27 April 2012

Blog post #12

10 Ways to Differentiate Learning
Follow the link above and read the blog post presented by Ms. Edna Sackson.

As a country, the United States is well behind global education leaders such as Korea, Canada, and Norway. We have to make a change. We have to get away from the standardized, cookie cutter, one size fits all education system. It just doesn't work very well. Ms. Sackson gives her list of 10 ways to differentiate learning. Do you agree with her list? Is there anything you would add or take out of the list? How would you as a teacher implement some of these methods?
Chinese Proverb

26 April 2012

Project #15

Creativity and Curiosity: My Thoughts - Special Post #12A


Do our schools destroy the curiosity and creativity in our children?
     That is a very profound question. I think the depth comes from the fact that we all know the answer is yes and the implications of that answer are serious and difficult to resolve. The curriculum is so standardized and regimented that students hardly need to think for themselves. They are told what to do and how to do it in every aspect of their educational day. Every child is taught the exact same thing in the exact same fashon. That makes no sense.  How have we allowed this to happen? If it were not the educational system, but cable television or some other entity that was the culprit, it would have been shut down, turned off, and never heard from again. Why on earth don't we do something to correct this flaw?
     In the business world, employers want their employees to be quick thinkers, problem solvers, and outside the box thinkers. That is absolutely the opposite way those same people have been educated for almost two decades of their lives. It doesn't take a very intelligent person to figure out that if those methods were taught from childhood the individuals would be so much more adapted to real world work environments. The transition from school house to work place would be much more seamless and the employees would be more productive.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
– Albert Einstein 1952.


22 April 2012

C4K Summary

15 April 2012
This week, Dr. Strange had to give me a new student's blog to comment on. The most recent blog post from this new student, 18EMCO, was published on 10 April. Unfortunately, there really isn't any biographical information that I could find for this student. I can only guess that the student is a male and by reading through his blog, I found some references to where he lives. From his 3 April post, He says he lives in Fairfax and that the closest hospital is in a city named St. Albans. I did a Google search and found out that he lives in a very small town in Vermont. I supposed that 18EMCO is a middle school student or younger by the content of his blog posts, so I didn't want to criticize the quality of his blog post. I just told him to tell us some more about himself and to keep blogging. You have to start somewhere!
Fairfax Vermont

22 April 2012
I had the pleasure of watching a video posting from a third grade student, Angelo, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand. I absolutely love being able to read blogs from people out side of the United States. It is always interesting to look into their world, if only for a moment, and see how it compares to ours. In most cases, it is surprisingly similar. Angelo enjoys riding his bike and rollerblading, two things that many American children enjoy as well. He says he wishes to be an author when he grows up. Good luck to Angelo in his future endeavours!
Auckland New Zealand

15 April 2012

Blog post #11

Kathy Cassidy

Ms. Kathy Cassidy's first grade class video, "Little Kids...Big Potential", was impressive. If anyone has a question about weather or not technology in the class room works a simple hyperlink to this video would dispel any doubts. Her students absolutely love their technological journey in her classroom. They are learning skills that 10 years ago wouldn't have even been introduced as a subject matter until high school, if they were lucky. My daughter is in 7th grade and she has never had a class that even scratched the surface of what these 1st graders are learning about technology. Ms. Cassidy is right, it is the future, but it is also the present. Ms. Cassidy seems to have her students leaps and bounds ahead of their peers. She is lucky to have had administrations that did not limit her technological education program. I thought it was interesting to hear that some of her coworkers have the mind set of "that is how it has always been and it works so why change it". That is a very lazy frame of mind. One of my pet peeves is when someone answers a question with the answer: Because that is how we have always done it. That tells me that there has been no thought about something different, better, more efficient. They just do what has always been done because that is the easy way to do it. As educators, we have to think outside the box. Find new, more luring ways to educate our students. Once the mentality of "it is good enough" sets in, innovation ceases and we will never progress as a civilization. What a terrible thought...

