Tag Archives: education

Passing, GPAs, and College…How Disappointing

In reading a recent post by Will Richardson regarding the upcoming Back-to-School speech by President Obama, I have become increasingly saddened by a thought I have been holding onto for awhile now but haven’t verbalized anywhere:  Is “education” only about passing, GPAs, and getting into college?  And if that is what has it become, how will learners today be driven to continue to be learners tomorrow, or the day after that?

I have become increasingly weary of kids asking me what is the least they can do to get such-and-such a grade; of administration telling kids to push for just a few more decimal points in their GPAs; of teachers spending literally months of Saturdays teaching kids how to take the SAT so that they can get a certain score, or if they don’t, then preparing them to take and retake it until they do.

I teach because I love to share thoughts and passions.  Kids don’t want that.  They want to know how they can get extra credit.  Administration doesn’t want that.  They want to be able to show progress on overall standardized test scores.  Parents don’t want that.  They want their kids to get into a “good” school.

So what then DOES it mean to be educated?  😦

The List List Part Deux (Just in Time for Vacation)

A second edition of lists that have flittered through my twitter (which isn’t really as racy as it sounds!).  And, again, I haven’t had a chance to work my way through all of these, but I  have high hopes to do so now that it’s “vacation” and I have all kinds of “time on my hands”…

Please peruse and use!!

How to Effectively Listen on Twitter:  Ok, this one isn’t so much a list of different things as it is tips presented in list form…still good enough to make The List List Part Deux!

80+ Videos for Tech & Media Literacy:  Any type of list by Alec Couros automatically makes my List List…Part Any!

PurposeGames:  Another disclaimer here…technically this is a whole site where you can both play and create educational games, but the games are then kept in lists… ;).  Either way…looks good!!

7 Habits of Highly Effective Twitterers:  7 Habits of Highly Effective Twitterers written by a “Social Media Strategist” … (I didn’t even know that was a job!)

9 Free Tools for E-Learning:  Like above…pretty much what it says…9 Free Tools for E-Learning 😉

50+ Google and Yahoo Search Shortcuts:  Again…self-explanatory yet quite helpful!

Word Play: A huge list of sites that feature fun with words.  It’s a monster…but at least they’re all in one place!!

10 Awesome Flash-Animated Interactive Websites:  There are 1o…topics ranging from science, social studies, health, music, writing, and more!

8 Habits of Highly-Effective 21st Century Teachers:  Thank goodness for these descriptive and straight-forward titles!  This one from Interface Magazine

30 Twitter Tips for Teachers: You got it…30 tips…for teachers…in regard to the use of Twitter

Teacher Clicks: Twitter in the Classroom:  Now stick with me here…this is a list of lists and article about how and why to use Twitter (in the classroom ;).

100 Awesome, Free Web Tools for Elementary Teachers

Keyboarding Games:  This is a gi-nor-mous list of games just for practicing keyboarding skills!

ICT Mindtools:  ICT tools that engage users in higher order thinking

8 Tips for Super Searching: How to search and get what you want when you want it!

Amazon’s 25 Software Bestsellers and Their Free Equivalents:  Haven’t looked through all yet, but am totally psyched about this one!!  (Just Say “No!” … to Microsoft that is)

100 Terrific Productivity Tools:  This one claims to be for the “bored or unemployed,” but I feel fairly certain there’s gotta be something there for everyone!

(Most of the above came courtesy of Diana Dell, one of my favorite follows on Twitter!  Thanks, Diana!!)

Presenting: The List List!

Not sure why, but a big bunch of great tweets about a big bunch of great lists have come through in the last few days.  I haven’t had the chance to work my way through all of all of them, but these lists listed here are looking pretty good to me!  Please…peruse and use!!

Indispensable ICT Tools for Teachers:  This is a monster of a list, but looks awesome!  Good thing summer vacation is just around the corner!

Online Educational Video Games:  For all ages and disciplines.

Games that Make You Think! I think I’ll love this one most of all, Scarecrow!

100 Websites You Should Know and Use:  That’s alotta sites!

50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Education:  Only half of the above, but still lots of room for exploration!

Any feedback or other recommendations welcome!!

I SO Wish People Would Get It!

