Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Deaths at Virginia Tech University Have Educators Weighing How to Handle Students’ Violent Writing

Across the country, high school and college writing teachers regularly must weigh whether violent student writings are just creative outlets or signs of something darker.

Amanda Van Benschoten writes in her article for the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Schools eye student writing, Teachers address disturbing material” Quotes’ Melissa Fry, a community college professor, this way “You shouldn't assume anything: If you notice something in an essay, you should pull the student aside and take it from there,"

We walk a fine line when reading student writings. I believe it is critical we make the effort “to get into the writers mind”, to clarify intent. There have been a plethora of newspaper articles written about this subject since the killings on the Virginia Tech Campus. Here are a few of those thoughts, from professionals who write for a living.

The Cincinnati Enquirer : “Schools eye student writing Teachers address disturbing material”


San Francisco Chronicle: ”Predicting risk tough, despite warning signs”


The Boston Hearld: “Educators say VT shootings highlight problems dealing with troubled students”


The Baltimore Sun: “Drawing a line between danger and creativity”


Ask yourself:

How closely do we monitor the writings of our students for intent?

Would a watchful eye and deeper concern better serve the writer, and other students as well?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Help Students Find the Passion

Career-Oriented Education can help Keep Kids Motivated

School officials in some Baltimore High Schools are overwhelmed by demand for career-track programs in fields such as sports medicine and pre-engineering. Their hope is that career-oriented education can help keep potential dropouts in school by motivating students who might otherwise see little link between class work and the real world.
Article, Baltimore Sun 4.4.07

Career and technical education is more salient than ever, and integrating academics with a career-focused curriculum helps students understand the purpose behind their learning. Our goal should be to provide students with a broad vision so that they can find their passion and wrap a career around it.

Telling students, “You can do anything” seems like a positive, encouraging statement, but without a clear vision of what they would like to do, students can easily get drawn into an unfulfilling, uninspiring career

As teachers, we can act as “lamplighters” to help students identify and maximize their strengths, understand their weaknesses, and channel their interests toward promising career pathways. For example, a middle school in Michigan instituted an after-school program in which 8th grade students toured local businesses in vans provided by a local car dealer. They identified the skills needed for certain jobs and measured them against their own abilities and enthusiasm for the work. In this way, students were able to begin formulating ideas about the types of jobs for which they would be well suited, as well as what types of jobs would be exciting to them. As we strive to point out the correlation between current achievement and future earning power, it is important to acknowledge that college is not the only (or even the most important) goal of primary and secondary education.

Ask Yourself:

•Would our students be more likely to discover promising careers if we helped them define their strengths and find their passions?

•How can we broaden student awareness of new career opportunities?