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Article courtesy of
America’s public schools have become a bouncing board of trial
and error. With every social and political change comes a
newfangled reform designed to save compulsory education. But
the reforms rarely reform. Instead they reshape and rename
existing policies, or they happen so far after the fact that their
impact lies meaningless. Rather than predict societal
changes, they respond to them, and rather than transform our
schools into innovative institutions, they further entrench them
in stodgy tradition.
Today’s students need anything but stodgy tradition.
Youth today face a new world, one that is universal instead of
national, one where lifelong careers cannot be assured, where
marketable skills can quickly become obsolete, and where human
rights outshine differences in race, class or gender. To be
successful in this ever-changing economy, students need to think
as entrepreneurs; they need independence, creativity and diversity
(Watanabe 2010). The focus of America’s schools is on the
complete opposite. Through common standards, we teach
students how to be dependent, artless, and uniform. We show
them how to stifle their talents and quell their thirst in order
to fulfill the requirements of a standardized test.
Standards have become not only a major focus of educational
reform but also the publicly-accepted route to educational
perfection. The consensus seems to be that by controlling
the curricular content of schools, learning will be heightened,
hierarchies will be dismantled, and equity will prevail.
However, an assessment by the National Academy of Education (2009)
of America’s more than 20-year history of standards-based
education has revealed less than desired results. Are our
reforms really reforming or are they simply shaking up the
contents of what already exists? In today’s globalized
world, is a standardized curriculum beneficial to all students or
is it an outdated tactic that feigns educational quality and
Educational standards grew in response to social changes.
Concern about the quality of America’s schools rose after the
Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik (National Center for
Education Statistics [NCES], 2011; National Research Council,
2000). To determine student progress, the
congressionally-mandated National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) was created. Assessments of primary and
secondary school students began in 1969 and continue today. Administered
by the U.S. Department of Education, the uniform NAEP tests follow
frameworks that are devised by a bipartisan governing board.
The goal is to monitor long-term trends in education and present
the American public with a national report card (NCES, 2011).
The Civil Rights Movement spurred another educational reform.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),
signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to make classrooms
more equitable and lessen the achievement gap through high
standards and accountability (Education Equality Project, 2011).
Although the law saw expanded federal involvement in education, a
statute within it forbade the establishment of a national
curriculum (Manna, 2006).
Since its inception, the ESEA has been continually renewed.
In 1994, the Clinton administration reauthorized the law,
strengthening accountability through annual testing and academic
standards that all students must meet. In the George W. Bush
administration, ESEA became the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act.
Through state standards and adequate yearly progress (AYP)
criteria, NCLB further strengthened accountability (Manna, 2006).
During Barack Obama’s term, the Race to the Top (RTT) initiative
loosened the improbable NCLB requirements but became the impetus
for the adoption by many states of common standards (Lewin, 2010).
Instead of a national curriculum, which the ESEA forbade, RTT
encourages de facto national standards (Mathis, 2010). Despite
the name and criteria changes, the underlying goal of all the
initiatives is to offer equitable and quality education to all
students via mixed-ability classrooms where everyone receives the
same share of the educational offerings.
The national common core standards initiated through RTT are
designed to help learners succeed in college and the workforce.
According to the initiative’s website, the reform will prepare
students for today’s global economy (Common Core State Standards
Initiative, 2011). Although the goals sound
student-oriented, there is more to the story. As with
previous reform efforts, both states and the nation will benefit;
adoption of the common standards by state governors will bring
them closer to federal monies. Also, by using similar
curriculum, textbooks and assessments, Secretary of Education Arne
Duncan believes the country will save billions of dollars (Lewin,
NCLB had comparable state perks. Federal funding was
given for administration of state-wide standardized tests.
Prior to that, the ESEA offered Title I funding to schools that
pledged to help disadvantaged students.
Federal initiatives are formulated to benefit the country and
its citizens, and would be counterproductive if they didn’t.
In education, however, the goal of finding the most cost effective
way to develop human capital reeks of Marxism. Students
become not individual talents to be honed but pawns in an economic
game. The common standards prompted by RTT will benefit the
country via billions saved on education, thereby frugally
increasing human capital, but will they increase the quality of
our future work force?
Modern industrial societies are built on a hierarchy of
occupations and duties. To fill these, a variety of
interests and talents are required. Standardized education
treats students, not as vital components of a multifaceted
society, but as a mass, a single unit that must be indoctrinated
for national gain. Instead of empowering and embracing
individual skills, it sets students on a curricular path which may
not be in their best interests.
