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Are you teaching mastery or speed?

You know the scene, the teacher asks a question and hands shoot up so fast it’s entirely possible the sound barrier is broken. Bums start to jiggle on seats, hands start to wave and bob up and down, and a wee cacophony of “ooh ooh, me, miss, me” begins.

School students learn quickly that the fastest hand up often wins the game, but is that right?

We’ve all seen the kid who shoots his hand up like a rocket but when called for his answer gets it wrong.  Or gives a totally random response. Or who quite simply has nothing.  But, hey, thinks the student, the hand was up first, so that still counts for something, right?

Teachers come up with many ways around this.  Fingers on noses instead of hands in the air; think, pair, share; no hands up at all.  But the kids still find a way to show they got the answer super fast, because they have already learned that fast means good.They learn it from teachers, parents and other kids. First is best.

We need to counter this.

First is not always best. Accuracy is more important than speed. Taking the time to think about the problem so that you can choose an adequate strategy to approach and solve it is a huge skill. Kids need to know that speed develops with mastery and confidence.

So next time you ask your kids a question, reflect on how they answer you and why. Accurate or fast?  Students need to know there’s nothing wrong with getting a wrong answer – it’s the road to learning. But what a shame to get a wrong answer just because you didn’t give yourself time to think properly.

Slow and steady can indeed win the race: the goal is a good answer not just a fast one.

quote_slowDown_Jason_Fried

Why I left the classroom and won’t go back (yet), by Sarah Aiono

I left the classroom after deciding I simply couldn’t be the teacher I wanted to be.

In front of 32 Year 2 students (5 and 6 year olds) in a school in South Auckland I became more and more frustrated at the lack of time I had to connect with my students on an individual basis. Despite the enormous hours I was putting in, I was not satisfied in any way with the quality of my instruction I was able to deliver.

H20140713-084836-31716449.jpgekia and her gang will argue that it is quality of teacher instruction not quantity of students in the room that lifts student achievement. As a quality teacher (or so I’ve been told) I am incredibly offended by this moot.

My last classroom consisted of 32 Year 2 students from some of the most challenging socio-economic backgrounds. Over 3/4 of my class arrived in front of me operating at a pre-emergent literacy and numeracy level (operating below 5 years of age).

As a quality teacher, my programme adapted swiftly and often to meet the needs of my students. I taught to their level and at the time (fortunately) I did not have today’s pressure of meeting a national standard of achievement. I used my data gathered to address learning gaps and to respond to student interest all the while meeting the national curriculum objectives.

I worked on weekends, holidays and late nights in order to be very prepared, thus freeing me up to spend time building relationships with my students.

I had children with significant learning and behaviour needs, supported by RTLB.

I had children regularly involved with counselling services. I had children reintegrating from withdrawn programmes and residential schools.

I made sandwiches for my kids who regularly didn’t have lunch. (This became more covert when the Principal banned staff from doing this).

I also worked as an associate teacher, guiding a provisionally registered teacher in her first year of service.

I ran before-school alphabet groups and basic word revision.

In summary, I worked my butt off.

And yet I felt a sense of dissatisfaction at my ability to reach those children in my class that needed even just a little more of my time. I found there were days in my classroom where it felt like I was directing traffic. I had to work hard consciously to connect with every child every day. If I didn’t, I could easily have passed over an ‘invisible’ child in the day.

There could have been children in my class, who, apart from roll call, could have not had a single individual conversation with their teacher that day.

And yet Hekia says the amount of students in a classroom has no bearing on lifting achievement.

Cle20140713-084815-31695665.jpgarly I was misguided and misinformed. I was obviously not of the quality Hekia wants in her classrooms, as I couldn’t ‘fix’ all the issues before me.

While I chipped away at learning levels, lifting my students from pre-emergent through to 6 months below, I settled for providing my students with a fun and safe environment from 9am to 3pm. For many of these students that took precedent.

My level of dissatisfaction grew to the point where I decided I couldn’t work in these classrooms any longer. For me to work in a smaller classroom setting, I would need to look up the decile rankings and even into the private providers to achieve this.

But this was not attractive in the sense that I enjoyed working with children in the lower decile schools. So I left the classroom altogether.

For me to be the quality teacher I wanted to be I needed the quantity of students in front of me to be less. It really was that simple. Fewer students gave me the ability to do my job even better.

So I left the classroom.

Every year I feel the pull back. I long to have ‘my kids’ again. To enjoy being in front of children, exploring, investigating and imparting knowledge as a year-long journey.

