Archive for the ‘Educational Posts’ Category

What is inclusion and what are the potential benefits and disadvantages to full inclusion for students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers?

The advantages include: Students are exposed to their regular ed peers, they are exposed to regular curriculum, they feel more normal, possibly have positive peer pressure to behave better, and finally possibly have better academic role models in an Inclusion model. Both the “normal” children and the disabled children can learn from each other, thus teaching acceptance of one other. The disabled child has a chance to develop socially.

The disadvantages include: Students may become lost in a large group setting, regular ed teachers may not understand the students disability and become impatient and not be willing to work with them, and a student may feel stupid for struggling when other kids are getting it. The disabled child can be disruptive. There is sometimes problems with bullying the disabled child. The regular ed teacher may be talking over the disabled child’s head leaving them bored and the class bored if they have to keep slowing down to go back over information.

I believe some children just need a different environment in which to thrive. They need additional attention and a smaller class setting for the best possible environment to learn.


In what ways does project based learning, cooperative learning, and technology better prepare students than high stakes testing?

Employers in the 21st century want candidates that have learning and thinking skills, information- and communications-technology literacy skills, and life skills. Students are entering an increasingly globalized world in which technology plays a vital role. They must be good communicators, great collaborators, responsibility, self-management, as well as interpersonal and project-management skills that demand teamwork and leadership. Through PBL, CL, and technology students are able to attain these skills where high stakes testing doesn’t have the same outcome.

Project Based Learning creates teams of students to work on an in-depth project for three to eight weeks. Introducing a complex entry question that establishes a student’s need to know, and scaffolding the project with activities and new information that deepens the work. The project consists of plans, drafts, time benchmarks, and finally the team’s presentation. Finally real time assessments and/or feedback on the projects including content, oral and written communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and other important skills are better than high stakes results that come once a year and don’t cover  most of these crucial life skills.

Project- and problem-based learning doesn’t work unless learners obtain feedback. Current assessments don’t do the job. High Stakes testing are aimed at schools, not individual student learning. Periodic assessments in managed curriculums mainly provide information to teachers. Students can’t improve or become more metacognitive without constant, real-time assessment and feedback. PBL instruction is assessment for learning, as opposed to high stakes assessment that is for schools, districts, or classroom accountability.

Describe an experience where you were either a teacher or a student in a project based learning environment. Were you able to meet your learning objectives? What was your students’ or your personal response? Explain.

In our foundations of education class for NTEC we are currently doing a group lesson plan that we will present to the class. The instructor gave us a grade level and concept to teach and then we were told to collaborate as a group to come up with an effective, standard based lesson plan. This is project based learning. We are meeting the learning objectives because we are discovering how to create a lesson plans that qill guide our future classroom instructions. We are also working as a group to create a lesson plan that we can all present in a short time frame during the class. We are putting all of our ideas together and will have a finished project that we can present. All of the skills that are enticing to future employers are being used in this project: good communication, collaboration, responsibility, self-management, interpersonal and project-management skills that demand teamwork and leadership.

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Ages 12 – 15

The Montessori program for the young adult from age twelve to fifteen is very different from that of traditional school. Dr. Montessori felt that because of the rapid growth, the increased need for sleep, and hormonal changes, it is hard to try to force the adolescent to concentrate on intellectual work. Intellectual work should still be done, following the child’s interests, but without pressure.

A Classroom Example

A very bright thirteen-year-old boy was having trouble concentrating on math and other purely intellectual subjects, so I watched carefully to discover his real interests, which were: house, job, music, and parenting.

In our class the children designed and developed long-term research projects and presentations. This boy was behind in academic areas so I helped him weave his interests into projects that would utilize skills that he needed to practice. He spent hours planning his dream house, complete with indoor swimming pool and skateboard area. In doing this he researched houses of various cultures and used plenty of math, graphing, and geometry in constructing the house plans. He did a feasibility study for beginning a skateboard construction-and-repair business—rents, prices of equipment, market value of skateboards and labor costs. He began to study piano, recorder and guitar in class using classical and folk instruction books, with help when he needed it. This study of music was probably the greatest practice in self-discipline in scheduling daily practice, and the personal and social rewards were immediate. It seemed to help him express the changing emotions that otherwise would have no constructive outlet.

