, has created a theme park—Danfoss Universe– that incorporates many strategies and ideas from multiple intelligences. They have essentially created a multiple intelligences interactive museum, where children and adults participate in over fifty activities designed to both test their multiple intelligences and also raise awareness concerning the many different ways of being smart.
In my own work with multiple intelligences, I’ve given keynotes and workshops in twenty countries including Iceland, Singapore, and the tiny province of Andorra. I’ve had my books on multiple intelligences translated in over fifty foreign editions into twenty-three languages (including 11 editions in Chinese alone). It’s truly been marvelous to see the broad impact that MI theory has been making internationally.
To learn more about the impact of multiple intelligences in cultures around the world, see: Multiple Intelligences Around the World, Jie-Qi Chen, Seana Moran, and Howard Gardner (eds), San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. To read my chapter from the book, click on the title: “When Cultures Connect: Multiple Intelligences Theory as a Successful American Export to Other Countries
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
- President George W. Bush,
Florence, South Carolina, January 11, 2000
Does technology integration improve student achievement? If your child is entering kindergarten in 2013, you may see a SmartBoard instead of a chalkboard. Your child may come home with a blog, rather than an essay. Animoto, Doodle Buddy, Glogster, Story Buddy, Symbaloo, Tagxedo, and VoiceThread may require parents and guardians to purchase a dictionary just to understand the teacher’s assignments. It is an exciting time in education and students are entering classrooms with opportunities that their parents did not have. As teachers continue to use technology as a tool to teach students key skills and concepts, it is important to focus on the learning targets rather than the technology or online tools.
In 1949, Ralph Tyler wrote Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. In the introduction to the book, Tyler outlined four fundamental questions which should be answered in developing any curriculum and plan of instruction.
Tyler’s Four Fundamental Questions:
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
2. What educational learning experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?
These questions are just as important in 2013 as they were in 1949. Tyler never had the opportunity to Skype or create a VoiceThread, but he had a clear understanding of curriculum design. It is easy for teachers to get wrapped up in the activity and teaching students how to use the online tool. “In the absence of a learning plan with clear goals, how likely is it that students will develop shared understandings on which future lessons might build” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 21)? If teachers desire for students to have an Alphabet Soup vocabulary of Web 2.0 tools, then they should focus on teaching every tool that looks fun and kid-friendly. However, if teachers want students to understand key skills and concepts outlined by standards, then Tyler’s four questions will support curriculum planning. Prior to mobile labs, 1:1 initiatives, SmartBoards, and Web 2.0 tools, teachers designed lessons which led to student understanding. While the tools available to teachers and students will continue to multiply, the basic goals of teaching for understanding remain consistent. President Bush may have been right. Parents and teachers need to ask, “Is our children learning?"
Recommended Resources Which Support Technology Integration and Teaching for Understanding:
Ferriter, W.M. (2013). Digital immigrants unite. The Tempered Radical.
Ferriter, W.M., & Garry, A. (2010). Teaching the igeneration: 5 easy ways to introduce
essential skills with web 2.0 tools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
Fisher, M., & Hale, J. (Coming in Feb. 2013) Upgrade your curriculum: Practical ways to
transform units and engage students. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design: Expanded 2nd edition.
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers wants educators to pass a rigorous teacher exam, before they are licensed to enter the classroom. The Tribune calls this “a terrific idea.” After much consideration, I created this short list of questions that might be appropriate for such an exam:
5 -- What will you tell the angry parent of your student who never reads a book, because you spend all of your time teaching to a government-imposed standardized test, using basal readers?
4 -- Your student fails a unit test on the solar system, telling you she couldn’t study because she’s been home alone every night caring for her two-year-old sister, while her mother is gone for days on a drug binge. Why didn’t you get her to pass the test?
3 -- Administration mandates nightly homework for your first graders, and half don’t turn it in; they are failing. What are you going to do about it?
2 -- Explain in detail the value-added system and how you can get your students to demonstrate one-year’s growth using it. (A baffled would-be teacher won’t realize the treachery of this question, until someone tells her later that the convoluted value-added system is one of America’s best-kept secrets.)
