“I’m telling you. That sand gets everywhere,” said Ms Cornelius.
“Don’t I know it. I thought it was just this thong bikini bottom that was chafing. Whose idea was it to have the Carnival at the beach, anyway?” asked Mamacita.
The Science Goddess looked amused. “It was me. I thought that after a year in a stuffy classroom that we needed to get out and about. What did you bring as a beach read?”
“Well, I was just reading up on the amount of Ritalin prescribed to children these days. Some of it might be warranted, but I’m not so sure every prescription is necessary. How much is enough?"
Me-Ander peeked over her sunglasses. “I know just what you’re talking about. We didn’t need that in my day in order to pay attention in class."
“We used to have junior high kids who would arrive at school and then get a cup of coffee in the office. Their parents asked us to do that in lieu of Ritalin...and it worked like a charm,” said the Science Goddess. “Of course, I’m not so sure about an admin building in the area that just dropped fifteen large on an espresso machine.”
Mamacita finished...fishing. “Perhaps if kids had more attention at home—especially from their dads, they would feel more secure at school. Where are all of the dads these days?”
“I don’t know,” said Darren, “but I was thinking about home visits by teachers. I’m not so sure that these are really necessary, but I do think that they would help build a partnership between home and school. I’m going to head over and see how the grill is shaping up.”
A group of men were congregated around the barbecue. Frosty beverages abounded.
“...what I’m saying is,” said Dave, “that we need to have better accountability measures for failing schools.” He poked at the coals.
“But would that include smaller class sizes?” asked Matt.
“It certainly could.”
“Well, I think that smaller class sizes would mean lower quality physical plants for kids. Imagine all of the portable buildings that would have to be brought in,” Matt replied.
“Meanwhile,” added Mark, “I think that NCLB is emphasizing mediocrity over excellence. Has anyone thought about the impact of all of these reforms on gifted and highly capable students?”
Joanne wandered by on her way to the volleyball court. “Regardless of all these things, people will still blame the teachers. It seems like popular culture likes to ridicule public education...or maybe they just undervalue it.”
“Would you look at that?” said Scott as some teens walked by. “What is the deal with the clothes some kids are wearing? The slogans on them don’t always reflect the most positive things. Ready to go play, Joanne?”
The Repairman was serving. “I’m saying that the way that we calculate grades might have been based on what was easy...but with software, teachers can use better measures.”
Mrs. Chili received the serve. “Oof. I’ve been thinking a lot about grading, too. Maybe we should chat after the game.”
“Change is difficult thing to effect,” said Scott, joining the game. “I’ve been blogging all week about that. Stop by and read my wrap-up.”
Dana spiked the ball over the net and high fived Learn Me Good. “I’ve been trying to learn about Understanding by Design...and epic saga of change in and of itself. Not to mention trying to find a way to impact graduation rates.”
Learn Me Good looked at his hand. “You know, high fives are being banned by one district.” He looked over his shoulder. "Darn it. I think I'm getting a sunburn!"
“I do wonder about the Dearth of Common Sense these days,” said the Science Goddess. “What is it with all of these zero tolerance policies?” She walked over to help Mike get the s’more ingredients ready.
“How’s your summer?” she asked.
“You know, it didn’t start off well. Did you see that terrible news about the tragedy in Baytown where four young teens were killed or seriously injured? And you know that somehow, teachers will be blamed for their poor performance in school.”
“I saw that,” said Scenes from the Battleground, opening a package of graham crackers. “There really does seem to be some poor student quality these days.”
Hakim looked over. “This is why I think character education is so important in the schools.”
“It is,” said Frumteacher. “It really surprises me how much my view of ‘difficult’ kids has changed over the course of this year. It makes for a bittersweet good-bye at the end of this school year.”
“I’ve had some ambivalent feelings about the end of the year, too,” said Teaching in the 408. We just had a ‘graduation,’ but it was really more of a promotion from 8th grade.”
“Do your students do course or teacher evaluations?” asked Mr. McNamar. He had just come in from surfing. His wetsuit dripped and made the fire hiss. “Mine do, and there were some very interesting comments. I’m not sure that the students know me as well as they think they do.”
“I know just what you’re talking about,” said the Reflections Project. “I’ve been doing some thinking about the recent set of course evaluations I received from students.”
The Education Wonks grabbed a few marshmallows to toast. “I wonder if those would have any impact on merit pay? Or will it just be student achievement, like they’re considering in Minneapolis?”
“Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad,” said Bogusia. “I think that a higher teacher salary might lead to better education in the classroom.”
“Could be,” said Aquiram. “Or maybe it’s just a reflection of community affluence. Meanwhile, do teachers really practice what they preach in order to effect better education? We need more people using best practices...not just talking about them.”
Mike nodded his head. “I agree. I think the best way to learn about teaching is to get in there and do it.”
A group wandered over to a log that had washed up on the beach. They were getting ready to watch the sunset.
“Technology is definitely an issue,” said Dan. “We really need to help educators with how they design their graphic communications. I have some great ideas to share.”
“I’ll have to take a look at that,” remarked Matthew. “I’ve been looking at whether or not there is racial discrimination in educational technology. As long as groups aren’t excluded, does it matter if this area is dominated by one population?”
“Technology can be misused, though,” said Jill. “Have you seen the cheating methods students are devising these days? I wonder how we can help kids make better choices.”
“Maybe it’s all of the tests. It seems to me,” said the 13th floor, “that we need some sort of test for all of these standardized tests. What the states measure is certainly not equivalent to the NAEP...or one another.”
The sun was setting on another Carnival. The Science Goddess started helping the others pack up their materials. “Thank you, everyone, for helping make this such a success...and for helping me celebrate my 800th post! Please be sure to join in the ‘Sesquicen-Carnival’ over at Education in Texas next week. Get your posts to Mike (mikea3_98[at]yahoo[dot]com) or use this handy submission form no later than 10 p.m. CST on Tuesday, June 26. Have a restful and rejuvenating summer!”