7. Why curate?
8. Short item: An interactive map of the spread of slavery in the U.S.
“I want to go back. I want to go back to my kids. I want to go back to my classroom. I want to see the kids, I want to teach the kids – and that’s the bottom line.”
Jim Gard, a math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida, quoted
in “School Shootings Put Teachers in New Role as Human Shields” by Julie Turkewitz
in The New York Times, February 20, 2018, search at https://www.nytimes.com
“Young people are coming of age at a time when our nation is in the midst of a five-decade explosion in the rate of multiple, non-marital births – across all races and all states, especially to women and men at or under the age of twenty-four – that is seismically shifting family structures in a way that puts children at risk.”
Ian Rowe (see item #1)
“As teachers and administrators, we make decisions all the time that we feel are in the best interests of students, but do we really know what it’s like to be a student in our own schools?”
Paul Oberman (see item #2)
“You will get into college, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to make sure you get through college.”
An Iowa high-school administrator to students fretting over grades (see item #5)
“Young people are coming of age at a time when our nation is in the midst of a five-decade explosion in the rate of multiple, non-marital births,” says New York City author/CMO leader Ian Rowe in this Education Gadfly article, “– across all races and all states, especially to women and men at or under the age of twenty-four – that is seismically shifting family structures in a way that puts children at risk.” Rowe describes two promising solutions:
• Early intervention – There are significant positive downstream effects from home visits to support parents as they raise infants and toddlers. A model program is the Parent-Child Home Program, which deploys trained caseworkers to visit homes twice a week with a high-quality book or educational toy. They also engage children and caregivers in reading, conversation, and activities designed to stimulate parent-child interaction and promote the development of verbal, cognitive, and social-emotional skills that support school readiness and long-term success. Over its 50-year history, Parent-Child Home Program “graduates” are 50 percent more likely to be ready for kindergarten, score 2-½ times higher on an assessment of social-emotional skills than a control group, enter school performing 10 months above their chronological age, are 50 percent less likely to be referred to special education by third grade, outperform the state average on a third-grade state math test, and have 30 percent higher graduation rate than their SES peers.
• Focused secondary-school support – Throughout K-12, but beginning most forcefully in eighth grade, schools need to explicitly teach self-regulation and impulse control and help students reframe how they think about the timing of their own family formation. Students need to enter high school, college, and young adulthood with a set of attitudes and behaviors, Rowe says, that are “more likely to prevent the creation of fragile families in the first place.” [In other articles, Rowe has stressed the “success sequence”: students graduating from high school, going to college or getting a decent job, getting married, and having children – in that order.]
“Humility” by Paul Oberman in HaYidion, Winter 2018 (p. 36-39),
“The Problem with Screen Time” by Kurt Squire and Constance Steinkuehler in Teachers College Record, December 2017 (Vol. 119, #12, p. 1-24), available for purchase at
http://www.tcrecord.org/ExecSummary.asp?contentid=22163; the authors can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected].
In this article in School Administrator, Iowa district leader Matt Townsley describes how his high school gradually adopted standards-based grading. Teachers shifted from giving students grades on homework assignments, projects, and class tests to monitoring and posting students’ current level of mastery on course standards. (At the end of each reporting period, these were converted to letter grades.) The school moved to standards-based grading for three reasons:
• To communicate students’ current level of learning – The best way of explaining this to students and parents was with the analogy of how a band instructor gives feedback to a flute player: “Rhythm could be better, but you’re exceptional at hitting high notes.” Clearly this is a better way to affirm and improve performance than a letter or percentage grade.
• To eliminate the influence of practice work on students’ final grades – What really matters is mastery at the end of a unit or course, not on the formative assignments, some of which may not have gone that well. An athletic analogy is apt: some of a football team’s scrimmages may have been less than stellar, but it’s game scores that count. Teachers using standards-based grading keep track of homework and other assignments, as well as student absences, but the key feedback for students and parents is final mastery of content and skills.
• To give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding – Students learn at different rates and find some parts of any curriculum unit more difficult than others. Standards-based grading keeps students’ and parents’ eyes on the ball: mastery of content, which sometimes requires several attempts and some stumbles along the way.
This high school made the transition to standards-based grading one step at a time. In 2008, a small group of teachers participated in a 10-week after-school study group on effective grading practices and started to implement some components of standards-based grading. In 2011-12, district administrators did a thorough study of this approach, and the early adopters provided informal support to colleagues who were ready to make the shift. After a year of professional reading and presentations to the school board and a community forum, 82 percent of teachers were either using the new system or ready to take the plunge, and the school board unanimously approved a two-year implementation timeline: year one included just-in-time professional support for teachers new to implementation, and year two was full implementation in all courses. District leaders made regular reports to the school board and developed an implementation guide for newly hired teachers.
Some parents pushed back on standards-based grading, says Townsley, mostly based on these misconceptions:
• Grading this way will hurt students’ college chances. Administrators pointed out that the grades sent to colleges were conventional letter grades based on students’ mastery of the subject matter. Okay, said parents, but what about some neighboring schools that inflated students’ final grades with homework and classroom assignments? True, said administrators, but under standards-based grading, students get more feedback and opportunities to improve their grades throughout each marking period. The bottom line: in every year that standards-based grading has been used, students from this high school were admitted to college at expected levels.
• This isn’t how things work in the real world. Actually, there are plenty of post-school situations where people have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery – for example, drivers’ tests, nursing exams, and bar exams.
Townsley says the district has continued to tweak the system over the last five years, including retrofitting electronic grade books to accommodate standards updates rather than homework, assignments, and tests.
