Soulful Learning in a Wired World

Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, Bellingham, Washington, September 2012 Sermon.

Do you know, has Lee told you, that Aloha means that I breathe in God from your breath and you breath in God from mine? In that spirit let me say: Aloha!

You are the people who are with my husband while I am an ocean away working on my education projects. So when Lee invited me to share with you my passion, the education urgency that I feel for the welfare of our children, our country, and our world, I jumped at the chance.

I do what I do because I think it is the best use of myself to further the values you and I hold in common, our 7 principles. And Lee does what he does here with you for the same reason.

The most likely people to understand, agree, expand and create needed education changes that lift our young people and protect human dignity and value, I believe, are Unitarian Universalists, and nowhere better than here at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship.

It is in our genes. It is in our beliefs. It is in the highest moments of our history as a movement, like when with these words Emerson addressed the 1838 Harvard Divinity School seniors, about to become Unitarian ministers:

But when the mind opens and reveals the laws which traverse the universe,
and make things what they are, then shrinks the great world at once into a mere illustration and fable of this mind.

What am I? and What is?
asks the human spirit with a curiosity new-kindled, but never to be quenched.

Emerson says that once we truly open ourselves to learn principles, laws and science, which guide the universe, we then wonder, “What am I” and “What Is?” and then our learning is ignited without end.

Yes! My forty years in education affirm his view. I see that ontological and existential questions of being are a vital part in the virtuous cycle of mindful engagement and learning.

But, because I write in 2013 instead of 1838, and because I am looking at learning for the broad spectrum of learners, rather the highly educated group Emerson addressed, I see this virtuous cycle turned around. Emerson sees that if we learn widely and deeply, we ask questions about our own being.

I think that if our learning addresses our being, if I, the learner see the relation between my self and the knowledge or skills I seek to learn, my learning accelerates and deepens and I have a higher likelihood of mastery. If I engage this way, the laws of the universe are then penetrable to me and I am urged forward in learning.

When the student is asked to memorize the state capitols, some will do it quickly to prove they can and because it elevates their sense of self to prove it. If a student sees no relation to their self and sees no hope of acknowledgment of them personally, they will likely not be successful.

Personalizing learning makes it more effective and bonding teacher with the learner accelerates the learning.

We now have the ability through technology, connectivity, cognitive science, learning media, and reorganizing resources accordingly, to give each child a customized learning path and personal attention.

Can you imagine when you took your first step?

The first feel of a square of jello or a piece of ice?

Riding your bicycle and staying up?

Mastering the reed in your clarinet?

Making a perfect pudding?

Learning was a delight. 

We learn what interests us …
Thank you, Socrates and Plato, for engaging us, with inquiry, in learning.

We learn when we are respected …
Thank you, Jesus, for proving our worthiness to learn by sharing your parables and proverbs with all.

We learn where we find peace and focus …
Thank you, Buddha, for teaching us mindfulness and to resolve suffering with happiness

We learn by doing …
Thank you, John Dewey, for bridging learning from academic to authentic

We learn when we have dedicated, bright, professional, inspired teachers …
Thank you, teachers, for giving generously of your concern and talent regardless of pay or conditions

We learn when we are in nature and see ourselves in nature …
Thank you, Thoreau, Darwin, Richard Louv—writer of the Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle—and all the environmental educators working to teach us to save the planet and ourselves.

We learn in environments that promote learning …
Thank you, to those local communities who have found a way to build and sustain modern, comfortable, connected schools. Let’s fix the rest of them!

We learn when we have the current tools …
Thank you, IBM, Apple, Google, and even Twitter for inventing these.
Let’s get them to all students!

We learn when we are connected …
Thank you, President Obama, for pushing for “ConnectEd” the new E-Rate program to get high band-with Internet connectivity to schools.
Thanks to the FCC who voted for it in July, but seeks comments. Communities will need to support this initiative which addresses the problem of the average school having about the same connectivity as the average American home, but serving 200 times as many users.
Let’s turn on the juice!

We learn when we have effective standards and tests …
Thank you educators, governors, and state chief school officers for 10 years of struggling to develop and agree on Common Core Standards. For the first time, our standards now may have the depth and rigor to raise performance instead of driving it down. And using national common core standards may direct otherwise wasted funds into more advanced assessment and instruction to benefit students.
Let’s support the implementation of the Common Core!

In spite of the old philosophers’ deep thinking about learning, today’s connectivity and technology, and common core standards now being implemented for the first time, which offer affordable forward movement, despite all that, enormous gaps in education persist in our own country and around the world.

