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1. ESL Activities

2. ESL/EFL Institue

3. Let’s Get Quiet

4. Intention

5. A Bilingual Country

6. Sex Ed

7. Writing As a Means to Clearer Thinking

8. Things to Keep in Mind

9. Treading Water

10.  Avoiding Laziness

The Wrap-Up

What I learned from these writing activities was a greater awareness of the field that I am going into. When it comes to education, and especially education reform, everyone has an opinion, and discussions can easily dissolve into heated debates. Like everyone else, I like to think that my views represent sound and good perspectives on education reform. This is where I believe that the comments posted by my peers really help. I think that they encourage my beliefs, challenge them, and add to them. I also think that staying on a concentrated topic or issue really helps the writer gain strong knowledge of that particular area, rather than being all over the place with various issues. Publishing personal blogs is a great way for a writer to share their views with a real audience.

At an Allegan school, one mother is worried that the large class size and overworked teacher is harming her child’s education.  This 5th grade class currently has 32 students, and five of those are special-education students.  After reading those numbers alone, I can already imagine how difficult it must be for the teacher to run an effective classroom while maintaining any sort of personal life.  I already believe that teachers are overworked as it is in respect to pay and overall consideration.  Many people forget that most teachers aren’t merely educators, but also caregivers who go beyond the call of just teaching core subjects.  I think that most of my peers would agree that 32 students, plus 5 special needs students, is a burden too heavy for one teacher.  Even though there is a team-teaching session in the morning, it doesn’t necessarily make up for things in the long run.  The parents main issue is that her child is being neglected of a real education.

“The regular-education teacher “is extremely overloaded,” dealing with the students who need the most immediate attention, resulting in the “middle America kids kind of getting lost in the shuffle,”

This statement reflects a lot of parents fears when it comes to their child’s education.  Many are concerned about their child either being “dummied down” by other students, or being neglected due to other students incompetencies.  I think that school districts need to have clear agendas when it comes to overcrowding in the classroom.  Also, I don’t want to sound like I am putting all of the blame on one person or an administration, because I know that funding for space, and teachers is hard to come by.   The best thing  that we can do is analyze these issues in terms of the “big picture.”

Parent Takes Concern to Allegan School Board

http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1226937129259150.xml&coll=7

I will be straight-forward in my disapproval of Genesse County allowing high school students to be able to take online classes. For the most part I think it is absolutely ridiculous, harmful, and completely ignorant. I am sure that Vygotsky is turning in his grave right about now. There are just too many loopholes that will allow students to cheat and not attend school. I can just imagine many students begging there parents to keep them home so they can look at their “Myspace” for three hours and “Google” their quiz answers in 20 minutes. This type of education will only have students learn facts, and it will not challenge them in real critical thinking and social aptitude.

“one commenter predicted the program would produce “a whole generation of robots, who won’t be able to think without that screen in front of them, and won’t have a clue how to interact with others.”

I couldn’t agree more with this comment, because trends are already showing that students flock to the free information sights when it comes to trouble with homework, rather than consulting a teacher or professor. Some proponents of the online classes say that this will help with bullying and nastiness from other students. I believe that the previous issues are indeed serious, but it will do no good whatsoever to run away from them or to avoid them. In many ways, high school is the learning ground in which we will affected by for the rest of our lives. I can barely think of one person who was not bullied or insulted harshly and personally, and as much as I hate to say it, some of these things are just part of life. Also, traditional education helps gives students structure that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I don’t mean routine, I mean structure. The most that will come from this program is a multitude of blurry-eyed Wikipedia masters.

