Week 13: Curriculum and Instruction

15 Apr


What do students learn in schools?

Students learn the curriculum in schools, with the curriculum being “the planned experiences provided through instruction” (Ornstein, 2011).  The textbook introduces the topic of curriculum and instruction by stating that Americans demand “the schools to teach children to think, to socialize them, to alleviate poverty and inequality, to reduce crime, to perpetuate our cultural heritage, and to produce intelligent, democratic citizens” (Ornstein, 2011).  These demands hold schools highly accountable for teaching students, and are constantly adapted as time goes on.

What are some current trends in curriculum development?

There are two types of curricula, one centered on subject matter, and the other centered on the student.  Subject-centered curricula are the most common, and they focus on specific subjects.  Student-centered curricula focus on the needs and interests of the students (Ornstein, 2011).

Subject-centered curricula are developed in multiple ways, and some examples include subject-area, perennialist influenced, essentialist influenced, back-to-basics, and core curriculum. Subject-area curriculum would be where classes are divided into subjects, such as English, history, science and math (Ornstein, 2011).  Perennialist influenced curriculum focus on “the three Rs, Latin, grammar, rhetoric, and logic at the elementary level, adding study of the classics at the secondary level” (Ornstein, 2011).  Essentialist-influenced curriculum focuses on the three Rs in elementary school and English, math, science, history, foreign languages and geography in high school (Ornstein, 2011).  The back-to-basics curriculum focuses on reading, writing, and math, while keeping the solid subjects of English, history, science and math, and also discourages electives (Ornstein, 2011).  The new core curriculum requires the solid subjects, with less focus on electives (Ornstein, 2011). Overall, these curricula focus mainly on the solid subjects of English, math, science and history. 

Student-centered curricula are developed in multiple ways, and some examples include activity-centered, relevant, humanistic approach, alternative or free schools, and values-centered curriculum. Activity-centered curriculum includes “group games, dramatizations, story projects, field trips, social enterprises, and interest centers,” with the main focus being on active student participation (Ornstein, 2011).  Relevant curriculum focuses more on what the student is interested in, with the freedom of choice (Ornstein, 2011).  A humanistic approach to curriculum emphasizes affective and cognitive outcomes (Ornstein, 2011).  Alternative or free school programs allow students to focus on their interests in an unstructured classroom (Ornstein, 2011). Some alternative schools are for students who have disciplinary problems, and allow for a “more flexible approach to learning” (Ornstein, 2011). Values-centered curriculum focuses on moral and ethical development (Ornstein, 2011).  Overall, these curricula have many more freedoms than subject-centered curricula, and they focus on mainly students’ interests.

How do teachers plan and deliver instruction?

Instructional approaches include differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, direct instruction, twenty-first century skills, and technology enhanced instruction.  Differentiated instruction is used to reach all students in a classroom in order to maximize each learner’s potential by the use of multiple types of media, choices in assignments, and many instructional methods (Ornstein, 2011).  Cooperative learning strategies, such as the jigsaw strategy, are used to reduce competition between students, and increase cooperation (Ornstein, 2011).  Direct instruction focuses on extremely structured lesson plans directed by the teacher (Ornstein, 2011).  Twenty-first century skills is used to “prepare students to be successful in the competitive global job market and to fulfill the roles as active citizens in a democratic society” (Ornstein, 2011).  Technology enhanced instruction incorporates technology into lesson plans. 

What are some models of direct instruction?

A model of direct instruction can incorporate these five phases, including orientation, presentation, structured practice, guided practice, and independent practice.  Orienting the students can be accomplished by accessing their prior knowledge on topics (Moore, n.d.).  An example of this could be the use of a KWL. Teachers can model presentation by the use of a graphic organizer and think out loud so students can understand the process one goes through (Moore, n.d.). Structured practice is used so that students cannot fail, and then they are gradually let go by the teacher to do guided practice, which approaches more independent work, and finally, the students practice independently (Moore, n.d.).

From doing some research, I found some interesting information and data that supports direction instruction written by Jeff Lindsay. 

What are some models of non-direct instruction?

Non-direct instruction would be where instruction is not as structured.  This could be modeled by lessons where students are given the freedom to accomplish certain goals. Non-direct instruction is student-centered, while direct instruction is teacher-centered.

How do teachers help students learn thinking and problem solving skills?

There are many different ways teachers can help students learn thinking and problem solving skills.  Some teachers may use a direct approach, where the students see the teacher model how he or she thinks, or other teachers may have a non-direct approach, where the students make discoveries while being guided by the teacher. The non-direct approach focuses on concepts, patterns and abstractions, versus direct instruction focuses on facts, rules, and action sequences (Brenau, n.d.).

Brainstorm ideas of authentic assessments that you may use that are appropriate for a content area that you might teach as well as developmentally appropriate for your future students.

For a secondary biology class, assessments such as written essays, lab reports, questions on facts, questions on applications of theory, the use of twenty-first century tools and technology, creating presentations, and creative projects would be appropriate, along with many other possible methods.


