Category Archives: Children

Teaching Everything Using the Scientific Method

Mmkay. So, I had this epiphany (it’s like the last thing I wrote) a few weeks ago about how pretty much everything is learned through the Scientific Method:

  1. Background Information/Observation,
  2. Hypothesis,
  3. Design and Conduct the Experiment,
  4. Evaluate the Data,
  5. Draw a Conclusion

In other words, think up a question (Why is the sky blue? What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?), offer a hypothesis (Because it is. 1776.), Design and Conduct the Experiment (I will look in my textbook(s)), Evaluate the data (do I agree with my textbook? Can I verify this information using another source?), and Draw a conclusion (The sky is blue due to the angle of sunlight hitting water molecules in the atmosphere, 1776 because I saw a real copy of the Declaration in the UVA library).

I wish I had realized this earlier while I was reading through the Language Acquisition and Reading (Creating Literacy Instruction; Pearson 2016) textbook. Even though they have used various different terms, pretty much every strategy for teachers to use has boiled down to the Scientific Method as described above.

Here’s the latest example:

Mini-lessons used as a part of a Reading Workshop for lessons using Independent Reading. These mini-lessons have 5 basic parts (I have block quoted them to make them easier to read, but the analysis is mine alone):

1. Connection (Background information and Hypothesis)

2/3. Teaching and Active Involvement (Conducting the Experiment)

4. Link (Evaluate)

5. Follow up (Conclusion)

I have to create 3 different lesson plans for the class, due Dec. 3rd. My hope is to have them comply with my theory of universally utilizing the Scientific Method, but honestly my first goal will be ensuring that they meet any and all requirements that my professor has for the assignment (because I’d prefer to pass the class since I don’t have real students to test my lesson plans on). However, once the class is over, I’m thinking about creating some of these lesson plans over winter break. Of course I’ll post them here unless and until I decide to use them for a future class and aren’t allowed to plagiarize myself.

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Reading Journals

This week in my class on Language Acquisition and Reading, our lesson is on Reading. The first section was on reading for content classes (science, history, etc) and the second section is on reading literature.

I wish, I wish, I WISH the teachers I had in school had simply done a better job explaining what we were doing! I’m recognizing a lot of things I did in English classes for analyzing literature and I vaguely remember it being called “Close Reading”, but I seem to have missed the memo on “Close Reading” being a specific way of reading literature. I mean, I knew it had a set structure, but I never understood why it was WRONG to pay too much attention to just getting lost in the story!

Had they done a simple compare and contrast of “Close Reading” (paying attention primarily to the structure of the story) v. “Reader Response” (paying attention primarily to ideas the story evokes), I think I would have enjoyed English a little bit more. Because as it was, I hated English because I felt like I wasn’t allowed to just enjoy books and I really didn’t understand why it was so important to look at the structures used by the author since I have no desire to be a professional literary writer.

Now that I understand why it’s important to learn about structure as much as content, I’d be fine with analyzing a piece of literature based on it’s structure! It’s not that one way of looking at literature is better or worse (which I thought back in high school), but that they are different.

Especially with poetry.

I don’t like poetry because you can’t read poetry. I mean, you can, but it has to be read aloud. Which is fine if you like reading aloud! But I like seeing a story and I can’t see a story if I’m stumbling over pronunciations and making sure that I’m pausing in all the right places (which are never at the end of a line even though the lines don’t take up the entire width of the page….WHY?!?!?!). It bugs the crap out of me.

Ooh! Brainstorm! Whenever I have to deal with poetry in my future classroom, I will always prep for the class by re-writing the poems! I will write them out as though prose (except without the distracting /s) and use ellipses (…) as necessary. Though, I’m pretty darn good at pausing at the commas! Haha. This way I can read them as they are meant to be read (and continue to wonder why the heck they’re structured stupidly to start with!).

Anyway, Bitching about poetry wasn’t the reason I started writing this  post. I’m supposed to be writing about Reading Journals.

