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My Word Press Comments

April 18, 2007

Comment One
Comment Two
Comment Three
Comment Four
Comment Five
Comment Six
Comment Seven
Comment Eight
Comment Nine
Comment Ten

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A Bright Idea- don’t get left behind (lost)

April 17, 2007

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Kim – where?
Kristie- right there, turn
Kim- here?
Kristie- yes!
Kim- ok
Kristie- that was a red light!
Kim- it was?
Kristie- yes and there is a police officer next to you
Kim- oh great that is going to add to the cost of this conference
Kristie- this one is red also
Kim- but the police officer is gone now and we might be late if we don’t hurry
Kristie- sigh
Kim- when do you think lunch will be?
Kristie- the schedule told us — I am not sure- red light right here
Kim-do you know where we are, I don’t see any Signs, lets go this way
Kristie- are you sure?
Kim- there are a couple of girls who look like they are in college walking over there, we can follow them
Kristie- I think we should follow the directions
– A VERY LONG TIME PASSES-
Kim- Do you think we are lost?
Kristie- yes!
Kim- lets stop and ask people we see on the street walking their dog
Kristie- do you see the neighborhood we are in?
Kim- oh
Kim- there is a dog, a person must be close
Kim- here you talk
Kristie- what?
Kim- my friend wants to ask you where Michigan State University is, she is lost
Kristie- Could you tell us where Michigan State is?
Stranger with dog- it is way back there
Kim- here is a pen, write it down
Kristie- are we that far out of our way?
Stanger with dog- yes it is going to take you a bit
Kim- this way?
Kristie- yes!
Kim- where do we park?
Kristie- behind the red building
Kim- they are all red, did you want to get some coffee?
Kristie- NO we are LATE!
Kim- it’s ok, this place is so big we’re not gonna see Rozema
Kristie- sigh
Kim- I hope we don’t have to walk very far
Kristie- hurry up
Kim- look there is a Starbucks, are you thirsty?
Kristie- NO!
Kim- they have a much better clock tower than Grand Valley
Kristie- We are late!
Kim- look at how big this place is, I wonder if there is a coffee shop inside
Kristie- Pick up your tag and lets go
Kim- look free pencils!
Kristie- the room is over here
Kim- don’t worry Rozema is nowhere to be seen, I have to avoid him anyway because I am wearing jeans. The stress of this semester has put an extra ten pounds on me and I could not spring for another pair of nice pants.
Kristie- there are two seats over there come on
Kim- see I told you, when is lunch?
Kristie- told me what?
Kim- no Rozema, no worries
Kristie- TO YOUR RIGHT!
Kim- oops! Keep your head down
Kristie- sigh
Kim- the people in front of us have coffee!
– SESSION OVER-
Kim- do you belive the picture of that cheerleader? They put that up just to make people like me feel bad! Wanna get some coffee?
Kristie- we have to find the Tower room
Kim- right now?
Kristie – yes right now!
Kim- what a cool room, the lighting is very nice, I also like the crown molding
Kristie- sit down
Kim- why does everyone have coffee?
Kristie- because they were early enough to buy it!
Kim- did we figure out when lunch is?
Kristie- after this
Kim- how long is this
Kristie- sign
– SESSION OVER-
Kim- look out there is Rozema, he’s with a girl. Do you think that is his wife?
Kristie- I am going to go sit next to Dee for a while
Kim- what if it wasn’t his wife?
Kristie- would you like to join us?
Kim- lets ask Dee if she thinks that is his wife
Kristie- SIGH
– AFTER LUNCH-
Kim- do you want to go to the giftshop?
Kristie- why?
Kim- to look around
Kristie-NO!
Kim- do you wnat to get some coffee?
Kristie- we just ate
Kim- ok
Kristie- we need to be on time Rozema is going to be there
Kim- do you think he is going to be with the girl?
Kristie- come on!
Kim- I sure like that Rozema guy, he is the best teacher ever, for the rest of my life I am going to remember how great he is
– Session end-
Kim- do you remember where we parked?
Kristie- behind the red building
Kim- they are all red
Kristie- that one
Kim- I sure like that clock tower
Kristie- yeah it’s super
Kim- there is Starbucks, wanna get some coffee?
Kristie- ok
– SOMETIME AFTER COFFEE-

We all know how much fun going to a conference is. Those of us in education will likely have many more to look forward to. Bright Ideas was just that. I was impressed with all of the young energetic presenters. The focus on technology is an eye opener.

