Monthly Archives: December 2014

Creation Connection and Collaboration

Social Media has overtaken my life. I wake up and participate in Voxer discussions. I moderate a Twitter chat (#slowchatpe) where I post one question a day about various education subjects. My students use kidblog to push their voices out to the world.  I also run a wordpress blog that gives the background for the questions of the week. There are lessons of mine on education skype where teachers from all over the world can connect with my class and my lessons.  These all push my teaching and professional development to the next level.

This is all well and great but it is not enough. It is a lot of talk and reflection. Talk is cheap and reflection only matters if you do something with your new-found enlightenment. I want next level. That level is collaborating and creating new projects.  The greatest example of this occurred in the @voxer physical education and health teacher group last week.  One teacher (@NicholasEndlich) threw out an idea he had using rock, paper, scissors as a game in physical education.  Within 5 minutes there were 15 voxes (voice posts) giving him other ideas using the rock, paper, scissors theme.  That right there is a pretty cool concept. A ton of teachers bouncing ideas off each other to come up with something new.  The story gets better though. Twenty minutes later Nick showed pics of his students playing the new games he had just learned!! That is mind blowing!! No more of going to conferences and waiting to implement new materials. The new pd uses social media and can be used immediately. That is the future of education.

Another great example of creation and collaboration is the project that @nicholasendlich,@mradampe, and I created.  The project is entitled #soyouthinkyoucanbalance.  Follow this link to start the project. The best part of this project is that we used students to create the balances and social media to plan how this was going to work.  The combination of twitter, voxer, and google hangouts can not be beat. We talked about it on voxer and then went in depth on a Google Hangout.  This allowed us to come up with the plan and how we wanted it executed. Voxer allowed us to keep the project moving because voice messages are so much more efficient than phone calls or twitter.  Twitter was the way we were able to push out the finished project.  So far students in the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Vietnam have participated in this.

This week I want us to think how can we stop talking about education and start collaborating and creating. We start out on social media lurking, then move on to participating, some go on to moderate different social media groups.  That is not enough! How can we continue to grow by creating, collaborating, and connecting ourselves and our students?  Let’s stop talking and start doing!

Q1: How have you used social media to create something? #slowchatpe

Q2: What different social media platforms have u smashed together to use the 4 C’s? #slowchatpe

Q3: When was the last time u implemented a new idea you saw on sm? How long between learning and implementing did it take u? #slowchatpe

Q4: Does your state/district give pd hours for sm? How does that work? #slowchatpe

Q5: What do people need to know about social media that they don’t know already?

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How are minorities affected in education?

How are minorities affected in education?  I have to be honest I don’t know much about how being a minority affects education.  I am a white Jewish male who was raised by two white teachers in a middle class white neighborhood. My middle and high school was a mix of various different races but I did not have many minority friends.  I played multiple sports and hung out with a variety of people but I don’t have the faintest clue how race or gender could affect a person.  I went to Rowan University where I had more minority friends but the subject of being a minority was never discussed.  I am trying to learn more about this subject by creating a @Voxer group with the author of the book, Missing Voices in Edtech, Rafranz Davis.  This book club will allow me to get an insight into the problems that minorities have within the education world. If you want to join tweet me! (@schleiderjustin) Help me discuss minorities in education this week at #slowchatpe.

When researching minorities in education I came across this article that was written in 1998: “Recent analyses of data prepared for school finance cases in Alabama, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and Texas have found that on every tangible measure—from qualified teachers to curriculum offerings—schools serving greater numbers of students of color had significantly fewer resources than schools serving mostly white students.” source That was 15 years ago though. Things definitely had to have changed though.  Right?

I went back to Google and found an article that was released over 15 years later.  “Racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school, to have less access to rigorous math and science classes, and to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience, according to comprehensive data released Friday by theDepartment of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.source  It seems that things have not changed a lot over the last 20 years.

