23. October 2014 15:01
Eight years after Pluto was demoted, the debate still rages on. Everywhere, people are sticking up for the little guy. Now, word on the Internet has it that a new vote decided Pluto was a planet. So, is it?
The vote that occurred on September 18 was at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The results were in favor of Pluto as a planet, but this was not an official vote by the International Astronomical Union. Instead, it was a vote by three scientists and the audience members of the debate they had. Officially, Pluto remains a dwarf planet.
Why isn't Pluto a planet again?
When they threw Pluto out of “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas,” the world was thrown for a loop. What did mother serve? But scientists had decided on an official definition for “planet,” and Pluto didn’t fit.
Planet: A celestial body that
1. orbits the Sun
2. is round or nearly round, and
3. has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit
Pluto doesn’t fit because it doesn’t clear its orbit. That little “and” in the definition means it must do all three to be a full-fledged planet.
A spacecraft (New Horizons) is heading to Pluto to get a closer look. In fact, New Horizons crossed Neptune’s orbit only a week after the debate. Who knows? Maybe its status will change again.
For now, Pluto will remain a dwarf planet. Its previous status shouldn’t be ignored though. Here at LEP, we think Pluto still deserves to be taught, even if it is “just a dwarf planet.” In fact, Pluto may be more important than it ever was before:
- *Before Pluto was just the smallest of nine planets, way out there beyond our reach. Now, it is the most well-known dwarf planet/plutoid.
- *Pluto was the center of debate and one of the driving factors in the creation of at least three new definitions:
1. Planet: A celestial body that orbits the Sun, is round or nearly round, and has cleared its neighborhood.
2. Dwarf planet: A celestial body similar to a small planet but that has not cleared its neighborhood.
3. Plutoid: An ice dwarf that is round and orbiting beyond Neptune.
- *Pluto has been on both sides of planethood. It can be used as a clear example of the difference between a planet and a dwarf planet because you can teach why Pluto is different and why that isn’t a bad thing.
If Pluto regains its status, we will jump on board and welcome Pluto back as a planet. Until then, we encourage you to teach Pluto’s official status but include its controversial history. And please remember Pluto’s friends, the other dwarf planets: Ceres, Eris, Makemake, and Haumea.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What will you teach your students about Pluto? Is Pluto still a planet to you? Or have you accepted its new status?
17. October 2014 14:32
|In recent years the subject of bullying has increasingly become part of the wider public consciousness. Part of this is likely explained by bullying’s entrance into the internet and social media, where interactions that were once limited to those who witnessed them firsthand have become available to a far larger audience. And while bullying is probably as old as human civilization, cyberbullying is a new phenomenon, one which teachers, parents and students are still trying to figure out. |
|October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and as such I’d like to take some time to take a look at some of the more commonly suggested means of combatting bullying and how these may or may not work to help stop cyberbullying.|
The concept of “changing the social climate” in schools is being used as something of a catchall term for stopping bullying before it starts. It is to this social climate that many state anti-bullying laws refer when they declare schools must create a “safe learning environment” for students. Several organizations have developed anti-bullying curricula with the goal of clearly defining for students the negative consequences of bullying, both for themselves and for those they may bully. Most of these curricula, however, are geared toward K-5 classrooms (or thereabouts), presumably under the assumption that, one in their early teens, kids will understand, at least on some intellectual level, that bullying is wrong.
For students in middle school and high school, the “education” in anti-bullying seems to stop. This is not to say that schools no longer promote a safe learning environment or that they tolerate bullying to any lesser degree, but that the conversation about bullying seems to become one centered less on prevention and more on stopping it after the fact. This is indicative in much of the literature about bullying prevention that focuses on the victim. One look at the federal government’s Stop Bullying campaign website shows a much stronger lean toward dealing with bullying that already exists. Many organizations looking to end cyberbullying take the same approach, giving countless examples of things children should avoid doing on the internet to protect themselves from bullies (see some examples here, here, and here). There have also been a number of high-profile cases of school districts tackling the technology used to cyberbully, the most recent of which involved the banning of the Streetchat and Yik-Yak apps.
