Thursday, September 06, 2007

No Child Left Behind

My mama sent me an article about an interesting approach to education in Alaska. It can be found here.

3 comments:

  1. Ooohhh...an education article!!!

    Ok. So, I must say that a few of the things going on there are going on in a regular education classroom...for example...students must master the objectives. We aren't going for kinda sorta. Also...a lot more is being done as far as grading based on ability.

    I do have to question what was going in those schools that they were only performing at that low percentage before. It can't all be the system.

    With that said...there are a lot of great points to what is being done there now. There is a big push right now to find a new way to organize schools. For example one district (I can't remember which right now, but it was in another state) organized their school district based on learning styles. So, if you were a musical learner you went to the music school...does that mean they ignore everything else? No...it means that everything else is taught in a way that relates to or utilizes music so those students understand it better. Very cool!

    Lately I have been a big fan of the idea of moving back to a "one room" school house kind of deal. I become very frustrated by the...don't hold the kids back in first grade or they'll be too old if they keep getting held back in the future. Why the heck should we send them on if they're not ready??? All they will do is fall more behind. (Although statistics show that for every year you're held back the chances of that student dropping out later increases exponentially.) And unfortunately...as good of an idea as No Child Left Behind is it has some major flaws.

    I would love if students could be grouped the way the Chugach system is grouping them...although that article made the teachers seem somewhat uninvolved. I don't know if that's the case or not. The difficulty is convincing the general public that this is a good thing.

    Also...this can be difficult in a society where it is fight or flight. Kids of varying ages are "aware" of different things and having kids who are too old with other younger kids can cause major problems at times...so class size would definitely have to be brought down for it to work. (Which they did in the article.)

    I really do feel though that if you are a knowledgable teacher who is dedicated to the profession that you are already doing a lot of these teaching "strategies" in a regular classroom setting. Kids should always know what they are trying to master...they shouldn't have to tote around some binder full of pages in order to know what is expected of them. That's the whole point of telling the kids the objective of a lesson. If you don't tell them every lesson what they're going to learn and why then you're just spewing information at teflon pans! And I'll be damned if any child is going to sit in my class and just decide to "take a zero" or zone out. Such things do not exist in the Amanda Lipscomb classroom.

    Every child in my room is involved and learning. Why? Because learning is FUN and only a good teacher can make it that way. If your students are checked out, then the teacher is checked out as well...and maybe they need to find a new "calling" in life.

    That's my opinion...but opinions are like belly buttons...everyone has one. : )

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  2. Amanda,
    Thank you so much for your commentary! I alway value the opinions of a teacher because you are seeing first hand what works and what doesn't in the classroom. I think one of the most encouraging things about the article was the school district's willingness to try a drastically different approach once they realized that the old system wasn't working. I also think that this new system is working well because it's a small district and it sounds like they have a very low student/teacher ratio and relatively few kids. I think a massive school district in an urban environment would have a tougher time pulling it off. But I'm highly encouraged but this approach. Thanks again, Amanda, for your comments!
    -Sonja

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  3. If you're ever interested in seeing more of what is cutting edge in education...on the technology front...George Lucas (famed director of Star Wars) has his own education foundation and free quarterly magazine dedicated to the use of technology in schools. It is a great thing full of great new ideas that I wish more schools/districts would try out. Here's the link if you're interested:
    http://www.edutopia.org/

    And thanks for posting an education article. I love reading about it, and it opens up great discussion and ideas. : )

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