Wednesday, October 07, 2015

1st Formative Submission: Critical Reviewing of Two Texts II; or, Vertigo in the Virtual Library

Blimey. Only a few days into the EdD, and I'm beginning to feel stretched. In an expected way: the way one feels stretched as a new undergraduate, or Masters student. Getting overlap between study and work, I'm using background reading for a report into test performance of the first biggish cohort of learners (n=529) to also cover the critical-review task. 

Which has given me a reason to closely read Tienken, C (2012), and How Next-Generation Standards and Assessments Can Foster Success for California’s English Learners, (2011).  (The former a peer reviewed academic paper, the latter a policy document, as required for the EdD formative submission). 

The vertigo comes in with the realisation that critical reading of these documents takes a lot more time and effort, and involves peering under rocks or up into the branches of familiar trees, and taking a second and third look. 

For example, Tienken (2012) is published in one of the journals of an educational organisation which boasts more than a million members, of whom I'd never heard before, and whose wikipedia entry has not been subjected to any critical input, it would appear; (and there's the likelihood that an "honor society" is a positive organization, despite the fact it sounds slightly anachronistic, not to say odd, to my ears). Nevertheless, I'm now obliged to think, "What's their angle, then?" 

Ditto for the How Next Generation Standards... paper, which references the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) which I hadn't heard of until this week - perhaps working in Assessment, often with American academics, I should have. So I've got to spend a bit of time investigating what their angle might be, also. 

This is all skill sharpening, as well as knowledge gathering. Which is just as well, because I'm beginning to wonder if the CCSS is the best arena for my research, I might be better off with Curriculum for Excellence and the SQA and their ESOL provision. But that's not a decision for now. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"Can the Common Core State Standards English Language Arts be adapted for the assessment of Chinese EFL learners? A preliminary investigation." FORMATIVE REFERENCE LIST

WORK IN PROGRESS - 2015.10.07

SEARCH TERMS [SUPrimo>articles and databases]

  • "common core state standards" AND English AND assessment AND EFL = 0 results
  • "common core state standards" AND English AND assessment NOT mathematics = 191, (76 full text online; 76 peer reviewed)
Bailey, A. and Carroll, P. (2015). Assessment of English Language Learners in the Era of New Academic Content Standards. Review of Research in Education, 39(1), pp.253-294.[largely concerned with national (US) structure of EL assessment, but some interesting off-topic details: (a) placement at K in US is assessed with 50/50 Speaking/Listening domains. California tests Reading & Writing but only given weighting of 5% each. (b) EG Illinois uses WIDA MODLE Assessment, (Grade specific).] 

Baines, L. 2011. Stalinizing American education. Teachers College Record, September 16. [Unavailable - copy not yet requested]

Conley, D. T. (2015). A new era for educational assessment. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(8).

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. (2015). 

How Next-Generation Standards and Assessments Can Foster Success for California’s English Learners. (2011). 

Ogletree, A., Ogletree, S., & Allen, B. (2014). Transition to Online Assessments: A Personal Perspective of Meeting Common Core State Standards in an Elementary School in Georgia. Georgia Educational Researcher11(1), 170.["What changes are required to implement online testing in an elementary school setting? What problems were encountered during the transition?"]
Tienken, C. (2012). The Common Core State Standards: The Emperor Is Still Looking for His Clothes. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(4), pp.152-155. [Opines that CCSS has no validity, and questions research by Conley (2011), - particularly lack of control group. Also suggests single "curriculum" is inappropriate for all students, given enormously variable educational/career needs. Many references to mid 20th C papers. Polemical tone. "I don’t want my auto mechanic to have mastery of the same exact content and set of skills as my website designer, my accountant, or my university department chair.": Published by] 

Vásquez, Anete; Hansen, Angela L.; Smith, Philip C. 2013, Teaching Language Arts to English Language Learners, e-book, accessed 07 October 2015,

Welner, K. (2014). The Lost Opportunity of the Common Core State Standards. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(7), pp.39-40. [cf use of CCSS simply as standards versus political/economic factors in USA; i.e., controversy there is in implications of implementation, irrelevant (?) to BE situation. Their quality simply as standards is endorsed.]

