Thursday, August 22, 2013

To Thine Own Self Be True, a Lesson on Identity

Amazing day at teaching! I told my students that in order for them to establish good relationships with others and put in place a plan for their lives that they needed to know themselves. "To thine own self be true." I gave them a questionnaire and then they shared their responses willingly. *Favorite color *Name one of your gifts *Name one thing that makes you unique *If you could make school a place where you did nothing but practice at what you want to be as a professional, what would you spend your whole day doing? *If you could make school a place where you focused all day on learning one thing what would it be? *If you could be guaranteed a Best-selling book and make 2 million dollars at it, what would you write about? *If you could write, produce and direct the next box-office hit, what would it be about and who would star in it? *If you could sit down for 2 hours with a historical figure who would it be? *Name your super hero (fictional characters not allowed) Who is extraordinary? *Who thinks you are a super hero? DREAM BIG LIVE BIGGER!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bridging the Achievement Gap through PBL3 and a PC!

Bridging the Achievement Gap through PBL3 and a PC! Increasingly with the inception of multi-facted technological advances, both parents working outside of the home, single-parent homes, and movement away from the parental family nucleus, (logistical concerns) children are coming to school deficient in not only language acquisition, as a result of rich experiential language sharing, but, deficient in simple problem solving strategies, hand's on development, in some cases deficient in learned skills such as riding a bike, skipping, in short kinesthetic, hand-eye developed skills. Schools must fill this void or like a child who walks before crawling, must go back and learn to crawl or suffer developmentally. NCLB and governmental imposed standards have diminished the plausibility of this taking place in the early developmental period. In the place of show and tell, skipping 101, hopping 101 and tumbling 101, finger painting, etc., is Alegbra Readiness and standardized test prep. Teachers of pk-3 know the importance of play. They chose to go into that level because in their souls they are still remembering the with fondness the time when they began to play at “school.” They wanted to continue this approach. Their Professors reminded them of the importance of “playing school” with their soon to be students. Instead they are quickly swept into the bureaucratic nonsense of the day. Along with this reality is the ever increasing achievement gap. While there has always been an achievement gap predominately due to the generational poverty both economically and academically, the reality of our current cultural demise has greatly contributed to this particular culture group. The need for play based learning to take a lead in educating all children, but most especially those who are suffering, who are caught in the achievement gap-hose is more important now than ever. Children play at growing up. School should feel like they are playing at becoming who they want to be when they grow up. Children should be playing at becoming doctors, lawyers, they need to be playing at who they will be, because that alone infuses goal based learning, success determined play. More importantly during some of my recent inquiry into advancing my research I discovered something quite telling about the “great divide” in academic outcomes. While we continue to glory in the technological advancements of our day, we ignore this simple fact: NOT everyone is advancing with it! In 2003 we were introduced to youtube, that was only 10 years ago. When I entered my first classroom as an educator in 2000 very few people had cell phones. Very few people had laptop computers. Many were still saying goodbye to their antiquated “machines.” While the academically inclined, the upper middle class were making room for their home computer systems, many were still hoping for a place to live for more than 6 months at a time. We have advanced rapidly, however, our school systems and our average urban home has not. They still fight to keep their lights on, let alone have a PC on their living room tables, or wifi accessibility for their kids to apply for jobs, do their homework and yes, take an online survey. A prior Post on Paper and Pencil = PC As long as that divide is in place we will not advance all populations, thereby closing the achievement gap. How is this for an idea? Bill, why don't you and all the other IT giants get together with Arne Duncan and instead of ensuring that everyone has an free phone, ensure that everyone has a pc, wifi (which should be free now anyway) and teach them how to use their pc's as a phone? It is a win-win situation. That is a start. Now, let's go play!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

HETL and Patrick Blessinger

Recently I had not only one opportunity, but two opportunities to speak with Patrick Blessinger. Patrick is the founder of HETL. Higher Education, Teaching and Learning "The International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL). The mission of HETL is to bring together higher education professionals from around the world to dialogue, network, and collaborate on critical issues relevant to teaching and learning. We welcome you to explore our site and to get involved in our many activities." Patrick and I had such an amazing time discussing education, the role of educators and Meaning Centered Learning, that we literally found ourselves wishing we had another hour, or two. From those discussion even more question emerged. As a result, Patrick Blessinger will now be joining ME, the first Thursday of every month to discuss education and our passion for learning. Make sure that you join Patrick and myself and visit our professional education pages. Also, please connect with HETL on linkedin. Our next visit will be Thursday, September 5 at 8pm eastern, 7pm central. Feel free to email your questions to artseesdiner@gmail.com, call in with your comments, (646) 595-4620.
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Finally, Someone is Saying it! Schools Diminish the Love of Learning...Some of the Time.

