Tag Archives: 21st Century Learning

Yong Zhao’s take on American Education and Testing

Yong Zhao provides insight into interpreting international test score.

Just returned from the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in Nashua New Hampshire

As always, The Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference was a great opportunity to discover new ways to  further encourage powerful learning at our school.  Checkout the Keynote Speakers.

10 Excellent Sites for English Educators-Go Ed

These are great sites for teaching English: 10 Excellent Sites for English Educators

Free E-Book from Powerful Learning.com

This is a compilation of blogs by teachers who are engaged in creating powerful learning in their schools.

http://www.powerfullearningpress.com/

The Classroom Newspaper Google Docs Style Jeff Utecht

This a great example of how Google Docs could be used on all levels.

http://www.thethinkingstick.com/the-classroom-newspaper-google-docs-style

Send a Letter to the President on October 17

Diane Ravitch is encouraging students, parents, teachers and administrators to send a letter on October 17.  This is a link to her blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/10/03/send-a-letter-to-the-president-on-october-17/

 

Here is the letter I will be sending:

Dear President Obama,

I am  teacher and a lifelong Democrat.  I have voted in every presidential election since I was old enough to vote. I’m certainly not going to vote for Mr. Romney but for the first time in my adult life I am considering not voting at all.  I can not in good conscience support the educational policies espoused by you and your Secretary of education, Arne Duncan. I know many teachers who are facing the same crisis of conscience. When you ran for president four years ago, I like many of my colleagues, were full of hope that that you might take measures to address the negative outcomes that were the result of  the No Child Left Behind mandates.  Instead, The Race to the Top, standardization, and privatization are destroying our public schools.

Although I agree that teachers should not be evaluated by test scores, this is not my principle concern.  Inside the school building, there are three stakeholders. The students, the teachers and the administrators.  A wise middle school principal of my acquaintance has pointed out that the students should always be considered first, the teachers second and the administrators third.  When so much time is being spent on teaching the student how to do well on standardized tests, can it truly be argued that we are putting the student first?  Bloom’s revised taxonomy  suggests that there are six levels of learning.  The bottom of the pyramid starts with remembering and then moves upwards to understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and finally creating.  At best, standardized testing might measure the bottom two skills.  The united States has always been recognized for its innovation and creativity.  Do we really want our teachers to ignore the top four learning skills in order to conform to a “one size fits all” concept that doesn’t recognize student abilities, interests and needs.  The other major stakeholder in education is our students’ parents.  We are seeing more and more of them who are expressing dismay at what we have to do to keep from becoming a school in need of improvement. Many are seeking alternatives such as Waldorf Schools where students are treated as creative human beings rather than as fodder for data. I come from a long tradition of teachers and even my own grandchildren are all going to a Waldorf School.  My daughters’ families are willing to  make personal financial sacrifices so that their sons and daughters will not be exposed to the standardization that was mandated by the Bush Administration and now yours.

I have been fortunate to witness the the outcomes of student based learning.  Students who are engaged in an environment where they may pursue some of their own interests blossom into true learners.  Standardized testing is alienating not only our teachers but also, more importantly, our students.  NECAP test prep is about the worst possible way I can think of to engage  potential learners at the start of a new school year.  I actually had a student suggest to me that we should find a way to fill a bucket with what is on the tests.  Then we should bore a hole in the students’ heads and pour the contents of the bucket into the hole.  Is this how we want our students to see education?
The Common Core Standards may very well be useful guidelines but they do not teach the students to infer. Interpreted literally, they are fostering a mentality coming from the top down that each teacher must cover the same material at exactly the same pace and during the same time period.  Most teachers don’t believe in this methodology but  they are afraid to speak up in fear of losing their jobs.  The top levels of the taxonomy are being lost to what appears to be an effort to make everyone be the same.  21st Century learners need to be creative problem solvers, not mindless automatons.  Studies have shown that formative assessment is much more effective than summative assessment and yet we we spend an inordinate amount of time on cumulative assessments that address only the lower levels of learning.  As one educator has said,”Rigor is not giving the students difficult stuff, it is the quality of the feedback.”  The feedback from standardized tests is not high quality.   Noam Chomsky from MIT has pointed out that it is not what is covered that is important, it is what the student discovers that matters.

Mr. President and Mr. Duncan please realize that your present policies are not only demoralizing teachers, these policies are also doing our students a great disservice.  Those of us who choose to teach do it not for monetary reward. it is however not unreasonable to assume that we should be able to earn a respectable professional income.  We don’t work to win monetary recognition for high test scores.  Doing so does not set a good example for our students.  Bribing our students to do well on the tests is also not a good model for future adult behavior.

I want to support you on November 6 but I don’t know if I can.  Do we really want a society where only the students who go to private schools will be the creative thinkers of the future?  Education is not a basketball game.  The Race To The Top only creates a few winners and many losers. The losers are also the future of our country.  Please listen to those of us who have devoted our lives to helping our students become lifelong learners and thoughtful productive citizens in a free society. Diversity, not standardization is what has brought out the best in the United States of America.

Rick Davidson
Computer Technology Integrator
Kingswood Regional Middle School
Wolfeboro, NH


The Common Core-4 Critical Questions by Jill Spencer

Strict or loose interpretation of the Common Core:  http://brightfutures4me.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/questions-about-implementation-of-common-core/

THE 33 DIGITAL SKILLS EVERY 21ST CENTURY TEACHER SHOULD HAVE

From Educational Technology and Mobile Learning  http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/33-digital-skills-every-21st-century.html

“What Does It Take For A Project To Be Authentic” By John Larmer

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/authentic-project-based-learning-john-larmer?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scottmcleoddelicious+%28Scott+McLeod%27s+Delicious+Bookmarks%29

15 Favorite iPad Apps selected by teachers from K Walsh (Emerging Ed Tech)

http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/03/15-favorite-ipad-apps-as-selected-by-teachers/