In the pursuit of equalized intelligence, the burden falls on
the disadvantaged. Academically-successful students will
breeze through any curricular changes and remain as successful as
they were before the standards were introduced. Their
mastery will further increase their sense of efficacy.
Meanwhile, low-achieving students will struggle to reach the
newest arbitrary mark of common intelligence. Disappointing
results in their efforts can further decrease what may be an
already low sense of efficacy (Bandura, 1994). The loss of
self-esteem can lead to frustration with school and eventually to
dropping out (Reasoner, 2010).
As a teacher at a continuation high school, I have seen
firsthand the lackluster results of government initiatives.
Whether it be NCLB or RTT, standardized schooling blatantly
reproduces biases, promotes boredom and, for many students,
results in failure. The career goal of several of my senior
students ranges from tattoo artist to dental assistant. Those
who say they want to go to college are unsure what they want to
study. Their uncertainty is not a surprise. The
standardized curriculum they must follow leaves little room for
self-discovery. Rather than hone their specific interests
and abilities, the required college-preparatory courses exclude
them from personal development and growth.
Standardization is meant to ensure quality. With
commodities, it makes perfect sense, but should it also be applied
to individuals? A 2009 assessment by the National Academy of
Education (NAE) of America’s standards-based education showed
unsatisfactory results. Rather than teach students according
to individual abilities, a standardized curriculum encourages
teaching to the test. More instructional focus is given to
the tested subjects of math and English, and less is given to
science, social studies, art, music and physical education.
In addition, the traditional college-preparatory, standardized
curriculum ill serves students who do not plan on continuing their
education (NAE, 2009).
Although designed to instill equality, common standards can
evoke inequality. Any standardized test is a ranking system;
as such it breeds comparisons of students, schools, districts, and
regions. To flaunt the common core standards as an
egalitarian tool is inaccurate; ranking systems create or
reproduce hierarchies (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990). Those
who are good test takers or who have a natural bent for the
subjects being tested will be at the top of the hierarchy; all
others will fall below. This is not equality and is
certainly not a lesson that should be taught in schools. By
pitting students and schools against one another via test scores,
the lesson becomes competition rather than cooperation.
Equality of intelligence can never be attained yet too often
government officials lead the public into believing it can.
Rather than continue the charade, the purpose of the common
standards and standardized tests should be told forthright.
Disguised as avenues toward social democracy, they are a
capitalistic money-making venture, as well as a panicked solution
to a country that fears losing its economic standing in the global
market. They feign innovation but are instead a dated
response to a worldwide competition.
It is ironic to see that in an era of critical pedagogy and
equitable rights, our educational policies move more and more
toward rigid uniformity. Instead of focusing on individual
talents and expertise, we focus on collective basics. Instead
of allowing our high school students to choose their own destiny,
we steer their course through mandated curricula. Instead of
being educational innovators, we revise and rename what has
already been done.
Education is designed to sit in a state of flux, yet our
educational practices are anachronistic and stale. A
one-size-fits-all education is not practical. New
generations of students bring new knowledge, perspectives, and
ideas. Changes in population, economics, and occupations
necessitate periodic curricular reforms.
The argument for individualization dates back to Ancient
Greece. In The Republic, Plato (1908) contended:
“No two persons are born exactly alike; but each differs from
the other in natural endowments, one being suited for one
occupation and the other for another” (p. 55). According
to Plato, when workers choose an occupation that befits their
talents “things will be produced in superior quantity and
quality, and with greater ease” (p. 55).
The individualistic mindset continued through the 18th
century periods of Enlightenment and Romanticism.
Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762/2007) saw it as a roadway
to educational equity. Inequality, he asserted, was an
unavoidable and unfortunate byproduct of the civilization of man.
With metallurgical and agricultural production came greed,
competition, labor divisions, and social classes. For an
egalitarian education, children should be separated from
influential social factors and be allowed to embrace and develop
their natural bent (Rousseau, 1754/2009).
Individualistic learning is a goal in many countries.
Japan aims to give every student equal educational opportunity
according to his/her abilities. Recent curricular reforms
have been focusing not on uniformity and conformity but on
creativity and individuality. The goal is to provide
students with the skills needed to survive in the 21st
century; namely, the ability to identify problems, act
independently, and adapt to new situations. Compulsory
schooling includes six years of elementary and three years of
lower secondary. Upper secondary schools, although not
mandatory, have a 97% attendance rate (Watanabe, 2010).
