Sunday, July 19, 2015
My C4Ta#4 was on Karl Fisch's blog, The Fischbowl.
SUMMARY. The first post of his that I will go over is: Idea #2: Eliminate Curriculum (As We Know It). In this post, Fisch says educators have spent a great deal of their lives engrossed in schools that have been set by the curriculum. Over the years in systematic, common educational framework, the school system and educators have made basic inferences about how school is supposed to be. A standardized curriculum is not mandatory for a school to work well. Fisch says, "When we create and "deliver" a pre-defined curriculum to our students, we are robbing them of the essence of what it means to learn." Here is the list Fisch has made of assumptions about curriculum in the school system:
-The first assumption is that we know what is essential to be "educated." We don't.
-The second assumption is that we know what is essential to be "successful" (which we really need to define) in the future. We don't.
-The third assumption is that the future is going to be very similar to the past and present. It won't be.
-The fourth assumption is that the only way to prepare students for their future is to have them learn a pre-determined, fixed set of knowledge and skills, in a certain order, at the same time, and within a certain time frame. I remember Will Richardson referring to in a presentation a long time ago as "just in case" education. But today's world - and so much of what we know about learning - requires a more "just in time" approach.
-The fifth assumption is that all students need to know the same things, at the same level, and at the same age. They don't.
- The sixth assumption is that, even if you agree with the previous five assumptions, our system as it is currently constructed is well-designed to accomplish those things. It isn't, and it doesn't.
To get out of the curriculum rut, Fisch says classes should drastically change for juniors and seniors in high school, and that the one size fits all process needs to be disposed of. Classes need to become more personalized so students can become master learners and so they have the ability to go after their passions. This takes a series of unique teaching approaches, making the one size fits all curriculum useless and outdated. Fisch also says the process of learning shouldn't e to make a students "college and career ready", but to make them ready to learn for life. He also goes on to talk about what it means to be a "teacher" in 2015. Teachers aren't there to teach subjects, they are there to teach students.
COMMENT. I absolutely loved when you said teachers aren't there to teach subjects, they are there to teach students. Teachers tend to put so much emphasis on teaching students a subject, then sending them off to the next class to learn another! The curriculum needs to go. When students follow day by day, step by step instructions over and over, they have no drive or interest to learn anything!
SUMMARY. The second post of his that I will go over is: Idea #1: Eliminate Letter Grades, GPA and Class Rank. Fisch says that he does not like the phrase, "taking it to the next level". This suggests that there is a stage that works equitably for all students, a one-size-fits-all path that is the correct method to meet the needs of every student. Fisch believes the assessment/reporting system needs an update, saying, "When we have an assessment and reporting system for learning that undermines the learning, the reporting system is fatally flawed and needs to change." Letter Grades, GPA and Class Rank don't define the student. Grades is the biggest problem with the system currently in place, especially letter grades. When grades become that important, students become more obsessed with getting a good grade at the end of the year, rather than continuing learning. Teachers hate when students ask for more points for a better grade, but need to realize they are responsible for the grading system. Fisch says," If we value learning, if we value growth, if we value effort, then letter grades must go." Class ranking only helps the top 10 to 20 students. For all the other students, class rank is pointless and could hurt their college admissions process. Class ran is an injustice to students. So if letter grades don't work how should teachers determine how well students are learning? One way is to provide continuous, relevant feedback for students first, and then focus on reports to document that feedback second. Feedback for students is only works if it's actionable. The best way "report" out student learning is with narrative reports. The report needs to be useful and specific for each student. Instead of letter grades, Fisch recommends these three designations: Progressing, Partially Progressing, Not Adequately Progressing (yet). To paraphrase President Kennedy, "We choose to do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Because it is what's necessary to truly meet the needs of our students, to provide them the education they deserve and that we have promised them. It is a challenge we are no longer willing to postpone, but one that we willingly accept."
COMMENT. I've always thought that letter grades hurt students and affect the college admissions process more than any good they do! Students can't be defined by a letter grade or a class rank, students need to be focused more own their own progression in learning. When students become so focused on a letter grade to get an exact GPA, teachers have failed to properly do their job.
Friday, July 17, 2015
One of the first blogs we wrote this semester was on PLN's. When I wrote the first part to blog post 5, I listed some PLN's I often used, such as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Drive, Skype, and Instagram. At this time, I used those websites for entertainment, to keep in touch with friends, to keep up on current events, etc. Now at the end of our semester, I see how these websites can be so much more than just entertainment. Dr. Strange defines PLN's as "...those people, places, organizations and activities which enable you to learn." These websites can help educators to stay connected, to find teaching resources, to find new ideas for the classroom, and to improve our own teaching methods. As EDM 310 comes to a close, I'm glad I've discovered these other sides to these popular websites, and how I can use them in my PLN network.
Teaching Can Be a Profession by Joel Klein lists the three changes needed to professionalize teaching. Doing this will make teachers more successful and make teachers command greater public trust.
The first is giving better academic training for prospective teachers. A lot needs to be completed to expand the amount of teachers adequately prepared to teach in the commonplace classroom. Klein says that teachers need better, solid preparation. The second is recruiting teachers. Klein says America should pick the top 3rd of its graduates. We don't need to let anyone with a college degree become a teacher. The third is rewarding teachers. Teachers need to build a board to review their profession.
I agree with everything Klein says. The school system already has enough teachers who do the minimum amount of work, with the minimum amount of interaction with students. The school system needs teachers who interact, who are prepared to teach and learn, and who have proper training in the first place.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
My area of specialty is history. I am going to list websites that are helpful SPECIFICALLY to history teachers and to students studying history!
BBC History has a history section that offers a notable collection of exhibitions, activities, games, photo galleries and other resources. Main categories include: British History, Ancient History, Archaeology, Church and State, Science and Discovery, Society and Conflict, War and Culture, and Family History. There are furthermore sections entitled Multimedia Room, Historic Figures, Timelines, Programmes, Reading Room, Talk History, For Kids, and History Trails.
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) offers support for social studies educators. Links are categorized by themes of the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Teachers share classroom experiences at the site and on the NCSS listserv. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators. NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, civics, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law-related education. Organized into a network of more than 110 affiliated state, local, and regional councils and associated groups, the NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies.
The Smithsonian Education site is divided simply into three main categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is keyword searchable and features lesson plans — many pertaining to history. The Students section features an interactive “Secrets of the Smithsonian” that teaches about the special collections at the Smithsonian. It provides extensive digital access to Smithsonian collections, programs, and learning resources.
The HistoryNewsNetwork features articles by historians on both the left and the right who provide historical perspective on current events. HNN exists to provide historians and other experts a national forum in which to educate Americans about important and timely issues, and the only web site on the Internet wholly devoted to this task . Their mission is to help put current events into historical perspective. Each week HNN features up to a dozen fresh op eds by prominent historians. Their website is open to people of all political persuasions. Left, right, center: all are welcome.
Students Friend is a non-profit, teacher-to-teacher site is a guide for high school teachers of world history and geography, although much of the content is suitable for teachers of other social studies subjects as well. Content includes fundamental information about history teaching, resources, a concise alternative textbook and lesson plans. Student's Friend has been cited by the Library of Congress as a "as a rich site with articles, lessons, and other teaching aids," and it has been recognized as one of the top ten history sites for teachers by the Stanford University School of Education.