And every year I decide I simply could not teach the way I would enjoy in the current education environment. I would rage against a system instead of working happily within it.

Perhaps next year?

~ by Sarah Aiono, first published on her blog, Cheeky Kids.

Sarah Aiono holds a B.Ed (Dip Tchg), PGd.Dip.Ed (Dist) and a Master of Education and has worked for over ten years with children exhibiting challenging behaviour. She is an Accredited Incredible Years Facilitator and Peer Coach. She is currently employed as a Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour and is a Company Director for Little Ninjas Ltd, a service for parents and teachers in understanding children who work outside the ‘square’. 

The problem of hunger in our schools

by Judith Nowotarski, NZEI Te Riu Roa President

When it came out this week that Treasury had advised the government that school breakfasts had no measurable impact on educational performance, principals of low decile schools around the country were flabbergasted.

It appears the officials at Treasury know more than the doctors and nutritionists who have long championed the crucial importance of breakfast, especially for children. They certainly think they know more than the principals who see the difference a full belly makes on concentration and behaviour levels. They have even managed to find one study from Auckland University to support their stance, despite what the overwhelming majority of other local and international research says.

Windley School in Porirua has a breakfast club five days a week and principal Rhys McKinley has observed that on the three occasions that fights have occurred, they involved students who hadn’t had breakfast. Many of the students come from very difficult home situations and being able to come to school and start the day with a hot, nutritious breakfast means they can focus on their work rather than their gnawing hunger.

The students at Windley School are lucky to have a breakfast club, run most days by volunteers from Arise Church and school staff, but many low decile schools are missing out or receive support and funding on an ad hoc basis from various NGOs and community groups.

Certainly the government doesn’t want to get involved – they are trying to farm out social services such as housing. They don’t want to take on any more initiatives, even though every charity that works with impoverished families thinks school meals are a great idea.

Feeding hungry kids is surely a moral obligation in a country that can afford to do so. It is also just the beginning of what needs to be done to break the cycle of poverty that is trapping too many families.  It is almost two years since the Children’s Commissioner’s Experts Advisory Group released its report with 72 solutions to child poverty, but it was largely sidelined. Boosting family incomes is the obvious key to reducing poverty, but that will take time and investment. In the meantime, children still need energy to learn.

The Treasury paper from February 2013 warned that if the government itself got involved in providing food ibowl of cornflakesn schools there was a risk of “scope creep” – uncontrolled or continuous growth in costs. It pointed out that the government already supplies fruit in low decile schools and the likes of KidsCan, Fonterra and Sanitarium run breakfast clubs. The fear of spending too much money is apparently a good justification for spending hardly any at all.

Treasury recommended more research on the extent of the problem and engaging with existing providers of food in schools to understand the level of need.

Meanwhile, as the numbers are crunched, children are going hungry through no fault of their own. As treasury pointed out, not every child who misses breakfast does so because of a lack of food, but tens of thousands do. Many of these children went to bed hungry in the first place. And then we ask them to come to school for a mentally and physically exhausting day of learning.

Inevitably, in a discussion such as this, some people will blame the parents for inadequate budgeting, but whether parents could have stretched the grocery budget more effectively or not, the fact remains that children in our first world country are going hungry. If you don’t have compassion for hungry kids in this land flowing with milk and Weetbix, you could consider what a drain on the public purse their poor health and educational underachievement will be in the future.

For the government to depend on charities and corporate philanthropy to meet the needs of the increasing number of families that are falling through the cracks is like baling a sinking boat with a tea cup. Certainly the government needs to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs that families can afford to live on. But please, in the meantime, can we also ensure no child has to learn and grow on an empty stomach? What’s good for the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us, is good for all of us.

~ NZEI

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Read also:

Superman socks: child poverty and education in New Zealand

Poverty of body, mind and soul

 

 

Feeding School Kids – Let’s play spot the difference

Children go hungry in all countries, in all walks of life, but some countries are better than others at accepting the responsibility for ensuring children are fed.

Let’s compare…

England

union jack plate“Education Minister David Laws told BBC News he expected some 15,200 primary schools – or 98% of the total – to be ready to provide the meals…

“Today our goal to offer every infant child a healthy, tasty school meal has become a reality, a move that will put money back in parents’ pockets while ensuring all children get the best possible start in life.”

“The government has provided £1bn to meet the costs of the meals over the next two years.

“In addition, it has made £150m available to improve kitchen and dining facilities, plus an extra £22.5m for small schools.

“Schools will have a legal duty to offer the meals, which are expected to save families £400 per year per child.”