South Korea’s educational focus is on diversity and
individuality rather than uniformity. Known for its
stringent academics, the republic is now promoting vocational
training and lifelong learning. Also, the curriculum and
College Scholastic Ability Test were restructured to allow 11th
and 12th grade students to choose their own classes
(Shin & Koh, 2005).
Germany’s tripartite educational system sets primary students
on an academic or vocational track. According to
governmental policy statements, the program was designed to focus
on individual abilities and interests (Kubow & Fossum, 2003).
This concept is seen in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of
Germany (2008): “Every person shall have the right to free
development of his [sic] personality” (Article 2).
Sages have, for centuries, advocated individualism and several
academically successful countries focus on it. Why then do
American leaders cling to educational standards? For true
reform, policy makers need to look beyond the parameters of
standardized education. School curricula and structures must
be changed. Rather than attempt the impossible feat of
equalizing intelligence, educators should center on individual
talents, interests, and abilities.
Individualizing education can be done through more student
responsibility and less compulsory education. A mandatory
12-year college preparatory curriculum no longer makes sense.
After earning a Grade 10 certificate, students should be
given options to follow the upper secondary path of their choice.
Allowing students to choose their classes according to time
preference, interests, abilities and goals would bring a college
atmosphere to the high school campus. To accommodate
individual interests, high schools should be open longer and offer
more courses. Federal funds that are now spent on
standards-based reforms could instead be used to hire more
teachers in order to make this a reality. After all, the key
to equitable learning is not standardization but
individualization. When futures are put in the hands of the
beholder, true equity in education will unfold.
Michele Ramstetter has taught disadvantaged
students for more than 14 years. A former
teacher in her hometown of Buffalo, NY, she currently
teaches English at a continuation high school in
Orange County, CA. She is a former reporter and
a current PhD student. Her dissertation research
will determine whether differentiated school offerings
can help predict the dropout rate.
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Using Photography To Inspire
By Hank Kellner
Kellner is a retired teacher of English who
has served as a department chair at the high school level and an
adjunct associate professor of English at the community college
He is the former publisher of Moneygram,
a marketing newsletter for photographer. He is also the
creator of many photographs and articles that have appeared in
publications nationwide, the author of extensive reading
comprehension materials for a publisher of educational
materials, and a former contributor to Darkroom Photography
magazine. His self-syndicated series, Twelve Unknown
Heroes of the American Revolution appeared in more than
fifty newspapers and magazines nationwide.
Kellner's most recent publication, Write What
You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing, is marked by Prufrock
Press. His blog appears regularly at hank-englisheducation.blogspot.com.
|The purpose of Hank's most
recent work, Reflect and Write: 270 Poems and Photographs to Inspire
Writing, is to inspire student
writing through the use of poetry and photography.
Most of the poems and photos have been submitted by students,
teachers, and others nationwide, though some are directly from
Hank. Although Reflect and Write: 270 Poems and Photographs to Inspire
Writing has not yet been
published, all of its contents are copyrighted. Teachers
are free, however, to download selected contents for use in
Each selection will include a poem, a photograph, a direct
quotation, and four trigger words.
We at StarTeaching kindly thank Hank for his permission to
use the materials.
by Casey Hills
I am a thousand flames that glow,
I am the sun on waterfalls,
I am the silent springs that flow,
I am the gentle breeze that calls.
I am the diamond stars above.
I am the song that sings of love
I am the clouds up in the sky.
I am the birds that fly on high.
I’m all around you can’t you see?
I’m everything you want to be.
I am you
Photo # 39 by Hank
“Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.”
hotel bedroom shutters
to find a cigarette’s lazy smoky curl,
a rusted iron headboard,
dirty and neglected,
inside a sepia tinted world.
peaceful in the early stillness,
some people stirring,
others yet in slumber
or with another.
Outside, a quiet murmur
Somewhere a small dog yaps.
A man rests a moment on a bench
tired from his morning run.
Nearby a forest lush with green.
Like the sun, we are all reluctant
to rise and start another day.
There is no greater peace, it seems
than in our beds
still warm from body heat
Courtesy of Martha Walker
2009 Hank Kellner
These poem/photo combinations are from
Hank Kellner's upcoming publication, Reflections: A Collection of Poetry, Photos, and
Kellner is the author of
Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Published by Cottonwood Press ( I-800-864-4297)
and distributed by Independent
Publishers Group, Write What You See includes a supplementary CD with photos. 8 ˝ x11,
120 pages, perfect binding, ISBN 978-1-877-673-83-2, LCCN
2008938630. $24.95. Available at bookstores, from the publisher,
and on the Internet at www.amazon.com and
your school or local librarian to order it.Visit the author’s
blog at http://hank-englisheducation.com.
