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06 December 2014 @ 08:34 am
How smart is it?  
I receive the NCLE Smart Brief weekly via email. It is always fascinating to see the stories and click on the links. Sometimes I wonder, though, just how "smart" these briefs are. For example, a recent issue touted a school district where teachers are going to (eventually) be given 5% of their day for PD via collaboration. That time, BTW, amounts to 21 minutes a day. While I applaud a move toward more time for collaboration, 21 minutes for collaboration and professional development each day will, IMHO, fragment the effect. Think of what could be done, instead, of 90 minutes a week all in one lump? Or 45 minutes every other day or twice a week?

Way back in my middle school days (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), we taught 5 of 7 class periods each day. One period was set aside for planning with our instructional team and one set aside for us (not quite a recess time, but a time for us to kick back and work on our own projects, etc.).

Another issue of Smart Brief notes some schools moving from 45 to 90 minute class periods. Again, this is nothing new. Block scheduling is what I think we called it as some point.

What if, in addition to the links they provide, these professional publications give a little "back matter" to the matter at hand?

What is most disturbing to me, though, are the ads. Now, I recognize that email newsletters cost money. ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE, produces a newsletter. While we do not publish as often as NCLE, our newsletters are free of ads. As an organization, it is important for us to maintain integrity. How can we do that when we accept advertising for products that do not fit within our mission?

Ads for test prep programs, canned programs, and companies who seem to do little except manufacture test after test: these have no place on or in our professional publications. One year, my IRA badge was "sponsored" by Pearson, its name emblazoned across the front go the badge for all to see. I managed to cover it up with buttons and pins, but I should not have to do so. Then, and now, I propose that we ask our professional organizations to eschew such ads. Yes, I know what this means--increased costs somewhere will need to be absorbed. I would rather pay another $5-10 a year to cover those costs, to maintain our independence from companies many of whom are little more than predators when it comes to education.

This blog is ad-free. I paid more for that. I was happy to do so. I do not want to click on my blog one day to find it sponsored by Cialis or Pearson or Renaissance Learning. I wish our professional organizations would do the same.
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