Source

New Zealand

NZ flag food“Mana Party leader Hone Harawira’s member’s bill to provide free breakfasts to all low decile schools is due before Parliament in coming weeks but is unlikely to get majority support.” Source

I didn’t pass.  Just breakfast for low decile schools – not even all schools – just those at the sharp end – and it STILL didn’t pass.

So, charities are again filling the gaps:

  • “On Friday 5 September Campbell Live is bringing back its popular ‘Lunch Box’ day in support of the KidsCan Charitable Trust. A $3 donation can be made by texting LUNCH to 2448, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to the charity.” Source
  • “KickStart Breakfast – a national programme supplying Fonterra Anchor milk and Sanitarium Weetbix for breakfast. All schools across all deciles are eligible, including teen parent units and Alternative Education providers.” Source
  • “Fonterra Milk for Schools – a nationwide programme that supplies free milk to all primary schools (Years 1-6)” Source
  • “KidsCan – a national charity that supplies equipment and food for breakfast and lunch programmes, as well as supplying items to address other student needs, such as raincoats, shoes and head lice treatment.” Source

Rest of the world

brazil flag foodFinland and Sweden provide state-funded free school meals.

Other countries like the UK… provide state-funded free meals to eligible students, and some such as Brazil and Chile provide state-funded free meals to schools with high levels of deprivation.

Source

Aotearoa, let’s do this

Come on, New Zealand, it’s not too much to ask that kids are assured on one decent meal a day on school days so they can concentrate and learn.  It’s time to get this sorted out.  Let’s do this.

 

Martin Thrupp talks National Standards and RAINs

What did the RAINs project find about National Standards?

When a child is a ‘dandelion sid’ in a round hole…

‘Why do I write Wednesday?’ ‘Here we go,’ she thought.

The rest of the children thought so too, looking up from their writing, their faces alight with the prospect of what could follow.

‘Because it is Wednesday.’

‘Just write it at the top of the page. You don’t have any problem with that do you?’wednesday

Reuben hadn’t picked up from her tone that things had changed; not surprising, though, given that a hint of her usual teasing manner with him persisted.

To Reuben’s mind, what she’d said, and how she’d said it, would still act like a red rag to a bull, perhaps a Red Bull to his whizzing thought processes.

‘But it might be Sunday.’

Read the rest here: Reuben and WALTS.

via When a child is a dandelion sid in a round hole….

More outstanding teachers resign

i quit

Every week the list grows longer as great teachers resign and leave the profession forever due to the crazy path that education is being pushed down by politicians.

In England and the USA there have been many highly public resignations outlining just exactly why the reforms have pushed teachers to say “No more.”

It’s sad not just because these good teachers are lost to the profession, and not just for them personally, but because these teachers are leaving because what they are being forced to do in the name of education  is not beneficial to students.

It makes me both incredibly cross and very sad to know that unless something drastic changes, it’s only a matter of time before New Zealand starts to see a flurry of the same.

Here is Lucy Fey’s resignation letter:

” Dear Mr Gove,

I am writing to thank you for teaching me so much about education. I have been a primary school teacher for 14 years and have always worked in challenging, inner city schools with many children who have complex behavioural and emotional needs. According to my performance management, I am an ‘outstanding’ teacher. I feel that over the last few years my skills have diversified considerably.

I am proud to be able to say that each year my pupils’ achievement and attainment have improved. I have become skilled at pinpointing what they need to learn and prioritising their experiences to ensure they succeed in the core subjects. Sacrifices have had to be made but, despite what they would like you to believe, there is not a single pupil who has not wanted to achieve and be successful.

The last few years in particular, my job has become even more varied. As we no longer have any external support and advice to help us, we have learned ‘on the job’ how to be counsellors, behaviour specialists, social workers and mental health workers.

We use our instincts when dealing with children with complex emotional and behavioural needs. We do everything we can, but you never can tell without the training. Hopefully those children experiencing extreme difficulties will pick up how to become good citizens and be able to live within, and contribute to, the community.

I can only hope that they will know how to create a supportive and nurturing environment for their own children to succeed in the future. Maybe they will feel confident and proud of their achievements despite the lack of professional, quality specialists available to support their own complex needs in their formative years.

Until recently, I was not adept at data analysis. I now know that the pupils we are teaching are not simply children, they are numbers, percentages. The hours I have spent analysing data to decide which children need intensive afternoon intervention groups, those who need that extra ‘boost.’ Those children do not take part in the afternoon history, geography, art, science, music, PE or RE lessons as they are struggling with maths, reading and writing.