The author will contribute a portion of the royalties earned
from the sale of this book to The Wounded Warriors Project.
Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:
are six modules designed to test the basic ability of an
individual in terms of Memory & Concentration. Needless to
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survive but also to thrive in this competitive environment.
Each of the six modules tests the six variants of Memory &
Concentration in an individual, namely:
of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to
At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as
A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18
levels depending on the marks one scores during the
Each individual can assess his/her performance any time by
clicking on "history", which gives complete details
of date and time of taking the tests, marks scored each time
and even time taken to do the test. This builds the confidence
level and encourages more participation to eventually
culminate in improvement and enhancement of memory and
Essentially, this software is a SELF AWARENESS tool that
surely motivates the individual to realize one's capability
and seek or be receptive for improvement. Also, if repeatedly
done over a period of time works as Training tool to enhance
software package is specifically designed to help young
children to learn basic skills that will help them in
school. Continued follow-up will give these young
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Three versions of the software exist:
Individual Software on either CD or Online, Family
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The Relationship Between Teacher
A Symbol of Love and Understanding
By Munir Moosa Sewani
Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative
names in the field of Education for the past 10 years. He is a
Master Trainer In Special Education, Post Graduate, Teacher
Educator and a Teacher. He is a Freelance Writer and Photographer,
in addition to his role as a featured writer for StarTeaching's
newsletter for four and a half years now. He is an author of the
famous self-published storybook for children titled "The
MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN" and has also written a Biology
book for Secondary Classes. He has written more than 100 articles
dealing with social, health, educational and cultural issues,
which are internationally recognized and published in famous world
wide websites, newsletters, magazines and newspapers.
is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor,
musician, lyrics writer and have multi- dimensional talents. His
future plan is to write dozens of informative articles and to work
for education and media, in order to explore hidden creativity.
You can contact Munir Moosa Sewani at: firstname.lastname@example.org
mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher
demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." (William Ward)
an ordinary person, a teacher is a person who teaches students, but for
students, the role of a teacher is far beyond our expectations. A
teacher is a role model for many children. They imitate their teachers
and many a times share all those things which they can’t even express
in front of their parents.
I joined the profession of teaching a decade ago, I had no idea about
this field; but as time passed, I realized that this field has given
more than what I had expected. But this field demands love, care,
sympathy, understanding, and above all, a good relationship with
truly said “Children are like a pot of flowers. If you’ll give them
proper attention, they’ll grow up properly; but if you’ll give them
lack of attention or extreme care, they’ll be destroyed.” (Munir
Moosa Sewani, 2006).
teacher is a very important person in every student’s life.
Understanding the needs of students is a challenging task for teachers.
That trust can only be built if there is a good relationship between a
teacher and a student. Research was conducted and 50 students were asked
the question: what is the one line, which comes to your mind for your
teachers? (Research conducted by Munir Moosa in March, 2007) Few of the
responses are given below: I am fed up of my teachers because of
their stupid threats! My teachers always support us and they always
think good for us. They are really concerned about our future.
am sure that sir (name undisclosed) was given severe punishments during
his childhood. Now he has become mental and throwing tantrums on us. My
teacher always insults me in front of all the students. I want to kill
my teacher one. I love my teachers because I truly feel comfortable in
taking their views in solving my personal problems.
are some of the statements commented by students. What makes them say
all that is something, which is to be assessed by us. Despite reading so
many articles, news headlines, laws, etc., some teachers love to be
staunch all the time. But a challenging teacher begins his/her teaching
career by building understanding with their students.
my 4th year of teaching, one of my students of class 3 said the
following words to me “Sir, mayray daddy smoke kartay hai- mujhay
bohat ganda lagta hai lekin woh kisi ki nahi suntay aur mummy ko be
maartay hai isi liye may bohat darr jata hu. Aap please daddy ko bolo
woh aap ki baat maan lay gay.” (Sir, my dad is a smoker and I
dislike his habit of smoking, but he never listens to any one and always
hit my mom, that’s why, I often feel insecure. Please talk to my dad;
he will surely listen to you). I was deeply touched when the first time
student started trusting me. That trust was based on student- teacher
relationship. Students start trusting you if you are sincere to them.
Days are gone when a staunch teacher was considered as the best one.