As Scotland rolls away from the sun, it's back to the keys...

There's nothing quite like an outdoor activity to make one acutely aware of weather, day length and the seasons. Showers and encroaching evening are causing a slow-down of activity at the allotment, and so last night I got back on the piano stool and went through The Lincolnshire Poacher RH, all the Grade 1 scales and broken chords.

First run through of each a little rusty, but second one was fine, (except for A minor, which remained a bit slippery). Only did 20 mins, but that's me back at it. There might be another relationship between the allotment and the piano, beyond a seasonal alternation: my garden labourer's  hands and forearms, (4 months of digging, shovelling, barrowing) feel much more capable on the keys, strength  giving sensitivity.

And so, build up to an hour a day: keep practicing the scales, and get the Poacher on the LH first. So that's two and half more pieces to learn, and get ready for the aural and the sight reading. Then I should be good to go for the Grade 1 in Spring.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Continuing to Dig It

This NW bed is a little less than 5 yards by (about) 18, and I'm halfway through digging it over and planting it with the winter field beans. It's the first time in years I've dug over a large-ish area. I keep hearing Dad's most repeated bit of allotmenteering wisdom, "Don't sicken yourself", (often accompanied by anecdotes of fellas he's known who take over a neglected allotment, and go at it for a fortnight "like mad men" and then get disillusioned and give up. 

So, in an hour and a half of actual digging and planting, which is the usual amount of time I spend, I dig over an area about four or five feet, by fifteen, and plant out between three and five rows of field beans. The methodology is, dig it over, chopping up the soil with the spade (or fork on heavier bits). Some of it is light clay, a blue-ish earth I've never encountered before, the Tyneside clay being more orange (and heavier). A lot of the soil is stuff from the great mounds I levelled onto this area, which had perhaps once been compost heaps, because there's a lot of humous in the there. 

Then I'll go at the area to be planted with the back of the rake, breaking up the lumps, especially of soil with clay in it. And then with the rake, make a wee trench a couple of inches deep, water it, (1 gallon does a 15 foot row), put the beans in quite thickly, just 2-6 inches apart, and then cover them and tamp them down. And then resume digging for the next row. I don't know yet if this is good methodology, because as of yesterday afternoon, none of the beans has germinated - I sowed the first row on Thursday last week, I think, so that's four days.  

At this rate, depending on the weather, I should finish this bed next weekend. I could do with some rain for the beans, but rain would slow me down with the digging, so heigh ho to that. Which is slower than planned and my intention to get the whole allotment dug over and planted with beans by November is now looking over-optimistic. A lot depends on the weather. I'll not be able to level and dig over the southern end if we have a really cold wet winter. 

So I might need to reassess priorities, and finish the digging and levelling in the early spring. Here's a readjusted list of Things to Do:

  1. Dig over NW bed and plant with winter field beans. (half done)
  2. Clear old greenhouse foundations. (on west side only?)
  3. Prune and move fruit bushes
  4. Dig over NE bed and plant with winter field beans
  5. Clear old greenhouse foundations on east side
  6. Empty and demolish old "shed"
  7. Level and dig over southern end, plant with winter field beans.
  8. Plant hedgerow.
  9. Extend path to southern boundary. 
  10. Dig pond.
  11. Erect shed.
  12. Erect poly-tunnel 
  13. Clear the old midden.
I'm putting off doing anything much on the East side because it's planted now with borage, phacelia and comfrey. The bees, (honey, bumble and solitary) and other insects are absolutely loving all of them, and I'm loth to destroy their food source. It's probably also a good environment for the frogs, whose habitats I have cleared when getting rid of weeds and cutting back the fruit bushes. Also, I want to get a load of seeds from the borage and phacelia for next year. Borage in particular is a lovely wee plant to sow in any unoccupied corner. 

