June 2014: One of the most exciting months ever for Iowa educators?

*Dr. Tom Guskey is coming to Des Moines (Thank you, Drake University!)
Target audience? K-12 educators and administrators
When? June 18, 2014
Cost? $150
As educators align instruction and assessments with the Common Core standards for student learning, most find they also must change their grading policies and revise their report card. Learn how to develop new standards-based grading policies and practices that are better for ALL students, gain the support of parents, and don’t create excessive work for teachers.

**The Iowa Competency Based Education Conference is returning to Des Moines (Thank you, Iowa ASCD!)
Target audience? K-12 educators and administrators, higher education
When? June 23-24, 2014
Cost? $250 for Iowa ASCD members and $295 for non-members of Iowa ASCD.
Come learn how students can learn and demonstrate competencies which will endure throughout time. CBE provides a strong framework for teachers and administrators to understand the Iowa Core and ensure students are college, career, and citizenship ready.

Among the featured speakers include Rose Colby, author of Off the Clock and Tom Vander Ark, author of Getting Smart.  Several Iowans will be joining the conversation and sharing their expertise, including the pilot schools of the CBE collaborative.

***A few Iowa practitioners are leading a two-day standards-based grading workshop in Cedar Rapids (Thank you, Grant Wood AEA!)
Target audience? Secondary teachers and administrators (pre-service students and faculty welcome)
When? June 30 and July 1, 2014
Cost? $80 or $160, depending on credit
This course will highlight grading and assessment practices described in contemporary educational literature. Beliefs about assessment, homework and grading will be challenged and refined as they relate to the Iowa Core Curriculum characteristic of effective instruction, assessment for learning. Participants will learn how to grade based on state standards.

Will June 2014 be one of the most exciting months ever for Iowa educators? 

*Dr. Guskey might be the godfather of standards-based grading, if there ever was one.
**For what it's worth, I believe there are distinct similarities and differences between standards-based grading and competency-based education.
***It's a shameless plug: I am one of those two guys.  I hope you'll consider attending the other two events, but I think we'll be involving participants in a hefty dose of standards-based grading at the classroom level.  It's the cheapest option and in my opinion, the biggest bang for your buck.

When a student forgets a pencil...

About five years ago, I had a really impromptu conversation with a fellow teacher from down the hall.  I asked her how she handles students who forget or do not have a pencil with them when they come to class.  After this conversation, I asked a number of other teachers how they handle the same situation.  Some were pretty black and white:

"I will ask them to borrow one from a friend."
"I will let them go back to their locker, but only three times each quarter."
Other teachers were less stringent in their responses:
"It depends if it is the first time or a repeat offender."
"I have a collection of brand new and used pencils in a drawer.  Students can borrow them anytime."
Still others saw the pencil conversation through a different lens.  For several, the answer was a lesson in economics.
"I want students to understand the need to come prepared, so I have them for sale in my room."
I was reminded of the economics of forgetting a pencil when I recently visited a school over an hour's drive from home.  I couldn't help but take a picture of it with my phone:

As a teacher, I'm pretty sure I tried all of these ideas at one time or another.  For some reason, this classroom scenario has stuck with me for a number of years.  It brings up a number of other questions (in no particular order):
  1. What does the way a teacher handles students who forget pencils, say about his/her educational philosophy?
  2. What does the way an administrator handles adults who do not come prepared to meetings or professional learning, say about his/her educational philosophy?
  3. Is the way a forgetful administrator or teacher expects to be treated similar to the way he/she treats staff and students in the pencil context described above?
  4. How would you want the teacher of your children to handle the "I forgot my pencil" scenario?
I think I have many more questions than answers right now.

Win with Reading!

Students in our elementary school are challenged to read, read, read, read.  If we meet our participation goal, the elementary principal will kiss a pig!

I will be sharing my love for reading with several classes during the next few weeks.  This morning, I started my day with fourth grade students reading a children's version of Who's on First?

Thank you, 4E!