A Quiz

Here’s a little quiz for the day.  (I know.  I said no testing.  But that’s for the boys, not the grown ups.) What do the following have in common: The Opium Wars, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, silk production, The Boxer Rebellion, and the explanation of why the lights come on when you flip the switch. [Read More…]


Leaving behind the testing controversy, I write today about Reform #2: Management, not Discipline. My friend Kia, an education professor at Wheelock, recently said to the Sunday School teachers at our church, “If you’re thinking about discipline, it’s usually because you haven’t done a good job with management.  You’re not managing your classroom well, especially [Read More…]

Thoughts on testing…

The title would more aptly be A Lot of Thoughts on Testing.  Can’t help it.  The discussion over the past two days really has me thinking. In general, I think the primary reason for testing is to provide feedback.  How well is the student learning what you want him to learn?  How well is the [Read More…]

Tara’s Anxiety

Okay, the truth is, I never expected that everyone would say, “YES!” when I asked if it was a “bad idea” to avoid tests in homeschool.  What I meant by my question was, “Please write in and tell me that my kids are so lucky to have me as a mother.” Next time I will [Read More…]

Test Anxiety

As we were riding bikes yesterday, Zach caught up with me to ask, “Do we have to take any tests this year?” “No, sweetie.  Why would we take a test?” “Well, we have to take them in third grade, right?” Zach had heard when he was in kindergarten that third graders start taking tests. I [Read More…]

Unintended Consequences

Reform #1 – Vigorous Exercise Before Homeschool. Here’s how it went today… At 9:30, I bundled everybody up in thermal underwear and puffy coats. (Yes, I know I was supposed to do it before the 8:30 school start, but at least we were doing it.)  We hopped on bikes, road down to the BU Bridge [Read More…]


There is a dirty little secret in all talk of school reform. It turns out that it doesn’t matter how great your curriculum is. It doesn’t matter how much data backs up your new schedule. It doesn’t matter how developmentally sound your intervention is. If you don’t have “teacher fidelity,” your program will fail. In [Read More…]

Back Tomorrow

Have I said lately how much I appreciate you all reading this? It’s been a gift to me as I go through this year to know that people are reading, cheering for us, sympathizing with us, and encouraging us with emails and comments. Thanks. I’m taking the entire weekend off and will post again on [Read More…]


Today I am celebrating Thanksgiving with nearly 40 international students who’ve come to Massachusetts for graduate school.  We have come to New Hampshire for two nights of fireplaces and pies and hiking, and lots of botched communication.  Last night, we read Lincoln’s proclamation that the entire nation should spend a day in thanksgiving.  It’s a [Read More…]

After extensive review…

What two words make veteran teachers’ eyes roll to the back of their heads more than any others? School Reform. Just say the words at a staff meeting and you’ll hear grumpy teachers muttering under their breaths.  If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a list of proposed, hyped, and eventually forgotten cures for what ails [Read More…]