Monthly Archives: October 2011

Occupy Third Grade?

On a crisp fall morning in the nation’s capital, 3rd grade teacher Rebecca Lebowitz gathered her 29 public school students on their familiar giant multicolored carpet, and reminded them how to make sense of the characters whose worlds they would soon enter during independent reading time.

“What are the four things we want to look for when we meet a new character?” Ms. Lebowitz asked from her chair at the foot of the rug. Several hands shot up before nine-year-old Monica spoke confidently over the steady hum of the classroom’s antiquated radiator. “We want to pay attention to what they do, what they say, how they feel, and what their body language tells us.” “That’s right,” her teacher said cheerily. “When we look for those four things, we have a much better sense of who a person really is.”

As the calendar shifts to the eleventh month of 2011 – a year of near-constant revolution and upheaval, from the Arab Spring to the Wisconsin statehouse to the global effort to Occupy Wall Street – what might the rest of us learn from students like Monica? If, in short, we were as smart as a third-grader, what would we observe about the character of this year’s global protests, and what might we decide to do next?

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Justice in the City

A few shots of what it looks like when eight-year-olds come face to face with our nation’s monuments to justice — and briefly contemplate what it means to carry on the tradition.

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If the shoe doesn’t fit . . .

Thanks to the good people at GOOD, there’s a really interesting article about the power of social and emotional learning (SEL) – and it’s making me wonder what would happen if we stopped modifying the word “learning” so much and started thinking more holistically about what powerful learning really looks like, and requires.

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E Pluribus Pluribus: Is Differentiated Instruction Possible?

It’s not even Noon, and nine-year-old Harvey is already back on the floor.

His three tablemates, their efforts at independent reading on hold, watch and wait for Ms. Serber to arrive and restore order. Harvey’s pear-shaped body writhes on the floor, animated by neither malice nor mischief. He chews absent-mindedly on his silver necklace and gazes at the ceiling until she arrives.

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New Rules for School Reform

You know there’s a dearth of creative thinking in education when an article trumpeting cutting-edge teaching quotes somebody, without irony, saying the following:

“Get a computer, please! Log on . . . and go to your textbook.”

Yet that’s what the Washington Post did this morning – and they’re not alone. Despite ubiquitous calls for innovation and paradigm shifts, most would-be reformers are little more than well-intentioned people perfecting our ability to succeed in a system that no longer serves our interests.

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