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24th April

“Many of the education reform recommendations either ignore the role of teachers or ignore the intelligence, judgment and experience that teachers might offer. There is a need to defend schools as institutions essential to maintaining and developing a critical democracy and also to defend teachers as transformative intellectuals who combine scholarly reflection and practice in the service of educating students.”
 Teachers as Intellectuals, Henry Giroux

4th April

After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy broke the news to a large group that had gathered in Indianapolis in a now famous extemporaneous speech. At the 2:30 mark in the video, Kennedy recites from memory one of the greatest poems I’ve ever read:

Even in our sleep

Pain which cannot forget

Falls drop by drop upon the heart

Until in our own despair

Against our will

Comes wisdom

Through the awful grace of God

- Aeschylus

Watch Video

23rd March

Inquiry-Based Learning in First Grade

As a first grade class was listening to the teacher read a book about dolphins, one student asked, “Is it o.k. to keep dolphins in tanks?” From this question, our amazing teachers in room 314 developed an inquiry-based learning unit. The children read more books about dolphins, gathered information on charts, presented their positions, and wrote multiple drafts. The culmination of the two-week inquiry was a written piece now proudly displayed outside their classroom. The kids loved it, and some even began questioning the ethics of keeping a class guinea pig as a pet. Clearly this learning experience sparked their innate intellectual curiosity and fostered critical thinking.

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2nd March

Kandinsky for our Little Ones

For our elementary teachers and anyone interested in great children’s books …

Yesterday I met a really cool art teacher and she was going on and on about this new children’s book that was just published last month: The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art. It looks so interesting, that I’ve decided to buy it and start a library for my future grandchildren!!  

Great review in The Times.  

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Enjoy!


26th February

News Flash! Reading is Good for You!

This morning I noticed two articles on my twitter feedThe Atlantic reports today that grammar is best taught in the context of writing, not as isolated drill. The Economist reports today that parents should speak frequently with their children because it builds their vocabulary. Both true. Both not new. Teachers have known these things for a long time.

I have nothing against The Atlantic or The Economist; they are fine publications. But these articles signify a larger problem: the voices of experienced teachers are all too often left out of our national dialogue. As a result, important issues do not receive the deep, nuanced, rich discussion they deserve, which impedes progress.

We must insist on a more sophisticated national conversation about education reform: one that reflects and respects the wisdom of serious educators.  


22nd February

“The Village was as close in 1946 as it would ever come to Paris in the twenties. Though much of the Village was shabby, I didn’t mind. The streets and bars were full of writers and painters and the kind of young men and women who liked to be around them. In Washington Square would-be novelists and poets tossed a football near the fountain and girls just out of college looked at the landscape with art history in their eyes. People on the benches held books in their hands. I realize that people still read books now and some people actually love them, but in 1946 in the Village our feelings about books went beyond love. It was as if we didn’t know where we ended and books began. We didn’t simply read books; we became them. While it would be easy to say that we escaped into books, it might be truer to say that books escaped into us. Books were to us what drugs were to young men in the sixties. They showed us what was possible.”
Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard

5th February

Ron Berger: Leaders of Their Own Learning

BOOKS I LOVE

Many of you emailed me to tell me how much you loved the butterly video from my friend Ron Berger. So I decided to share more about Ron…

His new book — Leaders of Their Own Learning — is absolutely amazing! This book is about how to design our lessons, units, assessments, and school culture to inspire and compel students to be passionate and committed about learning at the highest level, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

As Ron says, “The book provides a blueprint for igniting students’ capacity to take responsibility for their own learning, building independence, critical thinking skills, perseverance, and self-reflective understanding.”

I highly recommend it! The book puts Ron’s many decades of progressive educational experience in one place - and it comes with a DVD!  

And thank you for working with a smile on such a messy snowy day. You are my heroes! xoxo

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