With the advent of cyberbullying – a familiar yet strikingly different form of bullying – renewed emphasis on proactive education about bullying has become, I would argue, very important. First, cyberbullying is more likely to happen outside of school – where a teacher might otherwise be able to intervene – and away from the eyes of parent who might be able to do the same. Second, the anonymity and/or lack of face-to-face interaction allowed by the internet make cyberbullying much easier than “traditional” bullying; the cyberbully does not even need to be in the same city as their victim. Third, the internet provides instant gratification for a cyberbully. Imagine a scenario in which a teenager, sitting at home, becomes angry at one of their fellow students for something they had done earlier in the day. The internet provides an immediate retaliatory tool, whereas without it, the kid might be able to cool off and move past it before the next day of school. And lastly, bullying on the internet and social media has much greater potential to become permanent. Whereas name-calling on the playground has something of an ephemeral quality, an internet meme or a post on Facebook can go viral within an hour, even if it is only within one school’s population. Good luck removing that from the public consciousness.
All of this is to say that cyberbullying is so easy, so easily imitated, and so instantaneous that emphasis on prevention through conflict resolution runs the risk of being far too passive. The point is not to be alarmist; there is no indication that cyberbullying is about to replace or even occurs more frequently than “traditional” bullying. But with cyberbullying comes a set of problems, specifically for schools, that have yet to be addressed. Because cyberbullying and the conflict it creates can both begin and become heated all between the end of one school day and the beginning of the next, the classroom or the school hallways might become the first place where the two parties meet as bully and victim. This is to say nothing of the possibility that the bully might remain unknown to the victim for days or weeks. If the victim doesn’t know, how can a teacher or guidance counselor possibly mediate?
The question of whether all bullying can be prevented is a daunting one to say the least. Good strides are being made daily by students, teachers and school authorities across the country. To earn even more success, it might help to consider going back to the basics.
Tell us what you think. Does your school have an anti-bullying policy? Has it seemed to work? How have you had to deal with bullying or cyberbullying in your classroom? Leave us a comment.
3. October 2014 15:06
|It’s election season, and to nobody’s surprise the Common Core State Standards have become a major talking point for candidates across the country. Governors, State Superintendents, and even 2016 Presidential hopefuls are cementing their positions on the new standards, and one of the prevailing themes is the widespread discontent expressed at how the Common Core has been implemented. |
|And while there have been many important arguments made against the Common Core, including criticisms leveled by teachers unions about testing and teacher evaluation, today I would like to address only one such reproach. But don’t worry… it’s a long election cycle, and I’m sure we’ll have another blog about this topic in the future. |
In March, Indiana Governor Mike Pence explained his decision to sign a bill dropping the Common Core, claimed that Indiana would be better served by standards “that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers…” and that he believes, “our students are best served when decisions about education are made at the state and local level…” When asked by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about his position on the Common Core, Governor Scott Walker similarly stated that “…I want high standards set by people in Wisconsin -- and not from Washington, D.C.” And in the words of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a former supporter of the Common Core, “We need Louisiana standards, not Washington, D.C., standards.”
Now on the surface, these rebuffs of the Common Core come in the wake of increasing backlash equating the new standards to a federal takeover of public education; the word “Obamacore” has been making the rounds in news outlets. While President Obama has incentivized the adoption of the Common Core by counting it as one condition for receiving Race to the Top grant money, the federal government did not create the standards, has not formed a new national curriculum (see our Myths about Common Core blog post for more on this topic), and does not require states to adopt them. Nor have politicians who utilize this rhetoric specifically outlined what about the Common Core – other than its “otherness” – is insufficient for use in their states. In fact, many states that have received criticism for adopting Common Core – or just wish to stem potential criticism – have simply renamed the standards without changing their content (see Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards).
So the current debate about Common Core standards not being up to snuff for individual states seems to be incomplete at best, pandering at worst.
And that’s kind of a shame.