There are 4 types:

  1. Response Journals: where the student reflects after each chapter, usually in response to a prompt given by the teacher, though they can be free-written.
  2. Literary: the student pretends to be one of the characters and reflects from that POV.
  3. Double Entry: where the left side of the page is a quotation and the right side is a question or reflection (I remember doing this for Pride and Prejudice, an assignment I actually enjoyed).
  4. Dialogue Journals: where the student and teacher (or two students) have a written discussion about the book within the confines of a journal.

As a letter writer, I think I will rely heavily on Dialogue Journals! I’m 1000x more confident on paper than vocally and I feel much more comfortable writing to my professors than I do speaking to them, especially when I have a question. I imagine this is true for many students who do not want to look silly in front of the class.

Thinking about the Double-Entry Journal we did for Pride and Prejudice, I felt self-conscious about my teacher reading it because I wasn’t sure if I was on the right track about things. I knew that I was getting graded for my work in it and the feedback was always about creating a correct Journal and making the right kinds of connections/inferences, not about specific things that I’d written. Not a conversation about the book and my ideas on it. An actual conversation about it would have been really nice, since I rarely talked in class.

I’m sure a lot of the questions I wrote in that Journal never got answered. I assume that my way of approaching a book hasn’t changed much, so many of the quotes I questioned or reflected on were things that made me laugh or made me cringe. The journal is long, long gone, but I know it would have been nice if it’d had some dialogue with my teacher in it where she gave her opinions on the book and my thoughts rather than simply “that’s interesting” and “good insights” or whatever other generic statements she could make. There was nothing that made me want to dive deeper into what I’d already written about in the journal. Why go back to a previous chapter when the next chapter’s reflections are due this week?

Probably one of the best responses I ever got from a teacher on an assignment was in the Environments of Lewis and Clark course in college where on a homework assignment we were asked to list 3 uses of water in the home. One of mine was “watering the cats and dogs” (because I couldn’t figure out a better way to word this particular chore). The professor drew a little picture of a cat with a watering can over it’s head that let me know that she had smiled at my terminology. I felt like we were on the same page about the question and that we were cool. It let me know that she’d read my answer and had a personal response to it. That meant a lot.

Since I’m an avid reader, I hope to have read many of the books that my students will read so that I can have a real conversation with them about their books in their Journals. I’d treat it like a mini, private book club where the students are free to share even their wildest ideas about the books because everyone is entitled to have any reaction they want to a particular book.

And if we’re learning about the structure of literary works (which is important!), I will make sure that my students understand that analyzing structure is different from having merely an aesthetic response to a book. Because there are a lot of crappy books being written today which lack even a semblance of literary structure and that’s not cool!

As Architects say, “Form Follows Function”. In reading as many sources of news that I do, it’s critical to realize when a form exists for a very specific reason (poetry be damned).

Okay. I relent: A haiku exists only as a form: meaning has nothing to do with it’s structure. I think?

Question: How often to homeschooling parents “grade” their children’s reading journals? Do many curriculum require that children keep such journals?

I nag, my tween complains — how do we end the struggle over chores? – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/help-my-12-year-old-wont-complete-chores/2017/02/21/582a1992-f553-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.00fb79b0ac9d

On tying chores to allowance, here is how I would do it:

Once the kid grasps the concept of money (needing money to buy things), they are old enough for their chores to be linked to their allowance. Since they should have already been doing age appropriate chores°, they will love getting paid to do what they’re already doing and will probably not realize over the years that an increase in the number and type of chores they’re doing is related to their age and development not an increase in allowance.

Let me explain. At 5 years old, the kid learns about the importance of money. They want money, so you say, “okay, if you complete all your chores this week, I’ll give you X dollars on Friday”. The kid thinks, “Sweet! I already do all my chores every week, so this is easy money!!”

As the kid gets older, they will want more money and you know they need to do more chores. They will gladly consent to doing more chores for more money. But, you were already planning to increase their allowance because you know a 10 year old probably can’t survive on $5/week. They think they’re getting the payraise for doing more work, when in reality, the payraise and work is unrelated… sort of.

