23 Replies Latest reply on Feb 29, 2016 7:21 PM by Jayanthi

    What content should teachers eliminate?

    glen_w

      Yesterday I read a blog post by Michael Smith @principalspage titled "We Need to Stop Teaching Our Students How to Write." Michael is a former Principal and currently is a District Superintendent. He makes many excellent points on how and why things that "have always been taught" should be considered for removal from a school's curricula. His points are often related to how advances in technology make each item no longer needed in school. This blog post was put up yesterday and already has 27 responses. I like how well he explains his thinking. I enjoyed his thinking that elimination of unnecessary material will make room for instruction to prepare students for the 21st Century. I highly recommend the blog as a change agent topic. I invite my fellow Intel Teach friends to share their thinking with Michael.

       

      I am interested in your thinking on the topic and how such a dramatic shift could move students into using 21st Century Skills. In particular I am interested in your thoughts on changes this would require in standardized testing.

        • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?

          Glen, a very interesting blog post.  I absolutely agree that we must change, but I got the impression he was for wholesale change.  Yes, our students need to know where and how to find information, but to suggest that we should stop memorizing facts is just foolish, in my opinion.  If students don't have the background then how are they to come up with new answers.  Our students need a good foundation.

           

          One of the statements Mr. Smith made was "And computers, computers, computers.  We can’t keep pushing technology skills to the background because Grandma the 3rd grade teacher is afraid her students might break the printer or download a song."  Many "technology skills" are not as much about the "Grandma" 3rd grade teacher as it is about districts not having the funds to purchase the equipment. Many districts, at least here in AZ, don't require the "computer teacher" be a certified teacher.  School Boards are afraid they will be sued by a parent over something their child "found" on the Internet.  Until our leaders and parents allow us to move forward, it simply won't happen.  It seems it's always the teacher's fault.  But parents and administration also share in the responsibility of pushing change.  Many do, only to be stopped by their boards.

           

          So, where do we go from here?  Another question, another time.

            • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
              glen_w

              Neil,

               

              I know how hard it is to have trained people teaching our students to use technology. Utah has requirements on what is needed to teach technology at both the elementary and secondary levels. The bigger challenge as I see it deals with the cost. I agree with Mr. Smith that computers are needed at all grade levels and will benefit students in many subjects. As noted by coxd on the "On "An Open Letter to Educators"" page - students can find most "factoids" using Google. Teachers need to find ways to engage students as well as help them think more deeply about the topics being learned. (Does this sound like Thinking with Technology at all?)

               

              I'm curious how your schools, districts, and states are working to get technology tools into the hands of students. Please share any efforts you know about - whether they have been implemented or not.

              • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                cgardne

                It's not so much as eliminating subjects, but integrating them.  In the elementary classroom, teacher work at making the entire day be a total immersion of learning.  That means creating a topic or theme and build all curricular around the theme.  At one time, it was called whole language and integrated learning.  High school tends to segment learning giving specific times for just math, or Language Arts, etc.  There is no connection at all.  In my thinking, total immersion could also take place within the high school.  It would take some collaborative efforts, but could be done.

                 

                Fine Arts courses should never be cut at all.  Music/ Band, Drama and Art helps with learning patterns, instilling creativity, and builds upon self-worth.  These  teachers can create great plans incorporating the other subjects, and it seems to me, that it could work both ways.  It's so important to create that time for the teachers to work together collaboratively to create that inclusive plan.

                  • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                    glen_w

                    Carolyn,

                     

                    I appreciate your thinking on how content should be integrated. I found the post, several years ago, and thought the ideas were interesting. How do you think districts and schools can create time for integrated collaboration? (My experience is that there are more expectations on teacher time.)

                • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?

                  I don't think that anything should be eliminated.  I think that what we use now should be revamped.  I teach English I and I now have lectures on:

                  1. Blog writing (basically same rules as effective essay writing but with a new name)
                  2. Creating inviting blog titles (lesson mimics good introductions and tltles)
                  3. Building readership (writing to engage the reader)
                  4. How to use tags and categories (basic classifiying and categorizing)

                   

                  The basic make-up of my class has stayed the same but there are some suble differences.  I think that we should shift the focus from learning for the sake of learning to learning things that will help you to effectively communicate with the outside world.

                    • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                      glen_w

                      Valerie,

                       

                      I'm excited to see someone with Language Arts teaching experience moving towards the use of 21st Century tools by students. I can see how you are working to encourage these students to not only use these tools but to understand them (e.g. the use of tagging.) I am in total agreement that students need to actively communicate in this digital environment. If your student work is available for public viewing (my district will not allow such publishing) please share a link so we may see the progress your students are making as they use these tools for communication.

                    • Challenges we face as 21st century educators:
                      vkajones

                      I thought this video relates to what we are discussing.

                      • Re: 21 things that will be obsolete in 2010 try 2010
                        vkajones

                        Things that make you go hmmm.

                         

                        21 things that will be obsolete in 2010.

                         

                        Vanessa

                        • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                          Bonnie Feather

                          This is a hard one for me.  I do agree that some of what is mentioned is pretty pointless to spend lots of time on.  On the other hand, I'm still in the old school of valuing a well-rounded education.  I think that includes spelling and at least legible handwriting.  Of course, neither of those is immutable- ours is (fortunately) a living and changing language.

                           

                          I even like diagramming sentences!

                           

                          However, I think that the WAY we teach absolutely MUST change.  Mr. Smith makes a point that it is embarrassing for a teacher not to know math, history, science but still not embarrassing to be clueless about technology.  I submit that there are many (unfortunately) teachers who DON'T know math, history, and science (not to mention spelling and grammar.)  They are sometimes almost proud of their lack of skill in these areas.  When inept teachers are in charge of teaching, how can we expect the students to come away valuing the content?  I feel basic math, history, and science literacy are necessary to make reasoned decisions on our lives, and much of the political mess we see on the news daily would easily be ended and our government could get on with making reasoned decisions about what's best for our people if these areas were better understood by a majority of citizens.

