#25 The "Grade Inflation" Lesson

Comment

#25 The "Grade Inflation" Lesson

Some are saying Charlottesville was a turning point. Do our teachers feel the same way? Plus, new research suggests grade inflation is the newest form of the achievement gap. And, a new segment: Ask A Teacher.

Please join the conversation about this episode and the education landscape on our Community Forum page! And, help us shape this show into what you want it to be:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DO8OEJszFtsV2Nohe0W7Rg_xbH9RkjTxjfT0wLuVwOw/edit

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes also Sunday Lights and The Big Ten by Blue Dot Sessions; all have been edited.

Comment

#24 The "Charlottesville" Lesson

Comment

#24 The "Charlottesville" Lesson

On this episode: our teachers discuss strategies for addressing Charlottesville with teachers and students in school. Plus, how much say should parents have over the classroom, and it's back...The Betsy Breakdown.

Please join the conversation about this episode and the education landscape on our Community Forum page! And, help us shape this show into what you want it to be:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DO8OEJszFtsV2Nohe0W7Rg_xbH9RkjTxjfT0wLuVwOw/edit

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes also Waterbourne by Blue Dot Sessions and All Hot Lights by Poddington Bear

Comment

#23: The "Dress Code Discrimination" Lesson

Comment

#23: The "Dress Code Discrimination" Lesson

Many schools include hair in their dress codes, and that's gotten some black students in trouble. Our teachers discuss whether dress codes can be racist. And confidence in police is up overall in America, but dropping among young people. What's it like to teach about law enforcement in this age of police shootings and protests?

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes also all have been edited.

Comment

REBROADCAST: White Privilege In Schools

Comment

REBROADCAST: White Privilege In Schools

This episode is a rebroadcast while our teachers are on summer break: The term white privilege has hit a new level of cultural significance in recent years. Our teachers say that white privilege is as pervasive in school as the rest of society. 

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

REBROADCAST: Teachers Paying Teachers

Comment

REBROADCAST: Teachers Paying Teachers

This episode is a rebroadcast while our teachers are on summer break: Teachers are buying and selling lesson plans and materials on line, in a growing digital marketplace. (Teachers have reportedly raked in more than $1 million in a single year selling their plans.) But some worry this “monetizing” of a key teacher skill creates literal paywalls to organic collaboration. Our teachers’ verdict? In a phrase: “Respect the hustle.”

Comment

REBROADCAST: Fake News

Comment

REBROADCAST: Fake News

This episode is a rebroadcast while our teachers are on summer break: Take a breath! News events have come quick and often this year, and some of that news has been called "fake". The teachers had a lot to say about dealing with "fake news" in their classrooms. How do teachers teach critical reasoning skills in an era of “alternative facts.” It reminded our panel this week of George Orwell’s 1984.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

Extra Credit: The Best City For Teachers

Comment

Extra Credit: The Best City For Teachers

What makes a city a good place to live for teachers?

Data analytics firm GoodCall has its answers. It recently created a list of best cities for teachers--689 cities total--rating some obvious factors like job availability, cost of living, average teacher pay relative to other salaries in the area. It also gathers data on things like local amenities, number of restaurants per capita, and violent crime rates.

A clear pattern emerges in GoodCall’s study. All cities in its top ten are small to mid-size suburbs or exurbs, most of them in the Midwest. Five of them are suburbs of Chicago. But the top city to live in if you’re a teacher in 2017, according to GoodCall, is Bentonville, Arkansas.

Bentonville is a town of roughly 50,000 in northwest Arkansas, just south of the Missouri border. It’s most well-known for being the birthplace and now global headquarters of the Wal Mart Corporation.

Though you may be surprised at it’s place as ‘Best City for Teachers 2017’, Jayna Moffit isn’t. She’s a standout math teacher at Lincoln Junior High in Bentonville. She’s not a Bentonville native, she moved there only after completing a stint as a Teach For America teacher in the Mississippi Delta in the early 2000s. (No Wrong Answers, incidentally, is sponsored by Teach For America Kansas City, which has no association with Jayna.)