Thinking of the frogs, I'm going to have to establish some stone and wood piles for them to hibernate, quite soon, in a place where I won't be for shifting them until spring. I could put them on the auld midden, I suppose, and put off dealing with that for now. And by the time they wake up, there'll be a pond ready for them to spawn in. I'm really keen to encourage slug-eating frogs. 

Hardly see any slugs. But I'm seeing more earthworms. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

1st Formative Submission: Critical Reviewing of Two Texts


Ajayi, L. (2015). High school teachers’ perspectives on the English language arts Common Core State Standards: an exploratory study. Educ Res Policy Prac.

Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED). 2011. Teaching Scotland’s future: Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland (The Donaldson Report). Edinburgh: Scottish Government.(2015). 


  • "ESOL practitioners, in general, need to be better acquainted with the Scottish qualifications landscape and with wider educational priorities." (p12) 
  • "The SQA is exploring strategies for measuring, accrediting and recording learner achievement through learning plans." (p13)

Fillmore, L. (2014). English Language Learners at the Crossroads of Educational Reform. TESOL Q, 48(3), pp.624-632.

Yvonne Foley , Pauline Sangster & Charles Anderson (2013) Examining EAL policy and practice in mainstream schools, Language and Education, 27:3, 191-206, DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2012.687747

Christine Han , Hugh Starkey & Andy Green (2010) The politics of ESOL (English for speakers of other languages): implications for citizenship and social justice, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 29:1, 63-76, DOI: 10.1080/02601370903471304 

Matlock, K., Goering, C., Endacott, J., Collet, V., Denny, G., Jennings-Davis, J. and Wright, G. (2015). Teachers’ views of the Common Core State Standards and its implementation. Educational Review, pp.1-15.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Digging it.

Digging over the NW bed at last. Lovely soil at the north end, first time in this allotment I've dug over with the spade rather than the fork. I might have it dug over and sown with field beans by early next week. And then I'm moving on to the old greenhouse foundations. I took a look at them last night, and said, spontaneously, under my breath: This is going to break my heart. That's in the shipyard use of that phrase, meaning it's going to be bloody hard work, digging out a mountain of rubble and old wood and - of course - plenty of broken glass.

On the plus side, I've got twenty-odd Papaver somniferum legacy volunteers which are starting to yield absurd amounts of seed. The borage and the phacelia are like Piccadilly Circus: honey bees, mostly, bumble bees, some other kind of bee which I can't name, hoverflies, and a tiny moth. I don't yet know how to do it, but I plan to harvest a rake of seeds from them, too, and, somewhere, sow a 9 square yard patch of all three plants mixed in together... or maybe spread them around somewhat. The comfrey is also flourishing and attracting insects. I'll split them again and get a good big patch somewhere.

Got mice (or maybe rats) in the "shed". Some poppy straws I'd left in there were tumbled all over, so something has ran over them. That bloody structure must get emptied and demolished asap. I keep banging my head as I go in the door, for one thing. It's an eyesore for another. And now it's a home to vermin. I'm under a lot of pressure to get a jack russell terrier, and I'm yielding to it: just the smell of a dog at the allotment will give rats and mice pause for thought. And if it catches a rat or two, word will go round the rodent community that this allotment is to be avoided.

I can see now where the hedge is going to be, and started to research best place online (there's nowhere in Glasgow) to buy bare-root trees. I'm aiming for 400, up to 2ft high, at about 25p each. Mostly hawthorn. I'll transplant all the soft fruit bushes into the hedgerow too. And next year, fill any gaps with the gorse that I'll be starting from seed. I don't think I'll need much alder or willow, now that the flooding seems to have been solved by levelling.

