Friday, December 30, 2011

Punahou School's Success with Technology

By Sean Scarpiello

In 1998, Punahou School in Hawaii ran a pilot to see just how well technology can improve education. The original pilot program was a success and today Punahou School is implementing all of Apple’s products. Currently, Punahou School is renowned for its success in bringing technology into the classroom. As more and more schools begin to introduce their students to new technology, they should try to emulate what Punahou School has done. Punahou School serves as a great example as to how technology should be incorporated into education.

First, it is important to recognize that the teachers at Punahou go through a lot of training to make sure that they know how to use all of Apple’s products. Teachers go to many different workshops to ensure that they can answer any questions students may have about the technology. Most importantly, the teachers are well versed in Apple’s products because they want to ensure that they are getting the most out of every piece of technology. This is important because many schools do not realize that buying the technology is not enough. If teachers and students cannot get the most out of the technology, there is really no use for it. If teachers cannot extract all of the products’ features, it is a waste of the school’s funds. The situation is analogous to buying the latest sports car on the market. Yes it is fast and will go around a track the quickest, but if no one can figure out how to drive a manual transmission, there is really no point in owning it.

Another key aspect about technology in education Punahou focuses on is the future of the students with technology. Class is not based on the blackboard in Punahou, but rather on computers. Teachers ask the students questions and students go and find the answers using their resources. Students then present their findings to the class as a podcast, movie, photo book, and more. This is great because students are learning how to use new and developing technologies every day. In the future, these students will need to learn how to use more technology and the skills they learn at Punahou will make learning on more complex computers easier.

One last aspect that Punahou has excelled in is allowing students to learn individually. When they learn on their own, students figure out what works and what does not through experience. Learning through experience is always more meaningful. It also helps students work things out on their own and without the help of others. This is a very important skill to have as an adult in the workforce. Yet as these students learn on their own, Punahou makes sure that students are not isolated through the use of too much technology. Many children today are becoming isolated from people through technology. Texting, emailing, and social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are supposed to help with socializing. However, too many of today’s youth are isolated by restricting themselves to these innovative technologies. Punahou allows students to work collaboratively on projects and present these projects to their peers. This allows students to learn on their own, but still be able to talk to others about their work and give details about what they have accomplished.

Overall, Punahou School has done a fantastic job incorporating technology into education. Other schools that are in their initial stages of bringing technology to students can use Punahou as an excellent example.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A New Software That Personalizes Math Class

By Sean Scarpiello

In an attempt to help students learn math with ease, Salman Khan has come up with innovative software which personalizes math lessons for each individual students. In fact, Khan has made about 2,700 videos to teach math. All of these programs are available online for free. This upcoming semester, many schools are testing Khan’s new software in math classes. The highly personalized software is bound to teach student more efficiently. Already, a test run of his program was implemented on students who were falling behind in their expected math levels. The program helped a great deal with these students and they caught up quickly. Now, how will this new software fare at teaching students new math concepts and problems?

Math is one of the most difficult subjects to teach because everyone learns it at a different pace. This in mind, the math software was designed to take advantage of students’ weakness and hone in on those problems. If one student is having trouble with long division, but excels in exponents, the program is designed to give the student tips on what they are doing wrong. Also, less time will be spent on exponent problems and more time will be focused on long division. By recognizing the weaknesses of each individual student, the program increases the efficiency of learning in schools.

In a typical math class, some students will do well in some subjects, but struggle in others. This is difficult for teachers because many students have their own weaknesses. In traditional teaching methods, students who struggle in the areas where the majority of class excels are often overlooked. With this program, those students struggle with simpler concepts do not fall behind from the rest of the class because the teacher doesn’t recognize their difficulties.

In fact, the program incorporates a way for teachers to oversee their students’ progress. This allows them to see where the individual students in the class have weaknesses. Therefore, if a large group of students still do not understand the material after learning it through the program, the teacher can instruct the students personally. This aspect allows the teacher to not become useless in class. In certain math subjects, teachers are more effective in teaching than a computer. Therefore, teachers are not simply letting the computer program take over the math class, but teachers monitor the learning and can take action if there is a problem. By allowing teachers to look at where students are struggling, they diagnose individual problems in the class. Teachers are then able to see where stragglers in the class are having difficulty and teachers can react before these stragglers fall behind.

In the future, there will probably much more of this type of learning in classes. This individualized learning ensures that no students can fall behind in their studies. If this type of program can be made for a subject as difficult and as complex as math, there can definitely be other subjects, such as history, science, and English where this program would succeed as well. As the software is being implemented in schools soon, teachers will probably find some small problems to work out. This will eventually lead to newer editions of these types of learning software in the future, but for now this personalized software looks promising.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Questioning the Accuracy of Standardized Tests

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently in education news, Rick Roach, a school board member for Orange County Florida’s District 3, took the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The FCAT is given to students in 10th grade and students are required to do well on it to receive a diploma. Rick Roach, a highly educated and successful education professional, took a math section of the test, as well as a four part reading section. In the math section, he answered 10 of 60 questions correctly and on the reading section scored a “D.” If he were to be taking this test as a student, he would not receive a diploma and he described how this test would affect his future in education as a student. A lot of faith is being put into this standardized test, but results show that there are either problems with students taking the test or problems with the material on the test.

