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Virtuella

Thank you. I am excessively proud of that group. I have driven them like a slave driver this year and they have worked and worked and worked and there is such an improvement!

2/11/2011 #271
hixto

Well done, sweetheart.

Well done!

Thank you, thank you. *bows* I feel like it's a major accomplishment to finish anything these days.

And I'm sure you won't regret signing up for the Big Bang. :D

I regret it already. lol

He started with similes. And, Clodia, today he used a chiasmus! Not bad going for a student with learning difficulties.

You must be a really good teacher. I'm not sure special education students here are even asked to write essays.

2/11/2011 #272
Virtuella

Well, we call them essays. They tend to come out at about 200-300 words, and they're heavily scaffolded. (As in: Box 1: Write an introduction, mentioning the title, author and genre. Box 2: Write what the poem is about. Box 3: Describe one stylistic feature. Box 4: Describe another stylistic feature. etc etc)

2/11/2011 #273
militaryhistory

Good to hear.

2/12/2011 #274
Virtuella

Good to hear what? That ASN essays are heavily scaffolded?

2/12/2011 #275
militaryhistory

No, that your students are doing well.

2/13/2011 #276
Virtuella

Well, what did you expect. :P

2/13/2011 #277
Nieriel Raina

Back from my sister's barn where she has not one, but TWO colicking horses. Vet came out and they're doing better now, but the exam on the mare revealed she is 9-10 months in foal! O.o Surprise, surprise, surprise... Seems my sister's stud colt has been having him some fun down in the lower pasture. =D So come April or May there's gonna be a baby!! *happy dance*

2/15/2011 #278
Virtuella

I'm just back from a professional development day on Curriculum For Excellence and it was very good.

CfE is a radical curricular reform currently implemented in Scotland. I was initially very skeptical and thought it would be just another pointless paper exercise. In fact, two years ago, as part of my postgrad diploma, I wrote a critical essay about the lack of epistemological reflection in the values of CfE. Since then, we've had some in-school presentations which were less than inspiring, though the actual documents turned out to be a lot better than the previous 5-14 curriculum, and I found that they incorporated a lot of ideas I had been talking about for years.

Anyway, today we had some aspects explained by an actual professional who was involved in the development, and she made so much more sense than anything I had heard on the topic so far. For example, in spite of those who still claim we should have quantifiable success criteria ("Write a story using at least three adjectives.") this is not the case. We do not measure anymore, we evaluate. Heavens be praised, it is the end of the ridiculous SMART targets, pernickety learning outcomes and the obsession with written evidence. I will now tackle my forward planning with a happy heart. :)

2/17/2011 #279
piewacket

We do not measure anymore, we evaluate.

How exactly does that work? I mean, if there are no hard criteria to meet, how do you know if the student is making progress?

2/17/2011 #280
AltearazCreator

Yeah, I'd want to know exactly what you mean. Do you mean less focus on rigid testing or...?

2/17/2011 #281
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Mazel tov to NiRi about the blessed equine event!

And congrats to V on the lack of chicken-shit criteria to meet. Certain skills can be a helpful benchmark, but sometimes those targets end u being the sole aim of the teaching, to the detriment of other, equally useful things.

2/17/2011 #282
piewacket

And congrats to V on the lack of chicken-shit criteria to meet. Certain skills can be a helpful benchmark, but sometimes those targets end u being the sole aim of the teaching, to the detriment of other, equally useful things.

I agree that over testing and teaching to the test are abhorrent. I'm not snarking here, I'm genuinely interested. There are certain skills and abilities that I expect my school system to teach children. If there are no concrete benchmarks, how do you issue a grade or pass a child to the next grade? 2/17/2011 #283
AltearazCreator

If there are no concrete benchmarks, how do you issue a grade or pass a child to the next grade?

Be glad you even have that. Here in Ontario, we can't hold back any of the kids, regardless of the grade they get, regardless of anything, really. They just get shuffled along because we might hurt their little feelings, or we might damage their little self-esteem. Boo-fucking-hoo. Getting to an advanced grade and not knowing the shit you need to know is far worse for their self-esteem, and for our drop-out rate, I'd wager.

2/17/2011 #284
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

I agree that over testing and teaching to the test are abhorrent. I'm not snarking here, I'm genuinely interested. There are certain skills and abilities that I expect my school system to teach children. If there are no concrete benchmarks, how do you issue a grade or pass a child to the next grade?

V teaches Special Ed. I'm thinking that some of her kids may never be able to use three adjectives in a story, but they may be very gifted at getting along with people or learning to hammer a nail. Teachers have to find out what's there and bring it to the forefront.

I do agree that if I were a potential employer I would like to know what base skills a high school graduate can be expected to have.

2/17/2011 #285
piewacket

Be glad you even have that

We don't. Not really. If little Johnny's parents threaten to sue, the school immediately backs down and socially passes the child. When I was in Grad school, I was a tutor for a variety of undergraduate subjects. I once had this Senior who had no clue that there was any difference between an essay and a research paper. How the hell was he ready to get a BA?

