Tag Archives: education

My biggest fear this semester was that I would truly struggle to write a blog. I’ve attempted to do so before and failed. Miserably.  So I am very proud of what I have accomplished with my pseudonym in this class. I have come a long way from day one.

It wasn’t easy. There was many times where I had no idea what to write and everything that came out sounded bad and ridiculous. The best way I found to deal with my writer’s block – to walk away, take a break, and begin again when I was much less frustrated.

I learned to always think through my writing and to edit, edit, edit. The first words will never be the final words. Many of my blog posts were only posted after multiple drafts. And they could still use more edits. It is through these drafts that my voice began to develop, little by little.

I originally began writing about public education because I know it is a subject that really needs to be discussed, especially after hearing all the problems Sarah experienced as a new teacher in a new state. However, through my blog, I have discovered that it is not just good enough to discuss something; you must say something as well. I tried to do this and I think I partially succeeded. There are always changes that can be made.

Public education is still a subject that I am passionate about. And I will continue to develop my voice through writing after this class is over. I don’t think my voice is where I want it to be yet, but it will get there, in time. Because this class has shown me the best ways to expand my voice as writer in a more interactive world.

Advertisements

Social Media Campaign

It seems like in some ways, pictures have become just as important as words. Take, for example, the social media campaign the TSA currently is conducting a new campaign through Instagram, to educate the public more on what they can and cannot bring on an airplane. Apparently, this still hasn’t been made clear, even after years of the policies being in place. People are still attempting to bring guns aboard airplanes. Through Instagram, the TSA is posting real items/weapons that have been confiscated at airports around the country. They feel that by showing these pictures, people will gain a better understanding of what is considered a weapon. The TSA already has made use of both Twitter and YouTube in their social media campaign. There are arguments that these campaigns aren’t effective in keeping air travel safer. I, however, think they are more effective than if they didn’t exist.

You really need to take a look at what’s important with today’s public in considering the campaign’s effectiveness – security. Security is one of the number one concerns of people today and the TSA is one of the biggest organizations concerned with the nation’s day-to-day security. And because of issues recently with the TSA, they have gone from being viewed as an agency charged with protecting us and our security to a group of unprofessional government workers. So in a way, these social media campaigns give the TSA a way to connect with their customers, a way to show that they are out protecting us everyday by way of their Instagram account. And if I didn’t know before what I can’t bring on a plane, these Instagram pictures definitely give me a good idea. And the more non-threats the TSA has to deal with, the more they can focus on the real security threats.

As far as my social media campaign is concerned, I would focus on creating a campaign for my InterAction program, mainly through the use of YouTube and Twitter. InterAction is a very visual program, so YouTube would be the best place to showcase demonstrations of the system in its different stages of production. Twitter would just be best to have as a way to keep the public informed during all stages of the process of bringing InterAction into schools, and as a way of gaining support for the program.

Testing

I propose that schools reduce the amount of tests students are required to take. The amount they must take right now is ridiculous. They spend half the school year preparing to take the tests and the other half actually taking the tests. The solution should be simple enough – just cut down how many exams the students must pass to graduate.  In Connecticut, students are required to take a series of state tests, called the CMTs, every other year from grades one through eight. Then, as students enter ninth grade, they have to start preparing to take the state-mandated CAPT in Reading, Writing, Math and Science that they must pass to graduate.  And if they don’t pass, they just continue taking the tests until they do.

Florida is similar. Students there must not only take the state-mandated FCATs to graduate, but for many courses they must pass end-of-course (EOC) exams as well.  Sarah spent most of the last semester of her class with students missing from her classes just to take these tests.  How can students be expected to learn if they are constantly missing lessons to take more tests. No wonder students are struggling in Sarah’s class.

I am not against testing.  Tests in schools are important general indicators of where students are and where they should be. It also lets a school see if a student is truly ready to graduate. However, there is such a thing as too much testing, especially when it begins to interfere with a student’s overall education.

I propose that there only be one series of tests that cover all general areas of education. This test should be standardized nationwide.  One series of tests for all 50 states. Because how can we be expected to compare education standards across states if there is no one standard to judge students by. These tests should be enough to determine if students have learned what they need to graduate high school and move on to the next stage of their life. Because if we continue to test the students too much, these students will stop learning and developing, instead becoming content just to regurgitate what they need to pass the tests.

Midterm Proposal

I chose my topic for this blog with no plans to scrap it completely later if it didn’t work and I am happy to say that I still plan on continuing with my current topic.  It is the right one for me and I like it.  I knew it was the right path to take when I first decided to make it the focus of my blog.

I was worried when we were first charged with picking a topic for a blog.  I have tried to write blogs before, but they all failed.  Horribly failed. But I knew this time that the most important reason for picking it had to be my passion for the subject. My passion would be the only thing that would push me to keep writing even when I was struggling to write.  And I think I chose right.  I feel that this blog has been much more successful than any of my previous attempts because I truly care about my subject.

My voice has changed since the beginning, but not enough to change my overall topic.  I have just become focused more, adding in Sarah’s experiences to make the subject more personal for me.  I plan on going back and rewriting previous posts to fine-tune the focus of my blog.  It’s also important to me that I don’t limit myself in any way.  I don’t want to just talk about the problems with education system – I am not that one-dimensional.  My goal is to talk about Sarah and both her positive and negative experiences with public education.  I want to discuss the issues, but also offer solutions.  I want to show Sarah, just a good teacher who, in spite of obstacles and difficulties, finds ways to help her students learn and grow in a problematic, but not irreparable, educational system.

Here are some topics I plan on going into more depth on:

  • Why testing isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • Funding for public schools
  • Students that don’t want to learn

There will be more, but these are the ones I have in mind right now.

Creativity

Creativity is missing in today’s classrooms, mainly because of the increasing amount of tests students are required to take every year. There is too much testing and too little creative, innovative thinking.  Here I want to make my stance clear: I am not against testing in schools.  My reasons for this I will talk about in a future post.  But I do need to say in this one, that testing is a big reason why creativity and originality have left the schools.  Tests are good for judging student progress, in small doses, but creativity is an important part of the learning process and shouldn’t be replaced by more tests. Creativity works students’ brains in different ways than testing does, which helps develop their brains even more.  Schoolwork becomes more interesting and personal when creativity is brought to the material; students learn and understand more when the material is personally interesting to them.

When I was in elementary school, I became lucky enough to be involved in the district’s gifted program, a program that let a small number of students, once a week, go into a separate classroom with separate teachers and work on more personal and creative projects.  We were allowed to choose what we wanted to learn and study and we had a large amount of materials to work with to create anything we wanted. One year, my friend and I did a project on Braille and even were able to work with a machine that created Braille.  I loved being in that program because we got to work outside the confines of our elementary school classrooms and do something besides homework and tests and worksheets. I wish these approach to learning to be brought more into regular classrooms so every student can benefit.

Sarah is doing a lot to try and bring more fun and interesting activities into her classroom to encourage her students to want to learn.  At the beginning of the year, she had her students build catapults when they were learning about force and momentum.  Then they were able to bring the catapults out onto a field and spent the class period launching balls and calculating different physics problems. Many of her students loved the project because it was a more interesting way to learn the physics behind the real-world without spending all their time calculating problems on paper.  Sarah has also decided that for next year she is going to create  a theme for each of her units. Next year’s theme is going to be Star Wars – every unit’s PowerPoint slides have Star Wars backgrounds and every physics problem will involve Star Wars references.  It is an interesting way to help her students become more interested in a topic that many consider difficult.