You see, there’s a big problem that can arise with tying chores to allowance: what do you do when the kid doesn’t do their work? The simplest strategy I’ve thought of is that the kid loses money for every chore not done. $1/chore, depending on how the numbers crunch?

Since I believe that kids should be given reasonable choice as much as possible, I think that they should be allowed to choose their chores as much as possible.For younger kids, they may pick their daily chores for a given block of time* while older kids, have a master chore list^ for them to check off that let’s them choose the chores that fits their mood on a given day.

Any overlap between younger and older kids chore charts should be hashed out at the ~monthly meeting when the younger kids pick their chores for the month. Younger kids should be given first dibs on chores that are age appropriate, but be allowed to take on more responsibility if appropriate (like, they want to scrub the shower every week or help cook dinner).
°Note: There is a difference between chores and good habits.Chores are things that need to be done regardless of whose doing it. Habits are personal responsibilities that everyone has to do to be considered a responsible adult (brushing teeth, picking up their toys, etc). Chores can be mixed and matched depending on one’s roommates, spouse, or children. When a person lives alone, all the chores fall onto their shoulders. When living in a group, chores can be spread around (you don’t need 3 people washing dishes every night), but everyone, no matter their living situation, needs to automatically take care of their personal hygiene and pick up after themselves; teaching good habits is different from teaching how and when to do chores!
*So, every month or so, the younger kids decide on what they’re chore list is for every day: feed the dog, set the table, wipe up the bathroom, etc. When they get bored with these chores, they can choose a new set of chores. Younger kids take longer for their interests to change and they do better with a strict daily list of tasks.

^Older kids are capable of doing just about everything moms and dads can, which means they, like moms and dads, can decide what needs to be done and when. Someone needs to figure out dinner every night; who’s in the mood to cook? I’d suggest making the agreement = the total number of chores per week×/the number of people covered by that chore list @the amount of allowance that is appropriate. The teen is going to look at the list of everything that needs to get done in a week (7 dinners, 7 dish washings, etc, etc, etc) and pick the things they like best, based on their ever changing mood. If there’s more than one older kid, there will be competition over the choiciest chores, which seems like a good problem to have! Moms and dads, as members of the household, should also be included in the chores equation. School=Work, so none of this “I have a job and you don’t” argument (truthfully, school is more work than most jobs because of homework).

×However, it’s important to remember that not all chores are created equal. I’d suggest ranking chores by difficulty and making a hard chore like washing clothes count for more than an easy chore like feeding the dog. To adjust the equation, simply add together the rankings rather than the base number.

Here’s an example of a partial master chore list:

Family members: 2 parents, 2 teens = 4 participants

Dinner (7×2 (ranking)) = 14 points

Feeding dog (7×1) = 7 points

Washing clothes (includes washing, drying, folding, sorting/putting away) (3 or 4 (or however often as necessary) ×4) = 12 or 16 points

Dishes (7×2 (4 in my real house because we don’t have a dishwasher) = 14 or 28 points

Take the number of points (47 or 61) and divide it by the number of people responsible (4) so, each person is responsible for about 11 or 15 points worth of work. The ranking score above is how many points you earn for doing a chore once. A person who primarily feeds the dog will have to cook or wash dishes a couple days while that cook/dishwasher gets the day off.

Of course, your milage will vary.

2 Indian Christian Women Arrested, Slammed With False Charges of Forced Conversions

https://www.christianpost.com/news/2-indian-christian-women-arrested-slammed-with-false-charges-of-forced-conversions-204814/

The women were arrested after the Hindu activist group Hindu Jagran Manch complained to police about children being taken to Mumbai by train.

The activist organization reportedly accused the women of trying to take the kids to be forcibly converted. Along with being charged with violating the state’s anti-conversion law, the women were also charged with kidnapping.

Kunwarlal Warkade, a local police official, told ucanews.com that the two women were charged with kidnapping four girls and six boys under the age of 14. Warkade also stated that it has been alleged that the women lured the children with the promise of education and toys.

