Category Archives: Random Thoughts

What do you mean by “college and career readiness”?

“…the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing first-year courses at a post secondary institution (such as a two- or four-year college, trade school, or technical school) without the need for remediation. ”

— ACT

Getting College Readiness is like…setting up a new smart phone?

Everyday more people are willing to dive into the ever growing world of mobile technology. The reality is that almost everyone has a smart phone. Now, this apparent level of willingness to explore technology doesn’t mean that everyone is able to effectively use their device upon purchase. In fact, the process of setting up one’s shiny new gadget requires a particular skill set that could in fact teach us a lot about how we should be preparing students for their post secondary endeavors.

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Problem-Based Learning Characteristics

Whether you are talking about getting students ready for college and career or setting up a smart phone, you have to have a method of addressing the challenge. In the case of a new smart phone, we often time jump right in without ever looking at a manual or speaking with an “expert”. Instead, we opt for a more organic but effective method of problem solving. The method I am referring to is very similar to what we know as inquiry or problem-based learning. If you really think about it, the task of setting up a new smart phone involves the following characteristics:

  • A realistic problem that is relevant in light of the person’s skills and interests (There is usually a really important reason for getting a smart phone..we need it to help us get organized!).
  • A strong need-to-know (Bottom-line, we need the stupid phone to work like we want it to work.)
  • A foundation that promotes questions (We can explore the device and, thus, identify what we need to seek assistance to address)
  • A multi-faceted assessment with multiple outcomes (This what I like to call phone customization. We all want our phones to fit our unique needs and personalities, so the possibilities are limitless)
  • Participation in a learning network (We often consult YouTube, the web, blogs, or a techie friend for help.)

I used the smart phone as an example, but what I’m talking about could be applied to any problem or challenge. If this is a common approach to problem-solving and it works for adults, why not promote this method in the classroom with students? For kids of this generation, this skill set is already well developed and ingrained; it is actually their preferred method of resolving problems and challenges. So, let’s take advantage of our knowledge about problem-based learning to help students capitalize on what they’re good at to become more successful now and during college and beyond.

Creativity Matters, Right?

Today’s demand for a high skilled workforce in the areas of science, technology  engineering  and math (STEM) is making an immediate impact on our society and what we value in education.  Changes in state and federal budgets further illustrates this shift our society is making in educational priorities.  I am starting to wonder what will be the long term affects of these changes.  How will they impact our society’s ability to create, innovate, communicate, or simply express the qualities that truly make us human? Don’t get me wrong, as a Physics educator, I am all for the investment in STEM.  I would just like to see more emphasis on the value and versatility in cultivating one’s creativity.

Source: edtechmagazine.com via Textbooks.com on Pinterest

Source: edtechmagazine.com via Textbooks.com on Pinterest

More Conditions for Cheating

Check out this Get Schooled blog post by Maureen Downey on the cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools. I would like to know if you guys agree.  Set unrealistic test score quotas and people will either fail or cheat | Get Schooled.

The Right Conditions for Cheating

By now many of you have heard about the recent reports of rampant teacher cheating and unethical practices in the Atlanta public school system.  What kind of world are we living in when the adults responsible for shaping the minds of our future leaders resort to cheating of this magnitude?  Since the reports surfaced, I have been trying to understand why or how this could happen.  Now, I’m not saying that it is implausible for anyone to cheat, after all, it is an element of human nature to cheat.  I also realize that cheating takes place everyday in different forms, but isn’t there a line somewhere?  Actually, there isn’t.

You better believe that this is not the first time the teachers in Atlanta, or teachers all over America for that matter, have cheated.  I believe this cheating is a symptom of a more substantial problem.  So much of our educational system encourages this kind of behavior.  Since the advent of the era of high stakes testing, many school systems have felt the pressure to meet standards with limited or no additional resources including highly qualified teachers. I have personally seen teachers succumb to the pressure to get students to pass the test that they simply “teach the test” in an effort to get higher scores.  This only creates an even bigger problem for the school system in subsequent years which leads to more pressure to cheat. Some public school systems fall in line with similar behavior by constantly manipulating data to satisfy the ever-growing political pressures to meet or exceed standards (often self-imposed standards).  Together, these behaviors seem to suggest that the accountability system, which include the high stakes testing, data reporting, and a whole host of other political constraints, is what drives public education today and produces the right conditions for cheating on all levels.

Well, that is what I think about this scandal, but I would like to know what you think about the sad state of affairs in the Atlanta Public School System.

Report: Widespread Cheating in Atlanta Schools — by Teachers.

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

“Happy Thanksgiving.”   This is something I am sure we all hear often this time of year, but does it really mean anything to anybody any more.    Just look around, the economy is in shambles, many people are without jobs, the government is divided, and the Dallas Cowboys lost!  Personally, I have a job thank challenges me everyday, a healthy growing family,  as well as tests and trials, so what am I left to really think about Thanksgiving?

When I look around me I don’t really find any clarity. This country has gotten so accustomed to so much material wealth and prosperity that even in times of financial crisis we are continuing in many of the lifestyle habits that not only contradict a true Thanksgiving attitude, but also contribute to the financial downturn.  Ironically, over the years we have moved further and further away from giving thanks on the day of Thanksgiving.  Think about it, what would Thanksgiving be these days without our fixation on turkey, football, gluttony,  and Black Friday?

Personally I am tired of the cycle.  This year I am going to be thankful for my faith, family, friends,employment, health, and everything else that comes along with them even if it kills me. I refuse to fall into to the trap of overeating and regretting it on the scale.  I refuse to be glued to the TV watching football while ignoring all of the family members sitting around me. I refuse to be influenced by the commercials and advertisements dead set on getting me to want more and buy more of the latest greatest gadgets.  I also refuse to continue wasting precious time away from what matters most in my life.  First I will strive to live a thankful week.  Then I will look forward to experiencing a thankful month.  Ultimately, I am going to try to avoid all of the things that have come to symbolize Thanksgiving.  Now I am not talking about the things we say this day represents, but the things that have come the represent Thanksgiving today.  Here is to really giving thanks on the day of Thanksgiving!