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Empowering Educators for 21st Century Teaching & Learning

Urban EDU Coach

My Blog


Be Converted

Posted on June 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM Comments comments (328)
     Despite the accolades Web 2.0 technology is getting from innovative educators, there are a numerous number of teachers who don’t used Web 2.0 tools in the classroom yet. Because social networking sites require a personal profile to sign up, educators are fearful. Some don’t want to old friends or fraudulent family members to contact them. Others don’t want to be tracked by debt collectors. Some educators are fearful that because of the many budget cuts more technology in the classroom, it is simply too costly and not in the budget. Others fear they don’t write well enough so they fear blogging. While others fear being involved in controversy that may cost them their job. “I don’t want my business in the streets”, this is a very common reason. One educator I talked to said she didn’t like her work or her name being included in a particular stream during a Google search. Another teacher is afraid of being sued for using Google images. Yet another educator fears someone else stealing his work. Believe it or not, others are just simply resistant to change. Either way the result is fear of social media; fear to embrace new technologies that could engage their students in new learning.

Fear Cripples Even Teachers
     Why the resistance? Whatever the reasons, it seems fear keeps teachers from embracing technology in the classroom. When I suggested using Blogging, Podcasts and other Web 2.0 tools to one of my colleagues, I was told. “I don’t want to be replaced by a computer, and I don’t see what’s wrong with what I have been doing. I’ve been teaching this way for years. “
     The world is changing. Most Web 2.0 tools are simple to use while others may not be as simple. Nonetheless,   whether simple or not, this change is inevitable for classrooms. It has to be since today’s students are digital natives. Informal surveys of students report that they used more technology and Web 2.0 tools outside of the classroom that they do inside. 
     When I asked 10 teachers if they thought students needed to learn to use more technology, they all agreed. However, when I asked if they used it in his or her classroom, 8 out of the 10 said no. Of the 10 educators informally surveyed, half were college instructors and half were high school teachers. I asked the college instructors to what extend they at least used various features of Blackboard or other course management tools. They said they only uploaded their syllabi but that was only because their campuses required it. “My students need to learn to write first. They need the basic. We don’t have time to be on those computers, plus my class is not scheduled in a lab anyway.” My next question was; could you reserve a computer lab? The answer, “I don’t have time for the red tape involved.”

Your students will love you for it.
     Each high school teacher voiced their strong concern about students using cell phones in theclassroom. Their greatest fear was that they would use Facebook or Twitter to socialize or text friends for the same reason. Neither of them thought creating plans to teach appropriate use was feasible. They just didn’t want to deal with it. “No way, I don’t want the responsibility”, said one high school educator.
     What will we do? Will students have to become 21st century “digital civil rights workers” organizing protests and sit-ins, to get their needs met? I challenge you to take your own survey. How many educators around you are using technology, outside of Microsoft Office in the classroom? A formal survey described in the Technology section of LA Times (December 8, 2011), confirms that most students use more technology outside of class than they are required to use it during classes. The news survey also reports that “while 73% of teachers say digital content is essential, only 11% of districts are using it according to a survey of IT professionals.”

21st Century Learning Leverages Technology to Empower Students
     Taking this information in account, do you think students are being prepared to function successfully in the world of work? Remember now, more companies are digitalizing their work for better efficiency and to keep up with the competition. Where does that leave our students when it comes to seeking gainful employment? Where does it leave them as they seek to compete in aggressive colleges and universities?

Don’t Be Afraid…,Just Click on it!
     Fear is a normal physical or emotional response to risk, chance, trauma, or danger. We have feelings of fear so that we can protect ourselves from legitimate threat. However, we often have “feelings” of fear for reasons that are far from being life threatening. One can feel fear because of previous bad experiences. It is common knowledge that the best way to quell fear of any kind is to face the personal demons to move beyond the fear. 

These are 3 tops for ridding oneself of social media fear.

1. Just Tinker. Schedule time to tinker, explore, and experiment one site at a time. Start a blog of your own. Embrace it and understand the process. As always, practice makes perfect.
2. Communicate with other instructors. “Friend” others on the sites. Post, ask questions and share information. People usually love sharing. After all, sharing is the point right.?
3. Educated yourself. Take a webinar, take to colleagues during professional learning community times at your school. Talk to other teachers you know. You’d be surprised at who you already know who uses Web 2.0 technologies already. Read educational blogs. Educator are blogging about 2.0 all the time.

Once You Try Web 2.0 Tools You Won’t Go Back
     There is good news. Just as all fears can be overcome by facing, fear of social media can be overcome merely by practicing. Slowly become an expert one site or one App at a time. Take your time to explore and experiment. Web 2.0 technologies are user friendly and convenient.
     Beware, though, of changes that could happen any day. Sometimes developers warn users of changes, other times they don’t. Understand that change is part of the process and embrace it. If there is a change you really can’t live with try this. Don’t be afraid of controversy. Send a message to support and voice your opinion about the change. Post your opinion for others who use the site to see as well. You never know how many other people also feel the same way. When developers’ see that a great number of their users object, they will most often adjust the change for easy use. They want you to use their tool, they don’t want you to take down your profile. Do it slowly, but do it!

Johnny can't read, still

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 11:17 PM Comments comments (25)
Over the years we have spent too much time talking about the problem. We have raised valid issues regarding the fact that many students can't read. We have talked about why they can't read. Entire school districts have bought expensive programs and materials that were supposed be the answer. 

