Friday, October 26, 2012

West Virginia Grade 8 Test 1931 Reflection

The 8th grade test given in West Virginia in 1931 is not something I could see myself using today. It lacks all of the components that would make up a good test today.

First, the questions are all the same format and require the student to regurgitate the memorized information. There are many flaws with this setup. It is a test made for a handful of students, there is no differentiation. There is one type of question, short answer, from the information the student should have memorized. This creates a lot of stress for the student and unfortunately is the type of test that shows what the student DOESN'T know instead of what the student does know. If the student is not good at answering short answer questions the test should be made up of a variety of question types to allow the student to showcase the information they know in the way they can best. If the student has the knowledge we should give them every possibility to show us that they know it.

Second, there are a lot of issues with the content. The material seems to touch upon only a couple specific ideas. Rather, a good test should encompass a variety of overarching themes. I agree that there are times where specific ideas are important to test but they can be worked into questions that involve more critical thinking skills. For example, question II asks the student to name one country. Instead this could be developed to ask the student to employ higher order thinking skills as well as naming the one country.

Finally, this test would never work today because I believe it lacks a few of the fundamental skills we are trying to teach. First of all, the test does not promote good teaching strategies. You can tell from this test that the teacher is simply drilling these facts into the students head so that the student can regurgitate the information and move on to the next grade. It doesn't teach the student how to live in the real world. A test today would include being able to show the information in relation to today's world and skills that are beneficial today.

Overall, the test seems to have worked for the time in which it was given. Today though, a test like this would never suffice. Instead, a good test would have a variety of options for a student to show us what they know, in the format that works best for them, employing their higher order thinking skills, and asking them to employing real world skills and strategies and use specific details to build a big picture instead of stopping at the specific details.

Creating Learning Experiences without the Textbook Reflection

This type of learning seems like it would be a great addition to a professional development day. We just recently had one and although it was helpful, I feel as though I got ten times the amount of ideas from this ten minute video than I did in our three hour meeting. The videos seem to be very well done and packed full of helpful (and mostly free) resources as well as other ways to collaborate with other teachers in the same content area. I think a few of these videos would be a great addition to professional development.

 As far as the actualy content goes, I watched the presentation on "Creating Learning Experience Without the Textbook".  At first I was really confused by the video.  There was no introduction so even though I knew what the video was about I wasn't sure what exactly they were talking about.  Besides that I have no complaints.  The content and the amount of ideas and resources they packed into the ten minutes were unbelievable.  I love the idea of creating learning experiences without a textbook.  For one, students are bored with textbooks theses days.  With so much technology in their lives students view textbooks as archaic and aren't as motivated to do the work.  Also, if you're not teaching from the textbook it is a lot easier to create real world experiences and make it more relatable to students which are both important because it is important to have real world skills these days and it helps motivate students.

I liked the idea of teachers and parents using videos to teach content.  My boyfriends sister was just telling me about something like this at her school in RI.  She is a junior and said her math teacher uses iPads to teach (this does require buying or renting an iPAD).  The teacher assigns videos for the students to watch for homework.  Then the next day they come into class and do practice problems on the content from the previous night.  This way the teacher can spend all of his time assuring the students knowhow to solve the problem (the students won't be doing this alone at home).  She also said she likes this because she can do the lesson as fast/slow as she needs to and doesn't feel uncomfortable asking questions in class.

I also loved the idea of QR codes and interactive field trips.  I think that both of these get the students excited and really eager to learn.  The QR codes act as a scavenger hunt and can really add to the learning that can't be taught using only a book.  Instead, students can see a video of what something would look like or see a map (great for visual learners!)