She’s lived in Bentonville now more than 15 years. Her husband is a police officer in the town, and her daughter just graduated from Bentonville High. Who better than to get an insight into what’s apparently the best city for teachers than Jayna Moffit? Here’s our conversation.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

 

Comment

#20: The "Good Teacher/Bad Teacher" Lesson

Comment

#20: The "Good Teacher/Bad Teacher" Lesson

Teachers: LuAnn Fox (high school Advanced Placement Literature); Elaine Jardon (middle school math); David Muhammad (high school international relations.

Two stories of social media pitfalls--one involving teenagers, the other involving a teacher--caught our eye this week. First, a much-discussed story about Harvard rescinding admission for at least 10 incoming freshmen because of offensive memes they posted in a private Facebook group. Our teachers are saddened but not surprised at that kind of behavior. They’re a bit more surprised at our second social media story: a middle school teacher who posted a picture to Facebook of himself flipping off the White House. Should he be punished in some way?

Also, what makes a “good” or “bad” teacher? Reddit users have their ideas. A new study compiles them into an interesting (if incomplete) picture. Our teachers respond and also ask: is labeling “good” and “bad” teaching even helpful?

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

#19: The "Secession" Lesson

Comment

#19: The "Secession" Lesson

Teachers: Maddie Burkemper (who now teaches 5th grade); Maria Kennedy (high school humanities); David Muhammad (high school government).

Secession is back and not just in American History class. Our teachers this week tackle the story of mostly white Alabama city seeking to secede from a largely black county-run school district. Our teachers have a problem with the district’s stated reasons for seceding and a problem with what they say it means for public education writ large.

Plus, should character traits like “responsibility” and “optimism” on students’ grade reports? Our teachers talk about the uses and abuses of such so-called “soft skills” assessments.

Finally, there’s no Kids These Days this week because our teachers our out of school. (They haven’t been around kids.) But we’re trying something new: a pop culture roundup. This week: a fat-shaming movie poster, Wonder Woman storms America, and “covfefe.”

Links

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

Extra Credit: Vocational Education In The Trump Era

Comment

Extra Credit: Vocational Education In The Trump Era

Few education writers (with the possible exception of Jonathan Kozol) are more widely respected and more widely read than Mike Rose. In a career that’s spanned more than 35 years, Rose has produced eleven books on education and learning, ranging in topic from effective literacy strategies to the cognitive complexity of blue-collar work.

His most well-known book may be the semi-autobiographical Lives On the Boundary. It’s now generally considered a classic of the field, often read in education schools and teacher-prep programs. The book details different ways to reach so-called “problem” students, while at the same time mining the deep vein of Rose’s own personal experiences growing up in a working class household that often felt shut out of the educational establishment.

Mike Rose was born in Pennsylvania, the son of Italian immigrants and grew up in Los Angeles. He’s said one of the most impactful things to happen to him growing up was being moved out of his high school’s vocational track into its college prep track. In the college prep track, he had a teacher who advised him on applying to college.

Rose, who now teaches at UCLA, has tended to focus his writing on class divisions he experienced as a student and that still often plague our education system. He’s written passionately about vocational education--what’s now termed Career and Technical Education--and how it can and should be integrated into a more well-rounded education that also includes STEM learning and instruction in subjects like classic literature. He says votech subjects like auto mechanics and shop class are often looked at with snobbery and elitism and are undervalued by the education system as a whole.

Rose has been revisiting these themes on his blog in the wake of the election of Donald Trump as president. He’s not a fan of the president. He makes no bones about his disappointment in Trump’s election, swept to the White House with the support of millions of white, working class voters like people he says he grew up around. We wanted to speak to Rose about how his career’s focus--his lifelong passion for looking at issues of class in education--now may seem more relevant than ever.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

 

Comment

#18: The "What My Students Taught Me" Lesson

Comment

#18: The "What My Students Taught Me" Lesson

Teachers: Greg Brenner (high school government); Jaime Meyers (middle school English); Jason Steliga (high school science).