1 -- You will be given outdated materials, a handful of old computers (all useful web sites will be filtered, of course), dilapidated desks and 30-45 students in a room that is 90 degrees in summer and 50 in winter. If your students don’t pass the test, you will be fired. Explain how you’ll prepare your students to be competitive in today’s global economy.
Do you have other samples we can send to Randi Weingarten and the Tribune for what they believe to be a "terrific idea?"
Mark's new book, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom is available for preorder from ASCD here.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Based on a variety of factors, here are the most popular Learn it in 5 how-to videos and content pages of 2012. Feel free to comment on your own favs.
Twitter and Diigo make for remarkable PD -- this video demonstrates how to locate amazing sites with Twitter and then bookmark them with Diigo.
Make student feedback easy with Dragon's speech-to-text -- the remarkable Dragon tool types what you say with remarkable accuracy.
Encourage your students to share content on KidBlog -- the popular student blogging program rolled out lots of new features in 2012, and this video demonstrates some from a student's point of view
How to easily follow great people on Twitter -- this video shows how to locate people of interest on Twitter and add them to your Personal Learning Network (PLN).
Easily create slide shows, set to music, with Slid.ly -- creating slide shows with your own content or content you find on the Internet is extremely easy with Slide.ly.
Get quick student response to learning with Socrative -- a quick-response feedback tool that can be accessed from any device with Internet access.
Qwiki is a remarkable content sharing tool -- Qwiki is a content sharing application, and it couldn't have a more appropriate name. Create pictures, video, and more in seconds with Qwiki.
Students love the social network Goodreads -- Goodreads is a wonderful community of readers that students love, because not only does Goodreads help students organize what their reading online, it gives them a place to share their opinions about books.
Have students create 30-second videos with Animoto -- Students can register for Animoto for free and add their own pictures and videos or those provided by Animoto to create a brief video.
Create fun online sticky note projects with Lino -- Similar to Glogster and Wallwisher, Lino is a remarkably easy-to-use web-based project creation tool.
This is cross-posted at www.learnitin5.com
For days I have been trying to make sense of what happend in Newtown Connecticut. A senseless crime at an elementary school that left so many beloved dead. Families torn apart and emotionally scarred by this tragedy. I look at the faces of the 27 victims and see a history of people who have touched my life, young students who once filled my first grade classroom, teachers I have coached and mentored; their classroom filled with laughter, joy and passion. This type of tragedy could of happend in any class, or neighborhood, to any child and teacher.
As a professor in teacher education the question "What can I do to best prepare teachers for the "21 Century"changed dramatically on December 14th. Today I think about the 21 century classroom as much more than Smartboards, Ipads, and internet access. I think about the violent crimes that are becoming more and more prevalent in todays' schools and I ask myself what "if anything" teachers can do to prevent these types of occurrences.
When I began teaching in South Central Los Angeles, school lock downs and gang shootings were a common event. When the bell rang to indicate a lock down, we bolted our door and students were not allowed to leave until another bell rung signaling safety. This was not the training I received in my teacher education program, but the reality I faced each day as a teacher. So the question of "how do we address this issue" is so much more complex than bolting a door and hiding for cover, although basic safety is something we often take for granted.
As a society we must also address how we deal with children who have mental illness. I do not believe there are not signs of abnormal behavior that are indicators of a potential problem. We need to get better at identifying these problems and become much more comfortable about having a "tough conversation" after all these conversations are what prevent problems from spiraling out of control. DENIAL only leads to a ROCK BOTTOM that impacts everyone.
Second, we need to shift gears in our society, whereas money has become our most precious commodity, it really should be our CHILDREN. They are the future and if you want to know what the future will look like, then just look at the present. Right now we are dealing with issues of school violence that has escalated from the Columbine shooting in 1999 (which according to Wikepedia is ranked the fifth deadliest shooting) to Sandy Hook (ranked #2). I wonder what the future will hold in ten years when my toddler is entering high school? The very fact that we even have a ranking system of school shootings makes me irate beyond belief. What will the future hold when our society sensationalizes school shootings and focuses more understanding the perpetrator than make some hard decision that will protect our children in the future.
