Round Up

1. Best thing I'm reading right now is a 6-part Boston Globe series by Farah Stockman.  She was a summer-camp counselor years ago, a camp that served poor kids in Mission Hill.  She catches up with them now.  

Start here.   

2. A busy Kimberly Steadman from Edward Brooke charter took a moment to share with me their school's math teaching document; it opens with:

Students engage in the struggle

- We reject I-we-you teaching in which students watch a teacher solve a problem and then imitate the teacher’s approach.  Instead, good math lessons require students to use what they know to struggle with and logically attack a new problem that is more challenging than anything they have seen before.

- The struggle should be within the students’ zone of proximal development – attacking a problem one step beyond what they have ever done before, but achievable through struggle. 

- Students must be pushed to articulate their process, even when that articulation is a struggle.  It is insufficient for students to be able to get the right answer – they must also be able to explain how they got it and why that is correct.

A thought.  Not that our K-12 field is good at measurement; we're much better at philosophical arguing without much evidence.  So we really under-invest in research that could, you know, actually help the typical teacher.  But this sort of question, posed by Elizabeth in that NYT Mag article, lends itself to randomized control trial. 

Find group of math teachers who themselves are unsure of how they want to teach.  Randomly assign them to 2 groups.  Have an adherent of I You We coach one group; adherent of You Y'all We coach the other group.  Measure which kids make more math progress.  (Probably would be a lot of debate on how to measure).  Share with teachers -- not as a "You must do X" but more as a "Factor in this evidence as you choose how to teach." 

3. FYI. 

I keep a quote from Kimberly on my screen, from one of my visits to her school.  "We treat a kid not reading as the highest level emergency we have." 

It's sort of mind-boggling, because in a typical high-poverty school with the demographics of a Brooke, most of the kids are "not reading" depending on how you want to define it.  So usually it's like "Yeah, duh, that's why we have school"....not a "drop everything, we have an outlier kid who is not reading, also one who just passed out from dehydration, let's attend to both pronto." 

That sense of urgency is palpable at Brooke; it's there but hard to measure; because it's hard to measure, "urgency" is typically left out of most school reform discussions. 

4. Hiring

I need to find a former elementary teacher who loves curriculum work -- for 8 months or more.  So if you know someone, let me know.