Alan Sitomer's Blog (168)

Raise your test scores -- that's all they want.

Yesterday I wrote about how first and foremost I must raise my standardized test scores. I also expressed how I was disheartened by such a cold, black and white reality.



However, these are the cards I've been dealt. The federal government is literally strong-arming the states through a lording of the purse strings over their heads (i.e. no comply, no money -- no comply, no money -- no comply, no money) to either raise bubble test scores in our schools -- particularly in our… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on January 7, 2010 at 6:30am — No Comments

The Ugly Truth That's Black and White

The Ugly Truth is that my number one goal for my students right now has to be to raise their 2010 standardized test scores.



I find it disturbing, off-base, heart-wrenching, and almost something shameful to admit. However, NCLB has my entire school's back up against the wall right now. The state is on the doorstep of taking over the district. The district has already informed us that if we sink to the next level of NCLB probation status, tenure for everyone on campus will be… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on January 6, 2010 at 6:30am — No Comments

Up and running and bringing the heat!!

So how did your kids spend their holiday break. Mine, let's see.



--They slept.

--They ate.

--They watched tv.

--They played video games.

--They were bored.

--They "chilled".

--They did "too much" homework.

--They did no homework.

--They went to the mall.

--They partied. (This is where my "don't ask, don't tell" policy comes into play).




A few of them travelled, some of them caught the flu and some of them went to… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on January 5, 2010 at 6:30am — No Comments

Goals: The Personal Before the Professional

As I mentioned the other day, I am a big believer in goals. So much so that I always write them down.



Yet often, when I think of goals, I think in terms of career and professional aspirations. In a way it seems as if this is the way I am wired. (As is the rest of America. We are all about "productivity". Buncha A-type personalities in the new land, that's for sure.)



So today I am going to begin with "personal" goals, the non-professional elements that make for a… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on January 4, 2010 at 6:30am — No Comments

Forbe's List of Billionaires, Wealth and the Tainted Kool-Aid I Done Drunk

America's definition of wealth is warped. And the definition of wealth we teach our kids is skewed as well. (After all, I should know. I think the way I have been taught to think about ideas such as "worth", "value", "assets" and so on are exceptionally demented being that the monetary association is always my first and foremost barometer for these definitions -- when I know in my heart that family, health, service to others and so on are much more meaningful to me once I slow down… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 29, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Malcolm Gladwell, Cezanne and Squashin Late Bloomers in our Schools

I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's What the Dog Saw right now and on page 305 he brings up a fascinating issue in regards to late bloomers.



Essentially, Gladwell speaks to the idea (I am paraphrasing) that recognizing the brilliance in painters like Picasso is a no brainer. They show their aptitude early and it is so… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 28, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

A-HA!! I finally figured out when the madness of NCLB will end.

A-HA!! I finally figured out when the madness of NCLB will end. Now I am not sure I know how to to do the math properly, but I think it works out to something like this:



There are 26 letters in the alphabet. If you multiply 26 x 26 that means there are 676 possible two-letter combinations of acronyms to which they can ascribe names of punch-drunk policy.



This means that once NCLB hit the 677th clownish matter of educational legislation that requires an acronym,… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 23, 2009 at 6:30am — 3 Comments

How in the world can we affect the N-effect?

While perusing the web, I ran across this article which claims studies prove that taking the SAT in a crowded room is a detriment to student scores and performance.



They call this the"the N-effect." Basically, as the article says, the larger the "N"—the number of participants involved in a task—the worse the outcome for the… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 22, 2009 at 6:00am — 3 Comments

Off to my "other" job -- Writer

With school on break for a couple of weeks I get a chance to wear but one hat and be a writer for a wee bit. I love it!



And with three books coming out for me in the next 18 months (2 of them already written, one due by the end of next summer to be released a year later) this is really the time to "get ahead while the gettin's good".



However, part of being an author is understanding that so much of the work you do will not see the light of day til well over a… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 21, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Sharpening the Saw

I took a weeklong cruise once -- LOVED IT -- and clearly remember talking to one of the "boat hosts" about how people change over the course of the trip.



On Day 1 of the cruise, people are itchy to check their emails, their blackberries, their "messages"... and the "news" from the world back home as well. They think about their jobs, their problems, and all sorts of day-in and day-out stuff like that.



