Education & Tech

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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 L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a 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 blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Mr. President, Please Put Faith in Public Schools

What everybody else would think of the defense of public education when is the President, in first place, who decides not to send his daughters to one single public school in the surroundings of the Capitol?

When asked why he didn't send his daughters to a public school in DC he fumbles...

In one breath he says DC schools aren't up to par. Then he says that there are individual good public schools in DC and in every city in the country. Then he says its hard to get into such schools, due to lotteries, etc. Then he says "given his position" he could get his girls into any school. Then he sort of mumbles about how all schools need to be better and that DC schools aren't there yet.

Don't you think that just by virtue of the President putting his kids in public school they would step it up? Put faith in the Public School system.

Should people in positions of power and privileged use the public school system? Should politicians?

This note first appeared on

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REBEL: Reform from Educational Bloggers Links of Educational Suggestions

The online discussion for a national education reform has caught fire nationwide. But as I said on Twitter, continuing to rely on tradition and interests groups to set education policy is like using astrology to design a space program.

I am pleased to see more media coverage of the topic around education reform. There was de Education Nation of the NBC, the Washington Post has its column widely read and lately the Huffington Post, where educators make their cases on this matter.

Tom Whitby, a well known educator and one of the founders to #edchat, invited teachers with an online presence to take part in a Blogging Day in which teachers would write about their views of education reform.

Tom came up with a creative name, REBEL. This word stands for Reform from Educational Bloggers Links of Educational Suggestions Deadline was Sunday, Oct. 18th. Tom and others then invited folks to share their links via a Wallwisher site, where more than 100 posts were hung on.

The Problem with the American Education

It's been decades since Sputnik pushed the education objectives to gain progress in the U.S. But despite increased spending on education per student from 1971 to 2006, and a 16:1 ratio in the classroom, this country continues in position 5 in the level of economic attention to their students. Education spending is higher in other countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

The problem does not end there and that's why more U.S. citizens are being called to action. Students who finish middle school leave with academic insufficiency in percentages greater than 50, and unskilled in two important areas of education: reading and mathematics.

The TIME's magazine ran a poll to ask about the current state of public education. What they found is that 67 percent of the 1,000 the magazine surveyed, accepted that public education is in crisis. While a high 90 percent are confident that still is possible to make changes in public schools that will dramatically improve student performance.

What to Do to Bring Up the Quality of Education in America

Not an easy question to be answered. The future of our kids (our sons for the families)is not certain, but nor is lost. It may come as surprise but successful schools are working on fundamentals for a progress in education: great teachers, more class time, and higher standards.

There are many involved in this change, unfortunately even when the teacher is who matters most in this arena, there are other actors that education writers, advocates and politicians forget to mention. There is the administrators, the same politicians and of course the community.

The last time we had Not Child Left Behind, now it is Race to the Top. Both initiatives now we all want to work out. However, the present government is so focused on testing, and this practice has not always a positive impact in schools. In the other hand, Secretary Duncan has blamed schools, colleges and departments of education nationwide. He thinks these academies are doing a mediocre job in preparing teachers for realities of the 21st century classroom.

That's why Waiting for Superman was filmed. The editor and film maker makes a case for charter schools as if they were the solution to the crisis. Knowingly that only 1 of 6 of these existent charter schools really outperform its traditional counterparts.

While we agree to only qualified teachers can make a difference in our schools. We also have to remember that the ethnic composition in our school is widely different and the social and economic status are parallel. At the time we look for the best teacher, we need to consider these variables, so they know what to expect and that they will be reimbursed by that job. Highly paid teachers, I meant.

As a trained professional in education I don't think the teachers unions are having a negative impact on the quality of education, as the lawyers and architects organizations do not have an impact on how you are defended on a trial or how your dreamed house is designed. The unions can't protect bad teachers, as a labor union can't guarantee a bad worker to hold his job.