Brenau, C. R. (n.d.). Direct and indirect instruction. Retrieved April 15, 2012, from faculty.brenau.edu/rchristian/Handouts/ho_06_02.doc

Lindsay, J. (2012, February 1). Direct instruction: the most successful teaching model. JeffLindsay.com – The cracked planet: humor, Shanghai, China, education, Mormons and Mormon studies, science, and eclectic items from Jeff Lindsay of Appleton, Wisconsin. Retrieved April 15, 2012, from http://www.jefflindsay.com/EducData.shtml

Moore, D. W. (n.d.). Direct instruction: targeted strategies for student success. Best practices in secondary education. Retrieved April 15, 2012, from www.ngsp.net/Portals/0/Downloads/HBNETDownloads/SEB21_0414A.pdf

Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Week 12: Blog Reflection: The Changing Purposes of American Education

07 Apr


Are schools remaining relevant in the 21st century?

I believe schools are remaining relevant, but can continually be improved.  It is difficult to make overall change in schools because of requirements by schools, districts, states, and the federal government. Different philosophies and approaches can be used to obtain the same goal, which is to provide students an education.  An issue arises, however, in that this broad goal is interpreted and defined differently across all levels, and the purpose of education changes over time.

Should pedagogy change?

I think pedagogy should be focused in between essentialism and progressivism.  I believe that it is important for students to obtain a basic knowledge of information, while then building upon it and making the knowledge meaningful to each individual student.  Learning should be active, and students should not simply be lectured to death, or given worksheet after worksheet.  Their education should have meaning to them, and while the facts are important, critical thinking skills and creativity are also just as important in development.  As students move on in life, transitioning into adults and going into the workforce, critical thinking, creativity and originality are necessary skills to have and should not be ignored.

What are your thoughts about allowing students to take control of the content and helping them to make meaning and create knowledge from it in multiple forms, styles, and media?

I think there needs to be some kind of set curriculum first, and then students can take some control of the content to help them make meaning from it.  Students thoughts on content and allowing them some control can increase their motivation to learn, which is extremely beneficial.  It is much easier for students to learn material if they are interested in it, and if they critically think about the topics discussed.  Teaching and creating meaning to build knowledge is already practiced such that teachers use different teaching strategies and create diverse lesson plans to allow students to learn in different styles, forms and media.

How can schools engage students in meaningful projects that focus on creativity and apply the content students are learning?

I think that technology should continuously be utilized by schools to help engage students into meaningful projects. Technology is not going away, and continually obtains advances; therefore, it should be used for projects and creativity to build upon content.  For example, there are many free programs that are easily accessible for students and teachers to use that allow for more creativity.  This incorporates the material/content, creativity, and technology into a project. Technology also allows students to be more interactive with each other and the community while learning.

Week 11: Providing Equal Education Opportunity

01 Apr

How is curriculum and instruction in a class for gifted students different from that in other classes? How might you teach a student who is gifted and talented in your inclusive classroom?

Gifted students may get bored easily, and might need to be challenged more than other students in general education courses.  Additional responsibilities could be given to theses gifted students, such as being leaders of groups or be put in charge of organizing a project.  If the students wish, I can provide them with additional resources on topics we are discussing so that they can look into the topic on a more advanced level.  I can also have additional resource books in my classroom that focus on topics we are discussing, as well as have lists of book from the school library these topics.  I can then encourage my students to check the books out. There tends to be a range of books with different reading levels, so I can recommend books on a particular reading level as well.

Collect resources that will help you teach effectively in your inclusive classroom. For example, include a list of resources that you found to differentiate instruction or manage a classroom environment.

I found a basis learning-style assessment online that would be useful for students to find out their learning style.  This might then point them in the right direction on how they should focus their studying and approaches to learning in class.  If they understand how they learn, they might also be able to help me as their teacher by suggesting a different approach or addition to a lesson that would help them.

Another resource includes an article on multiple intelligences, which discusses eight different intelligences instead of focusing on IQ test scores.  It mainly defines different types of intelligences.

I found a useful article and some how-to advice on classroom management.

A resource on differentiating instruction discusses the differentiation of the content or topic, the process or activities, the product, and the environment or through accommodating individual learning styles (Technology, 2004).  An additional resource listed on this site discusses the strategies to differentiate instruction.


How can professional collaboration enhance education in an inclusive classroom?

By collaborating with other professionals, all students in the inclusive classroom can benefit.  Collaborative teaching is useful in an inclusive classroom because if there are two teachers in the class, it helps students to have help available if one of the teachers, such as the general education teacher, is busy helping another student. A special education teacher placed into an inclusive classroom can help students who are not in the special education program.  This extra support in the classroom is beneficial to all student, and not just students who are in special education.

What steps should you take to help prepare you to teach students with disabilities?

The first step would be to get to know my students, as well as their disabilities.  I should know my students weaknesses and strengths, and then use the students’ strengths to their advantage.  I should also understand the processes involved in special education and be able to read, understand, and implement accommodations on students’ IEPs.  I should be able to work in collaboration with the special education professionals and inclusions teachers, as well as becoming proficient in collaborative teaching with other instructors.  I should also build positive relationships with students, parents, special education teachers and professionals, as well as people in the community and resource centers.