They understand that they must miss out on subjects they are more likely to engage with, feel confident in, so they have the opportunity to achieve the required level in writing, reading and maths. They spend all day, every day struggling. Slowly feeling more and more like a failure, becoming more and more disengaged.

It is amazing that every one of my pupils knows what level they are working at and what level they need to be at the end of the year. Children are so desperate to achieve and to please others that they naturally put themselves under a huge amount of pressure. If they are not working at age related expectations they believe they are not doing well despite the amazing progress they have made.

They are in tears. They feel the pressure. They know they are not where they ‘should’ be. They know already, at primary school, that they may not be ‘successful’ in the future. They know that the only subjects worth anything are reading, writing and maths. They know that their options are limited.

A big part of teaching is, and always has been, acting. You draw your audience in; encourage them to take part and to be inspired, challenged and enthusiastic about what they are discovering.

There is nothing better than a class full of buzzing pupils, excited about what they are learning, taking ownership of the lesson. This is becoming increasingly hard to achieve when we expect so much from them. There is little time to have fun, to enquire, to be intrigued, to be children. They have too much pressure. They must, “compete with the world’s best.”

Why are we not letting them grow as individuals? Why are we damaging their self-esteem and confidence by trying to make them all fit into the same box? To ensure a successful future for our country we need to give children a broad, balanced curriculum which enables everyone to excel at what they are good at. They need to feel empowered and valued for their individual skills to be able to take risks and push the boundaries to be successful.

How is that possible if they have had a restricted education? How will all those talented people who are not necessarily ‘academic’ excel in their different industries if they were not given the opportunity to hone their skills throughout their education? How will this improve our country? What sort of adults will they turn in to? I know I never had those pressures when I was a child.

I handed my notice in last week. I can’t do this to them anymore.

Lucy Fey”

How sad that New Zealand is following on with reforms that are wreaking this kind of havoc.

We need to be asking who is driving this push and why, before there are no more Lucy Feys left.

 

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Sources:

https://www.facebook.com/TeacherRoar

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/10864313/Education-in-the-hands-of-teachers.html

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/06/07/josh-waldron-explains-why-he-is-leaving/

http://mcorfield.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/in-honor-of-retiring-educators.html

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/why-are-so-many-head-teachers-resigning-worldwide/

Great teachers just give the kid a pencil

I just had to share this wonderful article which speaks to a very important quality of the best teaching that is often overlooked – compassion and care.

~ Dianne

 

Give The Kid A Pencil, by Chad Donohue, published at Teaching Tolerance

I recently taught a university course in Seattle for graduate students seeking master’s degrees in teaching. In one lesson, our focus was on creating a psychologically safe learning environment for students. It was an issue of managing students and supplies. I posed a question:

If a student shows up to class without a pencil, how should the teacher respond?

Small groups collaborated for a few minutes. Ultimately, they came up with plans involving taking something (a shoe?) from the student as collateral to remind the student about the importance of having supplies, notifying parents and even assigning classroom cleanup duty or lunch detention.

pencil heart“What about you, Prof?” they asked.

“I would give the kid a pencil,” I said.

“You mean the first time?” someone asked.

“Every time,” I said.

This evidently had not occurred to them. There must be some punishment, subtle humiliation or a response that makes the kid pay for the error, right? They were concerned that my action would reinforce and reward poor behavior, possibly even help develop bad habits.

What they failed to see is that the teacher is not the cause of the problem. Likely, the student has been doing this for years. The teacher can respond by criticizing the child in front of the class, reminding him that pencils are required at school, making her give up something as collateral or inflicting some punishment as a power move.

Or the instructor can simply provide the pencil and say, “There will always be a pencil here for you. Don’t ever worry about asking me for a pencil. I have hundreds of them.”

By eliminating the anxiety that comes when students worry about being called out or humiliated in front of their peers, teachers reduce the chance that students will skip class, give up, become defiant or develop mysterious “illnesses” that cause them to stay home….

Read more here:  Give The Kid A Pencil

Superman socks: child poverty and education in New Zealand

I have a 5 year old, and a lucky one at that.  If he’s had a bad night and is tired, I can keep him home from school or collect him early.  Either way, he is warm and well fed.  Some days, even with all that, he’s not on top form.

Still, even with bad days, research shows that children like him stand a good chance of doing well in life.  He has access to a warm, dry home, to medical care, to good and plentiful food, to books and computers, and he has shoes, a coat and a bed.  Not everyone is so fortunate.

