Friday, July 21, 2017

Danger of assessing teachers / fake achievement / digital learning / inspirational teachers




Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Ivan Snook: Assessing teachers - a plea for caution
‘In recent discussion of teaching in New Zealand it has been assumed that the achievement of students and schools can be directly attributed to the work of teachers. In its most naïve form, the claim is made that "good teachers" (that is those whose students achieve good grades) should be singled out (and somehow rewarded) and those who do not should be identified (and somehow punished). The report points out how wrong-headed this proposal is since it takes no account of the nature of the students or the progress they may make over a period of time.’



Lifelong teachers require slow-burn training
‘New modern learning environments, increasing diversity and the ever-changing world of technology demand new skills and knowledge from teachers. How should we prepare teachers in times like these?
Well that depends on the teachers we want.’

Learning vs Education
Life is always teaching us things, whether we notice it or not. It teaches us lessons by giving us experiences. We cannot not learn at all. For the education system, this is when the school system programs your mind by indoctrinating you with often, false ideas and beliefs, while the average person denies or even defends this.’

How to Design a School That Prioritizes Kindness and Caring
‘Abri Weissman, a senior who heads up the Making Character Count Committee, has seen a ripple effect of kindness spreading through the school, especially during the second semester. Without prompting, friends have told her stories about sweet gestures coming from classmates, none of which originated in her committee. She sees students from different grades opening up to each other, and being friendlier—a result, she believes, of the mix-it-up exercises. The morning music and enthusiastic greetings have had a positive effect, she added.’

Brain-training games 'do not boost cognition’
Debunking of yet another fad…
The past decade has seen a rise in popularity of brain-training games that claim to improve a range of mental skills. However, a recent study that measured brain activity, decision-making, and cognitive ability found that playing commercial brain games offered no benefits above those of playing online video games.’

Factors Contributing to School Success by Disadvantaged Students
‘A new US study contributes to this by examining disadvantaged students’ own perceptions of what it takes to succeed at school. It found that strong peer relationships, caring supportive teachers, family and community support, and strong motivations all contribute significantly to school success by disadvantaged students.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Policies root of school failures
‘New Zealand's education system is failing due to poor policy-making decisions based on skimpy , scientific analysis some of the country's leading education experts say. A new report released by the Education Policy Response Group slams the Treasury's agenda for education, saying it is fundamentally flawed.’

Difference Between Knowing and Understanding
‘Finding the difference between knowing and understanding can be difficult. It is hard to find a distinction between the two because they are both abstract processes of the mind and the brain. Being able to know their differences can lead us to a better awareness of ourselves, who we are, and what we want.’

Educational doping: how our school system encourages fake achievement
Think of a place where doping is both prevalent and systemic in a public institution and you’re probably thinking sports in Russia or East Germany, right? I’m going to argue that such doping occurs right here in New Zealand – in our education system. I don’t, of course, mean that schools are secretly feeding students speed before exams.  Rather, it’s what happens when learners are helped to achieve assessment results that exceed their actual levels of capability.’

Digital Technologies and Research
‘While the potential of technology to support teaching and learning is well established, an understanding of how to integrate technology in ways that are pedagogically sound and enriching for both young people and educators is less certain.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Henry Pluckrose - creative educator
“‘Henry Pluckrose, who has just died at the age of 79, was one of the most inspiring teachers of his generation. He believed that children have intellectual, emotional and aesthetic capacities that few adults realise and too few schools exploit'. From Guardian Newspaper obituary. As a teacher
Henry Pluckrose
'his classroom resembled an artist's studio, buzzing with activity and creative energy.
Arts in the broadest sense formed the basis of his curriculum; not just art and craft, but also drama, music , poetry and dance. He gave particular emphasis to direct personal experience, taking children to museums, art galleries, churches, historic buildings, woods, fields and parks.’

At last - a book by an inspirational teacher.
“'Welcome to the Aquarium' is a compelling personal account of teaching full of wise advice on how to set up and maintain an effective and caring classroom. I can't think of any recent book which talks about teaching through the eyes of a teacher. It is wonderful change from the dry academic books on education that are more commonly available; books that develop their 'wisdom' from a safe academic distance.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Teacher stress and burnout / cyber schools / creative education/ NZ Deep Green School





Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz


'One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever been forced
 to do as a teacher is to ignore my students 
and concentrate instead on the data'

Teachers Don’t Want All This Useless Data
One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever been forced to do as a teacher is to ignore my students and concentrate instead on the data.’

