Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Law students to reduce stress with loaner dog

“Law students to reduce stress with loaner dog” by Timothy Williams, New York Times The Seattle Times Published 3/26/11 Retrieved 3/30/11 Complete URL: Intended Audience: stressed out students, teachers looking for new ideas to reduce stress Summary: Yale Law School has created an interactive, therapeutic library book, in the form of a real dog. Therapy dogs have been shown to increase happiness, calmness, and general emotional health. The dog will remain in the library and may be “checked out” for half-hour sessions. Key Point: Yale law students may now check out a dog from the library to help reduce their anxiety Relevance: A creative approach to managing anxiety of students in a school well known for its rigorous, intensive program. We should be encouraged to continue to search outside the traditional paper-and-pencil box for effective teaching methods. In addition, we might also be encouraged to look into the emotional well-being of our students in an attempt to help them along in their education.

Kentlake High School teacher charged with having sex with student

“Kentlake High School teacher charged with having sex with student” by Jennifer Sullivan The Seattle Times Published 3/22/11 Retrieved 3/30/11 Complete URL: Intended Audience: general public, parents, teachers Summary: A high school teacher has been arrested for having sex with one of her students. The sophomore, a transfer student, had been undergoing personal problems and sought council with the teacher. They then exchanged phone numbers to continue their conversation and in less than a month had exchanged over 800 text messages. The two met up one night and performed sex acts in the student’s car. The scandal was uncovered when the student revealed their actions to his uncle. Key Points: • A high school teacher had sex with one of her students • The teacher is married and has two children • It is illegal for a minor to have sex with someone who is a position of power over them • The teacher faces up to one year in prison if convicted Relevance: This is a good reminder to not only refrain from the obvious, but to pay close attention to student-teacher relationships in all modes of social communication, including extracurricular conversations, texting, and social media.

Bill would partner state with online university

“Bill would partner state with online university” by Katherine Long The Seattle Times Published 3/19/11 Retrieved 3/29/11 Complete URL: Intended Audience: general public, college students, those looking to return to school Summary: A new bill in the Washington legislature proposes to create a partnership with Western Governors University (WGU), a college institution that functions completely online. Supporters of the bill, such as those with full-time jobs and little money to enroll in a traditional four-year program, say the opportunity to earn a degree online, with its increased flexibility, will allow them to return to school and advance or expand their career options. Those who are against the bill do not believe an online institution provides the classroom interaction necessary to pull a more meaningful experience from the courses taken. Key Points: • Support: flexible schedule, lower tuition than a traditional four-year program, mobile • Resistance: no classroom interaction, WGU faculty does not teach, programs do not encourage development of higher thinking skills, less exposure to the arts and sciences Relevance: It’s the wave of the future. As long as the institutions are accredited, online universities are an attractive alternative for those looking to return to school. As the classroom becomes increasingly more technologically dependent, the need for physical classrooms decreases significantly, especially for college and graduate-level courses.

Educators work to identify ways to improve teaching

“Educators work to identify ways to improve teaching” by The Associated Press The Seattle Times Published 3/16/11 Retrieved 3/29/11 Complete URL: Intended Audience: general public, teachers Summary: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met with leaders of major teacher unions and officials from countries with high-performing education systems to discuss strategies for improving the States’ own education practices. Key Point: Improving education in the U.S. revolves around raising the status of the teaching profession • Increase teacher salaries • Allow teachers to devise their own teaching strategies and lesson plans • Continue to educate teachers after they have become professionals • Hold teachers at least partially accountable for student performance • Provide outlets for research Key Point: Reasons the US is not performing well in education • Low and varying standards of teacher certification and licensure • Nonspecific education training Relevance: If he didn’t know before, The Secretary of Education now for sure understands what works and what needs to be done to make improvements in education, starting with showing teachers proper respect for the huge responsibility of educating our youth.