Recently I have been praying, writing, emailing, tweeting, blogging, talking, chatting, etc. about the situation here in Guatemala (the facts of which can be found in my previous post: March for Justice).  In my mind I’m doing all of this…spending my time and energy on this topic, even though it’s the busiest (aka: last) week of school when I could easily (and probably should) divert my attention to many other things…because I want people to know.  To be outraged.  To want to help do something about it.  Even if all someone does is say:  Hey!  That sucks!  Thinking about you!  With you in spirit!  That would be a start.  That would be a help.  But instead I get either avoidance or…my personal favorite…statements such as:  Why don’t you just leave?  Isn’t it time to get out of there?  Why don’t you just come home?  There is plenty of missions work here [the States].

For real, people!?!?!  Really?!?!?  These are statements that make me so sad.  Where would anyone currently enjoying the freedom, safety, lifestyle, etc. of the US be if no one had ever stood up for those things there?  Now, I haven’t lived in the States for seven years…that’s not a long time…but do people there really just think that’s the natural order of things?  That they just woke up one day with all they have?  If so…maybe they do need to be doing a better job in schools…teaching history.

Love This! Live This!

A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.
Plutarch

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

Ahhh…the standardized test.  All but one of our first graders this year met the end-of-the-year benchmarks set for them based on standardized testing.  Awesome, right?  Looking at their numbers in black and white, it would be easy to pat ourselves on the back and say what an amazing school we have filled with super teachers who could help these kids accomplish this.  The U.S. government would be so proud.  And I was initially.  But our school is small.  And kids are known well-beyond what a black and white score on a piece of paper says about them.  I know, for instance, that while on that particular day of testing Hope was having a really good memory day,  it doesn’t usually work that well for her.  Even after two years of working on things like initial and final sounds, it’s still hit and miss for her…daily.  This year’s testing date happened to fall on a “hit” day.  So will she now no longer qualify for the extra help I know she really needs?  Because she scored above the magical benchmarking number?  Will she need to prove her failuer all over again?  Do I report the score with enthusiasm to her parents and build their hope that maybe she isn’t in need of specialized services?  Or what about someone like Danny?  Does it matter that his score is above the minimum requirement if everyone else in his class has a score twice that of his?  Won’t he still struggle to keep up with them?  Won’t the exceptional performances of others make his average performance appear to be behind?    Grrr…these are just some of the things that can’t be addressed by placing a “cut off” score on children.  While I can be happy and proud to report that so many kids have passed the required bottom mark, I think it bears false witness to who they really are as individual learners.  One number can’t tell you who a child is.  Thankfully, at our school, because it is so small and kids’ needs are very intimately known and understood, we realize that and can continue to advocate and push for what their needs are beyond these standardized numbers.  But what about other kids out there who aren’t in a place to be so well-known and are just able to get past that mark because it was a “hit” day for them?  And maybe worse, what about the kids having a “miss” day?  Will the results of standardized tests alone help us provide kids (ALL kids) with what they really need?  Or are they just a way for us to pat ourselves on the back  (or point the finger of shame)?  Yay that we passed…but boo that I know the scores are not a true reflection of our skills and needs.  Err…wait…is that a yay, too?!?!?  Curses on you, standardized test!  Curses, I say!!!!

Can I just say this…

Every day I love technology more!!  And here’s just one reason why…

I teach middle school students who don’t usually want to be caught dead talking to a teacher at school about important/serious things in life.  But I’ve been online with two just now…one via Facebook and the other via Google Chat.  One is a kid who is so smart but is on the verge of failing b/c he doesn’t “do” homework. And we’ve been able to have a serious “talk” about what that could mean for him and what he can/should/is doing about it.  This is a conversation that would not take place in person without having to break through some well-built walls first…he’s too proud (and ashamed).   But talking online is somehow different and I can get across to him the same stuff I would in person and have had success in getting him to take the conversation seriously.

The other kid  just got done blowing me away with her personal theology about some in depth science concepts and basically put me in my place about how we view and question God.  It has been a long and convoluted “conversation”, but again one that would have never taken place at school because, well…there’s just not the time, and again…talking to the old teacher lady doesn’t top the list while there are cute boys looking on in the halls…But this student finds me almost every night online and doesn’t stop “chatting” until time for bed.  And something extra to love about that is that she’s an English Language Learner who doesn’t get to practice her English with anyone at home, but via our conversations, I see her English improving daily.  Awesome!

It’s just made me want to say:  Very cool.  Very fulfilling.  Very enlightening.  Very important to their development…and mine!!!!