Category Archives: Reblogged Post

Blog posts from other WordPress sites around the Internet of interest to Mark, or possibly his readers.

Bring Back Handwriting: It’s Good for Your Brain (But Not Mine!)

[Here’s a post from Diane Ravitch’s Blog about a topic in which I have in the past taken interest.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

When I was in the early grades in the Houston public schools, we learned penmanship. At the time, we dipped our quill pens into an inkwell. It was messy, at least for me. At some point we switched to pens that had ink reserves, and you filled them up and wrote with ink. That was better than dipping the quill.

Then a new writing technology came along, called the “ballpoint pen.” No messy inkwells or ink bottles. You just wrote until they were dry, and then you threw them out. The ballpoint pen was a nightmare for me because I am left-handed and all the desks in my classrooms were meant for people who wrote with their right hand. That meant that as I wrote, I smudged my hand across what I had just written. Not only was the writing smudged, but the fingers on my left hand were always…

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Bob Shepherd: The Decline of Education Publishing

[Here is something important from Bob Shepherd, via Diane Ravitch’s blog, that I think is fundamental reading for educators.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

Bob Shepherd, polymath, wrote this:

When I started to work in educational publishing, many years ago, there were some two hundred or so companies dividing up the textbook market in the United States and about twenty with significant market share. Now there are four.

Four.

Over the decades, there has been considerable consolidation of the industry. There were many, many mergers and acquisitions. And while this was happening, something else, more insidious, was occurring.

Most of those small publishing companies had been run by people who had started out in education, had entered educational publishing, and had risen through the ranks as editors. Some were started by editors or teachers turned entrepreneurs. But as the companies grew, often via acquisition by outside entities with no background or expertise in education, the old editorial managers were replaced by financial types.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, two publishing guys…

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Battle of Lepanto

“Battle of Lepanto: A naval engagement in the Gulf of Corinth on October 7, 1571, fought between the forces of the Ottoman Empire and those of a holy league comprising Spain, Venice, and the papacy. Under the leadership of Don John of Austria, the Christians overwhelmingly defeated the Turks, ending their naval domination of the Mediterranean. Cervantes took part in the battle and was wounded in the left hand.”

It is the subject of a poem by G.K. Chesterton.

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Book of Answers: Plutarch’s Lives

“Who is featured in Plutarch’s LivesThe Parallel Lives (first century A.D.) pairs biographies of famous Greeks and Romans, such as the orators Demosthenes and Cicero. The book provided background for some of Shakespeare’s plays, including Julius Caesar.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

The Current Number of The American Educator

Elsewhere on this blog, I have sung the praises of The American Educator, the quarterly published by my union, The American Federation of Teachers. Let me belabor my point a tad further here by saying that I think this is a first-rate journal of educational theory and practice; it’s where I first encountered Daniel Willingham, who really is doing as much as anyone out there (with his “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column in The American Educator as well as his excellent books) to assist classroom teachers in applying research to practice.

The current number of the magazine addresses the issue of teaching traumatized students. I started my career working with traumatized adolescents in one of New England’s “ivy league” psychiatric hospitals, and I have continued to work with these kids as a teacher.

A discussion of this population’s needs is long, long, overdue. I cannot sufficiently or strongly encourage teachers to read this issue of The American Educator from cover to cover. This is vital stuff every teacher should know.

The “Homework Gap” and the Flipped Classroom–Redux

Here’s something I just cannot let pass.

Last year about this time, I published this blog post on the pedagogical fad of the “flipped classroom.” The theory of the flipped classroom was presented at a professional development meeting as a fait accompli several months earlier in the school in which I served. When I asked in this session about students living in homeless shelters, or in other circumstances where broadband internet is unavailable, and therefore the various videos on which the flipped classroom depends, the presenter and his administrative enablers had no answer.

So, I am not at all surprised to find in Google headlines this morning this report on the homework gap and its relation to students’ struggle in school. The culprit?  Why it is none other than the absence of a reliable internet connection. My reaction? Roll “Theme from ‘The Vindicators'” by The Fleshtones.

Follow Up: Better Late than Never for Justice

Readers of Mark’s Text Terminal may recall that I posted this this item earlier this year about a particularly egregious incident of police violence in the dismal school in which I have worked this year.

I’m pleased to report that  justice prevailed

In this instance, I hope Dr. King was right: “Let us remember the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”