U.S. education secretary backs Gregoire's single-agency plan

“U.S. education secretary backs Gregoire’s single-agency plan” by The Associated Press The Seattle Times Published 3/14/11 Retrieved 3/29/11 Complete URL: Intended Audience: general public, education administrators Summary: Washington’s governor received support from the U.S. Secretary of Education on a plan to merge eight education agencies into a single new Department of Education. The Secretary emphasized the need for a sense of urgency in education reform. Key Points: Streamlining education agencies is expected to • Bring about education reform more quickly • Promote better communication between agencies • Save the state some money Relevance: Big changes are being implemented to change the structure of education administration, way at the top, and this may have a trickle-down effect that initiates reform in other areas of education as well. The Secretary of Education’s attention may also help get things moving more quickly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Theatre in the Grove children's camp

Kelly House
Learning doesn't stop during spring break for students in Theatre In The Grove camp
Topic: Free children’s acting camps

Theatre in The Grove hosted Spring Break Camp— students rehearsed and acted in an original play involving Sherlock Holmes and modern popular characters, such as Harry Potter. The parents paid for the students’ participation for the spring break session, this is part of the CAST Playhouse program which is a children’s acting camp. The program is free and sign ups for the next round are April 30th.

Key Points: The goals for the camps are to help children increase confidence in them, and engage them in artistic expression. The CAST Playhouse program is free, $6000 grants from the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art helped start the program, and ticket sales from the shows help maintain it.

Relevance: This is a great program if you are looking into getting your kids involved in the arts in some way, but do not have the funds to pay for programs or classes. This play was an original story idea created by the children, with a clever title “Extreme Makeover: Holmes Edition.” Sounds like an awesome thing to take advantage of if you get the chance! This is also a great alternative to schools that do not have a drama program.

Driver's Education classes mandatory

Kimberly Melton
Oregon House transportation committee approves bill requiring Portland-area teens to take driver's education course
Topic: Driver’s Education

The House Transportation and Economic Development Committee approved a bill that requires teens younger than 18 in the Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties to take driver's education before receiving a license. Intended audience: Teens, parents with teens.

Key Points: teens who take Driver’s Ed usually know more about driving than those who don’t—passing this bill will increase safety amongst new drivers. The concern here is that teens already have Driver’s ED available to them, how will this affect costs for the public and where is the funding coming from?

Relevance: Driver’s Ed is a form of education I suppose. I have not taken a Driver’s Ed class, so I do not really know what kind of “learning” goes on in the class. Since some of you have teens, probably most under the age of 18 who are learning to drive or already have a permit, I figured this might be something to bring up. Also I would like to see more data and evidence, contrasting the pros and cons for taking this class—is the practice of safe driving kept consistent as time goes on? Should this be something that one has to “renew” as they do their licenses?

Google Notebooks: a tool for education

Lori Tobias
Google Notebooks changing the way Astoria High students learn
Topic: Leaning with technology

Google has given every student in Astoria High a Google Notebook, a laptop that is not yet available to the public. The Notebooks are used to help teachers engage the students in class, help students study and communicate their ideas. Only six schools in the country got to participate in this Google experiment.

Key Points: students who once did not speak up in class are now voicing their opinions through forums and posts, disciplinary incidents have decreased since the introduction of the Notebook, All information can be accessed from various “clouds,” and some teachers are concerned that face to face social interaction may be at risk—considering students already spend most of their time on personal electronic devices.

Relevance: I think this is a great idea. This experiment ties in with our use of the Blog, and our COE Flex portal. I think that it is a great idea, since this gives students who did not have a computer or laptop access the ability to communicate with their classmates and teachers and study from home. The article makes a good point that this should be used as a tool, tied in with other methods of teaching in the school. The focus is that this is a tool, not a replacement for education.

Good project ideas can get you money

Dominique Fong
Beaverton Education Foundation awards $20,118 in grants to teachers with innovative class project ideas
Topic: Funding for school projects

The Beaverton Education Foundation has awarded grants to 33 Beaverton School District teachers and educators to fund their ideas for learning through technology and innovation. Aloha High School was one of the schools, awarded with $930 to buy Flip Cameras for students to capture their cultural stories through video. Intended Audience: Beaverton School District community, us.

