UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI EDUCATION STUDENTS

an outlet to discuss current issues relating to education

Cellphones Belong in Classrooms “?”

According to an article in the New York Times education section, “smart phones belong in the classroom.” Apparently these cell phones can help students improve on their math skills, and their overall technological awareness. My question is, however, do kids these days really need to improve on their technological skills? From my experience, children over the age of 5, spend countless hours playing on computers, cell phones, and video games every single day. 

 As a future teacher, I think that having cell phones in the classroom is just another distraction, one that is hard to prevent. Promoting students usage of cell phones in the classroom may help in a few small ways, however, it is a slippery slope. Soon, student would be using their phones to text message, check facebook, and go online. 

 I am obviously as attached to my phone as everyone else, however I do understand the need for classrooms to be “cell phone free zones.”

 The cell phone companies are saying that cell phones are really just small computers, which now, is really true. However, most elementary/high schools don’t allow students to bring laptops, so why would they allow them to bring in mini laptops, cell phones? 

 I am all for taking advantage of technology, I believe that students should be provided with the highest technology possible, however inside the classroom, I think it is controversial to allow students the use of cell phones. 

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standardize or Not to Standardize?

In the real world, bosses don’t know the answers. They have ideas,  
they have projections, but they don’t know for sure. So, instead of  
training employees to give specific answers, they teach employees have  
to solve problems. Problem is, young employees might have no idea how  
to handle this.

Why? Because they’re used to being taught to excel on standardized  
tests. No discovery here, just multiple choice questions with straight- 
forward answers. This works in some disciplines–anything involving  
math, usually–but not in all. They don’t measure innovation, they  
don’t measure musical aptitude and they don’t measure writing skills.

So what do standardized tests measure? They measure a student’s  
ability to take standardized tests, nothing more. No way to determine  
if the student might be a great speaker, a superb manager or even a  
theorist who might push the boundaries beyond what we currently know  
about physics.

There’s plenty of people in my workplace that are good at taking  
tests. They study hard, they show up on time and they do the right  
things at the right time, every single time. What happens when  
something is changed, a crisis happens or life just throw you a  
curveball? They freeze. They clam up. They offer up nothing but  
nonsense. These people suck. These people waste everyone’s time.

Students (later, employees) don’t need rote memorization anymore. We  
don’t need to know all the answers beforehand. The world now has  
knowledge everywhere. Students need to learn how to solve problems,  
how to figure things out and how to improve.

Notice how many of the most successful people are the ones who left  
school early? Who achieved great success in areas unrelated to rote  
memorization?

I’ll leave you with one last question: do YOU think students are  
better off now than they were even 10, 20 years ago? I do not.

Tyler Hurst | 602.614.4137

Editor, Strategist, Writer

kontaktmag.com | twitter.com/tdhurst | tylerhurst.com

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Education, Education Issues, Public Schools, School of Education, Student Teachers, Teachers | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Education via Subscription

I’m tired of the education system always being 10 years behind technology. I’m tired of having to sell students new books year after year. As a student, I was tired of lugging them around and buying a new edition every semester for escalating prices.
Half the time, we never opened the books. It’s inefficient, it’s wasteful and textbooks need to go. What’s wrong, at least for college students, in providing online-only materials? I don’t mean PDF versions. I mean courseware designed specifically for the internet in mind, available as a subscription service to both the college and the student. Think of it like iTunes for Education.
Courses could be handed out piecemeal; every week, month or semester new content could be added. This system would drastically reduce the amount of wasted textbooks, while still providing a steady revenue stream for companies producing the content. If an educational publisher was particular savvy, they could insert recent events into templates, allowing students to interact with more relevant content.
Let’s recap…eliminating textbooks and replacing them with online content would be simpler, cheaper for everyone and allow for more relevant content. It’s better for the environment, too.
The only question is, who will lead the charge?
-Tyler Hurst | 602.614.4137
Editor, Strategist, Writer
kontaktmag.com | twitter.com/tdhurst | tylerhurst.com

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Education, Education Issues, Public Schools, Social Media, Teachers, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DRESS CODES FOR EDUCATORS: A TOUGH SELL WHEN WEARING A PUMA SWEATSUIT.