I didn't need to relay the whole path, it was actually in pretty good nick, with a course of brick underneath most of the slabs. I had to extend it six feet to reach the boundary fence at the bottom, and I did that with three courses of bricks. It's not very good workmanship, being uneven and a bit wobbly, but it was after all a first effort. It'll do for now.

And now, I'm off for a dig.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Two Days Rest

Work, (the stuff I get paid to do), and the visit of a pal who I taught with in Saudi, together with the shortening days, have meant no allotment time since Sunday. For the first time in months I woke up this morning to no stiff muscles. It's given me time to work out a list of what I've still to do.

This is more or less how it looks at the moment, the only fiction being the border, which is various kinds of fencing just now, but which will be a hedgerow. The overall plan is to incorporate the fruit bushes into the hedgerow, clear the "shed", midden, and old greenhouse foundations, extend the path right to the southern hedgerow boundary, and have a new shed, frog-pond and poly-tunnel in the SW quarter. The NE bed will then become the E bed. The basic growing plan will be that the northern end will be vegetables in crop rotation, and the southern perennial herbs. But essentially I want two big beds with a path up the middle. 

Et, voila! That's how it looks in my mind's eye for next spring. There's still a huge amount to be done, mind:

  1. Finish relaying the north end of path.
  2. Dig over NW bed and plant with winter field beans.
  3. Clear old greenhouse foundations.
  4. Dig over NE bed and plant with winter field beans
  5. Clear the old midden.
  6. Empty and demolish old "shed". 
  7. Level and dig over southern end, plant with winter field beans.
  8. Plant hedgerow.
  9. Extend path to southern boundary. 
  10. Dig pond.
  11. Erect shed.
  12. Erect poly-tunnel 
And all of that will have to be done at weekends as the nights draw in, and be subject to the autumn and winter weather.  Bloody hell. One of my allotment neighbours said he took on a plot like mine and it took him four years. Time will tell if I'm being too ambitious in aiming to get it done in one. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Path of Righteousness

The bottom of the allotment, once a mound of earth across the whole width of the garden, (30ft) and up to 5ft wide and 4ft high, has now been cleared, and used to level the big NW bed - which is now pretty level. The old path stopped at the foot of the mound. The photo here shows the northern end of the garden, where the mound once stood, and the first stage in a new path. The old one consisted of paving slabs on top of a couple of bricks or broken bricks. The soil underneath has a very high clay content - it may be the original soil, as the subsoil is heavy clay, and it would make sense if the original topsoil contained a lot of clay.

This might be why I'm getting flooding, if the water is running down the slight slope to my plot, and getting held up by heavy soil running right down the middle, under the path. So, the plan is, lift the path, dig down, and re-lay it on a 2 or 3 layers of old bricks and other rubble - you can see where I've made a start. The rubble should, theoretically, act as a French drain under the path, and there'll be no more puddles after rain on the (now raised) NW bed.

The clay heavy soil is also going onto that NW bed, but that's ok: the earth from the mound suggests it was an old compost heap. It wasn't christmas-pudding mix compost, exactly, but it seems to have a higher humous content than the ordinary garden soil. So, dug in with the existing soil, and the really old soil from under the path, it should be an interesting mixture, with the winter field beans to help it all get acquainted.

In between bouts of digging and levelling, I stop and look at this area and say to myself: next year, there will be neeps here!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Work Rate

Allotment neighbours and passers-by have told me in awestruck tones that the amount of work I've done is fantastic/amazing/incredible. Hmm. In some ways, I'm ahead of the plans I made back in June. In others, now that the nights are drawing in (every sunset is nearly five minutes sooner than its predecessor this time of year), I'm wondering how much I'm going to get done before the autumn's done and the winter's here. The main thing is to get it levelled, dug over, and planted out with the winter field beans before November, which is what everything I've googled tell me is the last month to plant them. But when in November? It might be that I won't get the whole plot dug over by then.