Is teacher burnout contagious?

Burnout among young teachers appears to be contagious, indicates a new study. It found a significant link between burnout among early-career teachers and exposure to both a school-wide culture of burnout and burnout among the young teachers' closest circle of colleagues.’

Making Cyberschool Creepier
Looking forward to the ‘digital curriculum’? Maybe you should read this.
‘Do you think that cyber-education is just kind of creepy, with students sitting alone in the glow of a computer screen, navigating hundreds of little standardized quizlets and activities, their every keystroke and answer compiled in an undying data file that will follow those students around forever. Do you find it hard to imagine how it could be worse? Well, a company called LCA Learning has found a way.’

Reading With Your Children: Proper Books Vs Tablets
Increasing screen use is a reality, but does it contribute to a loss of interest in reading, and does reading from a screen provide the same experience as the feel of reading on paper?
We looked at this in our research on shared reading. This has been a neglected topic even though it is clearly a common context for children when they read at home. It might be their regular homework reading of a book from school, or a parent reading them a favourite bedtime story.’

Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively
This article is targeted at adults but is easily adapted to the classroom situation.
‘Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable business.’
Some unpopular thoughts on teacher evaluation
I’ve been working on teacher evaluation for most of my career as a teacher, administrator, and teacher educator; first being evaluated, then doing the evaluation as an assistant principal and subject area coordinator, then helping design a state-wide beginning teacher evaluation initiative. After nearly 40 years in education, all I can say is that the current system is the worst I’ve ever seen.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Here's Einstein's Advice to His Son on How to Accelerate Learning
‘Geniuses might be distinguished by their ability to grasp incredible complexity, but that doesn't
mean if you somehow managed to corner one the greatest minds in history for a chat you'd be perplexed by what they had to say. According to Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, the true hallmark of genius is the ability to explain things simply.’

Why ‘Unlearning’ Old Habits Is An Essential Step For Innovation
‘Teachers are increasingly being asked to embrace new ideas and styles of teaching, but schools don’t always give their educators time or the mental space to absorb and apply those concepts. That’s why the idea of “unlearning” was worth exploring for Beaver Country Day School, a private 6-12 school in Massachusetts, which serves as something of a lab for unlearning in practice.’

No classrooms, lessons or homework: New Zealand school where children are free to roam
Headteacher Deep Green School
‘Deep among the streams and Kauri trees of rural south Auckland, New Zealand’s newest and most alternative school is in session. The weather is fine so a bout of fishing is in order, followed by lunch cooked on an open fire. Homework and classes? Indefinitely dismissed.“We are called a school but we look nothing like any school out there,” says Joey Moncarz, co-founder and head teacher at Deep Green Bush School, which is in term two of its inaugural year.“We don’t do things like telling kids it is time to write or learn maths. When they are interested in doing it, they do it.”

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Messages about education.
What messages are students getting from their schooling?
‘I have been reading an article on the web about the pressures being placed on young children and their teachers in the United States to achieve expectations set by standardized tests. In the process teachers have had to narrow their curriculum to ensure their school does well when results are published.  Another article described a young student who has been held back twice and now is three years older than her classmates because she obviously hadn't passed appropriate tests. This is what happens when politicians impose simplistic solutions to complex problems.What ‘messages’ about learning, and American culture, are being given by such an education?’

On Knowing - Jerome Bruner 
“The themes Jerome Bruner covers in his book concern the process of knowing, how knowing is shaped and how it in turn gives form to language science, literature and art. The symbolism of the left hand is that of the dreamer - the right that of the practical doer.The areas of hunches and intuition, Bruner writes, has been all too often overwhelmed by an 'imposed fetish of objectivity'...'The lock step of learning theory in this country has been broken, though it is still the standard village dance'. Today we still have those ( usually politicians) who wish to test for learning ignoring, according to Bruner, that 'it is difficult to catch and record, no less understand, the swift flight of man's mind operating at its best.’"

Fundamentals in education 
‘If we are concerned with the education the full potential of all students then how we 'see' the mind, how we imagine we learn, is important. We are, hopefully, well past the 'blank slate' or the 'filling the jug' metaphors, long the basis of traditional 'one size fits all' schooling.’

