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.