And we have no assurance that those making the decisions will do so from values that support each learner.

Public attention has been riveted by media’s report of the U.S. plummeting math and science scores relative to developed and even some developing countries. After ignoring education for decades, the public is riled up by scores that evoke a world cup competition in which we are losing.

But where is the interest in serving the needs of students and our global common interests with advances in education not measured by those math, science and literacy tests?

And who will stand up for providing the support to each student so that they can develop their own individual gifts, enjoy harmonious lives, and become innovators for tomorrow?

Will we ignite and satisfy curiosity in our students?
Or will we dampen interest with our one-size-fits-all curricula, graded to reward those most gifted?
Will our tests and our instructional design support our students’ learning?
Or will we continue with the classroom model developed in 1780, of large classes lead by one teacher, grouped by age?
Will we educate our populace to achieve rewards in their own and shared accomplishment?
Or will we persist in a competitive model that undermines collaboration?
Will we humanize our education model to advance against the twin evils of ignorance and greed?
Or will we continue the education model that matches our economic model of inequity?

What got us to our current slump in education?

For twenty years education in the US has backslid
We thought we were leading the world
That our scientists would invent more
Our businesses would thrive more
Our schools would educate young people better
The world would continue to come to America to get educated.

We let ourselves get into squabbles about state standards
We underpaid our teachers
We failed to honor teachers and students
We did not bring talent into our schools as our top priority
We were stuck in old learning models

As technology entered the workplace--and the play place-
We did not keep up with it in our schools.
Many of our teachers were afraid of technology
And we slowed teacher progress by miring technology in bureaucracy
Kids who had computers at home
Had to work at old desks at school with pencils
Kids who had no computers at home
Were sent to computer labs to drill, drill, drill

Lessons bored students
Violence and discipline sapped resources
Gone were the arts and sports
Gone were music and drama
After sputnik’s science surge,
Gone were budgets for science.

Harvard’s Project Zero found US schools erode genius:

Of 4 year olds 98% rank genius in divergent thinking – being able to combine things in new ways

9 year olds are down to 32%

14 year olds drop to 10%

and by 25 years only 2 % are divergent thinking geniuses–

The kind we need in today’s economy.
No wonder US patents are now issued to more non-US than US inventors!

Math and reading, reading and math
Skill and drill and drill and kill
We took the students’ time
We removed the joy from learning.

With the US 20th of 28 developed countries in HS graduation rate
Dropout rates reaching 50% for urban blacks
Yielding a 54% jobless rate for all young high school dropouts
Who are 63 times more likely to be incarcerated than college grads
$82 billion in lost lifetime earnings
$37 billion in decreased tax revenue
$12 billion in losses due to poor health
$8 billion in losses due to increased crime rates…
The ROI (return on investment) to give every child an effective education is estimated at 250%

Lee and I built an inquiry science program – Galaxy Classroom–and delivered it to the lowest performing schools in Miami. The results of our project were stellar and the students and teachers loved it.

But the budget was cut, so the program and others like it, were cut.
We run pilots and contests to encourage innovation,
Then we de-fund innovation that works, along with the rest.

Imagine the gap between what is and what our kids could have done,
if they had great schools.
If we actually put our future first,
Put our best efforts into guiding the minds that will guide our destiny,
Put our children first,
Investing in learning and innovation first.
Imagine teacher time spent on the student.
Not the paperwork.

Imagine assessment, from the French “to sit beside”,
As a serious, personal and learning interchange.
Sitting with the learner to see what they know,
Breathing the same air, dignifying the student work,
Learning how they learn, knowing what they want to know, and caring about what they care about.

We know how to ask questions to discover not just what a learner knows,
But what critical knowledge the learner missed 2 years back.
Fill the hole and enable the student trajectory to rise!

We can ask questions via computers in many different ways,
In a video game, or in an audio interview, or in an essay, or multiple-choice question—discerning how our learner learns.

We can examine the student’s work to infer the student’s knowledge and perspective as well as writing and other skills.

In fact my team and I built online courses with teachers, partnered with the Ohio Learning Alliance,
Delivered by teachers who spend no time lecturing,
The best lecture, recorded for anytime viewing
No time collecting, little time correcting papers
Little time on discipline
Much time coaching group projects
Much time one to one—with students
Asking and talking
About what the student is learning
About what the student knows.
About the student’s interests.

