Thursday, December 30, 2010
First of all, America's present-day youth are spending the majority of their time involved in structured activities: soccer practice, music lessons, organizations, and the like consume their "free time". When they are faced with "free time", many children (and adults alike) spend it engaged in some kind of electronic device. The most common, of course, is the computer. The Global Achievement Gap discusses how educators must harness these technological devices and put them to use in their classrooms. On page 173, it discusses how the stereotype of a "computer geek" is long gone. Eighty percent of preteens and teens use MySpace weekly. Children are great at multitasking, but there is considerable concern when they are faced with digging deeper into one topic.
The problem, according to The Global Achievement Gap, is not that our country is filled with poor teachers or low quality schools. The problem is that our schools and teachers are outdated. We must update our systems. Currently, our students are excellent at memorizing facts and data and the ability to regurgitate it. The issue that they face is that the global market and economy are requiring people to have skills that are not being taught in schools; skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and communication.
Other countries around the world are preparing students by teaching them these skills. Japan has long been known for its teamwork mentality. They are expected to work as a team and solve problems as a team. The Global Achievement Gap suggests that America needs to do something similar. One vice president from Talent Management at Cisco System actually suggests that American schools need to throw out textbooks altogether because the answers to tomorrow's problems are not in yesterday's solutions (p.15-16). This is somewhat extreme, in my opinion.
Overall, the book did a great job of exposing me to new ideas that exist globally. I would suggest this book as a launching point for anyone interested in how America is competing with other countries globally. However, I did not feel that many solutions were presented. It was mostly pointing out problems but not offering much in the way of solutions.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
1) Project-based learning
2) Smaller class sizes
3) Cross-curricular units of study
4) Field experience (internships)
5) Consistent student conferencing with EACH student
6) Individualized programs of study based on student interest
7) Community involvement and support
8) AND financial stability
I have to admit I started out quite skeptical of this book. However, I really feel that it has opened my eyes and made me really look at the way I teach. This chapter especially hit home for me. I often feel that students miss out on a lot of the experiences they SHOULD be getting because of the large emphasis on test taking and knowledge based standards. I am really finding that when students are most motivated I have to cut them off because we just have so much content to cover and not enough time for the things that really matter.
The quote that I picked is actually on the very last page of the conclusion chapter:
We should all take a minute to reflect on this quote and then, just as I tell my students, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, or at least try! :)
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The chapter focus deals with the concept many teachers have of their students – that of having unmotivated students in the classroom. The author has discovered in his interviews and studies that it may not be that our students are not motivated, but that students nowadays are motivated in different ways in we ourselves were. With the coming of age of the internet and all the related technology, students have come to be used to instant results and discovering results through various types of inquiries. They have also evolved into using various resources, not just the web, but other networks including social.
All this basically boils down to teachers having to become aware of students’ competence and self-assuredness of using ‘different’ tools in the classroom. The chapter also made the connection to making the learning in the classroom real-world in order to motivate students. As one of the interviewees stated, “school is boring for kids today because it hasn’t caught up with what kids can do outside of school”.
My quote comes from the Singapore educators on page 192. "Their new mantra is 'teach less, learn more. Schools need to focus more on projects and the inquiry method. They need to engage students with passion."
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The author has done extensive research in classrooms across the USA. I especially found his descriptions of different "learning walks" to be very effective. It was interesting how he stated that when a group of teachers would look at a classroom's lesson, they would grade it anywhere from an F to an A -- looking at the same lesson. This held true in public and private schools across the USA. I think what all educators need to sit down and do -- principals, superintendents, teachers, school board members, even students -- is look at this question, look at the research, and make some careful considerations:
"What is the real problem you're trying to solve, and how do you know it's the most important problem you should be working on?"
Overall, I agree that the teaching education as a whole needs to be addressed. It is unfortunate that over half of all new teachers will leave the profession within the first five years. However, I can understand why. I recently heard the question posed on television, "Is the presidency too much for one individual to handle?" and I would have to apply the same question to teaching. If I did not have the close-knit connection with the paraprofessionals and the other certified teacher in my building, it would be too much. On a daily basis, I have to reevaluate and ask myself, "What are the most important things we will accomplish today?" I wish we did have more time to collaborate with each other and get useful feedback in order to improve our instruction.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Chapter 2: The Old World of School
Quick Summary of 7 Survival Skills
1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
3. Agility and Adaptability
4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
5. Effective Oral and Written Communication
6. Accessing and Analyzing Information
7. Curiosity and Imagination
Question: Are our most successful schools and students actually learning the 7 survival skills?
How did the author answer this question?
• He visited classrooms and takes us (the readers) along with him.
What types of schools did he visit?
• He visited 2 suburban schools and 1 Department of Defense School
o Suburban Schools are considered ‘high performing’ and are ranked among the best in the state that they are located.
o DoDEA school high graduation rate with high percentage of minority and low income students and showed a lowering of the achievement gap between low-income and middle class students with testing.
• Schools represent the teaching and learning experiences that college-bound students are receiving.
• Leaders of these schools (superintendents and principals) want to address any short-comings found and improve teaching and learning in their schools.
How did he evaluate what types of teaching and learning was happening in the classrooms?