Summer is here for our teachers! Well, almost here. (Sorry Greg.) And they are in a reflective mood.

First up: what does the alleged assault of a journalist by a politician in Montana say about our societal norms? Does it change, at all, how teachers feel about counseling kids to not use violence to solve their problems? Plus, we tackle teen pregnancy. The story of one girl who was barred from walking at her school’s graduation went viral. What do schools do well (and not so well) about dealing with the challenge of teen pregnancy? Finally, our teachers look back on the students--that for better and worse--made an impact on them this year.

  • One conservative commentator called the case of Greg Gianforte a “moral test” for the Republican Party.

  • The case of Maddi Runkles in Maryland drew national attention to how her school punished her for her pregnancy.

  • The Atlantic’s new audio project “What My Students Taught Me” inspired our teachers to think of students who have impacted them.

Kids These Days:

  • Jaime: Fidget spinners are still in and getting ever-more sophisticated.

  • Greg: His students are all about getting summer jobs. The most popular places to land? The farmer’s market and a local amusement park.

  • Jason: He’s soaking in the graduation parties thrown by his students’ families. He’s now been around long enough that it will be the third child from that family he’s gone to a graduation party for.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

#17: The "Googlefication" Lesson

Comment

#17: The "Googlefication" Lesson

Teachers: Maddie Burkemper (4th grade … all of it); Princeston Grayson (middle school gifted and talented); and Rebeka McIntosh (elementary alternative education)

This week, we can’t not talk about the crazy week that was in Washington. (Here’s a recap. Believe us: you need it.) Our teachers say they used to read the news to decompress from school. No longer. Then, we tackle President Donald Trump’s proposed federal education budget, which would completely eliminate funding for a variety of programs, from gifted and talented education to civics education. Finally, has your school gone “full Google?” Our teachers’ schools have all gone one-to-one or are in the process of going one-to-one with Google Chromebooks. Is this a good thing?

Read:

Kids These Days:

  • Maddie: She says her kids are still talking about the chant their class came up with for their school’s Field Day. (Maddie demonstrates during the episode.)

  • Princeston: Signed any student yearbooks lately? Princeston has. A lot.

  • Rebeka: It’s that time of the year. The final days of the school year are a time for time-killing games and activities. You know what we’re talking about.

Comment

Extra Credit: How A Maker Space Can Change A School

Comment

Extra Credit: How A Maker Space Can Change A School

A big trend in public education currently is something called “Maker education” or “Maker learning.” There isn’t one universally settled upon definition though its proponents generally use terms like “hands on” and “learner-focused” to describe it.

Benjamin Herold writing in Ed Week said “maker learning” refers to a “wide variety of activities (from computer programming to sewing) that support the development of a mindset that values playfulness and experimentation, growth and iteration, and collaboration and community.

Maker education is part of the broader, loosely organized ‘Maker Movement’ of tinkerers, DIYers, computer programmers, and hackers who put a lot of stock in the act of creation itself and the experimentation and failure that often goes into that.

As you may be able to tell, there’s a lot of buzzwords to sift through when talking about “Maker education.” But what does this look like in schools?

We wanted to try and answer that question. And in the Kansas City metro area where No Wrong Answers tapes there are few schools to get that answer more clearly than Lewis and Clark Elementary in Liberty, Missouri. The school has undergone a revolution of sorts in how teachers their teach and how students learn. And that’s due in large part to the school’s implementation of Maker strategies.

We went there and did something we’ve never done: a live taping of our podcast in front of a small audience of teachers, parents, and students. We wanted to ask people in Lewis and Clark’s community what “Maker education” has meant to them.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.