The idea of states having their own educational standards isn’t an inherently flawed one. Sure it would make difficult the Common Core’s goal of comparing student performance across different states, but the potential benefits of states competing to have the best possible standards could far outweigh this downside. The problem in the current debate, though, is that governors and gubernatorial candidates crying foul over standards made outside their state are rallying against something that was never meant to wholly define their state’s educational system in the first place. The Common Core was not developed as an end to education reform or as the pinnacle of curriculum or pedagogy. On the contrary, they represent the most basic of expectations; they are the floor, not the ceiling. And they have been largely accepted as either equivalent to or more rigorous than existing state standards. They are a new, relatively innocuous minimum, and any state that wants to go above and beyond them is free to do so.
It is therefore slightly confusing that so many state leaders are trying to completely rid themselves of the Common Core rather than use it as a stepping stone with which to make their state stand out even further. If they think their students could learn certain math subjects at a faster rate than the Common Core outlines, fantastic. If they want to have more thorough standards for science and social studies, I doubt many would try to stop them. But now that the Common Core has come into the public eye, and now that calls for higher educational standards (in whatever form) have reached the public consciousness, it might behoove states to consider using every resource they have available to them, lest they risk hurting themselves by trying to reinvent the wheel.
Let us know what you think. Should Common Core be abandoned completely? Post a comment below.
16. September 2014 10:44
|Just a few months ago the Los Angeles United School District put a highly-publicized halt to its program aiming to give each of its students an iPad. Though they are trying to revitalize the effort, the staggering cost of the project and the almost complete mulligan called by administrators has left a sour taste in the mouth of a public whose tax dollars were used to fund it. A similar situation recently played out in the Fort Bend Independent School District in Texas. |
|But unlike in LA, Fort Bend scrapped their iPad project altogether, resulting in $16 million spent with no discernible results. These are very extreme examples of failed one-to-one tablet initiatives, but school districts across the country are finding it difficult to implement similar plans and several have removed tablets from classrooms. The question becomes, why? What problems are these districts facing? |
One major misstep has come from poor planning in the rollout stage. Getting tablets to work in classrooms is much more difficult than simply handing them to students and teachers and saying, “go!” Most schools do not possess Wi-Fi networks capable of handling such an influx of connected devices, especially schools in lower-income districts looking to use tablets to bridge the technological gap.
The LAUSD faced just this problem when it was determined that upgrades to their internet connections could not be completed before iPads were handed out. Fort Bend experienced similar difficulties. On the other hand, some schools found that successful improvements to their Wi-Fi were equally burdensome. When the Hoboken School District gave each of their middle- and high-school students laptops, they found that students would give away the password to their school’s network, giving non-students in the community free access which eventually bogged down their servers and ruined internet speeds. And when the Coachella Valley USD gave each of its students iPads, the increased internet activity caused connection speeds in two neighboring districts – which shared a connection with Coachella – to drastically decrease.
In the cases of LA and Fort Bend, as well as several other districts in Texas, the introduction of iPads into classrooms coincided with specific educational goals. Fort Bend wanted to improve its science test scores, and Los Angeles planned on aligning iPad use with Common Core-based lessons pre-loaded on the tablets. Unfortunately for both districts, the apps and programs were incomplete or not functioning by the time the tablets reached the students. In both cases it appears that administrators had not done their due diligence in choosing their software developers. Existing, fully-developed software had been passed up for new, made-for-the-district programs that either simply were not finished in time (LA) or which were never delivered from the developer (Fort Bend).
But not all problems with integrating tablets into the classroom were caused by missteps in the planning stages. Broken screens, faulty cases and a melting charger were enough for the Guilford County (North Carolina) School District’s Superintendent to issue a recall of 15,000 tablets. Many schools have found that once their iPads updated to the newest operating system, the security software installed on the tablets became obsolete. And then there is the issue of students being… well… students. Despite the problems facing the LAUSD iPad program, the tablets were not taken away until it was discovered that students had found ways to bypass security measures restricting access to the internet and social media sites. The Center Grove School District in Indiana has faced similar setbacks, though there appear to be no plans of abandoning the iPads. In Hoboken, more of the same. Reports from many districts state that, despite often coming with external cases designed to protect them, tablets are being broken at alarming rates, very often from student misuse.