In this article in School Administrator, Thomas Buckmiller and Randal Peters (Drake University) address the concern voiced by some parents that students in schools using innovative grading practices won’t get fair and equitable consideration from selective colleges. Buckmiller and Peters interviewed admissions officers at two large state universities, one midsized state university, and one midsized private university (all in the Midwest) and came away with the following insights:
• Letter grades and transcripts based on standards are acceptable, even preferable. For years, universities have been frustrated with high schools’ grade inflation, inaccurate portrayals of student performance, grades that mush together academic and behavioral information, and the resulting need to provide remediation to significant numbers of admitted students. There’s real appreciation for high schools that clearly delineate standards and distinguish between different strands of information on student achievement and conduct. The one caveat is that admissions officers prefer letter grades to any other grading metric.
• Colleges are working to ensure equitable treatment for students with non-traditional grades. They’re already dealing with home-schooled students and an increasing number of students without class rankings. As more applicants submit non-traditional grades, colleges will adjust their formulas and try to be fair. They’ll also give more weight to standardized test scores with these students. High schools’ college counselors are key middlepeople in making sure colleges understand the grades and other information being submitted.
• For college admissions personnel, efficiency and accuracy are key. They’re handling thousands of applications with limited staff and need concise, objective information that will tell them if each applicant can make it in their college. “The worst thing we can do,” said one official, “is admit them when they don’t have the skills to be successful. It’s on our shoulders when they’re… dropping out and walking away with debt.” What’s most helpful is accurate, non-inflated information on achievement and, separately, objective information on students’ attendance, work ethic, and perseverance.
One high-school administrator summed it up well in a statement to students: “You will get into college, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to make sure you get through college.”
“Getting a Fair Shot?” by Thomas Buckmiller and Randal Peters in School Administrator, February 2018 (Vol. 75, #2, p. 22-25),
http://my.aasa.org/AASA/Resources/SAMag/2018/Feb18/Buckmiller.aspx; Buckmiller can be reached at [email protected].
In this article in Teaching Exceptional Children, Lynn Fuchs, Douglas Fuchs, and Amelia Malone (Vanderbilt University) suggest seven principles for choosing and evaluating Tier 3 interventions when a student’s needs haven’t been met at Tier 2:
• Strength – What is the track record of the intervention for students with the specific needs in each situation?
• Dosage – Is this the appropriate instructional group size, number of minutes for each session, and number of sessions each week?
• Alignment – Does this program address the student’s academic and skill deficits, dovetail with grade-appropriate curriculum standards and rigor level, and avoid spending time on skills the student has already mastered?
• Transfer – Does the intervention help the student apply skills in other formats and contexts and see connections between mastered and related skills? “Transfer is a major obstacle for students with severe learning problems,” say the authors, “and research shows the benefits of explicit transfer instruction.”
• Comprehensiveness – Does the intervention explicitly use key principles of learning, including: providing explanations in simple, direct language; modeling efficient solution strategies (versus expecting students to discover them on their own); checking to see if students have the necessary background knowledge and skills to be successful; providing enough practice for mastery; including systematic cumulative review; and gradually fading support as students become proficient?
• Behavioral support – Does the intervention incorporate instruction and monitoring in self-regulation and executive function and include effective strategies to minimize unproductive behavior? “The goal,” say the authors, “is to encourage students with a history of academic failure to persevere through academic struggle and continue to work hard, aim high, and adopt a high standard of coherence, in which students are not satisfied with answers that do not make sense.”
• Individualization – Does the program frequently collect progress-monitoring data and adjust instruction (teach-test-revise) in ways that address the student’s complex learning needs?
a. An interactive map of the spread of slavery in the U.S. – This online map created by Lincoln Mullen (George Mason University) http://lincolnmullen.com/projects/slavery/ shows how slavery spread in the U.S. from 1790 to 1860. It’s also possible to zoom in on any county and view original U.S. Census data as well as data on free African Americans, other groups, and the total population.
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About the Marshall Memo
Mission and focus:
This weekly memo is designed to keep principals, teachers, superintendents, and other educators very well-informed on current research and effective practices in K-12 education. Kim Marshall, drawing on 48 years’ experience as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, writer, and consultant lightens the load of busy educators by serving as their “designated reader.”
To produce the Marshall Memo, Kim subscribes to 60 carefully-chosen publications (see list to the right), sifts through more than a hundred articles each week, and selects 5-10 that have the greatest potential to improve teaching, leadership, and learning. He then writes a brief summary of each article, pulls out several striking quotes, provides e-links to full articles when available, and e-mails the Memo to subscribers every Monday evening (with occasional breaks; there are 50 issues a year). Every week there’s a podcast and HTMI version as well.
Individual subscriptions are $50 for a year. Rates decline steeply for multiple readers within the same organization. See the website for these rates and how to pay by check, credit card, or purchase order.
If you go to http://www.marshallmemo.com you will find detailed information on:
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• Publications (with a count of articles from each)
• Article selection criteria
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Core list of publications covered
Those read this week are underlined.
All Things PLC
American Educational Research Journal
American Journal of Education
ASCA School Counselor
District Management Journal
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Elementary School Journal
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Educational Review
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (JESPAR)
Kappa Delta Pi Record
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School
Middle School Journal
Peabody Journal of Education
Phi Delta Kappan
Reading Research Quarterly
Responsive Classroom Newsletter
Review of Educational Research
School Library Journal
Social Studies and the Young Learner
Teaching Children Mathematics
Teaching Exceptional Children
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Journal of the Learning Sciences
The Language Educator
The Learning Professional (formerly Journal of Staff Development)
The Reading Teacher
Theory Into Practice