Some people may argue that Roach is too far out of school to remember the sort of information tested on 10th grade students. It is true that a lot of the material taught in high school is not used on a daily basis by people in their occupations, especially math. To address math as an issue, the level of math tested on a standardized test should not be too high. The SAT, a test widely used by colleges across America, does not exceed a level of math beyond simple pre-calculus. Therefore, the standardized tests that are being given to students should not either. Judging by the Roach’s failing result on the math section of the FCAT, it is hard to believe that the test assesses algebra and simple equations. If an educator is doing this poorly on a test, students are also expected to struggle. Therefore, the math section of the FCAT definitely needs some revision.

Another problem posed by Roach is the difficulty of the reading section. A professional in education with two Masters Degrees scored a “D” on the FCAT. This raises more problems than the math section. Unlike complex math, a lot of jobs require reading on a daily basis and this is no exception for a past teacher and counselor. It is perplexing that such a well-educated individual would score so poorly on reading. This is without a doubt a huge problem with the test. The reading section also needs to be redone to improve the test's results.

One way to revise this test is to look at how other tests are designed. For example, the SAT is intricately designed so that an average student scores around a 500 on a single section. The aim of the test is to get a bell curve of results. This means there is a small percentage of students that do very poorly and very well, and the majority of students fall somewhere in the middle. Also with the SAT, each question is designed and tested to make sure that it will return appropriate results. When it comes to the FCAT, there should also be an idea of how students should test. The aim of the assessment like a state run standardized test should be designed to weed out the good students from the bad ones. There should not be students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher struggling on these tests, like on the FCAT. This would not necessarily mean a bell curve of results, but perhaps the opposite. Students should either definitely pass the test, or struggle with it. This would allow educators to better gauge what needs to be fixed.

The FCAT has a lot of trust being placed on it and it ends up giving a poor representation of the students’ intelligence. Since the test determines a lot of the students’ futures, it needs to be revised and taken more seriously in its design. A student's intelligence is judged by the strength of their test-taking abilities and if tests are poorly designed, we are learning very little.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't Go Back to School by Kio Stark

I’m working on a book called Don’t Go Back to School. As a grad school dropout and an adjunct professor at a grad program at NYU, so many people have asked me over the years if I thought they should go back to grad school. In the course of these conversations, I discovered that the majority of people who had a longing for continued school didn’t need school at all. Their real longing was for learning. To explore new ideas, to devote their attention to a new subject, to learn new skills. These are all things that can happen easily—and sometimes better—outside of school. Don’t Go Back to School is a handbook for independent learning to help people figure out if independent learning is a good approach for them, and to show them how to do it. I’m interviewing self-taught people to find out how they do what they do, and sharing the results in the book.

Two major insights stand out for me so far in the research process. First, most people learn better within some form of learning community. Going to school provides automatic access to learning communities in the form of classes and peers. But the people I’ve talked to are finding and making learning communities on their own. For technical skills related to building, making, and technology, the advent of the “hackerspace” as a common community institution represents a radical change in people’s ability to find tools, resources, shared expertise, and communities in which to learn new skills and work on projects. I’ve also talked to people who started study groups with friends and people they discovered online who were interested in studying the same thing. These range in subject area as widely as you can imagine. There’s a serious physics study group in my neighborhood, and I just corresponded with a woman who has a “Faux MBA” reading group of women business owners. The second insight is similarly social. Getting to hear from experts is a wonderful way to learn, and being a student at a formal institution gives you access to, in theory, all the experts associated with that school. In my research, I’ve found that successful independent learners do a lot of reaching out to experts to ask questions on their own, and have great success with this. For the most part, when approached politely and with well-formed questions, people with expertise are happy to share it. They are excited that someone wants to hear what they know, and they’re often excited to be sharing knowledge with a different type of learner than is their norm (if, for example, they’re a professor).

I’m funding the writing of this book and the first print run using a community funding platform called Kickstarter. Backers make pledges and get rewards, in this case, digital or physical copies of the book. Right now this is the only way to get a copy of the book when it’s done, as a backer of the project. I’m investigating ways of doing wider distribution, but this is an experiment for me, so it’s all a work in progress. I’m a published novelist, but I decided to do this outside the traditional publishing system in order to get it into the world faster—institutional publishing timelines are absurdly long. One thing that’s been really wonderful about funding the project this way is that it’s given me a much wider net for finding people to interview, and so much enthusiastic support that’s making the hard work of writing feel like a treat.

