Are There Lessons in the Trayvon Martin Tragedy?
Friday, March 23, 2012 - 08:21 AM
How is the Trayvon Martin case reverberating in your home or classroom?
As the days go on, reaction has been building nationwide to the shooting death of Mr. Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old who was killed by a self-anointed neighborhood watchdog in Sanford, Fla. Surely the case is playing out in classrooms and over dinner tables in New York City.
Parents, teachers: what impact has the shooting had on you, and what lessons, if any, can be taught out of this unspeakable tragedy? Respond to our query below.
And students, the Learning Network, which provides "Teaching and Learning with The New York Times," wants to know what your reaction is to the case.
The release of the data reports for 18,000 New York City school teachers late last month continues to reverberate, and now MetroFocus, the news blog of Thirteen/WNET, has asked key officials what it means going forward.
The blog taped a series of video interviews with people like the state education commissioner and the city's chief academic officer, asking what impact the reports' release will have on efforts to develop teacher evaluation systems for every district in the state. According to the blog:
“My own view is that the publication of the data with teacher names was unhelpful,” answered New York State Education Commissioner John B. King. He continued to explain an alternative evaluation system in the works. “We’re building a multiple measurement system where growth on state tests is 20 percent of the evaluation, not 100 percent.” His opinion is similar to other city education officials who have expressed concern about using test data as the sole measure of teacher effectiveness.
New York City Department of Education Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said, “It [the Teacher Data Report] was designed as a source of support within the schools. We always want this information to be used in context. This information by itself doesn’t tell you the whole story, it tells you part of the story.”
Victor Mather of The New York Times writes this Friday morning about Mike Tolkin, the new head coach of the United States men’s national rugby team. While he is now known as Coach Tolkin to the team, he has been more commonly known as Mr. Tolkin to hundreds of students who have taken his English class during the last 20 years at Xavier High School, a Jesuit school in Chelsea, Manhattan.
Mr. Tolkin, 44, has "built a remarkably successful rugby program at Xavier High School in Chelsea." But while rugby coaches are often larger-than-life characters who reflect the rowdy and bawdy image of their sport, "By contrast, Tolkin’s disciplinary actions at a recent class extended mostly to urging his students to start learning a list of vocabulary words beginning at ‘sacrosanct.’ ”
Mr. Tolkin has a philosophy that he says applies as well in the classroom as on the field: “Students remember 10 percent of what you say, 50 percent of what they see and 90 percent of what they do.”
Keep an eye on him:
The next World Cup is not until 2015, but there will be three games in June against Canada, Georgia and Italy, who are ranked 13th, 15th and 11th in the world. With the United States in 17th place, Tolkin sees these as good tests. “If we win, we start moving up,” he said.
Gotham Schools' Rise & Shine morning post has a more complete roundup of what is in the news this unusually warm Friday morning in March.
Here's some of what's going on around the city:
At 8:15 a.m., Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will be at the Harvard Club (27 West 44th Street, Manhattan) speaking at the meeting of the New York City Charter School Coalition.
And March 23 is Rock the Vote's second annual Democracy Day, a nationwide effort to bring civic lessons to students and help 18-year-olds register to vote.
Rock the Vote, which is supported by numerous politicians and celebrities, has created a period-long lesson plan "that includes a mock election, classroom discussion, and a new video featuring Grammy award-winning artist John Legend, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, Roc Nation recording artist Bridget Kelly and Glee’s Darren Criss about the importance of civic engagement in 2012," a news release says. "The class is a nationally accredited curriculum that teachers can sign up for online for free."
So high school teachers, if you are looking for a way to keep your students focused on class, rather than the budding trees and the summer-like temperatures outside, check it out.