These children have parents or guardians who would have sufgned permission slips for the women to take the children anywhere.

Without permission slips, this is kidnapping. Period.

Promising education and toys to children so longcasvthey say they’re Christian? Done. That’s a coerced/bribed conversion.

Ignorance is no excuse for this sort of thing.

Obedience and Disobedience

I’m back to reading Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood. This sentence from Chapter 7: Everyday Forward, brought me to a screeching halt:

Disobedience brings negative consequences; obedience brings positive consequences.

Now, I realize that this is coming from a dad who means it quite innocently in the way of “there’s a good reason why a child should STOP on a dime and not run out into the street.”

But, we literally just had a chapter on how and why women are supposed to submit to their husbands and earlier in this chapter, this same dad “explained that civil authorities (like presidents) are God-given blessings for our flourishing.”

[I wonder how much tongue biting went with saying/writing this about Obama.]

The chapter on submission implies that wives aren’t supposed to blindly to bad husbands, but since I hat advice is immediately followed by:

“Ultimately, Christ is a wife’s final authority….As a wife follows her calling to submit in marriage, she is ultimately submitting to Christ”

Paired with NO ADVICE on how a woman is supposed to deal with an abusive husband (i.e. divorce his ass!) and Lori Alexander’s disgusting article about how women are supposed to submit without any expectation that their husband will reform himself (or as I think of it, the most blatant propaganda to keep women in abusive relationships), it appears that “not blindly submitting” really means that women know and accept that they are being treated like dirt.

{If you feel you are being abused and need help, please call the Domestic Violence Hotline:  +18007997233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org}

Is it no wonder I got concerned when a dad wants to teach his children that obedience (always and only) leads to positive effects and disobedience (always and only) leads to negative effects?

The world is not black and white and children are NEVER too young to learn that sometimes disobedience is the correct choice!

  • Being abused by a person (especially when the person is in an obvious position of power).
  • The Holocaust HAPPENED! Other Genecides are happening today!
  • Jesus Camp has a scene where a 10 year old boy says that Galileo should have submitted to the Church’s teaching on the Sun orbiting the Earth. Because apparently scientific discovery is disobedience.

Children  should be taught right from wrong and why they shouldn’t do certain things for their own safety. But teaching children to “do what I said because I said so” doesn’t teach children real life skills except how to please people.

When Theory Matches Reality

Ever since I decided to become a teacher (for apparently the second time in my life, haha), I’ve paid a lot of attention to education as discussed by commentators and lawmakers.

Since I was a middle and high school student during “No Child Left Behind” and in college when “Common Core” was adopted, I heard a lot of adults and educators complaining about both because they’re too strict and don’t let teachers make decisions.

Now, at some point in college, I decided to consider myself a Non-Conformist. Pretty much, I do my own thing based on my own rules and am very good a “smiling and nodding” when I think other people’s ideas are bat-shit crazy.

When I first heard about “Common Core” the thing that struck me most was that it would mean that students in (hopefully) all 50 states would be taught using the same curriculum. This, I thought, would mean that a student could transfer from one school in one state into another school in a different state without much confusion due to repetition and stuff being “skipped”. I have a cousin who moved from SC to PA (or vice versa) in 4th grade and thought that the Civil War was 2 different wars because of the completely different way it was taught in both states. I think that this is the example that shows exactly how screwed up our education system is in America. Living in Southeastern VA means that there are a lot of military kids who move around a lot and they deserve to have one solid education, not a piecemeal one based on what the individual states think is important.

Anyway, so, I was loving Common Core and then I started hearing parents and educators complaining about the new way of teaching math. Mmmkay….

They started showing me examples. I agree: that crap is weird!!

But…is that a problem with the overall aspect of Common Core? Or is it an implementation problem?

Hehehehehe.

