Education In Today's Modern World

Elizabeth Faber, Melissa Jenness, Martha Larmon, Vicki Flink

Introduction

There is no doubt that teaching is a rewarding profession. Many educators would agree that they chose a teaching career because helping children succeed is a great feeling. Along with the joys also come the challenges, as with any profession. There are several issues facing students and educators today that did not exist twenty years ago. The following presentation will address ten components of modern education that teachers and students are facing, and what the research says about these issues.

Technology

*Technology is a valuable tool in helping to meet those needs. It is important for teachers to understand that technology is not meant “to teach”, but to assist teachers in providing lessons that are more engaging and meaningful for students raised in the age of technology. West and Bleiberg give us possible ideas on how to decide the best way to implement technology in the classroom:


  • Schools must use technology that empowers teachers. Technology can be used to connect teachers and communities for collaboration.
  • Teachers should treat the adoption of technology as part of lesson planning. There are many programs that can be used in the different stages of lessons planning. (i.e. assessment, modeling, guided practice, independent practice, etc.)
  • Teachers should not fear open-source technologies. Open-source technologies can be used as valuable resources to teachers. They can also can be used in very cost effective ways.
  • Use online education portfolios to evaluate students. Portfolios have been used for many years to assess student growth. Online portfolios offer more avenues for students to compile their portfolios.
  • Teachers should embrace the Common Core State Standards. “From a technical perspective, standards facilitate the development of new technologies. Innovators can focus on developing tools that better serve students rather than solving technical challenges of interoperability created by multiple sets of standards.” (West & Bleiberg 2013)
  • Lytle’s article describes “Stacey Roshan, an Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Bullis School—a private school for students grades three through 12 in Potomac, Md.—facing the problem of trying to keep her students engaged as she walked them through the difficult mathematics curriculum. To meet the needs of her students, Roshan made radical changes to her lesson plans. Using Camtasia Studio, a screen recording and video editing program, Roshan uploaded her lectures to iTunes and assigned them as homework.” (Lytle 2011)
  • Roshan found a 10 percent increase in her test scores after having implemented technology into her lessons. She found students more engaged and asking probing questions about the content.
  • Technology offers many more resources for students and teachers. There are a variety of technology available to accommodate many budgets. Teachers can use technology to make learning more meaningful and purposeful.

Inclusion

  • Many parents of students diagnosed with a disability prefer to send their children to specialized charter schools. Some experts point out that federal law and research show us that students should be integrated with their “average” peers as much as possible in order to encourage appropriate socialization.
  • The debate is how we best meet the needs of our students. If students are separated in a “distraction-free” environment with individualized instruction, they may be able make more academic content. However, students should have the opportunities as their typically developing peers, and should therefore be involved in the classroom with those peers.
  • “The worry is that we will move back into a separate environment, and there's a fear that separate is not equal," Ms. Jones said. "It's a complicated discussion because parents are choosing it [the special charter school] where it exists." (Prothero 2014)
  • “The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires that students with disabilities be taught in the "least restrictive environment" that's appropriate for their needs. Generally, that means alongside their typically developing peers at least some of the time, depending upon the severity of their disabilities.” (Prothero 2014)

  • In order to make inclusion more successful, teachers must work together to create a social climate where students feel safe and supported.
  • Dr. Lerman, from the Inclusive Schools Climate Initiative (ISCI), a pilot project at Rutgers University, offers ideas on how to include students with disabilities in the general education classroom. (Elias 2013)
  • Increasing inclusion in elective classes, such as choir and art, by increasing the number of students with disabilities involved and engaged in these activities alongside students in general education programs. “Buddying” in these specialized classes is a very effective support strategy that benefits all involved.
  • Creating a more inclusive UNITY Club to recognize and appreciate the differences between people. Unity Clubs usually focus on cultural and ethnic diversity.
  • Implementing a mentoring program where high school students with disabilities mentor middle school students with and without disabilities in an after-school program.
  • Encouraging opportunities of collaboration between the general education and special education teachers.



