Is The Fascination with Technology Misguided?

Technology has not proven to be the panacea for the malaise hanging over schools.  For over a decade, there has been great fanfare surrounding the introduction of computers, tablets and iPads into schools.  In an article by Jay Mathews in the Washington Post entitled “Technology Isn’t the Solution for Public Education Problems,” he cites a huge $1.3 billion program initiated by John Deasy to provide every student in Prince George (MD) with an iPad. The result? According to Jay Mathews, “So far, that has been a mess.”

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Columbus middle school in Union City, NJ partnered with Bell Atlantic to fill classrooms with computers and software.  Despite politicians’ and reporters’ rave reviews, over a period of years test scores did not improved.  There just is no data to support the belief that technology transforms schools. Larry Cuban, a Stanford University researcher who once was superintendent of Arlington County (VA) schools, has authored several books challenging the notion that technology is helping schools. In one of his books, “Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice,” he cites many examples.  According to Cuban, nowhere can school district test score gains be attributed to technology.

Focus on Book Reviews: Cultivate

In Cultivate: Forming the Emerging Generation through Life-on-Life Mentoring, authors Jeff Myers, Paul Gutacker, and Paige Gutacker present a highly practical solution to working with a group they designate the Emerging Generation. This group is made up of young people ages 12 to 20-something. Since the emerging generation includes about one-half of the grades of a traditional K-12 school, this book becomes very important to those working with these young people.

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The authors of Cultivate use the process of growing plants to describe their vision for life-on-life mentoring. The book is divided into three parts. Each part addresses a different aspect of the mentoring process. The three parts are Gardening Tools, Growing Seasons, and Greenhouse Conditions.

Fun and Discipline in the Classroom

I understand that to some it may seem odd to use the terms fun and discipline in the same sentence, but I am a believer that the more fun children are having the less discipline they will require. Being able to combine fun and discipline is really a matter of preventing discipline problems from ever starting.

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Now let’s be realistic; there is no way you can work with children, especially young children, and not have a discipline situation arise every now and then. However, with the proper use of fun and something I like to call preventive maintenance, you can certainly limit the amount of time spent on discipline. There are many positive discipline strategies that can be used in a classroom setting, and they all begin with the behavior of the teacher!

Obtaining 21st Century Skills Via Online Learning

Now, more than ever, it is critical for Christian School Leaders to provide learning opportunities to their students that allow them to obtain and/or refine the 21st Century skills that are critical to their success in college and career.

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“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” – Karl Fisch, Did You Know Research.

iRevolutionize

Day by day we are seeing an ever-increasing use of technology.  The growth in the past few years has been exponential and, not surprisingly, educators have come to an almost Messianic view of iPads and other devices.

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Of course, while seasoned teachers are sifting through the packaging looking for the instruction manual, fourth graders are playing Temple Run II with the ease of duckling on his first swim.  They finger-swipe the front door of the house and stand perplexed that it failed to open (that truly happened).  So, since technology is so powerful and kids so love it, will devices revolutionize education?

How Cool Is Your Amygdala?

Have you ever experienced frustration that students don’t remember what you’ve told them?  Ever said to yourself (but hopefully not aloud), “Where have you been for the last hour?”  Have you ever had a student give you a blank stare when you asked him a seemingly simple question?

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Every teacher has had moments like these, but too often we are quick to become frustrated with the student without considering other factors that might be affecting a student’s ability to absorb information.  Most of us have not considered the mechanics of how information enters the brain or what happens to it after it gets there.

Are You on the Honor Roll?

School has been in session for 9 weeks. It is time for your first Teacher Report Card of this year. Will you be on the Honor Roll? Self-evaluate yourself and see if you would make all A’s.

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  • A = Always Observed
  • B = Almost Always Observed
  • C = Frequently Observed
  • D = Seldom Observed
  • F = Never Observed

Classroom Environment

  • Positive rapport and respect
  • Efficient routines and transitions
  • Evidence of varied learning situations (whole class,
    cooperative learning, small group, independent
    work)
  • Clear expectations for student behavior
  • Effective monitoring of student behavior
  • Safe and conducive to learning
  • Positive teacher demeanor and countenance
  • Teacher is actively engaged with students
  • Classroom is neat, attractive, and orderly.

Lesson Delivery

  • Teacher gives clear and accurate explanations
  • Teacher effectively addresses confusion and ensures understanding
  • Teacher actively encourages independent, creative, and critical thinking
  • Teacher uses effective, purposeful questioning
  • Students are engaged in the intended learning
  • Learning targets are clear
  • Technology is integrated during the lesson

Differentiation

  • Instruction includes a variety of strategies, materials, and/or pacing to meet student needs
  • Learning is accessible and challenging for all students

Resources

  • Resources and materials address learning styles and actively engage learners
  • Resources and materials are aligned to the instructional purposes
  • Resources and teaching aids are out ahead of time

Assessment

  • Teacher checks for understanding at key moments
  • Instruction is guided by formative assessments
  • Teacher provides timely and responsive feedback

So, are you on the Honor Roll? What do you need to improve as you move into the second quarter? This school year has just begun. Strive for all A’s. Ask the Lord to give you the strength to stay in His Word and to always do your best for His glory.   

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Evaluation items taken from Classroom Walk-Through. (info@classroomwalk-through.com)

Hands On Learning

Teaching strategies come and go, following trends in the education world. Teachers vary in personality and style. Classrooms are well-equipped or sorely short on supplies. Families produce children with differing abilities, cultural practices, and behaviors. The world expects us to perform amazing tasks in the name of education.

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When school starts, the challenge is on. But what are the goals? Is it to control behavior so that the class is quiet and obedient, to have “fun,” to give the teacher a source of income, or to produce learning outcomes? Assuming the best of most teachers, causing learning to occur is the goal. Teaching our students to recognize their strengths and to use them to learn on their own is to prepare them for more than the annual achievement tests. It is to give them foundations for thinking and achievement throughout their lives.

Should Christian School Leaders Mandate Online Courses?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, “America’s schools need innovation. Educational innovation should not be confused with just generating more great ideas or unique inventions. Instead we need new solutions that improve outcomes – and that can, and will, be used to serve hundreds of thousands of teachers and millions of students…Online courses and online supplementation of course material are catching on fast…”

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Online college courses and degree programs have seen an explosion in popularity and offerings in recent years. Shifting attitudes from employers and higher education institutions have fueled the desire to provide a college education to students who desire or need more flexible and customizable course options. Current estimates for the total number of students enrolled in an online program or course is now measured in the millions!