Armstrong, D. T. (n.d.). Multiple Intelligences by  Dr. Thomas Armstrong. Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. Home Page. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.php

Learning-style Assessment. (n.d.). Learn More Indiana. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from http://www.learnmoreindiana.org/needtoknow/Pages/LearningStylesInventory.aspx

Technology Articles. (2004, April 26). Welcome to Shaw Webspace!. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from http://members.shaw.ca/priscillatheroux/differentiating.html

Weil, Z. (n.d.). Teachers Network: How To: Adjust Your Teaching Style to Your Students’ Learning Style – Classroom Management. Teachers Network Educators Resources Lesson Plans Videos Online Courses. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from http://teachersnetwork.org/ntol/howto/adjust/management.htm


Week 10: Blog Post: Social Class, Race, and School Achievement

24 Mar


Do you think tracking is a valid method for enhancing student performance? Or do you think it is a mechanism for perpetuating inequality of opportunity based on social class, race, or sex? Debate your classmate that has an opposing view by commenting on a classmates blog.

I do not agree with tracking in schools.  Grouping students into curriculum tracks based on their ability level seems to create a feeling of inadequacy when students are on the lower end of the spectrum.  Social class does play a role in academic achievement, and correlates so that lower social class lines up with lower achievement.  This causes a divide in schools based on social class, which is inhibiting students their chance to make improvements and take more advanced courses.

What steps can you take to create a more supportive school environment?

Classroom and school environment is extremely important for students to have a successful outcome in school.  I plan to create a supportive environment by getting to know my students and building a relationship through trust.  It is not difficult or time consuming to at least say hello to my students, in class and in the hallway.  It’s also best to let students know what is expected of them in order to be successful in my class, without confusing them through a maze of vague expectations that are difficult to interpret.  When students need help on a topic I will not turn them away or make them feel inadequate.  Instead, I will lead them on the right path to understand the concept.

How can teachers respond to social issues that place children at risk?

If a child is at risk, a teacher must take action to protect the child.  Social issues always create some kind of problem in schools, such as high class students picking on lower class students because they cannot afford the same clothes or shoes.  Appearance in school can be correlated with social status and personality, which is one main way students express themselves.  Teachers must support an environment where all students are equal, and have equal opportunities to succeed and move forward.  Teachers should try to create an environment where students are understanding of one another and each others’ cultures. This can be accomplished in many ways. For example, classes tend to be diverse, so students should know each other’s cultures.  Students should be able to research or talk about their beliefs so other students can understand each other.

In what ways does student culture shape perceptions and behaviors?

Beliefs of children and their parents has a great impact on children’s perceptions and behaviors at school. Teachers want to create a supportive and inviting environment for all students, but sometimes students are made to feel unwelcome, which teachers need to be able to reverse and overcome.

Some students might be quiet in class, such as Asian American students due to their culture.  Other non-Asian American students might consider them to be non-participatory, when in fact these students happen to value classroom order in a different way, and it is not because they do not wish to participate.  On the flip side, Asian American students might feel as if other students are obnoxious for always contributing comments.  These student perceptions and behaviors are due to the students’ culture.

How is class time related to student achievement?

Class time and student achievement is a complex topic.  The more time and effort put into something normally creates a positive result.  Many studies have shown that the amount of classroom time is not as significant as how that time is spent (Class, n.d.).  Sometimes this is not the case, but if students spend more time learning and teaching practices are also improved, then their achievement levels should increase.


Class time and student learning. (n.d.). Texas comprehensive center. Retrieved March 24, 2012, from http://txcc.sedl.org/resources/briefs/number6/


Week 9: Cuture, Socialization, and Education

18 Mar

Many Americans with European backgrounds tend to place great value on the individual. Many Americans, such as those with Asian backgrounds, tend to place greater value on the family or society or to the value the group and the individual equally. Consider this, you are teaching a fourth-grade class with many Asian American children in it. How will the difference in values between Anglo-European American and Asian American students affect your teaching and your relationships with students and parents?

What are some cultural patterns that will influence your instruction?

Asian American families strive for perfection.  Their children know what is expected of them, which is high marks in school (Family, 2008). Asian American families hold higher values on the family than Americans with European backgrounds, which is why many Asian American families all work together in their family owned businesses (Family, 2008).  This could influence part of my instruction and understanding of my students by knowing that some students may have to help their families’ businesses after school, while still needing to make high marks in class.

Asian culture sometimes promotes silence in the classroom as proper behavior (Rosenberg, 2008).  This could hinder the oral parts of discussions in the classroom since Asian American students might be quieter due to cultural values.  Below is an individualistic perspective in relation to a collectivistic perspective on education.

Individualist and Collectivist Cultural Perspectives on Education

Individualist Perspective Collectivist Perspective
Students work independently; helping others may be cheating. Students work with peers and provide assistance when needed.
Students engage in discussion and argument to learn to think critically. Students are quiet and respectful in class in order to learn more efficiently.
Property belongs to individuals, and others must ask to borrow it. Property is communal.
Teacher manages the school environment indirectly and encourages student self – control. Teacher is the primary authority, but peers guide each other’s behavior.
Parents are integral to child’s academic progress and participate actively. Parents yield to teacher’s expertise to provide academic instruction and guidance.

Source: Adapted from Individualist and Collectivist Perspectives on Education, from the Diversity Kit (2002) Providence, R.I.: The Education Alliance. (Rosenburg, 2008).