Check out the project!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cyber Schools vs. Traditional Schools

By Sean Scarpiello

As the country continues to be immersed in a digital age, there is a push to bring low cost education to students through computers. Some elementary schools have made it possible for students to go to class by simply logging in from their homes. Other elementary schools allow students to come into school and login to their classes there. Either way, students now have the ability to learn and study completely on a computer. As students pull away from the traditional school system, there are many different arguments both for and against cyber schools.

The first argument supporting cyber schools is that they are cheap. Since students do not need to go into a school, a lot of costs are avoided. For example, schools do not need to worry about transporting, feeding, and cleaning up after students. This saves a lot of money. Even some schools where students come into classrooms and are advised by teachers through their online studies can cost less. Some online programs allow students to perform science experiments on their computers, as well as reading texts. By having their books and reading material on the computers, schools save a lot of money. They do not need to buy expensive lab equipment or even textbooks which fall apart every few years. Even the costs of simple yet necessary class supplies, such as paper and ink, are reduced.

Some of the arguments against cyber schools are that cyber school students will have difficulty in the workplace when it comes to dealing with people. Also, some argue that they fail to provide the same quality of education that a traditional education provides. In fact, statistics show that cyber school student tend to score lower than tradition school students. Advocates for cyber schools claim that the lower scores occur because the students in cyber schools were already struggling in the traditional schooling system. Schooling is a process and it really would be best if there was a medium between complete cyber school and traditional school. The types of schools where students go through the process of coming to school and working on a computer while being instructed by a teacher would work well.

Students do need a certain level of interaction with each other, as well as teachers. It gives students the ability to socialize with each other and make friends. Thus students will be able to deal with people when they enter the real world. Also, students can still be instructed by teachers which are vital. Cyber schools that restrict students from formal instruction will most likely face difficulties. The computer cannot be relied on to do all of the teaching and it doesn’t do the students any good to be taught only by a computer.

Finally, one of the aspects about school is to allow students and parents to let go. Students entering the dynamic workforce these days need to be able to react to changes. These same changes are naturally occurring in schools. Most students in any traditional schools would probably agree that pupils learn more outside of the classroom than inside a classroom. By creating a medium between cyber schools and traditional schools, it is possible to create an education system which successfully teaches a large number of students at low costs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Increase in Learning from a Decrease in Energy Costs

By Sean Scarpiello

All across the United States, school districts’ budgets continue to be cut. With less and less money, district administrators are left with the task of finding ways to spend less money. To get more bang for their buck, some school districts have begun cutting back on their utilities. In fact, some districts have saved a lot of money by conserving energy. By doing something as simple as turning off lights, schools could save money which can be spent on other things.

The first and easiest way to save money through cutting energy costs is by turning off lights. In my town, all of the schools have all of their classroom lights on until around 8 o’clock at night. Obviously there aren’t any classes in session that late so it is unnecessary for the lights to be on. In New York, Desoto County Schools saved a little less than $1 million by simply conserving energy. Jim Avery, head of the energy conservation campaign, determined that schools typically spend about $1.20 per square foot on energy. He helped to lower the cost of Desoto schools energy to $1.01 per square foot. This may not sound like a significant amount of savings, but all of the small savings really add up over time.

The superintendent of the Desoto County Schools described how if teachers turned their lights off when they went to lunch, the school would save more than $100,000 in one year. All school administrators would love to have an extra $100,000 for spending on other areas in the district. Many people working in schools have a mindset like “well I’m not paying the electricity bill.” This mindset only causes more unnecessary spending.

Also, some schools keep computers on overnight and over the weekend. This is also wasteful of energy. If teachers double checked that all of the computers are off before they go home, electric bills would be reduced. Even over the summer vacation and other breaks, lights and computers which are not being utilized continue to be left on. Again, this is a source of needless and wasteful spending which can be avoided very easily.

One other way some schools are looking into saving money by cutting energy costs is through transportation. Some schools have begun to have students walk to school if they live within a one mile radius of the school. This may seem drastic but it would save a lot of money. The cost of transporting buses is expensive and if schools can take more buses off the road, the cost of transporting students would decrease significantly. Also, some school districts have spread out the starting and ending times of elementary, middle, and high schools. By having high school students go to school early, then middle school, and last elementary schools, districts reduce costs by hiring fewer bus drivers who drive more routes. By reducing the number of bus drivers, there are less salaries to pay and thus reduced costs. One school district in Columbia, Missouri has cut their transportation costs in half by implementing a similar system. Ultimately they end up saving a whopping $300,000.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

School in a Box

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently, there has been a push for global education. In attempt to bring education to people all over the world, a not-for-profit initiative has created the School in a Box. The name of this technology sums up what exactly the product is- a school in a box. In this box, there are solar panels, an I-Pad, portable speakers and a portable projector. The apparatus takes 5 hours of sunlight to fully charge every piece of equipment. This technology can then be set up to run a school.

This initiative is aimed at schools in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, where many of the resources which are vital for schools are hard to access. Therefore, the solar panels make it great to use anywhere in the world. Also, the I-Pad is able to pick up an internet connection from 3G; so again, it is possible to use this School in a Box almost anywhere. The speakers and projector, in my opinion really make the product into a school. These components enable the I-Pad to display movies, applications, internet webpages and more to a large group of students.

