Standards

Why Every Teacher Should Go See “Hidden Figures”

Hidden FiguresLast month I saw the movie “Hidden Figures” and I was so incredibly inspired.

I am a former English teacher, so my love is words and writing and reading. But I ventured to see this movie because it empowers women and sheds light on some pretty amazing mathematicians who had the power to make this word-loving English teacher a fan of math.  I mean, as a teacher I’ve always loved data, but for me, seeing this movie reinforced why numbers are just as important as words.

We look at data a lot in education, but most of the time I believe we are just looking at numbers and not really grasping the full story data can tell us.

Data does tell a story.

Sometimes it’s a story we don’t want to hear; sometimes it’s a story we already know and we’re just validated. Sometimes it’s a story we never gave any thought and a whole new path is opened for us. If the data you look at regularly is just numbers on a screen and it’s not telling you a story, maybe some insights from “Hidden Figures” will help. Continue reading


Thankful for the Mountains We Climb

blog_thankful_challenges2016 is an incredible time to be a teacher.

I am grateful for each and every day I get to work alongside the best of the best in education.

While expectations are high, standards seem impossible to meet, and the everyday trials and struggles we face seem endless, this time in our country and our world is truly an incredible time to be a teacher. We have so much more access to research about how and why we learn. We have clearer pictures of our brains and all they can accomplish.

We might be up against some very difficult mountains to climb, but the teachers that have gone before us have never been as well equipped as we are today.

As a teacher I’ve always been fascinated with the brain – how it operates so much more than just our physical bodies. Each and every day, new research is published confirming something I think teachers have always known. Continue reading


Every Student Succeeds

Every Student Succeeds ActOn December 10, 2015, President Obama signed The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The ESSA will replace the familiar No Child Left Behind Act as the federal government’s comprehensive legislation which governs education and, famously, accountability for schools, teachers, districts, and states.

This new collection of laws will certainly usher in a period of change for American schools – but just how much does it change, and when (and how) will that change occur? Continue reading


Innovative Math Instruction

MJ Math blog
More than ever before, middle school math students are being asked to perform at a higher rate in class and on assessments.

Students are learning higher-level standards and being evaluated in new ways with computer-based testing and interactive tools.

New standards expect students to be able to: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, reason abstractly and quantitatively, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, model with mathematics, use appropriate tools strategically, look for and make use of structure, and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Continue reading


Give Thanks for Teachers

teacher thanksgiving coverSchool is out this week in celebration of Thanksgiving, which seems appropriate, because this year I am most thankful for teachers. If there is a teacher at your pilgrim celebration, please let them have the biggest drumstick, the last piece of pumpkin pie, or the preferred napping spot in front of the football game. This year, more than ever, they have earned it.

Education is in a cycle of dramatic change (thankfully) but in lieu of a better system, traditional schools are placing more burdens on classroom teachers. Administrators add accountability metrics, but take away autonomy. Districts add high stakes testing, but take away class time for teaching. States add new standards, demand new teaching methods, and require new paperwork, while reducing budgets, salaries, and benefits. Not exactly what most teachers signed up for.  Continue reading


For Indecisive Ice Cream Eaters

ice creamWhile reading an article about a subject that is near and dear to my heart (ice cream!), I discovered that Ben and Jerry have done it again. They have truly revolutionized the ice cream eating experience. Their new product, Cores, features a column of goodness running right down the center of two different types of ice cream. How amazing is that?! It’s true bliss for indecisive ice cream eaters around the world. You get two types of ice cream, along with an amazing core of ice-cream-topping paradise. Continue reading


Standards, Grittiness, and the Underdog

resilienceIn his book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” Malcolm Gladwell  argues that the people we traditionally considered to be underdogs might actually have unique  advantages created by the very adversity they had to overcome. Gladwell uses the allegory of David  and Goliath to dramatize how David’s victory may not have been as unlikely or extraordinary as we are led to believe.  Perhaps, David relied simply on an unconventional approach and his own audacity to blindside Goliath.  His experience as an underdog forced him to view the situation differently and discover a creative solution to his problem.  David didn’t view Goliath simply as an indestructible giant. Rather, he saw a slow opponent, dragged down by his armor, and unprepared to battle a swifter, more prepared adversary.

Gladwell continues his theory by describing a seeming disadvantage, dyslexia, as a “desirable difficulty.”  Continue reading