When someone says it is a good idea to use games and MySpace to study what comes to mind often especially for those of us that are out of the technology loop is “you must be kidding”. Sitting though three sessions that all focused on the use of technology in one form or another brought this concept home for me.

The first session looked at using games for students to explore characters. What stood out for me more than anything was the excitement of the presenters. It is true that I slunk into this one just as it was getting started. Right off the bat I was stuck by the energy of the presenters. Sure I had heard about visual worlds but I really did not know much about it and it just did not seem to fit into my view of traditional education. After listening and actually looking at how these worlds work I thought of my own kids and how much they would enjoy something like this. I started jotting down as much information as I could so that I could bring it home and have them explore it. This is really what it is about, reaching kids. As a parent, I spend the greater part of my life looking for fun ways to teach my children new things. It is not always about school, sometimes it is just trying to get them excited about cooking, planting a garden, taking a good photograph, reading the paper, or playing cribbage with a grandparent. We look for the hook with our own personal children as much as we do with our students. I cannot help but think that if more teachers were using programs like the ones demonstrated in the Visual World session that parents would be just as excited as kids. I am looking forward to exploring this at home. I very much enjoyed the session.

The second session that I attended was the MAC Beth. I appreciate the clever title. I have not taken a Shakespeare course yet so some of the content was not familiar. What stood out to me again was the interaction that students have with technology. Again I was excited about the filmmaking the students did and again was anxious to bring it home to my ninth grade daughter who is currently working on making a movie with a group of her friends for a Social Studies course. The presenters made a point of saying that the use of technology is what our kids are interested in. When I think about this in terms of what I have learned about technical jobs and the improvements that schools need to be making, it all clicks. This is what kids do, therefore it only makes sense that we take what we are hoping to teach them into their world.

The last session I attended was ours. I have to say David and Bethany did such a nice job in presenting this. The preparation that went into this was very impressive and I have no doubt that they are both going to be wonderful teachers very soon. I have not created a MySpace account yet. In truth my husband and I have told both of our children they cannot have a MySpace account. Most of my daughters friends parents have also banned this (which has made it much easier for me to stand my ground). The truth is that I do not think any of us know anymore about this then what we see and hear on the news. I think that this presentation should be running on some of the mainstream news programs that the average frazzled parents of today’s teenagers are watching in the evenings! By far this was my favorite!

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Final Comments

April 17, 2007

I think I am an official blogger now. I still do not think that my blog is as cool as I would like it to be, however I am feeling very “cool” now that I can upload a picture. I will not disclose the amount of time this took me. I think I have even figured out how to put in the paragraph breaks.

At the start of the class I did not have a blog, did not know how to blog, knew very little about MySpace, knew nothing about gaming, had never heard of Google Reader and was not listening to “This I Believe”. What was wrong with me? I must have been living under a rock.

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In all seriousness I feel much more in touch with technology than I did fifteen weeks ago. I set out to learn as much as I could about the NCLB act. While there is much more out there that I did not even begin to touch on, I have more of a handle on it after spending a semester with it.

I continue to see mainsteam television addressing this issue, and it is my hope that this continues until we can come up with some better solutions in education. I was unaware that the Gates Foundation was involved in education and it has been very interesting learning about where they stand. While Bill Gates has not spoken to writing or English education in the terms that he has Math and Science he has taken on some of the political issues that surround education.

The model schools are something I did not know existed and I am very interested to follow them and see if the trend becomes more popular. I do agree that buisness is going to have to take on a greater part in education. I also, sadly see where the subject of public education has become a great podium pounder. I am hoping that in the future the solutions that are offered have a greater ability to sustain themselves than the ones offered in NCLB.

I intended to not be opinionated on this issue. I assumed that the more I learned the more understandable this law might become, at least in my mind. When I started looking at the history of education and the fact that it has been a struggle from the beginning, it looked like I might find this understanding. This has not happened. I have to say I cannot find one good or understandable thing about NCLB (who could have guessed).

This class has placed a great deal of focus on what reaches children. The texts and the classroom discussions have changed or opened my mind to the idea that maybe we need to learn from the kids. It is hard for me not to connect this to being a parent. Any parent will tell you that you cannot expect a child to come into your world you have to go into theirs. It is easy to forget this when you are thinking in terms of your job, and what you are required to teach. The comment was made that we spend hours as teachers searching around, having meetings, spending time and money trying to come up with a way to grab the intrest of students. It really is no different than what we do at home with our own personal children. I think that maybe the NCLB people need to come down to the current world of teachers.