I came across Kelly Gallagher's new book "Read-i-cide" today and the timing was perfect. I stumbled upon yet another glorious attempt to engage our children and advance their love of STEM by way of guess what? A Video-game! Yep, publishers, higher ed (well intentioned, I think) but out of touch directors of education believe that they are going to reach children and encourage them to be active learners by sitting them in front of yet another mind-numbing, push a button and learn process, when the one thing that kids are missing is Whole, Real, Authentic, Meaning Centered education. The multitudes of computer programs that test our kids, teach them meaningful reading, advance their vocabulary, math scores, etc. miss out on a huge piece of the puzzle;NONE OF THEM ARE REAL! While there is some benefit in a computer program, giving a kid a smart phone and letting them play at their own pace, their own time, their own exploration (did you read all that I just wrote? Their time, understanding, pace, exploration, THEIR is the key) Giving a kid one day a week and limited time on a computer (most computers in our schools are archaic and do not function well, and typically not accessible in our struggling communities) does little more than frustrate. To lock a kid in a stationary positioning while staring at a screen, is not different then putting them in a classroom with a teacher in front of them telling them to take notes. Engagement is in the mind of the beholder. There is something to be said about self-selected activities, exploration, holding a book in your hands, or a comic book, or whatever happened to the success of "Reader's Theater?" Oh, wait, I know...it could be created by teachers for their students and did not make any publishing companies or software developers any money. You know the only way to make money in education is to either write a textbook, or produce yet another pie in the sky approach to elevating scores. Hmmm, billions of dollars after the first NCEA, and decades after a "Nation at Risk" we still have not bothered to do what is right. Spending more money on bells and whistles is equivalent to the "snake oil" sellers of days gone by. "Buy this elixir and you will learn quicker." Sorry, but after being connected to education for over 30 years, in many capacities, I have seen the forest, the trees, and have even explored a few snails. As far as Kelly Gallagher goes; "The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools," and well, the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. (including computer games created by gamers who one must question how many books they read in school)he is calling it as he sees it. Move over Marzano, there is a new guy in town, and simplicity is his game. Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. Reading is dying in our schools. Educators are familiar with many of the factors that have contributed to the decline — poverty, second-language issues, and the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. In this provocative new book, Kelly Gallagher suggests, however, that it is time to recognize a new and significant contributor to the death of reading: our schools. In Readicide, Kelly argues that American schools are actively (though unwittingly) furthering the decline of reading. Specifically, he contends that the standard instructional practices used in most schools are killing reading by: valuing the development of test-takers over the development of lifelong readers; mandating breadth over depth in instruction; requiring students to read difficult texts without proper instructional support; insisting that students focus solely on academic texts; drowning great books with sticky notes, double-entry journals, and marginalia; ignoring the importance of developing recreational reading; and losing sight of authentic instruction in the shadow of political pressures. Kelly doesn't settle for only identifying the problems. Readicide provides teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators with specific steps to reverse the downward spiral in reading—steps that will help prevent the loss of another generation of readers. - See more at: http://www.stenhouse.com/shop/pc/viewprd.asp?idProduct=9158&r=eu12411&REFERER=#sthash.emC5mpKy.sJ9gvMr0.dpuf

Friday, July 12, 2013

On the Backs of New Teachers! What?