Friday, July 07, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg's vision ? / Education in a digital age / student questions / and the importance of the creative arts


Moving from an industrial aged education system

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

What’s Going on Inside the Brain Of A Curious Child?
Thanks to Michael Fawcett for this one.
‘Blackwell, like many others teachers, understands that when kids are curious, they’re much more likely to stay engaged. But why? What, exactly, is curiosity and how does it work? A study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron, suggests that the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information.’

8 Ways The Internet Has Changed Learning A Language
Thanks to John Hawthorne.
‘It’s no secret that the internet has changed everything, from shopping to friendship to entertainment to music. The internet is also revolutionizing the process of learning a new language. It’s opening many options that never existed twenty years ago.
This isn’t to say that it’s less challenging to understand and speak a foreign language, but the process has changed dramatically.’

Learners Should Be Developing Their Own Essential Questions
‘Although essential questions are powerful advance organizers and curriculum drivers, the problem is that the essential questions are typically developed by the educator not the learners.  The educator may find these questions interesting and engaging, but that does not insure that students will find them as such.’

The Diminishing Role of Art in Children's Lives
‘But according to new research conducted in the Netherlands by the Dutch school inspectorate, the amount of time children spend drawing by hand both in and out of school has been reduced over the last 20 years; the study also found that their artwork has declined significantly in quality and complexity since a similar study was conducted two decades ago.’

The danger of students doing what they’re told
Formulaic teaching damaging imagination
‘The more teachers continue to issue instructions to learners about what to do and how to do it, the more we develop completely the wrong mindsets and dispositions for the world in 2025. The world is now exponential and schools need exponential change to happen now. There is no longer time for the traditional analog and linear systems that school use when planning for change. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! it’s time for school administrators to reconsider how planning and decisions are made and acknowledge that within the new context, the industrial education model is now damaging our children’s future opportunities.’
Summer Break: The Least Understood And Most Maligned Aspect Of A Teacher’s Life
‘Imagine just two normal people – they seem nice enough – standing in line having a friendly conversation. It’s hot outside, so you might hear the usual topics discussed: the weather, the best place to buy ice cream, which public pool has the best prices – that an oh I don’t know, how easy teachers have it with their summers off.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Shifting Needs in a Digital World
‘With a shifting world, comes shifting needs. And along with shifting needs comes a shifting role that schools must take on in order to best prepare students moving forward. We must revisit the graphic above to explore and best support students with their changing needs in our digital world.’

Why ‘Personalized Learning’ Can Feel So Impersonal
‘Personalized learning, in its broadest application, suggests tailoring instruction to meet the needs, strengths and interests of each learner. Great teachers already do that everyday—with or without technology. It should be a goal both broad and laudable enough to unite teachers and technologists, parents and policymakers.Yet there is clearly a gap between how educators and entrepreneurs perceive “personalized learning” and many other technology-infused terms in education.

Does Zuck Want To Be The Next Gates with Personalized Learning
‘Pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are gearing up to invest hundreds of millions of dollars a year in a new vision of “whole-child personalized learning,” with the aim of dramatically expanding the scope and scale of efforts to provide every
Zuckerberg or Socrates ( see below)
student with a customized education. The power couple's Big Initiative has announced its intent to "support the development of software that might help teachers better recognize and respond to each student’s academic needs—while also supporting a holistic approach to nurturing children’s social, emotional, and physical development." So, slap the child in front of a screen, but somehow have the child turn out physically and emotionally well-rounded.’

Liberal Arts in the Data Age
‘From Silicon Valley to the Pentagon, people are beginning to realize that to effectively tackle today’s biggest social and technological challenges, we need to think critically about their human context—something humanities graduates happen to be well trained to do. Call it the revenge of the film, history, and philosophy nerds.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Developing a democratic curriculum.
Developing democratic schools – James Beane
‘Relating back to the ideas of John Dewey  James Beane  believes that if people are to live democratic lives they must have the opportunity to learn what that way of life means. His ideas are based on the ability of students to participate in their own education. Democratic schools share a child centred approach but their larger goal is to change the undemocratic conditions of school themselves and in turn to reach out to the wider community.’

On Knowing - Jerome Bruner
Jerome Bruner - wise words
“The themes Jerome Bruner covers in his book concern the process of knowing, how knowing is shaped and how it in turn gives form to language science, literature and art. The symbolism of the left hand is that of the dreamer - the right that of the practical doer.The areas of hunches and intuition, Bruner writes, has been all too often overwhelmed by an 'imposed fetish of objectivity'...'The lock step of learning theory in this country has been broken, though it is still the standard village dance'. Today we still have those ( usually politicians) who wish to test for learning ignoring, according to Bruner, that 'it is difficult to catch and record, no less understand, the swift flight of man's mind operating at its best.’”

