Coming Soon: A New Generation of Assessments

Doorey, N. A. (2012). Coming Soon: A New Generation of Assessments. Educational Leadership, 70(4), 28-34.
 
Summary: When Common Core Standards were adopted by most states, beginning in 2009, many voices became louder where assessments, and their inability to effectively measure skills, knowledge and the necessary accoutrements for career and education success in the 21st century were simply called inadequate and too narrowly focused. Doorey gives us a glimpse into the 2 new assessment models that will be available to replace outdated state assessments, beginning in 2014, starting with the 39 consortia governing states (plus D.C.), as part of No Child Left Behind.
 
Part of what makes these assessments exciting is that they are to be taken exclusively digitally, and results can be returned in as little as 2 weeks, making the focus less about the testing, and more about learning, while still holding the school, educator and curriculum accountable.
 
Also, electronic information searching, finding credible sources, effective writing and complex reading will all be featured. The assessments will be much more involved, in multiple parts, to help test multiple intelligences and gauge the critical thinking skills of the students that can be applied to real world sitations. There will be more testing of the process, rather than the regurgitation of facts.  I believe this has great implications, particularly for E.L.L. students and those with learning disabilities, who constantly test below their actual skill level with the current assessments due to the narrow scope.
 
 
Accordingly, teachers and students


should expect to see more challenging
reading materials on these assessments
and more complex, real-world tasks in
addition to the more traditional selected response
and short-answer questions”(Doorey, 2012)
 
 

Posted by Kara Carter

Behaviorism, constructivism, and socratic pedagogy

Boghossian, P. (2006). Behaviorism, constructivism, and socratic pedagogy. Educational Philosophy and Theory. 38(6). 713-722.

This article explores the similarities and differences in behavorism, constructivism, and most interesting, in my opinion, socratic pedagogy, which may straddle the two, those be different enough to prove more useful. Boghossian acknowledges that a shift to constructivism is consistent in education today, believing that the student will find themany different truths by being an active participant in their education, while there are still behavorists in the mix who believe that students learn the “one truth” by drills and behavior modification and conditioning.

Basically, Boghossian states that constuctivists allow students to conclude and believe in multiple realities, as long as the process is sound,  because everyone’s experiences are different, whereas behaviorists expect everyone to come to the same answer based on objective observation and experimentation.

Soctratic pedagogy, however, maintains that there is, for the most part, an identifiable truth that is relevant for all involved (behaviorist), that invested students exploring the process and participating in dialogy will reach truth (constructivist), but through the act of discourse and discussion, any irrelevant or false assumptions will be discounted, using, almost, a collective consciousness methodology.

All in all, I would like to see the socratic pedagogy used more often, though, there are subjects in which I believe “reality” can be different for different learners, based on their experiences, such as criticism and interpretation of literature, poetry and art. However, science and mathematics will tend to have more rigid truths, though, those who are able to bend those absolute rules often come to breakthroughs

Posted by Kara Carter .

Developing the respect and support of school administrators

Reposted from class Wiki. Original summary by Jonine Bergen 05/05/2011

Oberg, D. (2006, February). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Retrieved May 7, 2011, from RedOrbit, Inc. website:
http://www.redorbit.com/news/education/397062/ developing_the_respect_and_support_of_school_administrators/

“Oberg discusses her findings of a literature review she completed which considered the importance of principal support of teacher librarians. She indicates that “Teacher-librarians tend to be invisible because the nature of their work involves empowering others, and building relationships with other educators-including the principal- is limited by their physical isolation in the library and by scheduling.” Orberg then focuses on her research looking at successful library programs and how principals support library programs. Finally, she indicates the importance of the teacher-librarian advocating for the library through regular communication and training. “Teacher-librarians gain the respect and support of their principals in three key ways: by building their professional credibility, by communicating effectively with principals, and by working to advance school goals.” Simply, principals cannot be expected to support programs they know nothing about.
I think of particular importance is her observation that a school librarian must have credibility as experts in their field and be seen as school leaders.Part of this means having credentials in both librarianship and education. It is very difficult to have credibility with teachers if they do not believe you know what you are talking about. But, it is also important to realize that this takes time.” -Bergen, J. (2011)
 