Principal PageThere is always talk about dress codes when you work in education.

Teachers are often concerned if a student can wear a particular shirt, a hat, baggy pants, etc. Most of these issues can be quickly addressed by a good handbook and fair enforcement by the staff.

I also think about dress codes. Except my thoughts often go towards what educators wear.

This issue first came to my attention when I was getting ready to complete my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration (yes, I have a degree… as far as you know).

My college advisor came to visit me at school.

He took time out of his busy day (????… this is a whole different blog discussion) to sit down with my Superintendent and me to discuss my future.

At the time, I thought it was a good sign that he felt like I had a future. In retrospect, I have come to realize he was just completing his part of the advising process so he could get paid.

As the meeting came to a close, the professor looked at me and said, “The best advice I can give you is to always, and I mean always, dress professionally.”

He felt that if you wanted respect, you had to look like you deserved it.

I thought this was great advice. And throughout the years, I have tried to abide by it.

If teachers or students are in attendance, I always wear at least a shirt and tie (and yes, pants).

Not every administrator does this, but it works for me.

The thing that has stuck with me about my college professor’s advice is that when he said this, he was wearing a white and lime green Puma sweat suit.

For those of you too young to remember, the Puma brand was cool way before Nike.

Back when tennis was the next great sport (we are talking the 70’s here… tennis was soccer before soccer), Puma athletic clothes were considered hip.

And not rapper hip, mainstream hip.

The problem with my college professor wearing this dapper outfit (he thought) was the year; it was in the late 90’s.

He looked like Jimmy Connors in his prime (actually, he didn’t look like Connors in his physical prime… just the outfit).

He wanted me to be appropriately dressed, but his best advice was given wearing a 20 year old sweat suit?

How was this a good idea? Why do people think rules are for everyone else?

I often think about that meeting when I hear or read about school dress codes.

If we want others (students) to present themselves in a certain way, shouldn’t we (teachers and administrators) lead by example?

Haven’t student dress codes become an issue just in the last 30 years? Isn’t that about the same time that teachers and administrators began to think that golf shirts, khakis, shorts, and tennis shoes are okay to wear to school?

And please, don’t get me started on wearing jeans on Friday. How did Fridays become less important than a Tuesday or a Thursday? Isn’t it still 20% of the educational week?

Unless, of course it is a shortened week but that is also another blog.

I could go on and on, but I have to go iron my dress clothes. Maybe I should rethink my thoughts on this topic.

 

– Principals Page (http://principalspage.com/theblog/)

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Dress Code, Education, Education Issues, Public Schools, Social Media, Teachers | , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to the UM educators blog!!!

This blog has been created to provide students/faculty/community members with an outlet to discuss current issues relating to Education. Please feel free to email umiamiblog@gmail.com and request to write an article. This site was created to stimulate discussion, so please comment on articles, write articles, and email us with your opinions! 

 

Thank You and enjoy the site!!

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Hillsborough County Schools’ Blog Problem is About Communication


Depending on who you read, blogs are either the saviors of communication for schools or big, fat electronic headaches. The reality is that they’re both, and we’re about to see why.

Hillsborough County Public Schools is a case I like to track – partly because the issues they face are common to most all school districts big and small, partly because the HCPS board and administration gives us a non-stop carnival sideshow.

And that carnival sells a lot of tickets. There’s a host of HCPS-related blogs that track the goings-on of the imperfect Tampa system. The St. Pete Times has The Gradebook; HCPS board member April Griffin has Sound Off and Be Heard; HCPS employees unofficially have The Wall; private citizen blogs include Es-Kay, Special Ed Motel, Casting Room Couch and PRO on HCPS.

Lots of daily discussion on those blogs – and that’s a new thing for school districts like HCPS. Most districts are famous among parents/taxpayers as a political black boxes. For better or worse, blogs shine a little light inside.