Today, students need a good teacher not a villain; they need to learn
rather than listening to dictating lectures; they need a friendly
teacher rather than a strict one.
relationship of a teacher and student is very sensitive. Once it is
built with a positive gesture, a teacher can expect good outcomes of
to a research review co-authored by Christi Bergin and David Bergin at
the University of Missouri, students with positive attachments to their
professors and institutions display higher grades and higher
standardized test scores. Moreover, research was conducted in which the
results concluded that children are more comfortable with their teachers
than their friends, only if teachers are sincere to them. We all are
teachers in some way or the other, but how many of us have achieved the
level of satisfaction, is the question we need to ask ourselves. I would
appreciate the readers to read the story provided below:
a new child got an admission in my class. He just shifted to Pakistan
from Afghanistan. When all the students saw him, they started hitting
him, and made faces as if they did not like him. Few of the students
even complained to me about his dirty clothes, while the others made
lame excuses because they did not want to sit with him. One of the
brilliant students of my class complained, "Munir Sir, this boy
smells horrible. He is so shabby! I don't want to sit with him at any
cost." At that time, an idea clicked to my mind to solve this
dispute. The very next day, when I entered the class, that innocent
Afghan student was sitting at the back, while other students were making
fun of him.
of the students, who were just sitting beside me, informed me that my
socks were torn. Another student looked at my shirt and informed me that
my shirt sleeves were torn. (Actually, I was already aware of that, but
pretended as if, I had no idea). I replied, "Oh! I didn't know
that; what should I do now? I think it's better for me to leave the
class because I have worn tattered shirt and socks, and it's my
presumption that you all would not allow me to be in your class in such
a scruffy way."
of the students exclaimed, "So what if your shirt sleeves and socks
are torn. You must not leave the class at any cost. We don't want any
other teacher to teach us." Another student exclaimed, "Hey! I
have an idea. Let me ask the section head if she can arrange a safety
pin for you?" At that time, I sparkled and replied, "My dear
students, you all know that I have worn torn clothes, then why have you
all requested me to be in your class?” One student responded,
"You are our beloved teacher, and we don't want you to leave the
class because you are the best teacher and we have no problem with your
I replied, "You all love me and accepted me in any case. In the
same manner, this new student has worn torn clothes and odor comes from
his cloth. But is it wise enough to throw him out of the class or tell
him not to come to school from the next day, just because of wearing
untidy clothes?" I further added, "He is also human, and God
always tell us to help every one. He is like your brother. If any of
your brothers is in need, it's your duty to help." All the students
realized and felt sorry for their harsh behavior. They all shook hands
and welcomed that Afghani child. The very next day, I was surprised to
see that boy's glinting face. It was like a miracle for me to see him
mingling with other students. Spare clothes, books, stationary, etc,
which were brought by the students for him. I still remember one of the
students even brought soap and taught him how to clean his face and
hands properly. My students are my strength and their motivation to help
others makes me feel proud.
above story clearly reflects student- teacher relationship. If your
students trust you, then the teaching can be performed successfully.
are some tips
for teachers to have better relationships with their students.
of the advices, I would like to give to the teachers are:
Always love your students and care them like your own children.
Respect your students and never hurt them in front of other students.
Avoid corporal punishment; that will only left scars in their minds.
Take your students for outing with the permission of your school so that
students can feel cozy with you.
Become a good counselor and provide them your valuable suggestions,
Mother Theresa beautifully quoted “Kind words can be short and easy to
speak, but their echoes are endless. So be kind to your students.
If the student fails to learn, the teacher fails to teach."
–Therefore, we must look into our pockets rather blaming children for
A sincere teacher does not look for one who performs the appearance of
work. It means that appreciates student’s efforts and never let them
down. If they do not perform well, help them to learn it and try to find
the reasons behind it.
Student-teacher relationship must be healthy, based on cooperation,
mutual understanding with little bits of strictness.
Never discourage students in sharing their ideas. Let them speak and
give their views without any discrimination.
Always be natural and express yourself without any hesitant.
Give them chance to write on their own. Don’t ever try to showcase
your skills. A sign of a good teacher is appreciating children efforts
rather making them promoting rote learning.
Know each an individual child’s capabilities and abilities and explore
Give them time to relax in class.
If they regularly feel bored when you teach, try to arrange educational
activity for them as an alternative resource to complete your
Give them incentives or reward when they perform good work. The reward
could be a gift, star, stamp or just a good verbal slogan like Bravo!
Keep it up! This positive gesture is required especially in primary
Try to teach according to the psychology of the students.
Always remember that children are very sensitive, so treat them with
They notice each and every thing- from our dress to our gestures, so
always be prepared for every thing.
usually ask us many questions and some times we don't know the answer to
some questions. At that moment, just try to be loyal and tell your
students that you'll search it and will tell them tomorrow or day after.