School in a Box is bound to be successful because it will bring education at a low cost to people all over the world, not just in Zimbabwe. In fact, a School in a Box product in the United States would also be successful. Organizations like the boy scouts, religious educators, the military, and even the companies that need to educate workers would purchase this product. It is great because managers could teach their workers in the field about the task at hand. For example, a manager at a construction site would be able to show the workers exactly what needs to get done, and how to most efficiently work together on the construction project.

In general, Apple has some pretty amazing applications which allow students from kindergarten to graduate school to learn easily. Also, large amounts of data can be stored on the I-Pad as textbooks, interactive study materials, audiobooks, and more. There are even applications which take data and turn them into quizzes and note cards so students can test their knowledge. For younger students, there are applications that help students learn their numbers, letters, and reading skills. Since these applications are designed for children, they turn learning into a game. Students are introduced to animated characters and face challenges and obstacles to beat the games, all while learning.

More and more schools are investing in I-Pads because there are long term gains with the I-Pad. That is why the I-Pad is ideal for the School in a Box as well. At a low cost, I-Pads can easily update textbooks, and other materials for learning. As schools begin investing in these technologies, we will begin to see an improvement in education all over the world. I-Pads are quickly showing up in everywhere from hospitals to schools. They are an amazing resource for the education field and are leading the revolution in bringing low cost and quality education to more and more people.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bringing Field Trips Back to School

By Sean Scarpiello

As the budgets of schools continue to be cut, administrators and teachers are faced with new challenges. One of the few ways to cut back on spending so that each dollar stretches farther is to cut out activities. Then, teachers are faced with the decision on what to cut. It is impossible to completely cut classes on reading writing and arithmetic, because these are all mandatory classes. Classes such as music or art cannot be withdrawn from the curriculum either because students would be limited to creativity. Therefore, teachers choose to cut out certain aspects of classes. One such aspect which is typically the first to be cut is field trips.

Field trips are currently every school’s enemy for a handful of reasons. First, transporting the students is not cheap, especially with the current price of gasoline. Also, the museum, theatre, memorial, or other place of interest has a price of admission which adds up quickly. One last disadvantage of field trips is they take a lot of effort to organize. Teachers often find themselves spending a lot of time and energy devoted to finding parent chaperones, dealing with the place of interest of the field trip, as well as organizing other aspects of field trips like lunch, time constraints, liability, and transportation.

One new way teachers can avoid cutting field trips would be to take their class on a virtual field trip. So far, there is a huge number of places teachers can take their classes on these virtual field trips. To name a few, teachers can take students to places like the NASA Research Center, The Globe Theatre, and even several of Washington D.C.’s fantastic museums.

These virtual field trips require little organization when compared to regular field trips. Students do not need to leave school, so there is no worrying about transportation or lunch expenses. Also, these field trips are a lot cheaper than regular field trips. For example, a virtual field trip to the Miami Science Museum costs $300 per classroom. For an extra fee, the Miami Science Museum can even rent out equipment to show the virtual field trip if the school lacks the necessary equipment. If teachers were going to bring their own class to a museum to visit, they may have to pay for tickets that cost anywhere from $12 to $40 a student. One way teachers could even hold the virtual field trip in an auditorium so that several classes could go on the journey.

Field trips are usually frowned upon in schools because they cost a lot and seem to not teach students very much. With virtual field trips, teachers can take a full day to go on a virtual journey to a new place, without even leaving the classroom. They are a lot cheaper and easier to organize than a regular field trip and students are bound to enjoy them. There are also so many different places to go. Many local museums are beginning to create these programs, and even international locations of interest have virtual field trips. They are quickly becoming one of the easiest and cheapest ways to cut spending for school districts and helping to bring education to the masses at low costs.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There are 67MILLION Children worldwide that did NOT attend school last year, Most of them were girls.

“When you educate a boy, you educate a boy.
When you educate a Girl, you educate a FAMILY.“ - Thank YOU - John and Jan Bradley.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The New Super-Cheap Tablet

By Sean Scarpiello

Last Wednesday, October 5, a new tablet was released which is sold to students for about $35 each. It’s called the Aakash Tablet and it is made sold in India. It is available for retail to the public for about $60 and to students at $35. India’s government has already bought 100,000 of them to give to students as part of a study. Few reviews have been made thus far, but as of now this cheap tablet looks impressive and has the potential to revolutionize education.

Of the reviews so far, the general consensus of the product is quite remarkable. It is aesthetically pleasing yet it can withhold a few drops and falls. It has two USB ports and the operating system of the Android- all of which are great aspects of this cheap tablet. Compared to the IPad’s screen, it is criticized as being not as shiny and not as sensitive because it is a cheaper screen. However, the screen is high definition; it has no problems other than falling short of the high standards set by the IPad. It comes loaded with a set of basic applications such as a calendar, clock, contacts, converter, games, and a web browser. It has an application for Facebook and for checking Emails. One of the applications which was reviewed favorably was the Reading Application which is easy to use and works well. Other than that, the tablet has Android app store so people can buy new and updated applications. Android is also praised on having a great office application which is available on these tablets.

