School House Rock ‘n’ Sock

Almost two months ago now, in the throes and excitement and the optimism of a new school year, I found myself writing with my students and posting the results as blog entries here on the Michael Jarmer blog page. I was a happy camper then. Those were truly salad days in September. Fast forward toContinue reading “School House Rock ‘n’ Sock”

#41: On the Very Last Work Day of the School Year

On the Very Last Work Day of the School Year It began with a breakfast during which we said tearful goodbyes to beloved colleagues retiring or moving on, a difficult, but joyful thing, wanting them to stay but wishing them well and happy returns for all they’ve done for our school and our kids. WeContinue reading “#41: On the Very Last Work Day of the School Year”

Of English Teacher Math: Teaching 200 Students How To Write

Here are some numbers to consider for the end of the semester.  I asked 140 IB English students to turn in their logs, into which they have composed over the last 4 weeks anywhere between 20 and 30 pages of response to the readings we’ve done out of The Best American Essays of the Century. Let’s justContinue reading “Of English Teacher Math: Teaching 200 Students How To Write”

Of School Reform and The Common Core

So here we are in the midst of another school reform movement.  Here’s a funny thing.  I’ve worked as a high school English teacher for about twenty-four years now, and while I consider myself progressive, forward thinking, willing to try new things, and while I feel confident that, in actual practice, I do progressive, forwardContinue reading “Of School Reform and The Common Core”

No Grades? No Carrots or Sticks? Then What?

Not cookies and pokes in the ribs, I presume.  No, we can’t just replace one set of rewards and punishments for a different set, although, most people would rather have a cookie than a carrot and would like even less to be poked in the ribs than slapped with a stick.  I don’t know aboutContinue reading “No Grades? No Carrots or Sticks? Then What?”

No More Carrots, No More Sticks: A Classroom Without Grades

You might think I’m crazy. After all, things (and people) must be measured. And they must be measured against other things and other people. Only this morning in a staff meeting our school’s principal talked about how the only way to improve a thing is to be able to measure said thing.  And while myContinue reading “No More Carrots, No More Sticks: A Classroom Without Grades”

An English Teacher Doesn’t Do The Math: The Trouble With Assessment

It’s Friday and I’m not at work. It’s a furlough day, one of the 14 days cut from the school year in our district’s belt tightening regimen. I’ve got grading to do, but I’m not going to do it. Hell no. Instead, I’ll write about doing it. I want to conclude this part of myContinue reading “An English Teacher Doesn’t Do The Math: The Trouble With Assessment”