Over 285, 000 Kiwi kids live in poverty, with 17% of our tamariki going without the day to day things they need.  Three fifths of those children live like that for years on end.

Many children don’t eat well and don’t have access to proper medical care.  They live in houses that are not healthy. They might be cold.  They may not sleep well.

But whatever their circumstances, five days a week, 40 weeks a year, off they go to school

Hard Yakka

A student’s job is to learn.

For six hours, five days a week, students come face to face with new challenges, new information, old problems they haven’t yet mastered, social interactions that need to be manoeuvred, and physical challenges big and small.  It’s no mean feat to be a student.

Even when it’s fun and you’re motivated, it’s hard yakka.

Even when you are healthy, happy and safe, it’s hard yakka.

Yes,  student’s job is to learn – and that’s not easy when the odds are stacked against you.  That’s bloody hard yakka indeed.

Walk in their shoes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPut yourself in the shoes of a less fortunate child for one moment.  Imagine sleeping in a damp bed, maybe top to toe with someone else, that’s assuming you have a bed. You’re cold all night and not getting a good rest. Then waking up to an inadequate breakfast – or no breakfast at all.  Off you go for the day in bare feet or worn shoes that let water in.  No, you don’t have a coat – and you are walking – so if it rains you get wet.

Now imagine working all day in those damp clothes, with cold feet and a rumbling tummy.

You have to think, listen, cooperate, learn, exercise, share, write, read, calculate….  You might just have thought about lunch, but no, you don’t have lunch either – or nothing worth mentioning, nothing that will sustain you.  And you still have a couple more hours to go.  No-one can collect you early because they’re at work.  And even if they could, it would be the same tomorrow.

Now imagine doing that day after day after day after day…

If it were you in those circumstances, how well would you do your job?

Pull your socks up

old socksThere are always those who blame the poor for their own circumstances.  If only they’d pull their socks up, these people contend, then they’d be fine.

It’s a simplistic and insulting argument to put forward – arrogant, in fact.  People’s lives vary so widely – no one person lives through the same circumstances as another.

As Bryan Bruce recently put it:

“I also find it interesting how some people who have ‘made it’ out of poor circumstances have the attitude “if I can do it anyone can”.  Not true. Not everyone’s life experiences are the same and we have working poor now – people who work all week and still can’t make ends meet- which is a relatively recent phenomenon.”

It is well documented that poverty leads to poorer mental health and cognitive development. Put simply, if you grow up in poverty, your chances to learn well and do well later in life are reduced.

Conversely, giving children the tools so they have a far better chance of moving onwards and upwards is good for all of us, as it lessens many potential future burdens, not least of all in the health sector, unemployment, and crime.

So, when someone says, “See, poverty doesn’t matter. High expectations are all it takes to overcome poverty,” tell them to read the work of Shonkoff and the Harvard Center on the Developing Child. Some children survive the most extreme adversity, but far more do not

Social Braces and Superman Socks

superman socksIt pays to remember, as well, that children have little to no power to change their lot.  They are at the mercy of whatever circumstances they are born into.  And that lot is what governs their future.

Isn’t it, then, a better plan to reduce poverty and make it easier for more people to be able to ‘pull their socks up’?

Children who are fed, warm, healthy and safe learn better, not just as children but also as adults.   They are less likely to put financial burdens on society. They are more likely to do well.

The least a decent society can do is give them the basics to keep them fed and healthy, so they can learn and have a good chance.  It’s not charity.  It’s not a hand out.  It’s a hand UP.

If we want people to be able to pull their socks up as adults and we want our tamariki to succeed at school, we must prevent the metaphorical socks being so far down to begin with.

Let’s give our tamariki superman socks and watch them fly.

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Further reading:

https://blog.greens.org.nz/2014/05/14/inequality-in-new-zealand-is-getting-worse/

http://www.occ.org.nz/assets/Uploads/EAG/Final-report/Final-report-Solutions-to-child-poverty-evidence-for-action.pdf

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/inside-child-poverty-new-zealand-by-bryan-bruce/

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/breaking-non-news-the-rise-of-poverty-and-the-fall-of-the-middle-class-affect-schools/

More Info on “Kindy kids tested – 100 questions, all on computer”

Here is the longer and more in depth story of the test the kindy kids had to take, blogged here.

The kids are five years old, and it’s a Californian kindy.  Even aside from how wrong testing kids at this age is or how ridiculous it is to test them this way – where how they do the test is a barrier to showing what they know –  and the fact that the tests were not administered the same for all classes, thereby undermining the argument that they are indeed standardised …. the big question is this: is administering any test in a way that stresses teachers, parents AND students really and truly necessary?  Of course it isn’t.