School Climate/Bullying

  • disruption, have contributed to low achievement in schools and to significant numbers of students who exhibit social and behavioral problems.” ( Maury Nation, Leslie Collins, Carol Nixon, Kimberly Bess, Sydney Rogers, Neeley Williams, and Paul Juarez, 2010.)

  • Organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters collaborating with schools is an example of how school and community work together to improve school climate.

  • Groups such as these help address problems facing today’s youth and the problems they face. Helping them make appropriate choices and teaching them to think through their problem and possible outcomes is a tool these organizations give to their participants.

  • By maximizing the collaboration between schools and community organizations student support increases which often leads to academic and psychosocial improvements.

  • Schools must build on assets and strengths within the community, facilitate participation and colaboration with community members, and use action and knowledge to benefit all partners.

  • All community members must be welcome to assist in issues being addressed. (parents, school district leadership, community organizations, local businesses, universities, and city government.)

  • Within schools it is important they have a professionally trained coordinator and a core team that is able to link students with specific needs to the appropriate service in the community.

  • All school staff must be aware and implement common language and promote positive adult/child relationships. “The effort to improve school climate includes staff development to engage principals and teachers in promoting positive adult/child relationships…” (Maury Nation, Leslie Collins, Carol Nixon, Kimberly Bess, Sydney Rogers, Neeley Williams, and Paul Juarez, 2010.)

  • “There is a benefit to and a need for schools to develop a strategy that addresses the social and emotional climate of school, optimizes use of internal and external resources, and cultivates its connection with parents and the community.” (Maury Nation, Leslie Collins, Carol Nixon, Kimberly Bess, Sydney Rogers, Neeley Williams, and Paul Juarez, 2010.)

Extended School Day/Year

  • “...the bulk of the research suggesting that increased time in school does not lead to academic gains.” (Evans, William and Bechtel, David, 2007.)

  • Increasing the number of days or extending the school day could cost as much as 25% (between $20-$22 billion).

  • Alternatives to increasing school days/house”


* Use joint programs between school and community. This gives at risk students the opportunity to get extra help as well as gives them a safe environment while building positive relationships within the community.


* Rearrange the school schedule. To decline the “summer loss” all kids experience during the summer months, schools can rearrange their school schedule to incorporate more frequent smaller breaks within the school year. This will make school more consistent throughout the year while not increasing operation costs by increasing the number of school days or extending school daily hours.


*Rearranging school hours would possibly “...decrease student vandalism to school property that occurs over the summer months and diminish teacher burn-out by allowing more scheduled breads in the school year.” (Evans, William and Bechtel, David, 2007.)


*The number of hours spent in school is not the issue, the number of hours spent delivering quality instruction is the real issue.

Meaningful and Focused Teacher Training

  • “Hiring new teaching staff is repeatedly said to be the most important thing any K-12 school administrator does.” ( Dr. Thomas Ross Hughes, 2014.)

  • A more consistent teacher training system needs to be put into place in our nation.

  • Increasing training teachers time with students in classrooms will decrease the “first year survival” feelings and mistakes made by new teachers.

  • Insuring new teachers have a mentor in their first two years to whom they can communicate daily with to help with questions and struggles they will face. Along with a mentor, there needs to be a mentoring program they will attend for those two years to familiarize themselves with proceedures within the district.

  • These mentoring programs should be similar across the nation, therefore there needs to be a structure set for school districts to follow.

  • Principals need to be trained properly to hire new teachers. “The most glaring concern that appeared and continues to this very day is the lack of consistent and preparatory training for professionals who will be responsible for critical teacher hiring decisions. ( Dr. Thomas Ross Hughes, 2014.)

  • Many teachers are not trained to fulfill the responsibilities they are held accountable today. Proof is in the numbers: one out of every three teachers are likely to leave the profession in the next five years. Many of these teachers leave because of the high stress/responsibilities they encounter and low pay.

  • Universities need to work closely with school districts to get their potential teachers into the classrooms to practice their learned skills and understand the reality teaching is today.