Key Points: In the light of this entire budget cut talk, there is hope for some teachers with awesome ideas to integrate technology into their classrooms and projects.

Relevance: Basically the same as the point of this article—it is nice to hear that some ideas can be funded, and it makes me hopeful for when I start teaching and coming up with interesting fun project ideas for my class. Imagine if we could have all borrowed flip cams to make a mini documentary about our culture! That would be awesome.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Drugs on campus

"UC Berkeley co-ops begin novel campaign on drugs," by Nanette Asimov
Friday, March 18, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

After a student suffered a heart attach at the Cloyne Court co-op in Berkeley, the family of the student and members of the Berkeley Student Cooperative set in motion a public relations campaign to deal with this ongoing campus problem. The student, after a night of drinking and snorting cocaine, laid down in bed and suffered a heart attack. No one at the co-op called 911 for hours and the student, while alive is brain-damaged, cannot speak and needs constant care. The family sued, of course, and in response the BSC sent out a seven page letter to its 1,275 students saying that if for no other reason not to do drugs, they should consider the monetary effect it may have. Namely, the shutting down of school co-cops and the loss of savings for students that would mean. Co-ops charge only $6,600 a term for living while corms charge almost three times that.

The letter explains that for the benefit of all, students need to be aware of drug use problems, overdoses and addicition and at the very least be aware of when to seek help. In this case, a prompt call to 911 may have saved the student from becoming an invalid.

The parent of the Child, Madelaine Bennet said, "I would like to remind all co-op members that as a community, you should be responsible for what happens within that community."

This is a sad story because it could have been prevented. The school system is considering a good Samaritan policy that would not punish any student who reported a drug overdose of other problem. They would be exempt from legal or school related punishments.

Evacuation Zone Prevents a Return to School

「『合格したのに通えない』原発事故で県外避難」, no author listed
Asahi Shinbun, 3/23/2011
accessed 3/28/2011

Summary/Key Points: This time of year is a tense one for Japanese students. The school year ends in March and begins anew in April; those who took the high school entrance exams are waiting nervously for the results, which will not only let them know if they were accepted into their school of choice, but in some cases will more or less determine their future path. Six of the high schools within the 20km evacuation zone around the Fukushima nuclear power plant are unable to physically retrieve the test files and results. Because of this, the Fukushima Board of Education has decided to declare passing grades for the 374 students affected. The author talks with some of these students in evacuation shelters, and the consensus seems to be a mixture of emotions: kids are excited, of course, to have gotten into their chosen schools, but are disappointed that they don't know when they might be let back to actually start school.

Intended Audience: general public

Relevance: This is a hard disaster for anyone to imagine, but human interest articles like this help to personalize it and build sympathy. In addition, we all have the very recent experience of waiting for notice of admission... how would it feel to be admitted (and "automatically" at that), and then not allowed to attend PU indefinitely? To have in the back of your mind the idea that you may never be able to attend, once the program gets you started up at some other, nearby school?

More bad news for California

"CSU faces worst fiscal situation in its history," by Nanette Asimov
March 23, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

More grim news for California! As this article points out, 10,000 students will be turned away from the state's 23 campuses and "untold" numbers of employees will lose their jobs next Fall. The state is planning on cutting 500 million from the higher ed. budget of 2 billion next Fall if alternative funding cannot be found. To counter huge budget shortfalls, tuition will increase another 15.5% next year and more teachers and staff will lose their jobs (4,145 and counting since the 2008 economic meltdown)

Those cuts could double if the proposed tax extensions stall, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed told the board. "A cut of $1 billion in state support would have devastating effects on the CSU," including a long-lasting impact that would damage the state economy, he warned. Basically, the story says that unless other funding is found and lawmakers in Sacramento allow the cuts to go through, the state sytem of higher education in California (once universally recognized as the leader in the nation) will sustain damage that could last for generations.