Family and the Asian Culture. (2008). Asian American Alliance | Business  management and consulting. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://www.asianamericanalliance.com/Culture.html

Rosenberg, M., Westling, D., & McLeskey, J. (2008). The Impact of Culture on Education | Education.com. Education.com | An Education & Child Development Site for Parents | Parenting & Educational Resource. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/impact-culture-education/

How will gender roles have an impact in your teaching and your students learning?

Asian cultures are more set in gender roles than in American cultures.  For example, some students might not wish to speak up in front of males.

How will educational technologies help your instruction?

Technology is a large part of classroom instruction.  I could also use it to help my students understand each others’ differences in backgrounds.  There are many sources on the internet that can help students understand different cultures.  There are also games that are fun and educational that can help the students in my classroom. Different cultures can also be researched on the internet for students to read about, or for me to discuss with them since they are in fourth grade and might not understand or have internet use at home.

How will mass media impact your classroom?

Mass media could make extreme impacts in my classroom.  With classroom diversity, and many issues in Asian countries, I might face issues regarding how American children think and their parents beliefs against the way Asian children and families think regarding issues.  I will have to create an understanding classroom of fourth grade students that can understand that every one of them are different in some way from each other, and to be accepting of others beliefs regardless of what the mass media is saying.

The Chinese Proverb “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”After reading this proverb, answer this question. How will you become knowledgeable about your students differences?


I would send questionnaires home to parents to fill out with any information that might be beneficial to help me teach their children.  I might ask what their ethnic background is, and then when I know, I can then research their beliefs.  I will also try to have interaction and conversations with the students parents/families.  Since Asian cultures don’t just focus on the individual, but instead have a great emphasis on family, then I will want to know the children’s families better.  Students learn in different ways, so I will have to incorporate as many teaching styles and strategies into my lesson plans, as well as learn how each of my students learn best in order to teach them efficiently.


Week 7: Blog Reflection: Recent Issues in Education

03 Mar



I read the article “Tennessee lawmakers advance ‘don’t say gay’ bill,” by Chas Sisk, updated February 16, 2012, posted on USA TODAY online news.  I also read the article “’Don’t say gay’ bill troubles Tenn. school counselors,” by Tony Gonzalez, updated February 21, 2012. This bill has been passed through Tennessee’s House of Representatives (Sisk, 2012).

The ‘don’t say gay’ bill restricts teaching students about homosexuality before reaching high school (Sisk, 2012).  Counselors can still use the term “gay,” and be able to counsel students on sexuality issues (Gonzalez, 2012). The bill makes restrictions so that, “instruction would be ‘limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science’” (Gonzalez, 2012).

The argument supporting this bill is that parents should make the decision on how to teach their children about sexuality (Gonzalez, 2012).

The arguments against this bill from counselors are that there could be possible bans concerning “suicide prevention posters that reference sexual orientation, gay teachers from displaying or discussing photos of their partners, discussions of sexuality with parents who ask about their children, and thoughtful exploration of episodes in which students are targeted with homosexual epithets” (Gonzalez, 2012).  Another argument states that, “Young people want to talk about it…They have questions. They want to process it” (Gonzalez, 2012). Other concerns have been raised regarding gay and lesbian clubs in schools, along with the support of some schools for their students be able to openly ask sexuality questions (Gonzalez, 2012).

Our textbook briefly discusses that some states prohibit the discrimination against gay or lesbian individuals (Ornstein, 2011).  Many courts have cited laws to protect the jobs of gay or lesbian teachers, as well as protect students and teachers against actions towards them due to being gay or lesbian (Ornstein, 2011).

I feel that the ‘don’t say gay’ bill may somehow be infringing upon the fact that there are gay and lesbian teachers and students, and to prohibit the discussion of homosexuality in the classroom could cause more issues than there already are in schools.  The beliefs of parents, students, teachers, and administrators do not change the fact that there are gay and lesbian individuals in schools, at home, and in the community.  Students, especially in middle school, are developing and might have questions regarding their sexuality. While they may be able to talk with a counselor openly about a concern, is hiding the information in schools really going to help students? What does prohibiting discussions of homosexuality do to students who have concerns about their own sexuality, as well as concerns a student might have about someone they know?

This topic is very controversial, especially when one is trying to look out for students’ best interests, as well as how parents wish to raise their children.



Gonzalez, T. (2012, February 21). ‘Don’t say gay’ bill troubles Tennessee school counselors – USATODAY.com. News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2012-02-21/tennessee-bill-homosexuality/53189982/1

Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Sisk, C. (2012, February 16). Tennessee lawmakers advance ‘don’t say gay’ bill – USATODAY.com. News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-02-16/tennessee-bill-homosexuality/53116470/1



Week 6 Blog Reflection: Financing Public Education

25 Feb

Why is there so much concern over funding public schools in the United States?

Funding is a main concern in the U.S. for public schools because the amount of funds per student continually increases, with a small amount of improvement in academic achievements. During the 2009-2010 school year, the national average of expense per student was $10,499 and Virginia’s expense per student was $10,930 (Virginia, n.d.).

Where does the money come from?

The funding for public education comes from local, state, and federal resources.  States fund the bulk of educational expenses.  It has been said that, “83 cents out of every dollar spent on education is estimated to come from the state and local levels” (Archived, 2007).

