Sunday, May 27, 2012

Classroom Managment

Classroom management can be one of the more varied methodologies that high school teachers can share, outside of subject area. During my studies as a student teacher which included theoretical classwork and classroom application have helped me at least gather some of more likely approaches to guiding my classes. Without getting to far into my theoretical studies, there were some management models that I would never see myself utilizing. on the other hand, there are a series of different classroom management plans that i can see adapting to my own uses.

A couple tings will dictate which approach I may take and certain highlights of each method will show through for my students. The first key factor to be able to apply appropriate discipline for me is fairness. First, does every student get equitable treatment and unbiased judgment. The second concern is to what extent will and can i tolerate certain behavior to the extent that the time will correspond to the crime.

Other factors will weigh heavily on my decision making: the student, the class, and the school. Any discipline plan should and must align with the school's rules. Furthermore each student and whole class will have different personalities and therefore needs to be treated as an individual situation and reacted to as such.

I have seen many various classroom strategies in many grade levels and schools. Your strategies will also reflect the person that you are as well. Don't try to become someone that you are not and your students will be able to appreciate your needs as an instructor, at least most of the time.  

Online Learning?

I recall being asked what the purpose of school is and actually having a fairly drawn out explanation for the question. Although there is significant amount of research and a multitude of great thinkers have classified each of these purposes. I found out what i believed when I concluded a prerequisite course for my credential program. At that time, and up until now, I believe that school is the laboratory for adult life both academically, politically, developmentally and socially. As mentioned in previous posts, public school is supposed to create successful contributors to a democratic society.

I will focus on certain trends that I have been started such as the free online classroom. During the course of the previous year I, as a student, was subjected to a paradigm shift toward a "flipped" classroom. The essential view is that all school work is completed during the student's time away from campus but has weekly access to their instructors for assistance. There is a significant reliance on student collaboration and creativity, therefore, could be a beneficial change to education. Since then I have seen other whisperings and some programs that have taken that idea to the next level.

There is a resource that is online instruction of classroom materials completed through video. From this site you can load particular subjects and lesson based on need and availability. It can be concluded that this would be a middle ground and would assist the flipped model, or something like it.

While commuting to my student teaching assignment a few weeks ago I overheard a commercial for a public high school that is almost entirely online. It seemed that there are structure social activities throughout the year.

I do agree that increasing the online exposure and the stress on collaboration and creativity are tremendous benefits and economically a shift toward online will save money but I question the rationale of removing classrooms. I believe that high school should mimic adult life at some level and therefore the students should be in personal contact for many hours each day.

Somewhere in the combination of these principles that may improve American education.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Purpose of School

I believe that the purpose of public education is to produce successful and productive members of a democratic society. This is the theory that I carried into my first student teaching experience which was established in the crucible of  my School of Education prerequisites. Throughout the previous year, this theory was applied to both of my clinical practice experiences. It seems fated that my first assignment was a continuation  school but each of my student teaching experiences strengthened my view on what is the purpose of school. However, what the "productive member of society" is and what a "public school" was classified as did significantly change.

I still believe that public school is a right to be given to each citizen but the parameters of these things can be utilized differently. My focus of these issues will be the public high school and the question of where the students are expected to be at the conclusion of study. I originally believed that every high school student was expected to enroll in college because it reflected my own experiences as a student and my reflection of the standardized curriculum. With the current model "non academic" oriented students are subjected to the same material that college bound students are receiving. Although I believe that this material should be given and offered to all students for the sake of equity, there should be alternative studies and or ROP/trade school offered as well. In the various conversations I have had with other professionals it was seen that this view is similar to the "European model".

In my reflection, some of my students are generally disinterested in some of the subject material offered as part of the standardized "college" curriculum. On the other hand, my current school site offers an expanded program for ROP Criminal Justice, Heath Academy (students get hands on medical training in high school!!), and MCJROTC to name a few and therefore the students are given more choices in their education. With these expanded choices there can be more motivation to succeed. Why not expand these options further?

I am aware that this means a significant overhaul in a educational systems that is gasping for breath in economic hardship but everything starts somewhere.    

The CST.. A Few Thoughts

I would first like to point out that I believe in having some kind of standard educational benchmark in order to ensure quality education for all citizens is very necessary. NCLB and the current system of standardized testing, while far from perfect, is still doing some important work on behalf of examining our public school system. In California, the CST (California Standardized Test) has brought the spotlight on groups of students that have been overlooked and or otherwise inequitably treated. This is just a reflection of some areas that can be improved on, however, with the onset of "Common Core" standards there may be little need for these observations.

