Posts Tagged ‘Teachers’

On October 22, 2009, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a speech about teacher preparation that many say was a wake-up call for those in education. Duncan mentions in his speech “that many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom.”

Duncan discusses three major challenges in education that make the need to improve teacher preparation programs more important than ever. He mentions that the education that Americans received in the past just will no longer be acceptable and that every child should be receiving the same quality education, although many are not. He also mentions that the dropout rate for high school students is too high and that “nearly 30 percent of our students today drop out or fail to complete high school on time—that is 1.2 million kids a year. Barely 60 percent of African-American and Latino students graduate on time—and in many cities, half or more of low-income teens drop out of school.”

For more information about Duncan’s speech, visit: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/10/10222009.html and let NSSEA know your thoughts.

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Do boys and girls learn differently online? According to an article recently published in Education Week, some educators say they do. The article, “E-Learning Gender Factor” by Michele R. Davis, discusses ways some educators are examining how girls and boys learn differently in an online environment.

The reporter mentions Michigan Virtual University, an online virtual school for boys. The school began a course that incorporates mathematics and baseball in hopes to keep boys interested in learning math. The course spotlights baseball statistics, base running, coaching decisions, and baseball design. The article also talks about recently launched virtual private schools for girls that helps keep them interested in science and mathematics.

Davies interviews Kelley King, associate director of the Gurian Institute, about the differences in the way boys and girls learn. She mentions that girls are much better note-takers then boys. In addition, boys have a tendency to need more visual aids and movement. She reveals that online classes for boys usually have more games, videos, stimulations, and lessons that incorporate competition among the young males. Lessons for girls on the other hand usually focus on collaboration and working together.

What do you think about the differences in which boys and girls learn in an online environment?

 For more information about the article, visit: http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2009/10/21/01e-gender.h03.html and let NSSEA know your thoughts!

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According to a large-scale study backed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Department of Education, video and interactive games are beneficial and effective in teaching disadvantaged preschool students literacy skills needed to succeed in kindergarten.

The study incorporated three PBS produced television shows “Sesame Street,” “Between the Lions,” and “Super Why!” in efforts see what affect video and interactive games had on preschoolers’ development of early reading skills.

Eighty classes at forty-seven different centers participated in the spring 2009 study and for 10 weeks, preschool teachers and students were randomly assigned to use a technology-supported science curriculum or a technology-supported literacy curriculum.

Out of the 398 children who participated in the study, those who participated in the literacy curriculum outscored children in the science curriculum on four important measures. These measures include: the ability to name letters, know the sounds associated with those letters, recognize letters in their own names, and understand basic concepts about stories and printed words.

For more information about the study, visit http://cct.edc.org/ready_to_learn.asp and let NSSEA know your thoughts!

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On October 20, 2009 Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will participate in a town hall meeting where he will engage teachers across the America about the future of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

 The town hall meeting is set to occur at 8:00pm eastern time and will be televised live on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) station WETA. During the discussion, Duncan will be taking comments and questions from teachers via video, email, telephone and from the studio audience and viewers will have the opportunity to listen to the perspective of teachers and their views about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

 This town hall meeting is a series of discussions that the secretary will have with various education groups in efforts to further the discussion on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

For more information about this upcoming town hall meeting, visit: http://www.edgovblogs.org/duncan/2009/09/town-hall-with-teachers-join-the-discussion/ and for more information about other discussions occurring later this year, visit: http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml.

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Yes, schools across the country are grappling with budget cutbacks during tough economic times. Truncated school weeks have aided some districts, while others have renegotiated school bus routes, and even increased the price of a school lunch. Now, teachers in Georgia schools must brace for yet another setback. In an effort to save about $200 million, the state could very well enforce six annual furlough days.


The unpaid mandatory leave isn’t sitting well with many teachers’ groups, who believe those extra days are necessary for working with students and planning lessons. However, there are those educators who believe implementing furlough days is a necessary solution to an unprecedented problem. States are searching for all kinds of measures to reduce—or at least halt—budget deficits. The money has to come from somewhere, so whatever decision is made, someone is bound to lose.

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Rebecca Haden

A Plus Educational Supply, Harrison, Arkansas


Read the New Year’s predictions for education, and you’ll see just one thing: technology.  The importance of technology in the classroom. The likely effects of having a tech-savvy new president. The difference plugged-in students make to teaching. The value of the networked teacher. The empowering effect of the internet for teachers and students.


