Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bring Lincoln into your Classroom....

I just finished the Book “Lincoln on Leadership” by Donald T. Phillips.  The book was amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone.  Even though the book is geared towards the business community it translates well into any occupation.   The book is broken down into 15 chapters, each based off of a basic Lincoln principle. 
                1. Get out of the office and circulate among the troops
                2. Build strong alliances
                3. Persuade rather than coerce
                4. Honesty and integrity are the best policies
                5. Never act out of vengeance or spite
                6. Have the courage to handle unjust criticism
                7. Be a master of paradox
                8. Exercise a strong hand - be decisive
                9. Lead by being led
                10. Set goals and be results oriented
                11. Keep searching until you find your "Grant"
                12. Encourage innovation
                13. Master the art of public speaking
                14. Influence people through conversation and storytelling
                15. Preach a vision and continually reaffirm it 
I have always admired Lincoln, and this book solidified my perception of him.   He was an amazing leader that valued the relationships he held with his people.  He was an effective leader who allowed his trusted leaders to fail and helped them to recover.  He handled stress well and never let his subordinates see him under duress.  To help deal with stress, Lincoln would write letters to people that made mistakes.  He would explain his displeasure and tell them what he expected.  Then he would seal the letter and place it in a cabinet drawer, never sending it.  
Lincoln’s philosophy on leadership was to be lead by being led.    He would often “lead” his Generals by allowing them to make their own decisions.   He supported them after failures and he heaped praise on them when they succeeded.    What an amazing concept and one that we should all carry through to the classroom. 
Overall, the book was amazing, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  I leave you with this quote, which demonstrates the prophetic view Lincoln held.
In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
                                                                               -- Abraham Lincoln

What is Authentic Learning?

Converted to Twitter

Did I just say something wrong?  That was the feeling I got when I mentioned, in an interview for a teaching position, that I had discovered the value of Twitter to enhance my teaching knowledge.   While no words were spoken, the silence in the room spoke volumes.  I felt the need to clarify my statement, so I expanded on my recent Twitter experiences.  I spoke about the people I have “met”, about the new technologies these new “friends” introduced me to, and the knowledge I gained.  I am not sure how impressed the interview panel was, but my explanation served to make me feel better about my opinion of Twitter.

Twitter has introduced me to so much in the last week or so, in fact I can’t remember everything.  I was introduced to Mystery Skypes and WeVideo.  I was informed about EdModo and EDUClipper.  I was shown how to use LiveBinder and Perzi.  I was also introduced to EdShelf, Edsurge, Schoology, Evernote, WikiSpaces, Kidblog, PlanBook, and Sotria.  I am sure there are more, but you get my point.  Just to put this into perspective, I took an “Introduction to Technology in Education” course at the community college.  The course was 12 weeks and I learned about exactly one new program, Webquest, during this course
These new programs alone would justify Twitter as a valuable educational tool, but it didn't stop there.  I was introduced to many great minds from the world of education.  People like Will Richardson, John Maravec, Gary Stager, Sylvia Martinez, and Ken Robinson are now in my network.  Even the amazing Steve Spangler is following me; no way that happens in the “real world”.

These connections have led me down some amazing paths that I would have never known about just two weeks ago.  I have viewed tremendously informative PodCast such as TechEducator and EDUCamp.  I have been introduced to the world of TED and YouTube University. 

The power of networking should never be overstated and Twitter is simply the most powerful method of networking available.  I was sold on its power just minutes after creating my account.   Overcoming the stereotypical image Twitter holds will not be easy, but if we convert one at a time (like me) the value will soon be embraced by many more. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country

Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country

Emerging Trends and Technologies in K-12

Welcome to Education Futures: Emerging Trends and Technologies in K-12

A good read and emerging technology for the classroom.