Local school districts’ main source of revenue is from property taxes (Ornstein, 2011).  Another source of possible revenue for local school districts is traffic fines and building permits (Ornstein, 2011).  Other sources of revenue for schools include corporate relationships, as discussed in this week’s debate.

State revenue sources include sales taxes and personal income taxes (Ornstein, 2011).  Sales tax makes up about a third of state revenues, with an average rate of 6.8% sales tax (Ornstein, 2011).  Personal income tax is the “largest source of state tax revenue, representing more than 35 percent of state revenues,” with only 9 states not participating in personal income taxes (Ornstein, 2011).  Other state revenues include the lottery, corporate income taxes, severance taxes, excise taxes on motor fuel, liquor, and tobacco products, and estate and gift taxes (Ornstein, 2011).

Federal funds include categorical grants, “targeted for specific groups and designated purposes,” and block grants, “for a general purpose without precise categories” (Ornstein, 2011).  The NCLB focuses federal funding on standardized testing, and accountability (Ornstein, 2011).

Below is a diagram that further shows that most funds for education come from state and local revenue.




Why are there different funding configurations among states?

The funding is different among states because some states can afford more than others (Ornstein, 2011).  Geographically, the economy is different with residents’ personal incomes and property values having great variability across states and individual school divisions (Ornstein, 2011).  Funding also changes annually because property values fluctuate (Financing, 2010).

States also choose different methods of funding.  For example, states use the flat grant model, the foundation plan, the power-equalizing plan, the weighted student plan, or perhaps a mixture of multiple methods (Ornstein, 2011).  I think that there should be a combination of the plans consisting of more funding for lower income school districts to even the differences in advantages of wealthy districts, and to raise money per student that has a special need.  My idea seems to blend the power-equalizing plan, and the weighted student plan.

Below is an image showing educational expenses by state, and as you can see, there are large differences between state expenditures. For example, Utah is one of the lower spending states that spent $5,464 per student during the 2005-2006 school year, while Connecticut is a higher spending state that spent $14,959 per student during the 2005-2006 school year.


(Ornstein, 2011)

What current trends are shaping educational finance?

A main trend that is shaping educational finance is the increase of financial support from the federal government.  Under the Obama Administration, the agenda includes reforming the NCLB Act, and is “proposing to more fully fund the law” (Ornstein, 2011).

Another trend includes taxpayer resistance, such as the elderly not wanting to pay property taxes that fund schools since they do not have children in school (Ornstein, 2011).  35 states give selected populations, such as the elderly, a credit for their property taxes (Ornstein, 2011).  Also, schools and teachers are continuously being made more accountable for student performance (Ornstein, 2011).  Parents are allowed to claim tuition tax credits if they send their children to non-public school (Ornstein, 2011).  And other problems are being addressed, such as school size and maintenance of school building and facilities (Ornstein, 2011).

Is the financial voice of a teacher (or other decision makers) always, often, or rarely the voice for children?

In my opinion, the financial voice of the teacher or other decision maker is rarely the voice for the children.  Teachers do not get a large say in major aspects such as the curriculum or educational funding.  Even the NCLB Act is not looking out for the children.  The assessments and accountability measures used to close the gaps between the different levels of academic achievement are not beneficial to the students. It leads to teachers having to teach to a test instead of teaching the content.  Are students really learning by this method of instruction? Is it beneficial to put this much pressure of accountability onto teachers if they are not adequately funded by the federal government who issued such mandate?

Create a plan for raising funds for education and distribute those funds equitably to all school districts within Virginia.

 I believe the simplest way to raise funds for education at the state level would be to raise sales tax by 0.1%.  Taxes are useful to raise money because when they are increased at small percentages, the resulting revenue is quite large (Ornstein, 2011).

Already existing funds and the additional 0.1% sales tax could be divided based upon what I previously stated in that there should be a base amount of funds per student.  The money should additionally be divided by giving low-income school districts more funds than wealthy districts since, on the local level, wealthy districts bring in more educational funds.  I also believe that more funding should go to students that have special needs or special characteristics that require more funds.



Archived: 10 fact about K-12 education funding. (2007, October 12). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved February 25, 2012, from http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/index.html


Financing public education | nlc.org. (2010). National League of Cities | Helping City Leaders Build Better Communities. Retrieved February 25, 2012, from http://www.nlc.org/build-skills-networks/resources/cities-101/financing-public-education


Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Virginia | Federal education budget project. (n.d.). Home | Federal education budget project. Retrieved February 25, 2012, from http://febp.newamerica.net/k12/VA

Week 5: Blog Reflection: Governing and Administering

19 Feb

1. As the chapter states, the NCLB Act has principals and teachers strategizing to increase test scores of all students. According to the educational professionals in this video case, why are higher test scores sometimes difficult for students (and teachers) to produce?

From the video, higher test scores are difficult for students and teachers to produce due to the level of proficiency that is required.  Students with disabilities and IEPs require increasing amounts of time for teachers and these students that leads to frustration when the student is making significant progress, yet is deemed not proficient on a grade level test (Educational, n.d.).  As Joseph Petner said, “teaching is the profession of hope” (Educational, n.d.).  Teachers, parents, and students hope for student success and improvement, but it is difficult to produce these higher test scores when faced with these challenges.  Although a student might make tremendous progress, it is sometimes not enough and the tests do not measure this progress.