In this way you'll not only gain trust and confidence, there will also
be a strong bond of relationship on both sides.
a role model for your students not only by wearing extremely nice
apparel, but also through your positive attitude and knowledge.
any student makes any mistake in their copy, don’t punish them to
re-write. That is the worst solution for a teacher. Look at your mistake
because it is the teacher’s fault if a child does any mistake.
tips will surely help all the teachers to build a stronger relationship
with their students.
Best of Luck!
| Grand Valley offers a Masters in Educational Leadership in Boyne City and Cadillac. If you would like to find out more about our program feel free to contact me
or call me at 231-258-2935.
Many of the topics we will present will be for teachers seeking and administration position and for recently appointed administration. I will also receive comments from those who have just completed their first year as administrators. Since the program in Northern began eleven years ago we have placed over 60 GVSU graduates in administration positions.
For The Things They Don't Teach You In College
by Rozina Jumani
a Development consultant associated with a number of Non
governmenetal Organizations(NGO). Prior to this, she was with
Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan for 10 years as a
Professional Development Teacher and Counsellor. She has done
her Masters in Islamic Studies and English from University of
Karachi. She is a commonwealth scholar and completed her Masters
in Education Planning, Economic and International Development
from the institute of Education (IOE), University of London.
definition of literacy is context specific. The parameters of literacy
may vary from one geographical region to another and from one era to
another. It can be as simple as just recognition of the alphabets, or
signing of one’s own name, or may be broader in order to include the
handling of equipment
studying manuals. Literacy has multiple meanings ranging from the simple
ability to read and write, to interpreting and implementing ideas,
knowledge and skills that a person may have required.
definitions of literacy focus on perception and decoding. For example,
Spache (1964: 2) described literacy as “a series of word perceptions
i.e. reading only”. Kaestle (1985: 34), described literacy as “the
ability to decode and comprehend language at a rudimentary level, that
is the ability to look at written words corresponding to ordinary oral
discourse, to say them, and to understand them.”
two definitions emphasize the aspect of skills to read the printed
symbols and to map these symbols into the understanding of oral
is observed that initially, the definition of literacy was confined to
the acquisition of the basic skills of the 3 R’s (reading, writing and
arithmetic). Over a period of time, basic literacy was upgraded to
functional literacy, expanding further into knowing to do things by
using insight. This transformation of literacy is, in fact,
associated with its importance for the society as a whole, and to enable
a person to effectively participate in the life
defining literacy is a very complex notion, it is important to
deliberate upon it since the definition has far-reaching implications.
Some experts have emphasized cognitive processes in describing literacy,
some more generally and others more specifically. For example, Goodman
(1976: 51) suggested that “reading is a psycholinguistic guessing
game”. Venezky (1991:22) states, it is “a cognitive skill.”
Calfee and Nelson-Barber (1991:13) describe it as “the capacity to
employ language as a tool for oral communication.”
definitions are consistent with teaching reading and writing as a
cognitive process that involves the processing of information through
such strategies as activating background knowledge, encouraging readers
to make predictions, or writers to organize their ideas into categories.
below cited definitions from different countries indicate that despite
the broadening of the description of literacy in literature, the working
definition of literacy, as adopted by different countries has remained
fairly simple at the skill level.
to read and write in any language
9th grade pass is considered as literate and
according to this definition illiterates are only 1 % in that
is defined as the one who can read with accuracy at a speed of
approximately 40 words per minute and write or copy at a speed
of 10 words per minute and take dictation at the speed of not
less than 7 words per minute in any language.
person is considered as literate who can recognize alphabets,
read simple words, signs his / her name (eligibility for voting)
able to read and understand a letter, or able to read certain
part of certain magazine or of a certain newspaper.
is defined as the ability to read and write in any language, a
short statement on every day life of 06 years and above persons
definition of literacy consists of three components viz-a viz.
and writing the printed materials without spelling each word.
Writing 80 words in 45 minutes without making too many mistakes.
Reading four digit numbers and write legibly the first ten
to UNRSCO (2002), It is currently estimated that about twenty percent of
world's population aged fifteen and above is illiterate and that about
115.4 million school-age children are not in school.
Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use
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By Mark Benn,
Middle School Teacher and Technical
Benn is a Technology Integration Coach for VARtek Services, Inc. Having just completed almost 25 years as an educator for Inland Lakes Public Schools, and having received a Masters of Science in Educational Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University in 2010, he now works in a position that supports teachers of K-12 classrooms in the southwest Ohio region that are interested in integrating technology into their learning environments. VARtek Services mission is to be the best provider of managed technology solutions for enhanced learning in the K–12 marketplace. Our website is:
Integrating handheld computers,
formerly called palm pilots, into the curriculum can be exciting to the
students and unsettling to the teacher, but as you will see very
rewarding. I introduced handhelds into my fifth grade classroom one and
a half years ago. It has certainly been a learning experience.
From the beginning the students have been willing to do things on the
handheld that they fight against doing with pencil and paper. They study
harder for tests, take more notes, organize themselves more, and have
the ability to learn through ways that can’t be accomplished in a
classroom without them. I could go on and on, but here is a sample of
what the students say about them:
think handhelds are great! They really help you organize and
they are WAY better than just paper and pencil.
have helped me out a lot this year. With handhelds we can
study a lot easier with quizzler. Also we can stay a lot more
organized with the programs tasks and calendar. We often take
our handhelds home to use quizzler to study for our tests. We
can practice our typing with the wireless keyboards and a
typing program called Words Per Minute.
are very cool and make school very fun. They make it easy to
write assignments so you don’t lose them. They make it
easier to study for tests and keep track of homework. Having
handhelds in school is a big responsibility and it teaches us
to respect expensive items. Without handhelds school would be
boring and slow. If we didn’t have handhelds many of us
would lose our writing assignments. Without handhelds our
grades would be lower and we wouldn’t do well in school.
have helped me in school a lot compared to a classroom without
them. Handhelds keep many kids organized knowing that their
work is always there and cannot get lost. They are faster and
a more improved way to check your work or spelling. There have
been tests showing that kids get better grades and improve
their schoolwork. When tests do come up, handhelds are a
better study program when you practice on them. They do have
games…. But, the games are also put into practice typing or
spelling programs. The handheld can also be used for
enjoyment. Such as, non-educational games or reading. A
classroom without handhelds would be at a bit of a
disadvantage. I am glad that I am in a classroom that has
have helped me work faster and easier.
have helped me this year by being able to do my work faster
and more fun. Also, I do not go through as much paper because
I can store information in my handheld. On the handheld there
is a program called quizzler. This program helps me to study
by the teachers beaming us the quiz. It has the practice quiz
on it so I can study as much as I want at home. It makes
studying a lot more fun and easier. This year would have been
extremely different without handhelds because learning
wouldn't be as exciting and tests wouldn't be as easy to study
think having handhelds is a privilege for several reasons. One
because it keeps me organized. Another reason is that if you
do an assignment on paper you could lose it, but if you do it
on a handheld it will not get lost. Another is that with memos
you can write anything at anytime. Also there is a palm reader
that you can read books on it for reading or free time.
Another reason is that there is a dictionary so you can look
up words you don’t know how to spell or for their
definitions. Also there are education games and games for free
time or after a test if your teacher says. Those are some of
the reasons why I like to have handhelds.
I’ve had two years of students
using handhelds and the sampling of students above duplicates what they
said last year, also. As I said in the beginning, using handhelds in the
classroom is exciting to the students. Now how about the teacher?
One thing I’ve come to realize is that as in any technology
integration I can’t begin to understand it all. The students learn it
far faster and easier than us older folk. My job is to be the coach. I
introduce the lesson, provide the tools, the parameters, and then let
the students take charge of their learning. My job is to be the coach,
available to guide at all times. This means I can’t sit on the
sidelines (at my desk), but I must circulate among the students working
This is certainly a different way of teaching, and can be unsettling if
you are the type of teacher that stands up front and talks to the
students. In the end you will find it rewarding and the students will
learn and retain far more when provided the tools (handhelds) and
teaching style (self directed learning) that makes learning exciting and
rewarding to them. We may have learned the other way, but today's
students aren’t us. The world is changing and we have a chance to be a
part of the change.
Mark Benn received his Masters of Science in Educational Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University in 2010.
Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western
Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from
Northern Michigan University. He is a 25 year teaching
veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle
School in Indian River, MI.
Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for
Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.
He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 32 years with one
daughter and two sons.
|StarTeaching Featured Writer
|Mark Benn is a leading expert in using technology
in the classroom.
You can feel free to contact him on email
or at his blogsite: http://www.furtrader.blogspot.com/
Teacher Professional Development
for Teaching Reading
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5319296
Outdoor education (also known as adventure education) usually refers
to organized learning that takes place in the outdoors. Outdoor
education programs often involve residential or journey-based
experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous
challenges such as hiking, climbing, canoeing, ropes courses, and group
games. Outdoor education draws upon the philosophy and theory of
experiential education and may also focus on environmental education.