Between 99 and 94 percent of the 2009 evaluations report among teachers, showed that they received a positive rating or at least were on one of the two top ratings. Still, there is a 52 percent (back in the 2007) of teachers who had a master's or higher degree, and more than 85 percent hold, at least an education degree. The force is still young, the 44 percent of teachers according to data in the 2007, is under age of 40.

This information which needs to be updated more quickly ---before we make any transition to the reform movement,--- tells me that the TFA and the TNTP are helping schools but as occurs with charity, is does not change that way of life of poor people. They wouldn't be able to change education, no even with all Gates Foundation money.

The problem with this non-profit organizations is that they are sending troops of teachers to work only for a limited time of two years. Assuming they've got success in theirs schools, who is going to continue with that line and how. Isn't that happening already with teachers who quit after their second of third year of practice?

The reform or any word that you prefer, needs to be done but do not assume a business model will succeed in school. The companies are made for money, school are for knowledge. On the 2014 the United States will need up to 1 million of new teachers. How do we get the best brains to work in schools and not only the bottom third (47 percent of new teachers body) of college graduates.

We need to raise the esteem of teachers, make their practice a professional career and not a social service. Anyone who graduates from college earns prestige. But this is not happening with teachers once deployed to schools. Opposed to physicians, for example, who after their residency period, it is the beginning of a elite career.

Government needs to fund public education in place of block flow of money asking to teachers to be evaluated in the first place, which is correct, but we can't stop curricular activities just for it. In place to compete with a minority of charter schools we should work along them to take what is working there and implement it in public schools.

All in all, teaching might be among those thankless jobs around but eventually it may lead to a great career if you work it out to do so.

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NYT Sides Unions' Work And Another Vision of the Education Reform

The story of Massachusetts' Brockton High School compared to Arne Duncan, Oprah, and NBC's Education Nation educational reform du jour. The cite belongs to the New York Times:

A decade ago, Brockton High School was a case study in failure. Teachers and administrators often voiced the unofficial school motto in hallway chitchat: students have a right to fail if they want. And many of them did — only a quarter of the students passed statewide exams. One in three dropped out.

Then Susan Szachowicz and a handful of fellow teachers decided to take action. They persuaded administrators to let them organize a schoolwide campaign that involved reading and writing lessons into every class in all subjects, including gym.

Note that this reform was led by dedicated public school teachers (including Susan, who later became principal) advocating a return to basics - reading, writing, speaking, reasoning. It wasn't a top-down mandate, restructuring or charter school take over. It was a (unionized) teacher-led initiative, supported by thoughtful administrators. It took place at one of the largest high school in the country - so much for Bill and Melinda's "small is beautiful" approach.

Are public school teachers the problem or are they part of the solution? It depends on whether their unions put job security ahead of student performance. Teachers are responsible for results. But educational leaders, parents and the community are also responsible to support them. Accountability is reciprocal.

Kudos to the entire Brockton High School community. Their collaborative focus on instruction has resulted in dramatic improvements in student performance. It's a lesson for parents, school leadership teams, teacher unions and education policy makers. Maybe Brockton can star in a sequel to “Waiting for Superman.”

For the whole history by Peter Pappas, please visit Copy Paste.

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How to Manage a Class Where Students Fell Such Rules Do Not Apply to Them

It is a practice for the adults, too. How many times have you felt that this or that regulation does not apply to you just because you think so. If this ever happened to you it is highly possible that the same state of mind could be affecting teenagers under your command in the classroom.

Joel(@sywtt) in his blog So You Want to Teach relates to the experience a fellow teacher is having in classroom: "Yesterday, almost half of my last class left two minutes before the bell rang. The chaotic clean-up process, which I will adjust, contributed to their opportunism, but I was shocked, angered, and embarrassed that this happened.", ask one of his blog readers.

In my experience ---I have been working with freshman, the most problematic group to me --- if someone decides to be a jerk and disobey all the class rules, and their parents don’t respond calls or notes, they don't care. I means there is little to nothing the teacher (or the administration for that matter) can do.

This is worst when you have to attain to the common practice that you can't fail someone in your school. It doesn't matter if I have to curb grades, I still appreciate the ability to fail students. Now they actually have a reason to do well.