2/17/2011 #286
piewacket

V teaches Special Ed. I'm thinking that some of her kids may never be able to use three adjectives in a story, but they may be very gifted at getting along with people or learning to hammer a nail. Teachers have to find out what's there and bring it to the forefront.

Ah. Now that makes perfect sense. 2/17/2011 #287
AltearazCreator

Well, the money was paid, wasn't it!? Obviously he deserves to pass despite a lack of basic knowledge!

2/17/2011 #288
piewacket

Well, the money was paid, wasn't it!? Obviously he deserves to pass despite a lack of basic knowledge!

It was sad really. I had a week to try to teach him something he should have learned in high school and already had a few years of practice at. He wasn't a bad kid--just an uneducated one. 2/17/2011 #289
AltearazCreator

Half the people I see don't get that, in certain essays, there's supposed to be an argument being made. They don't get how to even come up with an argument. Like, damn, it doesn't even have to be a good argument, just come up with one so the prof can see you can do it!

2/17/2011 #290
Virtuella

All higher order skills (analysing, evaluating, creating, designing etc) cannot be measured. They can, however, be evaluated against descriptors. Taking one example from the literacy strand of the curriculum, the one that concerns critical text evaluation. I don't know the exact words by heart, but there is a progression from "I can distinguish between fact and opinion" via "I can distinguish between fact and opinion and can identify when a text is trying to influence me and assess how believable it is" to "I can recognise persuasion and bias, identify some of the techniques used to influence my opinion, and assess the reliability of information and credibility and value of my sources." A teacher would then assess whether a student was at the stage of developing, consolidating or securely possessing that particular skill. The beauty of CfE is that teachers will be trusted to make that judgement (based on a shared understanding of the standards, which is to be developed and maintained through collegiate work) without having to state that "Student X can identify a bias in a given text four times out of five." My students, for example, would be at the stage of developing the skill to "identify when a text is trying to influence me" if they can point out words and phrases in a text that express the writer's opinion. And I will be able to report that "X's reading has improved; she no longer swallows word endings and has achieved greater fluencey by making use of punctuation for natural pauses" and I will not have to sit with a tally chart and count at how many commas she draws breath. Not that I ever did that. But I was supposed to be doing it.

The curricular experiences and outcomes can be found here, if anyone is really interested in ploughing throu

http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/understandingthecurriculum/howisthecurriculumstructured/experiencesandoutcomes/index.asp

2/17/2011 #291
piewacket

Thank you.

I can see how that would be useful and ultimately more important than a child passing a speed multiplication test. I deplore the fact that our schools do not teach analytical and evaluative skills.

The beauty of CfE is that teachers will be trusted to make that judgement (based on a shared understanding of the standards, which is to be developed and maintained through collegiate work) without having to state that "Student X can identify a bias in a given text four times out of five

I'm afraid that wouldn't fly here in the United States. We don't trust our teachers to make those calls. I'm not certain when it happened, but teaching has gone from being a respected profession to being a distrusted one. The problem really seems to be one of Administration, yet the teachers catch the flack.

2/17/2011 . Edited 2/17/2011 #292
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

I deplore the fact that our schools do not teach analytical and evaluative

They seem to have a difficult enough time teaching basic reading and arithmetic. Wasn't 'learning how to think analytically' the original objective of college?

I can tell you, I was never taught analytical skills even in AP classes. I just kind of picked them up on my own.

I'm afraid that wouldn't fly here in the United States. We don't trust our teachers to make those calls. I'm not certain when it happened, but teaching has gone from being a respected profession to being a distrusted one. The problem really seems to be one of Administration, yet the teachers catch the flack.

Are you watching what's going on in Wisconsin right now? Gov. Walker is trying to bust the unions, and it's the teachers getting hit the hardest.

2/17/2011 #293
Virtuella

I'm afraid that wouldn't fly here in the United States. We don't trust our teachers to make those calls.

It was like that in Scotland until very recently. For example, we were supposed to set SMART targets for our students. SMART stands for Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed. An example: "By the end of March, X will read a text at 5-14 level B without swallowing the verb ending -ed and -ing. She will correctly pronounce 80% of those verb endings."

Now, the first fallacy of this sytem is that X might be off for five weeks with glandular fever, or she might regress due to emotional stress from family problems, and then your time scale is screwed. Another fallacy is that getting 80% correct ot one point (or even at three points) doesn't mean the student has really securely achieved the skill. The worst problem, though, is that all the most worthwhile achievements of education cannot be expressed in percentages. Fortunately, the powers that be have seen sense in that respect, but only very recently.

To illustrate: About nine years ago or so, the whole SMART targets stuff was introduced and I attended a course at which this was explained to us as something we must henceforth do. There was a lot of talk about needing evidence. So, cheekily, I asked what evidence the authority had that this would be conducive to learning, what trial runs they had done and what the outcomes had been. The official lady went red in the face and began to stammer. It turned out that there had been no trials and thus no studies about the effectiveness of the system, but the lady declared that the benefits would become immediately obvious on implementation.