With computers grading essays,
Media providing outstanding teaching of a physics principle,
Our teacher’s precious time is spent on personal conversation with the student.
Each student can feel respected, have access to personal feedback, and imagine themselves participating in the future.

The student in this “blended learning” project said
“I never had a teacher talk to me about how I think before”

If the lesson is authentic,
If it represents learning of value to the student,
If the link to the student’s context is made explicit,

Then the student can come to care about the lesson,
And the student will realize we care about her.
We can build personal relationship into learning.

A national trial attorney, Carole Bos, uses the same techniques she uses to research cases,
And the methods she uses for presenting cases to juries,
To create the Awesome Stories website that bridges stories to learning.
I’ve been working for the past year to support and extend this breakthrough in online learning.
Teachers and students explore the “story behind the story”, whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, Awesome Stories provides non-fiction original written context and a plethora of primary sources.
Students are interested, compelled by the story, to cut their own path through the wealth of provided, vetted, reliable, related content.
Students delve deeply, think critically, collaborate, and respond to essential questions and common core tasks, meeting 21st-century research standards.

Our support of the student in the lesson,
Collaborating in their exploration,
Observing his growth and
Communicating how we see his growth,
This will convey our care and respect and love
Engendering the student’s sense of self and love of learning.

In this time of classroom depersonalization,
With bullying amplified by social media, results each in
16% of teen students report seriously considering suicide
13% report creating a plan
8% report trying to take their own life
157,000 youth from 10 to 24 are treated in ERs for self-inflicted injuries.

91 schools in 13 states have daily meditation practice, reporting
25% fewer absences
30% fewer suspension days
50% fewer rule infractions
But most schools have not made time or budget for meditation.

Studies on Yoga now practiced in elementary, middle and high schools point toL

  • fewer fights and arguments among students;
  • better student decision-making;
  • increased self-awareness and self-esteem;
  • improved concentration and retention; and
  • more efficient use of class time—

Yet yoga is banned from many districts out of concern for religious freedom.
And meditation and yoga champions are not a match for test score alarms.

Industry seeks innovative thinkers for new careers,
Careers we do not even recognize today.
In these times of stress, digital cacophony, and familial complexity,
Students need more than a basic skills and knowledge curriculum to reach even yesterday’s goals.

In order to wrap their minds around the growing universe of knowledge and to prepare themselves for roles in the economy and social system of tomorrow, our students need more soulful support.

Even if we cannot use the word “soul” in schools,
We need to see that each child’s essential self, each child’s soul is respected.
Standardized test scores should not be allowed to define students—regardless of percentile.

That approach is backward for the child, and it is backward for our society.

Learning is autobiographical.
We learn to the degree we see a relation between the lessons and ourselves.
Sometimes we struggle to see that relation.
For some of us the relation to almost all learning is quite clear.
But I have seen students who cannot read a simple primer,
but quickly grasp the meaning of a car repair manual.
That car repair manual is Greek to me.

Learning is autobiographical.
And if we learn much across a wide spectrum with an open mind,
if we learn deeply with attention and rigor,

if we learn from our daily life as well as school with alertness to natural as well as academic lessons, if we integrate our learning from multiple sources, then this learning is integrated into our being. Then as we learn, more and more is in our frame of reference.
More knowledge is accessible to us.
We can master more skills.

Socrates believed in the reincarnation of an eternal soul, which contained all knowledge.
That we lose touch with that knowledge at every birth,
and so we need to be reminded of what we already know (rather than learning something new).
Approaching each learner with loving respect,
Using technology, media, and assessment in new ways,
Supporting each student to respect her own consciousness,
Learning can be delightful like our first time.
And each learner may access knowledge from her deepest self.

Plato said that he did not teach, but rather served,
like his mother, as a midwife to truth that is already in us!
Making use of questions and answers to remind his students of knowledge is called dialectics, or the Socratic method.

Luckily, with learning management systems, flipped classrooms, blended learning, adaptive assessment and great teachers—if we use them with radical respect for the learner—we can provide a level of Socratic method that Plato and Socrates could never have imagined.

Emerson’s last words in the Harvard Divinity School Address were:

I look for the hour when that supreme Beauty,
which ravished the souls of those eastern men, and chiefly of those Hebrews,
and through their lips spoke oracles to all time, shall speak in the West also.
The Hebrew and Greek Scriptures contain immortal sentences, that have been bread of life to millions. But they have no epical integrity; are fragmentary; are not shown in their order to the intellect.
I look for the new Teacher, that shall follow so far those shining laws, that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding complete grace; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of heart; and shall show that the Ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy.

