Monday, December 27, 2010

The Global Achievement Gap Reflection

After reading The Global Achievement Gap, I am more aware of how the vast changes in our world over the last twenty years have drastically influenced the needs of education today. Due primarily to the amount of information available because of the Internet, the skills students need to be successful today contrast the old school mentality of needing to be able to recall factual information. Today students need to be taught how to locate, interpret, and analyze information to draw conclusions. Students are motivated in different ways today than in the past. Long gone are the days of lecturing, taking notes, memorizing, and recalling facts to pass a test.

Reading The Global Achievement Gap has opened my mind to the amount of change that needs to take place in today's schools across America so that our youth are ready to compete in the world market. Reading this book has motivated me to want to make changes within my classroom, but mostly, it left me feeling overwhelmed. The philosophy of High Tech High is wonderful. What professional would not want the intellectual challenges of such an environment? do we get public schools to that level? That's the overwhelming aspect of this book.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pittman's Reflection

The book "Global Achievement Gap" had similar points that other educational books that I have read. I enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities problem based learning has provided for education while realizing the significance of the state standardized tested. However, I believe that there is a happy medium comprehension of material and improving state standardized test score. I question the teachers that are "teaching to the test", are they really teaching?

But the point that stood out to me the most in this book is the individual way teaching is handled. In the first part of the book, it described how lonesome teaching can be. A student teacher works with an experienced teacher for one semester and then is put in a classroom by themselves with a group of students. For the rest of that teachers career they are alone. I thought about my own career right know and could see that going on with myself. I taught agricultural classes for the past 8 years and started my first year of teaching science. Even thought I have teaching experience, I am still alone in trying to figure out the best way to teach my students. I don't have an experienced teacher with me in the classroom to team teach or share experiences with.

Reading about the charter schools that were used as examples in the book made me want to pack up and go teach at one of those schools. Not only would an educator learn from others to be a better teacher but what an educator learn teaching student with an "interest based learning" method. I love the idea.

Monday, December 20, 2010


The Global Achievment Gap talked about the survival skills that students need. That students can be taught how to solve real problems.
We as teachers don't focus on individual needs and only teach to the test. We are preparing the students for the standardized tests. Schools are worried about making AYP and that's where the pressure is. We focus on those bubble kids. We as teachers don't have time for workforce preparing when we are worried about making AYP.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Global Achievement Book Reflection

The book The Global Achievement Gap talked about how many teachers feel that all they have time for is to teach to the standardized test. I recently had a conversation with a fellow special education teacher. She mentioned when she prepares her students for the Dakota Step test she does not let students use manipulatives to solve math problems. This gave me quite a bit to think about. I teach math in first grade regular education math classes. I also teach pull-out math recovery students. When teaching in both areas I let students use manipulatives or tools that they need for their level of understanding. She mentioned she tries to teach math strategies that students can use during the test like fingers. In first grade we let students use cubes, place value blocks, number lines, graphic organizers for addition and subtraction, 100s chart, arrow cards etc… I thought it was both true and sad that teachers feel they do not have enough time to prepare students for the real-world.
Chapter one discussed the real- world importance of knowing how to ask questions. Another skill this chapter talked about was the need for high school students to work together as a team. Then the chapter talked about achievement gaps. “..Two achievement gaps in our education systems… the gap between the quality of schooling that most middle class kids get in America and the quality of schooling available for most poor and minority children….The second one is the global achievement gap…-the gap between what even our best suburban, urban, and rural public schools are teaching and testing vs. what all students will need to succeed as learners, workers and citizens in today’s global economy.”(pg.8). There are a few things other than the basics that I feel all students need to be taught typing, computer skills, and personal finance. It would be awesome if all high school students were required to complete a 10 week internship in a business field of their choice. This would let students know if they wanted to pursue a career in that field of work.
Chapter one lists the Seven Survival Skills for the 21st Century:
• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
• Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
• Agility and Adaptability
• Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
• Effective Oral and Written Communication
• Accessing and Analyzing Information
• Curiosity and Imagination

Chapter two talks about what students are learning and what students actually need to know as adults. The author and a group of people from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation toured schools. In this chapter it talks about how students need to apply their knowledge instead of just memorizing facts.

Chapter three mentions that No Child Left Behind has a goal of 100% in reading in math for all students by 2014. How is 100% for every child even possible? To put that in perspective how many classroom tests end up with all students receiving 100%? This chapter asks if high school students are citizenship-ready and college ready. I was surprised to find out that high school advanced placement courses did not prepare students for college any better than regular courses. Students were provided with more material to memorize than the regular classroom students.

