January’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Homework – The Great Debate

The philosophy of education in the U.S. is always subject to disagreement and controversy, but everyone can agree on this: It’s never, ever static. The dynamics in education often seem like those of a pendulum swinging back and forth, from one extreme to the other, as policymakers, curriculum designers and book writers continue to define and redefine what are now called “best practices.”

The current Great Debate over homework is a perfect example of the way the pendulum swings in education. In “The Case For and Against Homework” at http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx, Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering summarize how homework has been accepted or rejected as a good practice since the early 1900s. Reading the summary is enough to give you whiplash:

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Quick Tips to Make It Through Your Fall Term Finals

1. Find an “Accountabilibuddy”

If you’ve been reading eNotes study tips for a while now you’ll already know the importance of making flash cards and creating a study schedule in time for finals week, so here’s a new tip for you. Make a pact with a friend to be accountabilibuddies; you will agree to check in with and keep each other on the studying track leading up to your exams. If one of you strays, the other is “accountabilibuddyable,” and reserves the right to publicly shame you, or at least make you donate $1 to the procrastination jar.

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December’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Are We Expecting Too Much, Too Soon?

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

I recently read an article by Laura Katan in which she shares an anecdote I keep thinking about. At a fair, Katan saw a ten-year-old boy and his mom pass a massage vendor, and she heard the mother ask her son, “Do you want a massage? It may relax you.” Katan recalls she was “incredulous” as she overheard the comment. “Since when do 10-year-olds need to relax?” she asks. Well, apparently now. In fact, there seems to be a lot of kids who need to relax, and most of them are in our classrooms.   Continue Reading ›

November’s Teacher’s Corner Column: A Guide to Summative and Formative Assessments

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Keeping Up with Assessment and Grading

Assessing students’ achievement is an integral part of teaching, and like everything else in the profession, it has become more complicated. The days of giving a chapter test and calling it good are over. That’s not a bad thing though. To really keep tabs on who’s learning what, assessment has to be an ongoing process, and it has to offer kids a variety of ways to show what they know and what they can do.

To be thorough and effective, assessment has to include the three main types of measurement: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Diagnostic assessment is imperative, since it’s impossible to know how much ground students have gained at the end of a study unit unless we know where they were at the beginning. Formative assessment checks their learning along the way and provides an opportunity to adjust lesson plans, if necessary, and to address specific problems a struggling student might be experiencing. Summative assessment at the end of a study unit indicates kids’ overall mastery of new material and gives a clear idea about how to proceed in instruction. A review of all six types of assessment can be found here at edudemic.com. Another good site with information about assessment practices is utexas.edu/teaching.

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5 Tips for Writing Your College Application Essay

Happy college app month!

Your college application essay isn’t the sole determiner of where you go to school, but it should live up to the rest of your stellar qualifications. Read our following tips to turn in the best essay you can, and good luck!

college-applications
1. Be you. This may seem obvious, but a college application essay is meant to show its audience something about your character. It’s your opportunity to show off something about yourself that can’t be deduced from your transcript. That means that you should not launch into a list of your many achievements and activities over your high school career. Instead, choose an anecdote that shows the depth of your personality that can’t be seen in mere test scores. Have a clear focus and write one story well.
2. Develop your tone. Before writing the story of you, think about how you’d like to come across to a complete stranger reading your essay. Though the goal is to let readers know how great you are, too much of that can sound like you’re bragging. On the flip side, holding on to disappointments or injustices you may have encountered in your education can sound like you’re whining. Brain storm on paper some adjectives that describe how you’d like to be perceived and keep them in mind as you write. Strike for somewhere along the spectrum of proud and humble, and if you can add a touch of humor for levity; besides a well-woven story, tone is what helps you really jump off the page.

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October’s Teacher’s Corner Column: How To Be Proactive and Organized Year-Round

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Whether you’re a new teacher or a classroom veteran, the school year can feel overwhelming, more so than ever since the demands of standards-based testing and professional development have grown increasingly complex and time consuming. Teaching now seems to require holding down two jobs at once: teaching kids with one hand and meeting a plethora of administrative mandates with the other. It’s tough to carry such a load day after day without sinking under the weight.

According to the old proverb, “A stitch in time saves nine.” It’s true, and it’s still good advice. Being proactive takes a little time, but it saves a lot of work and heads off problems, making a difficult year more manageable and less stressful. Here are a few ways to save yourself in the classroom by acting sooner rather than later:

  • Organize your paperwork, but don’t overdo it:
    • An organizational system shouldn’t be so complicated that it takes hours to create and you have to remember what’s filed where when you’re looking for something.
    • Backing up critical information is a must, but recording the same information in multiple places wastes time.
    • Making lists keeps things on track, but if you have so many lists you need a master list to keep track of them, you’ve overachieved! (I’m speaking from experience here, so trust me.)

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New to eNotes.com: Research Paper Starters

We do the digging so you don’t have to.

Research-Design

When you don’t know where or how to start your research paper, dive into an eNotes Research Paper Starter. We clearly explain and analyze over 1,500 complex subjects so that you can concentrate on learning what you really need to know and writing a great paper.

Why use a Research Starter? Two reasons:

  • easily fine-tune the thesis of your paper
  • locate expert sources without spending precious hours scouring a library database

Read on to find out more about this latest feature from eNotes!

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