There are several important trends and changing circumstances
for outdoor education, including:
There is much anecdotal evidence of the
benefit of the outdoor experience; teachers speak of the huge
improvement in relationships that often follows a trip, and delinquent
students are sometimes offered an outdoor education program as part of a
behavior management program. Hard evidence to show that outdoor
education has a demonstrable long term effect on either behavior or
educational achievement however is harder to identify; this may be
because the variables involved are too complex to be separated.
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.
The legends of the Michigan Dogman come alive in six haunting
tales by folklore author, Frank Holes, Jr.
Based upon both mythology and alleged real stories of the
beast, this collection is sure to fire the imagination!
Spanning the decades and the geography of the
, Frank weaves:
A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in
terrifying encounter in the U.P.’s remote
begun as one man’s therapy, becomes a chronicle of sightings
governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma
family meets more than they expected on the trail north
campfire tale of ancient betrayal handed down through the Omeena
to Dogman Country!
Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website
of the Dogman Website
of Sigma Website
Nagual: Dawn of the
The Longquist Adventures, written for
elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and
classic stories to young children.
We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.
Click here for more information:
A CLASS SET
A Place for Teachers New To The Craft
is the second in a series on developing Journal Writing in your
classroom, a writing technique that is applicable to any grade
and any subject area.
use a grading system that makes the journals easy to grade.
In my class, a full page is given ten points (ten being the
maximum per page). However,
I'm a stickler; the students must write a full page, right down to the
last line on the paper. I
do allow the top eight lines for brainstorming, though I don't always
require it. Students are
always allowed to use the brainstorming lines if they wish.
require at least one page at each journaling session, which lasts from
ten to fifteen minutes. Students
are required to write constantly until the time is up, or until they
reach a full page. However,
before they are allowed to go on to another activity, they must show me
their completed work. Students
may also write more than a page for extra credit.
I give out ten points for each full page beyond those required.
For example, we may have three journal sessions in a week, so the
weekly grade is out of thirty points.
If a student completes five full pages, their score is fifty
points, twenty of them extra credit!
don't mind offering the extra credit, since usually the ones who take
advantage of this are your A students anyway.
And since I want to promote as much writing as possible, I
strongly encourage every student to write for extra credit.
are the only form of writing that I allow to be done outside of class.
Mostly this is because I allow students to write for extra credit
(only promoting more writing!)
are allowed to share their writing with the class afterward, though no
one is required to share. I
tell the class they may read all or just part of their writing, or just
tell about it. The
remainder of the students are allowed to keep writing during the sharing
time, and must stop when there are no more to share.
strongly believe students should be allowed to keep their journals when
the year is finished. For
many students, putting down their private thoughts in class can lead to
a lifetime of writing.
you'd like to check out a list of journaling topics, check our website
at the following quick link: www.starteaching.com/free.htm.
Again, you may feel free to use any or all of these, and they may lead
you to think of many others of your own. You can also use any
of our Weekly Writing Prompts from issues of our newsletter. I
encourage you to send along your own topics to add to our calendar.
Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use
immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our
writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm
Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be
plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the
following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm
Be sure to check out our website for more great
information, tips, and techniques for new teachers,
student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be
sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for
preparing yourself to enter the educational profession. Simply
click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm
Want to check
out the articles in our Student-Teaching series? Check out our
special Student-Teaching page through the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm
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Are There Other Teachers in Your
School or District Who Would Love to Receive Our Newsletter?
Be sure to
pass along our website and newsletter!
for a Happy New Year
carefully about the special, successful ingredients for your new
Take twelve fine,
full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of
bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite;
pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months
are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came
from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one
equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many
persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.
Into each day put
equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient
and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest
(leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t
do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about one
teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of
play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.
What's New @
Hello readers! Welcome to
your second December Issue of Features for Teachers in 2012!
month, we bring another great poetry/photograph selection from Hank Kellner
from his upcoming
book, Reflect and Write. We also finish up our series on
Outdoor Education and Journaling, and add new articles on reading,
literacy, and technology.
always, we have free activities (from Mary Ann Graziani and Frank Holes
Jr.) and articles with practical ideas
and techniques to be applied directly into your classroom.
And be sure to check out our article archives on our website:
And be sure to check out our FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader
interaction and constant, updated streams of educational
Thanks again for your continued support! ~Frank Holes, Jr.
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Reports on our website by clicking the quick link below:
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keep up with more changes and additions through the year. And feel
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