Less Assessing/More Teaching

*National Research Council (2011) “The emphasis on testing yielded little learning progress, but caused significant harm.”


*Negative consequences include: narrowing curriculum, teaching to the test, pushing students out of school, driving teachers out, undermining student engagement and school climate.


*Low-income and minority students are most affected by testing.


*Schools, teachers and administrators feel enormous pressure from test scores. Schools may narrow curriculum to match the test and teachers may only teach what is on the next test.


*Low-income schools may conform to the multiple-choice format. What is being taught looks a lot like test-prep. High performing schools want to stay at the top so they also focus their teaching around the test.


*The US is the only economically advanced nation to rely on multiple-choice tests. Other nations use performance based assessment that includes students real work. This real work includes: essays, projects and activities.

Smaller Class Sizes

*Student achievement goes hand in hand with small class sizes and quality of teaching.


*Researchers define “small class” as a class size less than 20 students.


*Studies have shown how small class sizes can be beneficial to students.


*Student gains are generally present when class sizes are less than 20 and these gains are stronger in the early grades.


*Gains are also noticed in minority and immigrant students in smaller class sizes.


*Gains from class size in early grades will continue in the upper grades. Students will be less likely to be retained, stay in school and earn better grades.


*According to a study by the American Journal of Public Healthy show reducing class size can be more cost-effective than most public health and medical interventions. This is due from students in smaller class sizes are more likely to graduate high school, and and high school graduates earn more and have better health than high school drop outs.


*Researchers believe students have better achievement in smaller class sizes because more interaction between student and teacher.


*Teachers feel less overwhelmed and provide a supportive environment.


*Researcher Frederick Mosteller says “Reducing the size of classes in the early grades reduce the distractions in the room and gives the teacher more time to devote to each child.”


*Over half of the states have class-size reduction programs in their schools.

Teacher Collaboration

*Research shows that mandatory teacher collaboration or “professional learning communities” get results.


*In many high achieving schools teachers think of their teaching as public learning and not private.


*The best teachers become coaches with collaboration.


*Author Fullan writes in All Systems Go, “The power of collective capacity is that it enables ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things, for two reasons, One is that knowledge about effective practice becomes more widely available and accessible on a daily basis. The second reason is more powerful still — working together generates commitment.”

Common Core State Standards


*For several years now, the position of American schools has declined compared to other countries.

*Following the severe economic recession in 2008, the Obama Administration employed the Race to the Top fund to encourage states to apply for grants to pursue reforms by adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace.

*Adopting the CCSS was a requirement for states applying for the federal Race to the Top funds.

Should Schools Adopt the Common Core? Research Says Yes...


* Common Core State Standards are:


- aligned with college and work expectations
- clear, understandable, and consistent
include rigorous content and application of
knowledge through high-order skills
- building upon strengths and lessons of current state
standards
- they are informed by other top-performing
countries, so students are prepared in our global
economic society


*The Common Core State Standards are an opportunity for rigorous content in all schools regardless of other factors such as student backgrounds and achievement scores.

*They are designed to prepare students for "real world" expectations, prepare students for college, and grow up to be competent, literate adults.

*When all schools across the nation are utilizing Common Core Standards as a framework to create highly effective and engaging lessons based on creativity, problem solving, and analyzing, the struggling schools will have the curriculum to help turn their schools around.


*In order to successfully implement the CCSS, teachers need ample opportunities to study and plan for implementation. Teachers need time for extensive group planning, access to a variety of instructional resources, and necessary funding.

*A recent study by the Center of Education Policy (Kober & Rentner, 2012) found that providing professional development in sufficient quality and quantity will be a challenge for many states.

*While the CCSS have been successful in many states, some drawbacks to the curriculum have been noted:

-Severe lack of funding for much-needed professional development

-The CCSS in math require a significant shift in many teachers' thinking and approaches to mathematics.

-Teachers need meaningful, sustainable, and long-term professional development to implement the new standards with fidelity, however, many schools cannot afford to train their staff.