In addition, some students face issues and difficulties in their daily lives inside and outside of school that pose problems for students to produce proficient test scores.  For example, some students have test anxiety or poor test taking skills.  Other students could be facing divorcing parents or deaths in the family.  Teachers face teaching the broad range of students undergoing difficulties due to the wide range of problems these students may be facing.  It certainly plays a role in the students test scores.

2. Do you think the NCLB Act is an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance? Use research to explain your answer.

I believe that the NCLB Act is not fully effective and accurate in measuring school and student performance.  Some students can answer questions and memorize information, but can they show the application of their knowledge on a test? In an interview, Mr. Testerman, PSEA vice president, said “it’s one thing to ask students a test question about the steps of the scientific method and another to have them demonstrate their knowledge by organizing and performing an experiment” (Smydo, 2006).  He also stated that it’s impossible to demonstrate that knowledge in one day on a high stakes test (Smydo, 2006).

In New Jersey, a survey on the effectiveness of the NCLB Act showed that 21 percent of people believe it bettered the U.S. public school education, 45 percent believe that it made no difference, and 29 percent said that it has made public school education worse (Newport, 2009).  This public opinion poll shows some significant doubts in the NCLB Act’s effectiveness.

I believe that it is unfair to assess every student (including students with disabilities) at the same level, and call students that are not able to perform at a certain level not proficient if they are making significant progress. It poses many challenges for educators.

3. What will you do if a student with a disability is in your classroom? How will you meet their specific needs? Who will you consult for assistance?

If a student in my class has a disability, I will work with my IEP (Individual Educational Plan) team to meet their specific needs.  The IEP team meetings consist of the student (if age 14 or older), the parents, guardians or care providers, the regular education teacher, the special education teacher, a representative of the local public agency such as the principal or administrator, someone who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluations such as a special education teacher, school psychologist or speech pathologist, and any other person the parent or school invites (Orfei, 2011).  I will create goals, provide the required accommodations and communicate with my team in order to help this student succeed.

Photo from http://concordspedpac.org/TeamMembers.html


4. Think of a few teaching reforms that are currently taking place in a school, district, or state. Which reforms do you think will stick? Why? Which instructional practices have remained constant? What factors contribute to their persistence?

In Virginia schools, there is the Virginia Early Warning System, (VEWS), which is used “to predict which students are at risk for dropping out of high school” (VDOE, 2011). The VEWS is also used to  “target resources at the school- and division-level to support students not on track to graduate while they are still in school and before they drop out; [and to] examine patterns and identify school climate issues that may contribute to disproportionate dropout rates” (VDOE, 2011). I feel that this is a good system with many additions to teaching that are increasing graduation rates, and will most likely stick.  Increasing accountability of teachers has been an ongoing reform taking place in Virginia schools.  For example, in 2009, the Board of Education, under the VEWS, began requiring that high school students meet an annual benchmark for graduation starting the fiscal year of 2011-2012 (VDOE, 2011).  This new accountability program also revised Virginia’s accreditation standards (VDOE, 2011).

In this example, accountability of school, teachers, and students has remained, and has increased.  Factors contributing to their persistence push towards the ultimate goal for the students to succeed.  For the success of future generations, it is imperative that students graduate, and I feel that these reforms will stay around in order to increase graduation rates.

Another goal in Virginia is to improve High Schools.  Some topics covered for improvements include rigorous curriculum and instruction, assessment and accountability, teacher quality and professional development, and student and family supports (VDOE, 2011).



Education video cases. (n.d.). Redirection to Equivalent @ Cengage. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http://college.cengage.com/education/resources/students/video_cases/protected/hmfm_education/index.html?layer=act&src=qtiworkflowflash_vc42_screen.xml

Newport, F. (2009, August 18). Americans Doubt Effectiveness of “No Child Left Behind”. Gallup.Com – Daily News, Polls, Public Opinion on Politics, Economy, Wellbeing, and World. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/122375/americans-doubt-effectiveness-no-child-left-behind.aspx

Orfei, M., & Wagner, A. (2011, March 8). The IEP Team Members. concordspecpac.org. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http://concordspedpac.org/TeamMembers.html

Smydo, J., & Post-Gazette, P. (2006, August 28). No Child Left Behind has altered the face of education. Post-Gazette.com. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06240/716932-298.stm

VDOE :: school improvement & reform – Virginia early warning system. (2011). VDOE :: Virginia Department of Education Home. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/school_improvement/early_warning_system/index.shtml


Week 4: Idealism & Realism

12 Feb


Read the following excerpts from Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic and an excerpt from the Oversoul by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In your blog post, discuss the implications of these writings in connection with idealism (the goal is to discover and develop each student’s individual abilities and morality to better serve society).

