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On the Shoulders of Giants

Ariel Sacks

November 18, 2015

The Intersection of Teacher Teams, Professional Learning, and Teacher Retention


I argued that our solution to the problem of missing homework was a demonstration of how teacher-created policies work better for teachers and students than top-down ones do. Looking back, I also recognize this as an example of the kind of professional learning that happens when teachers have time, support, and enough autonomy to work together in teams.

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Ariel Sacks

May 22, 2015

Suggestions for Better Testing


"I'm vehemently against these standardized tests and all that they are used for," a veteran humanities teacher tells me. "But I'm willing to meet them half way if the test is at least reasonable." A lot of teachers I know feel this way. We know standardized tests don't measure the scope of our teaching or our students' learning in a meaningful way. We see them being used to scare, label and punish children and educators, and we oppose these practices on principle and for the sake of our students and profession.  However, we are not totally against giving a reasonable yearly standardized test in reading and writing. There are a few key changes that might make the tests themselves a bit more reasonable.

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Ariel Sacks

May 3, 2015

Four Lessons From Motherhood


If you asked me what time I woke up today, I couldn’t give you a straight answer.  And if you asked how my spring break was, or how state testing went this year, I’d raise my eyebrow. That’s because this teacher is a new mom! My baby girl was born February 24th and it’s been a whirlwind of intense love, intense learning, intense feeding—and short bursts of sleep—ever since.

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Ariel Sacks

March 9, 2015

What Do We Know About The Teaching Brain? An Interview With Author Vanessa Rodriguez


I’m so excited to share this interview with Vanessa Rodriguez, a veteran NYC middle school teacher, Harvard researcher, instructor and author of the just-released book, The Teaching Brain. This is a fascinating and accessible book that introduces new, and, I’d say, ground-breaking thinking on what the act of teaching really entails.

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Ariel Sacks

February 19, 2015

When—And At What Cost—Do Students Receive Reading Intervention Classes?


Is anyone else noticing that students—especially in middle school—often receive reading intervention class at the expense of foreign language or arts? There are very real scheduling constraints that explain this common reality, but putting that aside, I’m wondering if this practice makes sense for kids. 

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Ariel Sacks

December 8, 2014

Kevin Spacey, the Binge-Watching Phenomenon, and Teaching Whole Novels


I think Lost was my first binge-watching experience eight summers ago. I felt how different it was to watch a long series at my own pace, but I didn't think much about it. I was too fixated on what the heck was up with that island!  But as I binged more recently on House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and other favorite "television" shows available through Netflix and my cable TV's On Demand feature, I made the connection. Binge-watching an entire season of a series is much like plowing through a compelling novel. You pick it up and put it down as you please.

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