A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A question of priorities

A trillion dollar claim

What I like best about my school is how unapologetic we are about demanding academic success for all of our students, which flows from Dr. P and the culture he has engendered. Any student on our D and F list gets targeted for remediation efforts. Targeted!

After a week having a Gucci clad 6th grader come to my class all week during lunch for remediation of geography content in U.S. History -- 3 - F's on essentially the same quiz -- I decided to try a different approach. On the share drive, I found a simple hands-on sorting / matching activity that matched the regions to their critical attributes: Coastal Plain / Contains excellent harbors, Appalachian Highlands / Contains the oldest mountains, old eroded hills, etc. "If you want to eat with your friends in the lunch," I told her, "just sort these cards 3 times in a row correctly."

"Can you just give me the F?" she replied.

In above referenced Atlantic Monthly Article, which was discussed in the Math Department meeting, there is an unstated claim that not investing sufficiently in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) approaches could cost American workers potentially a trillion dollars over the near future. The opportunity cost of not focusing on STEM approaches came in conflict with a different priority recently after the Middle School Council voted to reintroduce Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) as a way to foster a "culture of reading." The Math Chairman questioned the validity of having students read "graphic novels" and, bless his heart, wanted to suggest a more guided approach, including shared reading and deep level questioning -- Jerry was going to have his Algebra students discuss the Atlantic article -- I chuckled at the prospect of having my students, virtually all below grade level readers, tackle the ideas discussed in the article. Excitedly, I pulled out the high interest, leveled, "considerate text" readers suggested earlier in the week by a renegade English teacher who has taken an interest in me, as she prepares to retire, and wants to pass on the treasures she has collected over a brilliant 30+ year teaching career.

Then came the directive: "Reader Choice is a key element of SSR," so after consulting with my team, I put the books away. Not a battle I am prepared to fight. Bring on the graphic novels.