The cave from Plato’s Republic:

•   http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html

•   http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.html

•   http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-allegory-of-the-cave.htm

Oversoul by Ralph Waldo Emerson:





Our textbook describes the way in which idealists “believe that the spiritual, nonmaterial world is ultimately real…the person’s spiritual essence, or soul, is the permanent element of human nature that gives individuals the power to think and feel” (Ornstein, 2011).  Plato’s, “The Allegory of the Cave,” from The Republic shows “his belief that the world [that is] revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually” (Kreis, 2004).  It is an allegory, “where humans are depicted as being imprisoned by their bodies and what they perceive by sight only” (What, 2012).  It depicts the thoughts of an idealist.  Idealistic teachers believe that students should “think deeply and bring to consciousness the answers that are present in our minds” (Ornstein, 2011).  In the allegory, it discusses a man being chained inside a cave, and his existence is just being in the cave with a fire and the shadows that he sees (What, 2012).  It then discusses what might happen if the man escaped and went out into the world (What, 2012).  Would he be frightened and go back to what he knows as existence, meaning go back to the cave? Or would the man see the world for what it really is?

In Emerson’s Oversoul, he tries to show that, “we gain a deeper understanding of truth not by anything physical, but through our minds” (Emerson’s, 2012).  This is also an idealistic point of view.  In his essay, he describes how God is inside of everyone, and individuals can communicate with God without a church or official (Emerson’s, 2012).  God is not something or someone that can be seen, but it is an internal belief.



Emerson’s essays: summary and analysis of “the over-soul”: about “the over-soul” – CliffsNotes . (2012).  Get Homework Help with CliffsNotes Study Guides . Retrieved February 12, 2012, from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/Emerson-s-Essays-Summary-and-Analysis-of-The-Over-Soul-.id-95,pageNum-20.html

Kreis, S. (2004, May 13). Plato, “The allegory of the cave”. The history guide — main. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.html

What is the allegory of the cave?. (2012). wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-allegory-of-the-cave.htm



Next, consider the following puzzle: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would it make a noise?

Respond to this question from the perspective of a Realist (students should be taught mastery of facts and basic skills they should demonstrate their ability to think critically by using the scientific method). In your post, connect with educational implications of realism.

Now, consider the two questions below:

  • How do the ideas of Idealism and Realism relate to teaching and student learning?
  • Which idea best fits with your own views of reality? Why?





If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would it make a noise?

From a realist’s perspective, one could first define the term “sound”.  Sound is defined as “the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium” (Sound, 2012).  Then one might define other variables, which, in this case, lead to more questions.  One might ask to whom is “no one” referring?  If in the woods, were there other organisms around who have the ability to hear, such as other animals?  There must have been other animals… so, when a tree falls it makes sound waves that one can hear.  Therefore, the tree made a noise.  An animal in the woods had to hear it… therefore, it made a noise because it made sound that the animal perceived.

However, if I look back to the definition I gave for sound, it defines it as a sensation, as in hearing, produced by the stimulation of the organs from hearing.  This means that if absolutely no one heard it, then it did not make a sound.

Idealistic teachers believe that, “knowledge is about the universal spiritual truth that underlie reality and about the ideas that reflect that truth” (Ornstein, 2011). If “knowledge is about universal ideas, then education is the intellectual process of bringing these ideas into the learner’s consciousness” (Ornstein, 2011).  Learning does involve making students aware of how they think.  For example, we study how students learn in order to be better teachers.  If students understand how they think individually, and what learning techniques and strategies are most beneficial to them, then their awareness of their own learning styles can be beneficial to them and increase how successful they may become.

Realistic teachers believe that, “reality exists independently of our knowing it and that the scientific method is the best way to get an accurate description of what the world is and how it works” (Ornstein, 2011).  In this viewpoint, the world exists independently from individuals.  The curriculum and subjects are divided and organized, and decisions are based on knowledge (Ornstein, 2011).

I am a realist most of the time because I work and understand material best when I know the facts.  My intuition, or sixth sense, it not normally what guides me, but instead, I focus on my five main senses that help me identify something.  Because I think as a realist most of the time, it supports why I wish to become a biology teacher.



Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Sound. (2012). Dictionary.com. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from dictionary.reference.com/browse/sound

Week 3: Blog Reflection: Recent Issues in Education

04 Feb

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­What are your thoughts about the purpose of education?

Tribe elders defined the purpose of education as, “the transmission of the group’s existing traditions, cultural patterns, and survival skills” (Ornstein, 2011).  They used education as a means to resist change in order to keep existing culture (Ornstein, 2011).  Storytelling was used to pass on cultural heritage (Ornstein, 2011).  Aristotle believed that schools, “should offer a prescribed subject-mater curriculum based on scholarly and scientific disciplines,” which has influenced our academic institutions (Ornstein, 2011). The purposes of education grow and build on each other as time moves forward.  To me, education is a means to pass on information from one generation to another.  It changes for each culture and belief system, but overall traditions, cultures, survival skills, and the knowledge of many different subjects and skills provides the tools to students to prosper and be successful in life, which is the ultimate goal of education.

How has the institution of education changed? How has it remained the same?