The president of the California Faculty Association, Lilia Taiz said, "Not only will students not get a meaningful college education," Taiz said, "but kids who spent their whole high school career preparing for college will find the door slammed in their faces."

This is really pretty sad and I'm sure every state in the union is experiencing similar painful choices. It seems clear to me that if the idea of school funding is not address soon and in a meaningul way this will be the norm in the future.

Good luck getting into comm. college in California

"Community college classes tougher to get in to," by Nanette Asimov
March 28, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

This article gives some pretty bleak numbers for those students in California who want to attend community college courses. It states that in California's 270 community colleges 47% of students surveyed reported that they could not get into one or more required classes last Fall term. It appears this trend will continue next Fall or even get worse.

Jack Scott, the chancellor of the community college system said that the problem is especially prevalent in California because of its 2.7 million c.c. students (largest enrollment in the nation). "Many, many students come to us and can't find the classes they need," Scott told the Assembly's budget subcommittee last month, estimating that 140,000 students were turned away last year. "We're as popular as we've ever been, so it's the best of times, and the worst of times."

While enrollment numbers continue to rise, and tuition prices rise as well, funding from the state, like most programs in California is being cut. The Pearson Foundation Community College Student Survey reports alot of interesting details about California's cc students, not the least of which being 90% of them are returning students and 60% of students have quit a class because of a professor. This story is relevant to all educators and students because with the economy in the state it is in many more students are taking the cc route to save money. If this avenue is closed, many people will not be able to afford school and miss out on that opportunity.

The Pearson Foundation Community College Student Survey will be posted on the foundation's website today, at

Kindergarteners on the move

"San Francisco Schools: Parents look afield for assignments" by Jill Tucker Saturday, March 19, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

This story is about the kindergarten school assignments given to student in the San Francisco Bay area school districts. Essentially, parents select from a list of schools choosing the top picks they would like their child to attend. The article found that while 75% of parents got one of the top three schools selected from the list, over 75% chose a shool that was not in their area as their top choice. The article points out that many parents opt to send their kids to schools that are not in the neighborhood for a variety of reasons. The story states that, " Almost 40 percent of those incoming kindergarten parents wanted a school that offered a language immersion program, and 20 percent chose one of the district's eight K-8 schools first. Demand for many of those programs or schools was more than 200 percent above capacity."

Furthermore, half of all parents listed one of 14 top schools as their prefered school for their child. School assignment requests from African American and Latino families was up 20%, according to the district's numbers which is substantial because these demographics have notoriously low repuest rates. Parents who do not request a school for their child are assigned one based on space. There are complaints about the system. "That's what's driving people out of San Francisco," said Johnny K. Wang, a political consultant for San Francisco Students First, which advocates for neighborhood schools. "It's not an assignment system. It's a lottery system."

I can see how incredibly relevant this story is to parents in that city, because the educationsl tract your child gets on is so important to their ultimate quality of education and of course their future. It's not surprising to me that competition to get into these preferred schools, even in kindergarten, is fierce.

Robots Assist Autistic Children

"Kaspar the Friendly Robots Helps Autistic Kids"
Staff and Wire Reports
eSchool News
Posted Online on March 8, 2011

Having an autistic child, I was intrigued by this article as it discussed using a robot to teach autistic children about   learning and showing emotions.  It is being used in a pre-school class in London, England and so far has been met with pretty good success.  Since autistic kids do not read facial expressions very well, a robot gives them a safe way to learn these skills.

This article is not just for educators or for parents of children who are in the autism spectrum, but for the world as well to see how technology can be used to overcome disabilities.  Though the machine is expensive now ($2,118), if it is successful then hopefully it can be produced on more of a mass-scale process to bring down the cost.  As someone who has seen his own autistic child struggle with simple things that most of society does easily and without thinking, articles like these give me hope in overcoming those struggles.

Pay teachers more money!