My education class this semester is Language Acquisition and Reading. This week we’re learning about lesson planning, which includes information on Basal Readers which has since become the educational idea of a “core reading program”. Essentially, teachers are handed a reading program that’s supposed to solve all their problems so long as they work through the program systematically with their students. The article we read this week explains why this doesn’t work (USING BASAL: From Dutiful Fidelity to Intelligent Decision Making by Peter Dezvitz and Jennifer Jones).

Essentially the problem is that no two children or classrooms are exactly the same (duh). The Basal can offer a great place for novice teachers to start, but teachers still need to evaluate their students to determine exactly what they need individually. The Basal can’t really differentiate for students.

Which, really, only serves to prove the point I’ve been trying to make for going on 10 years now: the school system can make all the mandates they want, but teachers are completely free to revise and plan on their own (“defying the school system’s mandates”) all they want so long as at the end of the day the student is learning exactly what they need to learn!!

Before “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core” Virginia had it’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. Every student in 3rd, 5th, 8th, and various high school classes had to pass these suckers in order to graduate and the student’s scores had great influence on teachers keeping their jobs and schools getting accreditation.

This, of course, led to many teachers and administrators deciding that it was better to “teach the test” so that the schools kept up appearances of offering a quality education.

I call these teachers LAZY!

You see, even though I was in AP and dual enrollment classes in high school, I still had to take the SOL tests. Here’s the thing: as a class, we NEVER studied for the SOLs. This is because the AP and dual enrollment requirements are above and beyond what the SOLs ask and so without any special preparation, we AP kids easily aced or nearly aced the SOLs.

I had many friends in regular classes and they were given vast workbooks meant to prepare them for the SOL tests. I read through them and was fascinated and appalled by how little in depth knowledge was required of them! That’s not right!

Since I spent so much time with the “regular” kids, I could never understand what made me special. Sure, I had more knowledge, but that was because I was in classes that required me to go above and beyond and so the incidental facts were easily retained.

It’s easy to remember that the Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783 when you’re writing essays in 30 minutes on “To what extent is a Revolutionary War a literal revolution where society returns to the status quo after a short period of change?”. Memorizing dates is lot easier than trying to determine if everything after a revolution is actually just like it was before the revolution (I’m convinced that it’s more like a spiral where life is similar, but with a striking difference; like, American’s don’t drink as much tea as the English).

Anyway, since I think that students are much more competent and capable than school systems seem to give them credit for, I’ve always decided that if a teacher is complaining about too much regulation and testing by administrators, the teacher probably isn’t a very good teacher.

Do many kids get stressed out about taking too many tests? Yes. Can students be given the skills to make these tests so easy that they’re a joke? HELL YES! If a teacher is afraid of their students doing poorly on any given test, then the teacher hasn’t taught them properly. Period.

And any teacher who thinks that gathering meaningful data about their students and evaluating how that data should influence instruction is too much work should be fired. We did Running Records a couple weeks ago. Yes, they seemed awkward, but I just watched a YouTube video of a teacher performing one very fluidly as part of small group instruction. In other words, I see how easy performing a Running Record can be with practice and the data it provides is invaluable. To think of it as too much work undermines just how much work and care goes into teaching!

I was reading these tips for Homeschooling and thought it was pretty horrible that in the chart for analyzing different methods of education, the amount of parental involvement was listed under the disadvantages! I mean…if parents are going to be teachers, then they should be comfortable being teachers! That means lesson planning. That means evaluations. That means actually learning the content before you attempt to teach it! I think that there’s a reason why most of the homeschooling blogs I follow don’t have much information for teaching children after they’ve become “independent readers”. Once the kid can read it seems like the parent only exists to answer specific questions that the child has (which means Google?).

I’ve taken enough standardized tests from elementary to high school to know one thing: except for the writing example section, they’re always multiple choice tests. I highly doubt that Common Core has added short answer sections. Which means that even in the math section, with the crazy, seemingly made up techniques, the only thing that matters is that the student gets the correct answer.

