Monday, December 21, 2009

A New Math: Do we really need to memorize the quadratic formula??

Years ago, mathematician and songster Tom Lehrer, parodied the vagaries of the so-called New Math, a well meaning, but largely ineffectual attempt to move math from drill and kill to understand the pinions better:

Many good extras have been added to the math curriculum over the years. Among them is project-based learning in which solving a real world problem motivates the mathematical tools needed to solve it.

After teaching and pondering for many years, I have come to the conclusion that the entire K-12 math curriculum needs a thorough inspection and overhaul. Much of what's there is no longer relevant, if it ever was, especially given the tools we have today.

More to come as soon as I can better think through how to present this call to action. In the meantime, all suggestions are welcome!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beyond Duncan's Call to Teacher-Ed Betterment

Higher-ed, like business, is profit-driven and there's little motivation to change the status quo.

There are no universal, high standards teacher-ed is held to, other than accrediting agencies, like NCATE, which fewer schools of education choose to attain. Worse, such accreditation is rarely focused on on well are they teaching once they leave us.....what can we do to stay connected and help them improve performance, especially during those first three critical years.

In my own teacher prep decades ago, I was lucky to participate in a Ford Foundation Teacher Trainee program. Several salient features: we interned in classrooms for four years; we observed the district's 'best teachers' at all levels; early on, we worked one-to-one with students, then small groups, then the whole classroom; we got a lot of helpful feedback.

By the time we were offered a job, we had the confidence and skills to be more successful. More importantly, we knew we wanted to be teachers.

Duncan's plan needs a strategy and funding to make change happen. Just talking about it isn't going to make it better.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


It's what's happening!

Drops the Degrees of Separation by half.

Terse and pithy ideas from those of like mind.

You're invited to check mine out at ProfTK on


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palindromic & Pithy Point Well-Made!

Check out this powerful and simple youtube video my good friend Jerry Stenger sent me:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sam & Josh Productions: "Grey Wolves"

OK, OK...these are my grandsons, Sam and Josh, ages 8 & & respectively, and they made this video almost entirely by themselves....with a little help from their homeschool teacher, their mom and my daughter. But truth be told, a lot of kids can do this these days. 

Tell me. Generally speaking, who do you think understands these concepts of nature's predators better? Someone who can correctly answer 10 multiple choice questions, or someone who can re-present an engaging video on what they've researched and learned?

For myself, I opt for the latter. Tell me what YOU think! 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

There's No Place Like School!

That was a line I thought I would never hear as a teacher. But I did, and it came from one of our students at the Saturn School of Tomorrow, an innovative reform effort back in the early 90's. We tried to bring the best of what we knew that would help more kids learn more all into one school, put the kids largely in charge of their own learning, and have them show us what they knew, what they were learning, and what they had yet to learn. 

The school was so unique we were visited by then President George H. W. Bush, who recognized us for what we were trying to do. The school, sadly, no longer exists, but the students and faculty cast many ripples across the pond of educational change, and those effects are still being felt today. Changing a school is hard, and so is changing the classroom. But you can make small changes that work, and keep adding to them. Before you know it, more students may be learning even more. Good luck!

Here's a link to the video the Saturn students made back then and in their own words. Don't forget to listen for the last line.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Millennial Generation IS Different!

Here's some views of their world from kids who swim in a far different fish bowl than we did:

"Welcome Back Cotter"

There ought to be some sort of prize for any 70's trivia buff who could remember that old TV show starring "Mr. Cotter", about a teacher, played by Gabe Kaplan. Check it out at:

I even remember Room 222, another show from those days. Plus some great movies about teaching from which you can actually learn some good and useful do's and dont's: "Ferris Bueller", "Back to School", "Stand and Deliver", "Dead Poet's Society" and I'll bet you could name some favorites too.

I'm going to try to keep this blog up and running for awhile and post some interesting (to me at least) comments and resources and interesting stuff. I'll leave it to you and your comments to steer me in the right direction.