And yet, in the school supply stores, software sits on the shelves. You’d think that the great majority of purchases would be high-tech. We’re just not seeing that at A Plus Educational Supply, and the colleagues we’ve spoken with agree with us.


Why is this?


Yesterday, I was at a meeting with a roomful of teachers, and I think I see the reason.


First, the hosts had a lot of trouble with the machinery. I didn’t want to butt in, but I did go turn on the computer and projector for them after they decided to call IT. I could just imagine how the IT guys would feel, two days before classes began, traipsing up three floors to find the “on” button for us.


Then one presenter after another had further trouble. Figuring out how to run a slideshow. Finding the file. Finding the way back to the right screen after clicking a link. Making a screen large enough to be legible.


In the discussions, teachers talked about how important technology is in their classrooms. And also about how limited they are in their skills with it. When I asked what software they were using, the teachers agreed that they had MS Office, and what their students could find for them online. One teacher, who teaches writing in a computer lab, marveled at her students’ ability to find interesting applications. She mentioned virtual pets and video, which is kind of like being impressed by the students’ ability to find soft drinks.


I am not being snarky about teachers’ skills with technology. I’m saying that the focus in schools is on hardware, not on software or even on training. Putting funds into hardware gives you higher scores on school scorecards, even if the staff can’t figure out how to turn the machines on. Teachers learn the few things they need to know in order to be able to do a small number of classroom tasks, and leave it at that. In many cases, they rely on their students to find the “on” buttons for them.


Since they’re not fully comfortable with the machinery, the teachers can’t find, evaluate, or buy software, and they don’t demand that the schools do so, either. IT workers who spend their time finding “on” buttons aren’t motivated to find suitable software, either.


The result: software developers don’t have financial motivation to design good things for the classroom. Unsurprisingly, educational software continues to be poor in quality and design compared with programs developed for business. This discourages even tech-savvy teachers from spending their own money on software, adding to the supply and demand problem. We have a vicious circle here, and it isn’t good for the schools any more than it is for the retailers.


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Emily Raij

Maupin House

A new law in Florida requires every district in the state to set up an online school for K-8 students. As explained in this Orlando Sentinel article, the law “is designed to give parents more choice in how their elementary- and middle-school children are educated full time.” An adult is required to be at home to help with instruction, but the program provides students with computers, Internet service, books, and supplies. Students are still tested regularly, given report cards, and required to take the state comprehensive assessment exam.


More choices for education seems like a good thing, and new virtual schools for K-8 will target a wider demographic than their virtual high school predecessors, which were initially often aimed at older students who dropped out and wished to continue their education without returning to the classroom. Newer and better virtual education programs have the capability to provide greater course selection than traditional schools—from more Advanced Placement or remedial classes to subjects for which schools don’t have certified instructors or class time to teach. And students whose schedules have been affected by illness, family travel, or other circumstances will appreciate the flexible schedule and environment of a virtual school. Bullying might also see a much needed downturn.


There are some concerns, however. An obvious one is the more limited social interaction kids will be getting by not leaving their homes to go to school. Parents will have to actively seek out opportunities for their children to get together with friends, participate in clubs, and just get outdoors. Perhaps parents will decide to group their kids together for virtual school in the same way that many homeschools currently do. This would allow students to learn alongside their peers and prevent parent educators from feeling isolated as well. Quality is another issue, but virtual teachers will still need certification and students will still need to meet state requirements for advancing to the next grade.

So what does this mean for educational supply dealers and publishers? Do more products need to be geared toward parents and the homeschool market? Will e-books and other resources that don’t require an overhead projector, photocopier, and other school equipment be more in demand? Since online schools have provided opportunities for teachers to work from home by virtually supervising instruction, grading assignments, and meeting with students, what new materials will teachers need to succeed in the virtual classroom? Although Florida is a leading state in the movement, success in the Sunshine State could mean a lot more virtual classrooms in the coming years, especially in areas with poor public school performance. This is one trend that everyone involved in education must adapt to.


If you are a publisher or supplier that has already made changes—or if you have ideas on how to transition into the virtual education market—please post your comments and tips here.




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