Reflection by Kara Carter: When I read this article, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Jonine, which is why I also reposted her original summary. What I wanted to emphasize, that she touched on, however, is the lack of credibility and respect many teachers, parents and administrators have for teacher-librarians. Few people have any idea what it takes, education and experience-wise to become a librarian, let alone a teacher librarian. Many people still have the antiquated idea in their heads that librarians are spinsters, or people that fell into the profession because they lacked social skills and education when the exact opposite is true. Most parents still don’t know that teacher-librarians have to be certified teachers in most states, with an MLIS and still yet, many teachers don’t know that either, seeing the teacher-librarians as somewhat of a threat, where resources and funds are concerned, though the purpose of the teacher-librarian is to support their efforts at educating their students, and making their jobs more effective.
 
It is my belief that a radical overhaul of the press concerning the profession needs to occur. We, as the next generation of teacher-librarians, have to finally stand up and “toot our own horns”, something that many of us are loathe to do. Not only do we need to display our credentials where anyone and everyone can see them, but we need to educate staff and parents on our expertise and function, which goes well beyond basic reading skills. We need to be visible entities in the school, in every way possible, in short, selling ourselves as any other product, to prove that we are necessary and that the school suffers if we are not part of it. Once that occurs, I believe that libraries will cease to be the first place that parents and administrators recommend for budget cuts, and they will begin to fight for them instead.
 
Posted by Kara Carter

Review: Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding

Garelick, B. (2010, July 1). Learning by text or context? [Review of the book Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design by C.A. Tomlinson and J. McTighe]. Educational Horizons, 88(4) p.199-202. P.Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=508174753&site=ehost-live

Summary: Garelick summarizes the main points of text by stating his agreement with Tomlinson and McTighe’s methods regarding Understanding By Design and it’s usefulness in Differentiated Instruction. Using tools such as backward planning, using non-rigid learning structures, and lessening focus on “drill and kill” exercises, students develop critical thinking skills by emphasizing the process rather than the product, making it easier to customize and adjust the tasks at hand to help the students reach the end result and meet common standards.

Effective learning of the material is assessed, not just on being able to achieve the correct answer, but mostly on being able to use the same processes learned in determining the solution in a different context, across fields of study. However, Garelick makes sure to point out that the authors seem to encourage the use of the “sink or swim” method, inundating students with material that may be completely over their heads with the assumption that if they can swim, they can begin learning more difficult tasks, and if they sink, they obviously need remedial training.

Reflection: I typically would not post a book review, but Garelick summarizes the main points of this book very effectively and I believe it is important to note his objection to some of the author’s recommended tactics, though most of his writing is high praise for their newer methods of thinking, focusing on an organic learning experience, rather than a contrived experience.

Having suffered from the “sink or swim” method, myself, as a student, I think it is an excellent example of how differentiated instruction of this type, and learning by design, are definitely more relevant than the archaic systems that have been used for over a century, but they still have a long way to go in meeting the needs of all students without overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating students to the point where distinterest is the least of their problems, and a general hatred of the subject or resentment of the instructor, by proxy, can occur. I believe it is important to learn from this observation to better meet the learning needs of all students.

Posted by Kara Carter

Getting Lectures Out of the Classroom

Baugess, Sasha

Flipped classrooms making a splash in American schools. (2012, October). Curriculum Review, 52(3), 2-3.

The article discusses the trend toward the flipped classroom in American schools, where teachers have begun sending lectures home with students to watch in the evenings so that they can dedicate class time to practicing what they’ve learned. This leaves more time for answering questions and clarifying anything that the students may be having difficulty with. It also allows students to take more time with the lectures, pausing and replaying sections that they don’t understand.

This actually seems like it would be very effective. Students would spend the same amount of time at home doing schoolwork as they did in the past, but rather than struggling with an assignment only to turn it in incomplete the following day, this way they will have access to the instructor while they’re working on it. It also allows them to work collaboratively with their peers in ways that may not have been possible when working from home.

