Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Next Step in School Reform: Sharing the information

Here is a new approach (for people interested in school reform) == let's go "on the road" with our message.

Blogging and talking on youtube is one way to reach out into the marketplace of public opinion... another way is to go to churches and other religious organizations...

Here are two brochures and a cover letter that I'm sending out... let's go around Parent Teacher Organizations and get to parents through other organizations...


I’m a taxpayer and I want to see better results from our schools. The central force behind school reform and improvement is PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. When parents push for improvements, then real reform takes place. When parents get the information that they need and learn about the key features to ask for in an “improved school,” then the improvements take place.

I’ve visited nearly a dozen “Big Picture Schools,” where improvements have been made. I would welcome an opportunity to share what I learned in my travels.

Here are two possible approaches (some paragraphs for an announcement in your newsletter?). I’m happy to present the information at no charge to parents.

Steve McCrea
Founder, VisualandActive.com
Teacher trainer and advocate for school reform.
954 646 8246

Enclosed are a CD and two DVDs that describe the innovations that I witnessed.

23 November 2009

One of the people in your congregation suggested that I contact you. Please let me know when and where I might present this valuable information.

I’m not selling anything. I’m an advocate for school reform. I’ve seen remarkable schools inspired by Dennis Littky and funded in part by Bill Gates == and our community can benefit from hearing about these innovations in education.

======== Brochure #1 ___________

Offer: 201 books on one CD.
The miracle of the Internet can deliver 201 books to your family… and all you need to do to get this free CD is come to a meeting and learn about:

à How to get FREE lessons on the Internet to prepare for the PSAT and SAT tests

à How to get FREE lessons on the Internet to learn other languages

à How to meet interesting people from other countries (and earn COMMUNITY SERVICE HOURS) (which are required to graduate from high school).

Are you interested? Come to the meeting at :
If you can’t make the meeting, you can still get the free ebooks by contacting Steve McCrea, the presenter at 954 646 8246 or by sending an email to VisualAndActive@gmail.com

Thank you for your attention.
Steve McCrea, ESOL teacher visualandactive@gmail.com TeachersToTeachers.com and the English Visitors Network 954.646.9246

======== Brochure #2 ___________

Dear Parent
You might not have heard of some interesting discoveries about the brain and how these discoveries can make learning easier for your children.

You might not have heard of free web sites that can prepare your children for the SAT or PSAT tests. Perhaps you have heard about the efforts to improve schools (by Bill Gates and others), but you don’t know much about these initiatives.

I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from visiting three schools in Los Angeles, two schools in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and a multiple intelligences school in St. Louis. Come to an interesting 30-minute presentation, with time for your questions. Learn about narratives, exhibitions and the importance of Individual Learning Plans. If you can’t make the meeting, visit VisualAndActive.com and learn about a fun way for your children to complete their “Community Service Requirement” while meeting some interesting people from other countries.


Steve McCrea, ESOL teacher visualandactive@gmail.com TeachersToTeachers.com and the English Visitors Network 954.646.9246


Let me know if you know of a better way to get the word out... What is the next step in school reform?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Did you hear about the teacher who teaches history BACKWARDS?

The following was spotted on an Internet search on "Backward History"

It's a great idea.


Michael Baker teaches at University of Nebraska

Baker sounds dejected. “I really enjoyed engaging high school students in critical dialogue,” he says. “I found that very satisfying. A lot of kids are in classrooms where they are lectured to. I’d much rather engage in critical thought and problem-solving, and I’ve always had classrooms where we show respect for each other.”

He expects to continue teaching at Southeast Community College and at the University of Nebraska, where he gives a course on the history of American public education.

May 12, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SDRAWKCAB YROTSIH GNIHCAET....Via MoJoBlog, The Progressive has a story this week about Michael Baker, a high school teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska, who was let go after showing the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER" to his geography class. Stupid. But that's not what caught my eye. Extremely longtime readers may recall that I once suggested that history could be made more interesting to high school students if it were taught backwards (see here), and it turns out Baker was doing exactly that. His school district didn't think much of that experiment either:

Baker has clashed with administrators before. In 2005, they objected to his innovative approach to teaching history, which was to start at the present and work backwards, an approach he'd been using for four years.

But then, the school district forbade him from teaching that way any longer. The school's consultant said it was "not logical, does not contribute to effective teaching or monitoring of progress, and puts students at a disadvantage" with newly instituted statewide tests, according to a paper on the subject by Professor Nancy Patterson of Bowling Green. Baker appealed but lost, and was eventually "prohibited from teaching U.S. history," Patterson writes.

Hmmph. It still seems like a decent idea to me, though: current events are intrinsically interesting, and learning about them make you genuinely curious about why the world ended up the way it did. If the lessons are structured with curiosity about causes in mind, this will make you interested in the Cold War, which in turn makes you interested in World War II, which in turn makes you interested in the Great Depression, etc. It's a solution to the most obvious problem of teaching history: without any context, why should a 16-year-old care about dusty topics like the Missouri Compromise or the rise of the labor movement?

Oh well. I suppose the amazing thing is that they let him teach this way for four years before they shut him down. He was probably a communist, after all.

—Kevin Drum

Bravo, Kevin Drum and Bravo to the Progressive and Wshington Monthly for covering Mr. Baker's saga.

I agree with K. Drum. The students are lucky that the district took so long to "drum out" this fine teacher.

Michael Baker should be nominated for a "Giraffe" award -- for sticking his neck out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A movie for educators? "We are the people we've been waiting for"

A teacher's blog () mentioned the following youtube video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRi8_fXz1D8 (which had the following note):

Trailer for Lord Puttnam's new film about education. Originally uploaded for a blog post at jamescross.org.uk, please note that I'm in no way connected with the film - all I've done is cut it out of a YouTube video that already existed for a blog post.

We Are The People We've Been Waiting For is a full-length feature film on education which was inspired and guided by Oscar-winning producer Lord Puttnam. The film is supported by various sponsors including independent education foundation, Edge. The film follows the experiences of five Swindon-based teenagers. What unfolds during the course of the film is a very inconvenient truth about education. It concludes that, while there are signs of spring, a transformation of the education system is vital if the UK is to continue to compete effectively in an era of globalization the world has changed enormously but our education system has not kept pace. We need to recognise that there are many paths to success for young people and provide the right support and opportunities for them to develop their individual talents.

The key: the title of the youtube video: "We are the people that we've been waiting for."