First Presidential Debate – Obama, Romney, Lehrer Word Clouds

» 03 October 2012 » In Ed Policy, Visualizations » 2 Comments

I enjoyed watching the first 2012 Presidential debates. Here’s three word clouds – from President Obama, Governor Romney and debate moderator, Jim Lehrer.

Each word cloud represents the 30 most frequently used words, with the frequency represented by font size. For all three, I removed names and titles from consideration (examples: President Obama, Governor Romney, Jim, Mr. etc). When the term “president” was use to refer to the office, it remained in the count.  Interesting that “47″ never turned up.

President Obama

Governor Romney

Jim Lehrer

Transcript source: Washington Post
Word Cloud generation: Wordle.net

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Common Core Skills: Deeper Reading and Critical Thinking

» 31 July 2012 » In Ed Policy, History / DBQ's, Literacy, Strategies, Teachers » 2 Comments

First automobile-featured

Across the county teachers are looking for lessons and resources to implement new Common Core standards. While some see Common Core skills as something new, most of these skills are exemplified in the well established, document-based approach to instruction. As a long-time advocate of DBQ’s, I’ve re-posted sample lessons (elementary, middle and high school) that demonstrate how to build student skills in literacy and critical thinking, while supporting mastery of the Common Core.

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14 Provocative Questions for the Faculty

» 25 July 2012 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Leadership, Reflection, Teachers » 3 Comments

nostopping-featured

It’s back to school time. Get ready for that opening day faculty meeting where you sit and listen, while wishing you could be getting some actual work done in your classroom. Here’s few disruptive questions you could pose to subvert the status quo in your school. Let’s begin with who’s learning, who’s not, and what are we doing about it?

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Schools Making A Difference: Films and Discussions

» 08 February 2012 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Leadership, Students, Teachers » No Comments

Lessons from the Real World- featured

The Portland City Club is continuing its educational series “Schools Making A Difference: Portraits of Excellence, Engagement and Equity” – films, panel discussions and participant dialogues

Though economic realities pose significant challenges for our education system, when schools and communities work together with a clear vision and heroic effort, they can achieve stunning results. Exemplary schools provide high expectations and opportunities for all students to succeed. They also provide real world learning experiences that prepare students for college, careers and citizenship in the 21st century. They do this through an engaging curriculum that recognizes the diverse talents and needs of their student populations. Join fellow citizens, educators, and students for any of four evenings of films, panels, and participant dialogues that offer portraits of such schools in our region and around the world.

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Worksheets and Kodachrome: Lessons in Kodak’s Bankruptcy

» 20 January 2012 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, History / DBQ's, Students » 2 Comments

Kodak Simplicity featured

This week Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Is there a lesson for educators about what happens when you lose touch with your customer?

At the core of Kodak’s eventual demise was the failure of the leadership to remain connected to their customers. They convinced themselves that the public would continue to want to buy film, load it into the camera, take a picture, drop the film off at the processor, and return later to pick up their photos. Easy to believe when you’re making money at every stage of that process.

Has our educational leadership lost touch with their customers – the students? Given the growing array of cheap digital tools available to our students, will they passively wait to be told what, how, when and with whom to learn? Is the information flow of the traditional classroom (lecture, note-taking, test) as outmoded as taking your film to the drugstore for processing?

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Testing or Teachable Moments?

» 30 November 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Teachers » No Comments

Extinguished-featured

Several years ago, after I brought in tulips from my garden, my fifth-grade students wanted to plant their own. I learned that few students in my school’s high-poverty community had ever planted anything, so we planted tulips (not in the curriculum). In the process, one student found part of a rusted horseshoe, so we studied the history of the neighborhood (not in the curriculum), discovering that a farm had existed there 90 years earlier. Then, because of the proliferation of questions about the artifacts we’d unearthed, we studied archaeology (not in the curriculum). With the new push for common core standards nationwide, perhaps no student in any fifth grade in the United States will plant tulips, explore the history of his or her neighborhood or learn about archaeology ever again.

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Black Friday: Will Teachers Be Shopping or Working at the Mall?

» 25 November 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Events, Teachers » No Comments

american.teacher-feature

Statistics show that nearly half of all teachers leave within the first five years. Low salaries and high stress are among the top reasons teachers “burnout” and quit the profession. Sixty-two percent of our nation’s teachers have second jobs outside of the classroom. What’s your kid’s teacher doing tonight – home working on lesson plans, or selling cell phones at the mall?

American Teacher is a film that follows four teachers who struggle to make ends meet while trying to stay in the profession they love. With narration by Matt Damon, it tells their stories through a mixture of footage and interviews with students, families, and colleagues, as well as the teachers themselves. By following these teachers as they reach different milestones in their careers, it uncovers a deeper story of the teaching profession in America today. This post features a trailer and information about screenings in your area.

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Why I Teach? A Voice from StoryCorps

» 30 October 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Teachers » No Comments

Ayodeji-Ogunniyi-featured

It’s not an best of time for teachers – budget cuts, layoffs, increased class size, test-score based evaluations, and attacks on collective bargaining / tenure, etc. Meanwhile, the self-appointed corporate reformers would have you believe that they can fix education with a strong dose of market incentives. This morning I heard a moving StoryCorps narrative on why one young man chose to become a teacher. Spoiler alert – it wasn’t merit pay.

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Why Johnny Can’t Search – a Response

» 23 October 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Leadership, Literacy, Students » 21 Comments

stephen-poff-featured

Clive Thompson wonders “Why Johnny Can’t Search” (Wired Magazine Nov, 2011). I note that schools contribute to the problem in two ways. In an effort to protect students from offensive online content many schools respond by sequestering students behind an information firewall. That sets Johnny up to fail in our “wild west” of information. Every day he walks into a sanitized information landscape with the expectation that anything he finds behind the school firewall is acceptable.

Schools inhibit the development of critical evaluation skills in another way – the relentless (test prep) focus on mastery of facts. Johnny can assess the validity of information because he’s awash in a sea of text without context. Critically evaluating sources requires a deeper understanding of author and purpose. That’s developed with an inquiry-based approach to learning. No time for that – we have to “cover” content for the test. In the relentless march to the exam, Johnny gets well acclimated to quickly stuffing his head with facts. No wonder he’s willing to take up Google on the bet that “I’m Feeling Lucky.”

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The National Writing Project Needs More Than Praise, It Needs Funding

» 19 March 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Literacy, Social Web, Visualizations » 1 Comment

On March 2, President Obama signed a bill eliminating direct federal funding for the National Writing Project (NWP), the nation’s leading effort to improve writing and learning in the digital age. Contact your member of Congress and President Obama and tell them why the National Writing Project needs more than praise – it needs funding!

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