When the problem of the reader's question comes down to the classroom management matters, "this is exactly the same as when a group of students starts a food fight in the cafeteria or when a group starts yelling or shoving or any other sort of 'mob mentality' problems," writes Joel.

The suggestions are simple steps of classroom management and Joel goes with this list:

    1. Check with your principal or other school administration to see what their recommendation is. It’s always much easier to follow their advice than having to explain to parents why you didn’t consult administration before punishing their baby. This also shows the principal that you are interested in doing the right thing and being a team player, while still trying to get a better handle on your classroom management.
    2. Address the problem specifically with the class. Be sure they know exactly what the consequences will be the next time it happens. Maybe the consequences need to be more severe for repeat offenders.
    3. Expect it (or something like it) to happen again and be ready to not lose control. The worst thing you can do is yell and lash our in anger in front of the kids. Maintain control and a calm demeanor at all times and you will regain control.

Of course it all depends at what level you are having problems. But definitely don't be ashamed if this ever happens to you. Look for help or a mentor, they know better because the experience as a teacher is so valuable that you need to in the classroom to learn to to handle kids of all different maturity ages.

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The Final Top 100 Tools for Learning 2010 by Jane Hart

If you aren't familiar yet, Jane Hart has daily series on her blog under the name of Jane's Pick of the Day where she frequently share and advice of the most recent tool for learning and education.

After months of work and the participation of more than 545 people, she has finished the collection of the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2010 which are presented intermediately.

Jane also has built a rationalization of three more lists. 1)Winners & Losers 2010; 2)Best in Breed 2010; and 3)Index of top 100 tools.

The next round (2011) it is already open. If you are in the education field and you want to collaborate, share and participate, you can do it so, just one click away!

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Education & Tech: News for Educators 10/18/2010

  • How To: Hack Websites Using Google

    You can actually use Google to “sort of” hack a few sites if you know how to use the epic search engine available to everyone.

  • l8tr (beta)

    Tell me when that overloaded web page is available.

  • Infominder

    InfoMinder is a hosted subscription service that allows you to track changes to web pages, blogs, RSS feeds and wikis

The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Role of School Librarians in Promoting the Use of Educational Technologies

The International Society for Technology Educators(ISTE) and the Special Interest Group for Media Specialists (SIGMS) has published a PDF document for librarians to use and to promote themselves as technology leaders.

Even when it was created only for librarians, there is some information that teachers can also use. Behind that document is the work of recognized educators and technologists like Joyce Valenza, Ernie Cox, Doug Johnson, Keisa Williams, and Wendy Stephens.

Cathy Nelson on Techno Tuesday explains why it is indispensable to educate the masses but yourself, as well. She also has a say about why this document may be considered as a catalyst for "re-envision today’s library media program:"

    In this day and age where schools are looking for areas to trim the budget, this addition to your advocacy toolkit may very well be what keeps your budget and even position under the column for "vitally important." Use it to impress on the powers that be that your role is important in your school setting. This document will show that you can cast a much wider net for learning in your school, one that covers not only students, but also teachers, administrators and even your community.

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#BAD10: Water supply and sanitation in Ecuador

Young Ecuadorian girls - Photo by Flickr user 'ximenacab'

This post may be off the topic of this blog, but is presented with intention to participate in the Blog Action Day, Global Voices is promoting today.

First of all, let me very quickly present the South American country. Ecuador is located Southern of Colombia and has a wide extension of frontier with Peru. It was widely mentioned this past September 30, when a group of police members make his president prisoner in one hospital at the Quito's city.

While this country has a average annual precipitation of 1,200 millimeters. The uneven distribution of this rainfall as much as its population, are the main reasons for the problems of the country's water supply. This becomes a very serious problem that couldn't be resolved by any of the governments in turn.

Some areas receive only 250 mm of annual rain, while others receive up to 6,000 mm per year. There are some regions like Zapotillo in the province of Loja, which have any precipitation throughout the year.