Technology in Educational Institutions

Factors That Restrict Administrators to Integrate Technology in Their Educational Institutions

Childhood Social Skills

A child’s development is influenced by many factors; Peers, teachers, environment, and other exterior influences can effect a child’s social skill development.  Because a parent (or caregiver) is only part of this development, it is important that the parent do the right things.  A parent must provide a safe and secure environment for the child.  A parent must also instill strong morals and beliefs in the child.  It is also very important that a parent set a good example; the parent must live by good moral standards while raising the child.  


            A teacher can also have an effect in the development of a child’s social skills.  A teacher should help to develop self-regulation by teaching the child when to speak and when to listen.  The teacher can also helped to develop social skills be allowing the child to interact with others.  The teacher should help foster relationships with other children and help a child to understand that being different is not a bad thing.  A teacher can also impact a child’s social skills negatively be allowing a child to act out in class or allow bullying to go unchecked.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My new favorite page...

Blogs on New-Teacher Support | Edutopia

The power of youth...

I do not think there us any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding success.  Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends love, everything

-          Nikola Tesla

School seized by parents set to open

First public school seized by parents set to open -

Living with ADHD

'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
When not to be receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost which is so deem'd
Not by our feeling but by others' seeing:
For why should others false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
   Unless this general evil they maintain,
   All men are bad, and in their badness reign.
                                        - Shakespere
A frank and honest discussion about ADHD

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Common Sense Media - outstanding Digital Citizenship lessons!

Common Core & Ed Tech: Common Sense Media - outstanding Digital Citizenship lessons!

Learn how to fail

Learning how to fail and teaching your students how to fail, will lead to success...

10 things I want all new teachers to know...

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: 10 things I want all new teachers to know...


My dreams were dealt a major blow today.  While I’ve had four interviews, thus far, it was the 4th Grade class at Ocean Breeze Elementary School I had my heart set on.  For this interview I prepared like a mad man; I was focused and primed, ready to impress.  I put on my best shirt and tie, primped my hair, and shinned my shoes.  I was ready!

I nailed the interview, hitting key points on all the questions, had great rapport with the principle, and made what I thought was a good impression.  I felt good, in fact I felt great.  So then I waited.  Two days go by, then three.  They had fifty some teachers to interview, so I kept telling myself to be patient.  Four days gone, then it’s the weekend.  My hopes began to fade, and then today it came.  The thanks, but no thanks, letter.  I was (am) devastated.  I REALLY wanted that job.

So what now?  Is the dream of being a teacher over?  The pursuit of this dream has presented me and my family with numerous challenges.  I have kept my focus on becoming a teacher and I will never know what other opportunities I have missed.  I have been on unemployment for nearly a year now, somehow we have managed, but did I let my teaching dream come before the well-being of my family?  These questions have given me sleepless nights as I pondered what might have been. 

So what is next?  I am at a major crossroad in my life.  There is only one thing I want more than a teaching job, and that is a happy family.  I can (and will) continue going to school, which is certain.  But I must decide if I will continue to be a substitute for the upcoming year.   Is moving my family and uprooting my daughter from her school to pursue a teaching position elsewhere worth it?  Should I hold out hope for a short term position?   While getting additional certifications will help out my resume, they take money, and are just not feasible right now.   The decision will be hard, but it needs to be made…and quickly.

Dreams are not always obtainable, and sometimes we fall short.  It is the pursuit of these dreams that keeps us going, and I have not given up on mine.  I will continue to work hard in pursuit, but the road just got a little steeper. 

This Is How Teens Are Using Social Media

There are some truly amazing statistics on this page and they can be taken two ways.  The first being that social media has become the major influence in our children's social interaction.  And the second is that social media needs to be integrated into our education systems. 

