Sunday, March 17, 2013

Write to Learn Conference–Missouri

Getting close and closer to catching up with real time here.

chairAfter getting back from our latest overseas jaunt Sara and I took a day and a half to try and screw our heads back on straight and face forward in our home time zone. Then we hopped a plane – rented a car and presented a couple sessions at a wonderful literacy conference near Columbia Missouri. The Write to Learn conference is put on by the alliteratively named Willy Wood.

This Lake of the Ozarks resort gathering mixed us with  top educator development folks and  stellar teachers as well. While we were signing our books for some of the conference attendees I eavesdropped on a conversation a teacher was having with Cris Tovani author of I Read It, but I Don't Get It and Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?

Well this teacher was going on and on about all the work she was doing in the classroom – then about the extra things she was doing after school – she was asking deep questions about comprehension and reading and writing across the curriculum. Of course all of this is on top of the fact that she was here at the conference spending her weekend to get more ideas for her students instruction.

woodI finally got up and walked over to the pair and said how I wished all those folks who malign teachers – who spout the same old BS about teachers only working seven hours a day – getting the whole summer off – that they are coddled by unions etc. etc. – could witness how seriously and deeply this woman took her pupils education. This teacher is not an aberration by a long shot – the vast majority of educators I work with are dedicated professionals.

So why this need to malign the profession? Well, as a wiser man than me once said – follow the money. How are you gong to funnel public money into private institutions like charter schools or pre-packaged education programs touted by software gurus and politicians (folks with no education experience) unless you can tear down the real professionals already doing the work?

lake of the ozarksWhat would happen if we treated medicine in the same way. In fact we did at one time and snake oil salesmen and quacks travelled from town to town selling their magic pills and potions to hopeful but ill informed citizens.  A whole bunch of these “treatments” actually did more harm than they did good. Patients would have been in better shape if they had done nothing rather than jumping at the promise of a miracle cure.

Maybe this is the real answer to the great education problem that is being hawked by business interests. Maybe we just need to get out of the way and let teachers teach.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hong Kong International School

I continue to play catch up with the blog.


After Sara and I presented at the literacy conference on Saturday and Sunday – we stayed over a couple days to work with the middle-schoolers who we had met back in September.

We test drove a couple of our lessons from our new resource coming out with Corwin this Fall and are happy to report they went down like  fresh Dim Sum. The teachers ate it up. plus we found some places where things could be tightened up and even a typo in one of the slides. (Nothing like a 7th grader as copy editor.)


The groups we worked with were fairly large – three classes at a time so we were not as nimble as we could have been. I explained it to the students as we being a cruise ship instead of a speed boat and that taking the twists and turns during the lesson we need to really concentrate or else we will lose precious time just moving about in the lesson.


Well the kids performed heroically and we got a whole bunch of work done – writing and practicing our public speaking skills. Sure every now and then we’d have a participant rowing in the wrong direction – but this was rare and easily corrected.


Kudos to the teachers and students at HKIS and special thanks to Clare – the 7th and 8th grade LA teacher who first suggested we visit to the powers that be.


Hope to see you guys and gals soon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Art of Teaching Literacy – Hong Kong International School

hkislogosmAfter a bit of respite in Bali Sara and I were back at work. This time we were making a return visit to Hong Kong International School.Back in September Sara and I swung through for a quick visit after which – Professional Development guru Karen Rohrs invited us back to speak at a literacy conference and to work with some of the middle school students.

hk003One of the many great things about accepting this assignment was the opportunity to share the bill (as well as a taxi and dinner table) with one of our favorite educators, Stephanie Harvey. We like to think that our work augments hers by providing practical classroom lessons that are rooted in the inquiry based learning model that Stephanie champions.

hk001We squeezed a whole lot of PD into a couple days and the teachers attending, from schools all over Asia,  performed like champions themselves. They plugged away and managed to stay bright eyed throughout a an 8am to 5pm day. My only regret of the conference was that we didn’t get the opportunity to sit in on many sessions ourselves – they kept us pretty busy. I would have really liked to get a chance to listen to Matt Glover’s presentations but we were presenting opposite him throughout.

hk005Of course our time at the conference was not all work and no play – we had a wonderful dinner at some swanky joint overlooking the harbor where we celebrated Matt’s son’s 18th birthday while watching the light shows being played out on the skyscraper backdrop.

hk002Many thanks to Karen, Jacqui and all the crew who made the conference the success it was and here’s to hoping we see you again soon!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bali 2013

Sara and I have managed to finagle our way to a Bali visit the last couple years as part of our working with International Schools in SE Asia. Here are a smattering of photos from this years trip which we shared with our good friend Larry and Rai who live there a couple months every year.

I should really devote a lot more time and space to this visit – it was one of our best – but deadlines and more travel are squeezing time through a funnel here – so please enjoy these photos.