We can:
Provide a safe and encouraging environment for learning.
Know what our learners know.
Learn how our learners learn.
Care as our learners care.
We can fix education.
We can teach every human on the planet what they want to learn, in the way they learn best,
Approaching each learner with loving respect
Using technology, media, and assessment in new ways
Learning can be delightful– like our first time.

May we unite, invigorated with our freshest thinking, most strategic views, steadfast commitment, innovative re-casting, and soulful connection, to change the world through personalized learning for all.

Closing Words:

Visionary Unitarian Buckminster Fuller saw our current conundrum then:
Only the profound inertia of ignorance… now withholds the practical realization of successful physical survival of all of humanity, all at higher standards of living than have as yet been conceived by any man.

It is indeed a comprehensive educational problem.

Buddha taught that the twin sources of suffering are ignorance and greed and we are struggling against them now.

For as Channing said “There is but one essential good, and that is the health, power, purity of our own soul.”

And so let us bend our efforts to protect our souls and all souls from ignorance and greed, with education as our best means to do so.
Let us bring a message of radical respect for each child to the children of the world.
Let us put that reverence for individuals in our learning system…
To reinforce that most important component of learning—the unique value of each individual.
Seeking knowledge and inspiration to overcome ignorance, understanding the impact of overuse of our planet, abuse of humans and animals,
Let us overcome greed,
and savor the pleasure of connecting with those unlike us
enjoy mindfulness and peace
and unite in tolerance and love.



How Are We Doing in Meeting the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights Education Promises?

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Speak Up Survey 2012- via EdTech Focus on K12 #MarlaClark

Each year, the education nonprofit Project Tomorrow spearheads Speak Up, a national online research project that collects and reports the views of K–12 students, educators and parents on a variety of education and technology issues.

More than 3 million stakeholders have participated in the survey since its inception in 2003, the results of which are shared with federal, state and local policymakers to inform education programs, policies and funding.

Speak Up 2012 data has been available to participating schools and districts since February this year, but the national release of findings is still a few weeks away. On April 19, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans will present to Congress the insights of the 39,713 parents and 62,357 teachers, librarians and administrators who completed the 2012 survey. In early June, Project Tomorrow will present data from the survey’s 364,240 student participants.

Educators and IT leaders who attended the Consortium for School Networking’s annual conference in San Diego this week got a sneak peek at the responses of 500 technology leaders who participated in a special Speak Up survey on the issues of primary importance to them. Here are some highlights.

Challenges Extend Beyond the Budget

Asked which issues are most challenging to them or to their district or school relating to the use of technology within instruction, IT leaders’ most popular response was providing professional development, with 46 percent of respondents citing it as a challenge. The availability of technology for student use at school was also a popular choice, at 45 percent.

Other widely cited challenges include:

  • Providing technology support to teachers: 43%
  • Incorporating student-owned devices into the network: 39 percent
  • Evaluating emerging technologies for instructional use: 37 percent
  • Digital equity issues (student access to technology and the Internet at home): 35 percent

Leveraging More Bandwidth

Forty-one percent of respondents indicated that their school or district’s Internet connectivity needs are met most of the time. But if they had more bandwidth, they would overwhelmingly do three things:

  • Increase the use of streaming videos within instruction: 69 percent
  • Increase the use of multimedia resources in the classroom: 67 percent
  • Better utilize an online curriculum: 62 percent

Respondents were allowed to check any option that applied, and although the three aforementioned responses were cited most frequently, other uses that resonated include providing professional development for teachers (35 percent), providing online professional learning communities for staff and teachers (29 percent) and offering online or distance learning courses (29 percent).

Turning to Technology to Cut Costs, Increase Revenue

Every school and district is challenged to do more with less. Asked which technology solutions they’ve deployed in the past three years to help with budget challenges, the top three choices were parental online and phone-based notification systems, at 47 percentcloud computing applications, at 46 percent; and tablet computers or netbooks (instead of notebooks), at 44 percent.

Communicating with parents via social media (35 percent), digital textbooks (32 percent), online professional development (30 percent) and bring-your-own-device programs (29 percent) also were cited with some frequency.

Common Core Concerns

A number of challenges are emerging as schools and districts in Common Core states prepare for mandatory online assessments beginning in the 2014¬–2015 school year. Nearly six in 10 respondents (59 percent) indicated that not having enough computers was the most significant obstacle they faced, and 56 percent noted that the need to train teachers and studentswas similarly onerous.