Just as we need to look to our students to see what is going to help them, policy makers need to look at what is going on in schools today, how it has changed, how NCLB has changed teaching and learning.

In spite of this, it is good to know that people are still excited about teaching and are still coming up with ideas to make it better for kids. I have enjoyed learning so much about technology this semester. To be honest much of it has been from classmates. I am looking forward to my very own MySpace account and this summer I am going to learn more of the IM language than just lol. By the way, I did learn that in this class!

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Gates Speaks

April 17, 2007

In a recent speech to the United States Congress Bill Gates reiterated that an overhaul is needed of the nation’s schools in order to keep jobs from going overseas.

Gates was speaking to the fact that the United States workforce needs to consist of people who have the knowledge and skills needed to drive innovation. Gates’ Microsoft Corp. currently is unable to fill 3,000 technical jobs because of a shortfall in educated technical workers.

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Bill Gates

Gates currently is endorsing legislation that is currently moving through the Senate (backed by both Democrats and Republicans) that seeks to get more people to become math and science teachers and would improve their training. The bill also works to address getting more highly trained teachers in poor districts. Gates sites a recent study that found that “40 percent of high school seniors failed to perform at the basic level on a national math test. On a national science test, half of 12th graders didn’t show basic skills.”

Gates stated, “We simply cannot sustain an economy based on innovation unless our citizens are educated in math, science and engineering.”

Link to Article

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Put Up or Shut Up

April 7, 2007

Employee pay can be one of the most effective ways to manage a workforce. A recent study shows that this may be the case with public education teachers. The current adherence to the traditional single-salary schedule strips school districts of a key managerial tool. Studies show that a more strategic use of teacher compensation could lead to both a more equitable allocation of teachers among students and increased student achievement.

It goes without saying that some teachers, based on their college quality and training, will have more competing opportunities outside of teaching than others. Currently, public schools are only recruiting a small percentage of this desirable type of teaching candidate. Also, not all teaching jobs are alike. Some schools are tougher than others. Teaching salaries should be appropriate.

Research shows that merit pay and pay for specific knowledge and skills are useful techniques for incenting teachers to perform at a higher level. Using something other than single-salary structure can also entice quality teachers to work at high-needs schools for so-called combat pay.

The trouble is that many aspects of teaching make it hard to quantify salary differentiation. “Teachers’ jobs are complex and multidimensional, and we know very little about how to objectively and accurately quantify their productivity.” Therefore, it is necessary to be cautious when implementing merit pay and incentives.

It is the challenge upon our policy makers to find wage design methods to address the shortcomings of our current system. Research shows that teacher quality is the “most important schooling factor in influencing student achievement,” but paying the most qualified candidates can be challenging in the current budget constraints. Also, the policy makers need to come up with a system to address teacher performance through demonstrated classroom performance.

Like so many other issues, when it comes to the current American education crisis, it will take innovative thinking to come up with solutions that will address the current shortcomings.

Link to Article

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Reauthorization

April 3, 2007

It was recently found by The Center for American Progress that 24 states are failing in the recently released Leaders and Laggards state score cards. As Congress continues its hearings regarding the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, it needs to find ways to legislate stronger requirements and guidelines to address the current shortfalls.

The Center for American Progress recently released a series of reports showing the effectiveness of new policies to address shortfalls such as longer school days to expand student learning time, after-school programs, incentive-based pay for teachers and staging early interventions for students at risk. Many of their recommendations include improving accountability, improving data quality measures, and improving teacher quality.

Recommendations involving improving data quality measures include standardizing the way the system tracks individual student progress from year to year for all states. Different states currently use different measures. They also recommend that the federal government establish a set of voluntary national standards. It was found that it was much more effective to use a standardized test (they are a more accurate indicator of student achievement) than state tests.

The committee hearings also concluded that there is an increasing need for improved teacher quality. Their research shows that “the difference between a good teacher and a bad one can mean the difference of a full year of learning for students.” They also report that teachers in overseas schools “respond to the same incentives professionals in other fields respond to, if the incentives are well-structured.”