How teens are using social media

Strategies for Teaching

          Acknowledging, encouraging, and creating challenges are three effective strategies for teaching during early education; these strategies, as they relate to Piaget’s Preoperational Stage of Development enable a teacher to interact and motivate a child while also providing knowledge to the child.  “Preoperational children view their experiences through an egocentric lens, which affects the way they develop understanding and build their schemas” (Kojczyk et al., 2012).  By effectively utilizing these three technics a teacher can enhance a child’s learning experience.
            Acknowledging means that you allow the child to know that you, the teacher, are paying attention to them.  A teacher should “let children know that we have noticed by giving positive attention, sometimes through comments, sometimes through just sitting nearby and observing” (National Association for the Education of Young Children, n.d.).  Acknowledgment can also be accomplished by simply sitting next to the child and observing their work.  By acknowledging that you understand and appreciate a student’s work can foster a sense of pride and help to establish rapport between the student and the teacher. 
            Encouragement can also help foster the feeling of pride; “Encourage persistence and effort rather than just praising and evaluating what the child has done” (National Association for the Education of Young Children, n.d.).  Pushing a child to accomplish more than just average can go a long way to develop intrinsic motivation that will help a child achieve more later in their schooling.  Today our children are often expected perform to grade level average; we as teachers tend to be satisfied when a child achieves the standard and we fail to push the child towards greater achievement.  Encouragement can be a tool for a teacher to motivate the child, allowing them to achieve to higher levels than anticipated.
             The third strategy a teacher can use to help with teach during Piaget’s Preoperational Stage of Development is to create challenges.  As I stated earlier, we as teachers have failed to provide challenges to our students, particularly in the early stages of development.  We teach to the standard and push on, doing the best we can to ensure the classroom all achieve to this standard.  By doing this we instill a belief in the child, that mediocre is good enough.

            Increased class size, reduced class time, and more diversified class rooms are all road blocks to providing the motivation each and every student needs.      These are issues every teacher faces, yet we must become creative in order to help instill these traits at an early age.  For this reason many school districts have put a greater emphasis on the Head Start Program.  According to the Office of the Administration for Children and Families website, Head Start is “a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development”. 
             This program which I have had some involvement in, provides a total child concept that focuses on the child, the family, and the environment for youth ages one through five.  This program is a place “where children can be helped to acquire a strong foundation in the knowledge and skills needed for school success” (Office of the Administration for Children and Families).  Teaching these skills at an early age enables the child to be better suited for the formal education they will receive when they enter kindergarten.   
             Acknowledging, encouraging, and creating challenges are three effective strategies for teaching during early education but they are useless unless they are taught properly.  Teachers are responsible for utilizing these strategies to effectively motivate a child.  Providing this motivation, through these technics, can go a long way to developing a students learning experience.  Starting these technics early can better prepare a child for the culture they will be exposed to once formal education begins.  We must do everything in our power to help a student succeed and mastering these three technics can go a long way to achieving this.  
Kojczyk, K., Shriner B., Shriner, M., 2012, Supporting Children’s Socialization, A Developmental Approach, Bridgepoint Education, San Diego, Ca.
National Association for the Education of Young Children.  (n.d).  10 Effective DAP Teaching Strategies.  Retrieved from
Office of the Administration for Children and Families, Head Start, n.d. Retrieved from

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Diversity in the Classroom

Not every American believes that embracing diversity is in the countries best interest; however our countries foundation was established on the principle that all men were created equal.  This also includes in the area of education.  People who enter our country legally should expect to enjoy this right.  With the understanding that funding in schools remains a major factor, we as educators, must do everything in our power to ensure this right.

             I am sure that our Founding Fathers had no idea as to the magnitude this issue of diversity would become.  However what they did understand is that for this country to be successful, we must all embrace diversity.  They understood that it is through this diversity that our country would become strong.    

            Diversity can be found in many forms and is not only diversity through language.  Diversity can be in the form of believes, religion, or even body structure.  The classroom can be one of the most diverse as it mixes cultures, religions, and other differences haphazardly into a single dynamic.  The teacher does not have the same luxury as a coach; they cannot cut students or place them at a different position.  The teacher must instead, work with their student’s diversities and mold them into a cohesive team.  Let no one question a teachers desire to put together an effective learning environment for all their students.  However we must take a closer look at some of our priorities.  Programs that address student diversities, through no fault of the educators, are often the first to be constrained by a budget.

             To illustrate this dilemma we can examine, perhaps the largest diversity issue that faces our schools; that is the issue of language.  Bring up English as a second language in a social setting, and you are sure to enflame a heated debate.  On one side you have the “pro” ESL programs and of course you have the “con” side.  However, no one will argue that funding limits the development of the programs that our ESL students often require.  For example in 2009, the New York Legislator passed a bill providing for enhanced literacy development skills, leading to improved academic performance of ESL’s.  These programs intended for ESL’s must be aligned with New York State’s Learning Standards.   The core areas must be implemented in a bilingual modality.  While this seems like a step in the right direction, only $25,000 was allocated to each school district for this program, not even enough to hire a teacher for this program.  (

            The question of how to better handle the education of English Learners is an issue that we will all face.  The complexity of this issue is brought to light by a teacher in Rhode Island.  Candice McLean faces a different sort of issue, while it involves language; it is concerned with the proper use of English.  The question asks “a lot of kids speak English as a second language and a lot of kids don’t speak proper English even though it is their first language.  Should I try to change the way they speak in class?” (Marlow et al, 2007, pg. 147)

            This question cuts to the core of the diversity issue.  This teacher could have very easily been any teacher in any school.  We have become a nation that speaks in short, incomplete sentences thanks to the world of text messaging.  The question is should we as educators embrace this form of grammar or should we teach the students proper English.  While the question seems simple on the surface, to the core, it is very difficult.    In case studies written by the University of Alabama concerning the effects of technology on our education, the effects of text messaging is having on our teenager’s grammar is discussed.  “Some educators suggest that this new age form of messaging may be hindering today’s teens’ abilities to apply grammar correctly in their writing and social skills. Others, however, take pride in the notion that teenagers are essentially creating their own twenty-first century language and see no effect on their students’ writing skills” (The University of Alabama Computers and Applied Technology Program, 2009)

             While the effects that text messaging is having on our children’s grammar is an issue that must be dealt with what does this have to do with diversity?   Issues such as diversity are not always as simple; it seems this is the case here.  The diversity occurs between the educators themselves and the students.  Many of the current educators grew up in an earlier age when conversations were carried out in person or over the telephone.  These educators feel as though teaching proper grammar is essential.  Yet the younger generations, who communicate through social media, on the web, or on their smart phones, feel as though proper English has gone the way of the type writer.  In fact 64% of all students have reported that their text message lingo has carried over into their English Assignments.  (The University of Alabama Computers and Applied Technology Program, 2009)

            In Alabama educators are developing lessons to educate the students on the proper use of formal and informal English.  Educators hope that teaching both forms of languages, the proper form and the improper form, students will be motivated to learn each equally.  Keeping students motivated is a key factor in a well-balanced education and will encourage students to learn more willingly and openly.  

            Counter point to the University of Alabama’s view, in 2006 the University of Toronto conducted a study to see what effects text message was having on our youth.  The study found that the standardized grammar scores of children in the last 30 years have basically remained the same.  Regardless of the study’s results, this issue of diversity must be addressed.   To answer Candice McLean’s question; yes, in my opinion we must change the way our students speak in the classroom.  It does not matter if that person speaks broken English or speaks the language of text messaging, we as educators owe it to our students to ensure they receive a proper education.  The State of Alabama has created programs that others should model.  Teaching our students when it is proper to use correct grammar and when it is OK to use broken English is a good solution but must be monitored to ensure our lesson do not sway too far to the left. 

            While the language of texting is not always thought of as a foreign language, it does show just how many different types of diversification there are.  Not every diversity issue relates to language.  Another question posed by Michael Parrillo, addresses such an issue.  Mr. Parrillo is faced with the challenge of integrating special needs children into his regular classroom.  Michael’s classroom size is much larger than anticipated.  The issue Mr. Parrillo faces is called inclusion and is defined as a term which expresses commitment to educate each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. 

            As a new teacher Mr. Parrillo faces three major issues.  An oversized classroom is the first issue he faces.  The second is how to include his challenged students into his regular classroom.  The final issue is the lack of support from the parents.  It seems, from day one, Mr. Parrillo faced a huge challenge. 

            Dealing with special needs children is governed by two forms of legislation.  The first is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires that children with disabilities be educated in the "least restrictive environment appropriate” to meet their “unique needs”.  The second is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The section states that a recipient of federal funds provide for the education of each qualified handicapped person in its jurisdiction with persons who are not handicapped to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the handicapped person.  ( while neither bit of legislation helps Mr. Parrillo’s plight it does set precedence for his issue. 

            According to the article Special Education Inclusion there is no research directly related to the long terms effects of inclusion, but there are however studies of high school graduates that suggests that inclusion in general education classes, especially in vocational education courses, is associated with improved post-school outcomes.  There are of course two sides of this issue.  Not only will inclusion affect the special needs students it also can affect the general school student.  Integrating the students must be done so with an organized and well planned agenda and must include the support and acknowledgement of the parents.  Mr. Parrillo, it seems, was the victim of a poor plan by his administrators. 

            The benefits of inclusion must be stressed to parents so they fully understand what is to occur.  They should understand that because lessons are conducted slower and often repeated, children have a better understanding of what they are learning.  Additionally children in these mixed classes overcome their misconceptions about kids who have disabilities.  Also the students with the disabilities feel more a part of society and more able to fit in. ( All these benefits must be stressed so that the parents can see that inclusion is not such a bad thing.  
          While it may be too late for Michael, preparation is a key factor to the success of inclusion.  Making a positive environment for learning can be accomplished by what is often called brain based learning methods.  These methods incorporate many aspects of body and mind in corporation to better retain the knowledge that is being taught.  This can be done by singing songs and incorporating movement into the lessons.   All which assist challenged learners with gaining the knowledge required to progress.  Another key component to brain based learning is that the lessons are made more relevant to the children’s lives.  This relevance, because it is based upon live experiences, better enables the children to tie these experiences into their learning.   

            While it is apparent that Michael was more a victim of poor preparation, he does have the ability to overcome the issues.  His first step must be to unite the parents.  Then he must work on the curriculum. He could incorporate the brain based learning technics and relay on the experience of others who have had success.  Michael can and will become a success story.

            It is my opinion that the inclusion of these challenged students into regular classrooms is of the best interest to both the challenged and the regular students.  Their diversity is not by choice and we must do everything in our power to ensure they are given the best chance of becoming a productive member of society.  By segregating or pushing these children aside we are basically saying they are not good enough.  By include them into regular classes they can build the confidence it takes to become a productive member of society. 

            The third question posed deals with diversity in learning styles.  Sarah Johnson is faced with the dilemma of dealing with a student that has poor reading and writing skills yet excels in mechanical areas.  This question seems to deal more with learning abilities then diversity, it does illustrate that not every student learns the same or at the same pace.   So what is Ms. Johnson to do with her student?  The first challenge she will face is finding the time to assist her student.  Deal with this student will take long hours, which most likely will need to occur after school or between classes.  In order to arrange for this time Ms. Johnson must first arrange a conference with the parents.

            When meeting with the parents Ms. Johnson must determine if the parents are aware of any types of learning disorders that this student may have.  She must also get a feeling for the support the student has at home.  Are the parents willing to assist whenever needed and do they have the time to support him.   This initial interview with the parents is crucial and a basic requirement to assist Ms. Johnson in determining the correct path to take with her student.  This assessment will also allow Ms. Johnson to determine if there are any learning disorders she will need to deal with.

            For the purpose of this discussion I am going to assume that there are no diagnosed learning disorders such as ADHD.  It could be that this student simply learns differently than Ms. Johnson’s other students.  If this in fact is the case, Ms. Johnson must come up with alternative lesson plans that are more physically involved and use the student’s life experiences to relate the material the student is learning to that of which he already knows.  For example if the lesson is on fractions, she could tell the student to figure out the ratio of unleaded gas to fuel additive to get a certain grade of fuel.  Or if the lesson is to write a paragraph, have the student write a sequential report on how to change breaks. 

            While researching this area I found an article titled Through the Eyes of a Mechanic which stated learning should be viewed through the eyes of mechanic and we should desire how things work beyond the nuts and the bolts.  Learning, as an automobile, is a system of moving parts and when of those moving parts fails, nothing else works correctly.  There are many ways to put the car engine back together, so mechanics do the ignition first, some do the valves and some do the wiring, but whatever the order is the goal remains to have an efficient working motor.  In the case of Ms. Johnson, the method or order she teachers this student may be different than the rest, but eventually she will have a well running pupil. (

            In my opinion, this perhaps, may be one area where all teachers can use improvement.  All too often we give up on students and simply pass them off as slow or illiterate.  While there are many cases of star athletes being passed through classes so they can complete in their sport, there are just as many cases of teachers giving up on students who just need some assistance.  It is easier for us to fail a student and pass them off to someone else than to help them.  I would like to think I would be up to the challenge, but that is yet to be determined.  I do know that it will require a lot of help.

            The fourth and final diversity addressed is one that deals with teachers.  Teachers all have different methods of teaching, yet we are all expected to have our students learn the same way.  Administrators want the students to do math problems in the same order yet they want teachers to be diversified in the way they teach these math problems.   How is this possible?  If a teacher finds a better way to arrive at the correct solution, don’t they owe it to their students to teach them this?  Or should the school administrators restrict the teachers to a single method of teaching?

            These are some very valid questions.  I feel as though learning should be tailored toward the individual and allow the students some freedom of choice.  They should be able to choose the method used to arrive at the solution.  While researching this area, I found what is referred to as self-paced learning.  “In self-paced learning, the content, learning sequence, pace of learning are determined by the individual” (   This type of learning uses many types of media and allows the student to choose their course.  The student can select to learn the material from sources on the internet or if they prefer through books or manuals.  This approach is referred to as the “just-in-time” approach and allows students to learn the information when they need it. 

            The challenge with this style of learning comes in the monitoring and assessing.  Teachers must provide strict monitoring and conduct periodic wellness checks to ensure the student is not wasting time.  They must also ensure that the students are completing the required assessment and that the students are in fact grasping the information.  Without strict controls and monitoring, self-paced learning can become a nightmare.
            While self-paced learning seems like a shift to the far right of education, it does illustrate that there are different methods that may be used to educate our students.  Embracing the fact that teachers are diversified; they each have their strong and weak points.  Tailoring our educational plan to compensate for these differences will benefit the students in the long run. While using a single method to solve a math problem may translate into better scores on a schools standardized test, it is not necessarily the best way to prepare our students for the next level of education.  In college and in life our students will be given a problem and asked to solve it; if we have not given them the tools to solve these problems on their own, we have failed them. 

            As I have shown, diversity is not as simple as different languages or beliefs; it is also learning patterns, handicaps and other issues.  As teachers we must overcome these issues of diversity.  In the middle ages they did not allow people who were different to participate in education.  This “right” was reserved for the rich and the royalty.  If we are not careful we will revert back to this mentality.   Dealing with diversity should not lead to adversity.  We cannot simply sweep our differences under the carpet. 

            Educating our teachers on how to deal with diversity is the first step.  Is it projected that by 2020 nearly half of all school students will be either non-English speakers or diverse culturally.  This statistic alone is a major reason that our teachers must be better prepared to deal diversity.  If we do not properly deal with children that have diversities, we may never know the full potential of our country. 

            As I have stated, not every American believes that embracing diversity is in the countries best interest. We must get back to the way our founding fathers intended; all men are created equal.   Until we understand that dealing with diversity is a major factor in education, we will never be capable of creating a perfect learning environment for our children.



2009-10 Bilingual/ESL Supplementary Intervention Program, retrieved from

 Alternative Learning Methods: Self-Pace Learning (2001), retrieved from

Milkova, Stiliana, (nd), Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning, retrieved from

Pol, Milan, et al (2006), Dealing Diversity, retrieved from

Special Education Inclusion (nd), retrieved from

Special Education Inclusion, Making it Work (nd), retrieved from www.educationworld.com2 (2010), Through the Eyes of a Mechanic, retrieved from

The University of Alabama Computers and Applied Technology Program (2009).

Technology Education: A series of Case Studies retrieved from


Awesome stuff going on in this classroom...

Comfortably 2.0: "WHEN ARE WE GONNA DO THAT AGAIN?": "It is today we must create the world of the future." Eleanor Roosevelt I did something in class today that doesn't happen...

This is how Learning Will Look Like in The Future ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Some interesting views on the future of education.

This is how Learning Will Look Like in The Future ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Friday, July 26, 2013

Breaking Down the Unknown

Again...never doubt the power of our younger generation!

7 Creative Approaches to Classroom Seating

Some intersting in put on student seating.

The Teacher Report: 7 Creative Approaches to Classroom Seating

Chicken Little Goes to School...Is the Common Core sky Falling?

Chicken Little Goes to School : Education Next

Life of an Adolescent

Young and impressionable, adolescents are at a stage in life where outside factors such as social maladjustment, discipline, and the use of drugs and alcohol can affect their development.  Adolescents are defined as the age period between 12 and 18; having reached puberty they are searching for an identity separate from their parents.  Some children in this age group are defined as being at risk developmentally.  Text states that millions of youth in America’s schools have had life experiences and situations that raise the flag and should be considered at risk.( Webb, Dean L. et al, 2010) 

            Not all is lost however, there are tools to help these children adjust and become well-adjusted students. The website provides teachers and educational professionals with some tools to help at risk children develop.  These tools are broken down into internal and external assets such as support, empowerment, positive values, and social competencies.  Each asset I then further broken down with examples of how to lessen the negative impact of the particular risk factor.  With dedication and patients, teachers and educators can reduce the influence of these risk factors and increase the at risk students chances of succeeding.

            Developmental assets are extremely useful to teachers as they can help chart a course to success.  By utilizing the “building blocks” form the Search Institute teachers can provide a healthier learning environment for their students.  While many of the developmental assets are for the home, others such as developing a caring school environment and school boundaries can be done by the teacher.

            As I said in my introduction adolescents face many challenges. Social maladjustment is a major player in a child’s life development.  Problems in this area can lead to the increase of other risk factors such as discipline issues and the abuse of drugs and alcohol.  So what can be done to help a child who is struggling with social development?  Much like a teacher performing a diagnostic assessment, it is important to try and get to the root of the problem.  Understanding the root cause can help understand the situation. 

            Bullying, an example of maladjustment, is all too common amongst at risk children.  Both the giver and receiver of the act of bullying are to be considered at risk; this behavior is a sign of insecurity and often originates with problems at home.  According to the website about one in every seven children has been either the bully or the victim of bullying. Revenge for bullying is the leading cause of school yard violence.  ("2010 Bullying Statistics,”) 

            Providing support to these children can go a long way to eliminate the act of bullying.  Establishing a caring school environment can help.  Establishing trust between student and teacher is key to establishing this positive environment.  If a student feels they can trust their teacher and confide in them acts of bullying can often be eliminated before they escalate into larger problems.  Additionally part of establishing a caring school climate means teachers, counselors, and principles alike; top to bottom an effort must be made to be vigilant.  Noting problems on the playground or in the lunch room can often help to curb bullying.  Establishing a zero tolerance policy for bullying will discourage bullies. 

            This developmental asset also ties into establishing boundaries and expectations.  If a child understands school boundaries as well as the consequences for going outside those boundaries they are less likely to be at risk.  Of course one of the best ways to curb bullying is by providing positive peer influence.  Dr. Sandra Graham states “whether or not they have friends, whether they are accepted or rejected by their peers, whether they are victims or perpetrators of aggression and their academic lives go hand in hand” (Graham, 2011).  Finding a positive peer group that is supportive can help with bullying. 

            Social maladjustment, if not corrected can lead to discipline issues. A child at risk often acts out to gain attention, fighting in school, misbehaving in class, and bullying are often cries for attention.  A child that lacks discipline in the class often lacks discipline at home.   Again as with addressing social maladjustment, conducting a pre-assessment can help understand a child’s behavior.   

            A developmental asset that can address discipline issues is providing a positive role model.  Some children with behavior and discipline issues do not have positive adult role models.  Taking the time to listen, to understand, and to teach acceptable behavior can go a long way in helping at risk children.

            Respect is often lacking in children with discipline problems.  At risk children often do not respect their peers or their school.  As such they vandalize or abuse these things.  To address the issue of respect a developmental tool to use is establishing a bond to the school.  Getting the child active in school activities such as sports and clubs will increase the feeling of pride and respect the child has for the school.  When a child respects the school they are less likely to misbehave. 

            While some aspects of poor discipline can be addressed with establishing respect, other areas are rooted in a much deeper form.  The use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is a major risk factor amongst out adolescents.  According to the Family Education website lack of self-discipline is a leading reason children turn to drugs; “children who lack self-discipline often show a lack of internal control and responsibility” ("Drug and alcohol," 2010). 

            While schools may feel powerless to eliminate the issue of drugs and alcohol, some of the developmental tools presented by the Search Institute may help.  At the very least providing education on planning and decision making can plant the seeds for making positive choices.  When children are first faced with the decision to try drugs, peer pressure is the  overwhelming influence.  However, if provided with some positive decision making skills, the child can steer themselves away and make a positive choice. 

            Building a child’s self-esteem and giving them a sense of purpose can also provide a positive external influence.  Working with a child that is struggling in school, having them improve, giving them something to be proud of can raise a child’s self-esteem and give them a sense of purpose.  Self-worth helps to eliminate risk factors and can help keep a child away from the negative environment drugs and alcohol present. 

            As a prospective teacher these developmental tools are a great way to give my progressive teaching philosophy a path to guide me when dealing with at risk students.  As a progressivist I believe in developing the whole child.  I believe that students should be left to experiment with their own idea while working toward an educational goal.  My responsibility as a progressive style of teacher is to provide guidance and direction and to keep the child focused on their goals. 

            This philosophy can be tied into the developmental tools because this philosophy promotes confidence in the students, and allows them to have input that affects their own output.  Allowing the student to take an active role in their educational path can help build their self-esteem and give them the sense of purpose they seek.  A progressive teacher can adapt their curriculum and take the whole student into consideration.

            There is no perfect answer to dealing with at risk children, if there was the risk would be eliminated.  At risk behaviors more than likely originate at home and control of these behaviors starts at home.  However our school systems can provide guidance and assistance to help reduce these factors. By using the developmental assets as tools to guide us we can affect a positive outcome on a child and at least give them a fighting chance.




2010 Bullying Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

40 developmental assets for adolescents. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents. (2010). Retrieved from

Graham, S. (2011). Bullying: a module for teachers. American Psychological Association, Retrieved from

Webb, Dean L. et al, 2010, Foundations of American Education, 6th Edition, Pearson publishing, Upper Saddle River New Jersey