Some aspects of this tablet cannot be fully reviewed yet. The battery lasts for about 3 hours which is satisfactory, but we cannot determine how the battery will stand the test of time. Also, the amount of memory available on the tablet is less than other tablets on the market, but critics feel that the amount of RAM is just enough to suit the needs of students well. It also has a photo application with no camera which seems a bit odd.

A super-cheap tablet like the Aakash Tablet could easily change education technology as we now know it. First off, it’s economical and has the power to bring millions of people access to the internet for a very low cost. This, in the very least, is educating people because the internet is already a huge resource for education. It definitely pales in comparison with the mighty IPad and will not compete with such a high end piece of technology. This tablet was built to be inexpensive and therefore is on a different playing field.

In the field of education, it will work wonders because it is so affordable and offers a lot for its price. Students will have an extremely cheap laptop which can store all of their books, test them with educational applications, bring them access to the internet, and act as an organizer. This is monumental for many people living in India who do not currently have access to the internet. It also proves to the rest of the world that it is possible to bring an affordable quality education to the masses. If India can come up with a cheap tablet, why can’t America? As of right now, the education field is not utilizing tablets to their full potential. Tablets can and should be used a lot more than they are and this new tablet will help to prove it.

In all, the Aakash Tablet is inexpensive and has a lot of potential. It cannot compete with the awesome powers of the IPad, but then again it is not designed with that in mind. This tablet is designed to bring the internet to millions of people, which it will accomplish. It will also be the boost in the education field’s current push to technology.


Friday, September 30, 2011

A Boost in Online Education

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently in the field of higher education Carnegie Learning, a company that designs cutting edge online math tutorials, was bought by the company that owns the highly popular online college, University of Phoenix. Therefore, we can expect an increase in the amount of online educational programs in the future. This will bring education to more people in more places at a very low price. This will also change the current infrastructure of higher education as we know today.

How will this effect higher education in the long run?

First, increased availability of online learning means that it will be extremely cheap to educate millions of people. This will be great for individuals because everyone will have the opportunity to learn. It is also great that Carnegie Learning is creating this ground breaking program because it will definitely be a success. This company has scientists whom have studied the ways humans think and learn; therefore, the programs that they make are very personalized and designed to be successful for each individual student. Since these programs are so personalized, students will learn quickly and efficiently and thus at a lower price.

These new programs will also affect the typical four year college greatly. Colleges need a campus, dorms, professors, labs, dining halls, libraries and much more. Online education requires only a computer and an internet connection. Therefore, online education institutions do not need to worry about funding for all the other aspects of college. They deal with the class being taught which allows students to avoid spending a small fortune on a college education. This will pose a problem for many colleges and universities that have not yet kept up with the rising popularity of online education. These programs will literally steal students from campus due to their lower prices.

One may argue that online education is a joke and that students will not flock to these programs because there is a lack of prestige associated with these programs. Some large universities have already invested in these new technologies and they will be the ones to survive this new change. When it comes to this shift from the campus to the online classroom, I feel as if it will be gradual at first and pick up a lot more support in the following years. We cannot expect a change overnight, but within the next four years, expect a different norm for higher education. This also does not mean that students will never step foot in a classroom again, but students will definitely spend less time in class and more time learning on their own with these programs.

The Carnegie Learning programs will change the way that students are graded in school. This will definitely have an effect on the jobs and futures of students after they graduate. For example, someone with a B+ in an MIT calculus class will be looked on more favorably then someone with the same B+ who goes to a less prestigious school. With these cutting edge programs, someone who took a class on economics in California will have taken the same exact class as students in New York. This also means they took the same tests and completed the same assignments and can be graded equally when it comes to securing a job.

Overall, the rising popularity of online education has now gotten a large boost and we can expect to see a general shift towards online classes in the future. Not only are they cheaper, but they bring a higher standard of education to more people worldwide.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheap Alternatives for Textbooks

By Sean Scarpiello

Each semester, the typical college student spends anywhere from $500 to $800 on textbooks and other books for classes. All of this money adds up after 4 years of college and it is one of the reasons why colleges are viewed as unaffordable. As high as these textbook prices are, there are still different options when it comes to buying books for classes. There are a handful of different companies that are profiting off of the high prices that school bookstores charge. These companies end up helping the student by providing cheaper options when it comes to purchasing textbooks.