The "witch-hunt" in public education continues. This time, the blame game will be won by new teachers? Seriously? I entered the education profession officially in 2000 when I passed successfully upon the first try both the "Basic Skills" test, and my content test, which was "History." I was proud as I had worked hard, clocking over 165 credit hours to attain a double major with a minor in music. Not an easy task as I was a full-time mother, accomplished a degree in liturgy during that time, and was working 3 part-time jobs. (How I did that I really do not know!) In 1997 it became mandatory for all new teachers entering into the field to have to pass at least a basic skills test. Furthermore, it was then that I discovered all those that were settled into their positions before the 1997 period were being grandfathered in. They did not have to take the test! Good job Unions, you protected them, but threw the rest of us under the bus. What do I mean by that? Well, 1) you allowed inadequate educators to remain in their positions, without any accountability, passing over people who were better equipped positions. Why do I know this, well, because, many teachers who had far more credit hours as the demands had increased in over time, and these licensed educators of the past 10 years, made the grade passed the test, and were ready to bring their understanding of Differentiated Instruction, Blooms, all the best practices fresh in their dossier. 2) you allowed inadequate educators to remain in their positions, thereby disallowing our children from having the best educators. 3) do the math! If the average tenure of our educators is that of 20 years on the job, then the great majority of them did not have to pass the test! (Among full-time and part-time public school teachers in 2007–08, some 76 percent of public school teachers were female, 44 percent were under age 40, and 52 percent had a master’s or higher degree. Compared with public school teachers, a lower percentage of private school teachers were female (74 percent), were under age 40 (39 percent), and had a master’s or higher degree (38 percent).) So, with the factoids that were presented here, to make it more difficult for our current teachers in "Traditional" programs, why not make all educators regardless of the number of years on the job pass the basic skills test at least once in their careers? Then while you are at it, you better bring an end to "fast track" scabs who slide in after the fact and steal the jobs of us that intended on being the best of the best from the moment we entered into our post-secondary journey. By the way, 14 years after successfully passing the very difficult "History" examination, ensuring my license to teach History, I will finally teach a branch of History this year. Why has it taken so long? Well, mostly because "social studies" positions are rare, they are held for coaching staff, and once you get a job teaching History/Social Studies, you never give it up and you are never forced out. So, I "fell" into this position, literally...more on that later.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mary E. Rapier, Founder of PBL3 Initiaitives

We are facing a dilemma currently in our global society. It is a one that we have never truly had to deal with entirely before and it is one that will be with us from this era forward. We as a nation have taken a half-hearted approach towards, it. “It” is illiteracy, and literary incompetence. We have witnessed an increase in the investment into our schools in the area of literacy, but this is actually because of the identifiable shortcoming of our students graduating out of our public school system. This is not to say that there is an ever increasing upwards movement towards higher education. It is to say that even with all of those efforts we are still falling short with regards to communicating effectively through the written word. The NCEE, National Center on Education and the Economy has spent a time and money to create a program that fills in the gap and prepares for the future students who are capable of producing thoughtful, succinct executive summaries. In an ever increasing movement via the internet the dominance of the written word is further ahead than any mainstream individual could have ever imagined fifty years ago. Our founding fathers desire to establish an educated society was an insightful desire, however we have created a dual dynamic in that there are so many that are graduating from halls of universities, colleges, technical training schools without the ability to communicate effectively through the medium of written text, that however they understand concepts, they cannot effectively translate that into documentation. One must ask then is writing a learned skill or is it an art? Is need outpacing ability? Regardless of what the individual belief is, the necessity for a strong written document is central to the promotion of idea, product, emotion, a securing of both the tangible as well as the intangible. Word weaving as I like to refer to it is fulfilling that Very need. My life experience when melded with education, art, the weaving of the importance of the written word, provides you the client with the documentation necessary to get your message across. A real world, pragmatic approach to allocation of concepts is what you will find in my work. While there has not been formal education in the area of mar-com, I do have experience in writing for a purpose, Executive summary, research, curriculum development, web-text development, essay, as well as non-professional documents. All in all, my ability to transfer ideas in written form is a strength that I have been developing over the course of many years. The role of educator, coach, developer, volunteer, director, consumer, has given me the ability to identify the needs of those that I am serving. As the individual shares a need, a preferred outcome can be isolated. My goal oriented nature seeks ways in which to fulfill the desired results. Articulate, direct, passionate, encouraging, are all words that can be used to describe my approach. When approach is coupled with the an idea or product there will be results coming forth as a result of the written word. The market and the needs of the individual will change as we evolve into a global community. Having someone with a diverse background identifies their ability to grow and change with the needs of those around them. The diversity of skill sets provides a canvas of adaptability and modifiable form to deliver a product to you the client, that meets your need as well as your client’s needs. For further information feel free to contact Mary E. Rapier with maryerapier@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Response to Education Week, 05072013 and A Tale of 2 Articles.

