Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The age of being connected has long been here.

What year is it?  1995? 2000? No, it's 2011 nearly 2012.  I have come to a point in my career where I am tired of excuses.  There is no reason what-so-ever that you can not get onto the internet on an almost daily basis if not mulitiple times a day.  I hate to break the news to you, but the internet is here to stay and will only evolve and get better.  So, why am I mentioning this.  Well, it's simple.  If you are teacher, you should be posting your homework, announcements, newsletters, and just about anything that has to do with your classroom on a webpage so parents and students can access information. When I hear, "what do I do with those parents that don't have a computer."  Or I hear, "what do we do with parents that don't have an internet connection?"  I
am almost shocked.  I say are you going to let the 85% of people that do have internet connection suffer for the very few that don't? 

I guess my pet peeve is that you need to be connected!  How can you apply for a job? I almost want to say: "How do you pay your bills?" but I know you can still write a check and mail it in.  Oh wait...the post office is broke and will probably shut down in a couple months or years.  I guess you better get connected and use online bill pay!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why is Professional Development so hard to do successfully 1

We all have had to sit through some expert talk about a topic that your school or principal determined was important for the success of students. Usually this is because the school looked at the data and saw that the students struggled in one particular area (usually writing, math, or reading....it's funny how it is never science or social studies, or physical education because half the students and 75% of the staff is overweight!) Enough about that rant, the fact is that professional development is broken in most schools.  I would argue all schools, but I do not know how all schools function and if they found the magic spell to make professional development work.  One of the buzz words around the educational arena is "differentiated instruction."  You know delivering the curriculum in a way that all kids will understand (how's that working for you?).  The idea is great, but would really only work for very small group learning or ideally 1 to 1 learning.  So how does this relate to professional development?  PD has to be individualized to meet the needs of each teacher, otherwise it can be irrelevant.  And if it is irrelevant, then as a school you are wasting the time of your teachers (or some of them).  This is where online PD can be useful...to be continued

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Will Vouchers Really Help?

We have all heard about using vouchers for students and their parents to choose what school to attend.  But will they work?  I argue that they won't.  Failing schools is just a term that people throw around that compares standardized test scores from one school to another.  Is it a surprise that schools with the highest scores tend to be in areas where the socio-economic-status is higher.  No!! It is a well known fact that those people with higher degrees of education make more money and therefore live in a nicer neighborhood which most of the time makes the school perform better.  So let's take the students that are economically poor and put them in a school where it has been typically attended by middle to upper class students.  Now what will happen? Will the change in school bring about higher test scores to these students?  Absolutely not! We are forgetting that student success is fostered in two ways:  1) The student takes control of their life and decides that they are going to make the most of their education. and 2) The parents are a support system for the child, they value education and encourage the child to succeed. Look what happened in the movie "The Blind Side." Did the simple fact of putting the student in a different school change anything? No! The change occurred when Michael Oher gained the support of a family.  So go ahead and voucher away...It won't change the outcomes of student test scores.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tired out Teachers

As a facilitator, my job is to make a teachers life easier, by showing introducing and training them on how to use different technologies in the classroom.  What is so very frustrating is that sometimes I have to literally become a sales person in order to meet with teachers.  I don't know how to spell it out any differently, but if you are a "tired out teacher" because you have to grade papers, call parents, make copies, coral kids, figure out what to teach next, etc, then try to take advantage of all of the technology that is out there.  I offer it free to my teachers and I still don't get 100% buy in.  There are awesome sites like Glogster in which kids can create digital posters.  Sites like Polleverywhere, where kids can use there cell phones to text in answers.  Tons and tons of digital story-telling sites like comic creator and story bird.  Podcasting to clone yourself, so you can be at 2 places at the same time.   I understand completely that you are asked to do too much...but you can make it easier on yourselves by taking advantage of technology that is available.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kids and Kombat