Finally let's not forget the elephant in the room "Gun Control" the very fact that someone can own and freely use guns that hold hundreds of rounds of ammo and at the age of twenty can exercise his "free will" to enter a school and destroy lives is beyond my comprehension. The "right to bear arms" should be changed to the "right to live life". This is a basic right that is not articulated in the United States Constitution but one that is our birth right.
When we examine any problem in our personal life and in society the common denominator is communication. We need to get real about what is happening in our society and make some tough choices that will protect our "right to live".
In my profession I need to step away from my fear about the reality of teaching. Too often we paint a rosy picture to our future educators so that they embrace their new profession with hope and greatness. But we need to let our future educators know that the problems they will encounter in the classroom today is more likely than not one they types of problems they dealt with as a student.
Preparing teachers for 21 Century classrooms is more complex than I could ever imagine. I want my students to know that as future educators they need to know how to advocate for themselves and their students. Too often in my experience I found that problems in education were "brushed under the carpet" either because of a lack of funding, knowledge or resources. As a K-12 teacher there were a few instances where I was threatened with my job because I stood up for what I believed in. As a society, we need to support our teachers with better salary, resources and job training so they can be the best they can be.
We need to also focus on educating the whole child which means taking into account the social, emotional and psychological development of children and not just their academic achievement on a standardized test. When it comes to technology in the school, there is an inherent danger if the focus is on the latest tools and tricks to keep students on task. Teachers also need to know how to connect with 21 Century student who may spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using technology. If the majority of their school day is using technology as well, how will we ever know our students and best support them as they go through the developmental stages of life?
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Why You Should Attend the Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy
ASCD’s Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA), one of the association’s most unique experiences for educators, provides participants with the opportunity to learn from some of the nation’s leading education thinkers and policymakers in a much more personal setting than the usual conference. Register for LILA now to take advantage of the conference’s hands-on format so that you can gain the skills and knowledge to make a difference.
LILA takes place January 27–29, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Read on for some of the features that set this conference apart.
Space is limited and the registration deadline is fast approaching! Register for this premier legislative conference today and check out the conference agenda as well as the registration and travel information. Questions? Contact ASCD’s policy team at email@example.com.
New ASCD Policy Points on Sequestration and Education Now Available
Learn all you need to know about sequestration and its consequences for educators and schools in the latest issue of Policy Points, ASCD’s newest policy publication.
Sequestration, the 8.2 percent deep, across-the-board cuts to nearly all federal spending, will happen in January 2013 unless Congress acts to stop it. For education programs, this means a loss of more than $4 billion in federal funding. Unless lawmakers act soon, the potential loss of educator jobs, programs, transportation, and key school services could have a devastating effect in every state.
Policy Points explains how we got to this point, outlines what sequestration means for education, and shares action steps that educators like you can take to help stop sequestration. Take one of these steps today, and urge your federal lawmakers to stop sequestration before time runs out and our nation’s students are forced to pay the price for Congress’s inaction.
Check out the new Whole Child Tenets document
The Whole Child Programs Unit within Constituent Services has released a new copy of the whole child tenets document (PDF). In addition to having an updated design, the new layout allows users to see connections between the indicators that describe a tenet, and their correlating components, which were also identified for the ASCD School Improvement Tool. We hope users will find the new format more user-friendly as you work with schools, districts and states to support a whole child approach to education. We believe it to be the most comprehensive way to help educators in the field understand the real scope of a whole child approach.
Emerging Leaders Featured inASCD Inservice Blog Series
In an effort to highlight more educator voices on the ASCD blog, we recently initiated a series of Q&A sessions featuring ASCD Emerging Leaders. Learn more about 2012 Emerging Leader Daina Lieberman and 2011 Emerging Leader Doug Paulson.
Florida ASCD Leader Post Featured in ASCD Inserviceand Core Connection
ASCD asked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states. In the first post of the series,Florida ASCD President and Emerging Leader alum Alina Davis writes about the challenges and successes that Florida has had with CCSS implementation. This post was also featured in the December 5 issue of ASCD’s Common Core e-newsletter, Core Connection.
Please Welcome Montclair State University to the ASCD Student Chapter Program
ASCD is pleased to announce that Montclair State University has been accepted into our ASCD Student Chapter Program. The student leaders are enthusiastically planning recruitment events and other activities for the coming semester. To learn more about ASCD Student Chapters, go to www.ascd.org/chapters.