When most college students go to buy books they go to their school’s bookstore. They are guaranteed to have all the required texts because professors give the bookstore a list of books that they will be using in their classes. If a student must buy their books from the bookstore, an easy way to save money is buy used textbooks rather than new ones. Students may save anywhere from 25% to 50% off. It may seem like the savings are not that great, but when you add up the savings, students will have a few extra $20 bills in their pockets. Also, many school bookstores offer a buy back deal. At the end of the semester, students can sell their books back to the bookstore. The school bookstore obviously rips students off, but it is still a way to save money. Often times, students can expect 30% of the money sped on textbooks back, and about 10% of the money spent on novels back. It’s not great, but something to definitely check into at the college bookstore. Every student could use some spending money at the end of the semester, so it is worth a shot.

Another option that more college students need to take advantage of is companies that sell books at cheaper rates. These are companies like that have a lot of books for sale, new and used, and will sell them at cheaper prices than the school bookstore. There are other companies that sell books at cheaper prices as well. Students will definitely need to do their homework to save the most money. This means researching prices of books and buying them as cheap as students can find. This may mean students need to order their textbooks off of four or five different websites, but it is worth it. By the beginning of classes, students can save more than 50% on textbooks, as opposed to buying them from the bookstore.

One other option that has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years is renting textbooks. This is a great option for students that are taking a variety of classes. Renting books is extremely easy and cost effective. Websites that rent books will mail your books to the student and at the end of the semester students simply mail the books back. This is a great way to save money and is probably the most cost effective than the other options. However, students cannot always rent all the books that they need during their college career. Some majors require students to have an assortment of textbooks on hand. Biology, for example, is a major where even in the upper level biology classes, students will still need to reference their introductory textbooks. There are a lot of other situations where this is the case also. In general, renting textbooks is the most cost effective option and something all students should look into. There are so many ways to save money on textbooks in college, all it takes is some time designated to go out and look for these great deals.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collaborative Learning

By Sean Scarpiello

During college, most students find different methods of studying. It is not that old study habits are no longer effective, but that students are learning how to better manage their time. College students have to absorb more information in their classes, as opposed to classes in high school, so they continue to come up with clever ways to learn. One such type is collaborative learning. Learning collaboratively in a group has many advantages and could be implemented in schools other than colleges.

Many students in college participate in study groups. If students have a group of friends in class with them, they often schedule daily study sessions where they can go over material and work. This is a very good idea because college students already do not spend much time in class or with their professors. Therefore, this method of study can really benefit those who struggle with college classes. Some students will even split up the work and study different chapters of text. Then they present the key facts to the rest of the group during the study session or as notes. This method can be very beneficial; however, often times other students may do a poor job taking notes or have incorrect notes. These kinds of situations can be easily avoided if the study groups are focused on just reviewing the material instead of taking notes.

Collaborative learning methods are also great for college and high school students that participate in class debates. Teachers all across the country have started to have class debates in social studies, political science, psychology and other courses. Teachers know that collaborative learning works and that debates allow students to learn from other classmates’ ethnic backgrounds, differences, and experiences. Creating study groups for debates also allow students to get others’ perspectives on topics so that a student’s argument can examine each side of a subject. This method also works when students are writing persuasive essays where they are arguing one side of a subject over another. Students can make sure that they have every side of their argument covered because of their peers’ criticisms and critiques.

Learning collaboratively can easily be implemented in schools for students of all ages. One example of this is when reviewing homework in a math class. Most teachers ask which problems students had trouble with when they check homework. If students formed small groups in the beginning of class, then they can review which questions were right and wrong and how to do them correctly. This also allows students to learn different methods to complete problems, especially in math. In class, math teachers typically teach one method of completing a problem. Study groups allow students to teach each other easier ways of doing problems. Each student can bring new ideas to the table and it is a shame if students cannot learn from their classmates’ mistakes, accomplishments, and knowledge.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Parental Involvement in Education

By Sean Scarpiello

As teachers are continuously being criticized by the public for doing a poor job teaching today’s students, it is important to realize that teachers can only teach so much during a school day. A teacher’s job is not to raise children, but to teach children. Many teachers these days are expected to become a second mother or father. However, teachers can only do so much in the seven or so hours a day that they have with students. Some of the problems in the education field are caused by the students’ parents. Parents need to get involved in their children’s education. Studies have shown students with parents that are actively involved in their children’s education tend to do better in school.

To start, many parents are very busy and both parents may work full time jobs. This is no excuse for being disengaged from their children’s education. Being involved does not mean that parents have to designate several hours a week towards volunteering at their children’s school. Being involved in the very least is making sure that their children are prepared for school each day. This means that their children have all their school supplies and that their children wake up well rested for the school day each morning. For most parents, these sorts of responsibilities are taken care of easily. However, teachers still have a few students each year that continuously come to class unprepared and do not have a regularly scheduled bedtime.

It is also important for parents to remain involved with their children’s homework. Students will put more emphasis on their homework if they see their parents taking it seriously. Getting involved in homework is a quick and easy way to improve children’s education. Schedule a time to do homework every day and be consistent when enforcing it. Then parents should check it. If it is not neat, have them redo it. If children have some wrong answers to homework questions, review the questions and answers with them. In the child’s mind, they will see that homework is important and it is right to do a thorough job when completing all schoolwork. When students have tests, parents can quiz them verbally for bit. This will make students study more and it will also allow parents to give study tips.