Incorporating Information Literacy into the high school curriculum

Ringwood, Jessica
LaForty, J. (1998). A new literacy for a new age. Emergency Librarian: 25(8), 8-10.
Summary: This article outlines the reasoning behind offering an information literacy course to high school students as well as a brief outline of the components of such a course. 
Evaluation: Of particular interest in the article was the language and rationale LaForty uses to promote her course; it could be very helpful for teacher-librarians hoping to secure funding for a similar course on their campus. I LOVE this idea!  From the reading I have done, it seems that students are not arriving at college with decent information literacy skills.  I think librarians have to recognize that before the Common Core, teachers at the high school level don’t necessarily consider information literacy skills a part of their content (I think English teachers do, but other subjects focus more on content). Since the Common Core is not going into effect in California until 2014, this article is a timely reminder of skills that students and teachers need to be well-versed in.  Offering this kind of course on a high school campus seems like it would be very helpful.  I also think that the school site librarian could utilize these ideas and teach similar mini-courses to teachers, so that teachers could understand how to instruct their students in information literacy skills. 

How to get people interested in collaborating with the library

Ringwood, Jessica 
Kowalsky, S. (2011). Reach out, make connections, thrive. Teacher Librarian: 38(5), 67-68.
Summary: An inspirational, energetic article full of suggestions for how to build community support for the school library through programming (such as a Soup-er Bowl party) that attracts diverse users – meaning students and the staff at her high school site. 
Evaluation: I chose this article because the abstract promised it would be chock full of ideas to make the library a more engaging, collaborative place, and it delivered.  This article has taught me that the librarian has to be the advocate for collaboration. There is little time to sit behind the computer; a librarian has to get out into the public sphere and make people aware of what the library has to offer, and invite staff and students in, or people will not come in and use it the way they should.

Informing information literacy program planning

Ringwood, Jessica
Islam, R. L., & Murno, L. A. (2006). From perceptions to connections: Informing information
literacy program planning in academic libraries through examination of high school library media center curricula. College and Research Libraries: 67(6), 492-514.
Summary: This article is about college librarian efforts to isolate information literacy skills that students should be taught in high school.  The librarians used a survey to identify which skills students were missing.
Evaluation: I thought this would be helpful because I intend to work at the high school level.  This article helped me to see the problems I will face and some solutions to those problems.  One of the most interesting things I learned from this article is that the ETS (Educational Testing Service makes the Praxis and the GRE exams) created an information literacy exam for high school students; I want to get my hands on a copy of this!  I would love to use it as a pre-assessment for senior classes so we can see what we need to teach before they graduate from high school.  I looked it up on their website and it is called the iSkills Assessment.  http://www.ets.org/tests_products

The History of Curriculum in America, Part II (C)

Greene, K. (2009, Apr. 4). The History of Curriculum in America, Part II (C) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_szKWOgxJVc

 

Chole’ Tiscornia
12/5/12

Summary:

 (1980’s to 2000’s) In this final series on the History of Curriculum in America, Greene identifies key points in our history that continue to dictate our nation’s public school curriculum. Starting in the 1980’s, we left off with a return to the basics due to reports of failing SAT scores. Different educational practices started to emerge like homeschool programming for everyone; introduction of phonics for reading comprehension, and a damaging article entitled A Nation at Risk which scared the entire country. At this time, the nation was in the throes of a terrible economic recession, and people were once again blaming the education system.

 

In the 1990’s Milwaukee was the first district in the country to offer school vouchers for parents to choose what schools they wanted their children to attend. It did not take long for this idea to spread throughout other states as well. Charter schools also popped up, with the first one in Minnesota. The geographical location of the states is important as Greene points out that throughout our nation’s history, much of the educational reform, standards, and practices, originated in the North East. Education reformists had now moved to the mid-west. However, in 1993, Massachusetts passed the Massachusetts Education Reform Act which started common curriculum and statewide assessments. Other states of course followed. Scripted curriculum took over state and district teaching standards and textbook publishers along with anyone else related to textbooks and materials started to become the drivers of the curriculum. In 1998, the Higher Education Act is amended.