Research Says No...
According to the article, Escape from Childhood, by John Holt:
"Young people should have the right to control and direct their own learning, that is, to decide what they want to learn, and when, where, how, how much, how fast, and with what help they want to learn it."

Further research states...

The Common Core State Standards are described to be a "one-size-fits-all", centrally controlled curriculum.
-No constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, assessments, or curricula.
- No consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
-No evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students due to diverse needs.
-The CCSS are not a curriculum, but rather, a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help students succeed.

*There are six essential tasks K-5 teachers need to engage (McLaughlin & Overturf, 2012):

1. Understand the College and Career Readiness Standards to understand the Common Core expectations.

2. Within each category, teachers need to understand the subcategories of how the standards are structures and what the more specific expectations are.

3. Read to understand what each grade level fully encompasses, and ensure all preceding standards are being met.

4. Within each standard and across standards, know what to teach students to help increase their understanding.

5. Assess students in relation to their knowledge of the standards to plan effective instruction. Background information is to be assessed before educators can begin teaching the CCSS.

6. Formative assessments are needed to measure student progress. International Reading Association (2012), states that formative assessments are used to obtain information about aspects of students' literacy.

Examples: Observations, Tickets Out, Retelling, Concept Webs, Semantic Questions Map, Bookmarking, Journal Entries, and Summaries


"Automatic actions are at the heart of any skill. When we act skillfully, we are not consciously aware, much like many of us can drive a car without attending to the task, arriving home without memory of being on the road. When encountering road construction, however, we must shift attention to focus more directly on driving. In doing so, we act as strategic drivers." (Feiker & Saternus, 2013, p. 560).


With the Common Core State Standards Initiative, students who are college and career ready can be characterized as the following (McLaughlin & Overturf, 2012):

- Independent
- Building strong content knowledge
- Responding to various demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline
- Comprehending as well as critiquing
- Valuing evidence
- Using technology and digital media strategically and capably
- Understanding other perspectives and cultures


*Tom Loveless, a former elementary school teacher and senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education at The Brookings Institution, looked into studies from the past to determine if the Common Core would produce more learning as well.
He learned that schools and districts in every state have been operating under common standards for years, so the Common Core itself will not necessarily increase academic achievement.

*While there are both pros and cons in implementing the CCSS, most educators would agree that the main goal is to make sure students succeed. Several studies have shown benefits of the Common Core, and studies have also shown downsides.

*Almost every state has adopted the Common Core; many have seen growth in student performance.

*Differentiating is crucial for students with special needs and English Language Learners, which is emphasized in the curriculum.


*As an educator, think about your views on the Common Core State Standards. Is it working in your district? Are professional development needs being met?


*With effective implementation of the CCSS, utilization of collaboration, student-centered learning, RTI processes, and effective professional development, the academic road for all schools and all students can lead to success.


Social Media

* With the consistent increase in social media websites, educators can find themselves in a tricky situation. Many teachers would agree that if an educator activates a social media account, such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, then it can put the teacher in a questionable situation of ethics.


*While some schools ban teachers from using any form of social media, some schools use these websites to promote positive events going on in their schools.


*According to Carl Korn, a spokesman for New York State United Teachers,

“Social media has become part of everyone's everyday life. Teachers are struggling to find the right balance — or deciding not to participate — because while there are rewards, there are also risks.” (USA Today.com)


*Some tips for teachers who use social media websites, according to the National Education Association:


  • Never "friend" a student on a social media sight
  • Any questionable photos or comments should be deleted or not posted to begin with
  • Teachers are examples for our youth, so making sure to update profile settings to "private" or a limited audience, will help alleviate some worry
  • Teachers can choose not to join social media websites at all, or if they choose to, they can take a look at Ning.com, where educators can create their own social network around a specific topic. Ning groups can be as open or exclusive (even invitation-only)


*In today's world of modern technology, most professionals may opt for a social media account, as long as they are promoting themselves, or their workplace, in a positive way.