By Day 3 they are doing the… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 19, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

It's really hard to give a damn about a kid's grades when a kid doesn't give a damn themself.

Let's be honest... it's really hard to give a damn about a kid's grades when a kid doesn't give a damn themself.



I know I am supposed to be mature, compassionate, professional and perpetually hopeful and encouraging but wow, sometimes it is just so hard when you are being asked to care about the performance of a student at a level that exceeds their own concern. I mean after having just done grades and participating in a school-wide dialogue about "low performing students",… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 18, 2009 at 6:00am — 1 Comment

Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies

As the holiday approaches, I wanted to pass on a favorite family recipe of mine... Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies!



Make sure you follow the directions precisely for similar results. (And laughs. This is just too funny!)



Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies



1 cup of water

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup of sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup of brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup nuts

2 cups of dried fruit

1 bottle Jose Cuervo…
Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 15, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

What percentage of F's in a class is it reasonable to give?

What percentage of F's in a class is it reasonable for a teacher to give? I mean what's the dividing point between a teacher firmly drawing the line at demanding minimum competency and rigor, and a teacher who is simply not reaching their kids and flunking so many students that we clearly see that the educator is actually ineffective at their job?



If 80% of the kids in a class are failing a class, is the teacher not a part of the problem for the immense amount of failure in… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 14, 2009 at 7:59am — No Comments

The non-cognitive approach, bubble tests and why learning to suck up is more critical than ever.

God bless ETS. I mean if you know anything about me, you know how much I find the whole industry of bubble tests to be 1) an absolute cash cow for the bubble test makers and 2) an unquestionably flawed means for either student or teacher assessment.



And now, ETS, is unveiling -- from behind their magic black cloak of psychometrician darkness -- the all new Personal Potential Index.



PPI bay-bee! You may not know it yet but one day it'll be yet another… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 10, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

The Coming Cuts... How Far can Teachers Be Pushed?

My school district has already let us know that there are more cuts coming. Big ones. To personnel.



And it's not just my school district that plans on breaking out the hatchet. More teachers are going to lose their jobs and I've even heard that some districts are talking about a 10-12% pay cut on top of drastic personnel cuts.



10-12%!?



At what point does the public refuse to accept this?

At what point do we refuse?



At my school,… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 9, 2009 at 6:30am — 4 Comments

Gang Tours for Tourists

For the price of $65.00, starting in January, you will now be able to take a Los Angeles Gang Tour for Tourists. No joke... check out this article about it in the Los Angeles Times.



My first reaction was, these people are sick. And they are crazy. And they are looking to exploit inner city L.A. for profit.



And if they do that, it seems… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 8, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Is there such a thing as a "bad kid"?

Is there such a thing as "bad" kids?



Walking the halls of school and chatting (as I get to do) with teachers from all over the country, I often hear the term "the good kids". They are the ones that (this is my own, rough definition here; one I am drawing by assumption) come to class, behave in a civil manner, make an attempt to respect authority, do their work and strive for [so called] "admirable goals" like good grades, graduation, becoming well educated, going to college… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 7, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Meeting with the Big Kahunas at the State Department of Education

Earlier this week I flew up to the Department of Education in our state's capital, Sacramento, to get formally introduced to the new 2010 California Teacher of the Year Award winners.



Let me tell ya, it was ROCKIN'!!



In attendance: Jack O'Connell, the state Superintendent of Education, former Teacher of the Year Award winners from days gone by (that's how I got an invite; it's like the only real Skull and Bones Society to which I belong... and it's WAY COOL!)… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 5, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Doctor Schmoctor

The New York Times just published an insightful piece on how "teenagers are different".



Not to cast aspersions on this fine journalistic institution, but "No Duh!"



And then, in the field of adolescent brain biology, the Times just reported that a gent named Dr. Steinberg recently won the $1 million Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize for his work in this field of… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 3, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Single Sex Classrooms: Is what's old new again?

In a "what's old is new again" type of teaching thrust, some schools are going old school and dividing kids by gender in the classroom. Here's an article from the L.A. Times about an academy in our city that seems to be happy with the results of separating kids in this manner.



Me, I am not really sure how I feel about this.



Now first, let me say that I was… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on December 2, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

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