It was the interest in parenting which was most intriguing. Here was this tall gangly, adolescent boy, leading the group on the softball field, but if he heard a cry or yell of one of the children in the 3-6 class at the other end of the campus, he immediately put down the bat and ran to see what was the matter! There was one three-year-old in particular, Paloma, who seemed to have captured his fathering heart. They had only just met at the Montessori school, but he could single out her voice from all others, from quite a distance, and would always go to her aid. More than anything else, at this time when intellectual skills were low because of physical and emotional development, being needed as a protector by the young gave him a feeling of worth.

Age 15 – 18+

For age fifteen to eighteen, when the rapid growth of adolescence is slowing, a more rigorous intellectual schedule works, combined with social work and apprenticeships in the work world.

The need that is so keenly felt for a reform of secondary schools concerns not only an educational, but also a human and social problem. Schools, as they are today, are adapted neither to the needs of adolescents nor to the times in which we live.

But above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of adulthood and becomes a member of society. If puberty is, on the physical side, a transition from an infantile to an adult state, there is also, on the psychological side, a transition from the child to the adult who has to live in society. These two needs of the adolescent: for protection during the time of the difficult physical transition, and for an understanding of the society which he is about to enter to play his part as an adult, give rise to two problems that are of equal importance concerning education at this age.

Education should not limit itself to seeking new methods for a mostly arid transmission of knowledge: its aim must be to give the necessary aid to human development. This world, marvelous in its power, needs a ‘new man.’ It is therefore the life of man and his values that must be considered. If ‘the formation of man’ becomes the basis of education, then the coordination of all schools from infancy to maturity, from nursery to university, arises as a first necessity.

—Dr. Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence


Money & Apprenticeships

In Montessori elementary classes children learn how to balance and schedule their time, to set work goals and to accomplish them, and the skills in budgeting and handling money.

Children, ages 12-15, children will have had as much experience as possible in handling money. By high school they really are becoming adults and can participate in planning the budget of the home.

One of the most important lessons is the experience of learning how much time and work is involved in earning money. There are few jobs for teenagers, and those which pay a salary are usually not educational. A better place to learn might be an unpaid apprenticeship.

It is time-consuming to take an untrained person in and share the work, and often, because of the lack of training and the short hours, having an apprentice is more of an expense than a help to a business. Young people should be aware of this and look for what they can offer or learn, instead of what they can get in the way of salary. Apprenticeships are not paid positions, but they can be extremely beneficial to the students, and sometimes open up important job possibilities in the future.

It is important that young people get in the habit of using what money they do earn for necessities such as food and transportation, or they will lack the skills to move out into the world and be independent—needing forever to live at home!

By the ‘80’s, three out of four high-school seniors were working an average of 18 hours a week and often taking home more than $200 a month. But their jobs, often in fast-food chains, were rarely challenging and earnings were immediately spent on cars, clothing, stereos and other artifacts of the adolescent good life. Indeed, researchers at the University of Michigan find that less than 11 percent of high-school seniors save all or most of their earnings for college or other long-range purposes.

In short, teenage employment has only intensified the adolescent drive for immediate gratification. Instead of learning how to delay desires, students are indulging what University of Michigan researcher Jerome Bachman calls “premature affluence.” The problem, says Bachman, is that these adolescents tend to get accustomed to an unrealistic level of discretionary income which is impossible to maintain at college, unless they have extravagant parents. “And if they don’t go to school,” he observes, “they will have to continue to live at home if they hope to keep up their personal spending habits.”

Many educators recommend a year off between high school and university to give young people a chance to experience real life and its effort and responsibilities, and to learn who they are and where their interests lie.

Both of our daughters had that experience, and both, at different times, had apartments within a few blocks of our home which they paid for by working. I remember the end of the first week of our first daughter’s experience: “I can’t believe how much time it takes to go to work, do the laundry, buy food and clean. It takes all my time when I am not at work. I don’t know how you do it!” Ahhh, she was starting to learn . . .

Proper learning cannot take place without effective classroom management. Good teaching and classroom management skills are needed for the effective delivery of a lesson. Research suggests that the more teachers can strike a balance between providing clear consequences for unacceptable behavior and recognizing and rewarding good behavior, the more effective their classroom management. More research has suggested that getting off to a good start at the beginning of the school year is also important. One of the most important suggestions and I believe sometimes overlooked research is the quality of teacher-student relationships being the foundation for classroom management.