Chapter four is about re-inventing the curriculum. What this means is every few years there is a push to teach a new way. The problem with this is that no one explains to the teachers why they should teach this knew way and how it will help the students learn. If the teachers do not buy into the new curriculum they will continue to teach it the same way they have been teaching the curriculum. School districts need to tell teachers what they want their students to know and be able to do.
Chapter four also talks about teacher and administrator preparation. “Lack of adequate teacher preparation and support is considered the primary cause for the astounding public school teacher attrition rate. Studies show that nearly one in two teachers who start out in the classroom leave after just five years!”(pg.146.) Grade level teachers in our school have 15 to 20 minutes of common planning time each day.
This chapter mentioned how unannounced administrator observations give a clearer picture of how a teacher teaches than scheduled observations. This would be one way administrators could coach teachers to be better teachers. Our principal is in and out of classrooms all day long. This allows him to have a clear snapshot of what the teachers are doing in his school. This chapter also talked about teachers observing other teachers teaching. Peer observation would allow the teacher to gain a new perspective on how to teach a skill they maybe struggling with. Peers could give feedback on the lessons. I am fortunate enough to teach in five different regular education classroom a day. While I am teaching the classroom the classroom teacher is assisting the lesson. They provide different angles to the lesson. They can provide different materials to supplement the lesson. With two or three teachers in the classroom we can differentiate instruction based on the students’ skill level.
Chapter five is about motivating students. The Net Generation was born and lives digitally. They are interested in technology and they are able to multitask. Some critics feel that the digital generation is not motivated. Others feel that the digital generation is motivated by using technology and working on projects. The digital generation wants and expects information immediately.
Chapter six covered “interest based learning”, High Tech High, and The Met. The CEO of High Tech High did not believe in separating students into different educational tracks. At High Tech High teachers are evaluated by students work. If students complete good work their teacher must be good. Students complete ten-week internships. Students work on group projects. One student said, “Projects make us figure things out-we’re always, planning, organizing, working in a team.”(pg. 227).
In summary I thought this book was very easy to read. This book asked questions about how teachers teach information in public, private and charter schools. It asked what makes a good teacher and what makes a good administrator. How do we prepare teachers better? How do teachers move away from teaching to the test? How do we keep teachers teaching more than five years? These are all very thought provoking questions, none of which I have the answer to.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chapter 6 Closing the Gap: Schools That Work

This chapter talked about a particular school in the San Diego area, High Tech High. They had three design principles for High School-1) personalization 2) real world connections 3) common intellectual missions. The schools philosophy is hands-on learning to show what they know. The students gain group work skills and problem solving skills.
Their goals were to:
1)serve a student body that mirrors the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the local community.
2) Integrate technical and academic education to prepare students for post-secondary education in both high tech and liberal arts fields.
3)Increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students in math and engineering who succeed in high school and post-secondary education.
4)Graduate students who will be thoughtful, engaged citizens.

What they are trying to accomplish is to create future leaders who have a sense of who they are, have a passion with purpose, and have a set of skills. They wanted them to be able to think, to work in groups, and to work independantly.
They don't teach to the test. The teaching is different, because they focus on individual students needs. Getting them work ready. They work on team-building and working together when they're working in a projecte-based environment.

They judge teachers by the quality of their students work. All teachers are on a one-year contract. They hire alot of young teachers because they get it. Many teachers who are experienced often don't get it.

Students are engaging in classes-not just being lectured to. The students have to complete a ten-week internship with a local company or organization. The skills that the students are expected to master before graduation are:
The Habits of Learning
1)Inquiry-showing intellectual curiosity and wonder about the world. You ask thoughtful questions, and seek out their answers.
2)Expression-communicate honestly what you know or want to know, and what you believe or feel.
3)Critical Thinking-analyze, synthesize, and draw conclusions from information.
4)Collaboration-contribute to the overall effort of a group
5)Organization-sift through ideas and data, arranging them wisely and maing sense of them.
6)Attentiveness-focusing on the task at hand, observing and taking in the information you need to do it well.
7)Involvement-taking the initiative to participate in the process of learning.
8)Reflection-review and think about your actions and the work you produce, with the purpose of learning more about yourself and the work.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chapter 3 Testing

