I’m a big fan of Alfie Kohn. He’s deeply humane, unafraid to disagree with commonly accepted ideas, always on the side of students, tireless in his advocacy on their behalf—and he grounds his opinions in research. I often recommend his books—especially The Homework Myth and Punished by Rewards.
Recently, however, he posted a piece titled [...]
High school writers looking for a place to publish their work should have a look at The Blue Pencil Online, a project of the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, in Natick, Massachusetts (USA). Their standards appear to be quite high, so for a young writer of real talent and ambition, the Blue Pencil just [...]
I lived in The Netherlands for two years before moving to China. Walking down the street in The Netherlands required serious training in modern dance to avoid stepping in ubiquitous piles of dog poop. A video of ordinary pedestrians would resemble a mass outbreak of St. Vitus’ dance. (Indeed, Aachen wasn’t far away.)
In 2004 [...]
Students sometimes ask, “Mr. MacKnight, how can I improve my grammar?” Here’s how. 1. Read every day!
There is no substitute for daily reading. Choose books you like: if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t read. Students who are non-readers will never become fluent writers, because only through years of reading do we develop [...]
I’ve created a new page on this wiki, here—
SSIS Garden Project
—that gives a bit of history and points to a growing collection of photographs dating from late 2005, when we began creating the Garden Project at the new SSIS campus on Zhong Nan Jie. If you were there, you will recognize some faces [...]
The other day my English 9A class blog was named by Mrs. Burton and her class as one of their favourite ten school blogs, and now it’s my turn to pass on the accolades as part of the Edublogs challenge. So here’s my list of 10 great school blogs, in absolutely no order whatsoever:
People want more of the story; they want answers. [But] it’s not a position paper. It’s an “issue” novel, but it’s a story. And so, what I hope to offer people are questions, as opposed to answers.
Interviewed by Leonard Lopate about her novel, The Girl Who Fell From [...]
“The personality of a writer does become important after we have read his book and begin to study it. . . . We can ask ourselves questions about it such as ‘What is the author’s name?’ ‘Where did he live?’ ‘Was he married?’ and ‘Which was his favourite flower?’ Then we are no longer reading [...]
E.M. Forster on the Van Gogh exhibit at the Paris Exhibition of 1937:
Van Gogh . . . is housed in the corner of another palace between maps of Paris and intellectual hopes for the future, and the space suffices him. Well content with his half-dozen rooms, he displays his oddness and his misery to [...]
By constantly encouraging students to explore the questions raised in a text—instead of searching for its ‘messages’—we will help them learn to be sensitive, perceptive readers.
A great work of literature, as evocative as a tree or as the world itself, invites us to respond with our minds and our hearts, but it does not [...]
Click on the photo to see it full-sized.
The Class of 2010
America needs a culture that respects education. A culture in which learning is admired. A culture that honors the achievements of educated people and recognizes their importance to the entire society.
Anti-intellectualism has deep roots in American history and culture. Educated people are far too often subjected to suspicion and ridicule. These are the names [...]
Just came across this very nice article about an organic farming project in Shandong Province:
I’ve been out of the gardening thing for a while now . . . this makes me want to get out there and “make the grass say beans” again.
Nancie Atwell, author of In the Middle, makes the case for teaching literature in ‘Education Week‘.
Needless to say, I agree with her.
We’re talking about SparkNotes, Cliff’s Notes, York Notes, and all such similar shortcuts used by lazy and/or desperate and/or insecure students.
Inspired partly by an online discussion among IB English teachers and partly by my own students, I’ve added a page to my English A1 class blog that makes things as clear as I can [...]
[An open letter to my fellow English teachers near and far.]
Thought flows in terms of stories – stories about events, stories about people, and stories about intentions and achievements. The best teachers are the best story tellers. We learn in the form of stories.
—Frank Smith, Canadian [...]
Pete Kittle, who was a student of mine in the early part of my career, has written a beautiful piece concerning the death of his father which I hope you will take a few moments to read.
Sue Waters has a good post outlining her recent presentation on educational blogging. Teachers—especially those who are new to blogging, or interested—should have a look.
William M. Chace, professor of English and former president of two U.S. universities, tells the sad tale in The American Scholar.
University students who major in business are so misguided: every intelligent and successful businessman or -woman will tell you that a broad knowledge of literature, history, science, people, and the world—in other words, a [...]
Everyone who teaches Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl will be interested in Leonard Lopate’s interview of Francine Prose, whose new book is Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, in which she argues that the diary was not simply a diary, but a heavily revised work of literature that Anne hoped to [...]
A query on Twitter caught my eye this morning:
#MYP DP Theory of Knowledge … where is it in the MYP? Is it missing? Is it necessary? [from @krea_frobro747]
I replied, “ATL should be taught as a weekly or biweekly pre-TOK class.”
