Why Another Blog?

For almost a year, I’ve been sitting on this WordPress domain name, intending, eventually, to reconstitute Mark’s Text Terminal. Today, I finally sat down, started navigating this blog software, and wrote a couple of things. Each time I thought about taking on the responsibility of a blog or website, I wondered what I could possibly add to the 227 million blogs opened on Tumblr alone since 2011 (according to statista.com). This is actually the second iteration of Mark’s Text Terminal; the first ran for several years before I dismantled it after an incident at my school in which a teacher was persecuted–in what one of my colleagues has aptly characterized, I think, as a “test case on social media” in the New York City Department of Education. I’m back with a more secure site on which I can moderate comments and control access, something I never learned to do with the blogging software I was using in the original version of Mark’s Text Terminal.

I plan to link occasionally to Diane Ravitch’s blog. I confess to an interest in educational policy issues, but I propose neither to engage nor address those issues in this blog. American political discourse, of which educational policy issues are a subset, has become so squalid and ignorant that I simply find it repulsive. I’m not apathetic, but I find it difficult to participate in a discourse where facts and evidence are so little respected that they don’t play a role, in any meaningful sense of the concept, in it. Dr. Ravitch, in her analyses of policy issues, has on more than one occasion decried the lack of respect for evidence in the various discourses around educational policy. Here at Mark’s Text Terminal, I’ll reblog her posts on how policy actually affects classroom practice and practitioners–i.e. teachers. However, as far as I am concerned, in policy issues in general, she is the voice of reason. Go to her blog –which is excellent–for discussions of those issues.

Thus concludes my political manifesto. If we teachers “need” to do anything, it is to take back the discussion of professionalism and good pedagogical practice from functionaries and talking heads who have never set foot in a classroom, never planned instruction for a serious academic subject, never dealt with children in crisis, and never endured the pressures incumbent on a conscientious educator, but who apparently know all there is to know about teaching and, consequently, educational policy. It is time to seize the discussion of good practice from those who know nothing about it.

As a teacher, I am a practitioner who works with struggling learners in a Title I high school in Lower Manhattan. Therefore, I’m mostly interested in learning how teachers might aid one another in developing rigorous and compelling curricula for students with relatively low levels of literacy, attention and motivation–or relatively high levels of apathy, frustration or resignation. To that end, I have attached some literacy materials, to wit this math vocabulary lesson, I designed and developed for the high schoolers I serve.

I wrote this on the quick last fall when my school’s administrators asked me to develop some literacy materials to support struggling readers across the curriculum. This lesson is incomplete and is, in my view, insufficiently focused. Your thoughts?

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