stevemiranda has written 19 posts for Cooperative Catalyst

Khan Academy does not constitute an education revolution, but I’ll tell you what does

Chris Anderson, the visionary leader of the TED conference, recently wrote about “The Year’s 7 Most Powerful Ideas.” He highlights some important stuff, but regrettably misses the mark when he takes on education. Powerful Idea No. 3 comes from Salmon Khan, the founder of the Khan Academy. Anderson writes, “The classroom flip can revolutionize education. … Continue reading

How important is the level of academic rigor in your child’s preschool?

In the news today, a New York City mother is suing her child’s preschool for a refund of the $19,000 tuition check she wrote at the start of the school year. The story goes: The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, notes that “getting a child into the Ivy League starts in nursery school” and … Continue reading

How would classrooms be different if teachers came to class not with a lesson plan, but with a concept?

When I was a classroom teacher in a traditional high school, a student and I were chatting about current events. This led to a conversation about economics. I began explaining how the Federal Reserve controls interest rates, and how the government needs to ensure that there is at least some percentage of unemployed people, because … Continue reading

The hard lessons learned by KIPP, and what we can do next

The New York Times ran a great piece about a week ago called, “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” One section of the story talks about KIPP school founder Dave Levin’s revelation that, despite the school’s high achievement scores, the students were not having the long-term success that he’d hoped for. Here’s an … Continue reading

The gilded classroom

The New York Times ran an interesting story on technology in the classroom this weekend called, “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores.” School districts across the country are spending millions of dollars on Smart Boards, laptops, and networking hardware in hopes that technology will boost academic achievement. One teacher explains of students, “They’re inundated with … Continue reading

Why “who” is more important than “what”

Here’s a peek inside a staff meeting at PSCS, the school where I work. We have only four teachers, three administrators, and an administrative assistant, so the conversations are always very intimate. PSCS founder Andy Smallman led a conversation that was inspired by Parker Palmer’s book A Hidden Wholeness. He started by drawing a map. … Continue reading

What if schools did away with transcripts?

What if schools did away with transcripts? I’m not sure how much useful data we get from transcripts. For example, I received an A in my high school chemistry class, but that’s about the only thing I remember from it. I don’t know anything about chemistry. I got an A because I followed directions. I … Continue reading

Teacher collaboration is important, but not for the reasons we might think

I read a story in Miller-McCune last week on the value of teachers collaborating. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Here’s an excerpt: A large body of research shows that mandatory teacher collaboration, sometimes called “professional learning communities,” gets results. The world’s best school systems foster a culture of sharing what works and what … Continue reading

How I spent my summer vacation

Many years ago, when I was the student newspaper advisor at a big urban high school, I told my students, “I’m introducing a new grading system next semester that’s going to be more involved than what you’re used to.” Basically, I informed them that they should not expect a rubber stamp A on their report … Continue reading

How do revolutions happen?

There are several moments in time that, when I look back, ended up being pivotal for me in making the decision to leave my job as a classroom teacher. Here’s one: I had acquired a dolly to help my video students achieve high-level production value in their movies. A few students on the newspaper staff … Continue reading

The pedagogy of poverty

My friend Rachel sent me a link to an essay by the always feisty Alfie Kohn in which he condemns “the pedagogy of poverty.” That’s when schools serving low-income kids of color focus the curriculum on drill-and-skill, repetition, and maintaining a tightly controlled routine. Kohn advocates a pedagogy centered on “meaning and understanding.” He writes, … Continue reading

Rise of the teacher guild

I just finished watching the education documentary Waiting for Superman for the first time. It does a pretty good job at describing some of the challenges facing our education system, and the filmmakers should be applauded for having the guts to actually offer concrete suggestions for fixing it. The filmmakers highlight the successes of programs … Continue reading

Correlation does not imply causation

I had a conversation today with a friend who recently took a job working for a terrific non-profit organization doing education reform. She’s proud of her work, but acknowledges some inherent limitations. Everyone wants data to prove their program works, but when you’re dealing with human beings, how are you supposed to quantify personal growth? … Continue reading

The higher education bubble

I read an interesting exchange of ideas on education that started with an essay about PayPal founder Peter Thiel. He claims that now that the housing bubble has burst, we have a new bubble: higher education. “A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing … Continue reading

My little experiment, and the remarkable data it produced

I was browsing through my Facebook profile one day and, in my news feed, saw one of my students writing on the “wall” of another student: “Missed you in Miranda’s class today, we got our screenplays back.” The other student responded, “What grade did we get?” [It was a group project.] “We got an A.” … Continue reading

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