One very important reference is that only 10 percent of the total water available in this country is used, and thus, 97 percent is used for irrigation and 3 percent for domestic and industrial purposes.

Although service coverage of healthy water, has increased, much of the service is intermittent in the middle of urban centers. If you ever visited Ecuador, you can verify this assertion as positive. The water pressure is far below the norm, especially in the outer towns of all cities, specially Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.

Water is the main consequence of infant disease. The 30 percent of urban water, so called 'drinking water,' needs treatment to "clean up" superficial waters where it is collected. In rural areas, according to this survey held in 2004, 38 percent of the systems have collapsed and 20 percent are seriously impaired. The 29 percent had lightly impaired and only 13 percent are considered sustainable.

Ecuador does not have clear policies about drinking water and rainfall water utilization. There is not data about ground waters, either. It was the IEOS the institution in charge of water until 1992. After that, it merged with MIDUVI and tried to offer healthy water to its citizen, and managed to analyze and control the 97 percent of water used for irrigation, the main concern of the political guidelines about water in this country.

The actual government has created the National Secretariat of Water and is working along BID, APOSINO and USAID to bring clean water to the domestic use. Evaluation of the organization's system is absent by far.

We are mostly preoccupied about the rural areas. There is a great need for systems for domestic water supply, especially along the coast and in areas battered by drought such as the provinces of Loja, Manabi and El Oro.

The south region in Ecuador is already semi-arid, and more and more it is being characterized as a dessert zone. Before the drought, the water level in an aquifer was 15 to 20 meters deep, but now is at depths of 80 to 100 meters. Many wells can't provide water anymore and it is very expensive to drill large wells in small rural communities.

The main rivers in the province of Loja, the province where Vilcabamba, the Longevity Valley is seated, are considered perennial and communities located far from the streams have serious water supply problems. These remote communities depend on small streams and wells not so deep in the soil. Both have almost dried out since the drought began in this zone.

In the province of Manabi, water must be hauled by truck to a very high cost --- Guayaquil outskirts still have the same problem. --- In addition to the lack of water due to drought in provinces like this one, there are also problems of groundwater quality which contains excess iron naturally present in this water.

Not to even mention that Ecuador has a very poor water treatments system. The 92 percent of sewage is discharged without any treatment and sometimes over the crystal clear water of rivers.

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Milton Ramirez

The Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st Century

Many of our schools are good schools, if only this were 1965. - Louise Stoll & Dean Fink

Effective teaching has to be fluid and adaptive to current culture. The effective teacher understands that there are core skills and knowledge that have to be learned, but must be presented in a manner that students find relevant, even if not in their immediate lives. This requires an art and a science to teaching that makes the teacher of the 21st Century effective.

The science of teaching requires content knowledge, organization, management skills, and detailed planning. The art of teaching is not about possessing an outgoing personality, but making connections to students, parents, as well as connecting the curriculum to the real world in a relevant manner. Thus the 21st Century teacher creates and maintains intentional relationships with her students, parents, and colleagues for the sake of tomorrow’s success.

This is not an easy task, but when the teacher understands how her role in the process has changed, it does make the process much easier. Success of students is the ultimate goal of education; however we have to remember what makes that success possible, an effective teacher. An effective teacher is not someone utilizing the methods and initiatives of 1965, but rather embracing the culture of 2010 and adapting to the needs of students today. The effective teacher will connect the art and science of teaching to make the learning environment relevant and applicable for her students. In the end, the teacher will thrive and the students will flourish when the role of the teacher adapts to the needs of culture of today.

This excerpt by the authors of The Edutainer first appeared at Gazette. September 2010, Vol. 7 No. 9

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"There was never a golden era in education."

I wasn't offline this past week. It just happened that I didn't feel comfortable reading or writing anything to be shared in this blog, until today. Sometimes it feels like everyone is talking about education reform, the NBC's Education Nation or the call to Superman to save our education.

Today, however, I came across to a thoughtful and well elaborate post by @kaderosa. Ken takes the time to explain why the recently open section about education on the Huffington Post, does any favor to the so proclaimed reform in the American education.

