Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Not Too Late to Invite a Friend

Aloha e nā kumu,

This is just a reminder that besides the 15 gung ho education warriors that are slated to come to the first (and perhaps last) Lehua Writing Project Spring Literacy Conference, there is still time for you to come join us AND even invite a friend to come along. The conference is this Saturday (see the previous post) and I'll even include the invitation link for your convenience.

Invitation link

True, we are all busy. We have obligations. We have commitments. It's far. The guest author, Dr. Kimo Armitage, and I are flying in and out from Honolulu. We know about far.  So why is it important?

We must continue to seek out professional development in order to "regain our educational standing in the world." Linda Darling Hammond wrote an article in the Washington Post from the first ever International Summit on Teaching held in New York and she says that the United States has been "pursuing an approach to teaching  almost diametrically opposed to that pursued by the highest-achieving nations."

Going to a conference or a workshop to learn how to better implement the prescribed "literacy program" mandated by your school is NOT professional development. Let's name it for what it is. That kind of training is further colonization and oppression of the students who we claim to love. We as educators are being disrobed of our intellect, our curiosity, our critical thoughts until we stand naked and raw.

Let us not teach with complacency, but as Paulo Friere says, let us teach with "rage and love, without which there is no hope." (Pedagogy of Hope) Choose professional development that will give you the ammunition you need to never back down when you feel that policies and practices are not in the best interest of your students (past, present and future). Some relevant mana'o from the article for us:

    The first ever International Summit on Teaching, convened last week in New York City...was, perhaps, the first time that the growing de-professionalization of teaching in America was recognized as out of step with the strategies pursued by the world's educational leaders.
    How poignant for Americans to listen to this account while nearly every successful program developed to support teachers' learning in the United States is proposed for termination by the Obama administration or the Congress: Among these ... the National Writing Project and the Striving Readers programs that have supported professional development for the teaching of reading and writing all across the country.
    Jeannine and I hope you can make it to the conference. We will need to discuss our next steps this weekend, as well as probably try to work with Hawaii Writing Project on Oahu. We know we can offer a summer institute and this spring conference. What comes next is just our passion for good teaching, our commitment to improving literacy, and our aloha for the teachers who help na pua o Hawai'i, our greatest asset. 

    Me ka ha'aha'a,

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Tweets from Japan

    Paul Bryant, SI10, shares a link to some translated tweets from Japan. I am putting an excerpt here, but if you want to read more, here's the link

    Writing in the 21st century may have evolved, but the power of writing to showcase our humanity, our hopes, dreams, tragedies and triumphs does not change. We are connected through time as well as geography by the words that are written and passed on.

    Tweets from Japan (English Version)

    Here are tweets from Japan amid of the earth quake crisis (translation by @vida_es_bella, otherwise noted).
    * ディズニーランドでの出来事
    ディ ズニーランドでは、ショップのお菓子なども配給された。ちょっと派手目な女子高生たちが必要以上にたくさんもらってて「何だ?」って一瞬思ったけど、その 後その子たちが、避難所の子供たちにお菓子を配っていたところ見て感動。子供連れは動けない状況だったから、本当にありがたい心配りだった
    * At Tokyo Disneyland
    They distributed sweets that are part of their merchandise.  High school girls with heavy makeup took away more candies than they would possibly eat and that raised my eyebrows.  Later, I saw those girls giving the candies to kids at evacuation areas.  Families with kids had limited mobility and couldn't get to where the candies were distributed.  Go girls!
    snacks at shops were offered @ Tokyo Disneyland. High school girls helped distribution to families with kids.

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Bill Severs NWP Federal Funding

    On March 2, President Obama signed a bill to keep the government running until March 18. The bill cuts about $4 billion in spending from the FY 2011 budget, eliminating a number of education programs, including the National Writing Project, Reading is Fundamental, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Teach for America.

    These cuts, which jeopardize the work of the NWP—the nation's leading effort to improve writing and learning—impact NWP’s federal funding beginning October 1, 2011.

    For the latest information on the budget, and other programs affected, visit Education Week's blog.
    The National Writing Project is not giving up and according to NWP President Sharon Washington, we are able to continue funding until the summer, so our summer institutes will not be affected.

    If you are interested in tangible ways to help, NWP Works! is a ning set up with information, the latest news and ways to get involved and stay involved.