What’s Up with Teaching in 2012 ? (from a teacher’s viewpoint )
With all the negative press about teachers in the last several years, I thought it might be beneficial to keep a blog on the impacts of the new changes taking place in education as they are rolled out. From the Common Core Standards (CCS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), to Race To the Top (RTTT) pressures to change teacher evaluations, the paradigm shift is huge this year! We’ve had changes in the past, but now the changes seem cataclysmic. They may be needed changes, but coming all at once makes it seem like a roller coaster to most teachers. How we get through the next year will be interesting and worth documenting.
My first real exposure to the above topics took place throughout the past year as I’ve been researching for my doctorate. My topic was not related to either of the two, but as I searched for journal articles on my topic, news reports, journal articles, and conference related tweets and postings on facebook, all kept me informed on these topics. It’s been interesting to see the technology being utilized. I know that most of my colleagues and family have probably been bored when I posted that I liked or read certain professional articles on my facebook page, but hopefully, they’ve all been able to get a glimmer of the coming changes along with me.
Formally, I got the school system’s official take on CCS at a 2 day workshop I took this summer. It was well done, and gave a good overview of the Language Arts (now ELA for English Language Arts rather than the ILA for Integrated Language Arts it’s been the last 20 years or so), Math, and STEM. The Language Arts one was well done, however, it seemed that the focus was more on the I for Integrated more now than before. The premise that we should be including finding more answers in the text rather than personal reflection is a throw back to 20 years ago. It’s good that they are going back to that, as well as including more types of text in their examples.
The math workshop was well done as well, but it still seems to me that they have students solving old world problems, rather than ones relevant to today, and not geared to 21st century learners. For example, they gave us a sample problem to solve about a person trying to figure out when they would have written a certain check in their checkbook, given the dates and check numbers of all the checks written. My goodness…. who writes checks these days? And why wouldn’t you utilize the online tools to sort through the checks and find the answer in about two minutes? I realize that it’s supposed to make the kids use HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills), but from my viewpoint, and probably the kids as well, this question would be totally irrelevant, and I wouldn’t be motivated to figure it out (I had a hard time getting into the spirit as an adult at the workshop!).
The STEM activities were good as well, and I’m glad to see that they are pushing the engineering type of activity as well as the engineering process. However, I was appalled that technology skills and computer science careers were NOT one of the things they plan on teaching kids. After the workshop, I researched it and found that it’s not just my district that’s lax on the concept, but nationwide it’s a problem. Somehow, Computer Science seems to have “gotten left behind” in the eyes of politicians and educational administrators as they’ve planned these changes. It looks like a grass roots movement is starting to bring this to the attention of the policy makers. This effort is being spearheaded through CSTA a listserv that is part of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery.org).
This post only covered one of the changes listed above. The next post will cover the new teacher evaluation process which I will be attending a meeting for this week.
Keeping checking back… AND send me your comments and impressions of these changes..