Monday, November 18, 2013

Ohio Educators Concerned About Need For Keyboarding In Early Grades

The Coshocton (OH) Tribune (11/17) reports on the impact that the Common Core Standards will have on young students on Ohio, focusing on the need for students in the early grades to have keyboarding instruction in order to take Common Core-aligned tests. The piece notes that such changes have “education officials wondering whether students will be able to manipulate their fingers” to properly take such tests.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

From Kenneth Beare, your Guide to ESL

Using the Whole Brain
There are many ways to learn a language as there many types of understanding. You can understand something musically, visually or intellectually, as well as emotionally or even through smell. Right Left Brain
This Mind Map reading comprehension lesson provides a number of exercise to help students use this visual technique for longer reads.
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Describing a Scene
The cowboy is riding into the sunset. He fought crime and caught bandits, as well as found love. He's going to become the sheriff in Dodge...
Cowboy into the Sunset
The description above takes the final scene of a movie as the point of departure to write a description using a wide variety of tenses. Use this final scene lesson plan to help students develop stories based on sketches they make of movies they love. Other options include creating soap operas in class, or writing and acting out a script from a favorite movie.
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Three Uses of "What are you doing?"
The present continuous tense - for example, I am writing a blog post. - is used in three situations. The first is to express what is happening at the moment of speaking:
Present Continuous - Now
The second to express what is happening around the time of speaking. In other words, the present continuous can express current projects.
Present Continuous - Currently
Finally, the present continuous may also express a future scheduled event such as a meeting.
Present Continuous - Future Schedule
Learn more about tenses uses the visual guide to tenses.
Check Your Writing Online
Finally! After many, many years there's an online service which checks English writing especially designed for English learners. I don't know how many times I've received an email asking for a recommendation for proofreading software especially designed for learners. 1Checker provides this help. Here's a correction for the following conjugation error in a sentence:
... you intends to say
Subject-Verb Agreement

The subject and the verb have to agree in number and person. Singular nouns in the subject require the singular form of the verb (either in the first or the third person), whereas plural nouns require the plural form of the verb.

Wrong: He walk alone.
Right: He walks alone.
1Checker is free at the moment for the online version. I highly recommend you give it a try!

Philadelphia Rehiring 80 Counselors

The Philadelphia Inquirer (11/5, Graham) reports that the Philadelphia school district is recalling some 80 counselors who were laid off during the district’s “brutal budget crunch,” noting that officials hailed this as “good news,” even though it was “not enough.” The piece notes that the hiring is being funded by “the $45 million Gov. Corbett released to the Philadelphia School District last month.” The piece notes that an indeterminate number of laid-off assistant principals, secretaries, teachers, and special education aides are also being recalled.

California Struggling To Assess Districts’ Testing Readiness


Southern California Public Radio (11/4) reports online that education officials in California are assessing districts’ readiness for “a new computerized field test” tied to the Common Core Standards scheduled for five months from now. However, “fewer than one in four have returned” a classroom technology survey.

ED, California Remain At Odds Over Testing


The San Jose (CA) Mercury News (11/5) continues coverage of the impasse between ED and California over the state’s decision to drop its STAR assessment in favor of a trial run of Common Core-aligned assessments. The piece reports that the logjam threatens “millions of dollars in funding to Santa Cruz County school districts,” noting that “an official” from ED “suggested California could lose at least $3.5 billion in federal aid next year if the state didn’t comply with federal rules.”
The Southern California Public Radio (11/4) reports online that Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle warned that the state is risking $3.5 billion with its “new law to test public school students in only one of two federally-mandated subjects.” The piece quotes her letter saying, “By failing to administer a reading/language arts and mathematics assessment to all students in the tested grades, California would be unable to provide this important information to students, principals, teachers, and parents. In addition, because its new policy violates federal law, California now risks significant enforcement action by the Department.”

Duncan: No Federal Mandate On Teacher Evaluations

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal (11/5) reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week praised New York’s teacher evaluation program, “which bases only 20 percent of its evaluation on student achievement.” The piece notes that Duncan, who was asked specifically in an interview about it, “did not mention New Mexico’s controversial” system, which bases 50% of a teacher’s evaluation on student test scores. Duncan said in the interview, a video of which has been circulated in New Mexico, “Well, first to be clear, it was never a mandate from us, never has been, never will be. What we’ve always said is that we should be looking at multiple measures for whether it’s teacher evaluation or principal evaluation or looking at districts or schools or, ultimately, states. You have to look at multiple factors.”

KOB-TV broadcast a report on the controversy over Duncan’s comments, showing him giving the above quote.

California District Fielding Electric Buses

The Earth Techling (11/5) reports that the school district in California’s San Joaquin Valley is putting “what’s being dubbed one of the first all-electric school buses” into service, noting that the SST-e “is a Type A school bus” similar to “a prototype model first developed as part of a partnership Trans Tech had with noted electric vehicle manufacturer Smith Electric Vehicles back in late 2011.”

Gizmag (11/5) also covers this story, noting that the fleet of buses will save the district 16 gallons of fuel per bus per day, or $11,000 in fuel savings per bus annually.

Colorado Releases Data Touting Literacy Program Success

The Denver Post (11/5, Noon) reports that Colorado education officials have released the results of the first year of the state’s Colorado Reading Corps program, which 208 of 472 K-3 students with low reading skills were able to successfully complete. The article quotes Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia saying, “In its first year, it’s been clear, we got positive results.”


Illinois Districts Adjusting To Rising Minority Populations

The Chicago Tribune (11/5, Delgado, Zumbach) reports that suburban districts in Illinois are “adjusting to their rising Latino enrollment with changes in curriculum and culture” as demographic shifts end the era of such districts being “overwhelmingly white.” The piece explains that the 2013 Illinois School Report Card shows that the state is on the cusp of having a majority of its students part of ethnic minorities.

North Carolina Teachers Protest Education, Teacher Pay Cuts

The Charlotte (NC) Observer (11/4) reports that teachers and some parents in North Carolina staged “a statewide ‘walk-in’” on Monday, protesting “cuts in education funding and low teacher pay.” After calls on social media for a walkout, the North Carolina Association of Educators “rallied behind a ‘walk-in’ as an alternative.” Teachers engaged in such actions as refusing to communicate verbally during classes and displaying protest rhetoric.

The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (11/4) reports that the state’s schools are “the latest battleground in the fight over public education,” noting that Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Monday that “teachers have ‘legitimate gripes,’ but added that he didn’t know enough about the protest to say whether it was an appropriate tactic.”
The Greensboro (NC) News & Record (11/5) and WNCN-TV Raleigh-Durham, NC (11/5) also cover this story.