Interesting app for collecting data

Data rules education now, for better or worse.  So, I’m a big fan of collecting lots of data, across a range of situations/setting, across time.  But that’s actually quite difficult for teachers to do.  This app, Kaymbu, appears to do just that.  A possibility, to be sure.  And while this is marketed to preschool/kinder, I think it could actually be quite powerful for all grades because it would make it so easier to capture the types of data I was talking about above.

Now, I want to try it for less than $25/mo, so we’ll see about it.

Organizing your time

It can be really difficult to decide how to allocate your time.  There’s so much that seems to need to be done RIGHT NOW!  This feeling of RIGHT NOW will only get worse when you have a whole classroom–and some huge number of students–who are your responsibility.  One useful way to deal with the onslaught of information, and the actions that information require, is the Urgent/Important Matrix.

Urgent/Important Matrix

What I think is so important to stress is that you can determine how you move through this matrix.  Everything isn’t really a necessity, and other people’s crises are not your crises (unless they are your students, and even then, might not be your problem).  Spending time tending to very important, but not urgent, things is really important for your professional health and well-being.  I’ve posted the matrix on my currently unused computer screen (seemed like a good use of the space).  I’m going to try and remember to pause, clarify, and decide using the matrix.

And now, to grammar

THE English language, we all know, is in decline. The average schoolchild can hardly write, one author has recently warned. Well, not that recently perhaps. It was William Langland, author of “Piers Plowman”, who wrote that “There is not a single modern schoolboy who can compose verses or write a decent letter.” He died in 1386.

Read the rest of the article.  It is a glorious romp through stodgy men complaining about the decline of the English language.

Srsly ppl, it’s like not that big a deal, because grammar.

Spelling… I hate spelling

The Atlantic has a new article, by out that digs into the difficulty of the English language is a really accessible way.

Adults who have already mastered written English tend to forget about its many quirks. But consider this: English has 205 ways to spell 44 sounds. And not only can the same sounds be represented in different ways, but the same letter or letter combinations can also correspond to different sounds. For example, “cat,” “kangaroo,” “chrome,” and “queue” all start with the same sound, and “eight” and “ate” sound identical. Meanwhile, “it” doesn’t sound like the first syllable of “item,” for instance, and “cough” doesn’t rhyme with either “enough,” “through,” “furlough” or “bough.” Even some identically spelled words, such as “tear,” can be pronounced differently and mean different things.

Think about that for a minute.  205 ways to spell 44 sounds.  No wonder it’s hard to learn to read.  I remember this as I listen to my kiddos try to “sound out” the words like their teacher tells them to.  Listening to them reminds me of how much I HATED SPELLING BECAUSE I DIDN’T GET IT.  This from a kid (me) who was tearing through her mom’s mystery novels by age 8 and read my way through the sci fi collection in the local library by starting with Asimov.

By contrast, languages such as Finnish and Korean have very regular spelling systems; rules govern the way words are written, with few exceptions. Finnish also has the added bonus of a nearly one-to-one correspondence between sounds and letters, meaning fewer rules to learn. So after Finnish children learn their alphabet, learning to read is pretty straightforward—they can read well within three months of starting formal learning, Bell says. And it’s not just Finnish- and Korean-speaking children who are at a significant advantage: A 2003 study found that English-speaking children typically needed about three years to master the basics of reading and writing, whereas their counterparts in most European countries needed a year or less.

Again, think about that.  Finnish children learn to read in 3 months.  It takes English-speaking children 3 years.  These are the sorts of things that we need to constantly remember when so many kids are struggling.  Maybe it isn’t the kid.  Maybe what we’re doing isn’t developmentally appropriate.  Maybe those nations to whom we constantly compare ourselves don’t even have “reading levels” because kids can figure out words on their own the first time.  Maybe the English language is ridiculous.

Worth reading the whole thing!  And using with parents/principals who want to know why you aren’t sending home spelling words.