Snowfall vs. the Grinch


A portrait of Mr. Noble by one of his students.

Arthur Noble II was in “full Grinch mode” on Dec. 23. A Head Start teacher with Teach for America in Chicago, he had to work through the holidays so parents could work. He missed his family. Determined not to teach, he turned on Dora the Explorer. Then it started to snow.

We watched the snowfall in silence until Ella, a precocious Ghanaian three-year-old, started telling a story about holidays at home: “We don’t have snow at Africa where my family is, but we all go to church and eat together.”

Two Mexican students chimed in excitedly about staying up late for church, and a Nigerian boy proudly broke out in a church processional.  A student from Spain bubbled over about her grandpa, who loved her all the way from his village, and showed me a letter full of hearts she had been working on intently during Dora.

Gianny said with a growing toothy grin, “Dude! My uncles are gonna watch football and take me fishing. I like fishing, and they always teach me how!”

Then Rihanna hugged my shin, “Don’t be sad Mr. Arthur. You can come to my house … my mom makes chocolate cake for my uncle when it snows. She is the best cook and you are just sweeter than piece of chocolate.”

His preschooler family “laughed and shared stories of love, family, and snow for the rest of the day.”

Christmas cheer raises scores

Christmas cheer raises test scores, concludes Brookings’ Matthew Chingos.

He crunches PISA data to show that scores are higher in countries where Christmas is a public holiday. (First step: Exclude Shanghai.)

That’s confirmed by NAEP scores on fourth-grade math performance from 1990 to 2013, which show test scores rise and fall with holiday cheer (measured by consumer spending in November and December).

Standardizing the NAEP scores and putting the spending index on a logarithmic scale implies that if we could just have about 30% more holiday spirit, our students would do as well as those in Finland!

Brilliant, writes Jay Greene. And the reason why “random-assignment and other research designs that more strongly identify causation are so important.”

Rudolph’s revenge

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All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.

A Klingon Christmas Carol

A Klingon Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition at an Illinois community college.

When Christmas trees attack

Kilgore (Texas) High’s media department filmed a holiday prank.

Merry Christmas

I’m taking the day off to celebrate with family.  Well, not all the family. My mother, who made a near-miraculous recovery after her horrible fall last December, was supposed to join us for a week. She fell again last week  – it’s our Christmas tradition! — and had to stay home. My niece stayed with her and my sister drove down.  The rest of us are flying or driving down to see her tomorrow. (My nephew has to work, but that’s a near-miracle too.) I’ve decided to embrace the stress.

Anyhow, thank you for reading the blog, commenting and being part of the community of people who care about education and family issues. Happy holidays to all.

Carnival of ho, ho, Homeschooling

It’s a cyber-Christmas party at The HomeSpun Life, which is hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

Merry Christmas to all

Christmas is about family. My daughter’s here from New York City. My sister, her husband and my nephew (unemployed college graduate) live nearby. My brother, his wife and their three kids are visiting from Portland.

But my mother’s not here. A few weeks ago, she fell and hit her head. She’s now in a nursing/rehab facility trying to regain her mental abilities.  At first, the doctors said her confusion was a result of the head injury and predicted she’d recover. Then she got worse.

Three weeks ago, my mother was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. Now she is very confused and disoriented. She starts sentences and can’t finish. Her memory — short-term and long-term — is very poor. She can recognize family members, though.

My sister was there for the first week after the accident. My daughter and I flew down last weekend. My niece and her boyfriend, who live in LA, are spending the holiday weekend with her. Then my brother and his family will drive down to see her. I’m flying down for a second visit in two weeks, when we hope she’ll be going home with a live-in caregiver.

I’m so grateful for being in a family that pulls together in times of trouble as well as cheer.

 

 

Life’s a carnival

Bellringers is hosting The 12 Favorite Bloggers Christmas Edition of the Education Buzz Carnival.

10. Steve Spangler (just because he blows up things) 
And be sure to sing along to Richie’s Teacher’s Twelve Days of Christmas.

Submit here by New Year’s Eve (5 pm) to be included in the Jan. 4 carnival.

Teach Beside Me is hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

Hallelujah

Elementary students and adults in Quinhagak, Alaska “perform” the Hallelujah Chorus.