This is not education, this is data collection.  It does not serve learners – it serves the companies that make the tests and the administrators and politicians that promote them. They should all be totally and utterly ashamed of themselves.

robot children

Testing the kindy kids – more details emerge

“”Today my kindergarten took a test called the Common Core MAP.

We had been told to set up each child with their own account on their numbered Chromebook. The Teacher on Special Assignment came around and spent about an hour in each class doing this in the previous weeks.

We didn’t know exactly when the test would be given, just that some time on Thursday or Friday, the proctors would come and test. I set out morning work for my kids today but before the bell rang, the proctor arrived. I quickly swept off the tables and she said we’d begin right away. I went out to pick up my class.

While the proctor set up the computers (disregarding what we had done — that hour the TOSA spent in each class was unnecessary), I went through the usual morning routine. Parents who happened to be in the room scrambled to unpack the headphones, which had arrived in the office that morning, and distribute the computers. We started a half hour later. The kids were excited to be using the computers. That didn’t last for long.

The test is adaptive. When a child answers a question, the next batch of questions is slightly harder or easier depending on the correctness of their answer. The math and language arts sections each had 57 questions.

The kids didn’t understand that to hear the directions, you needed to click the speaker icon. We slipped around the room explaining.

Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse was available. A proctor in one room said that if a child indicated their answer, an adult could help. Other proctors didn’t allow this. I had trouble dragging and dropping myself on the little trackpads.

Kids in one class took five hours to finish. Kids were crying in 4 of 5 classes. There were multiple computer crashes (“okay, you just sit right there while we fix it! Don’t talk to anyone!”).

There were kids sitting for half hour with volume off on headsets but not saying anything.

Kids accidentally swapped tangled headsets and didn’t seem to notice that what they heard had nothing to do with what they saw on the screen.

Kids had to solve 8+6 when the answer choices were 0-9 and had to DRAG AND DROP first a 1 then a 4 to form a 14.

There were questions where it was only necessary to click an answer but the objects were movable (for no reason).

There were kids tapping on their neighbor’s computers in frustration.

To go to the next question, one clicks “next” in lower right-hand corner…..which is also where the pop-up menu comes up to take you to other programs or shut down, so there were many instances of shut-downs and kids winding up in a completely different program.

Is this what we want for our youngest children?””

Data at any cost?

So, New Zealand, this is where the madness will lead us if we let the reformers carry on their merry path of obsession with DATA DATA DATA collection at any cost.

Testing children to find out where they are at is necessary – teachers test all the time – we always have done.  The teacher should do it routinely and without stress as a normal part of learning, so that both teacher and student can see what needs to be learned next.    The abomination outlined above is something else entirely.

Ask yourself …

When you next hear about some supposedly essential reforms or changes to our education system, ask yourself who is pushing the changes, who stands to benefit financially before assuming they are for the good of the kids.  Often, they are for the benefit of business.  Just ask Pearson, or Gates, or Murdoch.  Or Banks.

Don’t let your child become a data point in a business plan.

.

Teachers in the USA –  join BATs in fighting these reforms.

Teachers in New Zealand – join the Kiwi BATs to raise your teacher voice.

Education policies – what are the big issues?

stuff Stuff today discuss the government’s education policies in this piece, asking why education it such a big issue and what needs to happen in education policy to get your vote? Stuff is asking for responses from you, the public.

Their questions are:

  • What do you think are the biggest issues facing our education sector?
  • What do you think needs to be done to improve the educational standards of young Kiwis?
  • Is there a particular education issue that would swing your vote if it was addressed?

Click on this link to find the green button so you can respond.

My response is here:

Sadly, the biggest issue in education at the moment is how demoralised teachers are having been faced with a barrage of changes and policies that are not about improving education for our students but are about leading public education system towards privatisation. The policies are done without consultation with the education sector and without the backing of good research. In fact, the research is usually in direct contradiction to the policies being implemented.

If we are to improve the educational standards of young Kiwis, we need to train our teachers to the highest standards and continue to offer them excellent professional development throughout their careers so that are experts in their fields. We need better funded and more targeted help for our neediest students, with teacher aides, resources and specialist help readily available. This helps all pupils in the end. We also need to take seriously the effects of poverty, which has a huge impact.

The education policies of this government are heinous. They claim to be doing these things for the students, but in truth the policies have little or nothing to do with that and are more about gearing the public education system up for privatisation, just as is happening in England and the USA. And we all know how badly that’s going…

Click on this link to find the green button so you can respond.

