Week Two: Research and NCLB Act, EDCI 500-02

 

School photo

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2012/01/nclb-experts/

When I sat down to read and think about the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that occurred in 2001, I began to form my own opinion about the Act. I do believe that it was created originally as a positive idea to help students learn and be successful in the classroom. However, after working in a school system, I have come to realize that my opinion has changed after being exposed to The Standards of Learning tests (SOL).

My first teaching experience was an earth science position located at a nearby high school. I had both the collaborative classrooms and the honors classroom. Between both, I realized that a teacher’s salary and ability can not be solely based on a standardized test. These tests do not account for the students that do not care about learning or may have other learning needs. These tests do not account for the students that have test anxiety and cannot specifically perform well in a testing situation. The pattern I started to see was that teachers are not teaching to the test and not using differentiated instruction. They do this because it is the standards they are required to teach efficiently and in return it leaves no room for creative thinking. We need creative thinking in the classroom to help every student connect with the material. When we cannot use time by allowing a student to grasp an idea, we are dangerously moving into the idea behind “teaching the test”.

Rather than accept NCLB’s dangerous prescriptions for public education, we propose a new approach to accountability as the basis for a comprehensive revamp of NCLB (Guisbond and Neill 2004). Through Guisbond and Neill’s research, their main topics are to use their FairTest nonprofit organization to focus on getting federal, state, and local governments to work together to provide fair opportunity for all children to learn a rich curriculum, use multiple forms of evidence to assess student learning, help teachers ensure educational success for all students, localize the primary accountability mechanisms, and focus primary responsibility of the state governments to provide tool and support for schools and teachers while maintaining equity and civil rights. Their focus on these topics present that they are looking for ways to maintain a fair way to assess schools and teachers. Through their research, they account for student’s home life, financial stability, and learning abilities of each individual student. This helps teachers maintain differentiated instruction. In my opinion, the most important of these principles are the use of multiple forms of evidence to assess student learning and the opportunity to provide rich curriculum to all students. In this busy world and constant assessment of education, most policymakers have forgotten the most important thing at hand: the students. By accounting for individual student differences, we are able to maintain and understand a student’s success. If we want to know how well students are doing, we need to look at a range of real student work (Guisbond and Neill 2004). It is just not possible to assess an individual solely based off of standardized tests.

Galloway (2007), had similar findings throughout his journal. The federal government has taken an increased degree of control over what schools teach and over their funding while maintaining the illusion that school districts have independent self-governance (Galloway 2007). This to me was very frightening because it speaks true to what is happening. Throughout this text, I learned about how a school could go from high-test results to a sudden low, placing the school labeled as a failing school. States and districts often respond to this type of situation not by helping the failing school, but by lowering state standards (Galloway 2007). We as teachers and citizens must be aware of this escape. We cannot allow for states and districts to lower standards for our children. We need to incorporate differentiated instruction while maintaining a fair curriculum and expectation for all students. We don’t want to hind behind these standards and ultimately lose our quality of teaching. A good teacher is one who can take knowledge, care, instruction, technology, communication, and experience and incorporate it into their lesson plans. By basing student success from standardized curriculum and learning, we cannot correctly conclude that students are “failing” a subject. Galloway tests this idea throughout his journal and successfully explains the effects of standardized tests in public schools.

All of the authors in both pieces of work, touched on one common goal, the goal to help all students achieve a great education. In order for us to do this for all students, we must look to our resources and stop standardized tests. We have drifted away from the student’s individual needs and focused heavily on what we must teach by a certain time. After studying these different academic journals, I found that I had a lot of similar opinions as researchers. My findings confirmed the flaws associated with the NCLB, however, it also opened my mind to ways of solving it based off of research and data that was collected. Researching this Act brought a lot of emotions to me and made me want to make a change, find a way that can stop standardized teaching and change it back into something meaningful. I see students struggle with these standardized tests on a daily basis and what kind of effects they have on teachers. I want to stop this downward spiral and bring life back into the classroom for all that are involved.

References:

Galloway, D. (2007). A change management, systems thinking, or organizational development approach to the no child left    behind act. PerformanceImprovement, 46 (5), 10-16.

