Thursday, April 4, 2013

My vision for education in 2020


The year 2020 will be the year of education reformation.  In 2020 we will be confused as we are today concerning education.  The government will be seeing the results of educational programs and mandates they have implemented in the years 2010-2019.  They will be seeing some growth in test scores, but not the growth they hoped to see. The government will realize high test scores do not guarantee students who can apply their knowledge. Budget cuts in the early teen years also forced school districts to make hard decisions. Programs and staffs have been cut.  The districts are only now rebounding from the drastic cuts.  Many good teachers were driven from the profession due to unrealistic demands place on them by the government and by districts.  Professionals need to be enticed to enter the teaching profession.  Teachers will be sought from all walks of life. 

  During the years 2010-2019 many districts were not able to keep up with the technology available to them.  Only the wealthier districts were able to keep up with the latest and newest technology.  The gap between wealthier and poorer districts has increased.  Many schools are run by the government as they did not make AYP and were taken over.  Education on the whole has not kept up with the times.  Students are still being taught in a 19th century setting with a 19th century doctrine to compete for 21st century jobs.  The government is only beginning to understand that politicians should not be making educational decisions.  As the year 2020 dawns, teaching professionals and business leaders will be included in discussions on how to best educate students.  Information gained from these discussions is on the fast track to be implemented in the classrooms.  Plans for the future of schools are radical and full of controversy.  Instead of measuring American student achievement against the rest of the world, America student achievement will not be based on test scores but rather on student production, performance and their ability to apply the knowledge they have learned.  The ability use their knowledge in the competitive worldwide market.

   Schools  in 2020 will now be following a business model.  Successful CEOs of the nation’s top businesses will be acting as consultants to school districts.  The tax burden for funding education has been removed from the tax payers. Businesses are investing in the schools.  They have a direct stake in the education students receive.  Many students will now have externships as part of their education plan.  Business will be training teachers in new technology and helping to write lesson plans.  Businesses will be supplying schools with the latest technology.  Students will be being given laptops by the businesses for use in schools.  The 100 dollar laptop project has also come to America.  Students in intercity schools will now have the same opportunities as wealthy suburban districts. The gap between the wealthy and the poor will begin to close.

 Broad, radical, and new ideas will be tried with promising results. Students in one district may receive instruction from another district though reciprocal programs. Plans are in the works to give students a say in their education.  They will be educated based on their interests, learning styles, and abilities.  Each student will have an IEP.  IEPs will be the norm not the exception.  Traditional classrooms will be faded out.  Schools in the years after 2020 will be smaller versions of their former selves.  Schools are no longer huge buildings where students gather for 7.5 hours a day.  Schools will run on 24/7 schedule.  Students will be able to access most of their content from home.  Teachers will be housed in the schools not students.  The schools will have lecture halls, laboratories, shops, kitchens, and a few classrooms.  Students will have the ability to report to the actual school building on their own schedule.  They will be able to access help at any time of the day or night.  The typical school day will no longer be typical.  Students may schedule lab time, meetings with teachers, and shop use.  Some schools such as vo-technical schools will no longer be in existence as districts and business take over these classes.  Students will access technical programs through the supporting businesses and receive workplace training. 

Each student will have a mentor. Students will be using web technology to collaborate with each other and their business and work place mentors to complete assignments.  Students’ ideas will be shared with each other and businesses.  Promising students will receive the guidance they need to see their ideas to fruition.  Struggling students will receive individual attention.  Technology will be developed to address students learning difficulties.  Remediation will not look like remediation.  Using technology, remediation will take place in real world settings. Students will be able to see how what they are learning has real world applications.  Gifted students will have access to accelerated programs.  They will be encouraged to explore their interest with guidance coming from both the business and educational realms.

Internet access is more easily obtain and has become cheaper in 2020.  It will soon be free to all.  Hot spots will be placed throughout school districts to provide internet service to all residence of the district.  Internet service has become more reliable and is not subject to outages.  Back up internet services are in place and ready to go when needed.  This continual and free internet service will permit students to interact with other students worldwide.  Following the business model, students will collaborate with other students in different countries to complete school projects. The world has truly become a classroom.

3-D projection platforms will be tested and will be in schools soon.  Through these projections students will be able to participate in activities occurring in other locations.  The will be able to view the activity from multiple angles.  They will be able to ask questions and receive answers in real time.  Virtual field trips will be projected on the 3-D platform.  The student will become part of the field trip, experiencing the field trip, not just watching the field trip.  Through the use of new technology, students will be able to have tactical and olfactory abilities to truly experience the field trip.  