*Many educators like the notion of sharing ideas with others through social media, teaching blogs, or educational websites that share lesson plans and materials (such as TeachersPayTeachers.com)

Conclusion

While teaching can have daily challenges, especially with these current issues in today's society, many teachers are utilizing the resources they have, collaborate with each other, and work hard to help students succeed. Teachers have a unique opportunity to use modern technology and current issues to further educate their students to be well-rounded individuals. The more educated teachers can be themselves, the more they will be able to help students, build positive relationships with them, and help them achieve success.

References


Smaller Class Sizes:

GreatSchools Staff. "How Important Is Class Size?" Great Schools. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://greatschools.org>.


Teacher Collaboration

Burns, Melinda. "Teacher Collaboration Gives Schools Better Results." Pacific Standard of Society. N.p., 22 Aug. 2011. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.psmag.com/magazines/pacific-standard-cover-story/teacher-collaboration-gives-schools-better-results-34270/>


Less Assessing

"How Standardized Testing Damages Education." FairTest The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. N.p., July 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://fairtest.org/how-standardized-testing-damages-education-pdf>.


Extended School day/hours:


Extended School Day/Year Programs: A Research Syntheses. Spotlight on Student Success. Evans, William and Bechtel, David, 2007.


Meaningful and Focused Teacher Training:


National Council of Professors of Educational Administration: Hiring At Risk: Time to Ensure Hiring Really Is the Most Important Thing We Do. Dr. Thomas Ross Hughes, 2014.


School Climate/Bullying


Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action Plan: A Community-Based Participatory Approach to Youth Development and School Climate Change: The Alignment Enhanced Service Project. Maury Nation, Leslie Collins, Carol Nixon, Kimberly Bess, Sydney Rogers, Neeley Williams, and Paul Juarez, 2010.


Technology

Berger, M & Moss, M. (2014).Five Ways To Bring Technology into the Classroom Without the Gadgets. Huff Post.


Lytle, R. (2011). Study: Emerging Technology Has Positive Impact in Classroom. US News.


Inclusion

Prothero, A. (2014). Special Education Charters Renew Inclusion Debate. Education Week.

Elias, M. (2013). Special Education: Promoting More Inclusion at Your School. Edutopia.


Social Media

Simpson, M. (2014). Social networking nightmares. National Education Association. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/38324.htm


Grisham, L. (2014). Teachers, students, and social media: Where's the line? USA Today News. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/12/schools-draw-social-media-line-between-teachers-kids/18937229/


Common Core State Standards

Abbeduto, L. and Symons, F. (2014). Should schools adopt a common core
curriculum? In L. Editor & F. Editor (Eds.),Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Educational Psychology (pp. 175-187). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.


Busch, S., Macneil, A., & Prater, D. (n.d.). The effects of school culture and
climate on student achievement. International Journal LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION. Retrieved from http://donnieholland.wiki.westga.edu/file/view/school+culture+climate+&+achievement.pdf


Koonce, G. L. (2014). Taking sides (Eighteenth ed.). USA: McGraw Hill Education.
Feiker, A. and Saternus, K. (2013). Mind the comprehension iceberg: Avoiding
titanic mistakes with the CCSS.
Reading Teacher, 66 (7), 558-568. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database (EBSCOhost).


McLaughlin, M. and Overturf, B. (2012). The common core: Insights into the K-5
standards. Reading Teacher, 66 (2), 153-164. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database (EBSCOhost).

Watt, M. (n.d.). The Common Core State Standards Initiative: An Overview.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative: An Overview. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED522271.pdf


Meador, D. (n.d.). Controversial common core: What you should know before
taking sides. About.com Teaching. Retrieved from http://teaching.about.com/od/assess/f/What-Are-Some-Pros-And-Cons-Of-The-Common-Core-Standards.htm


Pattison, C., & Berkas, N. (2000). Critical issue: Integrating standards into the
curriculum. Critical Issue: Integrating Standards into the Curriculum
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