Other widely cited challenges include:

  • Costs to modernize infrastructure: 44 percent
  • Limited facility space to accommodate a testing lab: 42 percent
  • The need to increase technology support staff: 42 percent
  • Costs to implement the online tests: 41 percent

Defining the “Ultimate” School

Asked which tools or strategies hold the greatest potential to increase student achievement and success, 84 percent of respondents identified the ability to access the Internet anywhere in school as a characteristic that the “ultimate school for 21st century learners” should have. Providing digital content was also a popular choice, at 76 percent.

Other technology offerings that would maximize teaching and learning, they said, include:

  • Adaptive learning software, which adjusts levels of difficulty and content to address student needs: 71 percent
  • Digital media creation tools: 66 percent
  • Online textbooks: 64 percent
  • Tools to help students and teachers organize their work: 60 percent

Teachers Need Time… ignored critical need for collaboration and reflection

From Linda Darling-Hammond “As recently as 2009, a MetLife study indicated that 68% of educators had more than an hour per week to engage in structured collaboration with colleagues to improve student learning.  By 2012, only 48% had an hour or more per week for this essential work. In what professional field can practice improve if most practitioners don’t have even an hour a week to work together collaboratively?”

By Linda Darling-Hammond

Concern for 21st century learning has driven the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by more than 40 states.  These new standards recognize that the premium in today’s world is not merely on students’ acquiring information, but on their being able to analyze, synthesize, and apply what they’ve learned to address new problems, design solutions, collaborate effectively, and communicate persuasively.

Achieving these goals will require a transformation in teaching, learning, and assessment so that all students develop the deeper learning competencies that are necessary for post-secondary success.

Whether that transformation occurs has everything to do with how policymakers and practitioners approach this new reform.  Ironically, old style factory-model thinking could undercut richer student learning if we follow traditional patterns of education reform implementation.   Like a contractor who is paid a bonus to finish a project on a tight timeline, school systems that cut corners by trying to “automate” teaching decisions through pacing guides, scripted curriculum, or frequent, narrow testing are likely to produce rickety, undeveloped student learning skills.

Efforts to manage instruction through top-down prescriptions rather than the development of deep expertise will not enable the kinds of teaching that are required to help students learn to read, listen, and think critically; conduct research and use evidence; communicate productively orally, in writing, and with technology; and continually improve their own work.   Teachers will need to be able to model and demonstrate these skills, identify what their students already know and link it to what they need to learn, build on students’ diverse experiences and language backgrounds, and structure rich learning opportunities that combine explicit instruction with inquiry, feedback, reflection, and revision.

How will teachers transform their practice to meet these expectations?  In fields like trauma care and the building trades that have seen sharp gains in quality over the past generation, the emergence of new standards for professional practice coincided with a focus on improving collaborative decision-making and inquiry to solve problems in real time. If we want to see similar gains in education, we must structure for success by understanding that effective collaboration in schools doesn’t occur by happenstance—it requires purposeful action.

New research from the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) shows that educators in every subject area and role are eager to work together to deepen literacy learning:  Across fields, 77% of educators, principals, and librarians agreed that developing student literacy is one of the most important responsibilities they have. It also showed that educators are committed to common-sense changes to improve teaching and learning practices: they most value time to co-plan with colleagues to create new lessons or instructional strategies and to analyze how their students are developing and what they can do together to advance progress.

On the face of it, these results don’t seem surprising—in every field, professionals benefit from connecting with dedicated colleagues to improve practice. What is surprising, even alarming, is how rarely collaborative activities that are essential to improving outcomes are supported in our schools. Here is what NCLE survey respondents reported about support for working together in their schools:

·         Only 32% have a chance to frequently co-create or reflect with colleagues about how a lesson has worked.

·         Only 21% are given time to frequently examine student work with colleagues.

·         Only 14% frequently receive feedback from colleagues.

·         And only 10% frequently have the opportunity to observe the teaching practice of a colleague.

Even worse, evidence suggests that time afforded to educators to collaborate and problem-solve is eroding quickly. As recently as 2009, a MetLife study indicated that 68% of educators had more than an hour per week to engage in structured collaboration with colleagues to improve student learning.  By 2012, only 48% had an hour or more per week for this essential work. In what professional field can practice improve if most practitioners don’t have even an hour a week to work together collaboratively?