                           

                          Oops, I'm up on a bit of a soapbox here...

                           

                          So, how are we to engage the students of today and impart to them a clearer understanding of math, science, history, and language?  ...I think Project-Based Approaches are the way to go.  Keep the real-world impact showing.  Help students to step into the shoes of others and learn to build a well-supported argument.  And use the tools of technology to engage them.

                           

                          ...just my 2 cents...

                            • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                              glen_w

                              Bonnie,

                               

                              Thanks for stepping on your soapbox! I sympathize with your frustration about teachers who are less knowledgeable about various subjects. (As you can guess, I'm disappointed when teachers do not know science!) I'm always intrigued at how many teachers "do not do technology." I wonder if they also would feel comfortable with "I don't do addition" or "I don't do subtraction." Perhaps they think it is appropriate to say "I don't do reading." I think it is important that teachers and their students do "technology, mathematics, reading, writing, science, and other subjects."

                               

                              How can we encourage more teachers to utilize and help their students do more "Project Based Learning?" Is this a paradigm shift? How do we work around the "I've got this mandated test I must prepare my students for?"

                                • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                  NaomiHarm

                                  Bonnie and Glen- I couldn't agree with you more.  I see a lot of educators struggling with their own background knowledge of particular concepts of study, and at times this is why they drop out of the program, because the "real-world" content driven project is too much or as they "too deep"  for them.  I have been told they feel like they do not understand how to truly develop an interdisciplinary project with the essential questions driving the instruction, and only want to focus on one subject they know.  I understand that one subject may be a comfort zone to them, but this where they need to meet us have way and take the at 9th inning stretch and take the risk - even if it is only baby steps to infuse the appropriate technology tool or subject area or 21st century skills to enrich the overall lesson.

                                   

                                  I have learned though the "excitement" and drive must come from within- so we need as facilitators on the from end find out what makes them tick :-)  That is why now ALL my intro activities include a back channel chat and throughout our training to open up my quite, reluctant, and reserved learners to gain some meaning insight on what they are truly passionate about.  I also find those individual moments with each of my participants to share a resource or activity that compliments their area of interests and  understanding, but also share an extension to aid and spark an interest in a possible new direction to "green up" their lesson as Bernie Jean Porter would say.

                                   

                                  I had an opportunity two Falls ago to work with WBGH out of Boston.  Two great websites we immersed ourselves into included Teachers Domain and NSDL.  TD provides all content and subject area of PD to strengthen new teacher's subject specific content knowlege and also refreshed and enriched veteran's teacher knowledge.  NSDL is a robust digital library of STEM resources that you can loose your self in - in a good way. http://www.teachersdomain.org/


                                  I am also attaching 4 documents for your review of the researched based PD model, best practices and technology tools. SEDTA (State Educational Technology Directors Association) has provided these documents to aid in guidance to assist educators through the nation. Please note- and of course- Intel Teach Program is listed as an effective and proven PD program.  Congrats Intel Teach!

                              • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                yasserrs2003@hotmail.com

                                every science has it's own basics that can't be eliminated from the curricular and there are many information that might have been outdated and have to be removed, and there is also the new discoveries, here we have two issues:

                                1. is the curricular printed ( modification of printed materials cost a lot of money) or the teacher put together what he needs to achieve his goals following the standards
                                2. the teacher must follow all new things related to the subject he teaches, and be able to develop himself to followup what is new   
                                  • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                    glen_w

                                    yasserrs2003@hotmail.com Some school's have strict curricula and no opportunities for teachers to modify what is taught. When teachers are given the opportunity and time to set and achieve goals, there is time for new discoveries relating to the content. I have seen many teachers who are less interested in developing themselves and growing with knowledge of what they teach. If you controlled education throughout the world (or just in your country) how would you help these teachers learn new information about their subject?

                                  • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                    yasserrs2003@hotmail.com

                                    glen_w the question is : why shall i develop my knowledge? the curricula is fixed and stable for decades and i don't have to add any information on my own why do  i need to learn more?

                                    i think when students begin to ask, this is the moment the teacher knows that he needs to learn more, so the answer may be to let the students ask more and discover the answers together.

                                      • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                        glen_w

                                        yasserrs2003@hotmail.com I see the trait of "Why should I continue learning" from almost half of the teachers I know. I find it very sad and know it does not help engage their students. I and several teachers at my school are constantly trying to learn more about our content, use of technology, and how students learn. Two days ago, three students told me how much they enjoy using technology to demonstrate their learning in my class. They wondered why more teachers do not allow them to create a video to show what they have learned. My response was for them to ask their teacher if they might create a video instead of just filling in a worksheet.

                                          • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                            cgardne

                                            To me, learning never stops.  There are always opportunities to learn something new whether it's just finding out about a new resource, or a new book that I might like to read, or even starting a new hobby like crocheting.  If one stops learning, life just isn't very exciting.  Expand the mind!!!!

                                        • Re: What content should teachers eliminate?
                                          Jayanthi

                                          I think it is important to feel excited and enthusiastic as an educator to be able to reach out to students.I teach ICT for High School students and it is fun to come up with interesting topics that can be given as a project/challenge.I love the way students handle/work at topics.For instance,we gave them the topic"Design a template for a perfect world" under various categories - Health,Security,Education among others.Students used traditional methods like going to the library to write some original content and also the Internet,visited an 'ideal' educational institution.They then drew their template and presented this as a project.Every team gave a differently refreshing perspective.Given sufficient time and exposure to both traditional and new age tools help the students work better and different!