But there is a silver lining to (most) of these setbacks; they do not mean that tablet use in classrooms will inevitably fail in all cases. Had these districts given themselves more time to prepare and had they ensured that third-party support had been in place before they introduced their tablets, we likely wouldn’t be hearing about multi-million dollar boondoggles we hear about today. Yes, there will always be students who want to undermine the educational intentions behind these tablets, and given how fragile some of these devices can be, the question of basic maintenance will likely be around for a while. But the issues that threaten entire one-to-one programs are largely avoidable, and many school districts are already learning from other districts’ shortcomings. Teachers are being given tablets well before rollout dates so that they can have time to experiment with them and address complications early. More time is being spent ensuring quality infrastructure. And schools are looking at a wider range of tablets as alternatives to iPads, allowing the potential to better pair their specific classroom needs with an appropriate tablet. It must be said, none of this will guarantee that tablet use in classrooms will improve students’ learning experiences. But schools are beginning to get their tablet programs to a place where this much more important conversation can be had.
Let us know what you think. Are you working in a school that has a one-to-one program? What have your experiences been? Have you tried using a tablet in your classroom, even if your students don’t have them? Leave us a comment.
2. September 2014 14:32
|The Common Core Standards have become something of a staple in the news as of late. Politicians, pundits, celebrities and educators have discussed potential benefits and pitfalls of the adoption and implementation of the new standards. As with any social and political debate, however, the discussion about Common Core has been plagued by a number of misconceptions. By no means a comprehensive list, here are four of the more prominent myths about Common Core.|
|Myth 1: The Common Core Standards represent a national curriculum and implementing it means that the standards tell teachers precisely how and what they must teach.|
This is one of the big ones. Many teachers are worried that Common Core dictates the exact material that needs to be taught in the classroom, and these concerns have been compounded by several public figures making accusations about the standards’ educational and political bias. It could be argued that the Mathematics Standards do fit this description; they do set content-specific goals to be reached by the end of each grade level. But in the English Language Arts Standards very few specific content requirements are made. Most specific authors and works they list are merely suggestions and do not need to be adopted by the teacher (with the notable exception of Shakespeare; CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7; sorry students). Otherwise, Common Core gives teachers flexibility to choose their own material, as seen in its call for student proficiency with “eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature” (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.9). As another example, the standards for history (limited to grades 6-12) do not even list specific historical topics through which the standards can be met, let alone do they determine what content would be required in the classroom. We find the same trend in the science and writing standards. Rather than specific curricula, Common Core tends to focus more on outlining the requisite critical thinking skills students could learn through any of thousands of individual curricula. Crafting lesson plans, choosing reading materials, and deciding on a teaching method are still left up to the teacher and the school.
Myth 2: Common Core decreases the amount of fiction and literature students will read.
|This comes from a commonly cited set of figures which have Common Core proposing that, in elementary school, half of what students would be reading would be fiction. By middle school 40% would be fiction, and by high school it would be 30%. This myth is founded on the idea that these percentages represent the fiction/nonfiction ratio in English classes only. However, the standards mean for this 30% high school fiction rate to be a cumulative total from all of their classes. This means that the (probable) majority of texts from history, science, and math classes will count toward that 70% nonfiction total. English teachers will not have to worry that they will have to cut literature out of their curricula.|
Myth 3: English Teachers will be forced to teach Social Studies and Science
This most likely comes from a misunderstanding of how the creators of Common Core categorized their standards. The two main categories are English Language Arts and Mathematics. Social Studies, Science, and Writing are subsumed under the former. But, this does not mean that history and science education now falls under the purview of English teachers. To be fair, some of the placement of certain standards under certain categories can be a little confusing; the standard outlining students’ need to be able to analyze the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7) is not listed under the History standards but rather under Reading Informational Texts, which itself is listed under the broad English Language Arts category. English teachers, however, will not suddenly become responsible for teaching American history or science.
Myth 4: No teachers were involved in creating the Common Core Standards.
The initial formation of the Common Core standards was in fact not carried out by K-12 teachers. The “Work Groups” – those who wrote the first versions of the standards – were made of diverse education and assessment experts from a number of associations, namely Achieve and The College Board. The “Feedback Groups” were made up mostly of university professors, understandable given that Common Core is aimed at promoting college and workplace readiness. You can see the full list of people who worked on the early stages of Common Core here. But K-12 teachers have had numerous opportunities to share their input. According to the NEA, “When the first drafts of the Common Core [standards]… were released, the Common Core State Standards staff and writers met with two groups of NEA members. One was a group of mathematics teachers and the other was a group of English language arts teachers. All the teachers in the groups were National Board Certified Teachers.” Similarly, the AFT has noted the involvement of its teachers in developing and implementing Common Core.