ASCD Leaders on ASCD EDge
Check out these great posts from ASCD leaders on the ASCD EDgecommunity site. Please read, comment, and share!
ASCD Can Help Support Your Common Core Efforts
Are you interested in having a session presenter or keynote speaker on Common Core implementation at your next event? ASCD has resources and assistance available to state affiliates that will help to inform your members and educators about implementing the Common Core standards. ASCD’s recent reportFulfilling the Promise of the Common Core State Standards: Moving from Adoption to Implementation to Sustainability illuminates activities educators at all levels can undertake to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards across the nation. The report and its implementation recommendations have already been successfully presented at events held by Utah ASCD, Ohio ASCD, and North Carolina ASCD. If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, e-mail Efrain Mercado, lead strategist for the Common Core State Standards, at both firstname.lastname@example.org andConstituentServices@ascd.org.
A Progress Report on Teacher Evaluation
Teacher quality is the most important in-school factor influencing student learning and achievement. Research shows that students with high-performing teachers can progress three times as fast as students with low-performing teachers and each student deserves access to highly effective teachers in every subject. In turn, all teachers deserve a fair and accurate assessment of their skills, how they perform in the classroom, and how they can improve. Teacher effectiveness is dependent on accurate and fair evaluations, based on multiple measures, including—but not solely based around—their students’ performance in the subjects they teach.
If the ultimate goal of teacher evaluation is to improve student performance, what should evaluators look for? Read more on the Whole Child Blog.
In November, we looked at the current teacher evaluation landscape. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Mike Blakeslee, deputy executive director and chief operating officer of the National Association for Music Education, a whole child partner organization and member of ASCD's College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness Coalition; Bryan Goodwin, vice president of communications at McREL, based in Denver, Colo.; and Cindy Weber, superintendent of Durand Area Schools in Durand, Mich. Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read this month's newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
ASCD’s Educational Leadership also focused on fair and effective teacher evaluation in its November issue, featuring articles by Robert J. Marzano, Charlotte Danielson, Tony Frontier, Thomas R. Hoerr, Carol Ann Tomlinson, and other experts and practitioners. Topics, research, and commentary include peer review, classroom observation, value-added measures, school district examples from across the United States, and lessons from South Korea.
Something to Talk About
· New Professional Development Resources from ASCD Support Problem-Based Learning, Differentiated Instruction, and Common Core Implementation—ASCD announces the release of a series of new PD In Focus® videos, as well as two PD Online® courses. These new resources focus on supporting educators in implementing problem-based learning, differentiated instruction, and the Common Core State Standards. Read the full press release.
· Thomas Armstrong Presents Strength-Based Model for Teaching Learners with Special Needs in New Book—ASCD is pleased to announce the release ofNeurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life by seasoned educator and best-selling author Thomas Armstrong. This new professional development book is available in paperback and e-book formats. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Authors Headline 2013 Annual Conference Pre-Conference Institutes— ASCD announced the pre-conference session lineup for the 2013 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, being held at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. The three-, two-, and one-day Pre-Conference Institutes will be held March 13–15 and offer intensive learning experiences on curriculum, instruction, assessment, and more. Read the full press release.
· Atlanta Public Schools Select Digital Solutions from ASCD to Support Professional Development Goals—Atlanta Public Schools (APS), serving more than 51,000 students in the greater Atlanta, Ga., metro area, has become the latest school system to select digital solutions from ASCD to meet theirdistrictwide professional development goals. Read the full press release.
Since I was wake at 5 AM on a Saturday (don't ask), I figured it was a good time to update my Personal Learning Network on Twitter. For years, I've been saying Twitter is the best free professional development tool available; I even teach an online course at two colleges on the subject.
Not familiar with the power of Twitter? You doubt the veracity of my proclamation? Check out the amazing PD and personal enrichment I got on an early Saturday morning.
With the intention of growing my PLN, I went to one of my favorite educators, Shelly Terrell. One of the most energetic and brilliant teachers I know (by the way, I met Shelly on Twitter and later at the ISTE conference), I know she follows remarkable people in education, business, leadership and entrepreneurship, so I figured I couldn't go wrong following some of the people in Shelly's PLN.