Parents can also stress the importance of school by assigning math and grammar work to do over the summer. It does not have to be a ridiculous amount of work, but just a few pages each day. This will stop students from forgetting all the things they learned the previous year. It gives the students an edge when they return in the fall and gives them confidence.

One of the best ways to be involved in a child’s education is talk to them. Ask them about their day, friends, teachers, and problems. Children may not want to talk about school at first, but after parents constantly ask about their day they will discuss it. This also lets children know that mom and dad are interested in school and their friends. This will also allow children to be more open and honest in the future when there are bigger problems to worry about.

It is important for parents to realize that not all learning takes place in a classroom and that it is important to be involved in the process of education. Children will put as much importance on education as their parents do. This does not require an unreasonable amount of time or money, yet the final result is a much higher quality of student with a strong focus on education and destined for success.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grading Schools for Success

By Sean Scarpiello

Every day at school, students take tests to monitor their progress in class, and to help teachers gauge how well their students are doing so they can modify their lesson plans as necessary. Tests are crucial for learning to take place in school. It is easy to say that without tests, nothing would get done in school. A test is a motive to get students to learn effectively and succeed. If tests did not exist, then no one would put forth any effort studying nor showing up to class. This fact holds true in the rest of society as well. If there were not any tests, exams, inspections, or reviews in the workplace, all of civilization would crumble. Monetary return is the primary reason why every worker in the United States works hard. If workers do not make the cut, they are fired because they are ineffective. Tests set standards and help measure competency in basic knowledge as well as areas of expertise.

One of the areas which have come under much debate in recent years has been the effectiveness of school districts in the United States. The United States has slowly been dropping ranks in the field of education when compared to other countries around the world. One of the reasons for this is that the government has low standards for school districts. In other words, the tests that school districts need to pass are either non-existent or too easy to pass. The state governments need to come up with ways to raise their standards.

In Pennsylvania, students must take a standardized tests in reading, math, and science. Some high schools set a required score in order to graduate. At first, these standardized tests sound like a great idea and they have a lot of potential to ensure school districts are graduating well educated students. However, the tests are very easy. The test must be taken in the junior year of high school, but many freshmen could probably pass the test easily. This poses a problem for the quality of education in the United States.

School districts need to be tested as well. Often times, many school districts are poorly educating their students which is overlooked by ineffective inspections from the government. If the school administration, teachers, and board officials were more closely monitored, there would be a large increase in the quality of education. If students do not pass these tests coming from the government, people are at risk of losing their jobs to more effective administrators and teachers. When people’s jobs are on the line, the quality of their work will increase. Students and teachers will not succeed if they are not challenged. Therefore, if governments pushed the school districts to perform better on standardized tests, then there would be a huge improvement because there is a motive to work more effectively.

In all, giving America’s school districts their own exams to review their progress in educating students will bring a higher quality of education to students. This will allow the government to monitor school districts and make sure that every school is teaching a consistently high quality of education across the United States.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ebooks vs. Textbooks

By Sean Scarpiello

Around this time of the year, thousands of college students are beginning to order their books for the fall semester. Books are not cheap and most students will end up paying between $400 and $700 just for this next semester. Four years of this spending really adds up quickly. These days, advances in technology have introduced students to eBooks. These “electronic books” are simply the same version of physical textbooks but are accessed on a laptop, tablet, or a kindle. How do these new eBooks compare to the heavy, old fashioned textbooks?

Initially, students will compare the prices of each of the books. It turns out that there is never a definitive cheaper price for either of the two. However, some eBooks are cheaper than the real text books. Students can save around 10% to 15% on some eBooks. Some may compare the discount of buying an eBook with that of buying a used textbook. Other eBooks cost about the same as a regular textbook. For the most part, eBooks cost just as much, if not less than regular textbooks. In order to take advantage of the savings, students must do their own research to find the best deals.

This being said, that does not make eBooks the best choice when it comes to buying books for college. There are a few drawbacks to eBooks. First off, you need a device to hold and display the eBook; this means the student must own a laptop, tablet, or kindle. This is probably not a problem for most students because they have a laptop for college anyway and they can keep their eBooks there. However, if a student’s laptop is broken, stolen, or lost, then the student cannot access any of the books needed for classes. Another con of eBooks is that they may not be the best choice if a student needs to use the book in a class or lab. Many professors would not be comfortable with a computer or tablet out during a lab where the computer or lab apparatus may be harmed. Also, some students can study best if they can take notes right in their books.

Amid all of these cons of eBooks, there still are some pros, other than being a cheaper option. Students will not have to wait for books to be delivered nor will they need to pick them up because the eBook will instantly be downloaded and ready for use. Also, students can avoid having to carry around a backpack full of heavy textbooks for class. As long as students have their laptop or other electronic devices on hand, they have all the books they need for class.