Ultimately NCLB has done little to improve student achievement in recent years. As Congress works to reauthorize the Act, they will need to not only consider research that is available, but will also need to consider some innovative solutions to many of the shortcomings we are now experiencing in our current educational system.

Link to Article

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Kim’s late post- good article!

March 12, 2007

Bill Gates has been upfront about his concern for our current educational system in the United States.  Unlike a lot of others, Gates has put or at least is putting his money where his mouth is.  It seems people on all sides or at least most of them are in agreement that there is something wrong with our current educational system.  We are hearing all of this about high schools that are failing at the same time we are graduating top students who are entering top schools and military academies.  Where then is the disconnect?  Why is it that all we hear about is how our country is failing?

 While I do not agree with all of the testing ideas that Gates supports I do agree with the idea that we are not preparing for the global economy. International business students all over along with many other people are reading the book “The World is Flat.”  Agree or disagree with the information in the book it is hard to argue that the world is indeed becoming flat.  This means that we are not always going to have the most educated kids in the world.  Education is a competition and the world is more than eagar to beat us at education along with anything else.

“Too often, we lack the political will to take the steps necessay to ensure that America remains a technology and innovation leader.  In too many areas, we are content to live off the investments that previous generations made for us – in education, in health care, in basic scientific research- but are unwilling to invest equal energy and resources into building on this legacy to ensure that America’s future is as bright and prosperous as its present.”

 Innovation is seeing what the country is going to need and planning for it so that when the time comes we have a workforce prepared to be competitive.  For a long time, in my opinion, our country had a diversification of our labor force.  I really liked the way Gates in the video we watched in class spoke of a family wage.  We no longer have a diversified family wage.  It is very difficult for an eighteen year old kid to make enough money to support a family that does not significantly lack that of the educated.  For a while families could make choices to both seek employment in order to make up for these differences.  This option is less and less of a solution.  The difference between the haves and the have nots is as large as ever.

The problem that I feel is not being addressed is the class difference that is being created.  Those who are not college bound know it early on and feel the social stigma that comes with it.  This only furthers the divide.  We spoke of this in class in terms of tracking.  Gates talks about personalizing learning to make it “more relevant and engaging for students, therby to ensure no child is left behind.”  It is not relevant for students who are struggling to be placed in lower level courses and pushed to study subjects that do not interest them and are not put into a context that would.  When we do not consider what students are interested in, it makes it all the harder to have them engage in a subject they should master.

 This makes me consider the social networking and gaming that our students are clearly interested in.  We should know from past experiences that it is what people are interested in that they will excel at.  We do not always know what interests children.  Maybe we are not asking or accepting value in what they are.

Oprah recently spent some unspeakable amount of money to build a school in Africa.  Now do not get me wrong, Oprah is awesome and while she got some bad press for this move I am not in a million years going to slam someone who is helping people.  We are all people and if whoever she helps, good for her.  At the same time I heard that one of the arguments for not building a school in America, where education is hurting was that kids here only want ipods and shoes or other material items.

 I can’t help but wonder why.  Our kids see it everyday.  Has anyone read the O list?  What does she give away on the Christmas show?  What do we all want?  Our kids are interested in technology, maybe we are not making what they are interested in part of what we are teaching and therefore not fostering an education that is relevant for them.  So our schools are working for kids who are inindated with the importance of their studies at home but not for the kids who are less motivated but many just as smart.

Gates also speaks to the Early College high schools of which “there are 125 in operation in over 20 states.”  This is a great idea because kids want to get on with their lives.  They want to leave home and be independent and the faster they think they can do this the more eager most kids are.  My daughter is currently on track to complete two college Spanish courses by the time she graduates from high school.  The thought of this is very exciting for the kids, especially those like her that are planning on a career or at least a degree in foreign language.  What I see happening is that the more they are taken seriously at school the more the take themselves seriously.  For her and most of the other girls in this class getting less than an A is a problem.  Nobody has to tell them this.  They are just proud of what they are doing.

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We do need as a country to look at the careers that are innovative and then pump money into fostering them.  I think education and writing for that matter is not a ton different than Field of Dreams.  Kids are interesting people and most all of them, even kids from low income families are interested in something.  Much of Hollywood exists due to low income kids.  If we build it they will come.  Kids do want a future, many of them are just unsure what they are being pushed to test well on in high school has anything to do with this future.  In all honesty how can we blame them when we are struggling with the same questions.

 Link to Article