Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twitter Article: Welcome back to school "reform"

This entire article is about what happened this summer with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Race to the Top intiative. The author blogs regularly, and this article is from one of her blogs; she took the summer off, so this post is mainly her catching up on what happened.
She makes it very clear that she disagrees with these intiatives, stating that teachers are losing the chance to teach what they find to be important and only being able to teach those areas that will help their students score satisfactorily on the state achievement tests. I completely agree with her; I find it ludicrous that teachers are being evaluated on their students' ability to be good test-takers. It is not fair that schools are having their budgets cut and teachers are being placed on probation because they are not teaching to the test. I wish there was a way to evaluate teachers in an effective manner without relying on test scores. Standardized tests can only prove so much...
The author also discusses the ways certain schools and even the government is handling the results of the standardized tests. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rewarded the Los Angeles Times for listing in the newspaper names and pictures of teachers they deemed inadequate. Furthermore, major civil rights groups issued a statement discussing their opposition to NCLB and Race to the Top and scheduled a press briefing, but were "persuaded" by Duncan to cancel the briefing and release the statement without incident.
I completely agree with Ravitch in that NCLB and Race to the Top are hurting our schools rather than helping. One can only hope that as schools fail to meet the government's expectations, Secretary Duncan and President Obama re-think their methods of "helping."

It's Elementary - Chapter Twelve

Two of my favorite resources that recently become available to educators and students are E-mail and Blogging. In this age of technology, students are constantly using the computer in a variety of ways. Oftentimes, students are using technologies such as E-mail and blogging in their personal lives anyways. I feel as though these two can be a powerful tool in keeping students engaged in their schoolwork.
Oftentimes, in high school, I wished that we had access to an E-mail account that connected us to our teachers and fellow students. Oftentimes, there was an instance where I had a brief question about an assignment while I was working on it at home that could have been easily resolved through a quick E-mail response. I believe that using E-mail has great potential for collaborative learning. As the text mentions, E-mail can be used to discuss books or class topics. Also, the concept of using E-mail to communicate with another class is a modern take on the traditional 'pen-pal'. However, using E-mail can immensely speed up this process and allow students to get immediate response from their peers. This can build strong connections and and relationships that are invaluable to our students.
Through my college career, I have found that blogging can be extremely helpful in the sharing of information between students. Multiple courses at IWU have allowed me to practice this tool. Like E-mail, I have found that this can be a quick way to share information with my peers.
However, both of these technologies have a downside. Teachers must monitor to ensure that students are not making inappropriate comments. Especially in a time where online bullying is quite prevalent, we must protect our students from hurtful comments.
Overall, if monitored properly, I feel as though E-mail, blogging and other online resources will completely change the way that students and teachers interact and learn.

It's Elementary - Chapter Seven

This chapter brought up ideas that I had never considered in relation to word processing. Personally, I prefer writing my ideas with a pencil and paper before I type an assignment into a word document. However, Chapter 7 enforced the benefits of using word processing with students. I began to realize how poor spelling students can become overwhelmed an 'bogged down' trying to spell correctly and look for their errors that they actually accomplish very little work. Also word processing can help students to find alternatives for words that are continuously repeated throughout the assignment.
Most importantly, my attention was brought to the fact that using word processing can 'level the field' for evaluating writing. Oftentimes, we can pass judgment on a student's work based on their handwriting without even realizing we are doing so. When a student has very messy and illegible handwriting, teachers will overlook the quality of the content that they have written. On the other hand, when a student has very neat handwriting, it is easy to overlook errors and give a good grade simply because the page looks more appealing. In this respect, using word processing can be very beneficial to our students success.