For the record…

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I find that I seldom bother adding photos to my blog posts lately, but I have learned a lot that I didn’t know about proper credit and attribution of photos and images since the time I began blogging.  I am likely guilty of posting a photo without proper credit.  This is the most recent post I read on the topic (via Doug Peterson).  Also this post via Chris Wejr, which links another related post written by Chris.

I used to have a photo of me linked to this blog (via Gravatar).  The way that the picture was showing up with posts to social media was more than I was comfortable with, so I changed it to a flower.  I haven’t made proper credit to that photo.  One of my daughters took it and she gave me verbal permission to use it without concern for public credit.  I guess this post is somewhat of a credit and a “for the record”, in case anyone was wondering.  My daughter and I are both fine with this for now, but will we regret it? It’s just a flower picture maybe… but I was in awe of how pretty it was regardless of what effect I applied to it.  However, I stayed with the original colour for my “profile”.

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Report Cards: Cycles of Change?

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As a parent, I didn’t get into much of a fuss about report cards, but who doesn’t forget their own and/or having to write them?  The debate and questions about student report cards are on-going in education.

I recently saw this post, “Debating Report Cards”.

The grade 3 report card in the blog post is an example from the U.S. in 1971-2 and it is compared to an example of a portion of a current Ontario elementary one.

Here is an example of a grade 3 Ontario report card from 1971:

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It’s not the best image, but the brevity is clear and obvious — one page, no letter grades, general comments.  I am not sure if it was a “provincial” template at the time.  I still have copies of all my report cards.  After digging out the dusty bin, I was able to confirm that I did not have letter or numerical grades on my reports cards until grade 7.  I found this really interesting for my grade 4 report in June:

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The current Ontario report card templates can be found on the Ontario Ministry’s website here or in the appendix of Ontario’s evaluation and assessment policy document, Growing Success. (note: at the time I posted, I could not open the elementary templates for public boards, only Catholic boards)

A parent sent me an example of a comment on her child’s current grade 4 report card. In addition to letter grades listed for each “strand” in math, this was the comment for the math section on the report,

“(student name) independently reads, represents, compares and orders whole numbers to 10,ooo in standard, expanded and written forms with accuracy.  He should continue to practice solving more complex problems involving the addition and subtraction of multi-digit whole numbers. (student name) is able to clearly measure angles using a protractor.  He identifies quadrilaterals and three-dimensional figures and classifies them by their geometrical properties. (student name) should continue to practice using mathematical language to describe right, obtuse and acute angles and geometric figures. (student name) can precisely describe, extend and create a variety of patterns with accuracy and complexity.  He should continue to practice creating, describing and extending a variety of repeating, growing and shrinking number patterns. (student name) is able to thoroughly collect, organize and read primary data represented in a bar graph, pictograph, circle graph and table.  He should continue to practice collecting and organizing data by conducting surveys on a variety of topics of interest to him.”

Wow… and that is just for one subject on this 4-page report.  I don’t recall my parents having any issues with the brevity of my report cards!

The “Debating Report Cards” post ends with the suggestion that reports cards haven’t changed much, but I think they may have.  The author/blogger, Amy, also asks,

With all of the changes in our world and with technology, shouldn’t our report cards have evolved as well?”

The parent I chatted with suggested these questions:

  • When did it change?
  • Why did it change?
  • How long did it take to change? Was it progressive? Did it change every year.?

I also welcome any insights on the 40+ years in between :)

 

 

Careful Sharing

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I often quietly observe and ponder what and how others post on social media.  I also reflect on what I post and share.  I often have conversations with others about this.  I am sure most people do all of the above as well.  We can judge or justify just about anything in regards to sharing on social media it can seem at times.

I have used the expression, “sharing is caring” in the past, but I also think that being careful what you share is also caring.  Yet I know that there will be differences in opinion about what “careful sharing” looks like.  The conversation often leads to a debate about sharing as a “brand” and what is appropriate for different age groups, especially youth.  Andrew Campbell covered that topic well in a recent post.  I like to share/post things that I find interesting and inspiring, but I also try to be less quick to share and take that space

One way I have tried to withhold judgement about what other people post/share is by thinking about how our communities, neighbourhoods, and social opportunities have changed.  Our families, friends and acquaintances are not in close proximity as much as in the past.  Sharing our lives, experiences, and reactions to news and events in bits and pieces often and over time with close ties may not be possible as it once was.  Our social needs remain, but the contexts have changed.  Our mobile devices make it so easy to share in the moment what we are excited about.  Upsides and downsides, I recognize.