But the NCLE survey data also gives us a foundation to build upon. It found that in schools where educators report that professional collaboration is routinely practiced, trust among all educators is high, and new learning about effective practices is shared much more rapidly.

It makes sense that where principals, school system leaders, and instructional coaches model collaborative decision-making and tackling problems as shared questions to be studied and solved, real change in student learning results.

So we can read the NCLE survey results as both a cautionary tale and a reason for optimism.  They suggest that far from resisting change or shirking responsibility, educators are eager to work together to evaluate the quality of teaching at their site and design changes that continuously improve student learning. But, not many schools are yet structured to provide the time and learning opportunities necessary to build this sustainable path to change.

The reform impulse that gave rise to construction of new learning standards and assessments will only work if we invest in the capacity of educators to work together effectively. Where educators are challenged and supported to get off the hamster wheel of “covering” ever more material and work together on important questions driven by what they actually observe, student learning thrives. It’s time to clear away non-essential demands and build capacity in our schools for smarter teaching and learning—educators are ready for it, students deserve it, and our future prosperity and security require it.

Will the new Common Core Standards Subjugate Literature to Information Texts?

   Teachers are worried as many districts respond to Common Core Standards reducing focus on poetry and novels. But the Common Core specifies literary work and includes poetry and fiction in its standards objectives and exemplar lists. Fiction is falling off the Scope and Sequence due to a lack of time to accommodate given non-fiction works, comprehension and reflection skills required.  Perhaps we simply need more time for language arts? Longer school days? A new way of scheduling?
Here is one of the actual lists so that you can evaluate the emphasis for yourself:

Common Core Grades 6–8 Text Exemplars


Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time
Cooper, Susan. The Dark Is Rising
Yep, Laurence. Dragonwings.
Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Hamilton, Virginia. “The People Could Fly”
Paterson, Katherine. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks
Cisneros, Sandra. “Eleven”
Sutcliff, Rosemary. Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad


Fletcher, Louise. Sorry, Wrong Number
Goodrich, Frances and Albert Hackett. The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play


Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Paul Revere’s Ride”
Whitman, Walt. “O Captain! My Captain!”
Carroll, Lewis. “Jabberwocky”
Navajo tradition. “Twelfth Song of Thunder”
Dickinson, Emily. “The Railway Train”
Yeats, William Butler. “The Song of Wandering Aengus”
Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken”
Sandburg, Carl. “Chicago”
Hughes, Langston. “I, Too, Sing America”
Neruda, Pablo. “The Book of Questions”
Soto, Gary. “Oranges”
Giovanni, Nikki. “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long”

Informational texts: English Language Arts 

Adams, John. “Letter on Thomas Jefferson”
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
an American Slave, Written by Himself

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Churchill, Winston. “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Address to Parliament on May 13th, 1940”
Petry, Ann. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad
Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Informational Texts: History/Social Studies 

United States. Preamble and First Amendment to the United States Constitution. (1787, 1791)
Lord, Walter. A Night to Remember
Isaacson, Phillip. A Short Walk through the Pyramids and through the World of Art
Murphy, Jim. The Great Fire
Greenberg, Jan, and Sandra Jordan. Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist
Partridge, Elizabeth. This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie
Monk, Linda R. Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution
Freedman, Russell. Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Informational Texts: Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects 

Macaulay, David. Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction
Mackay, Donald. The Building of Manhattan
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
Peterson, Ivars and Nancy Henderson. Math Trek: Adventures in the Math Zone
Katz, John. Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet out of Idaho
Petroski, Henry. “The Evolution of the Grocery Bag”
“Geology.” U*X*L Encyclopedia of Science
“Space Probe.” Astronomy & Space: From the Big Bang to the Big Crunch
“Elementary Particles.” New Book of Popular Science
California Invasive Plant Council. Invasive Plant Inventory











Obama Term 2: Four Education Objectives

  • Higher standards and better assessments that will prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace
  • Ambitious efforts to recruit, prepare, develop, and advance effective teachers and principals, especially in the classrooms where they are most needed
  • Smarter data systems to measure student growth and success, and help educators improve instruction
  • New attention and a national effort to turn around our lowest-achieving schools.

The first and third objectives are closely related and having them both make the top 4 list, amid hundreds of other critical objectives, is concerning. Measuring, measuring, measuring; we can fail to support and develop our youths core gifts.

I would like to see the objective:

Support teachers, advanced assessment, media, technology, content, and authentic learning experiences to individualize, deepen and maximize learning for each student.