There is one meme you are sure to read over and over at HuffPo Education, writes Ken DeRosa: How poverty and minority status prevent kids from learning.

Those are hard words Ken chose to explain the position of the HuffPo in its new section about Education. I, me and myself don't think poverty prevents people ---or even students to learn--- it may diminish their instrumental capacities, but it definitely won't hurt, even by little, the intellectual ones.

The author at D-Ed Reckoning's blog takes on the inaugural post written by Arianna Huffington. When she expresses that "something has gone terribly wrong with our education system," the statement is brought down by a fact with which most educators I think, agree: There was never a golden era in education!

That's why every new government, decides to test education infrastructure and find one or two things that need or can be changed without removing the status quo. Unfortunately, everyone wants the education to be reformed but pay little attention to those who really are the experts on this matter, the educators.

We need to remember that education was a slavish activity at the very beginning, and only the family of the emperors had the education grated. How does that changed by now? Just check the salaries of a Ed.D. and compare it to another Doctor in any different field.

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When Generosity Hurts: Bill Gates, Public School Teachers and the Politics of Humiliation

You must understand that in the attempt to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty, when it is operating not only in the classroom but in society, you will meet the most fantastic, the most brutal, and the most determined resistance. -James Baldwin

Baldwin's words offer a glimpse into a legacy of bad faith, culture of cruelty and politics of humiliation that seems to have gained momentum in American society since he spoke those words in 1963. His words reflect something of the all too evident brutish transformation of the revolutionary zeal that marked an earlier era's investment in substantive democratization to that which piously and patriotically calls itself revolutionary some 50 years later, and seeks nothing less than the total destruction of the democratic potential of American education. Not only have such pernicious practices descended on America like a dreadful and punishing plague, but they are now ironically embraced in the name of an educational reform movement whose "revolutionary" pretension is antithetical to the civil rights revolution for which Baldwin was fighting. Once eager public servants in the fight for equality and justice, teachers are now forced to play with a severe handicap, as if assembled on a field blindfolded and gagged. The one constancy that runs through these last several decades, less obvious only because of its utter pervasiveness in public life, is summed up by Baldwin as the legacy of "bad faith and cruelty." Bad faith and cruelty are now combined with a power-assisted politics of humiliation, all the more acute, because such commitments circulate continually as spectacle in a 24-hour media cycle universally assessable in a digital and commodified culture.

The complete article by Henry A. Giroux can be read at Truthout.

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Academic Integrity Is a Vital Component of Any Professional Educator

The Internet is a two way street. While teachers are tough on students plagiarism, the latter can also backfire using the same tools educators often use to identify plagiarism ---the Internet. How? Simply by typing a line or two from an assignment or even other teaching materials on Google.

When you hear about faculty plagiarism, it mostly involves a publication, writes Miki Crawford. But he also asks to reflect on these questions: "Do you create PPT from text content? Do you use ideas or handouts from colleagues? Do you copy a chapter from a book as supplemental reading without providing the source information? Do you use pictures or trademarks from the Internet?" Think twice.

In this post, the cited author, at Faculty Focus lists the Top Five Overlooked Citations Faculty Should Watch When Creating Course Materials.(bold is ours):

    1. Place a citation at the bottom of your PowerPoint slides (or better yet, on the master slide) to reference your textbook. If you use a direct quote/definition from the text, include the page number afterward.

    2. Provide credit where credit is due when using ideas, organization of content, or quotes from colleagues.

    3. Provide references on any copied materials that you use as supplements and consider the Fair Use Law.

    4. Write or type Web links or references on any articles that you send to students or upload on a course content site such as Blackboard. After recording the citation on the article, it can be copied as a pdf. Merely citing these on Blackboard may not be enough.

    5. Do those pictures from the Internet that you wish to use have a copyright sign or is the website copyrighted? If so, request permission before you copy. There are plenty of open source pictures and graphics on the web that are for anyone’s use. However, trademarked images should not be used without permission.

Photo: cleopatraclyalin

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