When I think of minorities in education I think of skin color.  Gender inequality is also a problem in education.  “Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates — down from 36 percent in 1984.” source  This is a huge problem.  If we do not have diversity in a field then we are lacking in diverse perspectives that are needed to solve the various problems and changes that occur.

I am a firm believer that identifying the problem is only the first step in solving the problem. It is not enough to simply state that there is a problem.  I want to change the problem.  That change starts with us. How can we make sure that minorities are able to succeed in education? That will be the crux of a difficult conversation that I will attempt to tackle this week.

Q1: Do you treat both genders the same?  How do you know? #slowchatpe

Q2: Is race the bigger problem or is it SES? #slowchatpe

Q3: How do you address race in your class? #slowchatpe

Q4: What did you do to discuss the recent events in NYC and Missouri?

Q5: Do you engage in code switching with your students? Is this a positive or negative thing? http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4558

How are minorities affected in education?

I have to be honest I don’t know much about how being a minority affects education.  I am a white Jewish male who was raised by two white teachers in a middle class white neighborhood. My middle and high school was a mix of various different races but I did not have many minority friends.  I played multiple sports and hung out with a variety of people but I don’t have the faintest clue how race or gender could affect a person.  I went to Rowan University where I had more minority friends but the subject of being a minority was never discussed.  I am trying to learn more about this subject by creating a @Voxer group with the author of the book, Missing Voices in Edtech, Rafranz Davis.  This book club will allow me to get an insight into the problems that minorities run into in the education world. If you want to join tweet me! (@schleiderjustin) Help me discuss minorities in education this week at #slowchatpe.

When researching minorities in education I came across this article that was written in 1998: “Recent analyses of data prepared for school finance cases in Alabama, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and Texas have found that on every tangible measure—from qualified teachers to curriculum offerings—schools serving greater numbers of students of color had significantly fewer resources than schools serving mostly white students.” source That was 15 years ago though. Things definitely had to have changed though.  Right?

I went back to Google and found an article that was released over 15 years later.  “Racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school, to have less access to rigorous math and science classes, and to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience, according to comprehensive data released Friday by theDepartment of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.source  It seems that things have not changed a lot over the last 20 years.

When I think of minorities in education I think of skin color.  Gender inequality is also a problem in education.  “Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates — down from 36 percent in 1984.” source  This is a huge problem.  If we do not have diversity in a field then we are lacking in diverse perspectives that are needed to solve the various problems and changes that occur.

I am a firm believer that identifying the problem is only the first step in solving the problem. It is not enough to simply state that there is a problem.  I want to change the problem.  That change starts with us. How can we make sure that minorities are able to succeed in education? That will be the crux of a difficult conversation that I will attempt to tackle this week.

Q1: Do you treat both genders the same?  How do you know? #slowchatpe

Q2: Is race the bigger problem or is it SES? #slowchatpe

Q3: How do you address race in your class? #slowchatpe

Q4: What did you do to discuss the recent events in NYC and Missouri?

Q5: Do you engage in code switching with your students? Is this a positive or negative thing? http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4558

What Would the World Look Like Without Grades?

Reflection: This week we discussed grades. The first wonderful surprise I found out was that teachers would be more motivated to teach without grades than less! That is quite the thought provoking epiphany. Does grading students actually hold teachers back?

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My second thought about this week was what do grades tell about the students? Was Brian Jones correct in his tweet? I don’t think that grades are just about college admission. I think they show stakeholders how much progress has been made or needs to be made by the student. Do stakeholders understand this?

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Another point of reflection was brought up by Samantha Bates. Would parents actually care if we just got rid of grades? She seems to think it would only effect tested subject areas. Does this mean non-tested areas don’t matter as much to parents? Are parents like the state and only care about test scores?

The final thoughts on this week’s blog I have is what is my purpose of teaching physical education. To me physical education is more about creating a positive association with movement and physical literacy than it is strictly teaching the curriculum.  Maybe we should put in the grade book a spot for how students feel about physical education at the end of each marking period! I firmly believe it is those who feel that physical literacy is important will be the ones to continue to practice it for the rest of their lives.