• He did what he calls ‘Learning Walks’ through the classes.
o Spends ~10 minutes in 8 to 10 classrooms over a couple of hours.
o Gains a ‘snapshot’ view of the learning occurring in the school.
o Using class observations, homework assigned and student written work allows assessment of purpose of the lesson and skills students are learning.
o Observes a wide variety of grades and subject areas but all classes observed are considered to be ‘advanced’, ‘Honors’, AP or ‘college track’ classes.
o Tries to answer 2 questions during the Learning Walk:
What is the difference between what I saw in this high school class versus what I’d see being taught in a 6th grade class? Are the students being progressively intellectually more challenged in the higher grades?
What is my level of confidence that with the type of classes seen in the Learning Walk, the students will be adequately prepared for college or today’s workplace?
Learning Walk Conclusions:
o Students in all 3 schools being taught ‘subject content standards’ or ‘test-prep’ standards.
o For the most part students not being taught skills needed to succeed after high school whether in college or the work force.
o All 3 schools had school leaders that wanted to improve teaching and learning in their schools, yet none of them had any idea of how to make the weaker teachers better and help the stronger teachers to continue to improve.
Why? Neither teachers nor principals are trained in this area.
Need new ways, other than student test scores, to evaluate teaching and learning in schools.
What about the lower grade levels?
Instead of doing his Learning Walks in elementary and middle schools he summarized findings from University of Virginia’s study of elementary (1-5) classrooms. Even though the 7 survival skills should be introduced and taught at these lower levels they are not. Due to NCLB, time spent on ELA and Math basics has increased, while time for other subjects and reasoning and problem solving skills has decreased. In short, they have the same curriculum as the high schools…test prep.
What type of curriculum are global schools teaching?
• The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) sponsors the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA develops and administers assessments of reading, math and scientific literacy to 15 year olds in countries that participate in the program. In 2003 a new test was administered in 41 countries involved in the testing. This test measured the problem solving abilities in 3 areas: making decisions under constraints, evaluating and designing systems for a particular situation and trouble-shooting a malfunctioning device or system based on a set of symptoms. How did the US score compare to other OECD countries? Not well. The US scored below 28 other countries. Our students are not learning to be reflective, communicative problem solvers. What is the US good at in terms of the 7 survival skills? Innovation; a skill that involve curiosity and imagination. Probably due to the fact that we allow free speech and exchange of ideas. But as more countries move towards free expression will our advantage in this area last? US schools must move towards curriculums that develop problem-solving skills as well as contribute more towards our students capacity for creativity, imagination and innovation. This is the direction that other countries are taking while the US is pushing standard-based curriculum and basic knowledge. This is threatening America’s students from being able to compete on a global level.
“The most significant impact of NCLB may be its contribution to the growing gap between what’s being taught and tested in even our better schools versus what today’s students will need to succeed and be productive citizens in the twenty-first century- the global achievement gap.”
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Testing 1,2,3! Standardized tests are placed under the microscope in this chapter. The author discusses the widespread use of standardized testing in all the various content areas. The view under the microscope continually reveals that the testing is a ineffectual tool in determining student achievement, based on evidence stated from colleges and businesses. Students who are successful on the standardized tests are not necessarily as successful in life. Even in advanced placement classes, students are learning the content and to "test" but are unable to use what they know in life. The author discusses the importance of using authentic assessments that will determine a student's ability to write, reason, and problem-solve. The effect of NCLB was an increased push toward the old-style standardized testing, so it will be increasingly difficult for states to move toward a newer-type of authentic assessment. According to the author, that is exactly what needs to occur.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
When I looked at the original cover of the book, I immediately thought of how quaint and old school the student desks looked. It made me realize that a lot of education is still in that simplier time and its no wonder that there is a gap between our students achievement and the rest of the world. My new cover shows American educators and students 'Jumping the Gap' to achieve the skills needed to work and think critically in this new truely global world.
Monday, October 25, 2010
My Quote: page 26- Mike Summers, vp of Global Talent Management at Dell Computers- "Students have a naivete about how work gets done in the corporate environment. They have a predisposition toward believing that everything is clearly outlined, and then people give directions, and then other people execute until there's a new set of directions. They don't understand the complexities of an organization."
My thoughts- This book was not my first choice (not even my third - but Borders had it) so I probably came in with a bad attitude. But I wanted to get started right away. Then when the second page referred to the book "The World is Flat" I rolled my eyes. I have heard one too many speeches about how we are compared to Japan, India, China etc. Japan students go to school literally year round, Germany places their students into tracks and test the best ones. We are accountable for every child every time. Which we should be- but don't compare us to those who don't. My other thought on this book. Where is the question to the business people- what are you doing to help the schools. Do you have mentoring programs,volunteer at our schools, or aid in the financial way? What are they doing? The teachers today have a very hard job. We are the first generation to be responsible for global awareness/world communication. How do we do it with budget cuts, computers that do not work, and NCLB scores threatening us? When does the "real world" step in and say how can we help?
Sunday, October 24, 2010
This image struck me on various levels when looking for something that would signify the 'achievement gap'. First, as a teacher, I see my role as a balancing act when preparing lessons for my students. I need to be able to instruct in a way that the standards our not only met but mastered by the students. I also need to make my lessons relevant to the students of today.
Finally, I see my students, as far as their achievement, balancing between creating a bridge one way, and slipping farther away from others if it falls the other.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Section One--Due October 28, Danielle Hunt
Section Two--Due November 4, Susan Roth
Section Three--Due November 11, Wendy Larson
Section Four--Due November 18, Sheridan Hansen
Section Five--Due December 2, Dave Schmidt
Section Six--Due December 9, Meagan Schlecht