The research noted that teachers who had high-quality relationships with their students had 31% fewer discipline problems, rule violations, and related problems over a year’s time than did teachers who did not have high-quality relationships. The most effective teacher student relationships were characterized by specific teacher behaviors:

  • exhibiting appropriate levels of dominance,
  • exhibiting appropriate levels of cooperation,
  • being aware of high-need students (i.e., those with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders),
  • and having a repertoire of specific techniques for meeting their needs.

One of the biggest challenges of a new teacher is managing classroom behaviors during a lesson. When children exhibited less than desirable behavior that is distracting to the rest of the class, it undermines the teacher’s goals and effectiveness.

There are various reasons students exhibit non-task related or disruptive behavior. In some cases, students become bored because the content of the lesson does not interest them. In other cases, students lack the motivation or self-discipline to perform well in school. Other students bow to peer pressure as a way to be accepted by others or to prevent themselves from experiencing negative repercussions.

Three strategies I could do in a situation like this and why they would be effective:

1. I believe the most effective method of managing off-task or disruptive behavior is walking near a student’s desk while continuing to teach the lesson. This is a non-verbal method of controlling behavior sometimes referred to as “proximity control.” This lets the student know without directly calling them out in class that you know what is going on in the classroom at all times.
2. Next I believe praising other students who are exhibiting on-task and/or appropriate behavior is effective. This is a method where you are not directly aimed at calling out a disruptive student. They can in theory model their behavior after the good student so that they can receive future praise.
3. Finally praising a student when they do exhibit on-task and/or appropriate behavior. This technique directly addresses the students of concern, but does so in a positive way. None of these are negative reinforcement strategies which are counterproductive during a lesson.

Consider the ways teachers can cover the rules and procedures with students prior to group activities. What are some of the different ways to discuss wanted and unwanted behaviors with students?

These are strategies that could be used in any upper elementary, junior high or secondary classroom.

Reinforcing rules each day

Students can get positive (or negative) reinforcement about their abilities to follow the class rules. You can come up with a checklist to be used throughout the year to help selected students work on specific behaviors (for example, “I will hand in my homework assignments on time” or “I will not talk while walking in line in the hall”). The completed sheet can be sent home at the end of the month for a parent’s signature.

The Perfect Classroom

Ask students to write a paragraph the first week of school that tells what they think the perfect group activity should be like. (This is not fiction or fantasy writing; they should describe the atmosphere of the classroom and what a successful group activity will ential.)

Ask each student to underline in his or her paragraph the “most important words or phrases.” Group the students as needed. After students have done that, they should pass their papers to each person in the group. Students will underline important words until the original writer has his/her paper back. At that point, students will share with the group some of the important words and a group note taker will record the words and phrases that might best describe a perfect classroom. Group members will review the list and decide on five words or phrases to share with the class. When the class has a fully developed class list of words and phrases, they will use some of those words and phrases to write a “class statement” that will be posted on the wall for all to see.

When things are not going “perfectly,” it is time to review the class statement.

What is your perspective on testing and assessment? What are the benefits of standardized tests? What are the drawbacks?

Every teacher has a body of knowledge that they teach and then follow it with a way to measure whether the students have learned the knowledge the teacher has taught. Schools can eliminate curriculum based tests and summative tests at the end of semesters to lessen the amount of pressure on the Standardized tests. Since we must adhere to standards, standardized tests are necessary to find out if student’s are living up to those standards.

I believe a classroom experience should instead be reinforced with project based learning and formative tests throughout the year in place of the end of year summative assessments. The move to a three part assessment model of formative assessments, project based learning, and the always present state standardized tests can be successful. Standardized tests are then not the entire assessment but just a small informative piece of the puzzle. Project based learning will allow the student to have a portfolio of work that can be continually added to throughout their K-12 education.

The drawbacks to standardized teachers are when teachers and administrators have to use these standardized assessments as the end all problem solver to creating a better education system. The standardized tests usually don’t increase creative problem solvers and real thinkers which I believe the project based learning successfully does.

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