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On the Shoulders of Giants

Ariel Sacks

November 30, 2013

3 Reasons Why I'm Slightly Obsessed With Twitter

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I'm becoming slightly obsessed with Twitter. Friends on the Collab have long touted its benefits, and I signed up for Twitter account several years ago. But not until recently did I actually experience its power and value as a professional resource. Here are my top 3 reasons why:

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Ariel Sacks

November 26, 2013

Why Classroom Management Runs Deep

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I think it's safe to say that "classroom management" is a big deal in teaching.  Not much learning can happen if students are running wild in a classroom.  Schools of education have been criticized for not preparing teacher candidates enough in the area of classroom management, and there is a movement in some charter networks to focus almost exclusively on classroom management. While there's some valid reason for the criticism and the resulting craze, I want to take apart what we really mean when we refer to classroom management.  

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Ariel Sacks

November 15, 2013

Best conversation of the day

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I want to share a conversation I overheard today that just tickled the heck out of me. I was in the lunch line at my school. Behind me are two students: Alejandro (pseudonym), a very quirky student who is a long term ELL (his family is from Mexico, but he grew up in NYC)and receives special education services for a learning disability, and Elli (pseudonym), an equally quirky, academically high performing white female student who has a "wise beyond her years" look.

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Ariel Sacks

October 30, 2013

On Measuring Student Learning

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"Student learning should be part of teacher evaluation, but it should only be one part of the whole picture."  Though I've heard this statement many times before, it gave me pause and I started thinking... What else would I want my evaluation to be based on, exactly? My effort? My punctuality? My daily aims?

I'm becoming increasingly troubled by the whole notion of teacher evaluation lately. The truth is, I measure my own strength as a teacher by what I observe in my students (and to some degree my ability to collaborate with colleagues and make other contributions to my school).  But overall, student learning is exactly what I think my value as a teacher should be based on; it's not just "part of the whole picture" of what I do.

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Ariel Sacks

October 20, 2013

Viewing the Education Ecosystem: Who Sees What and Why Does It Matter?

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After reading the powerful collection of articles on teacher leadership in the October 2013 issue of Education Leadership, I looked back at my own contribution, “The Problem-Solving Power of Teachers,” with a critical lens. In this article, I make the case that we take too many risks in education on the basis of the ideas of those far away from classrooms, causing an all-too-common mismatch between policy and practice.

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Ariel Sacks

October 18, 2013

The Classroom Management Olympics

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Just for giggles, I'm sharing my silliest moment of the day.  Sure, there are much more important things I'd like to have brainpower to write about right now. There's Nancy Flanagan's great piece on purpose-driven education, for example.  There's author Neil Gaiman's piece in the Guardian on Why our Future Depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming, which is fuel for a piece I'm writing (in my imagination) in defense of fiction. And there's this cool review of Teacherpreneurs in Philadelphia's The Notebook to discuss...

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Ariel Sacks

October 2, 2013

Chapter 1 is here.

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The day is fast approaching, like a bear getting ready to come out of hibernation... ;)  Yes, on October 7, the first copies of my book, Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student Centered Approach, will arrive in Jossey Bass' warehouse. And I will get to hold my book as soon as they can fly from California to New York City. I can't wait!

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Ariel Sacks

September 30, 2013

What's In a Day's Learning?

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Teachers, how do you feel about daily learning objectives?  I know these are considered of tremendous importance by many educators and leaders in our field. And while I do carefully write an objective for my lesson on the board each day, I've always been less than convinced of the significance of these stated goals. The truth is, I probably can't even count all of the objectives I have going into a day of teaching... and many of the best student outcomes at the end of the period are things I didn't predict would happen that morning, and certainly didn't announce on the board.

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Ariel Sacks

September 25, 2013

How Facial Expressions Can Help With Classroom Management

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It’s late in September and the novelty of the new year is beginning to wear off.  I know some students will test the boundaries of appropriate classroom behavior to see what will happen, and others just plain struggle to get through day after day of school.  I find myself remembering a piece of helpful advice I learned in my first year of teaching. 

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