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EssayTagger is a web-based tool to help teachers grade essays faster.
But it is not an auto-grader.

This blog will cover EssayTagger's latest feature updates as well as musings on
education, policy, innovation, and preserving teachers' sanity.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Making Common Core work, pt1: Why it's awkward

Forget "aligning" with Common Core; how the heck do you even begin to use Common Core?!

This multi-part series will explore some possibilities for making Common Core relevant and actually useful in real-world classrooms.

I've been engaged in a number of great discussions lately about how best to incorporate the Common Core English/Language Arts (CC ELA) standards into the classroom. My vision for how to work with these standards is evolving quickly and I wanted to share my thoughts to stimulate further discussions.

And very soon I will be implementing some form of Common Core integration with EssayTagger. I'd rather have the idea be well-thrashed out before I build a half-baked solution.

But first we have to understand the Common Core ELA beast for what it is.

Basic tensions
Common Core is inevitable. It'll be on us faster than any of us are ready for and we best get prepared ASAP. Gripe and moan and cry all you want, it ain't gonna change a thing.

Worse: The language of the Common Core standards is not classroom-friendly or, more accurately, it is not student-friendly.

Worse(er) (hee hee! Relax!): The Common Core standards are not directly compatible with how we classroom teachers work with our students and provide feedback.

This all being said, the Common Core ELA standards are not bad. They are actually quite reasonable. They're just not a great fit; the administrators' standards-based data-tracking world does not align smoothly with classroom reality. Shocker.

Common Core - A closer look
Let's stop talking and dive in.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Every site is getting hacked! Will I (and my students) be safe?

In the last few days about 8 million user accounts from LinkedIn, eHarmony, and Last.fm were compromised by hackers. The users' passwords were posted in their protected, encoded form but many of them had already been cracked.

The reality is that hackers can probably work their way into any system if they put in enough of a concerted effort. That's scary.

But access is just the first step. They can steal all the passwords they want, but if the passwords are properly encrypted, your information might still be safe.

Unfortunately all of the hacked sites this week were horribly irresponsible in how they handled users' passwords.