Welcome to my blog! This is a place for me to organize and display my thoughts on education and get feedback. My current plan is to open a private high school called Murray Academy. Above are pages with my most recent thoughts. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


According to political science and the socialization literature, the point of schooling is to pass down values from one generation to the next.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I'm in an Educational Measurement class right now, and it seems to me that one class period (or partial class) should be set aside after a test has been graded to go over any concepts (not questions precisely but concepts) that the students did not do well on. Supposedly, the test is meant to help the teacher see what the students are understanding.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Five Factors!

"So, two final numbers: Two decades, five factors. Two decades have passed since Barton wrote 'America's Smallest School: The Family.' He has estimated that about 90 percent of the difference in schools' proficiencies can be explained by five factors: the number of days students are absent from school, the number of hours students spend watching television, the number of pages read for homework, the quantity and quality of reading material in the students' homes -- and, much the most important, the presence of two parents in the home. Public policies can have little purchase on these five, and least of all on the fifth." - George F. Will, The Washington Post, 29 August 2010

  1. number of days students are absent from school
  2. number of hours students spend watching television
  3. number of pages read for homework
  4. quantity and quality of reading material in the students' homes 
  5. presence of two parents in the home 
Public policy may not be able to do much about these, but Murray Academy can! Well, not the last one, but we can certainly work on the others. 

Shrunken Student Motivation

Etienne R. LeGrand mentions in an article entitled "How to motivate students when culture attacks ambition" that one of the main reasons schools fail is because of a decline in overall student motivation over the last few decades. This is one of the things primary schools need to address in curriculum: getting students to love learning and want to be the best in the world.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Lower vs. Higher Level

I think students need and should have more guidance (and better teachers) at lower levels and have less guidance at more advanced levels when they know more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Flipped Classrooms

I am getting more and more drawn toward the idea of flipped classrooms. I was pleasantly surprised to see that flipped classrooms work best for subjects like math, science, and foreign language (which I had never thought of before).This would lower the homework load (less teacher grading) and increase student success for students like my high school friend Bryce. He had quite a few problems in school: he had a hard time paying attention to lectures in class; he could rarely do homework without a teacher present; he had trouble concentrating on assignments when someone wasn’t forcing him to do them. A flipped classroom would help all of those problems. I did not have the same problems as Bryce, but I did have my own, particularly with below-average teachers and unmotivated students: lectures were too complicated for my tastes; homework didn’t reflect my skill level; other students constantly wanted to copy my homework. With a flipped classroom, videos are often more to-the-point and have fewer errors. The teacher could give me work in class based on my understanding of the topic and how well I do with the work assigned. Because the teacher is there, students will rely on help more and on copying less.

What Engages Students?

What engages students? This article talks about different ways students say they stay engaged. Here are their answers: 
 Working with peers. Working with technology. Connecting work to the real world (even with topics like Medieval times). Project-based learning. The teacher clearly loving the topic. Moving around in the classroom. Visuals. Student choice. Understanding the students and doing what is best for them. Mixing it up. Being Human.

Physical Activity

I want to somehow incorporate more physical activity into the school. With all of the obesity problems now (who knows, maybe we won't have to worry anymore in ten or twenty years), students need to stay physically active. I'm not sure how to do this yet. I think students should be required to have at least one PE ASA (after school activity) every week in addition to the one art ASA.

Student Skills

Students need to be able to think critically and independently so they can form their own evidence-based judgments and develop skills to explain it to others then reach out to those with whom they disagree and find common ground or at least common understanding. They also need the twenty-first century skills: the four Cs: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

Teacher Bonuses

I want to make sure to continue to compensate teachers who learn, evolve, and grow.

Teacher Training

Teacher prep seminars in teacher training to develop curriculum. For example, all of the English teachers could get together and develop curricula for all of levels of English being taught that year.
Encourage teachers to grade AP tests because it is a valuable learning experience that affects even non-AP classes.

Speaking Practice

30 second responses to topics such as “What makes you right for this job?” “How did WWI start?” “What has been your favorite topic in this class and why?” Depending on the question and the time in the year, students could have no time to several days to prepare their answers. I think this should be done often enough that most students have to do one of these every single day to strengthen their speaking skills. This would be a great exercise in a foreign language class.

Explaining Why in Science

An article talks about how many American students can perform simple experiments in science class but cannot explain why there are certain results or manipulate multiple variables. I want my students to be able to do these things.

Knowledge Game

There could be themes for some of the Games, just to keep it interesting. "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" variation could be fun. There's also this program called THINK Together that has a summer camp that promotes reading based on the Hunger Games series. As a huge fan of the books myself, I love the idea of taking something so popular to help kids learn.

Evaluation to Personalize

I would like to have some sort of evaluation system so teachers can personalize assignments for students. The student would be evaluated after presentations and assignments. I think it would be something like a table:

NamesCitationsAnalyzingVocabularyShort AnswerEssay on Literature
AliStrongPoor comparisons 
NikkiStrongPoor structure
NicoleGood formPoor structure
KelseyPoor citationsImaginative 
BenStrongLiterary terms

 As we can see, Ali is not very good at writing on literature, and Nikki isn't very good at answering short response questions. So on the next writing assignment, the teacher would give Ali a text-based prompt and Nikki several short answer questions. Same with homework. Nicole isn't good at structuring her essays, and Kelsey isn't good at citing in a paper, so for homework, Nicole would have to read an article on structuring essays, and Kelsey would have to watch a video explaining citations. Teachers would have to be very careful about grading, though, because the assignments are unqual.

But maybe that would just mean fewer grades. Students could be evaluated in this way more often. It is based on mastery and skill, not on cranking out good grades. This is also a great way to organize information so a teacher can speak with the student and parents about the student's strengths and weaknesses.

I think for some subjects, there would have to be variations of this evaluation system. For instance, in history, a teacher would probably need one of these for each topic. Certain skills during a WWI unit, Cold War unit, terrorism unit. Same with math. Then the graphs could be analyzed over several topics to figure out what is slowing down the student.

This does not have to be a grading system. I'm worried that this graph will get more and more concrete until it is what many teachers have now with grades, and I do not want that. I want it to be primarily for analyzing student data and personalizing the learning experience.