The Gradebook reminds us today that not every district is thrilled about new media. From “Comments vs. Content”:

“When talking to school board members from across Florida the other day, I heard many gripes that blogs, including ours, weaken our content by allowing untrue things written as reader comments to remain published as if they were true. They also didn’t like the hateful things that many readers say.” 

Indeed they don’t – in fact, they don’t like criticism much at all, legitimate or otherwise. Remember when HCPS begged for positive feedback because they were fed up with hearing things they didn’t like?

There’s no question that blog comments – like any discussion, live or electronic – include misinformation. That’s the reality of communication, and if HCPS isn’t comfortable with that, they need to get there quickly.

But it’s important to point out that negativity or inaccuracy in a discussion is most often a consequence of a poor, ineffective communication strategy. The more information you give the public – the more transparent, open and honest schools make the debate – the more accurate the dialogue.

HCPS board member Jennifer Faliero wrote an e-mail to The Gradebook with a handful of suggestions for improving blog relations:

“Two suggestions; the St. Pete Times establish policies governing the use of unregistered bloggers and force people to register and implement an approval process for live comments to be reviewed before going live. This can be done at home by a staffer for round-the-clock monitoring.” 

“Forc[ing] people to register” isn’t quite a warm invitation to debate – and her inability to see that such iron-fisted language is a turn-off gives a clue to why HCPS is in this mess to begin with. But Faliero’s out of her mind if she thinks that registration always commands one’s real personal information. The Times would have to institute an outrageously-invasive verification process to satisfy her request. And if one tries to post a comment that needs to be reviewed [i.e., a threat of violence] all the trackable information is there. Poor suggestion, Ms. Faliero.

But the interesting part is how Ms. Faliero thinks that the Times should make a staffer work, as she said, “round-the-clock” to fact-check, approve, monitor, and otherwise police blog comments. If anyone wonders why public schools aren’t models of efficient, cost-effective solutions to simple problems, there’s an example.

Ms. Faliero continues her logical mish-mash:

“The second involves you and taking a more active role in removing content you otherwise would not print.” 

To my knowledge, the Times does a fair job of removing the truly incendiary. If I’m wrong – and I might be – they should step up their efforts.

Even so, Faliero is confused. The Times isn’t “print[ing]” comments and they aren’t endorsing comments. The Gradebook, along with others on that list of excellent Tampa-area school blogs, lets the public weigh in on issues. They’re opening lines of communication that have been shut down for years.

In short, they’re facilitating public discourse and some HCPS officials can’t handle it. Welcome to free-market, First Amendment reality in the 21st century, Ms. Faliero.

A [growing] segment of the Hillsborough public doesn’t trust the district. That takes time to erase. But in the meantime, trust can be built by using these channels of communication rather than complaining about them.

If HCPS is concerned, they should read blog comments to identify the public’s interests and then address those concerns while correcting any misinformation. They could, as Ms. Griffin does, participate actively in the dialogue. They could invite blog authors to speak at public school board meetings.

… and HCPS officials with a genuine interest in solving Hillsborough’s problems could engage in blog comment discussion themselves. Just a thought, Ms. Faliero.

We hear from third-rate consultants frequently that “proactive” is better than “reactive.” Here’s a time when they’re right. Less seething, complaining, belly-aching, finger-pointing and intimating that the public is dishonest, ignorant and/or stupid – and more dialogue with the citizens you were elected to represent.

P.S — Rather than ‘register,’ I’ll tell Ms. Faliero and HCPS that my name is Matthew K. Tabor – she, and any others in the hallowed halls of HCPS can e-mail me at mktabor@gmail.com or call me at 607.821.1752. We can talk about blogs, new media and transparency in public service.

Matthew writes on school issues at Education for the Aughts and consults on graduate/professional school admissions and new media/communication. He is on the Board of Advisors for Educommunicators, a group dedicated to effective communication in education.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Current affairs, Education, Public Schools, Social Media, University of Miami | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Service Learning Seminar at UM

On Thursday October 23rd at 7 P.M. the Future Educators of America society at the University of Miami hosted a seminarcalled “Conversations about Service Learning.” It was advertised as “an event that will change the way you look at the power of education,” and it truly was! 