So there you have it, some of the more widespread myths about the Common Core Standards. Let us know what you think. Have you read or heard anything about Common Core that’s sounded somewhat dubious that we could address in a future blog? Leave us a comment, and stay tuned for our next post!
27. March 2014 11:09
Standardized tests are changing left and right, and the SAT is no exception. The test is being updated to align more closely with what students are required to do in high school. While these changes are being made, others will be included as well.
Keeping the Common Core in Mind
Dave Coleman, president of College Board, was also the “architect” of the Common Core, so it is no wonder he has decided to align the SAT more closely to the new standards. This is a smart move.
• It makes the SAT more relevant to testing students’ knowledge.
• It also makes the Common Core more relevant because it will be used on the SAT, which colleges look at during the admission process.
|• If states actually follow the Common Core, their students should be prepared for the SAT, which leads into the next change.|
Leveling the Playing Field
By keeping the Common Core in mind and making a few additional changes, the College Board hopes to reach more lower-income students than in the past. According to Coleman, this country needs more opportunities and the College Board is renewing its commitment to delivering them.
• Because of the Common Core connection, students should be prepared for the SAT without outside tutoring, SAT-specific lessons, or practice books. (Although, those additional services can still increase test scores.)
• To prepare test-takers who want more help, the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to create test-preparation materials. (We have also partnered with Kahn Academy, including some of their lessons in our Show What You Know® Online programs to prepare students for the Common Core or for STAAR with online assessments, lessons, and games.)
• Income-eligible students will also receive fee waivers to apply to colleges.
Updating the Sections
In order to make the SAT more accessible, some of the sections are being updated in ways other than keeping the Common Core in mind.
• The dreaded vocabulary section of the SAT will be updated to align closer to what students should already know. This means that it will test their current knowledge. However, there is an advantage to also testing the peculiar and challenging words: it tests college readiness. Students will likely come across words that they don’t know as they read. The current vocabulary section tests their ability to strategize and connect the words to similar words and their context to determine the meaning. While students will love the updates to this section and it will test what they have learned, it takes the strategy out of the test and reduces the test of their college readiness.
• In addition, the essay will be optional and will be paired with a reading selection. Students will need to explain how the author used certain techniques to get their point across. They will not need to write their own persuasive essay. Students will be recognizing the techniques rather than recalling them and putting them into practice. This decreases the value of the essay because it does not show that the students are able to use what they know, which is needed in college and in many careers.
Taking and Scoring the Test
• Students will have the option to take the SAT on the computer.
• Students will no longer lose a 1/4 point when they answer a question wrong. This will encourage students to select the best answer for each question rather than skipping questions.
• The test will return to a 1600-point scale with the essay being scored separately.
Find out more:
• At EdNet Insight
• From the New York Times
• More from the New York Times
• From NPR
6. March 2014 16:24
|It was after the second world war when the influx of “ready-made” print content known as “Supplemental” began to really grow. Also at this same time, content to address a region's specific curriculum requirements began to be widely adopted and was known as “Text Books”. For over the next 50 years, School Boards and Educators had ONLY these two options as the key content and curriculum foundations for teaching a nation's K-12 students. For all those years, Classroom technology was only the overhead projector, which displayed this print content over clear acetate. I’m sure most educators long for that simpler time when a class lesson went without interruption and the only “hardware” issue was a broken chalk.|
|For the K-12 Educator, the first digital version of content to widely be distributed began in the early '90s, in PDF format. Throughout the next 20 years, and somewhat still today, savvy teachers preferred this format primarily due to increased availability by being able to purchase this format online. Additionally, the PDF format is easier to store on a desktop, and one has the ability for 1st generation printing rather than making a copy of a print. For digital, this format is still relatively low tech and appeals to most who have not used truly great digital content.|
By the year 2000, those two long-held key foundational content options expanded and transformed to a multitude of digital hardware options. K-12 education had stepped up their game considerably, learning from the invasion of consumer electronics and the internet expansion; therefore making the need for more digital in the classroom essential to better engage young digital learners. This leading revolution advanced the content buying habits of Educators and Curriculum Directors by including expanded Technology Departments who were now responsible for digital hardware. The idea was to better show content and curriculum on specific educational-suited devices like Interactive Whiteboards, Digital Projectors, Slates and soon after handheld Tablets and BYODs.