I hope social media hasn’t replaced or reduced in-person interactions, but it has filled a gap.  But I often sense that it can get “overboard”.  When is sharing really bragging?  When is “bragging” really just a need to be validated because more socially acceptable interaction or validation is not there?  It is called a “status” update.  It’s tricky, I know.  There are times when I get bored with social media… reading about social media… but here I am writing about it again… :)

Two articles I found on Twitter recently (shared by @redfearn and @courosa, respectively) that connected and pushed some of my thoughts on this:

Sharenting

The Weird Way Facebook and Instagram Are Making Us Happier

Both are thought-provoking about the sharing of experiences on social media and what that could mean — now and in the future.

 

Gold Linings

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I noticed lately that I have been listening to a number of songs that have gold as a theme or a metaphor.  While it can seem that most songs are about love and/or loss, it occurred to me that many have gold references.  Not that interesting really, but it got me wondering.  It is usually a positive reference — whether a colour, a relationship, an opportunity, an object or state of being.  This is usually the case in speech and literature as well.

I featured a “gold” song/music video, “Good as Gold”, in a previous post, and here are a few more video/links, if you would like my recent playlist:

Gold by Wake Owl

Stay Gold by First Aid Kit

Golden by Scars on 45

Gold by Imagine Dragons

…Hard not to mention Neil Young’s Heart of Gold.

These are all really good songs and music videos.  I understand that the reference probably helps to sell a song, movie, product or idea, etc.  As a colour, gold is striking and appealing.  Who doesn’t appreciate a golden sunset?  I think that gold has an appropriate place in competitions and sport, for the most part, I guess.  But when does the focus become too much of a preoccupation? When is it no longer a part of an appropriate context?  How does the “glory of gold” impact other areas of our lives?  Is there more or less of an impact in today’s world?  What about classrooms?

I have a handful of memories from kindergarten, so I know this “quest” for gold existed back then and must start young.  I am sure my family is tired of this story, but here goes…  It was nice that our teacher let us choose our stickers on occasion.  I still recall lining up for “fingernail inspection”.  Yes, clean nails meant a sticker of our choosing.  I can still recall some of my classmates digging deep into the bag for the gold stars or other gold shapes of the day.  That would often hold up the passing of the sticker bag to others with clean nails that morning.  I must have got bored or tired with it, or something… I would just dig for a green star and pass the bag along.  The green circles were cool too, I recall.

Maybe “kids today” are fine, so to speak, but I still worry and wonder about the pressures and messaging in many things.  What if there isn’t a gold lining..?

“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold… happiness dwells in the soul.”  ~ Democritus

I welcome your thoughts on gold :)  It is fine if you share a favourite “gold” tune as well!

 

A blog series for and by parents

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This article was shared by a few I follow on Twitter: Parent Involvement in Schools Matters: A Teacher’s Perspective.  It is from the “Smart Parents” blog series, an initiative in the U.S. welcoming stories for and by parents about student support and education involvement.  Larry Ferlazzo posted information about it on his blog.  Although the author of this article referred to parent involvement, I think she still captured what many view as “parent engagement”,

Success happens when families, students and educators work together and holistically approach a child’s education, focusing on a child’s academic, social, and emotional needs.”

The article ends with suggestions to create meaningful parental involvement in schools.

The first one listed is, “Join the PTA.. or not“.  I found the elaboration interesting, given some recent conversations and posts about Ontario’s school councils,

Join if you have time and the desire, you can see how that goes. But don’t be certain that just because you are part of the PTA, you are having the right conversations. The PTA could also be a lot of organizing and planning that could distract from larger conversations that push the school to be better.”

The remaining suggestions include:

  • Get to know the teacher(s)
  • Talk to other parents at the school
  • Get knowledgeable about policy
  • Go to school board meetings
  • Become a mentor

Examples and rationale are given for each of those suggestions as well.  This list might be a good conversation starter with parents and parent groups.  Would there be agreement with them all?  There may be differences of opinion, but all of the suggestions could each be an “entry point” for parents.  Sometimes it seems to me that parent engagement expectations often “come with a catch”.  Although the list seems a bit like telling parents, it does seem for parents and respectful of parent involvement within the context of education as a whole.