Article Numero Uno is from writer Jennifer Jennings and sets the reader off immediately by claiming

An Apology to Secretary Duncan

With all due respect, you do not need to feel humiliated, embarrassed, or sympathetic to an official paid for by our tax dollars. An employee of the United States. More people need to be willing to make vocal their dissension in this time. That is what the constitution is all about. Furthermore, the constitution is in fact being ignored repeatedly by our Federal Government when it comes to public education in the USA. Again, more people need to go back and do their homework. Far too many people who are non-educators, meaning they did not study the law, are now in charge of education. Just recently in North Carolina a HB was proposed to LIMIT THE RIGHTS OF THE PARENTS! Seriously, the school systems now know better than parents? Government, non-educators know more than educators? I wonder if educators were to start telling the AMA how to treat patients if there would be an uprising from the medical community? How is this different? Did he really have the grace, or did he have the brains to understand that he is an appointed employee of the people of this country and can in fact be removed from his position? I think I will apologize for you for being so complacent. "What saddens me is that the educational policy debate has become an overwhelming chorus of boos, of shout-downs, and of bitter personal insults, rather than a real debate about ideas and data and first principles. Unfortunately, this mirrors the direction that most American political debates have leaned in recent years. It is toxic." It is toxic and the toxicity is coming from Washington and therefore needs to be called out. The booing is merely a symptom of being ignored for far too long. You might do well to join the ranks of the sufferers. It is time to "Grasp the Nettle!" and to possibly recognize that what Peter T. Coleman writes about in his book "The Five Percent" has in fact come to the be the case in public education. The solution to the conflict in education is not to apologize, but, rather to do something that Washington and leaders in the ongoing bashing of educators fail to do over and over again, LISTEN! Could this be a case of a "Stockholm Syndrome?"


Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.


I am 100% in support of the limits of standardized testing in this country. Primarily for the following reasons: 1) it benefits only those making a profit off of the failure of our children. A failure that is not the failure of them, or their schools, but, rather the way in which assessments are written, delivered and measured.
2) The time it takes away from meaningful instruction, and development of our children. When you factor in the amount of time teachers spend on preparing their students, school system spend on initiating, delivering, evaluating, etc., the cost of the testing to the local communities drains the system and literally takes away from meaningful instruction. More and more instruction is being set aside in order to measure and test. This is asinine and completely counter-productive. 
3) After 40 years of nationwide measurement, this has been proven time and time again as an ineffectual means towards academic improvement. 

So, with these 3 points outlined, why does is still exist? Because in anything, all one must do is follow the money. Who benefits from the manipulation of our children, teachers and schools? Well, for one, Washington, secondly, the publishing giants, such as McGraw Hill. Look into their Wall Street portfolio and you will see immediately what I am talking about. 

As far as a Common Core goes. I am all for it. As a professional educator with advanced degrees and experience, I believe this is one way in which a unified, national body of educators can rise up against a tyrannical governmental system. I believe when unified more parents will begin to demand that all children learn in a way that will allow for them to be successful in colleges across the country and globally. I ensures that children are given ample opportunities and educators can move from one state to another without losing their licensures. As it is now, if you are licensed in one state, then you cannot teach in another without going through extreme costs in order to obtain an out of state license, per se. This process actually keeps teachers from seeking better employment opportunities in the field of education. As it right now, because of the way our education system is set up, unless you are RIF'd, there is little opportunity for moving out of a school system if you have been there for 5 or more years. 

There needs to be a major Rift, but, it needs to be focused on the big problems, not Common Core Standards. To me that is the way of empowering all of us against tyrannic approaches toward public education.    

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Common Core? It Is Nothing to Be Afraid of! Highly Talented Teachers Are Already Doing IT!

I just completed an article in Ed Week magazine with the following title written by Laura Thomas. As in many things a good title will grab you in and like Thomas indicates in her article, the monster doesn't really exist, it just get's us all worked up. So it is with the Common Core.


The 'Monster' at the End of the Common CoreBy Laura Thomas



I believe in balanced delivery, differentiation, "wholistic" approaches to education. Why? Well, if I were to sit down and talk with Daniel Goleman about my processes, he would indicate that it is because of my EI/IQ, you see after raising children and being a very involved parent, my EI/IQ would be a major impetus to the way I think. If I were to sit down with Dewy, it would be because of my pragmatic nature. The biggest reason that I would attribute my strong commitment to a "commom core" approach to education comes from my years of experience trying to reach those kids who fall between the cracks. They do not test out as special needs kiddo's and they are not the more advanced, or rather, "average kiddo's" Rather they are the gifted and talented overlooked because of social stratifiers, or they are the disengaged learner.

