Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good-bye Middle School, Hello Junior High?

The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Last week, our school board voted to pink-slip 14 teachers. Talk of severely cutting specials (PE, art, computers, music) would create a ripple effect, especially in the middle school. Aside from the fact that these programs are the ones students love the most and that are an important part of creating well-rounded, imaginative, and civilized people, cutting specials will also affect the general education programming.

The middle school in which I work is built around the middle school concept. A team of related arts teachers is crucial in ensuring that grade level teachers have common planning time. This common planning time is necessary for teams being able to flex their schedule, to plan interdisciplinary and integrated units, and to meet for looking at student work and monitoring student achievement. If this common planning time is lost, our students will be the ultimate losers. Our middle school will exist as a middle school in name only.

These budget cuts make it even more crucial for teachers at the middle level to be certified specifically to teach middle level, even though it is not required by the state. But, unfortunately, young teachers working toward a Masters degree are looking for programs that will forward their career. An administrative degree will qualify you for an administrative position. A degree in curriculum opens doors to becoming a curriculum director or specialist. A middle level degree can open those doors as well, but only if a district understands the power of having middle level specialists. For information on what exactly is gained through a Masters in Middle Level Education, you can read previous posts I've written here and here.

A middle school that loses the elements that make it a middle school becomes a junior high. Young adolescents are not little high-schoolers. It is so important, crucial, imperative that if our young adolescents are attending a school that has the structure of a junior high, they must have educators who understand what it means to BE and what it means to EDUCATE young adolescents.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This morning I was surprised by my twitter friend, Philip Cummings, with this Blog to Watch award. Truly an honor, Philip! As well, it was a needed kick in the pants to up the ante and be more regular about updating my blog. I think I need some Activia for Bloggers! Philip, in his blog A Retrospective Saunter named my blog and 9 others as ones to watch. So in the spirit of the award, I will list ten blogs that I enjoy reading. Philip's would be in the ten, but I've linked back to it already, so below I will highlight ten others, in no particular order.

The following are the rules of this award:

  • Copy and display the picture of the award given to you;
  • Link back to the blog that nominated you;
  • Nominate 10 different blogs yourself;
  • Inform the people you nominated, so they can in turn, continue the chain and spread the word about other great blogs out there.
1. A wonderful blog by my twitter friend Katherine Thomas. Katherine's artwork will enchant you, I promise. Her fashion sense will make you jealous. And the sweet thoughts she shares about her classroom will make you wish she were your child's teacher.
2. Another twitter friend, Julie Petersen, is a newby blogger, but she is blowing me out of the water with her blog, Julie is a wealth of information for reading teachers. She has so much great stuff on her blog that I cannot even keep up with it all!
3. I read the blogs of many published authors and I love them all. Sue Stauffacher isn't on twitter, though I told her she should give it a try! But her books are fantastic and her author visits are awesome. You can read about her visit to our school here. And you can learn more about Sue and her work at her blog, Imaginerience.
4, 5, and 6. Keith Schoch has three blogs that all teachers should read: Teaching That Sticks, Teaching with Picture Books, and How to Teach a Novel. All three of them offer tremendously usable teaching ideas and strategies.
7. Kelly Hines is another twitter friend who is an amazing educator. I see that her blog, Keeping Kids First, has already been tagged, but it deserves another mention. I have an affinity for Kelly because of the way she is able to make connections back to her classroom with almost every thing she does, reads, and sees. In the midst of changing lives for her students, she's doing an incredible job of raising twin boys!
8. The Reading Workshop is a model of how to use a blog in the classroom. Jim McGuire shares book talk videos of his students. He poses thought provoking questions about class readings to which his students respond. He links to his students' blogs as well.
9 & 10. Another great example of using a blog in the classroom is William Chamberlain's blog. William is another fantastic educator who I met through twitter. It was he who encouraged me to start blogging and he gave me lots of assistance and advice in the first few months. I always enjoy catching up on what is happening in his class and school through his blog. Blog #10 is William's reflective blog, At the Teacher's Desk.

There you have it; 10 blogs I think would be well worth your time to peruse!