Friday, February 12, 2016

Education Readings for the creative teacher



By Allan Alach


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

Online Public Schools Are a Disaster, Admits Billionaire, Charter School-Promoter Walton Family Foundation
Oh what a surprise…..
The majority of online charter students had far weaker academic growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers,” their experts’ press release said, after noting that kindergarten-through-high school students need to be in classrooms with live teachers, not occasional faces on computer screens. To conceptualize this shortfall, it would equate to a student losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math, based on a 180-day school year.”

How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers
“Education is experiencing its own version of measurement fatigue.


 Educators complain that the focus on student test performance comes at the expense of learning. Art, music and physical education have withered, because, really, why bother if they’re not on the test?”

Why So Many Schools Fail To Get Impact From iPad
Are they making a real difference?
“70% of UK schools are now using mobile devices in the classroom, according to Tablets for Schools. The vast majority of those devices are likely to be iPads, yet how many schools can you name who are standout users of the device? That is to say, how many schools are using the device to deliver true 21st century transformational lessons?
The answer, disappointingly, is very, very few.”

In Education "Reform" Nothing Means What You Think It Does
“I too want every student to succeed. I too want personalized learning, but I want those things for real, and not some cheap version of these promises that people stand to make a lot of money on. I think our kids are worth more than cute slogans and money making schemes they don't actually benefit from. Perhaps it is the English teacher in me. I just want people to say what they mean.

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Bridge Between Today's Lesson and Tomorrow's
Carol Ann Tomlinson
“Carol Ann Tomlinson sees formative assessment as an ongoing exchange between a teacher and his or her students designed to help students grow as vigorously as possible and to help teachers contribute to that growth as fully as possible. ‘When I hear formative assessment reduced to a mechanism for raising end-of-year-test scores, it makes me fear that we might reduce teaching and learning to that same level’.”

Start small and share
In DPS imaginarium, room to experiment for students and teachers
Creating conditions for teachers to be creative and then sharing successful ideas with other schools. Seems like a plan.
“Once an idea — which might be as small as a classroom strategy or as big as a new school design — is developed, the ‘imaginarium’ team runs through a series of piloting and reflection exercises. The team then presents a case to district leadership about whether that project should be scaled up.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldie’ file:

Schools should embrace fun and activity.
In the early years of education children seem eager to learn; they are lively and happy. Generally, the classroom provides an atmosphere of spontaneity in which children are encouraged to explore, discover and create.However, large numbers of students leave school feeling bitter and defeated, not having mastered basic skills society demands from them.For teachers of unhappy children, the school experience is generally also an unhappy one.”

Words of wisdom from Jerome Bruner
Jerome Bruner
 ‘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.'

What are the fundamentals in education
 “Ask most people what they would consider fundamental in education and they would probably say 'the three Rs' or, in,today's, speak literacy and numeracy. Certainly this is the view of our current conservatist government. But , like most simplistic answers , if people give the question more thought, more enlightened answers come to mind. Learning to interpret and express ideas about ones experiences is the basis of all learning from the moment one is born. As in the illustration we all see and interpret our world.”

Creative teachers are the key
Exploring a wasp nest.
Essential characteristics of creative teachers, according to one US researcher,are a commitment to: deepen the understandings of the world of each learner; believe in the creative ability of all students; encourage empathy in students; value creative expression in learners; teach in ways that facilitate it; adapt the curriculum to meet students individual needs.These are all in line with recent ideas of 'personalising' learning - developing with learners, and their parents, 'individual learning plans.

The purpose of education – developing creativity and talents of all students.
“The dizzying speed of the modern world puts education at the heart of both personal and
community development; its mission is to enable everyone, without exception, to develop all their talents to the full and to realize their creative potential, including responsibility for their own lives and achievement of their personal aims’.”

Transforming Secondary Education – the most difficult challenge of all.Thoughts from a past age – ‘Young Lives at Stake’ by Charity James
“Charity James believed it was important to get secondary education right if all students were to leave able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities the future might offer.  The challenge remains. Secondary schools need a radical reappraisal to ameliorate the effects of obvious social and cultural disadvantages and also to develop the needs, talents and gifts of all students.”

Friday, February 05, 2016

Education Readings for teachers who want to become aware of forces working to destroy creative teaching!