You are the change

Dyslexia Advocacy Week 2014 starts Sunday March 16th

DFNZEvery teacher needs to understand dyslexia and know what help there is out there for them and their students, so we are lucky to have this fantastic week of events with a lot of great resources.  Note these in your diaries and in your school newsletters 🙂

TELEVISION

At noon Sunday March 16th the acclaimed documentary “The Big Picture; Rethinking Dyslexia” will be shown on TV3, so be sure to watch (and record it for your next staff meeting).

SCHOOL RESOURCES

Your school principal and BOT have been sent the Dyslexia Advocacy Week 2014 mail out, so be sure to check that out.

ONLINE RESOURCES

For information on Dyslexia advocacy, look here. You might also like to go take a look at the Dyslexia Foundation NZ web site and also go and ‘like’ the DAW Facebook page so that you can keep up with the latest information.

EVENTS

The following events are taking place for parents – please spread the word:

Tuesday 18th;  “Supporting your Reluctant Learner” – Primary Parents
provider; Positive Participation & Learning with Difference
where; Christchurch 9am – 12pm
LINK: http://www.dyslexiafoundation.org.nz/dyslexiaadvocacy/pdf/PP%20&%20LWD%20SEMINARS%202014-%20LT.pdf

Wednesday 19th;  “iPads for Alternative Learners” – Parent Workshop
provider; eTime
where; Auckland  9am-3pm
LINK: http://www.etime.co.nz/WebSpace/594/

Thursday 20th;  “Dyslexia – Understanding and Action”
provider; Lorna Timms
where; Christchurch 7pm – 9pm, $10
LINK: http://www.dyslexiafoundation.org.nz/dyslexiaadvocacy/pdf/PP%20&%20LWD%20SEMINARS%202014-%20LT.pdf

Friday 21st; “Intro in Specific Learning Difficulties” – Parents
provider; SPELD NZ
where; Auckland – 2 day course
LINK: http://www.dyslexiafoundation.org.nz/dyslexiaadvocacy/pdf/SPELD%20PD.pdf

Sunday 23rd; Christchurch Festival of Education
DFNZ exhibit, Trustees in attendance
LINK: www.christchurchfestivalofeducation.org.nz

Over-emphasis and misapplication of student tests

A warning to those countries (like NZ) that are getting ever more enamoured with the idea of testing.

test paperThe Network for Public Education (NPE)’s first National Conference closed with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing.

Two of the eleven areas the NPE has asked to be looked into are:

  •  Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?
  • Are tests being given to children who are too young?

Testing worldwide has always been part of schooling, and was primarily an in-house, in-class affair that is done, reviewed and acted on by the teacher under the guidance of their team and principal so that the teacher knew what to help the students learn next and students knew where they were at and where they were going.  Surely those two things are by far the most important reasons for testing?

Fight the GERMAs global reforms have taken hold of education, testing has become a stick with which to politically beat schools, teachers. communities, and students.  The system has been taken down the wrong path under extreme pressure from the likes of Pearson, Gates, the Wal-Mart clan, Murdoch, Arne Duncan and other reformers. It’s no understantement to say in some countries, such as the USA and Australia, the tests themselves are less about education and more  a political and money-making tool.

The Network for Public Education (NPE) states:

“True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test.

We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed.

We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.” 

Anthony Cody

I couldn’t agree more.

Take note New Zealand.

answer - test

Sources and further reading:

http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/press-release-npe-calls-for-congressional-hearings/

https://www.facebook.com/networkforpubliceducation

Global Citizenship – Growing children’s compassion, respect and leadership

hands worldThe most valuable skills we can give our children are those that help them care for, understand, and be tolerant of others.  How good we are at reading, running, experimenting, calculating, writing and all that other great stuff is important.  But the value of being a positive global citizen is immeasurable.

What is a global citizen? 

There are many definitions, but in essence it boils down to:

  • caring for ourselves and others, worldwide.
  • understanding that our actions have an impact here and around the world.
  • taking action to build a more just and sustainable world.

You are the changeLEARN MORE

If you are a social media junkie, like myself, you might want to go look at the NZ Global Citizen Facebook page and learn more there.

You might also want to talk to other schools, such as Auckland Girls’ Grammar School or  Tairua Primary School, that have already invested in explicitly exploring and promoting global citizenship, incorporating it into their learning “to develop Global Citizens of the Future, citizens that will contribute to society in diverse and creative ways.”  Look here for information on what Tairua School are doing and how – it’s very inspiring.

