Monday, March 17, 2014

Nathan Hale has News You Want to Read

I had reason to check in at the Nathan Hale website and discovered their fine student newspaper, The Sentinel.  Very long (I haven't seen such a long student newspaper since I was in high school) and boy, they pack the news in.  (I note that The Sentinel took first place at a Western Washington University student journalism competition recently.) 

From a front-page article, it seems that staff may ask the district/state for a waiver on the extra hours as they believe they are already "successful in all the parameters they're looking at compared to other schools..."  

Their article on the change for several SPS high schools to the Metro football league is a great and informative one.  

I also found great amusement in the first-person column of the Features editor about his relationship with time and being on time.  "I was born without a sense of urgency."

They mix the important with the sublime (a first-person plea about a treaty in Congress next to an article about Justin Bieber).  

What if, just maybe, we don’t really know everything about Justin Bieber? What if Justin Bieber is really another lovable loser that we’d all have affection for, if we actually knew more about him. I’m going to make a direct comparison here: Justin Bieber to George Costanza. Many of you have watched the be- loved show Seinfeld, and many of you will remember George, the lovable loser of the show. One of the interesting things about George was that he regularly tried to do good things, but got sidetracked by either his own stupidity, or by having a bit too much greed for his own good. 


Justin Bieber was photographed leaving a brothel, something that you don’t want to be seen doing. Clearly, that did not have a very good impact on his reputation, but maybe it wasn’t because of his love for women he entered the room, maybe it was his love of soup. Maybe he thought that he was entering a soup place “BROTHel.” Maybe he was just trying to get some high quality chicken noodle.

BROTHel - Kids, you slay me with your insights. 

A thoughtful editorial by the Nathan Hale student editorial newspaper, The Sentinel, about what they think those extra hours the state has just mandated for public schools should be used for - teacher collaboration and student "reflective scholarship."  Not a bad thought for all schools. (Emphasis is mine.)

We have some bad news. In 2009 the WA state legislature voted to increase the mini- mum yearly instructional time in public high schools from 1,000, to 1,080 hours - a measure that will take effect next school year. Hale students will see an increase of 60 hours (we are already slightly over the required minimum). While we’re sure somebody’s heart was in the right place (maybe), increasing school time is unfortunately an out of touch and ineffective way to actually make our schools better with limited resources.

The National Academy of Education in Washington recently found that a 10 percent increase in the length of school resulted in just a 2 percent jump in actual learning. Those gains are trivial, considering the amount they will ultimately cost. It would be more effective to simply better support our teachers.

Students in Finland, who consistently rank among the highest in the world on global proficiency tests,
go to school for less time than their under-achieving American counterparts. One no-table difference is that they learn from better prepared teachers.   
The National Academy of Education notes that: “In European and Asian nations with strong student performance, teachers spend about 15 to 25 hours per week—between 40% and 60% of their total work time—collaborating on curriculum development, research on instructional outcomes, and 
professional development."

By contrast, U.S. teachers typically receive only about 3 to 5 hours weekly in which to plan by themselves, with little opportunity to share knowledge or to improve their practice.” Hale’s teacher prep time is, commendably, a bit longer than the national average when you take into account reflective scholarship and mentorship. 


Yet, all too often we’ve sat through classes that are poorly organized because teachers simply have way too much to do. Meaningful projects and papers are re- placed by busy-work assignments when teachers don’t have time to adequately prepare their lessons. And those aren’t effective teaching tools  Giving teachers even more time to fill would just perpetuate further poor instruction.

So let’s do our teachers and ourselves a favor: let’s take advantage of the loose definition of "instructional hours” and add our extra state mandated time onto reflective scholarship.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa, your link above is to the Raider Reader, the PTSA newsletter, not to the Sentinel. The most current Sentinel I can find online is the January issue (on Hale's SSD website homepage, and I can't seem to link to it.

Former Halie

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt High School has an excellent newspaper -- which I discovered just roaming schools (I don't have an association with Roosevelt)

http://issuu.com/therooseveltnews

And, check out the opinion article in which a HS student learned to shoot a gun in order to right an op ed on gun control: http://www.therooseveltnews.org/opinion-gun-control/

zb

Joe Wolf said...

NHHS's newspaper is always a joy to read. It compares favorably to the paper at my alma mater, Iowa State ... and it's no slouch. Thank you for the shoout-out!

Bit of a sidebar: I caught "Urinetown" Saturday night at Ballard HS. Wow. It was fantastic, and they were obviously having a blast. The vintage/Steampunk costuming was particularly impressive!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, I think most of our schools are doing well and the high schools are ALL improving. We have great talent in our schools which makes the disconnect from Central so obvious.

Anonymous said...

One of the things mentioned at the Strategic Plan meeting at Hale at my table, was making a district wide high school newspaper. It would be more like the Huffington Post, an aggregater, not an originator. I am sure all of the high schools have great newspapers. Wouldn't it be great if all the articles were online and all collected in one location? You could read about Roosevelt, Chief Sealth, The Center School, Rainier Beach, etc. It would be really awesome. I think the high school newspapers should be required reading for Banda, his staff and the board.

HP

Anonymous said...

This appears to be in progress but some articles can be found here:

http://halesentinel.org/

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, another great idea that would help parents keep up with their child's school AND know what was happening district-wide.

Garfield Student and Truth Editor said...

While you're looking at a student newspapers, be sure to check out the http://www.garfieldmessenger.org/ and the independent, entirely student run, http://ghstruth.com/ .
The website is under construction and only has the most recent one, but if you're interested, check the Facebook page for links to the last 3 issues! https://www.facebook.com/thetruthghs

Anonymous said...

If the talented students who write the Nathan Hale newspaper were put in charge of SPS we would all be in much better shape.