PSA: Grandbabies is not a word. It’s grandchildren, grandson, granddaughter, grandchild
Not everyone is gifted. Everyone is not “brilliant in their own way.”
I still listen to the radio in the car.
It might be one of the most GenX things I do, and I know it's starting to fade from common practice as everyone can now connect their phones with Spotify or Pandora of iTunes and play whatever they want. But it's scrolling through the radio stations that I love the most, not know what is coming up and always being surprised when the "deejay plays my favorite song." My radio dials go from jazz to alternative to country to classic rock to Eighties or Nineties hits to R&B to hip hop to modern pop and hit radio. I love the variety and diversity, and I listen to all the stations.
This morning I went out to the car to listen to the radio while I waited for my daughter who needed a ride to school. And the radio wouldn't work. Literally. The music would not play on any station. I was really bummed out. My daughter just laughed and told me to play from my phone.
And that just misses the point entirely.
I've written before of my distaste for the talking heads on cable news who mask their info-tainment as news, commentary, and authentic debate about the issues. Here are my latest thoughts on that problem in my column for the Villager: "Talking Heads Don't Teach Us Anything"
All kids do not learn math at the same age, pace, and proficiency. In fact, we know the literacy, math, and critical thinking skills of kids are not actually age-specific. That, of course, is a key problem and inefficiency of the K12 once-size-fits-all education system. However, many schools are able to adjust for responsive learning needs through flexible acceleration, and as a result, not every kid is stuck in Algebra I during their ninth grade year, even though that class has long been the standard. As a GT coordinator in a high achieving school community, I've known kids in ninth grade to be in geometry, algebra II/trig, and even calculus. So, clearly one math pathway is not responsive to students.
Thus, the move by the Virginia Department of Education to "eliminate all math acceleration before eleventh grade" is a truly baffling, unsettling, frustrating, and disappointing decision. It is a step backward in education, as is the reasoning of holding kids back in the name of equity. For those of us who have spent a long time in education, in understanding giftedness, and in working for equity, the idea of treating all kids the same is outdated thinking. In fact, we've all seen the graphic of the kids at the fence and the distinction between equity and equality. Equality is providing one path and treating all people the same; equity is providing equal access to opportunity while providing multiple pathways to success and achievement.
Virginia is making a huge mistake in its misguided attempt to help kids.
So, here's my controversial and unpopular English teacher opinion: Don't ask students to read/perform Shakespeare plays out loud in class while studying them.
Each year that I've taught The Bard's plays -- mostly the standards like Julius Caesar or Hamlet -- I've begun polling my classes, asking, "Okay, so with a show of hands, how many of you are classically trained Shakespearean actors?" You can imagine the responses. I follow by asking how many are actors, are in theater, are public speakers, are comfortable performing plays and monologues, etc. Obviously, few if any answer yes. And, after joking that we can now agree listening to them perform the play, of which they are entirely unfamiliar, would be an insult to old William and would likely literally hurt our ears and our humanities instincts, I let them know we will not be "reading" Shakespeare in the class.
Studying plays in class does not mean that students must read the roles, or even (gasp!) perform them, out loud in class. To truly appreciate the lines, they must be known well and delivered as intended. And reading over the play a night before just won't cut it, especially for young teenagers. Plays are not meant to be read, and while many people might be able to do so, it's not a particularly enlightening experience like reading an essay, novel, story, or poem can be. So, I don't waste class time with such nonsense. Plays are meant to be heard and seen. Yet simply showing the movie is too passive, especially for Shakespearean works where the language is challenging at best and undecipherable at worst for many kids. So, we listen to recordings together and work through the play, stopping and discussing and learning along the way.
In my most recent column for The Villager, I considered all the high school seniors who are now hearing from colleges about their applications.
A few weeks ago, as many schools nationwide returned to the physical classroom for the first time in a year, I was asked by educator and ed writer Larry Ferlazzo, who blogs at EdWeek, to write a piece advising teachers who've been remote on how to return to class in a hybrid model. It started with a response to Larry's tweet asking for advice on online and hybrid learning. My comment was "You can't recreate the physical classroom online; don't even try." My response piece on advice about hybrid learning is below for anyone who doesn't have access to EdWeek:
Do’s & Don’ts of Hybrid Learning