I apologize for my tardiness with this site, I seemed to have overlooked this assignment. This chapter focuses on the utilization of the multiple choice exams to define adequate yearly progress in a school district. The author questions the skills that are evaluated with the standardized tests and the motivation the test provide students to stay in school. "While all employers need workers who can solve problem, they do not find that students who have taken the usual math and science and passed the test can apply this content to solve real problems" (pg. 92). With the vast amounts of professional development available, problem-based and inquiry-based teaching strategies, I can see were students can be prepared for solving real problem while teaching content within core classes. But would the state standardized testing method reflect the students ability to problem solve? Multiple choice tests are used because they are the cheapest to administer and assess.
Looking a NCLB and state testing requirements to compare them to the needs of students entering secondary education, college teachers state that "70 percent say students do not comprehend complex reading material, 66 percent say students cannot think analytically, 65 percent say students lack appropriate work and study habits, 62 percent say students write poorly, 59 percent say students don't know how to do research, and 55 percent say students can't apply what they've learned to sole problems" (pg. 103). The focus was not whether the students knew the content but how they could utilize the content. Are the high school educators teaching students how to study content? Are students being required to research material to solve problems? The chapter provided examples of students and how they felt about Advanced Placement classes. It was interesting to note that the students were bored and frustrated with the large amount of information needed to memorize to be prepared for the test and the lack of opportunity to have discussions on the materials.
"Schools have less money in their budgets for elective courses" (pg. 113). Many of these elective courses entice students to stay in school to begin with. With all of the effort put into NCLB and standardized testing, students are left with fewer course choices and less motivation to stay in school. Overall, the accountability system in education lacks the depth to fully evaluated a student, does not motivate learning, and does not spotlight requirements needed for secondary education or the workforce.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chapter 4 Reinventing the Education Profession

This chapter talks all about the education system in the United States failing to provide an adequate education due to lack of teacher and administration training and a lack of streamlining and teamwork. It begins with this interesting quote, “the district that has ten priorities really has none” (p. 127). As we all know, we often see this as the case when some motivational speaker comes in saying all the right things, or we get a glimpse of a new education fad. This seems to occupy our agendas for a short while, but it eventually fades out when we either hear of a new fad or go back to our old ways because it’s “easier.” This chapter also shows us the author’s position that we often fail to reflect on our teaching and work together as a team to improve. Too often our districts search for someone outside who is thought to have all of the answers, and, because of this, we lose focus on the learning process, teaching, and teachers. We also often fail to agree on what makes a good teacher, as made evident by some of the author’s research in this area. He strongly suggests making professional development meaningful by reflecting on what a good teacher is by consistently observing fellow teachers and reflecting on teaching videos. In his example of “The Hawaii Story” he talks about how beneficial collaboration and reflection were between administrators and teachers. At one point, he quotes the administrators who took part in this project naming their presentation, “From Castles to Kingdom.” This, of course, means that, instead of working in isolation behind closed doors, it’s much more beneficial to the learning process for teachers to open up and collaborate. (This is a great idea, but let’s not forget that time is extremely valuable and often lacking!) From this reading, the doors need to be open and the critical reflective process needs to be an integral part of teaching.

There was one part in the text that was a bit offensive. On page 150, this is stated:

“…to get and keep a teaching license, teachers would have to show evidence that they’re competent--and that they have continued to improve—in the skills that are critical for effective teaching.”

I think most of us would agree we are competent teachers and quite effective with the requirements we have been given. However, we are sometimes limited by 20 content standards to master in a short amount of time AND a multiple choice test that we need to make sure our school passes so our jobs aren’t in jeopardy. Because of this, we often have to push the “7 survival skills” to the back burner.

The author’s idea of having programs for teachers similar to medical residencies is also alarming. After this statement it would appear the author is asking a lot out of educators especially those under paid and asked to work a lot of extra hours. He also stated that in this type of program for educators us educators would have to see a pay increase and be properly compensated. I would have to agree with the author as long as we can convince those at the state capitals and Washington.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chapter 2 The Old World of School

Chapter 2 The old World of School
In chapter one it discussed the economic gap between schools. In chapter two it discussed the gap between what students are taught vs. what they need to know.
This chapter talked about the author visiting schools. He would go into the classroom with other school officials (principals, superintendents, etc..) and observe the classroom. The majority of the classrooms visited had lecture based lessons. The group observed that most teachers were teaching the content and not skills. Most teachers were preparing students to do well on the standards based tests.
The only classroom that differed from all the other classrooms visited was an algebra II class.

The teacher:

  1. had the students divided into groups
  2. introduced a new type of problem
  3. told the students they will need to use algebra and geometry to solve the problem
  4. told the students they needed to solve the problem in two ways
  5. told the students he would randomly choose a person from each group to explain

Advice on how to do better on standardized tests was given to a school district. " Using the data you can identify and focus on kids who are close to passing. The bubble kids. Those are the ones who can pass with a little extra help. They'll give you the biggest return on your investment." (The Global Achievement Gap, 73).

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) gave a test in 2003. This test focused on critical thinking and problem solving. The United States scored 29th out of 41 countries. Then the book talked about United States graduates loosing jobs to people in other countries because they don't have critical thinking skills.