In 1964, John Holt became a prominent educator when he pointed the finger at the system because "Johnny" could read. He wrote a book called, "How Children Fail" detailing reasons why our kids fail. Then he tried to answer the question in which he posed, "Why can't Johnny Read". He toured the country being invited to talk shows, universities, churches, talk shows, and game shows. Finally, he decided that the system was what was the powers that be wanted it to be, so he wrote a third book called, Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, whose conclusion called for a "Children's Underground Railroad" to help children escape compulsory schooling. 

His quest began in 1964 and ended in 1976 when he began a newsletter for parents who wanted to teach their children at home. Thus, began the contemporary home school movement. In 1976, he published Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, whose conclusion called for a "Children's Underground Railroad" to help children escape compulsory schooling. 

Today, 1 in 4 American children still can't read.  That means that 6 out of every 24 high school students can't read.  They are not literate and cannot function adequately in society.  It is 2013. How many years ago since 1964, when educator John Holt first began his screaming and hollering? By 1979 he was burnt.  He then made his life simple and  learned to do something he wanted to do all his life, play the cello.  Still wanting to write, he wrote a book about it called, Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story.  He died in obscuring in 1985 still, advocating for the education of the young people in American, especially the poor ones, realizing that, the system is what the system wants the system to be.  

Illiteracy is passed down from parents who can neither read nor write; it is learned.  More than 80%  of juveniles who are  in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.  This proves that illiteracy and crime are closely linked.   Teenage girls between the ages 16 to 19 who  have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to get pregnant than girls their age who can read proficiently.  75% of Americans who receive food stamps are not proficient in reading and literacy while at the same time, 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.

Consequently,  in 2013, Johnny still can't read. Now we have several more  problems. In addition to the fact that many adolescent youths still can’t read, in almost every classroom there are 6-7 students in middle school and high school who are not literate.  According to Common Core State Standards,  every K-12 teacher is now a Reading instructor, even those who teach Math. The purpose is to create an army of reading specialists to attack the literacy problem that haunts our students and prohibits them from being successful. Most teachers don’t know how to teach reading. They haven’t been given the tools they need.

I won't mention names, but an urban High School  in an urban district  has 300+ seniors in the class of 2013.   Only 56 students out of the 300 are eligible for graduation.  To add insult to injury, the school administration are allowing those 56 students who are eligible for graduation to put on a cap and gown to walk across that stage to receive a diploma, 20 tickets so that the audience is filled and the school looks good.  This is an atrocity!

Schools in urban areas are closing in droves because of funding cuts.  Children who attend these schools are being sent to schools out of their districts.  Kids are being forced to cross gang turfs putting them in danger.  So then, what do we do to fix the problem?  What is the solution?   Urban Edu Coach has one solution;  Every Teacher is Reading Teacher Literacy Series.  We travel to where you are,  upon request.  Consider us for your professional development needs.  

We have a problem

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 1:51 PM Comments comments (22)
What's tweeting in education today? Listen up educators. Get those students online NOW! 

I have been in education for over 27 years and I have experienced first hand that the American education system has an amazing resistance to innovation.  Approximately 100 years ago Thomas Edison once said, "Books will soon be obsolete in the public schools...our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years." However because of a deep resistance from administration as well as teachers the classroom experience hasn't changed much at all for contemporary students.  .

What's wrong America? Malaysia Goes Google.  This month, May 2013, Malaysia has announced it is adopting Google Apps for 10 million students, teachers and parents, and deploying Chromebooks to primary and secondary schools nationwide.  American schools aren't leading in education because we won't get with the program.  Technology is here to stay.  It is not going anyway.  Why the resistance, still?  

The education system operates under the antiquated needs of an agrarian and industrial America when students were off in the summer and in school for short hours during the day to allow kids to work on their family's farms.  Why still the same system?  

Advances in information technology have revolutionized how people communicate and learn in nearly every aspect of modern life except for education, except guess what? Yep, you guessed it EDUCATION.  But check this out!  Mostly in America.

American schools, especially in urban and rural areas has not been transformed by technology  because the people who govern education  and teachers with little to no technology skills say technology is a distraction.

I wonder, why don't urban schools have enough computers or ipads for all students, or at least 50 % of them? Why is there only one computer lab in most schools with less than 25 computers in the lab? While there are hundreds of students in the building?

The American education system is a system of compliance rather than a system that encourages curiosity leaving many children behind.  We are too concerned with paperwork and red tape that we neglect the learning of many of students   They are falling through the cracks in droves.  American students are only number one in confidence; not math or science or reading.  What's wrong with that?  What does that say about us?

Social media is here to stay and educators simply need to step up to the plate.  According to Sandrine Rastello & Jeanna Smialek in their article  Cybersecurity Starts in High School with Tomorrow’s Hires, says that student with technological skills are being hired as interns as young as 16 by both private and governmental agencies. 
“I cannot hire enough cybersecurity professionals, I can’t find them, they’re not qualified,” said Ryan Walters, who founded mobile data security company TerraWi Inc  in 2009.  

Additionally, according to the article, " President Barack Obama  describes the threat as one of the nation’s most serious perils, while the  Department of Defense   has said the Chinese military has targeted government computers. With few specialists trained to respond to evolving attacks and most universities still adjusting to requirements, demand is overwhelming supply."  

This is where the job opening are, in technology.  Yet, how many students are fully engaged in technoloyg in American classrooms?  Better yet, how many are even 25% engaged?  Moreover, statistics say there are 5-6 students in every urban classroom who still can't read.  These are high school classrooms.   We clearly have a problem!  What are your thoughts?