FUN WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

global citizensI love the idea of Purple Cake Day.  It’s a charity event that supports children worldwide to receive the education they need to break the poverty cycle and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s about ‘kids helping kids’. The activities celebrate and connect children around the world, helping them learn about their role in the global community, and grow their sense of compassion, respect and leadership. This year’s global Purple Cake Day is Friday March 7th, but if this doesn’t suit you can still get involved – just choose a day and GO PURPLE!  You can find out all about it here.

World Vision run the Kids for Kids annual choir event, with thousands of children singing together.  The Kids for Kids event “encourages young people, their whanau and school communities to make a difference in the lives of children around the globe, through the work of World Vision” and helps “schools introduce the concept of global citizenship” to students.  World Vision provides schools with resources that teachers can use to help students understand and discuss the causes and consequences of global poverty, in order to develop compassion for others and build a desire to take appropriate action.

RESOURCES

Are you a global citizenThere are NZ curriculum resources that look at New Zealand citizenship, but is very much focused on being an NZ citizen rather than a global one.  Nevertheless, it might be a good unit with which to introduce the wider topic, especially given the diverse make up of Aotearoa.

World Vision has a heap of teacher resources on global citizenship, including online games, web links to other students, videos, photo sets, FREE photo posters, student textbooks and teacher resource folders, so there is plenty there for any school to use to start to look at global citizenship

Oxfam has some good resources on its site, much of which are aimed at Britain but that can be used as a good starting point for teachers anywhere.

UN Youth Aotearoa New Zealand  has good information for schools and teachers to review, in order to look at the issues and consider how global citizenship can be included in the school’s vision  and/or planning.  UN Youth’s goal in this is:

The promotion of attitudes that reflect an openness, interest, and positive attitude towards cultural differences. This will empower students who do not have the opportunity to develop such attitudes at home, and will also engage students for whom cross-cultural navigation is a more frequent experience.

NOT JUST SCHOOLS

Tertiary education institutions also support and promote global citizenship.  For example, Auckland University is part of AIESEC New Zealand, which “runs the Global Citizen programme for students of New Zealand tertiary institutes to go abroad and create a positive impact in society while connecting to the local realities of different communities”.  It challenges students to:

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A DIFFERENT CULTURE AND LEARN HOW TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES.

And there it is in a nutshell, what it is all about.  Being more able to see things through other people’s eyes.  That can only ever be a good thing.

 

GO ON – BECOME A GLOBAL CITIZEN.

Further reading and sources:

http://education.citizenship.govt.nz/

http://aiesec.org.nz/global-citizen/

http://unyouth.org.nz/about/the-curriculum

https://www.worldvision.org.nz/events/kids-for-kids.aspx#.Uw-xi_nHngw

http://goodworkorgoodtimes.wordpress.com/what-is-global-citizenship/

https://www.worldvision.org.nz/learn/global-education.aspx#.Uw-zN_nHngw

When young children know they are being graded…

This is a 7 year old child.  Here she is feeling the pressure to be great, to excel, to not get left behind, not be put in extra help.  She has internalised the message that she is being graded – you have to get everything right. Her mother has told her it’s okay to leave the problem, but she won’t. Is this what education is about? Her mother thinks not, I think not, what about you?

Something is seriously wrong when 7 year olds areinternalising educational pressures this way.

Something is seriously wrong when 7 year olds are internalising educational pressures this way.

This child’s mother writes:

This is my daughter … I want to take a moment to explain this image so as those who do not know me, can understand how this image came to be. 

I am a photographer, a hobby farmer, a child advocate and a mother of 3 elementary-aged children. This is my middle child in the photo … she is 7 and is in 2nd grade. My kindergartner and my 4th grader were already finished with their homework and had left the table. I had brought my camera in to work on my white balance skills while shooting in low light as I had a session the next morning to prep for. 

After checking her work, I had found 2 math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong through her process but I don’t understand it myself and was not much help. 

I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school and not be pulled for extra help all of the time. I was talking to her and clicking my camera as I changed settings … it’s something that is very common in our household … and that is when I caught this image. 

Please know that 5 minutes later I had convinced her to leave the homework behind and go snuggle with her dad on the couch and watch some Olympics coverage. She is not neglected. She was not abused or left alone to cry. And this photo was not staged.

This is America with the Common Core.  It will be here in New Zealand soon if we continue to focus only on standards and benchmarks for our primary school children.

Let them learn.  Let them enjoy.  Let them grow.

‪#‎truth‬
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BadAssTeachers/

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