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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dr. Strange's Version of Blog Post #14

Image from Blog Post assignment number 14 assignment
I have written my response to the assignment for Blog Post #14. Unlike other blog post comments, I will not cite grammatical errors or any other specific issues that I may have with your post unless they are so significant that I feel is essential that I leave a comment.

One general comment: Most students commented on only three issues although by my count (see my post) there were 10 issues that could be addressed. Since I never said Pick 3 … I expected a more thorough response that I generally got.

Here is the rubric I used:
Grammar/spelling: ≤ 2 mistakes - 4 points; 3-5 mistakes - 2 points; > 5 mistakes - 0 points
Follow directions (Outline, Paragraphs, Conclusion) Yes 3 points; No - 0 points
Addresses issues 12 to 9 - 9 points; 6 or more but not all - 8 points; 4-6 - 3 points < 4 - 0 points Response (Thorough, Accurate, Convincing) All 3 - 9 points; 2 of three 6 points; 1 of 3 - 3 points; 0 - 0 points
Conclusion (Appropriate, Convincing) Excellent 5 points; Very Good 4 points; Good 3 points; Poor 1 point; Unacceptable - 0 points

I have read all but 10 posts. I will finish them either later today or tomorrow evening. Three students did the original assignment before I changed it. They were omitted from this grading system There were 31 possible points. The average score was 15 (C). The median was 17. The mode was 0. There were 16 zeros because of no post or a late post.
Here are the grades I gave after evaluating your posts: Zero points (late or no post) F; 1-9 D; 10-17 C; 18-23 B; 24-31 ( the best grade was a 30) A.
Here is what you should do:
Read my post.
Compare your post to it.
Evaluate your post using my rubric as best you can.

When I finish evaluating all posts I will figure out some way we can individually share your grades.

My "Blog Post #14"

Start your blog post with a list of all problems and their associated “solutions” (or changes recommended without an identification of a “problem”) that need addressing as identified by Mr. Klein or attributed to Albert Shanker.

General problems not further discussed in the article:
“Using technology to improve teaching and learning“
“adopting a knowledge-based curriculum“
"starting education before 5 years of age"
Major issue:
Professionalize teaching and make it well-respected

What is needed to accomplish this:
"better academic training for prospective teachers"
math preparation must be improved
improve training in basics of reading instruction
new approach to recruiting teachers
B.A degree must be replaced as entry requirement. Must recruit from top third of college graduates
change how we reward teachers
establish ways to remove incompetent teachers
pay teachers according to performance
if layoffs necessary do not use rule of last hired but rather least effective
create self-policing procedures for the profession
establish national board
establish standards to be met by teachers
establish "mechanisms for removing incompetent teachers
change admission requirements to colleges of education - attract best students
professionalize course work in colleges
create national teacher examination testing pedagogy and content knowledge
create "more school choices“: end mandatory assignment of students to neighborhood schools and substitute widest possible choices
end treatment of teachers as workers in a factory

Take each individual item in your list. In a paragraph, indicate whether you agree or disagree that the “problem” identified (if any) is really a problem and whether or not you agree with the proposed “solution.” In all cases, defend your position with clear arguments and facts. Identify opinions as such.

Former New York Superintendent Joel Klein identifies three general problems and one major issue that require changes to the educational system of the United States. The three general problems identified by Mr. Klein included “using technology to improve teaching and learning," “adopting a knowledge-based curriculum," and "starting education before 5 years of age." Mr. Klein did not discuss these issues other than to identify them. I agree that we must use technology to improve teaching and learning. I would argue that this is best done when the learners have the tools readily available to them at all times - personal computers connected to the Internet) rather than group or class tools such as SMARTboards. I am not sure what is meant by adopting a "knowledge-based curriculum" If Mr. Klein means acquiring and storing information in one's head rather than developing the ability - and the desire - to ask questions and seek information in the most efficient ways possible, I would disagree. We must not continue to support a burp-back method of teaching. It results in no real learning, just short term memorization. Instead we must use project/problem/challenge based teaching and learning where the emphasis is on having students who say "I can do…" rather than "I once knew…" I also agree with Mr. Klein's suggestion that we start the education of children before the age of 5. Of course that is happening already, but not in classrooms designed to foster learning. A unified approach would help all children, not just those who live in well educated households where young children are encouraged to learn (to ask questions and seek answers) at all times.

The major suggestion of Mr. Klein is to professionalize teaching. I have outlined the ways in which he suggests we accomplish this objective above. I will add my thoughts to these suggestions.

Math preparation must be improved - My EDM310 students, all of whom want to enter the profession of education, are woefully unable to do basic math. I have been testing my students for 25 consecutive semesters. Over 1/3 cannot correctly solve a majority of problems such as convert a two place decimal into a percentage or convert a two place decimal into a percentage. This is also true for basic multiplication and division. When you add word problems taken from a GED High School equivalency exam, the results are even worse. Only about 20% of the questions are answered correctly. Should my students be able to do basic 8th grade math and 12th grade word problems before being allowed to enter the profession of teaching? I think so. But our current educational system operates as if that is not a necessary requirement. So I have given up on math.

Basics of reading instruction - I support this but have no data to share about how well prepared my students are in reading instruction.

Recruit from the top third of college students - It certainly does not happen now. Are grades in college a good predictor of effectiveness as a teacher? I would think that better teachers would have better grades in college but the correlation is probably lower that we might expect. I do not have data on this but I will try and find out. Certainly good teachers must also be good learners. Why are all students not good learners? Some do not attend college to learn but rather to engage in social and other activities. Too many have not been taught to learn but have been taught to burp back information. I have had many very good students who flunked out because they were not good learners. After growing up, they returned with a different attitude and were successful learners. In the next few years the technology that enables us to predict with surprisingly good accuracy what a given individual will do on a specific day will be put to use in helping us better predict who will be successful at teaching. Until then we may be stuck with inadequate predictors of excellence in teaching. Consequently I would not limit my hiring of teachers (or admission to teacher preparation courses) to the top quartile of a college class, but I would probably put them higher on my list of candidates until I had direct evidence of their teaching abilities and commitment to learning and to the profession of teaching.

Change the reward system for teachers - better pay and mechanisms to remove incompetent teachers. I strongly support both but I am not sanguine about the latter. A great objective but we are unlikely to attain it.

Self-policing procedures for the profession - Again a lofty goal but unlikely to be attained given the history of teaching and the local nature of its administration.

Attract better students to college of education - Again, I support that but unless issues of pay and competence are addressed this will not happen.

Create a national teacher exam - I am not sure to what extent content knowledge is important. The question is are the members of the profession able and willing (even eager) to learn. When we look at the difficulties in increasing the use of technology in teaching and learning we come face to face with large segments of current teachers who are not willing and able to learn new things - new ways of teaching. That is even true, to a much lesser extent, with students seeking to enter the profession of teaching. I have far too many students who are unwilling learners. And a few who appear not to be able to learn.

Create more school choices - I would hope we could improve the profession to such an extent that it wouldn't matter what choices families made about schools. That is very unlikely, however. I cannot envision a system where this could be instituted and which would also achieve the outcome Mr. Klein desires.

End the "factory like" conditions for teachers and teaching - I couldn't agree more. Will it happen? Probably not in the short run.

Write a conclusion to your post that is appropriate.

I agree with most of Mr Klein's suggestions. His goals, while not fully agreed upon, are generally accepted by me. We end up, however, never figuring out how to bring about real change. How do we do it? That is the question that is most important. I do not have an answer to that question. Do you?

1 comment:

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