 
By Allan Alach


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

A primer on the damaging movement to privatize public schools
Image result for marion BradyAn excellent article by Marion Brady to start off this year’s readings. Applies all over

.When, about 30 years ago, corporate interests began their highly organized, well-funded effort to privatize public education, you wouldn’t have read or heard about it. They didn’t want to trigger the debate that such a radical change in an important institution warranted.If, like most pundits and politicians, you’ve supported that campaign, it’s likely you’ve been snookered. Here’s a quick overview of the snookering process.”

The danger of National's Standards!
The Emperor has no clothes!
Here’s an article that I wrote way back in 2011 when my brain was working. It discusses the imposition of national standards (similar to USA Common Core Standards) on New Zealand primary schools, and wonders why all informed people haven’t stood up in unity to say no.
“I really wonder why it is that there appears to be significant numbers of principals who don’t seem to be aware of this, or, even more puzzling, why there are principals who are actively promoting standards in their schools. Or is the answer that many people see only the surface level problems with the standards, and believe that they can work their way around them? I don’t know. People who play with fire are in danger of getting burnt.”

One of the best
A Steve Wheeler article from November last year that looks at the tragedy of an English headteacher who couldn’t cope any more with the pressures. Variations of this story, although mostly not ending in such a drastic way, are happening in New Zealand and elsewhere. Enough!
“It's impossible to say what other pressures there were in Carol's life, and what finally caused her to decide to take her own life. But for those who knew her, and knew the pride with which she led her school, and looked after the children in her care, it is clear. The OFSTED visit would have caused a tremendous amount of unneeded pressure on everyone, and the trauma of receiving a report that showed the school in a bad light would have been a major contributory factor to her death.”

Long hours, endless admin and angry parents – why schools just can’t get the teachers
Another article from England that will also resonate with teachers all over.
“British schools are reporting a classroom crisis, with thousands of disaffected teachers leaving the profession, and new graduates discouraged from training because of the daily stress and grind. And with the number of state school pupils set to rise by a million by 2022, the problem is only getting worse.”

The Future Belongs to the Curious: How Are We Bringing Curiosity Into School?
“In this era of overly scripted, overly tested, overly controlled students AND teachers, there seems to be little or no room for curiosity at school. So what is the cost of curiosity-void schools?  The result , way too often, is a school culture of malaise rather than a culture of curiosity, engagement, excitement and joy for learning. Educators along with their administrators need to be agents of their own teaching and bring curiosity into their classrooms especially if they have the slightest belief that the future belongs to the curious.”

Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain
1--RTv_zdZwLkgCLKQFgJWBgA lesson we need to take note of in our classroom programmes.
“This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification.
This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton, when we’re really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking)”


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Full STEAM Ahead: Why Arts Are Essential in a STEM Education
“Everyone from software engineers and aerospace technicians to biotechnical engineers, professional mathematicians, and laboratory scientists knows that building great things and solving real problems requires a measure of creativity. More and more, professional artists themselves are incorporating technological tools and scientific processes to their art.”

What I Worry About When I Worry About STEM
“Are we training our future employees, or are we educating our present and future citizens?”
“By focusing on STEM subjects in isolation, or congratulating kids on studying engineering over elementary education, we are not only failing to challenge the idea that engineering is objectively harder, we are playing into the hands of a power structure that values industry more than humanity, and demands our complicity. We risk teaching them that good ideas come from technology and science, not where they really come from, which is everywhere"

Developmental Art Stages: The Magical World of Children’s Visual Literacy
children-drawing-65069_1920 (2)“There are some general stages of drawing that many children pass through.  However, as you know, children (like grownups) are all unique and may not pass through all of these stages, or may do it out of order.  Many adult artists strive to recover the purity of their childhood drawings.  So that being said, this list is only meant as informative, not as an evaluation tool for children’s Art.  Let them make the way they make!  Visual Literacy, or leaning to receive and express information visually, is a personal journey that can be encouraged through Art exposure and experiences, but not forced.”


Artists Share "Before and After" Evolution of Their Drawing Skills with Years of Practice
Amazing…
“Drawing, like all things, requires dedicated practice to master the craft and create amazing works that wow a wide audience. Although many people dabble in art when they’re younger, few people choose to hone their skills into their teens and adulthood. Those that do work on improving themselves have had impressive results—especially when comparing their refined techniques to their early work.”


