Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's about teaching, not technology!

Technology is only an amplifier of teaching. If a teacher is a good teacher, then when he or she uses technology than that teaching is amplified. If a teacher is not an effective teacher, then when he or she uses technology that ineffective teaching is amplified.


All technology is an amplifier...and what happens when you give a bad guitar player a bigger amplifier? Ouch!” Mr. Big as quoted in Ohler's blog.



We should focus our efforts on good teaching, not on technology. We are spending far too much time and money in technology training; we need to spend much more on improving teaching.


Our leaders should be educators, not technology gurus.

Friday, January 20, 2006

State Benchmarks, Weekly Data Collection, Life long learning

The other night I was on a conference call with people around the state. I heard the comment about how much testing is being done in school and how much data collection is being done. Several people felt that collecting the data (taking state benchmarks) was interfering with instruction.


I have several reactions to the statement.

1) If we give benchmarks once a year, then we are only collecting a snapshot that probably is not a big enough picture to inform instruction. For example, for students to write two essays in three hours in an English Regents means that each essay is really a draft, not a finished product.


2) The benchmark results are transformed into data that is supposed to help improve instruction. However, with most benchmarks, the students in that year's class have gone to the next grade level; the data should go to their next year's teachers, not the present year's teachers.


3) Teachers need to build formative standard-based assessments into their weekly instruction so that as they assess part of the state standard, they can build in adjustments (Remember M. Hunter's Modify and Adjust?) I believe that unless we do this on a weekly or very regularly basis, then we will not truly improve student learning. Cramming at the end is not educationally sound. Gradually improvement (building on success) is sound.


4) Teachers need to have students collect their own data on how well they are doing. For example, how many students monitor their vocabulary strategy to see if it is effective for them? How many students monitor the words they write in a daily journal to see if they improve on the quantity of the writing (getting in the zone)? I have done both of these and find that students like to be able to monitor their own learning and make improvements. Sounds like life long learning to me ( I remember when that was a purpose of schools.)


Proficiencies, Eportfolios and OSP

The School of Education students had a much more in depth Proficiency Portfolio which they had put into the Open Source Portfolio (OSP) system. The students included a narrative, a statement explaining how they demonstrated the proficiency, many artifacts of their public school students' work to demonstrate that proficiency, and a reflection on their growth in each proficiency.


This semester three faculty reviewed in depth each students' eportfolio and gave a rating to each part of the portfolio that they reviewed. The faculty accessed the eportfolios from their home or office. In addition, many faculty met to discuss the students' portfolios after they had looked at the students' portofolios individually.


For the first time there has been an in depth review of the students' eportfolios by multiple reviewers.


The students in School of Education will continue to build on their previous eportfolios as they go through the School of Education program. Each semester the students show greater progresss in the School's proficiencies.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Eportfolios Public Presentations and Review

In December, students in the School Of Education's Undergraduate Inclusive program of Block 1, Block 2, Student Teaching and the Graduate Elementary program used electronic portfolios to demonstrate their progress in the School of Education's five proficiencies. Those proficiencies consist of Critical Reflection and Explanation of Practice; Content knowledge; Inclusive and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy; Assessment of Student Learning; and Professional Conduct and Collaboration.


The students presented a brief overview of their portfolios at Public Portfolio presentations that Supervising Teachers, university faculty and teacher preparation students attended. Students from Block 1, Block 2, Student Teaching, and Graduate Elementary saw a condensed verision of each other's eportfolios. Those students in the beginning of the program could see the high level that the Student Teachers had achieved in the proficiencies. The Student Teachers could see their own proficiency progress as they watched eportfolios from earlier blocks.


Those attending the presentations gave some feedback to the students. All the reviewers gave written feedback and most also gave oral feedback. The reviewers asked for clarifications, probed for more details, gave suggestions for improvement, and offered praise with specific reason.