Service learning is a method of teaching and learning that combines the academic classroom with the outside world. It integrates meaningful community service with classroom instruction and academics to enrich the students learning experience. It is a widely accepted fact that one learns more by doing then by lecture, which is why getting the students out of the classroom and into the local community is imperative. 

 One example discussed at the seminar was about students from a local Miami-Dade community public school who were taken to a center for the blind. They worked with the blind on painting and art projects. The students learned what it was like to not be able to read, neither not for lack of education nor laziness but rather for lack of sight. They learned what it was like to be reliant upon your friends, seeing eye dog, or a white cane to get around. 
      
There is a 50% drop out rate in Miami Dade county public high schools, and a great way to lower this statistic would be to increase the amount of service learning; if you engage the students in this way, they will be less likely to drop out and roam the streets. The participants that were discussed had been put into special classrooms because they had brought weapons to school or had abused alcohol. Rather than just giving up on students in these situations, service learning allows them the opportunity to learn outside the classroom, which is exactly what they need! The students learn authentic skills and how to solve REAL problems — the definition of “hands on learning.” 
     
According to Angela Pape, a sophomore studying elementary education and psychology, “What affected me most from the lecture was witnessing how Service Learning genuinely impacted the lives of those students who have participated.” Though there was not a huge turn out for this seminar, the students who did come, seemed to be extremely motivated to include service learning in their classrooms. 
    
One student who was involved in student learning was quoted saying “I thought I had it bad, but now I see I am needed to help people who have it worse then i do.” There are countless benefits to service learning including: connecting young people with their home town, delivering curriculum in a more efficient and authentic way, and motivating students to work by allowing them to feel like they belong and are needed. 
For more information about service learning: www.learnandserve.gov 

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Community Service, Education, Education Issues, Miami Dade County, Public Schools, Service Learning, University of Miami | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

"I am not a babysitter" – Newsweek October 11th

“I am Not a babysitter,” by Heather Robinson

How True! Without teachers, there would be no other professions, yet we are one of the least respected and most underpaid professions in the country. We are often told, wow what you do is so incredible, yet those compliments are said without any true thought or meaning. The woman who wrote this article, Heather Robinson, writes about her family asks her when she is going to get a “real job,” and why she hasn’t tried to move up to administration. They don’t understand that teaching is her passion and that she isn’t doing it for the money or recognition because clearly those two things are not why people go into teaching. 

Personally my favorite part is when people think that teaching is a 9-3 job that has summers off. People don’t realize that there are HOURS of planning and paperwork that are required for every single day in the classroom. And summers off, though that sounds amazing, from most teachers that I have talked to, their summers are spent VERY on. They take classes learning new techniques and ideas for lesson plans, and then by the time those classes are over they are writing up their lesson plans for the new year. This article really explains the struggle that teachers have with earning respect from society. 
At the end of this article, Ms Robinson concludes her opinions by saying that she is not writing this article to ask for higher salaries, improved benefits, or even to get parents involved. She wrote this article because she feels that our society NEEDS to put a higher value on the teaching profession. 
As education students, we must realize the importance of what she is saying. We deserve the recognition and with that recognition can come better teachers, more money from the government, and with all of that can come better educated students. 

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Education, Student Teachers, Teachers, University of Miami | , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to the UM Student Education Blog!!


Hello Everyone!

This blog has been created to provide an outlet for education students at the University of Miami to discuss the current issues relating to the education profession. Our goal is to post articles that we find relating to education, both research based and opinion articles. We also invite students to write articles on their own with their views on education, whether that includes governmental laws pertaining to education, funding, teaching strategies, or even questions you may have about todays education system in America. 
Please feel free to contact me: My email address is g.matz@umiami.edu, and we can initiate the process of posting your article onto the website!!
Enjoy the Resource!!

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Education, Education Issues, Newsweek, School of Education, University of Miami | Leave a comment