Teaching has become guiding, pointing, and nudging the student in self-discovery. Teachers will still need to be well rounded, but will also become experts in areas.  Teachers will be given more freedom to increase their knowledge base.  Team teaching will popular and common.  The team will consist of a minimum of two individuals, one from the business world and one from the educational world. Letter grades have become a thing of the past.  Student knowledge is based on performance and production results not test results.  Students will need to demonstrate their ability to use their knowledge, not just know about something.  Students will progress through school at their own pace.  They must show true mastery of a subject before they will be permitted to move on to the next level of instruction. Subjects will no longer be taught as separate subjects but rather as one integrated curriculum.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Google Sites


After reviewing a number of web applications, I have chosen Google Sites to recommend to my students.  My students love anything to do with computers and technology.  The ability to create their own webpage without a lot of computer skills and knowledge would be very appealing to them.  I would suggest to my students that they create a “To Do List” webpage.  They do not remember their assignments.  By having their own personal webpage where they can update it with important information  and hopefully they would remember to complete their assignments.  They could also use the page to store assignments in progress or completed assignments by adding pages to their homepage.  They would then have access to them in school and at home.  They would have access to them from any computer.  They could also create a webpage wiki to work on assignments as a group.  They could not then use the excuse that so and so had the project and they were not able to have it to work or it, or so and so forgot the project at home so they cannot work on it in class or present it when it is due.

My students would need a review on internet safety and what is acceptable to place on a webpage.  They would also need to be reminded that even though this is a personal webpage, I still need access to it and they MUST FOLLOW all school rules regarding internet use.  Parent permission must also be granted before the students would be permitted to create their own webpage.  I see having their own webpage as a very useful school tool.  They could share their school work with relatives or whomever they choose.  It may help them take more pride in their school work.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Big Shift # 5


Big Shift 5: Know “Where”Leaning

My students love to look for information on the internet but they do not know where or what they are looking at.  This shift is a problem for me.  My students are overwhelmed with the amount of material they find when they search for information.  They believe they must look at each result.  They do not know how to sort through all the results they get.  I spend a large amount of time trying to encourage my students to only look at a few sites instead of every site that the search returns.  Hopefully as the students search on the internet more and more they will become more savvy searchers.  As more and more teachers are assigning research work, they are also slowing showing students how to conduct this research.  In the future, I hope to be able to help my students find the information they seek, without having to look at every result given.  The students must also be taught where to look for the information and not just Google for results.  They must be taught how to fine tune their searches.  They are not familiar with looking at sites ending in .edu, .net, .org or.gov.  These sites are options in which my students need more instruction. 

The internet holds a vast amount of information, unfortunately many people believe because they find it on the internet it must be true.  The students must learn to view all sites with a critical eye. I am leery of letting my students search the internet for information without guidance.  As my students learn how to search the internet and are able to discern valuable information from opinion and falsehoods, this shift in education will help students learn by leaps and bounds.  In order to incorporate this shift in my classroom, I must demonstrate to my students how to truly search for information on the web and not just accept what Google returns.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Paperless Classes


Paperless classes?

Having a paperless class would make my job a nightmare.  I am taking paperless to be truly paperless.  As a learning support teacher I need paper in my classroom.  My students struggle with math concepts.  We use paper to work out math problems.  I supply note cards to my students with the steps to follow to solve a problems.  I have them work out problems with me.  I do use a chalk board and smart board to work with the students, but my students need to take the steps with them to math class.  I do not know of a computer program that would let the students manipulate the parts of the problem around.  If one exist it would take time to learn and then teach to my students. 

I also write instructions and chunk material for my student.  Each student’s needs are unique.  I custom each students instructions to their needs.  Some students just get written instructions, while others get visuals.  My students take these instructions with them when they leave.  Many of my students do not have computer access at home, having the instructions on paper is an asset to them.  I have parents that want paper study guides sent home with written instructions. Many of my students need the material read to them.  Often this material is read whenever we can grab the time.  Often it is when there is down time in one of their core classes.  Having a book on hand is easier than going back to my room, waiting for the computer to boot up and then find where we have let off.  Having a book, I can place bookmark at the location where I left off with each students.  I can carry the book with me to classes and have it ready to go.  I do not need internet access to help my students. 

Another problem is with the quality of internet access my students have.  If their internet access is limited or non-existent, they would not be able to access the information needed to complete the class assignments, study guides and needed programs and materials.  Many of my students would not be able to read the material on the net.  My students do not have a reading program on their computer to help them read the material.  With the special needs of my students I do not think having a paperless classroom would help my students learn.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Are Kids getting dumber?