Friday, June 30, 2017

Creative Teachers / Teacher "burnout" /Sir Ken Robinson / Guy Claxton / digital learning and coding




Time to value creative teaches

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz



Shifting Needs in a Digital World
Our kids need to learn the responsible and safe use of digital devices. They need to learn not only balance but also boundaries. And as parents and educators that means modeling limits and responsible use. What message do we send our kids when we ourselves are not present but instead distracted by the device in our hands, instead of focusing on them? Technology is a tool, and with it comes a means to powerful connectivity and knowledge, but in the end, it does not replace the importance of human interaction, face to face conversations and personal relationships.’

Thirty Minutes Tops
A nice little satire.
‘As a parent, I really cannot cover everything I want my kids to learn from me in the four hours I have them at home. I really like my kids teachers and I really appreciate all the work they do during the day, but due to the short amount of time I have my kids at home, I’m going to have to send some work back to school with my kids to complete during the seven hours they spend in the classroom. I apologize for the negative impact this work might have on the teachers and the rest of the class.’

Preaching the Value of Social Studies, in a Second Career
While spending anywhere from several weeks t o half a year on a topic might seem excessive, she said, students are really learning not just about that particular topic, but about how to study something. They’re learning that, when studying a culture, they need to look at a variety of features, like religious beliefs, economy and gender roles. When studying a system or an organization, they need to look, as Ms. Switzer often says, at “the tools, the rules, the consumers, and the workers.”’

Is it okay for children to count on their fingers?
‘Is it OK for children to count on their fingers? Generations of pupils have been discouraged by their teachers from using their hands when learning maths. But a new research article shows using fingers may be a much more important part of maths learning than previously thought.

7 reasons why 'marking' sucks
‘Inside the Black Box by Black &Wiliam, should be compulsory reading for all teachers, trainers and lecturer, so it was a delight to see him give a masterclass in assessment with solid, evidence-based advice that you can apply straight from the hip in teaching. Marking may do more damage than most educators realise. It is a summative assessment technique, all too often wrongly used in formative assessment.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The need to place creativity central to all learning.
Bruce’s latest article.
‘Existing research has recognised that successful/creative people in any discipline use creativity to enhance their thinking but until now this has not been applied to exemplary teachers.  The study focussed on how exceptional teachers use creativity in the classroom and was based on in-depth interviews with highly accomplished teachers.’

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning
‘“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.’

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms
Not just an American issue:
‘Last year, Microsoft and Code.org helped push for a career-education bill that, education researchers warned, could prioritize industry demands over students’ interests. Among other things, t
hey said, it could sway schools to teach specific computer programming languages that certain companies needed, rather than broader problem-solving approaches that students might use throughout their lives.“It gets very problematic when industry is deciding the content and direction of public education,” said Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.’

There's an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today
‘That skill is thinking. “Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students...“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” ., a common underlying problem is this “dearth of critical thinking skills.”

Personalized Learning Is NOT Inclusion!
‘Personalized learning must not be mistaken for inclusion. The reality is that it’s student
An ability group of one
isolation!Inclusion is generally defined as the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Doing schoolwork on a digital device by yourself is not inclusion. It’s ability grouping for one.’

Alarm raised over principals' burnout rate
I can really relate to this.
Rural school principals are struggling to cope with the demands of their job and the Educational Institute says it wants more help for them. The problem was highlighted at a recent meeting of principals who ran schools so small that they had to teach in the classroom as well as manage the school, the institute said.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Guy Claxton - building learning power.
Great book
“We need, says Claxton, 'to provide our students with the emotional and cognitive resources to become the 'confident, connected, life long learners' ; the vision of the NZ Curriculum . To achieve this is all about powerful pedagogy.The important thing, he said, was to infuse the Key competencies into every thing that happens at school and not see them as a 'bolt on’.”
Write Now Read Later
‘These days reading, or better still the language arts ( now called by a more technocratic title 'literacy') seems to have been taken over by academics who are pushing a phonemic approach onto schools - 'P' Pushers! This is an approach that distorts the organic relationship between experience, oral language, writing and reading - all premised on a need to make meaning and to communicate.’