It has remained the same in how teachers must teach to tests in order for students to have the ability to score well, and also so the lack of student achievement on these tests do not create negativity towards the teachers.  For example, the SOL’s or Standards of Learning are a major assessment that teachers teach along with in am aim for their students to perform successfully. Ancient China contributed the practice of national exams to the institution of education (Ornstein, 2011).  Chinese educators developed comprehensive written exams in order to assess their students’ memorization of information focused on ancient Chinese literature and Confucian texts (Ornstein, 2011).  Since the students needed high scores, the teachers focused on teaching the material and discouraged discussion and interpretation (Ornstein, 2011).  National exams are used in modern China, Sigapore, Japan, and South Korea in order to gain entry into a university (Ornstein, 2011).  France and the UK also require national tests in their education system (Ornstein, 2011). In the U.S., the NCLB Act requires annual testing of students in reading and math from 3rd grade through 8th grade (Ornstein, 2011).  The exams in the U.S. test students’ ability to apply their knowledge and do not focus completely memorization of information.

From ancient times through now, religion has made a significant influence on education (Ornstein, 2011). In ancient Egypt, there was a link between religion and education (Ornstein, 2011).  In current American culture, there is not a strong link between religion and education, or church and state unless the school is funded by a church or religion.  The Enlightenment persuaded the separation of church and state and education by Jefferson for state-supported schools (Ornstein, 2011). However, religion still plays a role in the U.S., just not in state-funded schools.  For example, “currently, about 4,000,000 U.S. elementary and secondary students attend religiously affiliated schools” (Ornstein, 2011).

Here are a few example of education during different times, and how or if they relate to the U.S. currently.  In the Hebraic education, during the seventh century BCE, students were to learn and understand information by listening, reading, and memorizing (Ornstein, 2011).  In the U.S. today, much more is done to promote learning for students.  The Sophists focused on student’s communication skill, while teaching the subjects of logic, grammar, and rhetoric that later developed into what is called the  liberal arts (Ornstein, 2011).  Schools and colleges today focus and offer degrees in liberal arts. Students are also taught how to communicate and give speeches effectively.

We no longer have set classes that place people in a hierarchical social class that limits their level of education. We also provide education to everyone, including both men and women regardless of their social status or intellectual ability. For example in Ancient China, women and lower-class males were secluded from school and comprehensive exams (Ornstein, 2011).  Many philosophers believed that women should not have the opportunity to be educated.  Spartan women were only schooled an viewed as wives and mothers to bear strong Spartan soliders (Ornstein, 2011).  In a different light, Plato believed that, “women possessed the same intellectual abilities as men and should enjoy the same educational privileges and civic responsibilities as men” (Ornstein, 2011).  Plato also removed children for their parents and placed them in state-run nurseries in order to avoid the children developing the same ignorance and prejudices as their parents (Ornstein, 2011). This is not practiced in our western culture, but is truly interesting.

How have educators from the past contributed to teaching today?

The ancient Egyptians contributed the instruction of reading and writing due to their creation of hieroglyphics (Ornstein, 2011). They also contributed the study of medicine, anatomy, and embalming due to their study of mummification (Ornstein, 2011).  Other important contributions included the study of architecture and civil administration (Ornstein, 2011).  The Europeans invented the printing press in 1423, which was a crucial contributor to the advancement in literacy and education (Ornstein, 2011).

Comenius, or Jan Komensky, the bishop of a Protestant church, believed that universally shared knowledge would help people be more harmonious and understanding, and cause a release of ethnic and religious hatred (Ornstein, 2011).  He also, “rejected the child depravity doctrine that children were inherently bad and that teachers needed to use corporal punishment in order to discipline them” (Ornstein, 2011).  In the U.S., 19 states have laws that permit corporal punishment in schools, and in the 2005-2006 school year, “223,190 school children in the U.S. were subjected to physical punishment” (The center, 2010).  Many states do not allow corporal punishment in schools, and some individual schools in states that allow corporal punishment have rules prohibiting it.  Comenius’s main influence on today’s schools is that schools should be organized based on child development (Ornstein, 2011).

There were many other educational pioneers that have contributed to today’s educational practices.  Dewey’s main influence on today’s schools was that he believed school should stress “problem solving and activities in a context of community” (Ornstein, 2011).  Montessori believed that there should be “early childhood schooling that is intellectually and developmentally stimulating” (Ornstein, 2011).

How does experience play a role in teaching and student learning through our education history?

Now, experience plays a critical role in teaching and student learning.  Teachers take specific content area courses and licensure courses in order to teach certain subjects and grade levels.

It is generally agreed upon that teacher quality is the most critical school-based factor affecting student achievement (Research, 2011).   “Effective teachers are capable of inspiring significantly greater learning gains in their students when compared with their weaker colleagues” (Research, 2011). Experience of teachers has a positive relationship with student achievement. On average, beginning teachers produce smaller learning gains in their students compared with more seasoned teachers (Research, 2011).  In 1998, economists showed that there was approximately 7.5 percent variation, and up to 20 percent, on student achievement due to teacher quality (Research, 2011). This data shows how critical experience and knowledge is on a child’s education and achievement.

The issue of students’ lack of achievement in America is partly due to teachers not being educated enough or qualified to teach a certain subject, or because they know the material, but do not know how to teach.



The center for effective discipline. (2010, July 1). The Center for Effective Discipline. Retrieved February 4, 2012, from http://www.stophitting.com/index.php?page=statesbanning


Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Research center: teacher quality. (2011, July 8). Education week American education news site of record. Retrieved February 4, 2012, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/teacher-quality/

Sarah's Foundations of American Education Blog

Just another UMW Blogs weblog