Guisbond, L., Neill, M. (2004). Failing our children: No child left behind undermines quality and equity in education. The Clearing House, 78 (1), 12-16.

No Child Left Behind: A Decade of Failure [Video]. (2012). United States of America: The Cato Institute. Retrieved September 7, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0WUqNO0qo4.

Categories: EDCI500-02 | 2 Comments

Week Two: 21st Century vs. Core Knowledge INDT 501-01

How can we incorporate 21st Century knowledge and core knowledge ideas into the current curriculum that students receive?

After reviewing multiple points of view and trying not to be bias as I researched, I found myself continuing to fall to the 21st Century skills side. I chose this side because it opens up the opportunity for students to be successful in their futures by preparing them to think creatively. I find myself asking, “how can we let the world around us change, but not change what the students learn along with it?” If we did not allow for a change in the curriculum and in ourselves, we would be setting up students for failure. According to Churches (2008), even if you’re a 21st Century teacher and have a 21st Century classroom, you will only be a 21st Century teacher if how you teach changes as well. I understand that students need to learn history, science, literature, and how to incorporate teamwork into the real world, however they need more. The fact of the matter is, that the real world is technology based and require our students to know how to handle that shift. To do this we must change our theory of teaching, this is called a pedagogy.

Some like to think that technology is hurting our children’s learning capabilities while others think that it is improving it. I believe that it COULD hurt our children’s learning capabilities IF it is not used properly or taught to them the correct way. I believe this because I see it every day in the high school. Teaching high school business classes allow for me to experience students in a computer lab daily. If I were to not give students responsibility and contribution to my class, they would then be tempted to use the computers for inappropriate use. By giving each student a responsibility to be completed to help the class be exciting and move forward in a positive way, it allows the students to focus and use the technology appropriately.

According to Churches (2008), how we teach must reflect how our students learn. We must not only reflect on this idea, but we must be willing to change our ways of teaching. My opinion about these two ideas stays strong after reading through the suggested articles. I also believe Churches idea (2008), this world is rapidly changing, connecting, adapting, and evolving which in turn means our style and approach to teaching must emphasize the learning in the 21st Century. It is important to connect these ideas to our future generations to help build strong problem solving, teamwork dynamics, and incorporate core knowledge.

Reflecting on how your teaching style must also change, it is helpful to maintain a visual of what 21st Century classroom management might look like. An example of a 21st Century pedagogy would be as follows (Churches 2008):

 

You may be thinking to yourself, “Well what about the core curriculum knowledge? When will that be implemented?” I believe that as students are given responsibility, they will learn the material they are required to research. Knowing this, we can conclude that a student will still maintain their sense of the subject and not knowingly be using critical thinking. Just because we are using technology for lesson research and activities, does not mean that a student is being deprived of language, spelling, and grammar. The use of social networking and use of technology outside of school is what may hurt those subjects. That is where it is important that we implement these lessons in the current curriculum so we can teach students how to properly use the technology in front of them to submit a high quality assignment that will prepare them for their future knowledge tests. This is the main point that we are missing when we argue each side. We need to be more creative about how we can bring technology and other information all together in one place. It is a must to provide our students and younger generations with how to handle the real world and all it has to offer, technology included.

References:

Churches, A. (2008). 21st Century Pedagogy. Retrieved from

http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st+Century+Pedagogy

Categories: INDT501-01 | 3 Comments

Week One: INDT501-01, Technology Integration Matrix Model

After studying the Technology Integration Matrix Model and watching videos of students using it in the classroom, I found myself understanding the idea behind being able to use any technology effectively. According to the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, The Integration Matrix Model (TIM) is an illustration dedicated to showing how teachers and students can use technology in a classroom to make lesson plans meaningful and create a positive learning environment. TIM consists of different levels to differentiate between the technology integrations being used. The five levels of technology integration into lesson plans consist of entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation. The five levels of technology integration into the learning environment include active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal directed.

One example that I found compelling while exploring the model was the transformation authentic cell. This cell is based on creating teambuilding skills and focusing on a task from start to finish. Students are expected to select a subject that they want to study and are required to research, maintain time management, create the project, present, reflect, make any necessary changes, and submit. This allows for the student to completely own their project and experience what would happen in a real-world situation. Students are able to use scientific reasoning to problem solve. This is an important technology integration that will guide the student in being responsible for their project and work as a team to conclude what they would do differently in the future. Having this type of hands-on experience will also guide the student in quicker recall of the subject information.