What are grades? What do grades tell us? Please read this quick storify of a conversation I had today.  My school went to standards based grading last year.  It was hard for people to understand at first.  My school did an excellent job giving stakeholders the information they needed to understand this change.  They used these two resources Resource 1 and video to help explain this new process. They also met with stakeholders to explain this to them and field any questions they may have had.  The transition was as painless as possible considering they just changed an educational foundation!

@MrZawlocki stated to me that “Grades are not assessments. They are supposed to be communication of learning. Whether single mark or narrative.”  I counter that grades are drawn from assessments.  How can you communicate what has been learned unless you assess? So in my logic (which may be flawed) grades are a representation of assessments.  (he agrees that assessment is needed)

@mssackstein is getting rid of traditional grades this year. This is her video explaining the beginning of her process bit.ly/1yrlQj3.  It will be exciting to see how this goes for her this year. She declared “…grades are…easy for teachers… nothing else. The represent very little.”  I think letter grades represent very little.  Standards based grading represent exactly what education needs.  A clear statement to stakeholders that the student mastered the standard, is working toward the standard, or the standard hasn’t been introduced yet.  “By comparing one child’s performance to a clear standard, parents, students and teachers all know precisely what is expected. Every time a student attempts a task, the performance is compared to the standard, not the other students’ performances.  The most important advantages for students and families are fairness, clarity, and improved learning.” (Douglas B. Reeves, 101 Questions and Answers about Standards, Assessment and Accountability, 2004)

This made think what would happen if we didn’t give out grades at all? Nothing. No letter grades and no standards based grades. Nothing at all. Let’s discuss this week!

Q1 If we didn’t give grades would ts still be motivated to teach? #slowchatpe

Q2 If we didn’t give grades would ss still be motivated to learn? #slowchatpe

Q3 What do grades really mean? #slowchatpe

Q4 Is standards based grading the best method to show student growth? #slowchatpe

Q5 Would parents understand or care if ts stopped giving out grades? #slowchatpe

Increased Test Scores

Fact: standardized testing only tests 1/7 of the whole child.

Fact: standardized testing misses out on the other 6/7 of the child.

Fact: teachers are getting judged based on their student’s ability to improve their test scores.

Fact: standardized testing is here and it isn’t going away any time soon.

This blog is not about whether you agree or disagree about standardized testing.  This is about the fact that standardized testing is here and we have to deal with it until it goes away.  My question is how are you going to attack this problem of needing increased test scores to validate your ability to teach?  What are you going to do to get your students to the next level of testing growth?

Option A is the ground and pound. You teach the kids what will show up on that test.  Every day you pound it into them how to narrow answers down until you get down to the two that makes the most sense.  You teach them that always, never, and sometimes are key words to pay attention to. You have them take a sample test every month so they can really understand and prepare for the test. You make their year’s goal to improve that test score.  If your evaluations are tied to this and money is the carrot that is dangled in front of your face this is what you may choose.  I don’t blame you one bit. Your class will be boring and the students will be extrinsically motivated and forget everything they learned, but I get it.  They set the rules you just play the game.

What if there was a better way that didn’t involve being tedious and boring.  What if there was a simple way to raise test scores that involved no more paperwork for the teacher? No extra assignments for the students to do at home? You wouldn’t have to threaten, cajole, force, push or prod a student to do more work.  All you would have to do is have your students become physically active.

Option B. We all prioritize physical activity and physical literacy as the number one positive change we can make for students.  Let me define all please. Students, teachers, administrators, board members, nurses, custodians, in short any stake holder.  Every stake holder has to share the vision that physical exercise is necessary to student success.  What does physical exercise do? “In one study, for example, nearly 2,000 California schoolchildren who were outside a “healthy fitness zone” — a 12-year-old who took longer than 12 minutes to run a mile would be outside that zone — scored lower on state standardized tests than those who were more fit.” (Adams 2013) That is one example of what research showing exercise alone can increase test scores.