Soon, I found Jordan Hamel, an engineering student, who is working on an education technology app. Since I recently launched a mobile app of my own, I reached out to Jordan so we could connect and share ideas.
Next, I found Jeff Herb, an Instructional Technology Director at a high school in Illinois. Jeff's Twitter profile led me to his web site, Instructional Tech Talk, a veritable treasure trove of technology resources. Jeff's site guided me to an article about the educational tool, eBackpack, a site that provides an online storage area where students can easily maintain and organize activities.
Next, I found Roxanna Elden, a teacher and writer. Her Twitter profile routed me to a website that describes her book, See Me After Class. I read a review by Education Week, which said Elden's book has "a heavy dose of practicality, a dash of cynicism, and wry humor." I was intrigued and moments later, I was on Amazon.com downloading See Me After Class to my Kindle.
In about 45 minutes of perusing the Twitter PLN of one of my favorite teachers, I found an educator with a common interest, an edtech teacher who edits a powerful website, and I discovered a new online tool I may wish to use with my own students. Oh, and I found a new author and added an education book to my library.
By the way, all of this was free professional developmet (although I did purchase Elden's book).
I could have attended a day-long workshop, which would have cost hundreds of dollars and consumed my entire Saturday. The learning would have been negligible. Instead, I spent a wonderful 45 minutes in the comforts of my own home, sipping hot coffee, and I learned more than I have in the last five workshops I've attended.
So, you see, if you're not using Twitter, you're missing out on the best free education PD, period!
Learn more about Twitter today.
Mark's new book, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom is available for preorder from ASCD here.
Over the past year, in my work with ASCD affiliates, we have been exploring ways to revolutionize the ways we serve their affiliate members. Why? The writing is on the wall that today’s educators have different needs and expectations. It’s difficult to get out of the classroom to attend conferences, and when educators can get away for professional development they want to be actively engaged in acquiring meaning and building understanding. One concept I have asked affiliates to explore is the deconstruction of conferences, workshops and seminars into a newly emerging kind of professional development: the unconference.
Why unconference? It’s a back-to-basics movement…a new minimalism…wherein the participants define the learning and then contribute to its success. There are no keynote speakers, no concurrent sessions and no matrix schedules. They can be held anywhere you can find conducive free space so there is literally no overhead costs. And the payoff is that those who attend get to connect, learn and network for follow-up discussions after the event is over. Sounds intriguing…but scary! As one affiliate board member remarked to me at their summer retreat: “No headliners? No identified agenda? No pre-registration? What if nobody comes?!”
“Take a chance!” I replied. “If nobody comes then…nobody will know it flopped!” The room laughed nervously. But the truth is to make revolutionary changes in how we serve educators, we need to take risks. Every affiliate I have discussed unconferencing with has been fascinated with the idea. It makes sense to them…especially as they consider the needs of educators under 40. They’re not joiners. They don’t want to sit and be talked at. They want opportunities to apply themselves and be leaders among their peers. They need places where they can make that happen. What we need are some early adopters…
We do have a number of affiliates seriously planning their first foray into unconferencing. This past week I attended the first of a series of unconferences to be held by South Carolina ASCD on Project-Based Learning (PBL) at a middle school in Columbia, SC. Executive Director Charlene Herring invited me because of my recent book IQuest and so I could provide an additional layer of support as her team began this new PD experiment.
Because there was no published schedule or agenda, only an open-ended theme, the SC ASCD team had no idea who would actually show up or what would happen when they did. As educators rolled in, they slapped on a self-signed nametag and went to one of three whiteboards at the front of the room and wrote what they knew about PBL and what they were seeking to learn at the unconference. There were few solo attendees…most educators came in teams of two-to-six people…and they sat in their teams wherever they found seats. What struck me most? Of the 40 people who came to participate, more than thirty of them were young educators. The over-forty attendees were administrators who brought their young teams to contribute and learn. And the teams did not stay in teams for long. People were quickly talking across teams to share and learn and exchange contact information. It was purposeful and powerful in how it took on a life of its own.