Unlike the previous 50 years, Schools and School Boards put enormous efforts into acquiring digital hardware, oftentimes at the expense of the curriculum content. It used to only be about the content, now Educators have the daunting task not only to choose a device, rather what operating system, assessment integration, connectivity options, one-to-one bandwidth, and security and loss prevention, to mention a few. For plenty of schools, this technology has done the intended opposite by complicating and sometimes diminishing the delivery of curriculum content for students in exchange for the latest shiny new hardware device.
PDFs now add little value operating on these new robust digital devices. Teachers and Students demand a higher level of engaging interactive content. The purchasing of great digital content for these new devices were seldom included in the package, as the hardware manufacturer's distribution channel had no interest or did not understand the value of content. The manufacturers and their resellers need for a sustainable aftermarket is imperative, so they choose training programs instead of content. Therefore, with the delivery of the new hardware device brought in-service training for Educators on how to use the new electronic device and how to use proprietary programs to create content. Hardware manufacturers always used examples of the “Exemplary Teacher” who made all their own digital content; sadly that has proven to be the exception. This offering was a great solution for the hardware manufacturer, not so good for the Classroom Teachers and their Students.
Today, even more so than the earlier 50 years, very few Teachers make their own content. Most are too busy with day-to-day teaching, increased class management, assessment and after-school programs, to name a few. In the old days, there were far less demands on the Classroom Teacher. The standards were less demanding and foremost of curriculum content was purchased in supplemental or text book print versions by the School Board, or bought from the pockets of individual Teachers. To do the same now, great digital curriculum content is often more expensive than its old print counterpart and often out of budget for individual Teachers. Also, many regions have eliminated the Text Book, even the PDF version as it provides little value to the new hardware devices, thus exacerbating this content dilemma.
It is clear why Teachers seldom made their own content when it was a print format, now they are making even less content in a digital format. For most Teachers, it takes considerably longer and is significantly harder to make engaging interactive content that will appeal to the new digital learners, utilize the best features of the new device, and get it to operate successfully. Most Principals will agree that unfortunately, many of the Interactive Whiteboards and Digital Projectors in their classrooms have only ever been used as large TV screens or fancy electronic chalkboards. By 2006 in Europe and 2009 in North America, it was clear that the majority of teachers were not going to make their own digital content for the Interactive Whiteboard or Digital Projectors, so the lack of use of the devices became embarrassingly obvious.
Less users quickly translated in lagging new installs of these “Big Screen” devices in K-12 schools. New and existing hardware manufacturers sighted this as the “wrong device” and quickly saw an opportunity to market the tablet as the unique new mobile hardware solution. The first iPad was introduced to education in 2010 and by 2012 it was quickly touted as the “new solution” for K-12 classrooms. Android tablets quickly jumped on this, and today the market is now flooded with 100s of similar digital solutions. Furthermore, there are 1000s of individual “apps” cashing in on this wild west trend; unfortunately, at best offering gamification with limited pedagogy, no consistency, and un-proven learning foundations.
Now it is 2014, and the shine has already begun to wear off many tablets. Why? Again for the same reason, not enough great content pre-loaded on the device! Also, some Educators say that it takes enormous resources to load and manage individual apps, to keep them all powered up and to have them all stay connected. Unfortunately — going the way of the Interactive Whiteboards — many of the tablets in classrooms are simply used for games and outside educational web browsing. Over the last decade, there always seems to be money for the latest classroom hardware device, but not for engaging digital curriculum software, even though we know that classroom hardware is simply a platform to interact with engaging content. This is changing; the waste is very visible and we now realize that with no ready-made content, the latest hardware device is almost useless. Like a laptop without software, educational hardware is simply an expensive and poor light source.
