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"Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day..." - 8 new articles

  1. Might “School Reformers” Go “A Bridge Too Far”?
  2. Useful Interactive From The U.S. Census
  3. Great Simple Tech Videos From Google
  4. More Holiday Resources
  5. Edublog Awards Announced This Week
  6. Mapfaire Is A New Easy Map-making Site
  7. “The Super Book Of Web Tools For Educators”
  8. The Best Articles I’ve Written In 2010
  9. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...
  10. Prior Mailing Archive

Might “School Reformers” Go “A Bridge Too Far”?

You might be familiar with the movie “A Bridge Too Far.” It’s a fictionalized account of a real military campaign by the Allies in World War II to end the war in 1944. They hoped to attack deeply into Germany by quickly capturing several bridges that would allow them to pour troops in. They were initially successfully in capturing some of them, but then ended up having to retreat. It’s since become an idiom for overreaching.

I’m beginning to wonder — tentatively — if (please note all those cautions) “school reformers” might be approaching their own “bridge too far.”

Today, the Sacramento Bee, a rabid supporter of “school reform,” criticized Michelle Rhee. It’s the first time anything negative about anything related to this kind of school reform has appeared in its pages.

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times offered a critique of how the parent trigger is being used, and it appears the first use of the law may fail.

Michelle Rhee has suffered a little bit of a backlash after writing her incredibly narcissistic Newsweek piece (which Robert Pondiscio calculated included 100 “me” “my” and “I’s”) after being forced to leave Washington, D.C.

Mayor Bloomberg has experienced a huge backlash as a result of his decision to place a magazine publisher with no education experience in charge of New York public schools.

Granted, these are not dramatic reversals — the newspaper criticism, though unusual, did not condemn the policies, and Bloomberg did eventually get his choice confirmed. Rhee is still going full steam ahead in her effort to raise one billion dollars to support her agenda.

But it has got me wondering…

During my nineteen-year community organizing career, we always kept a saying in mind — “your opponent always does your best organizing for you.” (unfortunately, though I’m always hopeful of working in partnership with anyone who wants to improve schools, the rhetoric of many reformers says that if I don’t agree with them than that means I’m not for children and am for the status quo. Because of that, I feel like I’m obligated to consider them “opponents” — for now, at least.)

That organizing truism never failed.

I’m hopeful that the streak won’t end.

Do you think I’m being overly optimistic?


Useful Interactive From The U.S. Census

The United States Census has unveiled a very useful interactive sharing a bunch of demographic data from the past one hundred years.

English Language Learners would probably require a little initial guidance in figuring it out, but it would be worth the effort.

I’m adding the link to The Best Reference Websites For English Language Learners and to The Best Resources To Learn About The U.S. Census.



Great Simple Tech Videos From Google

Google has just published a tongue-in-check “Teach Parents Tech” website that lets you send your parents basic computer support advice.

It really does have a nice collection of great videos showing you how to do all the simple stuff you need to do on a computer, but are afraid to ask.

I’m adding this post to My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People).


More Holiday Resources

Here are the newest additions to The Best Places To Learn About Christmas, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa:

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas is a series of photos from The Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

Teaching the Holiday Season are lesson plans from The New York Times Learning Network.

Christmas Activities for Young English Learners is a collection from the British Council (thanks to CASLS for the tip).


Edublog Awards Announced This Week

Voting for the Edublog Awards (vote here)  will end on Tuesday the 14th of December (11:59 PM EST USA)! – Click here to check the time voting finishes in your local time!

Winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony on Wednesday the 15th of December at 7pm EST USA – Click here to check your local time!

Learn more about the awards show here.

Thanks to many who nominated me in five categories:

Best Individual Edublog

Best Resource Sharing Blog

Best Individual Tweeter

Best Educational Tech Support Edublog

Lifetime Achievement

I’d also encourage you to consider voting  for the people I nominated:

Best individual blog: Bill Ferriter’s “The Tempered Radical”

Best individual tweeter: Shelly Terrell

Best group blog: TLN Teacher Voices

Best new blog: InterACT from Accomplished California Teachers

Best resource sharing blog: David Kapuler’s Technology Tidbits

Best teacher blog: David Deubelbeiss

Best school administrator blog: Connected Principals

Best educational tech support blog: The Edublogger

Best educational use of audio: Sean Banville’s Breaking News English

Best educational use of video / visual: Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Videos

Best educational use of a social network: EFL Classroom 2.0

Lifetime achievement: Sue Waters

No matter who you vote for, though, please take the time to explore the nominations in all categories.  It’s a great way to learn about new great blogs and other resources that are out there!


Mapfaire Is A New Easy Map-making Site

You can easily make a map with multiple markers and descriptions at Mapfaire. No registration is required. You can’t add images right now, but apparently that feature is in their future plans.

I’m adding it to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

(Please note that Daniel Callahan reminds me that you have to be signed-into Google in order to use the service. That had gotten by me originally)


“The Super Book Of Web Tools For Educators”

“The Super Book Of Web Tools For Educators” is a seventy page free eBook co-written by many popular education bloggers and organized by Richard Byrne.  It’s embedded below.

I was honored to ask to write the section on tools for English Language Learners.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn Web 2.0 Basics.

There’s a lot of great stuff in it!

Super Book of Web Tools for Educators


The Best Articles I’ve Written In 2010

I’ve written a number of articles and guest posts in periodicals and other blogs over the past year, and thought readers might find a year-end “round-up” useful.

You can also see all the articles I’ve written over the past few years here.

Here are the ones I think are the best from 2010:

  • Giving Classrooms A Purpose
  • Getting English-Language Learners to Thrive
  • English Language Learners And The Power Of Personal Stories (The New York Times)
  • Home Visits And Hope For The Future
  • What Are Your New School-Year Resolutions?
  • The best kind of teacher evaluation (The Washington Post)
  • How To Give Classrooms A Mission (The Washington Post)
  • Why Paying Parents To Attend School Events Is Wrong (Washington Post)
  • Private Foundations Have a Place (& Have To Be Kept In Their Place)
  • Teacher Eyes On The Wrong Prize?
  • School Librarians And English Language Learners
  • Let’s Do Less ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’
  • The importance of being unprincipled
  • Being ‘Transactional’ Versus Being ‘Transformational’ in Schools
  • Looking Beyond The Simple School Fix
  • What Do School Reform Technocrats and Failed Urban Renewal Schemes Have in Common?
  • If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

    You might also want to explore the over 500 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.



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