I believe students should experience success and failure not as reward and punishment but as information.
joebower has written 30 posts for Cooperative Catalyst

Gaming in the classroom: Rock Band

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the use of video games in the classroom. Because the kids love the opportunity to actually use class time to play games, engagement on their behalf is easily attainable. I see this as potentially one of the greatest arguments for gaming in the classroom. However, it’s important … Continue reading

Faulty Reform

I often think about how education ‘reformers’ continue to push their tougher standards, raise achievement mantra. Of course, when they say tougher standards, they mean standards that not all children can achieve, and when they say raise achievement they mean higher test scores. I’m disheartened daily by these ‘reformers’ obsessive need to reduce something as … Continue reading

It’s time we hold tests and grades accountable

On my blog for the love of learning, I recently wrote a post called assessment simplified and it received the following comment: I think we have to be really careful to assess based on criteria and not just what looks “cool” in the classroom. If as teachers we are not willing to teach and assess curriculum, then … Continue reading

Come Join Abolish Grading Movement

I want to develop a page on my blog dedicated to exhibiting teachers who have abolished, are abolishing or want to abolish grading from their classroom. Below is my story with abolishing grading and my contact information for others to get in touch with me. If you are interested in being a part of a … Continue reading

An indictment of whom?

I once saw this cartoon on the cover page of a multiple choice exam that was littered with questions that could have been aced by Google. Unless the authors of the test simply did not understand Bill Watterson’s message, or Calvin’s for that matter, I’m not sure why this cartoon would be placed on the … Continue reading

Grades: Education’s Snake-Oil Currency

The idea of abolishing grading from school tends to invoke a kind of fear in teachers and parents. One of the most common fears includes this: If I don’t give a grade, why would students learn or do anything I ask them? To this fear, I have tended to quote Alfie Kohn from his article … Continue reading


The word attitude gets thrown around a lot. Parents and teachers alike use this word on kids all the time. A teacher might include attitude as a component for their report card or a parent might inform their son or daughter to lose the attitude. But if we were to ask each other to define … Continue reading

Got Tenure?

Tenure is a tricky thing. On one hand we might ask how the hell can anything get done if everyone is so secure in their job that they have no real reason to to be innovative, progressive and motivated. On the other hand we might ask how the hell can anything get done if everyone is … Continue reading

For the love of learning

I am not the same teacher I used to be. When I started, I was very focused on power and control. I assigned loads of homework, dished out huge penalties for late assignments, assigned punishments for rule breaking behavior and averaged my marks to get a final grade. I did some of these things because … Continue reading

Stop waiting to be told what to do

“How can teachers have a bigger influence on education reformation?” I will admit that my response below first appeared on my own blog over a month ago, but it is exactly what I wanted to say in response to the question above. Want a bigger influence on education reform? Then stop waiting to be told … Continue reading

The North American House Hippo

It’s fairly common for teachers to teach students to be critical assessors of Internet resources. After all, most of us recognize how ridiculously easy it is to create a very professional -yet fake- looking website. The North American House Hippo documentary should be proof enough how authentic something entirely fabricated can be portrayed. But how often … Continue reading

Externally Imposed

What are you doing, specifically, in your educational community, to create new support structures for students within and beyond your workplace? In every crisis lays great opportunity… In Alberta, Canada, we have not escaped the economic crisis – but we are taking advantage of the opportunity in a far better manner than the United States. … Continue reading

Festering Wounds

Too often people have beautiful intentions but awful execution. Public education, unfortunately, is not exempt from this sad reality. The culture of public education is ill, and Kirsten Olsen’s book Wounded by School only confirms this for us with her collection of heart stabbing stories that live with children through out their adulthood. We’ve all … Continue reading

School bells are undemocratic

While teaching my grade 8 students, I wanted to discuss the idea of distractions, so I read them an excerpt from Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson that discusses how interruption is the enemy of productivity:  Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments. Forty-Five minutes and then you have a … Continue reading

Undemocratic classrooms of a Democratic Society

Democracy truly is something all Americans (and yes, even us Canadians) should truly cherish. We should cherish it so much that we should do whatever it takes to ensure that our children be guaranteed the same rights and freedoms that we have come to appreciate. So how do we do that? Public Education. Public education may … Continue reading

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