Tablets and big screens are purposeful and will continue to be the rage in K-12 Classrooms; however, we have learned from the past and are now migrating to the paramount “total solution” that will be sustainable.
Many of the great digital content publishers feel that the “total solution” for a K-12 classroom is a “Big Screen” at the front with teacher-led instruction for clarifying the key curriculum concepts along with student hand-held devices, primarily for research and assessment. The key difference is that successful hardware manufacturers will hard-bundle complete digital curriculum packages with every unit sold, giving Classroom Teachers and Students a true “complete solution” to effectively use the power of their hardware. Technology and Curriculum buyers will work together and ensure that the install of any new hardware will include a complete suite of ready-made curriculum content. Content is king — always has been, always will be.
27. February 2014 09:34
|Celebrate music during Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM) this March. More and more music programs are in danger of being pulled from schools, but music won’t go down without a fight! Even while schools are struggling to keep music alive, MIOSM is reaching more students, educators, and musicians.|
MIOSM began in 1973 as a single statewide celebration.
By 1985, it was a month long. MIOSM is meant to raise
|awareness about the importance of music education. In a time when music education is disappearing, this month is more important than ever.|
So why is music education so important?
Music is a part of our daily lives. It can be found on the radio, in movies, in television shows, and even as ringtones. Look around you next time you are on the bus, walking around a school campus (especially colleges), or at the gym. Chances are that you will see many people with headphones listening to music. Many people pair certain ringtones with certain people; it could be because it is their friend’s favorite song or maybe the song makes them feel like they do when they see their friend, parent, or child. Music education helps individuals fully appreciate and understand the music that they hear so often. It can show them the work musicians put into creating their work or how music affects people. The music in television shows and movies may be in the background, but this background noise affects the scene’s mood and the audience’s reaction. It is one of many tools at our disposal to connect events and emotions and spur people to action.
Music can bring people together and initiate social change. The Chicago Children’s Choir was formed during the Civil Rights Movement to help children better understand each other. Choirs, bands, and orchestras are made up of a diverse group of people (any age, gender, nationality, race, etc.). The music forces them to put aside their differences and find what they have in common: a love of music and a goal (not to mention non-music commonalities). The Chicago Children’s Choir, which was originally 12 members, has grown to over 3,500 children according to the Huffington Post, and a group within the choir, called the Voice of Chicago, travels around the country, and even internationally, showing the power of music to unite people.
This experience doesn’t have to end with youth! Columbus, Ohio’s Harmony Project brings the community together in song, service, and education. The choir is a diverse group of individuals (some with no musical experience prior to this group). The choir and other members volunteer their time to improve neighborhoods in their community and promote community issues.
Clearly, music can be taught outside of school and still have an impact. Why should music be in our schools?
First, it can be connected to other parts of the curriculum. In music class, students make music, but how does this actually work? What makes the sound when you hit a drum or play the clarinet? This can be explained by physics. A connection with social studies can explain why music has changed throughout the years and what impact it has had on history. Don’t forget math. How do students know they have the right number of beats in a measure? What is the difference between a quarter note, a half note, and a whole note? I even learned my times tables through tunes I already knew. (I still remember how the times tables match to the tunes today.)
In addition, schools are meant to prepare students for the future. Music can help them learn how to maintain a commitment. Learning an instrument or preparing for a performance is hard work and involves a lot of practice. Performing can also help students gain confidence and learn how to deal with the pressure of other people counting on them. Sometimes they may perform a solo, but many times, they will perform as a group. Choir, band, and orchestra give students a diverse set of experiences.
What can I do to promote music in our schools and pass along its importance to students?
To celebrate MIOSM, get your Music Education Fact a Day by following the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) on Twitter or Facebook. Share the knowledge you gain from these facts with your students.
If you don’t teach music, incorporate it into your classroom or home. Pair music with historic events or a physics lesson. Use it as mnemonic device for remembering multiplication facts. Have a conversation with your children about the impact of music on the movie you just watched. Debate the benefit of music or a specific song or musician with your students.
Check out our music products that can be incorporated into your celebration.
We want to know! (Leave a comment to join the conversation.)