"Top scoring countries hold teachers in high esteem," from the Associated Press Thursday, March 17, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

This is a short article that pretty much says it all: if you pay teachers more money they teach better and kids learn more. It's kind of stating the obvious, but this article points out that these seem to ring true in countries that are doing a better job of educating their children than the U.S. In an exam for 15-year-olds, the Programme for International Student Assessment found that the U.S. currently ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25the in math out of 34 countries selected for review.

Andreas Schleicher, the exam director, notes that while the U.S. has one of the world's most expensive school systems (in terms of dollars per student) its teachers rank as some of the most underpaid. It does not surprise me that teachers who are not given incentives (namely $) do not teach up to their potential. A report that Schleicher co-authored said the U.S. must increase teacher salary and found the following four factors critically important in student performance:

1. Teachers are drawn from a selective pool similar to other professional groups

2. Higher teacher salaries are more effective than smaller class size in determing student performance

3. Teachers are continually being trained and developing their skills

4. Instructors are held accountable for student performance, but tests are just one measure of that performance

In short, the article found that countries with high performing students, "set high requirements to become a teacher, hold those who become one in high esteem and offer the instructors plenty of support."

5 Myths About Abraham Lincoln

"Five Myths About Abraham Lincoln"
Holzer, Harold
The Washington Post
Posted Online on February 17, 2011

Being a History Major, this article was a joy for me to read as it debunked five major myths about Abraham Lincoln - most of which I thought were true!  Mr. Holzer, a Lincoln historian, uses evidence to debunk the myths of 1) Lincoln was a simple country lawyer, 2) Lincoln was gay, 3) Lincoln was depressed, 4) Lincoln was too compassionate and 5) Lincoln was mortally ill.

As we have discussed in our classes, History has been written with many mistakes and as a society we are trying to rectify that so history is factually correct.  I have to be honest in saying it is hard for me to part with some of the corrections as that is not what I had learned.  Also, I want to make sure those who are correcting our histories are being as intellectually honest as those who may not have been in writing our past stories.  That said, it is refreshing to me to see the "rest of the story" being told and our nation's history being fully fleshed out.  And this article adds to that refreshment, so enjoy!

Parents Opt Out of Standardized Testing

"Mother hopes others will opt out of standardized testing"
Levitt, Rose and Candiotti, Susan
Posted online on March 21, 2011

A mother in Pennsylvania has pulled her two sons from standardized testing.  She used a religious exemption as the reason for pulling her children because that was the only choice given.  The real reason she states is, "...the tests are not accurate measures of accomplishment, create undue anxiety for students and are used to punish schools."  She has been joined by an an associate professor of education at Penn State Altoona, Dr. Timothy Slekar, who has also pulled his son from testing.  This is an extremely rare occurrance, but both of the parents are frustrated by the quality of education their children are receiving and the constant teaching to just the tests.

This article continues the ongoing discussion about whether tests are the way to go in judging true learning and education in our public schools.  I think we all know testing and teaching to the tests is not going to work, but somehow some assessment of the schools must be made.  It is interesting to note the person who is quoted as being in favor of testing is the president of the NAACP, who I do not believe is in education.  That is a continual frustration for me as it seems many of the people involved in this discussion do not have an education background.  Maybe it truly is up to the parents as shown in this article to start a discussion about the standardized testing and not the talking heads from the top.

Is Grant Hill an Uncle Tom?

"What Grant Hill and Jalen Rose Share"
Wilbon, Michael
Posted on on March 17, 2011

Now I know there are some in the class who are not as into sports as some of us are, but we have discussed that as teachers we need to be willing to grow, so here is your chance!  Michael Wilbon wrote for the Washington Post for 30 years before joining ESPN permanently this year.  He is a very thoughtful observer of the sports world and his commentary is extremely well written.  In this article he writes about a video showing the 1990's Michigan College Men's Basketball team and how they changed college basketball.

During the video, the main speaker for the Michigan team, Jalen Rose, speaks about how his team really hated their main adversary, Duke University.  Rose states that Duke would only accept a certain type of a black athlete from wealthy and established communities and not from less respected places like inner-city Detroit.  And those blacks that went to Duke were Uncle Toms by joining the majority white community and not staying with the true black community.