With the release of Mortal Kombat 9 yesterday, I had to write a post about it.  I was having a conversation at lunch, where a teacher bought this video game yesterday and her 5 year old boy was playing with his dad!  Now I know that everyone has a right to parent their child in their own way, but Mortal Kombat?? Look at the trailer:

I have to admit, I am a fan of Mortal Kombat, but I also have a toddler at home and thinking about the future, I don't think that I would allow him to play this game at 5 years old!  Did you see yesterday that a kindergarten student brought a loaded gun to school and it injured himself and others?  This behavior also has a lot to do with parenting.  And if I as parent choose to not allow my son to play these games, but he goes to school and learns about it from other kids whose parents do allow them to play these violent games, what should my reaction be?  To me, you have to be really conscious and aware of what is fiction and real. A 5 year old may have that ability, but most of them that I know have amazing imaginations...most of the time thinking that what they imagine could be real!  It's heartbreaking to see little kids exposed to this type of violence and desensitized to death.  It makes me think why some people may not appreciate the sacrifice of our past and present soldiers or dare I say the sacrifice of Jesus.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Educational Funding

I was recently reading a news story of 50 buses that drove to the Capital (Denver) and rallied to not cut funding for K12 education (http://www.coloradoconnection.com/news/story.aspx?id=599726).  I understand the importance of funding, but when the state does not have any money and needs to make cuts to balance the budget, what are they supposed to do?  Is this a tax payer problem?  Is it a education problem?  I am not sure what the answer is, but it seems that they could have written an e-mail, sent 1 bus up there with several bus drivers aboard and still delivered the same message.  This trip cost that school district over $5000.  In my opinion that is not a wise use of tax payer dollars.  It seems that North Dakota is one of the only states that is being responsible with their money and they actually have a surplus!  I know a lot of the mess that we are in comes from the Federal government and works its way down, but we are in this situation and school districts are going to have to do more with less.  They are going to have come up with innovative ways to teach students on a low budget.  Students are going to have to start copying notes and work sheets instead of copies being printed out, more students will have to ride a bike or get a ride to school.  Professional development opportunities will have to be transformed into professional learning communities and sharing ideas between grade levels.  It can be done and students can still achieve!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

President Obama comments on NCLB

4 of 5 schools are failing? (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110315/ap_on_re_us/obama_education_fact_check)  Sure, based on NCLB and the requirements in the law.  The problem with the law is that it is not realistic.  There is no possible way that 100% of children can be proficient in reading, writing, math, and science.  It will never happen!  This is America and we are founded on the principals of self-governance and responsibility.  As an educator, I know that the single most influential factor on whether or not a child succeeds in the classroom has NOTHING to do with the teacher 99% of the time.  What is the factor? Parental involvement! It is time to stop blaming teachers for doing a bad job!  Parents have been enabling their kids into thinking that teachers owe them a good grade.  Sorry, but you have to work hard in order to earn a quality education.  You have to be responsible for you and your education.  You have to put in the time and energy and sacrifice to get the grade you think you deserve.  Parents, you chose to take off your pants!  Now you need to choose to support your child by reading with them 20 minutes each day, checking their homework to see if it is correct, seeking out additional resources on the internet or at a library if your child is struggling, but most importantly instilling the values of hard work to make yourself into what you want be.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Will Hand Writing Disappear

With the advance in technology and all of the gadgets like smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and your traditional laptops and desktops, will handwriting disappear?  It seems that the youth of our country can text faster than they can write and more efficient with their own abbreviated language.  For as long as I can remember, colleges require all papers to be typed.  With high schools, middle schools and more and more elementary schools moving to a 1 to 1 environment, it makes me think that the hand writing is becoming obsolete.  Even in my life, I usually write down a grocery list, but my smartphone has a app for that.  Knowing how to write is still  imperative since it is really the way tweens, teens, young adults, and adults communicate in our digital society.  For many people, why even talk on the phone, when you can send a text message?  All of this combined with a push to "paperless" society to save money and the environment makes you wonder if hand writing will disappaer.