Overall, I think the videos would be a great addition to professional development days.  I have been at Haverhill High for a little over two months and have never heard any teacher mention any of these activities/programs.  I think that hearing all of these great sites and resources would be helpful to many of the teachers.  As far as the video goes, I think the ideas mentioned to create learning experiences without using the textbook are great.  They help create motivation to learn, create real world experiences and help students develop skills for the real world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Presidential debate Using Storify

P.140-End of Book Reflection

The last section of the book focused on something I have mentioned several times in my blog.  The authors talked about the heavy reliance the United States has on standardized test and what we can do to stop that.  The authors proposed two ideas.  I couldn't agree more that getting rid of standardized testing is what we need yet I'm not sure I agree with their proposals.  One idea is is national certifications and the other is skill-based assessment.  National Certification would be interesting.  What would determine who would graduate high school and who wouldn't?  Th authors say that you could take a class or study on your own time for specific tests of your own choosing but who would be motivating these students to study?  Towards the end of the book the authors talk about intrinsic motivation.  They talk about having student develop an interest in something and this will create intrinsic motivation.  Yet, with many of my students I don't think that is possible.  They love a lot of things but still wouldn't want to be tested on it.  Also, how would IEP's be dealt with?  I don't see this system working.  It puts too much responsibility on the student and after all these students are still kids.  I would love for my students to be more responsible but even if it were a topic they loved I think a lot of students would have trouble completing the certificate.  Also, if students want to be a doctor they say, students should get certificates in biology, chemistry, etc.  The problem with that, though, is that almost no students know what they want to do at that age.  If I was asked in high school what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have said something to do with English.  In college I graduated with a degree in pre-med and am now in grad school to be a biology teacher.  You have no idea what you want as a high schooler.

 I agree that standardized testing is not the way to test the knowledge our students have but I'm not sure the way the authors have proposed will work either.  I feel that a good way to determine students knowledge of a core subject would be through portfolios.  You could use a lot of differentiation and give students a list of 30 assessment pieces (projects, tests, webquests, etc).  They would then be able to choose any one they wanted at the end of a unit and compile it in their portfolio.  Their grade would then be based off of the portfolio.  This way students feel that they are more in control of their learning and also can show the teacher what they DO know as opposed to one option assessments where a lot of times students are only showing what they DON't know.  As much as I wish we were moving in the direction of portfolio assessment I don't think that is the case.  At our last team meeting teachers were talking about moving away from the MCAS to a country wide standardized test.  I think that standardized testing is here to stay.  At least for quite a while.

One great point the authors make is about the quality of knowledge we teachers are teaching.  The core curriculum is still heavily focused on trivial knowledge that does not prepare students for the real world after college whatsoever.  It may have forty years ago but things are changing faster than ever now and we need to teach skills that are going to be beneficial to students.  This goes back to standardized testing.  Teachers teach trivial knowledge because it is one of the standards they are told to teach because students will be tested on it.  Student successes on these tests often reflect on the teacher and grant money depends on it.  This means teachers cannot teach information they feel is beneficial but rather are required to teach to the test.  It is a never ending cycle and something needs to be done to stop it.

Teaching to the test causes 50% of 9th and 10th graders to be bored during school.
-According to a report from the text

Friday, October 12, 2012

Handout Reflection

"We do not grow into creativity...we grow out of
 it-or rather, we are educated out of it."

This quote perfectly sums up the major error we have seen with education in the past and, along with technology, is the driving force behind why we have seen and will see a very different kind of learning taking place in the twenty first century.  As the 21st century knowledge-and-skills rainbow shows, learning in the twenty first century will be based around the core subjects, but they will be taught in a way that incorporates and emphasizes life and career skills, learning and innovation skills and information, and media and technology skills.  I couldn't agree more with this representation of what education should look like.  Some of the examples we have read about include an extreme opinion of what education should look like.  Those in favor of technology believe that students should use technology all the time, eventually, perhaps, even be taught by an online program.  Those opposed to the technology movement believe that the old way of educating worked and should stay.  We should continue to lecture, asses and move on they believe. Neither of these ways of teaching will work for our young learners.  I think that we need something in the middle, exactly what this rainbow proposes.  We need students to understand technology and the right and useful ways to use it, yet we also want to encourage creativity and innovation as well as skills for life and careers.  These three components are incredibly important but are nothing if not tied to the core subjects.  As teachers, we need to find a way to integrate the two, not chose between one or the other.

