education & tech

mLearning, teacher, scholar, social media

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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"Teaching FOR the Test And Teaching TO the Test"

During the edchat, a collaborative tool for teachers, and followed on Twitter this last Tuesday, Theresa Gray was contributing to the conversation with thoughtful questions and facts that we had to continue our own research to understand better what she was talking about. The topic for the online meeting was: What is the role of standardized testing in education?

@theresagrayTheresa stated : "Teaching FOR the test and teaching TO the test are two very different things! Don't need a unit name for that!" but she also questioned the terminology, she thinks teachers some times get confused with wordy and take as synonyms the words, evaluation, testing and assessment. The concepts of testing and assessment still today, continue to be considered interchangeable by many, although they have incredibly different definitions and educational values attached to each of them. If we are to promote the clarity of performance in our students and schools, then we likely want to consider being clear in our own word choices.

As some brought to our attention during the #edchat , the topic turned to be more debated that expected, as always, when education community touches the words 'evaluation' and 'tests', everyone sets themselves at ease. Moreover, what exactly do standardized test and assessment mean? And what impact do the use and understanding of these terms have on educational and promotion decision-making?

We had to turn to the The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing in order to help ourselves about definitions. They define test as "an evaluative device or procedure in which a sample of an examinee's behavior in a specified domain is obtained and subsequently evaluated and scored using a standardized process." While the assessment is defined as "any systematic method of obtaining information from tests and other sources, used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, objects, or programs."

The disenchantment many participants felt that day was evident. They would likely change that way the use and applied standardized test but there is no much they can do, since is the government and test designers who have the last word on decisions of this magnitude. Assessment and testing are part of curriculum, but when designers pay little to any attention to teachers, parents, students and society, there are very few option to improve American schools and education. I am sorry Mr. Duncan.

In a interview conceded to Scholastic, Grant Wiggins considered a guru on the assessment matters, said: "When teachers assess student performance, they're not placing value or judgment on it — that's evaluating or grading. They're simply reporting a student's profile of achievement."

Regarding the teaching FOR/TO the test brought by Gray, he points out:
Many teachers think that they have to teach worse in order for their students to get better scores on standardized tests. Not true. The tests are usually simplistic and generic, so if teachers have a rigorous local curriculum and assessment system, their students should do very well. The test designers aren't interested in teaching through the test — all they're trying to do is find the quickest and easiest way of getting at some basic skills. Teachers' standards should be much higher than the test designers' standards, which are minimal.
Teachers work in different ways to create their profiles, develop their own assessment and even evaluate. It is also dependable on what each state allows and directs, but all professional of education need to look besides their classroom, there are not only social and professional responsibilities but legal connotations, as well. It is quite easy to implement and apply standardized tests but requires incredible work to gather evidence of student performance over a period of time to measure learning and understanding, despite all psychological terminology involved.

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Learning Isn't For Nine Months; It's Forever

Jay Mathews of The Washington Post writes "he liked showing up the first day of school with a fresh binder and newly sharpened pencils." as much as today's kids love it, but Mathews also rise concerns: "How would school have turned out for me if I had been able to ignore what grade I was in and skip ahead to the pleasures of J.D. Salinger, or stay out on the ball field for a week until I finally learned how to catch a fly ball?"

And he goes on models and the experiential education proclaimed by John Dewey. However this is the part that really make us think about our practice:

...We should keep in mind how artificial that learning environment is compared with what students will find as adults. At The Post, for instance, I have had to learn to blog. For a while, I pretended that I did not have to do this. When I finally, grudgingly, started writing blog posts, I acted as if they were just short stories for the paper. I sent them to my editor and asked him to put them on my blog. I put off learning to do it myself. I used vacation, bad weather or sniffles to excuse myself from training. But I wasn't in school anymore. The Post wasn't going to give me a report card with a C-minus in blogging and ask me to do better next year.

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Getting Prepared to the Parent Teacher Conferences

Some states already started the new year but others are still waiting for the back to school day, next week. When you are an experienced teacher meetings may sound as routine, but for new teachers and those who had moved for any other reasons, the PTC may result frustrating. Personally, I still remember when I had to stand up in front of about 20 curious parents, really looking forward to meet their sons' teachers. They kept asking me more question that I could really answer. It was at the beginning of the year 2003. I could barely remember their son's names or identify the by their name. Imagine.

So we thought it will of the interest of many of our readers (mostly teachers and educators)to read what was the experience alike ours, of They Call Me a Teacher's author, who "recently moved to NYC from out-of-state, where he learned how to be a teacher and taught for a year before deciding to head to New York City:"

  • Had a few conferences with parents who don't speak English (that happens in some places in the Midwest, just not something I had experienced). The language barrier makes communication so difficult for us. So often I find myself wishing I would have acquired Spanish through college.

  • Parents asking two young children-less women for parenting advice. I came prepared this time. Told a few parents to take away privileges (those things the kids are using as excuses for not doing homework... TV in particular). I was very adamant. I would have never taken that stance with parents of last year's students. They would have thought I'd crossed the line. This year, I feel like some of these parents have let their kids do what they please to the point of no control. One parent was proud of herself for following through with a 4 day punishment. She usually lets her student off within the day.

  • A while back, we were even offered money from a student in trade for a good report. Laughable. The parent laughed about it. We also confirmed that the student had been forging the parent's signature. These kids....

  • Some of the parents told the same stories as we heard last set of conferences... I guess some things never change. Interesting when they go on and on about how bad their student is at home, when they aren't a problem at school. Not really sure how to respond to that information, other than try to encourage the student to behave at home...

  • A few parents showed their violent sides. Threatening to beat their children, cursing them right in front of us (the F-bomb took me by surprise a few times!). We'll be keeping our eyes on those kids for any scratches and bruises. I was a bit scared of this violence. Sadly, it seems to be a norm with this community.

  • Got in trouble for asking for supplies... Got them anyway. What's a teacher to do when students seem to eat pencils daily? (Wish I knew the hidden hole these pencils get hidden in, because I'd love to discover the mounds that must be collecting somewhere. That or they literally eat them.) Students have to write, right? Then again, this is me asking a question that seems to make sense, when I work in a place that does the opposite of anything that makes sense!

And there is more here.
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