It seems like every week in this EDM 310 class, I get more and more frustrated with the current state of our school system. My children go to school in rural Mississippi, so the technological deficit here is exacerbated. The most frustrating fact is that the problem is not one in which a single educator can fix. It has to be the focus of the entire administration, from the local school to the federal Department of Education, for the technological infiltration to take place. I just don't think, as a nation, we are ready to commit the tax dollars needed to right this wrong. The money is there, it just has to be allocated. At one point, America was spending $1billion per day in Afghanistan. Just imagine if that amount of money was spent on the education system...

Just saying...

Cassidy's Kids

08 April 2012

Blog post #10

education equals future

Do you Teach or Do you Educate?
This is an excellent video created by Joshua Bloom. It really puts the relationship of teacher and educator into perspective.
I am pursuing a degree in Physical Education. I can teach my students how to exercise and eat correctly, but with out educating them on why a healthy lifestyle is important, it would all just be a waste of time. Childhood obesity is growing to epidemic proportions and it is due in large part to the lack of education on the reasons why obesity occurs, what is so bad about excess body fat, and how crucial it is to begin a health lifestyle at a young age. Children are the future of our country. We are failing them. The children of our nation are fat and it is our fault. Type II diabetes rates are exploding and heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. All of this because of our poor diets and lack of physical exercise. It starts in the schools. We give the students unhealthy choices in the lunch line and cut the physical education budgets every time the district needs more money. P.E. "teachers" become frustrated or complacent and their students shoot hoops for 180 days a year. The school boards see this and think the P.E. programs are a waste of time and cut more funding. It is a viscous cycle and it has to end. As Physical Educators, we have to do just that; Educate our students about their physical selves. I am all in, are you?

Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home
This is an excellent post (and blog) about trying to remove objects of distraction instead of finding alternate sources for their attention. A good example of why this mentality is flawed was in the California prison system. The weights were taken out of the yards because some found it disturbing that their criminals were coming out of prison looking like body builders. What the inmates did was switch to calisthenics. By using only their body weight, the inmates became bigger, stronger, and more athletic than they were before.
This may be a little off topic, but I recently had a discussion with one of my past professors about what is called "testing". Personally, I find that label absurd. Weather it is a standardized state test or a 9 weeks exam, calling them "tests" couldn't be more ridiculous.

Test(n) - something (as a series of questions or exercises) for measuring the skill, knowledge, intelligence, capacities, or aptitudes of an individual or group.

About the only thing we test for is the ability of the students to regurgitate facts that are crammed into their short term memory. In the week leading up to, or even the class period prior to a scheduled "test" the students are given a "study guide" which, in most cases, is just a list of the answers to the questions that will be given on the upcoming "test". If a student's memorization skills are keen and they put fourth a modest effort, they will do just fine on the "test". This couldn't be more true with standardized state testing in our public schools. For two weeks, at our local school, the administration puts everything else on hold and drills the state test's materials in to the students heads with repetitive fury until they can puke out the information when the test is given, even then, they don't do that well. I wonder why... Something has to change...

I recently read an article, from 2010, on usatoday.com. Here is an excerpt:

"Scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment to be released Tuesday show 15-year-old students in the U.S. performing about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math."

The United States was given an "average" rating... How sad is it that the most powerful country in the world has an "average" education system? It is embarrassing to say the least.

An article I read in the Washington Post titled "U.S. falls in global ranking of young adults who finish college", may be even more gloomy. Here is an excerpt from that article:

"Instead of gaining ground, the United States has fallen from 12th to 16th in the share of adults age 25 to 34 holding degrees, according to the report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It trails global leaders South Korea, Canada and Japan and is mired in the middle of the pack among developed nations."


If this kind of educational decline continues, our economy continues to tank, and our dependency on foreign goods continues to increase, what kind of future are the citizens of this great nation going to have? Our children and their children deserve more and it is up to us to give it to them.