This commentary provides a great discussion about those who come from privileged backgrounds in the black community versus those who do not.  It brings up the whole discussion of the few blacks as a whole who have made it past the disenfranchisement that plagues the black community and the majority who have not.  This continues our racism chapter by showing inequity is still a bitter part of our society and we as teachers, the education community and society at large need to recognize this ongoing feeling whether or not it may still be true.  The trick, as Mr. Wilbon states, is we need to get past the anger and accusations to a point of all parts of society working together towards solutions to make our society truly equal and just.

The Creativity Crisis

Seargeant Richardson, Laura
"The Creativity Crisis: Why American Schools Need Design"
The Atlantic
Posted online March 25, 2011

We have all heard of the STEM approach to education, so maybe it is time to make it STEAM with the "A" being Art.  The author makes a great point and backs it up with research to show students who want to succeed in the new growing job opportunities will not only need to be smart in the STEM areas, but also in be able to be creative.  As she points out, jobs listed in the "New Work" classifications are grouped into 5 categories with STEM appearing to only account for one-fifth of the training needed to compete in the coming decades.  She also points out, "the European Union declared 2009 as the Year of Creativity, and Chinese faculty actually laughed when they found out the U.S. education trends were in "standardized curriculum, rote memorization, and nationalized testing."

This article was written in a national magazine and is not meant for just teachers, but for the general public as well.  Ms. Seargeant Richardson argues (as we have read and discussed in classes) that to just concentrate on the STEM programs and teaching to the test is NOT the way to go.  We are going to shortchange our future students, our industries and our nation if we eliminate the other aspects of eduction such as art, music, shop and design classes.  Part of education is stimulating all parts of the brain and not just certain areas.  Or to put it another way, it is like using one of your arms with just barely using your other arm.  How stupid would that be?!

Tests are Boring

Obama Says Too Much Testing Makes Education Boring” by Stacy Anderson
NPR, March 28, 2011 Accessed: March 28, 2011

Topic: Standardized testing is not the way to go.

Summary: Obama is pushing for a rewrite of federal education laws. He is critical of No Child Left Behind and of the overuse of standardized testing.

Intended audience: General Public

Key Points:

  • Too much testing makes education boring for kids.
  • “Schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate”
  • Obama administration would like to change standards from No Child Left Behind to a new standard saying that by 2020 all students graduating from high school should be ready for college or a career.

Relevance: Teaching to the test is a hot topic as is No Child Left Behind. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. What does “ready for college or a career” even mean? I’ve also posted a video from during Obama’s campaign for president that shows his opinion then is in-tune with his opinion now on the issue of standardized testing.

Public Schools Are Damned One Way or Another

Gardner, Walt
"Public Schools Are Damned One Way or Another"
Reality Check Column in Education Week
Posted Online on March 9, 2011

This is the other Gardner who taught for 28 years in the Los Angeles School District and was a lecturer in the UCLA Graduate School of Education.  He writes this short article for the education community, but he is also crying out to the public at large about the hypocrisy towards our society's view of teachers.  His basic point is society is wanting better teachers and says good teachers should be paid more.  Then when a school district in Long Island, New York does consistently well and the superintendent is rewarded with a nice salary package, people are screaming that the education community is overpaid.

Maybe if it was a teacher that was being paid more this would not be a problem.  However, watching the recent budget debates I do not think that would be the case.  As teachers and as people living in society as a whole, this article brings up a good point that if Wall Street people can receive nice salary increases for good performance, why can't teachers and administration be allowed the same treatment?  Why are free marketeers okay with the one and not the other?  Is it truly a case of the public schools being damned if you do and damned if you don't?