Several teams emerged as having experience and expertise that everyone else in attendance wanted to hear about. There were elementary people picking the brains of secondary people and vice-versa. At some points people met in quickly-forming groups to discuss PBL planning or implementation or assessment concerns. Then the room would shift as groups of educators sought to discuss ideas by grade level. By the time it was over, SC ASCD’s first unconference was a high-energy success with everyone parting full of ideas and strategies and new contacts with whom they could continue the conversation. The entire event lasted three hours and didn’t cost anyone a penny. It was relevant engaging and satisfying for everyone involved.
Could it be more than 40 attendees? Absolutely. But it was a great turnout for a first-time event with no defined parameters. More importantly, it was a big step for an ASCD affiliate offering a new kind of professional development to its membership. Yes, edcamps and unconferences are already tried-and-true PD formats in ed tech circles, but ed tech educators are typically early adopters and innovators by trade. I am very proud of our ASCD affiliates serving as innovators in their own right. We can build on our successes and learn from our efforts. The point is, ASCD and its affiliates are committed to remaining relevant partners to educators, providing rich resources and rewarding experiences that make a difference in their work. Thank you to the SC ASCD team and its members who partook in last week’s PBL unconference. And here’s to more ground-breaking innovation for our affiliates in the months to come!
Walter’s blog archive: http://surfaquarium.com/blog.htm
Mirror site: http://surfaquarium.blogspot.com/
The increasing population of linguistically and culturally diverse students in our schools poses a challenge for classroom teachers who need to communicate with their families. Parents of English language learners may not be familiar with the practice of meeting with their child’s teacher and do not know what is expected of them during a parent-teacher conference. Many classroom teachers do not know how to communicate with parents who do not speak English and who are not familiar with U.S. school practices.
Conferences with parents of English language learners (ELLs) require preparation on order to have a productive meeting. Here are six ideas that will help teachers of ELLs.
1) Determine whether a translator is needed. Many parents do not speak English well enough to understand what you are saying so it is important to the success of a conference to contact a translator for parents who need one. If your school does not provide translators, ask parents to bring a bilingual family member. Siblings, or worse yet, the child herself, should never be used to translate for the parents. When a translator is needed, the meeting time should be lengthened to ensure that there is enough time for the teacher to provide information and answer questions.
2) Assemble samples of the student’s work to share with parents. Have a solid understanding of the student’s current English proficiency level and prepare to provide samples of this during the meeting. Try to schedule the conferences so that both parents can attend. In some cultures, the father must be included since no important decisions are made without his agreement.
3) Convey a receptive attitude. Walk to the door of your classroom to greet parents as they come into your room just as you would greet guests in your home.
4) Consider the physical set-up of your conference space. A face-to face setting may be too confrontational for parents of some cultures. Arrange chairs so that your body is at a 45-degree angle to the parents. Place the parent between yourself and the translator. Don't misinterpret parents’ meaning if they don’t make eye contact. In the U.S we feel that someone who doesn’t look us in the eye is untrustworthy. People from some cultures consider making eye contact confrontational. Sitting at a 45-degree angle to the parent helps minimize the amount of eye contact.
5) During the conference you should speak in short uncomplicated sentences and stop so that the translator can translate for parents every few sentences. If you do not stop speaking every few sentences, your whole message will not be conveyed. Do not use educational jargon. Avoid speaking directly to the translator. Include the parent in the conversation. When you ask the parent questions, give the translator time to talk to the parents.
6) An important area for misunderstandings is in the attitude of different cultures toward time. The U.S, Canada and northern European countries see time as being highly structured, logical, exact, and sequential. We are monochronic. People from South and Central America, Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries, Asia, Middle East, Southern Europe and Africa like to keep their time unstructured. They are polychromic. To a monochron, time is exact and being late is both rude and disrespectful. To a polychron, the time set for a meeting is just an approximation. If parents arrive at a meeting 45 minutes after the appointed time, it is because arriving up to 45 minutes after the designated time is not considered late.
When parents are actively involved in the education of their children, those children are more likely to make good grade and test higher on standardized tests. They will attend school more regularly, be less likely to drop out. This is a worthy goal that teachers can strive for when they have effective conferences with the parents of English language learners.