While working with Chicago Hts., SD 170, I had the luxury to be working under a program called, America's Choice for School Design. It was wonderful. At first I was a process that was unmanageable. But, I had a Superintendent and a Principal who demanded fidelity to the program. Their clear, unwavering expectations made it possible to navigate through the first year only to look forward to the send, third and beyond. I still use the routines and rituals set forth by this program. It has solidified my educational philosophy and guess what? It is the common core! It demands a balanced approach to delivery. It no longer isolates curriculum. No longer can a teacher say, "I teach English, math, history, etc." It demands that the educator's first response be "I teacher children how to be effective contributors to the WHOLE!"

America's first step towards embracing a global reality is to begin to recognize that while we are divided up into 50 states, and many municipalities, we are first and foremost Americans. We no longer have the same cultural divides as we did 100 years ago. We are far more mobile, interconnected, and we are far more universal then we would like to imagine. We must have in place a system whereby children in the northeast are in fact equal to the children academically in the far southwest. We cannot stake that claim. This is the first real, and logical step towards embracing a universal understanding of what the truest role of public education is in this country. The word "Common" sets the stage for a common sense of awareness and removes the ambiguity in our school systems.

In closing; A Highly Talented Teacher, never has to worry about his or her lesson plans or curriculum, as they have been doing it right all along, and do not need mandates to show them how to impact their classrooms. .

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Profit Drives Education Improvements? What a novel idea!

Does it surprise anyone that a profit would be a motivator in doing a better job? Just look at McGraw Hill and other companies that continue to increase their profit off of our children. Nice to see profit be a motivator towards success. Do you suppose that if we do a paradigm shift away from a belief that testing improves scores that the multi-billion lost in the coffers of publishing companies will be invested into our schools? Education Week article

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"TODAY'S PC IS EQUAL TO THE PAPER AND PENCIL WHEN I entered grammar school, in 1964."

So, here is a call to Bill Gates, Michael Dell, HP, and IBM. As the marketeers are determining that the PC is about to vanish from our little reach, I implore you to take the vast amount of PC's sitting on the shelf, continue to make them all for one very logical sound reason. People need them! Far too many are still unfamiliar with and lack proficiency in computer manipulation. You see there is a direct connection between hand to eye coordination and brain stimulation. 15 years ago as computer/telecommunication by way of the PC and internet became the rage, schools stopped teaching handwriting as a mandated subject. They wondered why it was important when we were all going to be typing on PC's. The PC replaced the paper and pencil for a great many of us. Now we have touch pads, and a simple swipe of the finger does it all, so pads replace the PC. But, please understand the vast majority of children in rural, and urban communities still have never mastered the PC. What does this mean? It means we have created a society of consumers and not producers. Of simpletons as opposed to developers. I encourage the vast wealth earned by the front runners of the telecommunication/computer age to now reinvest in a meaningful way. Until every school age child has a PC, access to internet and access to meaningful implementation into their daily lives the achievement gap will continue to widen. In other words, "TODAY'S PC IS EQUAL TO THE PAPER AND PENCIL WHEN I entered grammar school, in 1964."

Friday, April 12, 2013

My First Blog - STEM Education

As an experienced classroom educator I am often perplexed by the inordinate amount of influence and power that we turn over to individuals who have never spent a day in the classroom as an educator, aside from a few presentations, or glorified in classroom field trips. You know the salesperson who is there to sell their newest way to reform education? As I embark on an experiential based approach to education, that will not reform, but transform the classroom experience, I am gearing up for the aspect of my work, which will in fact become on of critical analysis. Today I watched a pretty slide show created by yet another individual out to sell their work regarding STEM education. While this individual is quite intelligent and has spent the biggest majority of her professional career promoting STEM and her resume espouses glorious experiences in the world of promotion and publishing, I do not see anywhere that she has a degree in education, curriculum development, school leadership, and definitely NO CLASSROOM experience. I am continually perplexed by schools systems and educators who continually invest in and fund the endeavors of those who are not on the front line, who are not educators, who do not understand the multifarious aspects of education. Everyone of our schools are filled with specialists, yes, EDUCATION SPECIALISTS! We have invested long hours, years of education, and an expense that many of us will never fully repay in our professional lifetimes, yet, we continue to let non-educators form our understanding of education, when the reverse should actually be taking place. I look forward to teaching you what education is, what it is not. What STEM is and what it is not. What is PBL3? You might be surprised.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What is PBL3EDU?

PBL3 is an approach to education, that I believe will transform education, and the educators who deliver it. Please stay tuned as the professional educators connected with PBL3 will deliver their educational modules, insight, and passion for children, educators, and EDUCATION!