What We’re Doing: Poetry Out Loud

I had the privilege, along with Mrs. Eichorst, Mrs. Green, and Mr. Carpenter, to judge 9th graders doing Poetry Out Loud.

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition that has students memorizing a poem of their choice and reciting it with expression, articulation, accuracy, and understanding. It’s a great program and our students did great.

Thanks Mrs. Waterhouse for organizing this every year and having me in.

Posted in What We're Doing | Leave a comment

The Effect of Good Teachers

How about this: the effects of a good or excellent teacher include lower teen pregnancy rates, greater college matriculation, and greater lifetime earnings as an adult.

Those facts come from a study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. I don’t think we can really argue with the sample size.  The study was done by economists from Harvard and Columbia. They find that if an excellent teacher replaces an average teacher anywhere between 4th and 8th grade, the student will earn $4600 more in his or her life and be slightly more likely to attend college.

Modest right? But in a class of 25 students that is $115,000 more in the economy. Multiply that by a 30 year career and you’ve added $3.4 million. And the numbers work from worst to average as well- the same things happen when a poor teacher is removed and an average teacher added. Certainly significant, makes me want to digress to talking about rural teacher recruitment and retention.

So here’s the part that may start debate.  The researchers used “value-added” ratings to separate excellent, average, and poor teachers.  A value-added rating “measures an individual teacher’s impact on student test scores.” Yep, what they are saying is that better teachers lead to higher standardized test scores, which lead to college and earnings. The opposition would tell you that VA scores are unreliable, invalid, and unfair. That it is too difficult to measure the effect of one teacher on a class’s test scores with all the variables needed to be taken into account (poverty, ELL, SwD, maybe even prior teachers, etc.).

But VA scores are coming to NY, they are a part of the new teacher evaluation system. NYC already uses it. Check out the formula:

[singlepic id=3 w=320 h=240 float=center]


Crazy, right? So, what are the takeaways? I don’t think any of us doubt a good or excellent teacher has a lasting effect. I wonder if having a string of excellent teachers continues to add to the effects (earnings, college attendance, etc.). I wonder about the emphasis on standardized tests as well, especially in NY. What do you think?

Read more at The New York Times.

Posted in APPR, News, NYS | Leave a comment

Let the Kids Play

From the “News You Knew” file: Time magazine had a short article on the benefits of letting kids get in an hour of physical activity each day. It’s worth a look: it’s brief, research-based, and it makes sense…

Just a few quotes:

“…the studies showed that the more physical activity the children had, the higher their scores in school, particularly in the basic subjects of math, English and reading.”

“Being more active, says Singh, may improve blood flow to the brain, which provides more oxygen to cells involved in learning and attention. Exercise also boosts levels of certain hormones that can improve mood and fight stress, both of which can also provide a better learning environment for children.”

“Shorter periods of activity that break up the hours-long school day may be just as effective as a single session, and may make it easier to work in physical education into school curricula.”

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/03/let-the-kids-play-theyll-do-better-in-school/#ixzz1iUmTX3If

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Around the District

Our War Eagles hosted Granville today in a day time match.  The entire high school comes out, along with Mrs. Crombach’s band and included an appearance by Santa Claus.

Posted in What We're Doing | Leave a comment



I just wanted to draw your attention to a short article in this week’s Time magazine. Andy Rotherham discusses the SAT and the recent cheating scandal.

Here’s the link.

Have a great break everyone.


Posted in Common Core, News, SAT, Testing | Leave a comment

New York News

Morning All,

3-8 Testing

Well, the bit of news you’ll be most interested in is that SED finally released guidance for our spring 3-8 testing. Here’s the memo.

There are a couple things worth noting. First, they are all three hours a piece over the course of three days. Yes, even at the third grade level. Yes, starting the Tuesday we return from April break.

Also, rather than doing separate field testing of possible future questions, the field test questions will be embedded in the actual test. So? Well, that means in the middle of these three-hour-long high stakes exams, students will also be trying to answer Common Core questions- questions in a different style and possibly containing different content than they’ve been seeing all year.


EngageNY has a new webinar about SLOs. It gives the basics, the roles we each play in SLOs, and how they work within Common Core, DDI, and the APPR.

Posted in APPR, Common Core, DDI, News, NYS, Race to the Top, SLOs, Testing | Leave a comment


Congratulations are in order to Mrs. Puchkoff’s students who were honored today by the Lion’s Club for the Peace Poster contest. Congratulations especially to the 8th grader whose Peace Poster won the contest for all of New York and will be featured at the Lion’s Club International Conference in the spring.

In the midst of all the other stuff that comes at us as educators, let’s try to keep the focus on all the good things going on around us as well.

Posted in Inspiration, What We're Doing | Leave a comment

What Do You Make?

Hey Teachers,

Taylor Mali has the best, most inspiring answer for the question: as a teacher, what do you make?

Here’s the video.

I hope you all take three minutes to watch it. I found it on Teachingchannel.org (which is linked over there on the right).

Just a little pick-me-up…

Posted in Inspiration | Leave a comment

What We’re Doing: K-2

Just a quick Kudos to the K-2 teachers who are refining their curriculum maps to reflect the Common Core Standards to be implemented next year.

Thanks for your efforts!

Posted in Common Core, What We're Doing | Leave a comment

What We’re Doing: 6th Grade

I wandered through the MS computer lab yesterday.  There was some great stuff going on.

Mrs. West’s  and Mrs. Berrigan’s  students are writing their own books.  The content is all their own- some are doing original stories, some are updating classic fairy tales, some are doing non-fiction.  They also illustrate the books themselves as well.  The kicker is they go to publication! The books are bound and published. Pretty cool.  That’s “authentic” if anything is.  I’m thinking they should be well-prepared when they get to HS and Mrs. Waterhouse introduces them to NaNoWriMo.

On the other side of the divider, Mr. King had his 21st Century students running a lemonade stand business.  They had to take into account all sorts of factors- customer feedback, price of supplies, temperature, demand- and adjust what they did for the next day to try to maximize profit.  All of the data was also fed into an Excel spreadsheet to be sorted and deciphered. Real world work, for sure.

Great stuff folks.

Posted in 21st Century SKills, What We're Doing | Leave a comment