 

Comment

#16: The "Absentee" Lesson

Comment

#16: The "Absentee" Lesson

Teachers: LuAnn Fox (high school English); Elaine Jardon (middle school math); Jason Steliga (high school science)

This week, Besty DeVos is back. The Secretary of Education gave the commencement address recently at Bethune-Cookman University and boy, did it get ugly. Then, we talk chronic absenteeism, what federal DOE officials have called a “hidden crisis” in American education. But it’s not just the stereotypical trouble-making skippers that miss a lot of class. Finally, we tackle a new Pediatrics study that says bullying is down...way down. So why doesn’t it feel like it to our teachers?

Kids These Days:

  • Luann: Students taking Advanced Placement tests aren’t supposed to talk, text, or tweet about the exams on test day. But they do.

  • Jason: Chance the Rapper was in town. His students’ heads exploded.

  • Elaine: Even though she’s still on maternity leave, her students are grade-grubbing at the end of the semester. Ah, the satisfaction of being able to delete on their emails...

 

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

#15: The "13 Reasons Why Not" Lesson

Comment

#15: The "13 Reasons Why Not" Lesson

Everyone’s talking about the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” and our teachers are no exception. Some praise its frank portrayal of serious adolescent issues like suicide, sexual assault, and drug abuse. Others say it glamorizes suicide and could be a trigger for kids struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Good or bad, our teachers say it’s definitely sparked discussion, and not always the ones they were anticipating.

Plus, new research from Johns Hopkins University quantifies further the positive effect black teachers can have on black students. Having at least one black teacher in elementary school enhances the likelihood a black student will graduate high school. But while some say the obvious answer is, “Hire more black teachers!” our teachers say we also need to better train the white teachers who still make up the majority of our nation’s teacher workforce.

Finally, if your school had a room for teachers go to smash things in order to relieve stress, would you use it? One elementary school principal in Maryland got in hot water with parents for creating a “smash space” for her teachers. Our teachers say, “What’s the big deal?”

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

Comment

Extra Credit: Poetry In The Classroom

We just completed National Poetry Month in April and we recently asked some of our teachers…for a little bit of show-and-tell to celebrate that. We wanted them to pick examples of a poem, or an excerpt of a poem they have found personally or professionally inspirational as teachers. Or maybe a poem that has been used to particularly good effect in their classroom, that resonated with students.

Maddie Burkemper, Jaime Meyers and David Muhammad brought us their poems. And David started us off. If you didn’t know, he’s a rapper in his spare time outside the classroom.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes; all have been edited.

Comment

#13: The "Just Boys Being Boys" Lesson

Comment

#13: The "Just Boys Being Boys" Lesson

Be honest, had you ever heard of “lunch shaming” before news broke about a recently signed New Mexico law that bans so-called lunch shaming in public schools? That is, singling out or punishing students who cannot pay for their school lunch. Our teachers had never heard the term, but they have a lot of thoughts about the bill. They like its principle: don’t punish for kids for not being able to pay. But who is going to pay for it? And should schools everywhere just offer all kids free and reduced-price lunch?

Also, we’re coming to the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (The irony, of course, is our latest news cycle has been dominated by news of Bill O’Reilly.) But a new report by the White Ribbon Campaign concludes America still has a long way to go in successfully enlisting men into the fight against sexual assault and rape. Our teachers agree. They see how students perceive sexual violence and sexuality more generally as one of the thorniest issues they face.

We end with a discussion about teachers buying and selling lesson plans and materials on line, in a growing digital marketplace. (Teachers have reportedly raked in more than $1 million in a single year selling their plans.) But some worry this “monetizing” of a key teacher skill creates literal paywalls to organic collaboration. Our teachers’ verdict? In a phrase: “Respect the hustle.”

“Kids These Days”: Maddie has developed a “fast chains” challenge that has gone viral--in its own modest way with her students; Jaime says one of her particularly unique students is himself a walking, talking meme, and David says it’s prom season, so there is nothing else on his kids’ minds.

Music used in this episode is Inspiring Corporate and Scottish Indie by Scott Holmes, as well as Jack by Podington Bear; all have been edited.

Comment