 In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) revisited the war on poverty. It is another attempt to get teachers to work in poorer neighborhoods. It holds schools accountable for student achievement levels, and delivers penalties for schools that do not make adequate yearly progress. For the first time in our nation’s history, the U.S. Department of Education, which was originated to share best practices, give out grants, and help schools get ahead, was turned into the education police force.  Many states resisted, but are still bound bya system of reward and punishment.


Evaluation:

I feel the last video in the series more or less further solidified the political nature of our education system as it is today. However, the video highlights the many avenues people, schools, districts, and states have taken in response to the negative reports and attitudes that are now a part of our education conscience. In the last 25 years or so, public schools seem to be playing dodge ball against reformists with a monetary agenda (homeschooling, phonics, etc.), sales people who have benefitted from standards in curriculum and testing (textbook publishers, printers, writers, computer sales, etc.), and a nation that cannot make up its mind if it wants to educate children to become responsible members of our democratic society, or so they can help us be number one in innovation, technology, military capabilities, etc. Although I do believe changes are necessary in the way we teach students because of the advancement and availability of helpful technology – and the way students have adapted their learning towards it – I do not feel education has failed us. This video lecture series on the History of Curriculum in America, even in its brevity, points to a fickle society that makes decisions and implements policies for short-term gain, on impulse to popular sentiments, without considering the long-term impact and its subsequent consequences.

The History of Curriculum in America, Part II (B)

Greene, K. (2009, Apr. 4). The History of Curriculum in America, Part II (B) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6qAzQ95hGQ

Chole’ Tiscornia
12/5/12

 

(1940’s – 1970’s) In this third video in the series of four, Greene starts us off in the 1940’s. This is also the time of WWII. There were a lot of school drop-outs; the depression was still in full swing, too. More women started to move into more advanced coursework. Additionally, the GI Bill allowed for even more people to go on to college. This meant more teachers! Soon after, we experienced a post-war baby-boom. Even more teachers were needed, as well as materials. Education started to cost more as a result. Also along this time people were developing shared languages as TV brought more people together. Next came the Red Scare and that meant that teachers had to be very careful what they said in class, and strict standards were once again enforced to balance on the tightrope. Questioning was not encouraged. Also in 1957, SPUTNIK was launched and Americans became worried they were falling behind so a return to the basics was implemented so we could develop more rocket scientists.

The 60’s brought more of the same as the Space Race was in full swing. However, JFK became President and along with him and his wife, they brought Arts into society and schools followed. Art started to become cool again. It was okay to explore, invent, be different, and question. Dick and Jane finally got a black friend. Also in the 60’s came the Cuban Missile Crisis and Cuban families began migrating to Miami. Laws were signed by LBJ such as The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as a way to fight a war on poverty which was growing faster. This act meant to bring teachers to low-income schools. Another act, The Higher Education Act of 1965 increased federal funding to higher education, provided scholarships, and student loans. It also established a National Teachers Corps.

The 70’s brought unintentional segregation that was met with mandatory bussing to better integrate children in schools. This started the White Flight – when many whites moved out to the suburbs where busing was not an issue, and if they did stay in the cities – into private schools.

For a while, teachers were teaching the metric system, but it did not work as our culture does not use it, and even teachers didn’t understand it. In 1977 a report came out showing that the nation had declining SAT Scores. This led the curricula back to the basics once again. The metric system went out the door and an emphasis was increased once again on the survival subject, the three R’s.

Evaluation:

This third video lecture in the series started to make the history of curriculum in American schools make more sense. I’ve always wondered why I learned some subjects, while my children have been taught others. I have a better sense of why this happens – reports – studies – economic worries – national security concerns – etc. Not enough of the impetus in changes to our system is about the system itself. It’s like being a math major in college and people want you to have excellent writing skills. It is not a problem with the schools or the intelligence of the student; it is just what they have concentrated on. When people use the phrase, our schools are failing our children, I feel these statements are based on selective samplings and not a true indication of how far a child might have come in their learning process – which should be celebrated, not denigrated.

History of Curriculum in America, Part II (B)