Do you think music should remain in our schools? What do you see as benefits to learning music? How do you use music in your general classroom or core curriculum in your music classroom?
17. January 2014 09:37
|Monday, January 20 will be a day away from school for many students across the country. It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Students will celebrate by sleeping in, relaxing, watching television, or spending the day with their friends. They may learn about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement at school in the days surrounding the holiday, but on their day off, they likely won’t think of it.|
But Dr. King was known for giving back and encouraging people to help others, saying "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?’" Encourage your students to follow his lead and “Make it a Day ON… Not a Day Off.” This way, they actively use what they learn to help social problems.
|In 1994, the government turned MLK Day into a national day of community service. The first official MLK Day of Service took place in January 1995. Cities across the country honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by setting up volunteer opportunities in the community.|
Projects may include cleaning up a park or playground, serving food at a local shelter, building a Habitat for Humanity home, or painting school walls, just to name a few. Many colleges and universities celebrate in a similar way, bringing students together from across campus to volunteer their time and give back to the community. More schools, including elementary, middle, and high schools should take part. It is a great way to meet new people, make some friends, and make a difference.
Look in your local newspaper or search online to find out what opportunities are available in your area. Let your students know the opportunities that are available near them. After MLK Day of Service has taken place, discuss it with your students. What did they do? What did they like about it? Would they want to do it again? Remind them that they don’t have to wait for specific service days to volunteer, but rather they can give back throughout the year.
More information can be found on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service website or on the Corporation for National & Community Service YouTube channel.
WE WANT TO KNOW: Have you or your students participated in MLK Day of Service? What do you think the benefits are, not only toward the community but also toward students’ education?
12. December 2013 16:07
What has happened to gym class and recess? They are slowly disappearing from the school day. When I was in elementary school, we had recess every day with plenty of time for a long game of tag or basketball with a few rounds of four square thrown in and time left over to talk with our friends. Teachers occasionally even gave us extra recess when they thought we had done particularly well that week with our classwork and behavior. Gym class was every day or at least on a regular basis as well. But now, schools around the country have reduced the amount of time kids get to be physically active. It has been determined that more time needs to be spent on core classes and standardized testing, leaving less time for physical education and recess.
|According to a survey released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health, and National Public Radio, about 25% of the parents polled thought their child’s school does not provide adequate attention to physical education and exercise. These concerns should be listened to because regular physical activity builds bones and muscles, reduces the risks of many diseases and depression, and can even help academic achievement and behavior. Even though this is known, less than 50% of children were found to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.|
If this is the case, why don’t parents make their children get exercise after school? Students have homework and chores to complete. Many kids have extra-curricular activities like music lessons, art, or theater programs rather than sports, and these don’t provide the necessary physical activity. Then, they need to eat and to sleep the recommended 8–9 hours. Time simply runs out.
Physical education classes and recess are important for more than just physical exercise though. In gym class, children get a sampling of many physical activities and learn what they are interested in. Some may realize they love soccer. Others may realize they never want to play it again, but they enjoyed basketball, volleyball, or gymnastics. Without this opportunity, parents would have to pay for lessons for each activity before their children learn what they like, and many cannot afford to do that. It would also take many years for students to experience all of the possibilities because seasons overlap. Either that or the students would be overbooked trying to fit everything in at once. Gym class and recess also give students time to interact with and get to know each other. Friendships are forged and often maintained on the playground. Gym class and recess may be the only times students from different classes get to interact.
Schools are at least trying to solve part of the problem (physical activity). At least one school requires students to take a walk in the morning before school starts. Others are having teachers mix it into the core classes. The importance of physical activity hasn’t been lost, but somehow the time has.
WE WANT TO KNOW: Do your students get enough physical exercise? Are gym class and recess available at your students’ schools, or is physical activity encouraged in another way? If you are a general education teacher, do you incorporate physical activity in your classroom? How? Leave a comment to let your fellow teachers and parents know!
If you are a teacher looking to incorporate movement in your classroom, you can find help in our movement & music section (http://ow.ly/rHvsj).
Learn more about the survey here: http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/survey-too-little-physical-education
Or here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/12/06/249247319/to-get-kids-exercising
And get more information about physical activity recommendations here: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm