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Mum likes reading, decorating, shopping with the girls, and Starbucks. She also feels funny writing in the 3rd person. Papa (also known as Sparky) is currently looking at me with a blank stare having asked him to add something about himself to the blog. (Now he wants to say something) The only thing he loves more in life than music and Coke is his wife and kids. (Awww...) :) Little Lotte is a genius on the computer and makes me fall over laughing every day with her quick wit. She loves computers and animals. Sweet Pea abandoned her family and moved to Phoenix for work and is now married as of 2/28/06. She is beautiful and smart and the most nurturing person I know. She gave me the greatest gift ever when she made me a grandmother. I am the proud Mum Mum to Andrew Christopher. There are no words to describe the joy of having a grandson!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Could Have Saved Them the Cost of the Research...

Study gives teachers barely passing grade in classroom
Says more emphasis needed on teaching skills
By Greg Toppo

The typical child in the USA stands only a 1-in-14 chance of having a consistently rich, supportive elementary school experience, say researchers who looked at what happens daily in thousands of classrooms.

The findings, published today in the weekly magazine Science, take teachers to task for spending too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, reasoning, science and social studies. They also suggest that U.S. education focuses too much on teacher qualifications and not enough on teachers being engaging and supportive.

*** The above portion of this article from USA TODAY is hysterical to any teacher currently in the public school system. Unbelievable funny. We "spend too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, etc." Hey! As soon as the states come up with a test that actually measures a student's problem-solving and reasoning skills, we will actually see teachers spend time on that. Everyone knows educational theory shows that problem-solving and reasoning SHOULD BE TAUGHT. However, we assess kids by having them fill in a bubble. There is no reasoning or problem-solving on my state test. And if my name is at the top of those assessments, you better believe I am spending my time making sure they can fill in those bubbles with the right answers.

As for the teacher qualification - good work, Sherlock! I totally could have saved them the money it took for this research and emailed them about this. Again, thanks to NCLB, teachers who are highly qualified are kept in the classroom, regardless of their teaching ability. And teachers who have years of experience and truly engage their students are forced from the classroom if they don't have the magic numbers created by NCLB to label them as highly qualified. The whole thing is a joke and the kids are the ones who pay.

As for science and social studies. Could we possibly get maybe one more hour in the day to get all of this taught? Between two recesses (which are mandated by the WELLNESS POLICY from NCLB) specials, assemblies, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly assessments, mandated timed for guided reading blocks and math blocks - there is precious little time left for social studies and science lessons. Did anyone notice that WRITING is missing from this equation as well? Ah heck, just throw it into your reading instruction. Teacher's don't actually TEACH writing, they just have kids "write in their journals" during independent work while they conduct the small reading groups.

The article continues:

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, education researchers spent thousands of hours in more than 2,500 first-, third- and fifth-grade classrooms, tracking kids through elementary school. It is among the largest studies done of U.S. classrooms, producing a detailed look at the typical kid's day.

The researchers found a few bright spots — kids use time well, for one. But they found just as many signs that classrooms can be dull, bleak places where kids don't get a lot of teacher feedback or face time.

Among the findings on what teachers and students did and how they interacted:

•Fifth-graders spent 91.2% of class time in their seats listening to a teacher or working alone, and only 7% working in small groups, which foster social skills and critical thinking. Findings were similar in first and third grades.

•In fifth grade, 62% of instructional time was in literacy or math; only 24% was devoted to social studies or science.

•About one in seven (14%) kids had a consistently high-quality "instructional climate" all three years studied. Most classrooms had a fairly healthy "emotional climate," but only 7% of students consistently had classrooms high in both. There was no difference between public and private schools.

Although all teachers surveyed had bachelor's degrees — and 44% had a master's — it didn't mean that their classrooms were productive. The typical teacher scored only 3.6 out of seven points for "richness of instructional methods," and 3.4 for providing "evaluative feedback" to students on their work.

Whether a teacher was highly qualified, had many years of experience or earned more mattered little, says lead researcher Robert Pianta of the University of Virginia.

Of the standard measures studied, "none of them makes a noticeable difference," he said.

Prior research has shown that highly skilled, engaging teachers can eliminate achievement gaps between rich and poor kids. Pianta says his new findings support that conclusion and suggest policymakers should focus more on how individual teachers can improve on these measures.

Kathy Schultz, director of teacher education at the University of Pennsylvania's graduate school of education, says studying how teachers teach is helpful, but ignores the reality of larger mandates such as the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Teachers, she says, are under enormous pressure to increase basic skills.


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