Saturday, April 11, 2009

Around the Blogosphere - 4/11

Quickly around the blogosphere-

• Everyone should have a school law blog in their reader. The one I follow is the Edjurist by University of Kentucky professors Justin Bathon and Scott Bauries, where they recently have looked into the merit (or lack thereof) of "time-out rooms", as well as the protection of internet speech. Their most recent post is a question about backchannel conversations during school board meetings. Backchanneling is using Twitter or other tools to carry a conversation (or even just broadcast something) over the internet during an event. This is the term for the process I mentioned when looking at Twittering during student presentations. Bathon mentions that while this has great potential for information dissemination (not to mention democracy), it might be interesting if the school board meetings don't hold close to FERPA regulations. In other words, have some discretion if specific student information is discussed in the open.

• We in Iowa are insulated from an ongoing debate that has reached intensity. While we discuss the issues of whether to reform, the debate nationally is centering on how to reform. E.D. Hirsch, proponent of the "core knowledge" approach to standardizing curriculum, has an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week defending the validity and merit of standardized "bubble-filling" test, arguing that the main problem is the passages in those tests are arbitrary, and should rather be linked to the required reading of the curriculum. This touched off quite the debate with rebuttals, which led to rebuttals, which led to rebuttals.

• Hirsch didn't spark as much conversation as Arne Duncan did with his wistfulness for the 6-day, 11-month school calendar. And most of the conversation was shock and disbelief. The irony is we were just looking at a 4-day week for energy efficiency, and now the conversation is taken dramatically the other way. Seems like the roughly $500 million/yr. we would need to give every 3rd-12th grader a netbook computer would be much easier and much more likely to transform education than the trillion dollars/yr. we would need to extend each teacher and educational employee to a 275-day contract, but what do I know? I don't work for the government, I have to follow a budget...

• And finally, Matt Townsley touches on the question about student information systems and formative assessment I mentioned yesterday. Excellent example of how to do this, with screen shots from his SIS. There was discussion at the Iowa Core meeting that Anamosa High School was also pioneering in this field.

The broader discussion of course, is of the merits of traditional grading. I encourage schools to have the conversation about why we grade, and what the purpose of assessment really is. And, discuss if there is a place for standards-based reporting structures (or the tamer cousin, "standards-referenced" reporting structures). You know my thoughts.

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