An example that I was skeptical of after reviewing The Technology Integration Model was the entry active cell. This cell mainly focuses on direct instruction that does not allow for the students to use the technology. I would find it hard for the students to stay focused on the task at hand. The cell uses a lot of individual seat work that many students may get tired of and ultimately not do the assignment. Sometimes this cell uses a video or other type of instructional source to teach the lesson plan and the student is then required to complete a review of the lesson. I find this hard for the students to relate and understand what is expected of them and does not create room for differentiated instruction.

During my long-term substitute position last semester, I had worked with multiple types of technologies. A specific technology use that I have seen first hand would be the SMART Board technology that allows for students and teachers to interact with the subject material on a daily basis. I enjoyed this use of technology because it allowed for a lot of different lesson plans using the same technology. It would allow for review games to be displayed and interacted with. It also allowed for new information to be presented and displayed in ways that would appeal to students. I think that this use of technology would fall under the adaptation collaborative cell because it allows for the teacher to facilitate students in exploring the technology tool as well as letting the students use the tool to collaborate in teams rather than individually.

Below I included a photograph of both students and the teacher interactively using the SMART Board for lesson plans. The board can be used to draw, highlight, play music/video, game play, and much more to heighten lesson plans. This photograph being used is from http://edcompassblog.smarttech.com/archives/4649 .

SMART-Board-and-early-education

Florida Center for Instructional Technology. (n.d.). The technology integration matrix. Retrieved from http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/index.php

Categories: INDT501-01 | 5 Comments

Week One: EDCI506-01, Experiences

To create a community of learners during the first week of school, I think it is important to allow the students to feel welcome and comfortable in their environment. As I went through grade school, I found that the teachers I encountered were very reserved and did not connect with individual students. It wasn’t until I started teaching and was introduced to a local school where I felt that not only did the students want to be there, but so did the teachers.

I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone. It is interesting to me how even being in that setting, it was obvious that a large gap existed between teachers and students. As I started to teach students in a high school myself, I realized that connecting with students allowed them to develop into creative thinkers and ultimately gave them the opportunity to open up to my classroom discussions.

My first long-term teaching experience started in the middle of the first quarter. The students’ original teacher had stepped out on maternity leave and accepted an entirely new job position out of state. This opportunity opened up for me to engage with students and create a positive work environment for them. I had my struggles when I first started because the original ground rules were not set from the previous teacher and I had to determine a way that I could prove to these students that I was there to stay and to make sure they would respect each other in our classroom.  It took a couple weeks for the students to adjust and open their minds to the material.

Based on my experiences from when I was learning in school until now teaching in school, I want to make sure that students are welcomed and encouraged from the very first day. I want to install group activities and icebreakers for students to get to know each other and me as a teacher. I love to see the creative sides of students and to see the light-blub go off when they understand a topic. In order to achieve this, we must put ourselves into the child’s shoes and find ways that will allow them to interact.

During the first week, I find it important to set the tone for the students and introduce the topic you will be covering throughout the semester. Allow them to understand what you are going to expect from them for the semester and what they should expect from you as well. It is important to make them comfortable with their surroundings and classmates and feel that they can come to you with any questions. It is also important to set the ground rules to all students so that they know how to behave in your classroom and ultimately throughout life. As a teacher, we must show the students how to be organized the first week and that they should expect the same from us. Show the students where they can locate important information and where they are expected to turn in assignments and/or homework. Show your students a classroom full of learning and excitement to get them involved. To some children, this is their escape to learn.

With the first week approaching quickly, I am feeling the pressure of getting ready to have three new classes. I am excited to work with students and mold their minds into creative thinkers while using inquiry in my classroom. I am striving to make their first week as exciting and engaging as possible. I want the students to want to be there while maintaining respect for the school, peers, and teachers. Through my experiences, I believe that I will be able to create a positive first week of school for both myself and my new students by using this first week lesson plan!

Categories: EDCI506-02 | 2 Comments