TOK is a great course, and the concept behind it is compelling, but [...]
Most of my WordPress blogs have been hacked by the worm that is running wild through even slightly out-of-date WP installations, so if weird things are happening when you try to read or click on links, please accept my apologies. I’m working on it!
This may surprise you:
[Students who don't submit SAT scores when they apply to university], with significantly lower SATs, earn [university] G.P.A.’s that are within five one-hundredths of a G.P.A. point of submitters, and graduate at rates within one-tenth of 1 percent of submitters.
This comes from the former head of admissions at Bates [...]
I don’t know how I managed to miss the 50th anniversary of Billie Holiday‘s death, but as partial atonement here is Frank O’Hara‘s poem about the day she died. I’ve also uploaded a short podcast about her which you can find here. The path is Podcasts / Misc / Billie Holiday. If you don’t know [...]
. . . is laid out in a modest (22 slides) and minimalist (black & white, mostly) presentation that you can download either as a Keynote file or a Powerpoint document (click on the one you prefer).
Like Ric Murry, I’ve been reading Daniel T. Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students Like School?, in which he [...]
Phillip Lopate, the writer, is interviewed by his older brother Leonard, the former painter and longtime broadcaster on WNYC in New York, in a podcast from ‘The Leonard Lopate Show’ that will fascinate and entertain anyone interested in literature, the arts, and brothers. Both students and teachers will enjoy it.
Two books underlie the interview. [...]
Harriet Gilbert hosts monthly interviews with contemporary authors that feature questions from both a live audience and BBC World Service listeners from all over the world. Recent programs have featured writers such as Nawal El Sadaawi, David Guterson, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, Annie Proulx, and Chinua Achebe. Highly recommended!
As always, you can [...]
All of my Gr. 11—>Gr. 12 students in English A1, and all Gr. 10—>Gr. 11 students going into English A1 are invited to work on their writing this summer through email tutorials.
Just send me a paragraph as an email attachment. I will mark it up with comments and suggestions and send it back to [...]
is that whereas I thought at first it would be an unending avalanche of trivia and nonsense, instead it is an unending avalanche of useful and interesting links and ideas.
The trick is, I only follow people whose tweets relate either to education or to China or and have real value. Result? More unpaid professional [...]
The usual attacks on ye olde 5-paragraph essay are a bit like attacks on the sonnet. Are formal constraints really the problem? After all, the vast majority of sonnets ever written—the ones that have mercifully made their way into Time’s recycling bin—were undoubtedly very bad pieces of writing. Instead of criticizing the 5-paragraph essay, shouldn’t [...]
In the first place, you have to buy the goddam cigarettes, unless you just bum ’em off other guys all the time and then don’t even say thanks like that sonuvabitch Ernie Morrow. Anyway, like I said, you have to buy them, and who do you buy them from?— these stinking-rich gigantic corporations with about [...]
BBC Radio’s Melvyn Bragg explores history and especially the history of ideas every week in a breathless 42-minute romp through a huge range of topics. Gathering academic experts around him, he delivers a weekly mini-course on subjects such as the trial of Charles I, the Augustan Age, St. Paul, Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, the Boxer [...]
The assumption of sole authorship underlies writing assessments in school, but in reality good writing almost always results from collaboration.
This post by American free-lance writer Dan Baum—
Writing as Contact Sport
—makes me wonder about how we teach writing in schools. Baum’s post is a response to criticism he received after revealing that his [...]
See my post on the SSIS Garden Project blog, SSIS Garden, R.I.P.?
At a U.S. high school a couple of teachers discovered by accident that students do better when the usual procedures are reversed:
Watch the video.
Hat tip to someone in my Twitter stream—lost the tweet, but thanks, whoever you are.
Here’s an excellent example of online professional discourse, from Dan Meyer’s blog:
But How Do I Remediate THAT?
. . . for our secondary school:
Is our MYP curriculum rigorous enough? Does it prepare students to succeed in the Diploma Programme? How are we dealing with the ‘Areas of Interaction’? Is our approach effective? Can it be improved? ‘Approaches to Learning’: are we teaching students how to learn? Are we helping them to [...]
Eleanor Wachtel interviews writers on her Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program, “Writers & Company”. She and Leonard Lopate are the two best interviewers I know. She talks with famous and not-so-famous authors, and their conversations are invariably interesting and informative. Few ‘media personalities’ are as well-informed as Wachtel. Older students in top-level literature classes will find [...]
Leonard Lopate interviews a wide range of people on New York’s public radio station, WNYC—authors, musicians, actors, visual artists, dancers, and many others, on a huge range of topics. A remarkable number of these podcasts are wonderful to share with students.
For literature and drama teachers, he interviews many actors, directors, and playwrights whose work [...]