Genesee County Education Leaders Unveil Online Classroom Program.

http://www.mlive.com/flintjournal/index.ssf/2008/11/genesee_county_education_leade.html

I chose to write about this article because I felt that it was a follow-up to two other articles that I had previously written. The theme that keeps popping up is that not every student is the same, and therefore needs a variety of choices when it comes to their own education. I don’t necessarily think that the parents of these students want to see the core subjects removed from their child’s learning, but their claim that “one size doesn’t fit all” states that they want options for their children. As I found in the other articles regarding school reform, parents and educators are seeking ways to set up vocational programs as a slight alternative to traditional education. They claim that these programs will help students connect to real-world situations and to set them up for success in the workforce. Another key term that I have found and written about in two previous articles is “care.” Most parents think that teachers are merely “going through the motions” when it comes to educating students. In many ways I would agree, but this is brings up many difficult issues such as teachers being overburdened already, and how to exactly foster caring relationships in a safe way.

“The report said that another “resounding theme” through the hearings “was that students needed to feel cared about in order to succeed.”

As I have been reading comments that were posted from peers and also outside viewers, many agree that teachers and students need to foster more caring relationships. Also, many are pushing for programs to help students become part of a community like setting so they are able to relate to other students as students, and to be able to share in personal experiences. Reformers are also calling for workshops that provide parents with necessary information regarding their students education.

New Report on School Dropouts Stresses Importance of Flexibility, Vocational Programs

http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-31/122754361091560.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

Saginaw schools seem to run parent-teacher conferences a little more differently than most schools. I was surprised to see that in this case, it is the students who take a huge part in the parent-teacher conferences because they get to explain to their parents how they are doing in school. In some ways I think this is a positive activity for the students to partake in, because this gets them involved discussing their education performance with both the teacher and their parent(s). One drawback that many of the parents complained about was that there was not enough privacy for parent-teacher interaction and discussion. I could see this as a drawback, because I would imagine that I would want a one-on-one discussion with only the teacher. This would not be done to hide anything from the student, but it might allow the teacher and parent to discuss student behavior that might be a sensitive topic. The parents could then discuss what they feel is necessary to the student after the conference. Another drawback that some of the parents complained about was the lack of time; saying that only a half-day for conferences was not enough.

“Sometimes we kill parent involvement by not running efficient meetings. They are our clients. We must come up with a way to respect the time.” -board president Ronald Spess.

Overall the majority of the parents found this type of conferencing affective, mostly due to the fact that the students are directly involved. The next problem that schools will need to focus on is actually getting the parents to attend the conferences, as in many cases about 30% of parents do not attend. I am wondering if I will see this type of conferencing spread to other schools.

Saginaw Schools See Need for Tweaking Parent-Teacher Conferences

http://www.mlive.com/saginawnews/news/index.ssf/2008/11/saginaw_michigan_schools_see_n.html

One of my earlier posts dealt with the idea of “reinventing high schools” in terms of curriculum and how and what students are being taught. With the 20,000 estimated dropouts this year Michigan, educators are debating on how schools need to be reformed or improved to prevent more dropouts. The huge dropout rates that are occurring in Michigan schools has made many education reformers and politicians wonder what the cause is for this. When the educators decided to ask the students what they felt they needed in terms of school, two responses were love and respect. It seems that students just don’t work well with the sit quiet and learn everything the teacher says approach. Students need more than that, and teachers and also other school staff need to foster better relationships with students. That in itself could be a whole new topic because it raises many issues but for now it will be left at that.

“Organizers of those hearings heard four themes that rose up over and over: Students need caring relationships with adults, schools need multiple approaches, schools must tackle the problem early and community collaboration is key.”

I believe that two of the most important issues out of this quote are the ideas of schools needing multiple approaches and schools tackling the problems early with community collaboration. In the article Koehler states that students who drop out are the ones who feel alone. If this is the case then students need more of a community support in their early years of education that will hopefully carry on throughout their student life. Also, the idea of schools needing multiple approaches to learning is something that I still strongly believe in. This could be anything form offering a more diverse curriculum to offering after-school activities that foster student community. I don’t believe that this is an issue that can be easily solved because the roots of this problem can lie in many places, whether it be at the home, school, or a students social life. Also, one of the factors that needs to be looked at is the fact that many of these students dropping out are coming from low income and poorly funded schools.

Granholm Calls for Action on Dropout Rate

http://www.freep.com/article/20081020/NEWS06/81020061/1001/rss01