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Common Core: Adopting & Implementing School-wide Policies & Practices

by Jim Burke Of the many challenges posed by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), few rival those posed by getting all the teachers in a department or even an entire school to adopt and implement common policies or practices. Two examples will suffice: adopting and agreeing to all teach a specific approach to (or […]

Digital Writing: Trading in the Page to Make Your (Power) Point

by Jim Burke Nancy Duarte just released an exciting new digital book titled Slidedocs, which is about composing visual documents to be read (not presented) in PowerPoint or Keynote. (You can download it for free by clicking here.) What intrigues me most about her book is the degree to which it signals a further transition toward […]

Is your class more like an essay or a story?

by Jim Burke Whether your class is more of an essay than a story, the real question is whether it makes sense and your students leave having learned or otherwise been changed by it. This leads to other questions: If our class is an essay, how is each day similar to a sentence, and each week akin […]

“Close Reading” Includes Directions,

by Jim Burke When we speak of “close reading” as it appears in Reading Standard 1 of the Common Core State Standards, it is worth considering the directions of the assignments we give our students and the exams they take where such key words as evaluate or trace are used regularly. The student who cannot distinguish between compare and contrast is […]

Your Core Companion: Just What IS “Close Reading”?

By Jim Burke This marks the first of what will be a series of periodic posts about specific Common Core standards and resources intended to help you better understand and implement them.  The links and lessons I provide here allow me to further support those using my Common Core Companion books, so please do not mistake this […]

Culture vs. Structure: How Do We Get From Here to There?

by Jim Burke In the last year, my thinking about education, teaching, and change within schools and classrooms has been grounded in two elements: culture and structure. Structure involves time, processes, protocols–anything, whether tangible or conceptual, that draws the boundaries within which activities, processes, or experiences will take place. Culture is, in large part, the […]

Freedom From Fear

When I wrote and posted my recent blog in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, I could not imagine that I would, only hours later, that Sunday evening, while preparing my lessons for Monday's classes, receive an automated all-call from my principal informing us about the events described here: When […]

The Monsters in Our Midst

Last week, prior to the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, as part of our discussion of Dr. Frankenstein's "wretch," his "monster," we discussed what I called the "inflection point," that point in the trajectory of the story when everything changes.  My seniors gathered quickly into small groups and began discussing whether the inflection point occured at […]

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