So, in a real world classroom, if the school system mandates a specific way of instruction, the teacher can teach that, plus whatever other techniques that individual students may have an easier time using. Because, here’s the thing: most of that “crazy math” is just meant to help students better grasp the concepts of numbers and how they relate to each other. It’s supposed to help students rely less on memorization and more on why math works.

  • 1/16th=0.062
  • 3/8ths=0.375
  • 5/8ths=0.625

I hate rotely memorizing things! I don’t have the patience for drills and I find such isolated facts to be useless information. But, I’ve just listed 3 of the more obscure inches to decimal conversions that I know (skipping the obvious quarters and halves). Why do I know these? Because I work in a print shop and our line-gauges are in inches while our paper cutter is in decimals. If I’m measuring something to cut it, I have to do the conversions. We have a cheat sheet right on the wall behind the cutter, but after a few months, they started to stick. And once I have them memorized, I don’t need to look at the cheat sheet anymore. (In a classroom, a student would probably be required to carry out the long division to make the conversion).

If a Common Core tests asks the student to do a division problem, the answer will be in numbers; it will not be asking them to show their work unless the question requires them to use a specific technique! But, that means that the teacher should have taught that technique as something to be learned, and if the student doesn’t understand the technique, other techniques should be taught in conjunction, with emphasis that learning the technique that will be asked about on the test is as important to learn as how to find the correct answer.

Do you see what I did there? If there are 4 ways to solve a problem, then the teacher should teach all 4 ways, illustrating why each of the ways is different and giving each it’s proper name. In other words, the techniques are facts to be learned, not just what the answer to the problem is.

If Common Core doesn’t test specific techniques and those techniques are useless once the core information has been memorized (e.g. 7×8=56), then it really doesn’t matter how kids learn to do math so long as they learn the technique that works best for them.

See? Lazy teachers are part of the problem. It’s harder to teach 4 techniques instead of just one, so I’m sure many teachers are unwilling to add onto their already overflowing workloads, even though I’m personally convinced that it’s actually easier to teach 4 techniques instead of trying to force the wrong technique onto a specific student.

P.S. This of course leads back to homeschooling parents who don’t want the state to oversee their child’s education. Remember what I was saying about the SOLs? If you as a homeschooling parent are teaching your child above and beyond what the minimum requirements of the state are, then you should have no fear of your child taking state mandated tests to ensure that they’re getting a basic education.

And if you’re refusing the teach your child evolution because you’re afraid that it will hurt their relationship with God (and that is why you keep your child out of school and are afraid of state tests), you are a bad teacher. Teaching the science adequately will not alter faith since religion and science have nothing to do with each other. Science describes the what and how; religion gives reasons for the why. Science functions perfectly without getting stuck on why things work the way that they do; for science why doesn’t matter. Lying to your child about how old the Earth is because this information disagrees with your holy book only serves to disadvantage your child because you’ve most likely cut out or otherwise undermined the very foundation of scientific inquiry: The Scientific Method.

Pro-tip: teach everything from the standpoint of the Scientific Method. Background Information/Observation, Hypothesis, Design and Conduct the Experiment, Evaluate the Data, Draw a Conclusion. Repeat steps as needed. Seriously, it works for every subject (or so say’s this history and environmental science major :-))!

Christian Post: 3 Reasons School Choice Should Matter to Christians–a Rebuttal

This is a response to this article from Christian Post

https://www.christianpost.com/news/3-reasons-school-choice-should-matter-to-christians-204310/

Their reason #1 is that “Choice matters because parents are best equipped to care for their children”. Let me remind you that this was in the papers this week:

Mom Who Beat Daughter for Not Reciting Bible Verses Correctly Sent to Prison

Yes, I made sure to link to the story as told by Christian Post. You’d think that the best argument in favor of at least a wee bit of governmental oversight over the raising of children would be a case of a mom abusing their child, in this case for not reciting Bible verses correctly.