During my current assignment for my teaching candidate placement (student teaching) I was able to see many different perspectives of this testing. During the course of four days the students at my school are subjected to just shy of four hours of testing each day and then expected to attend class for the duration of each day. My first concern is that these students are slammed by so much undiluted testing in such a short period of time. If the tests were not able to be altered than maybe shorten each period of testing and have the CST go for eight days. While administering these test sessions it became clear that by Friday the students were burnt out and were not able to give their full effort to the testing. In that case how can we get sufficient evidence of learning on those tests.

During this testing week, during my prep periods, I volunteered to assist the administration staff with the processing of the test/answer sheet bins. Due to the sensitive nature of the testing there was a very specific way that the materials must be handled and there was simply too few staff to efficiently handle the process. It seemed to be unnecessarily strict and classified, having to sign affidavit etc, that valuable resources are wasted on testing that should not be so top secret. I am well aware that these protocols are in place to guarantee quality results but is it really that necessary?   

 Considering the "high stakes" nature of the testing I believe that there is abundant undue stress placed on the staff and students. 

What I Learned About Tech

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Brave New World

I have recently viewed a Youtube clip featuring a lecture presentation from Mike Wesch during TEDxNYED.

The topic of the presentation is new social media and its possible positive and or negative impact. The major comparison was the socially driven Internet and introducing literacy to a tribe in south east Asia. With the tribe, something such as literacy was able to affect negatively a vast majority of the culture. Long story short, the possible negative application of the new media (web 2.0) can end up producing a entirely new way to police and stifle human expression but the new media can also open up a whole new world of possibilities.

From his perspective as an educator, he showed a college classroom with stadium seating and four walls. His first reflection was on the walls themselves and what they have come to signify. With the walls of the classroom the most common questions that the students have are:

How many points is this worth?
Will this be on the test?
i.e. What is the minimum that i have to do to succeed, what are my limitations?

To correct this issue, Mr. Wesch assigns everyone in an anthropology class a position on the map and requires them to be an expert of that area. After research continues all students compile their results on a class Wiki site. In essence, the class gained more knowledge than the professor. I believe that this model is the truest example of "Guide on the side" and "Total student engagement".

This aspect of education will require a total overhaul of everything that i have come to expect from the educational system but will allow for education to remain flexible, or maybe finally become flexible, with technology.

In a time of standardized tests, this is a step in the opposite direction. But i believe that this sort of creative thinking will be required to fix the ailments of our educational system.

A Blog About Blogging

I was reflecting on my experiences with collaborative sites that have been introduced to me during my teaching education such a Blogs, Twitter, Gouply, and Diigo. But, I am also looking back to the sites that i am used to such as Facebook and Google. During my undergraduate education I did not really collaborate electronically nor did I use social media sites until I was a senior. At that time websites such as Youtube, Myspace, and Facebook didn't really seem to have a purpose outside of wasting time. Now, I can see the limitless possibilities of how these online sources can be used to collaborate among peers.

While reflecting on the metamorphosis of my thinking, I can draw significant parallels to my experiences when the Internet was a brand new concept. During the summer of 1995 AOL was mailing cd-roms with 50 free hours of Internet and dial up was the only option to jump online. The speed was slow and fairly inconvenient to implement (it used a phone line). During that period I saw the Internet as a place for electronic research and chat rooms. What else could it be used for? Clearly a whole new world opened up and the only limitation is the creativity of the people. 

When first presented with educational assignments on the Web 2.0 platform I was significantly hesitant and the student work I produced while fulfilling the technology prerequisites were timid on its best day. The first major project that would be "shared with the world" was a instructional video that was to be published on Youtube. It was a group project and I did publish it, however, it is set to extreme privacy. I was, and still am, having trouble sharing my reflections with the rest of the world. I guess there is a part of me that assumes that I actually have nothing new or exciting to share.

One of the requirements in my credentialing program is to use Web 2.0 tools to create a professional learning network. So, I had to dust off Blogger (the one in which you're reading) and begin to learn about Twitter, and more specifically the educational chats and the Cybrary Man. It was a requirement to take part in these live streaming Tweet Chats that are based on the interested party (such as #edchat) and the topic. At first the vast majority of my Tweeting experience was ReTweeting ideas that others posted. It wasn't till this weeks discussion of Common Core Standards that I jumped in and started contributing to the feed. For the first time another professional retweeted something i posted and the list of followers started to grow significantly.

Cyrary Man has the list of educational chats, hash tags and times at