I Heart Microsoft

While opening a new word document in Office 2007, I clicked on letters, than academic templates.

Within this collection were the following:

Complaint about teacher
Complaint about teacher to principal
Complaint about teacher to school board

Make it as easy as possible to poop on those damned teachers.

Studying teachers

I spent much of the past three days putting together a proposal for the major conference on education. In documenting teacher work, I based my argument on the notion that the only way to explain how it feels to teach is to actually teach.

Today I got the link for the new TCRecord and the lead article was a statistical analysis of survey data taken from thousands of teachers. I just can’t help but feel that no matter how clever the survey author, and no matter how clever the analyst, you miss something by not talking to teachers directly.

Similarly, the summer issue of the HER features some great articles gathered under the heading of VIS (voices inside schools). Wonderful — the words and thoughts of students, counselors, and teachers ! Maybe in four years we’ll see another edition that embraces a similar approach.

I suppose it’s just my own wariness regarding how certain kinds of “research” are perceived and my fears that now matter how rigorous and theoretically grounded, the kids of teacher research that I think actually helps folks in the field will continue to be forced underground.

AERA abstract

Submitted tonight; damn APA guidelines with their parenthetical citations.

The “We” Problem: Patriotism, Democracy, and Teaching American History in an Urban, Comprehensive High School

This paper explores notions of patriotism as they emerge over the course of an academic year in an American history course offered in a high-school class composed of working class teenagers of color. The teacher/researcher will document the process as the students grapple with their coursework, coursework framed by an inquiry into the origins and trajectory of democracy in the United States. The end project seeks to illuminate both effective social studies practice and the power of history to enhance student analysis and foster student activism, particularly in a setting where few other resources exist.

Student Teaching Seminar

I’m still thinking about how to frame this seminar; I had finished planning the course as a recapitulation of the coursework students had already completed.

But then I encountered R. Esquith’s Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire. I wondered if the texts for our class couldn’t all be first hand accounts of what it means to be a teacher. My only concern is that most (not all) of these books are written after someone has quit teaching, usually after four or five years. Then I got to thinking — what if I used the money chapters from some of the thousands of education dissertations folks have written about good teachers?

Will make a list and post later.

Foundations class

I’m always at a loss trying to balance structural elements from American educational history with the actual experiences of students. I was thinking yesterday about how rewarding it would be to read a series of books like this:

William Corsaro, We’re Friends Right: Inside Kids’ Culture
Linda Perlstein, Linda, not much, just chillin’: the hidden lives of middle schoolers
Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods
Mike Rose, Lives on the Boundary

It’d be great to move through childhood in this way — from pre-k to high school — and I’m sure the students would enjoy reading these sorts of ethnographies much more than the primary source documents I usually assign. With the exception of Lareau, though, these books are more about children/students than the external factors that shape education in the United States. But I can justify dropping three of these texts by claiming that my students’ lab experiences will give them the time with kids that they need and they ought to contextualize the labs in terms of the other historical readings we’re doing.

addin encite

Occasionally Microsoft Word converts everything to stuff that looks like this:

{addin encite} {page}

I don’t know why. To fix it, do this:

1. Within Microsoft Word 2007 go to the Office icon in the upper left, and click “Word Options” at the bottom of this window.
2. Click on the Advanced option on the left hand side and scroll down to the section titled “Show Document Content.”
3. Uncheck the item titled “Show field codes instead of their values” and click OK.
4. The document should now appear normal.

Advanced Placement “Brand”

Yesterday’s Times featured an article addressing the AP brand and detailed the ways in which teachers who are offering these courses must submit a syllabus for approval.

One of Paul Vallas’ supposed accomplishments was the vast increase in the number of AP courses offered. I would like to see a story exploring both the eventual test scores as well as the College Board’s response to the syllabi.

I’m sure that the folks at the magnet schools are not experiencing difficulties and I would imagine there are some pretty impressive scores. But what of the comprehensive high schools where these courses have been offered for the first time ? What has their experience been like? Have students done well? Poorly?