Childhood Obesity in Mexico

Mexico Puts Its Children on a Diet” by Elisabeth Malkin
New York Times, March 13, 2011

Topic: Childhood obesity in Mexico

Summary: New guidelines in Mexico have been implemented to regulate what types of snack foods can be sold in schools (Mexican public schools do not provide lunch). The guidelines prohibit soda, limit portions, fried foods, and sugar in snacks sold at recess.

Intended audience: General Public

Key Points:

  • Mexico has one of the highest obesity rates in the world (similar to the United States)
  • Regulations were relaxed from original proposal, but may still be successful – at least they are a step in the right direction
  • “The central issue is to educate children to exercise moderation in what they eat and emphasize healthier products”
  • Some schools have already done this on their own – a principal at an elementary school in Mexico City has remade the recess menu.

Relevance: We have seen a lot of articles posted about childhood obesity – I believe they have all been in the United States. It is interesting to see an article about a different country struggling with the same issues of soda and junk food sold at school. An 11 year old in the article says, “Almost all of the girls eat fruit. Sometimes we eat candy. But that’s because we’re kids.” I think that it is important for schools to offer healthy options for students at snack/lunch and also educate on why that is important. Because, as the article says, as soon as school is over, students “poured out of the gates onto a narrow street cluttered with vendors selling candy, chips, nachos, and ice cream.” Junk food is everywhere, and just eliminating it from schools without any education on nutrition and exercise will not have a large impact. When I was in middle school, I always got off at the school bus stop by the minimart to buy myself candy, cookies, etc.

Awesome Video for Social Studies Teachers (Jeff, Topic Sixteen)

Lin-Manuel Miranda
Alexander Hamilton Rap (
Youtube clip from the official White House channel.

Summary: Alexander Hamilton overcome incredible hardship in his life to become the Treasury Secretary of the United States and one of our founding fathers. This rap, performed at a White House dinner, recounts his bravery and tenacity.

Intended Audience: General Public

Key Points: 1) Alexander Hamilton was not born with a silver spoon in his hand, 2) You can make something of yourself if you have the will to do so.

Relevance: I had to post this. It is directly relevant to social studies education. I wonder how many young, immigrant students, who have no family, or extreme family issues, believe that they have nothing in common with any of our founding fathers? I was inspired by this video. To be honest, I knew very little about the details of Hamilton's life until I watched it (all I knew was his utterly deplorable stance on the national bank, but that is beside the point).

Really, Hamilton was an immigrant, who was born to a prostitute, dealt with family death and suicide, and overcame extreme poverty to become one of the most influential men in our country's history. He practically invented the American Dream, and his story could be used to hook young and disinterested students into history. A video like this says, "Hey, look! Alexander Hamilton was a lot like you. Don't you want to make a difference too?"

Panel of Expert Editors

With More Than Yawns, Pupils Rate Teacher’s Book” by Grace Rubenstein
New York Times, March 10, 2011

Topic: A third grade teacher in the Bay area uses his class as the “front-line editors” of the childrens chapter book he is writing.

Summary: Each time that Mr. Imwalle finishes a chapter in the book he is writing, he reads it allowed to the students in his third grade class. The students provide feedback about what they liked, what they didn’t like, and he can also judge based on their behavior during the read-aloud.

Intended audience: General public

Key Points:

  • The students have a rare opportunity to be exposed to the process of writing a book – as opposed to just seeing the final product on the shelves of the library.
  • Kids are excited about creative writing activities in class after being a process of the teacher’s own creative writing work.
  • Great way to motivate students who don’t like writing – many in the class are ELL. This puts the focus on the enjoyment of writing, not the grammar/spelling/technical part that is difficult for students at this level.

Relevance: This is something we may be able to use as teachers in the future. I don’t see myself writing a book, but as a child I remember having local authors come in for workshops or assemblies to teach about the process of writing books/creative writing. How cool for these students to get to be a process of that through their teacher! I also really liked the way Imwalle empowers the students to be editors for his book – it goes along with Bruner’s idea that students can practice a discipline at some level with integrity – these 8-9 year ARE editors! How lucky that he has a panel of experts at his disposal :)