02 April 2012

C4T #3 Summary

Ms. White

20 March 2012
C4T #3
I was assigned to comment on Ms. Paula White's Reflections of the TZSTeacher blog. This is a very well put together blog with a large number of posts that are very robust.
Ms. White is an out side the box teacher. She constantly trying to find new, better, ways to approach her students' learning.

1 Apr 2012
When Is Listening Not Enough?
Ms. White says, "We’ve simply got to find ways to validate their feelings, empower them to act, and not just listen to what they say." I couldn't agree with her more. I have had some expirences with middle school aged athletes when I coached 7th grade football last year at my kid's middle school. I saw something that kid of disturbed me. The coaches seemed to have a "I am better than you" attitude. I guess it comes from the position of power these men hold over the kids. I can't say for a fact that they act the same way in their classrooms, but if they do, I feel sorry for their students. You have to be able to connect and relate to your students on their level. I know I am an adult and I know I have a position of authority, but that isn't what is important, they are! I am there to teach them, to help mold them in to adults. Treating them like they are less than I am is not a very productive technique, in my opinion.

01 April 2012

C4K Summary

25 March 2012
C4K #6
I was assigned to comment on the Class 12 blog. This is a 4th grade class from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK. This blog post was a movie that gave facts about the Titanic tragedy. I thought the movie's use of chalk on the pavement/concrete was interesting, but a little hard to read.
Bamboo Bridge, Bamboo bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

C4K #7
This week's Comments for Kids was for a 7th grade student from Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Her name is Kayla. She loves to dance! I have a 13 year old daughter who is a cheerleader for her middle school, so I know a thing or two about a teenager and their love of dancing!
Her most recent post, "7 Things That You Don't Know About Me", is a great way to connect with your blog audience. For most of us bloggers, we only have our "about me" section which gets filled in at the beginning of our blog and our blogs become filled with everything but stuff about who we are. I think it is essential to know who the person is while you are reading a blogging contribution. It helps with perspective.
Kayla's home

Blog post #9

Mr. McClung

At the Teacher's Desk
Joe McClung started teaching in the fall of 2008. His first job was in Noel, Missouri where he taught 6th grade science. After his first year of teaching, he moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and began teaching Social Studies and History on the 8th grade level. Mr. McClung started a blog post about what he had learned over the course of the school year. He has taught for three years and each one of the blog post are a great read. It is excellent to be able to read about the experiences and lessons learned from a teacher just starting out.
Mr. McClung was experiencing some difficulties with his school change and subject change. His experiences from his first year of teaching, the year prior, were of tremendous help with this huge change, but is some regards, he had to teach himself how to teach all over again. With new students, new subjects, and new administration, the proverbial deck was stacked against him. Through out the year, he learned a great deal about himself, his students, and his strengths and weaknesses. I think the most important lesson of all was to not loose sight of what is important: The students.
This year, Mr. McClung experienced a few more firsts. This was the first time he had taught at the same school for two consecutive years, he began coaching the cross country team, and taught computer applications.
I especially liked the "Don't be Afraid to be an Outsider" topic.

"I play my music way too loud, I eat my lunch with students and not in the teacher's lounge, I enjoy being connected to my students through blogging and social media, and I enjoy being immature."

That is how I see my self as an educator. I thihk there is, at times, too much of a disconnect between teachers and their students. Almost like an "I am better than you" attitude because of the position of authority an educator or sports coach has. I enjoy evolving myself in the daily goings on with my teen aged children and their friends. I coached middle school football last year and seemed to have the respect and admiration of the kids more so than the rest of the coaching staff simply because I made a stronger connection with them by carrying on conversations with the kids and showing them that I cared about what they had going on in their lives. I believe that connecting with students at a personal level is absolutely critical.
It seems as though Mr. McClung is coming in to his own. Every year he finds out more about himself and adds additional tools to his teaching repertoire. I will definitely bookmark his blog for future reading as his "What I Learned This Year" series continues.

Mr. McClung also has another, very good, blog here. This blog is more a "daily goings on" for his Social Studies and AVID classes as well as the cross country and track teams. Good stuff.