Are kids getting dumber?
Mark Bauerlein asks the question,” Is technology making kids dumber?”   This is an interesting question.  I have often wondered this also.  Recently my students had to make measurement conversions.  This caused them much distress.  I was amazed at how many 9th grade students did not know how many cups are in a pint and from there figure out how many cups are in a gallon.  They did not know how many feet are in a mile and even how many feet are in a yard.  When they have to pick a verb out of a sentence, they are completely lost.  Many cannot do simple addition facts without the aid of a calculator.  It seems they lack basic knowledge. They cannot name the states that surround Pennsylvania. Some are not able to locate Pennsylvania on a map.  They cannot name the oceans or the continents.  They are unable to locate countries on a map.  Many cannot make change.  Some cannot read an analog clock.  They do not know what the term “quarter till the hour” means or “10 after the hour” means.  One student didn’t understand why he need to memorize these things as he could Google them and he can use a calculator to do the math and he did not need to know how to read a map, that is what map quest or GPS are for.  When proof reading students work, I am finding they do not know how to use proper English and spellings.  The use of “U” in place of you,” bcuz” for because, “gr8”, “k” and other short cuts appear in their writing.  They do not know what formal writing is.  If they are made to write a paragraphs of a least 5 sentences, they are lost.  Their world consists of short replies made using language short cuts.  They seem unable to put more than two coherent thoughts together.  Anything that takes longer than two minutes to do is not worth doing and takes much too long.  Yet they think I am the dumb one that I do not have Facebook, or Twitter account.  When they find out I do not know or recognize the names of celebrities, I am the dumb one.  The fact that I do not care what a movie star had for lunch yesterday is something they cannot understand.   This is the knowledge they find important and they need to know.  The other “stuff” they can find on the internet when they need to know it.
Link to Mark Bauerlein question and answer session.

Friday, March 22, 2013

response to connectivism


I am responding to the wiki supporting connectivism as learning theory.  The wiki can be found at

http://spring13-bce-01.wikispaces.com/Group+A+6-A-1

This wiki states

In addition to being a theory to support self-directed learners pursuing their own informal learning experiences, connectivism can also be used as a foundational theory to support formal learning experiences. Connectivism is unique among major learning theories for addressing how learning can happen outside the minds of individuals and within communities or organizations.

I would like to counter the last statement.  How can learning take place outside of the minds of individuals?  What will process the information, make sense of the information, know how to apply the information, turn the information in to usable knowledge? I do not know of any community or organization that is made up of mindless people. I believe people become part of a community or organization because they share the same beliefs and values.  Are not beliefs and values based in one mind?  What a person has come to believe is based on information gathered and processed within their minds.  “Many of our beliefs are simply conclusions we have drawn based on our experiences as children.” (maralena, n.d.) We pondered these experiences in our mind and came to conclusions about these experiences.

The Natural Learning Institute proclaims learning engages the physiology; the brain/mind is social; and learning always involves conscious and unconscious processes.  Where does conscious lie? In the mind? Does not the mind conduct social interactions?  Based on these facts, I cannot understand how learning can occur outside the mind.  I still ask what is doing the learning if the mind is not?  A group or an organization is made up of people who have minds.  The only learning that happens within the group or organizations is within the minds of its members. They discuss issues and socialization takes place. Information is shared, but one must use one’s mind to participate in this socialization process.  Anything involving people cannot be mindless.  Some thought process occurs.  To remove the mind from the learning process is to remove the individual from the learning process.

maralena. (n.d.). What are beliefs?. Retrieved from http://www.marlana.org/beliefs.htm

The natural learning research institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.naturallearninginstitute.org/UPDATEDSITE

My Skype experience


Teresa and I managed to get together to Skype.  The connection was not the best and we lost each other at the end of the call.  We also used the text feature of Skype to finish the conservation.  We were able to have a nice conservation.

                I have used Skype before.  I have Skyped by son at college in Maryland and I have participated in a family group Skype to my niece who was a missionary in India.  Through Skype we were able to share our holiday celebrations with my niece.  American holidays of course are not observed in India.  To help keep her from feeling lonely on Thanksgiving and Christmas we held a family Skype session.  She enjoyed to session.  At one point we just had Skype on and let it go while we did our celebrations, she was able to participate in the celebrations and add to them.  If made her feel a little less lonely. 

                Next school year my students will have a world cultures class.  I can see using Skype to get in contact with my niece.  The students can ask her questions and see the inside of a house in India first hand.  This Skype would also have more meaning to my students as my niece works as a substitute teacher for our district when she is home.  Right now she is home to gather more support.  She is substituting in the district.  She is meeting some of my students. 

                I also have a friend that is a missionary to Indonesia.  I could Skype her and my students could see another culture through her eyes.  We can also use Skype to make contact with students in other states and other countries.  I think students are interested in learning about the school system in different parts of the world.  My students think they have it so hard.  By learning about other school systems, they might begin to appreciate what they have and how lucky they are to have a free education.