Basically the majority of the United States' teachers are teaching to the standardized tests. Many other countries are preparing their students for the workforce by teaching them how to think not how to memorize facts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One Gap at a Time

I chose this image for my book cover because "I" want to close one "Gap" at a time. As I thought of what this book might be about and how I will be using the info from this book and from this technology class I have realized that I have a few gaps of my own to close in order to help my students. So I see this student here as a student that might have been left behind and needs to focus on "One Gap at a Time." I see some great opportunities from this book but I may need to slow down and focus on "One Gap at a Time."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I chose this image beause it depicts the traditional look ofa classroom. Students are in neat rows, listening to a lecture. Critical thinking skills are absent in this picture and students are not being prepared for real life situations.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Global Achievement Gap (Book Cover)

I think the publisher selected this image because he is referring to the way it used to be, or the way it is in some schools still today. You have the old desks in rows and papers all over. What interested me personally was that when I attended school thats the kind of desks we used. No technology around and a lot of paper.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Global Achievement Gap Book Cover

The book we selected is called THE GLOBAL ACHIEVEMENT GAP. On the book cover there is a picture with four wooden desks and paper flying in the air to the ground. The book cover could mean that paper/pencil instruction is out and technology instruction is in. It also could mean that if students are only taught by the stereotypical classroom method they may miss the opportunity of exploring the world outside the classroom using technology.
I had a hard time finding an image that was free use. I found two images that were copyrighted. They both had a visible gap in the picture, people divided by the gap, and words that talked about a gap in achievement.
I chose a picture of a child comparing apples and oranges in the mirror. We have all read information on how other countries are performing academically. But...have we thought about who is included in their information. The United States gives information on the majority of that age group. Other countries weed out students who struggle academically. They only include information from students who are academically successful.
Another thing to think about is the opportunity afforded to the students. Some schools give students laptops to use at home to complete their homework. Some students have computers at their home they can use. Some students do not have a computer at home they can use.Some students have teachers who use technology as a teaching tool on a daily basis. Other students have teachers who do not use technology as a teaching tool on a daily basis.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 in summary, discusses the stark differences between content that is currently being taught in classrooms across America compared to the skills current employers are wanting in their employees. The author conversed with numerous business leaders and asked what they were looking for when hiring new employees. The business leaders replied: 1). we want employees who are capable of asking good questions to identify and solve problems 2). we want employees who are capable communicators - both verbal and written - for the purpose of influencing co-workers who are in various satellite offices 3). we want employees who are able to think on their feet - who are willing to alter their thinking and their responses to continually changing information 4). we want employees who are self-directed and self-motivated to identify and solve problems 5). we want employees who are effective communicators who include 'voice' in written communication 6). we want employees who are able to locate and interpret ever- changing information from multiple sources 7). we want employees who are curious and imaginative. These seven traits are termed the 'Seven Survival Skills'.

A quote that I found interesting from the chapter was, "....what preoccupies many educators, as we will see, are the growing pressures to prepare all students for the increased number of 'high-stakes' standardized tests. They simply don't have time to worry about abstractions like workforce preparedness. They're a lot more worried about their school or district making what's called 'adequate yearly progress' so they're not stigmatized as 'failing'."

This quote directly correlates with my reaction from reading Chapter 1. I feel that I have an understanding now of what 21st century employers are looking for in their employees. I feel that I have an understanding of what millennial students want. I know, also, that schools are not achieving in bridging the achievement gaps - neither gap one nor gap two. BUT how do I bridge the gap in my classroom when I have to focus on getting all of my students to achieve the NCLB requirements to get my school off level 4 improvement? How can I teach my students to synthesize and analyze when some can't decode the words on the page much less draw conclusions from the word's meaning? Is playing the audio version of the text as a modification really preparing them for the future? In later chapters the book indicates that student's should not be pushed into higher order thinking skills until their brains are ready to think at an abstract level - when, developmentally, are student's brains ready to process at this level?

Skill Application

I selected this image as an alternative book cover because it represents a task board. Signifying the application of skills used to identify and/or solve real world situations.

I'm Bored With This Stuff!

I chose this image because it reminded me of some students that seem bored with the same old stuff. We need to use new and exciting technology to keep the students enthusiastic about learning.

Welcome to Literature Circle Three!

Your Super Summarizer schedule is as follows:

Section One--Due October 28, Hillary Aden
Section Two--Due November 4, Andrea Christensen
Section Three--Due November 11, Pandianne (Pandi) Pittman
Section Four--Due November 18, Justin Schlecht
Section Five--Due December 2, Kelli Sundall
Section Six--Due December 9, Brad Young