Sunday, January 29, 2017

This Teacher Believes


As teachers, we're advocates for ALL our students, not just those that happen to fit into the president's narrow-minded worldview. It's clear from last night's events that the ACLU is going to be absolutely critical in protecting our students and ourselves for the next few years. Stand up for your students and support the ACLU with my latest T-shirt, inspired by my protest sign for the Women's March.



Get your shirt here-- $20 and all proceeds go directly the American Civil Liberties Union. Keep fighting the good fight, teacher friends! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Why School Choice Won't Help Our Students

The basic premise sounds reasonable-- kids going to a "failing" school can choose to go to another school. Why should some students have to go to a worse school, especially when those attending these schools are disproportionately students of color and low-income? Here's why school choice won't fix failing schools or help our students:

1. School choice reshuffles students without addressing underlying problems. Do you think ALL students deserve a quality education? If so, what happens to the students left behind in these failing schools, which now have even less funding, possibly not even enough for proper upkeep? Well, capitalist logic follows that the school will either improve or close. A school that was already declared failing that now has even LESS funding is not going to improve. So, it closes. Now, all the students still there are now denied the choice of going to their neighborhood school-- not exactly school choice now, is it? So all these students are assigned to other schools, without any of the problems facing the original school or students being addressed. 

2. School choice does not protect students with disabilities. In 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed. This law gave students with disabilities the right to attend public school AND required schools to provide them with the needed services. Betsy DeVos doesn't believe schools should be required to provide special education services-- or at least thinks it should be up to the states to decide! Students with IEPs will be left to attend the schools that voluntarily provide services-- likely isolating them from their general education peers and possibly not receiving services at all as parents contemplate signing away their rights to get them into a "better" school.

3. School choice leads to even greater de facto segregation. Think it's a coincidence that upper class white people like school choice? It's not. Presumably, vouchers will be given for how much money the public school system is currently paying to educate the child (to give you an idea, about $5,000 per kid in Chicago). If parents want to send their kid to private school, they can use that $5,000 voucher, but they'll still have to pay the difference. Guess who can afford the difference? Not the kids at my school, I'll tell you that-- I work at a 100% low-income school. But what about more economically diverse schools? History tells us that given the option, white parents will pull their students out of an integrated school and put them practically anywhere else. And while of course there are plenty of low-income white people and upper-income people of color, sadly socio-economic lines can still be drawn by race in many areas. 

But what would a person who's never attended or sent her children to public school know about any of this? Someone who's never taught students with disabilities, or wait-- any students at all! 

Our students deserve better. Tell your senator to vote NO for Betsy DeVos here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Laminate File Folder Tasks With a 9.5 Inch Laminator



I love file folder tasks-- they're compact, easy-to-store, engaging, and infinitely reusable. But if your school doesn't have a laminator and your personal laminator is only 9.5 inches, you might think there's no way for you to prep your file folder tasks. Well teacher-friends, there is a way, and I am here to show it to you.
This post contains affiliate links.

Step 1: Cut your file folder on the crease.


Step 2: Trim the pieces down to size. It depends on the exact size of your file folder (I often use the fun ones from the Target Dollar Spot), but I typically slice about an inch off in length, and half an inch in width (on each piece). You just need to make sure each half of your file folder will fit in a 9.5 x 11 in laminating pouch


Step 3: Glue down the activity and laminate each half separately.


Step 4: Trim each half, leaving a small border around the edges to prevent peeling.


Step 5: Arrange your pieces on a flat surface as if the file folder was open. Use clear packing tape to attach the two pieces where the crease used to be. Run the tape vertically up the inside, then flip the folder over and run the same piece of tape vertically on the other side. It's tempting to get the edges as close as possible before taping-- you actually don't want to do this. You want to leave a millimeter or two of distance so your folder is able to close easily.


Step 6: Apply velcro to the folder and pieces as you usually would!

Of course, it's not going to be as quick as laminating the whole folder at once. But if you're not ready to invest in a larger laminator, this is a good trick to have up your sleeve! 

If you're looking for phonics file folder tasks, check out my collection here
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