Saturday, October 28, 2006

Its Over!

Soccer season is finally over so we can return to our normal after school routine, and I can resume my extra-curricular tutoring. We also got our first report cards so I also know more specifically where I need to direct my efforts.

1st Grader - she got all proficients on her report card, but we disagree. We are not at all happy with her reading skills and are going to concentrate on phonics. We don't yet have a organized method of doing this, but are looking into several programs. Right now we just attack each word, one at a time.

3rd Grade Girl - Her only C was in reading. She is already getting after school tutoring and her reading has made some great strides. We are going to have her preform more out loud reading to us so we can monitor her progress. We are also going to work on her multiplication times tables. She is pretty good in math, but we want her to make sure that she is ahead of the power curve. We believe that multiplication facts are the key to almost everything at this level of math.

3rd Grade Boy - His lowest grade was in health which makes it hard for us to help him, since we have he hardly has any health homework. We will be more proactive about the subject. One thing that he could really use is some organizations skills... he really is a scatter brain.

6th Grade Girl - Our hardest worker. Math was her worst grade, but we have pegged it to a lack of mastery of the multiplication tables. We are continuing to work with her on this, because it will help her division and factoring skills. In reading she is way above grade level and is quite the book worm.

10th Grader -What a challenge she is. We recently pulled her off the cheerleading squad, because she 1. got caught smoking as school and 2. slacked off slightly in her English class. She is perhaps the most frustrating since her standardized scores are WAY above average. She, like me as a teenager, has a lazy streak. I wish I had parents like me when I was that age, because my life would of turned out a lot different. As long as we stay on her she will excel, but if we blink... then its back to mediocre. Hopefully, with several more years of nagging, she will internalize good work habits.

After spending two to three hours a night at the soccer fields, it is such a relief to have time at home for the little things. We were eating take out almost every night, but now we have to get back into the routine of cooking.

Closing the Gap, Child by Child -

Closing the Gap, Child by Child -

In 2004, Gates, the principal, was stunned by scores showing that just two-fifths of his black students had passed the state reading test, compared with three-fourths of his white students.

Even before that year, the school had sought to raise minority student performance. (Scores among Hispanics at the school and others in the county were also a problem.) Hollin Meadows offered after-school tutoring and recruited volunteers to mentor selected students. Gates said the school had energetic teachers. But it wasn't enough.

In retrospect, Gates blamed a tendency to "teach to the middle." He said lessons too often were aimed toward the majority and were not tailored enough to individual students. So teachers generally would march through the curriculum on the assumption that students would either learn the material or eventually catch up.

For most children, that approach worked. But in an increasingly diverse school, some fell through the cracks. "We had kids coming in with different needs, and we didn't say, 'We have to meet you where you are at,' " Gates said.
Why did it take NCLB to force educators to acknowledge what school reformists have been telling them for decades?

Ladson-Billings cited an elementary school in Madison where black students trailed white students. She found that some basic lessons -- such as learning sounds that correspond with letters -- went untaught.

"What teachers said to us is, 'We don't actually teach that,' " Ladson-Billings said. "Most middle-class kids were learning that at home."

Well duh! I know that many teachers and educators have their own kids. Is there some sort of disconnect between what they observe at home and what they do in the classrooms?

Educator's need to come over to my house someday and see what I have to supplement. I spend my afternoons teaching multiplication tables, factoring, algebra, phonics, history, and just about every other subject that should be taught at home. Somehow I manage to teach all these subjects to my five school age kids is a very limited amount of time. Is it too much to ask the teachers to do it at school?

Next leader of L.A. school district vows to remove 'bad teachers' - Los Angeles Times

Next leader of L.A. school district vows to remove 'bad teachers' - Los Angeles Times

"It's called the right teacher in the right classroom in the right school…. Some people do not belong in the classroom, OK? They don't belong there. We're gonna get them out. The question is how is the system going to react to the way we get them out."

I am assuming that all you education junkies are keeping up with the soap opera that is the LAUSD.

I have to wonder if Mr. Brewer (the new LAUSD school chief and former military office) is going to be more than the LAUSD Board of Education bargained for when they hired him.

Now if Major Villaraigosa can managed to shirk the United Teacher's Los Angeles union's influence, perhaps the LAUSD will have a chance.

Charters hurting IPS |

White: Charters hurting IPS

Got to love this story; charter schools doing exactly what they are intended to do... forcing a the Indianapolis Public Schools to improve, look outside the box, and compete.

A break in launching new charter schools, White said, would give IPS time to stabilize its enrollment and draw students to new academies and magnet schools. Those are among a wave of reforms and initiatives launched by White since he became superintendent in 2005.

Those improvements are coming, charter school advocates said, only because of the competition from charter schools and the alternatives they offer to parents.

"The very reason IPS is doing what they're doing is in response to these new choices at charter schools," said Kevin Teasley, who oversees two Indianapolis charter schools as president of the GEO Foundation. "I just hate to limit those choices. It's shortsighted and doesn't take into account the forces of the market."

Now the IPS is asking for a time out, a delay in opening more charter schools to help them fully implement their reforms. It's not like they have the last 100 years to reform is it now? Its hard for me to feel sorry for the IPS when there are successful school models out there (thanks to Charter Schools) that they can adopt to improve their system. It may be painful, but I have no doubt that they will find their way.