Fast forward seven years, another school in another authority, another course. We are being told how to fill in the latest form and how the SMART targets had to be put into exactly which box. Cheekily, I put up my hand and told about my initial question seven years before and the answer I had received, and I asked what studies had been undertaken, what evidence the authority could present now about the effectiveness of the system and where I could look them up. The official lady went red in the face and began to stammer. Eventually, she said, "There are no studies as such, but don't we all know from out everyday practice how efficient it is?" No, Miss, we didn't. It was never anything other than a paper exercise, and it completely failed to see what kind of processes teaching and learning are. It is impossible to plan a year ahead what exactly a student will learn. It is, however, possible to provide learning experiences geared towards particular skills and capabilities and to assess how far a student has progressed towards attaining those. This is what CfE does.

2/17/2011 #294
piewacket

Are you watching what's going on in Wisconsin right now? Gov. Walker is trying to bust the unions, and it's the teachers getting hit the hardest.

Yup. I'm afraid we are unlikely to agree on this matter. I view the unions as part of the administration and problem.

I mean, they really pay only .2 percent into their retirement fund? Cripes, that is one hella deal. I pay in 9 percent and that is likely to go up again.

Though the missing Senate is a complete hoot. :D

2/17/2011 . Edited 2/17/2011 #295
piewacket

I asked what studies had been undertaken, what evidence the authority could present now about the effectiveness of the system and where I could look them up. The official lady went red in the face and began to stammer. Eventually, she said, "There are no studies as such, but don't we all know from out everyday practice how efficient it is?"

*snickers and applauds you*

Evidence based practices is also the buzzword in my profession. The problems with that are manifold: they take one small, limited study and cite it; they take a program that is essentially an orange and try to extrapolate it to an apple program*; they ignore studies that don't support the current paradigm; or they take a rather robustly studied program, make major changes and then still claim it's EBP.

* I have fought for years the claim that forced treatment works. The studies are all done on DUI court clients where non-compliance has the very major consequence of prison. My folks are already in prison, where is the stick for my counselors to use? Also, compliance (sitting your butt in a chair and not actively disrupting) is totally different than successful treatment, but almost all studies define success as compliance.

This is what CfE does

I can understand why you're happy. :D

2/17/2011 #296
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

It was like that in Scotland until very recently. For example, we were supposed to set SMART targets for our students. SMART stands for Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed. An example: "By the end of March, X will read a text at 5-14 level B without swallowing the verb ending -ed and -ing. She will correctly pronounce 80% of those verb endings."

Why is pronunciation of verb endings even relevant to reading comprehension? I think Milhist would be screwed when it came to pronouncing 'g's, but he comprehends very well indeed.

Other than that, it all depends on what one considers the purpose of school to be. Giving a student the skills to work in the real world or fomenting intellectual curiosity and analytical skills? In some American schools they seem to be aiming for the latter while accomplishing neither.

2/17/2011 #297
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Yup. I'm afraid we are unlikely to agree on this matter. I view the unions as part of the administration and problem.

We're closer than you think on this subject. My understanding is that the unions were willing to accept some roll-backs in the compensation as a shared sacrifice as long as the principle of being able to collectively bargain was left alone.

I mean, they really pay only .2 percent into their retirement fund? Cripes, that is one hella deal. I pay in 9 percent and that is likely to go up again.

Yeah. Buns paid 50% into TIAA-CREF plus what extra we were able to put into private IRAs. I'm not sure what the share of health premiums was. And that looks like the good old days to me.

Ed Bradley was up in arms about the plight of the Wisconsin teacher, whose average salary is a mere $51K per year. He had a couple who were both teachers on his show saying how badly this was going to hurt them. Um . . . my income is considerably less than that per year for two people, and my real estate tax alone is 25% of my income -- the majority of that going to the school levy. So I was tempted to say cry me a river. But then again, teachers do agree to work for less than they might make in other lines of work, in exchange for the love of it and for decent benefits, so let's not squeeze them too badly.

2/17/2011 #298
militaryhistory

But then again, teachers do agree to work for less than they might make in other lines of work, in exchange for the love of it and for decent benefits, so let's not squeeze them too badly.

Yes, but let's not mistake "not squeezing them too badly" for "giving them everything they want." Also, it's entirely possible that if they don't take reduced benefits there will be no benefits later.

2/17/2011 #299
Virtuella

Oh, I don't care about them doing studies. I know from experience, reflection and dialogue what makes good teaching and learning, and you don't need studies to know that SMART targets are anything but smart. It just annoyed me that they kept harrassing us for evidence without being able to back up their own claims with any evidence whatsoever.

CfE has its weaknesses. For one thing, there is no reflection about how to reconcile the inevitable conflict between the needs of the individual and the needs of society. But the not-so-useful bits of CfE will be much easier to ignore than the useless parts of 5-14.

2/17/2011 . Edited 2/17/2011 #300
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