Here is another example. “After adjustment, aerobically fit students had greater odds of passing the NeSA math and reading tests compared with aerobically unfit students regardless of whether the students received free/reduced lunch.” (Rauner 2014) This study shows that socio economic status can be ruled out as the only factor in determining test scores. Physical activity and literacy can make a positive difference! The research goes on and on.  “Being more active, says Singh, may improve blood flow to the brain, which provides more oxygen to cells involved in learning and attention.” (Park 2014) More blood flowing to the brain sounds great! I will take that please.

The why is pretty simple.  “When done regularly, moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity strengthens your heart muscle. This improves your heart’s ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body. As a result, more blood flows to your muscles, and oxygen levels in your blood rise.  Capillaries, your body’s tiny blood vessels, also widen. This allows them to deliver more oxygen to your body and carry away waste products.” (NIH 2011) The widened blood vessels combined with a stronger heart allow more oxygen to be available for use in the body.  The more oxygen available the better!

A lowered oxygen level has multiple negative effects.  “It can have a harmful affect on brain function and physical ability. Attention span and concentration may be reduced. Memory and mood can be affected. Abstract reasoning and problem solving skills can be impaired.” (COPD 2009) We want the benefits of increase blood flow.

We can increase student test scores be increasing their physical activity.  This week we will get some ideas of how to increase student’s physical activity in the classroom, the physical education class, and at home.

Q1: How much does your school value physical activity? How can you tell? #slowchatpe

Q2: How do you get them to increase the amount of physically activity in ur class? #slowchatpe

Q3: What can you do to help classroom teachers increase physical activity in the classroom? #slowchatpe

Q4: How do we encourage our students to share our vision of the importance of physical activity at home? #slowchatpe

Q5: What can we do to get community support for physical activity and physical literacy? #slowchatpe

Engaging the non/selective participant

This is something that has been bugging me for at least the last six or seven weeks, as I normally teach at the primary/elementary level, and have had to take on a secondary class this year.

Some of you may have a seen a recent video clip of a teacher physically trying to force a student into the pool during a PE lesson. Whilst one might not understand why this teacher chose to deal with the situation in the way that he did, one of the things questions that came to mind was “had this happened so many times that he had just had enough and was this teacher just driven to the point where he simply blew up?” Nothing excuses the fact that the way in which he dealt with the situation was completely inappropriate. However, perhaps we should consider all factors leading up to the incident to ensure that it never happens again.

As a physical educator, it is tough to even try to understand why someone might choose to exclude him/herself from a PE class. We’ve all heard the excuses.

“I forgot to pack my kit.”

“My kit hasn’t been washed.”

“I don’t feel well.”

The list goes on.

Some reasons students choose not to participate may include lack of motivation, social isolation, PE is not important, competitiveness, lack of support, negative experiences, and discrimination (gender, skills, appearance).

The accepted tradition of excuse notes allowing students to self-exempt from lessons is one such ritual associated with the PE in schools. This policy of excuse notes attributes power to parents and pupils to self-exempt from participating in PE, as parents will provide an excuse note for their child if they do not believe PE holds much value. (Penny Lamb, 2013) I see this happen too often where I currently teach, although we have a policy where students still need to change into their PE kit even if they have a note.

It is our responsibility as physical educators to provide opportunities for students to be physically active. What can we do to ensure all students make the most of these opportunities?

Do share your thoughts.

1) Does this affect you at your current school or do you see it happening in certain year levels?

2) What do you think is the most important factor in motivating students to be physically active?

3) How do you engage your non/selective participant(s)?
4) What is your school’s policy when it comes to parents writing notes to excuse their child from PE lessons?
5) How do you construct an environment that is likely to maximize participation in your lesson?