There is more information in the article about submissions to this series.  I wondered how the title of the initiative/series, “Smart Parents”, would be received by parents.  It looks like articles will continue to be posted here and there is also a hashtag: #smartparents

Is there anything similar to this in Canada?

Appointed vs. Elected School Boards

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I got curious about an active hashtag on Twitter last night: #ElectedBoardNow

From what I could determine, Chicago’s school district has been in debate about appointed vs. elected school boards.  Currently and for some time now, the mayor has had the power to appoint school board members to 4-year terms, but recently there have been opponents and challenge for change.  From this article about the debate,

Many Chicagoans are unhappy with the condition of the city’s public schools and all four of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s opponents support a change to the 20-year-old referendum giving the mayor power to appoint school board members to four-year terms.”

I found it interesting that the mayor is also held accountable for school performance.  I can’t claim to understand the complete context and process there, but there were good points made about pros and cons of both appointed and elected boards.  The main issue was well described in that article, I thought:

The main issue seems to be the balance between keeping the community’s concerns and involvement at the forefront of educational policy while simultaneously ensuring that the board has diverse and qualified members.”

This article covered the debate well too, and includes a link to a report done by the University of Illinois:

The report calls for an elected, representative school board in the city, though researchers acknowledged that there is “no guarantee” educational policies will become more equitable or effective after such a switch.”

That article also mentions their local school councils, with the current mayor maintaining that “the city does have elected school boards in the form of Local School Councils (LCS).”  That statement was also challenged referring to the undermining and lack of “power” of the LCS.

But back to the updates via the hashtag: Elected School Board referendum wins by a landslide.

The discussions and debate about Ontario’s elected boards of trustees have quieted some, but the Chicago situation got me thinking… Ontario’s school councils are supposed to be elected, but often aren’t, and may or may not have governing bylaws.  Ontario’s Parent Involvement Committees can be elected or appointed, and are more likely to have bylaws (being board level committees).  Ontario’s boards of trustees are elected and have extensive governance processes to follow.  I referred to their governance guides in a previous post.

It can easily seem like a lot of inconsistency and politics and it leaves me wondering where elections matter and where they don’t… if governance matters more… and who is accountable to and for what?

Who wants to follow up on Chicago ahead?

Cows and Elephants in Education

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I enjoyed this ASCD EDge article that listed and described of number of “sacred cows” in education settings and conversations.  The author included:

  • Assessment
  • Collaboration
  • Communication with Family and Stakeholders
  • Grading Practices
  • Homework
  • Learning Space
  • Professional Development
  • School Schedule
  • Summer School

It’s a good list.  Schooling sure has created a lot of topics for debate :)  These topics are also frequently discussed and debated by educators and parents in my Twitter network.

The article also offers an approach to opening up the conversation about these sacred cow areas, as follows:

Questions for School Staff To Consider:

1.  What are the “Sacred Cows” in our school?

2. When do we plan to schedule time to discuss the “Sacred Cows”?

3.  Is it unsafe to address “Sacred Cows” in our school?

4.  What is the protocol for discussing “Sacred Cows”?

5.  Are there “Sacred Cows” that are preventing our school from supporting all students?

It can seem that there are “sacred cows” and elephants in the room for every group, staff, and stakeholder in education.  All “levels” may be faced with them.  I think this list and the guiding questions might be helpful for parent groups and meetings as well.  Talking with parents will lead to insights as to how policies made in many of these areas are affecting students.  I suspect that the sacred cows and elephants are similar and present in those rooms too.  The worry about getting bulled over or stomped on is understandable, but what if you care more…?  Consider this post: We don’t care enough to give you constructive feedback (Seth’s Blog).  Change requires some challenging of ideas, but it can still be respectful.  Chris Wejr captured that well in his post, Challenge Me.  If the cows and elephants are avoided too much, this may be more of a concern (Why schools are in trouble when the most honest conversations occur in parking lots by Dennis Sparks).

Feel free to share any successes with an approach in this regard.

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