But, it get’s worse: “When parents can’t afford to live in a strong school district, or don’t have the means to private school or homeschool, freedom to educate their children as they see best is restricted.” At the surface, I agree 100%. But let’s dig a little deeper:

  • If a parent can’t afford to move or send the child to a private school, what are the odds that they can afford to drive their child to a better school? Are there any better schools within reasonable driving distance? Does a school choice voucher include a stipend for this transportation?
  • Does the better school have enough seats for all the students who want to go there? Does a school choice law include funding for expanding the buildings of popular schools?
  • Assuming that there is no transportation or space issues, what happens to the bad school once all the students of parents who care about school choice leave (meaning, there’s now a school full of students of parents who don’t care about their children’s education).

The real costs of school choice is reflected in the above bullet points. It’s not just about letting parents pick their favorite schools, it’s about ensuring that students can get into those schools.

Public schools are divided into districts for two simple reasons: transportation and space. Students who live near a school are the easiest to transport via buses and district size can be dictated by the number of seats available in the school.

My dad has 7 brothers and sisters (all born within 10 years). When the family (Navy) moved to Norfolk for the second (and final) time, my grandparents were not impressed by their district’s public schools, so they enrolled all the kids into one of the local Catholic schools. They got either discounts or scholarships or some other way of paying for this private school that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. But that “free” education came with a cost: my dad and his siblings had to ride the second bus. Despite going to their neighborhood on both trips, my dad and his siblings had to stay at the school an hour or so longer every day because the paying students got preferential treatment for the bus. 

I’m not saying that this is still true at private schools (I’m the product of public school), but if no additional funding goes towards transportation, what will happen with the students who use a voucher to afford to attend a school? Will they also be treated like second class citizens?

#2: Choice matters because every child is unique.

Well, I’m in school right now to become an elementary school teacher. My education class for the semester is Language Acquisition and Reading.

Every chapter of our main textbook includes a section on English Language Learners and emphasis is placed on how these students learn best when their native language is respected.

Our secondary textbook, which teaches teachers about phonics, has 10 recommendations “intended to provide a beginning point for the application of reading diagnosis as it applies to phonics instruction within the multilingual classroom.” (Self-Paced Phonics, 5th edition by Roger S. Dow). Most of the recommendations are items I consider common sense for educating ALL children: “Know the cultures of the children in your classroom”, “Use a wide range of teaching approaches and strategies”, “Use meaningful reading material”, “Model and teach tolerance”, “Adopt and value dialogue as a teaching style”, “Be open to Change”, “Be reflective”.

Now, I realize that the fact that these items are needed in an textbook for educators hints that these aren’t values that have been ingrained in the career called Education (meaning that teachers of yester-year didn’t and don’t think that the above items are important in their classroom). So, school choice is a rebellion from a culture of bad teachers. But, here’s the thing: teachers and administrators retire. Young people, such as myself, are comfortable with multiculturalism and globalism. We’re obviously being taught by folks who think that students deserve to be respected and involved in their education rather than being trained to remember rote facts.

I’m learning tons about what Common Core actually is. Yeah, it sure is different from my parent’s education. Students are now expected to think deeply about the content! The mantra is “College and Career Ready”. Are there still teachers who think that it’s best to teach the test? Yes. Will they be weeded out? Yes, but it will take time.

That’s why it’s important to keep parents who are involved in their children’s education IN public schools! Who else is going to blow the whistle on bad practices? Bad teachers?? It took the random placement of my AP class (we 20 kids were the only ones placed into most of the AP classes in my high school) in to the AP Psychology class that was usually reserved for letting regular/honors kids into an AP class without risking bad grades, to get rid of a crappy teacher. I don’t know if he was fired from the school, but he was not allowed to teach AP Psychology the next year. We also had to teach the newly minted AP English Literature teacher how to proctor AP tests and gave her tips on how else to teach an AP class. The only reason we could teach the teachers was because we’d already had, gosh, 3 or 4 well run AP classes. Why these teachers hadn’t been properly trained or monitored is beyond me!

#3 School Choice Empowers the Underprivileged

Ooh! Way to make it look like y’all care!