The case for restoring creativity in our schools
Sir Ken Robinson:“What I am arguing for is more personalized education,” he told Quartz. Kids have all sorts of unfulfilled promise. It’s about the opportunities you provide for them.” The first thing that has to happen is that we need politicians and policy makers to understand the problem they are trying to solve. To some degree, they are contributing to the problem.’
After technology - What then?
Jamie Mckenzie is always worth reading.
“Some of us argued from the beginning in the 1980s that this was not about technology or software. The prospect of changing schools and learning depended most upon teaching and learning strategies. But the money went overwhelmingly to machines and software. In most places, professional development was done on the cheap if done at all.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beginning a new school year - seven great teaching ideas( plus one on the Treaty of Waitangi )to think about



Pass on to interested teachers.



Beginning a school year is a challenge to all teachers - even the most experienced. In teaching, it seems, there is no shallow end!

Check out the links below the seven ideas below - you might find some of them useful to you.

Business 'guru' Steven Covey advice is to 'begin with the end in mind'. A good idea ( for an individual teacher or staff) is to define the attributes of a great learner that you would like all students to achieve by the end of the year. 

This is equally a good idea to discuss with a new class at the beginning of the year.  They could be posted in the classroom for reference. In New Zealand they could be part of a class treaty linking the idea to the Treaty of Waitangi if so this might define positive teacher behaviours as well.

Once such attributes/ competencies have been defined then when  seen in action students could be given praise. See ideas 6 and 7

Here is what educator John Holt hoped all schools would achieve - it reminds us of how the very young learn before school.


In 1970 he was asked:

‘If American schools were to take one giant step forward this year towards a better tomorrow what should it be?’

John Holt - a perceptive educationalist


‘It would be to let every child be the planner, director of his own education, to allow and encourage him with the inspiration and guidance of more experienced and expert people, and as much help as he asked for, to decide what he has to learn, when he is to learn it, how he is to learn it, and how well he is learning it. It would make our schools,..... a resource for free and independent learning, which everyone in the community, of whatever age, could use as much or as little as he wanted.’


Idea number one : what attitudes do students bring with them?


In a few days teachers and students return to school to begin a new year.

One excellent idea is to gather data about students current views on a range of
school activities. Ideally this would be best as a whole school activity and the information gained used to suggest area for teachers to improve attitudes. Student poor attitudes interferes with their achievement levels

For some ideas click on this link.


 Number two:The power of personal experience/writing
.

A good idea is to prepare a small presentation about yourself - students will be extremely curious about their new teacher!


Value the 'voice' of your students

Give the a potted history of your life experience and tell them that over the year you will get to know all about them.

To read more click on this link


 Idea three:  developing a 'growth mindset' through a simple portrait( the research of  Carol Dweck)


With strategies we can all dr
.

What are your students' views about their artistic ability?

Do they believe that only some students are born with the ability to draw or that everyone is  an artist?

For further information click on this link.


Ideas Four:Observation is an important skill in all areas of learning - all too often students look but don't see. 

Close observation encourages a slower pace of work which assists student memory.

Once the skill of observation is in place it can be used throughout the year in all learning areas.


 Ideas Five: what talents do your students bring to your class?

All individuals whose talents weren't recognized at school.

With the current press in schooling focusing on achievement in literacy and numeracy it is all too easy to overlook the unique talents that students haveAn education focused on developing all students talents and gifts also provides students the opportunity to become literate and numerate in meaningful contexts

Link to further ideas to consider


 Idea six:-how do we learn?


How did you get better at firing arrows?



Did  your students learn something new during their long holidays - or get better at something during this time?









Idea seven:Developing a 'stance' as a teacher - ideas of Robert Fried and William Glasser




Socrates's 'stance' was clear -is yours?
It seems students quickly pick up on the stance of their teachers so it is worth thinking about what's the 'stance' about teaching you want them to pick up? Now is time to think about how you want to come across to your students and fellow teachers.



Robert Fried, in his excellent book 'The Passionate Teacher',  writes about how teachers need to create an atmosphere that makes the students want to be their rooms.