We must teach our students from a very young age how to learn.  By this I mean we need them to understand how to critically think about a problem,how to work with others, and also, how to learn creatively.  We should expect that our students will be able to apply concepts to world problems, act as scientists in the lab, act as detectives in Math class, act as authors in English class.  Not only will this provide students with the skills to be successful in careers later on but these are the kinds of skills required to be a life long learner.  These skills encourage finding interests and passions and this in turn will create learners for life.

Digital literacy is an issue that is not as easy to use as a teaching tool when most often the students know more about the technology than the teachers do.  For example, my co-teacher and I allowed the students to use iPads in class the other day.  One minute before the bell was going to ring an alarm on one of the iPads started to ring (it was set to the tone of a duck quacking).  My co-teacher and I had no idea how to make it stop.  We needed to have a student come up and help us.  I think the students feel as though we had lost control.  We cannot stop using technology because of this reason though.  Instead the teachers role in incorporating technology needs to be different.  The teacher needs to give students the tools and knowledge to appropriately access information on the internet.  As the story of King Wallace's World Wide Wall showed, there is a lot of inappropriate information on the web that can be easily accessed.  As teachers it is our responsibility to show students how to select primary as opposed to secondary sources, make sure the information is credible, reliable and accurate and how to make students understand future consequences of social media.

I believe that the lack of creativity and innovation and technology in education in the past is not going to cut it in the 21st century.  The rainbow model seems, to me, to be the perfect medium for teaching students in the 21st century.  Using the core subjects as a base and integrating technology, innovation and life skills is the perfect balance.As the team who created the SARS website for the ThinkQuest competition showed, the opportunities are truly endless when these three skills are put into practice.

Monday, October 8, 2012

P. 94-104 Reflection

Education has grown and evolved immensely over time.  Education began as apprentice style learning where students were taught particular skills by someone close to them usually one on one or in small groups.  Over time education evolved to teach students a wide range of disciplinary knowledge in large classrooms with one teacher, usually done through lecture.  Now, education is moving towards teaching a skill set to students. The idea is that we will now teach students how to learn.  We will teach them how to get the answers to questions they want when they want them as opposed to teaching them as many of the answers as we can.  We will teach them to think critically, ask the right questions, and use technology to make them most desirable in the working world where having a mind full of disciplinary facts is no longer desirable.

I couldn't agree more that teaching students how to learn is the way we should shift education.  There are five areas that students should develop skills in, resources, interpersonal, information, systems, and technology.  This seems like only a few things to teach students as opposed to what they used to need to know but I feel as though this may be impossible, there will be many obstacles in shifting education to this style of learning.  These five core competencies can merely be introduced throughout  the school years, there is no way that students can master or even become proficient in these areas, they encompass far too much.  Another difficulty of teaching these competencies  I believe will be teacher willingness.  Many of the older teachers do not want to change the way they've been doing things.  I think it will be a long transition period with newer teachers slowly working this type of learning into the curriculum until every teacher teaches in this way.  It could take thirty years at this rate.

Although I agree that this type of learning style is the way education should be moving I think the authors are a little too ambitious and feel as though this is a system already in place.  I think we are years and years away from being anywhere near that type of learning.  Some teachers at Haverhill High have begun to introduce the five core competencies into their teaching but for the most part teachers still teach disciplinary information.  They have no choice to with the requirements from the state and the MCAS.  For example, if there was one teacher who decided it was more beneficial for her students to learn right now learning and she taught them how to effectively utilize technology, how to ask the right questions and how to think critically about selecting the correct answer that student would be far more successful in the "real world".  But, would that student even graduate high school?  Would they be able to pass the MCAS, a test where they have to have disciplinary information memorized and stored in their brain?  Probably not.  I think that before we can even begin to move in the direction of learning to learn education the state needs to change the requirements to reflect that learning.  For example, there could still be an assessment but it could be a format that ensures the students utilize the five core competencies.  Students could be required to create portfolios with specific requirements instead of taking a standardized test.  It was said best by Collins and Halverson, "We think that in the life-long learning era, people interested in advancing their own learning will begin to take back responsibility for education from the state."

Unfortunately, my cooperating teacher and I find ourselves saying this far too often.