Except that this is a rehashment of the arguments of #1: Economic status should not influence where a student goes to school (except when it comes the actual logistics of attending that school).

I believe I’ve heard that most students don’t live in an area where another school exists within 30 miles? This article from the News Observer in North Carolina says that there aren’t any charter schools within 40 of their 100 counties. Assuming that some of those 40 also don’t have a private school, it’s entirely possible that there are counties with just public school options.

I started thinking about public school districts in Southeastern Virginia, where I live.

Southampton County has 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school.

Isle of Wight County has 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools.

Accomack County has 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 4 high schools (though 1 of the high schools is on Tangier Island and teaches K-12 with a 7 person graduating class “last year” according to their website).

There’s 16 miles between the high schools in Isle of Wight. 21 miles between two of the high schools in Accomack. That’s not including the driving distance if you live at either end of these two long and narrow counties. That’s a long drive!

The Christian Post article ends with a plea for people to participate in their local school board elections.

Sigh.

First of all, I don’t think it’s entirely proper for people to be voting in school board elections when their children don’t attend a particular school. So, this author needs to make up his mind: do people take their children out of public schools or do they vote in school board elections? Public school boards aren’t going to be the ones lobbying for more charter schools and private school vouchers since both of these agendas take money and students out of public schools. If the author favors school choice, he shouldn’t be asking parents to vote in school board elections, but to vote in all state elections for legislators willing to fund charter schools and vouchers.

Yes, more parents need to get involved with the decisions that the school boards make! Parents should also be involved in the PTA and should join field trips as chaperones often. Parents should be advocates not only for their own children, but for ALL the children of a particular school, district, state, etc!

When Cows and Kids Collide: ATI Wisdom Booklets: Bright and Shining Countenance

http://whencowsandkidscollide.blogspot.com/2017/10/ati-wisdom-booklets-bright-and-shining.html

This is what passes for education in the Duggar and Bates households. This stuff is taught with the same seriousness as misinformation about how stress harms bone structure.

Horse Pills

While reading about a little girl with HIV, I was struck by how very large her pills are (a lot of the article was about how she had to be told about the HIV because she was fighting the pill taking so much). 

So, I’m curious. Why are some pills so huge? I assume it’s because you need so many milligrams of the medication. But, why doesn’t the manufacturer make them half the size with instructions to take two instead of one? Does pill size have something to do with efficacy?

Teaching Consent Before It Was Cool

Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite fairy tale. I haven’t met a version that I don’t adore and am re-watching the new Disney live-action edition tonight.

It was during the scene where Beast let’s Belle go to save her father that I had a revelation. As the past two weeks has brought #metoo to to the forefront and people are openly talking about how being harassed and abused by someone in a position of power makes people less likely to report that harassment and abuse, I have never realized how no matter what edition of Beauty and the Beast I have read or watched, include what I think is one of the first publications of the story, the Beast always let’s Belle go as a proof of his love.

…Okay. After further research, I hadn’t read the original by Madame De Villeneuve, but am reading it now :-).

Classic, haha.

I feel like most of the rest of the “Disney Princesses” don’t get much of an opinion about their lives. Cinderella gets bullied by her step-family until she takes the first ticket out of Dodge. Snow White is equally bullied and takes whatever help she can get. Sleeping Beauty is loved, but lied to and, well, who’s going to argue with true love’s kiss?

But Beauty has the choice to refuse to go to the Beast’s castle. She feels free to tell him that she won’t marry him (or otherwise denies his requests). Even after he falls in love with her, she’s freely allowed to essentially do her own thing. It is her choice to love or not to love, though I prefer versions of the story where the Beast isn’t so actively bribing Belle and her family.

Even though the Beast is holding Belle prisoner and though he needs her love to re-become human, he cannot force her to love him. He may act cruel and heartless, but unlike in real life, Belle never feels pressured to pretend to love him or even pretend to like him. She doesn’t have to smile at his bad jokes. She doesn’t have to stroke his ego.

She has the freedom to be 100% herself and fall in love with him on her own terms.