Summer Reading July 16th

Over the summer the amount of reading I do experiences exponential growth. I’m hoping to do a biweekly roundup of education-related reading that I found thought-provoking or helpful.

Here’s what I’ve been reading in the past 2 weeks!

To Close the Achievement Gap, We Need to Close the Teaching Gap
The Huffington Post has a great piece by Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor whose work focuses on educational equity and teacher quality. This piece highlights some of the unique challenges facing teachers in the United States. Not only do two-thirds of teachers teach at schools with over 30 percent of their students in poverty, teachers in the US have less time to collaborate and receive productive feedback. Darling-Hammond offers four concrete things schools can do to help teachers become more effective.

Rooting Out Blind Spots in the Language of Group Roles in Complex Instruction-Based Group Work
Cheesemonkey Wonders has an excellent set of roles for assigning group work. I’m excited to try these out in the fall.

When Teachers Romanticize Their Students’ Poverty
The Atlantic has a realistic yet positive reflection about teaching in the Mississippi Delta by April Bo Wang. She contrasts her romanticized expectations with the realities of her students’ situations. “There was nothing beautiful about their poverty,” she writes. “There was no way to glamorize the fact that Ty had no electricity or running water at home, that Jonathan wrestled hogs on the weekend for extra cash, or that Yaya’s relatives fought over custody of her baby to get the extra government check.” This should be required reading for all new teachers.

The War Over the Core, Ctd
Andrew Sullivan has a great summary of teachers’ unions AFT and NEA reacting to what they call the “test and punish” systems of the Common Core, Race to the Top, and No Child Left Behind. Both are critical of Arne Duncan for continuing to support standardized testing, and the NEA has called for his resignation.

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing
Also from the Atlantic, Meredith Broussard takes a look at the big data behind textbooks and standardized testing in the Philadelphia school district, one of the nation’s largest. She finds that the standardized tests are in the control of textbook publishers, whose books are not always accessible to students. These textbook companies write and score tests based on the content of their books, books that cost in some cases 3 or 4 times the schools’ budgets. I read this piece as a strong argument against standardized testing, at least in the hands of textbook publishers.

And Finally: “We’re Fine Here, How Are You?” Normal Moments in Art History Where No One is About to Get Murdered
This isn’t necessarily related to math education but it’s great and you should read it – from Mallory Ortberg at the Toast.

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