The physical textbooks do still have some benefits. For one, they can be sold back at the end of the semester for cash from the bookstore at most colleges. Students do not get all of their money back, but they do get some spending money which can come in handy around campus. There is also less of a dependence on technology with textbooks. A lot of college students find out the hard way that technology can fail when it’s needed most. One last factor that can make or break textbooks for students is that they are easy to read. Some people feel like their eyes are fried from looking at a computer screen for hours upon hours. Using a laptop or tablet may or may not leave students with the same feeling.

In all, eBooks are occasionally cheaper than physical textbooks and students need to do their own research to see which books they can get the best deals on. Other than that, both eBooks and textbooks have pros and cons and it really comes down to student preference.

Schools can teach sex education, 
but only parents can teach MORALS.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Avoiding the Summer Slide

By Sean Scarpiello

As August quickly approaches, students are realizing that summer is slowly coming to an end. With only one month left in their summer vacation, many students and parents are beginning to prepare for the beginning of the new school year. The aisles of stores are crawling with parents buying everything from notebooks and binders to calculators and protractors. Even though students have their school supplies, are they really prepared to return to school? During the last two months, students have had little mental stimulation. They have not practiced math problems or read a book since the beginning of June. How does this affect students and teachers during the school year and what can school districts do to avoid this problem?

The fact that students’ brains are on standby during the summer really hurts both the student and the teacher. Today’s students are not keeping their brains stimulated during the summer by revising the material they learned during the previous school year. This causes students to forget a lot of structured material for future learning. Therefore, teachers are forced to review past material in class which wastes valuable class time. If students arrived to school in September ready to go, teachers would have a much easier time with teaching the curriculum at a reasonable pace. Statistics describe that about 2.6 months of math material can be lost over the summer for some students. When teachers need to reteach this information to students in the beginning of the school year, it makes it difficult to stay on track. Because teachers use September as a review period, it is a struggle to finsh up the required lessons in June.

This problem is sweeping schools across the country and it is hard to come up with a simple solution to this problem. Some schools assign a required summer reading book. This is a great idea and can keep students thinking during the summer, but it is hard to administer. Some students get lazy and do not read the book because it is long or too boring. Only a select group of parents will actually encourage students to read the book, while others do not. A parent’s role is crucial to the success of their children in schools all over the world. If parents are not involved, then there is a good chance that students will not be fully involved either.

One other method of keeping students studying during the summer would be assigning work to do daily in a workbook. My parents had always encouraged me to do a few pages of math problems each day during the summer. The math was material that I had already learned and it was just practice so that I would not forget math equations from the previous year. Schools could create a similar workbook that is required to be finished over the summer. However, there is still the possibility that parents will not enforce the school’s requirements at home. Therefore, students would arrive to school in September at different levels because half the class did the assigned work and half did not. Parents should have their children practice math or English during the summer. It does not have to be a huge amount of time each day, just about twenty or thirty minutes daily. This time quickly adds up and it will give students an advantage when they return to school in the fall.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Something to Learn from Finland's Teachers

By Sean Scarpiello

Over the past few decades, Finland has done a great job at turning one of the worst education systems into one of the world’s best. One of the ways this was accomplished was by selecting better teachers. In Finland, one of ten people studying to become a teacher actually ends up being a teacher. All educators have Masters Degrees and teachers are held in high regard. Many other countries with flourishing education systems follow a similar trend. So could this be a way to improve the declining United States education system?

I think that teachers should definitely be looked upon favorably as professionals. Teachers have some of the most complicated jobs, yet receive little respect for their efforts. If teachers want to have more of society’s admiration, they need to step up their game. Districts need to be much more selective when it comes to choosing teachers. It takes a special person to be a teacher and many of today’s teachers just do not fit the mold of being a professional educator. If we can raise the bar and have a higher quality of teachers, respect will come naturally.

In my area where some teachers are making a little under $100,000 a year with full benefits, many teachers carry out the actions of a qualified professional. However, very rarely would I get a sense of true admiration for my teachers. It was hard to feel like my teachers were working for students and not for themselves. Sure, my teachers would stay after school if students needed extra help, but being a teacher does not stop there. A fantastic teacher will persist. A few times I found myself and some of my classmates leaving an after school study session even more confused than before. Even the teacher knew that the some of the students did not have a good grasp on the material as we left. This kind of performance as a teacher does not demand much appreciation.

Raising the quality of teachers in the United States would definitely aid in the quest to an improved education system in the United States. The sort of respect that teachers would automatically gain for themselves would also work out some of the other problems in America’s schools. For example, teachers that were held in high regard would run into fewer difficulties with some students who do not take school as seriously. Also, parents would play a larger role in their children’s education. Parents that received a note from the teacher would treat matters more seriously and push their children to succeed in class.

In general, a higher quality of teacher would improve the education system in the United States. Teachers would naturally be held in higher regard, much like education professionals in Finland and other parts of the world. Then, almost automatically, many problems would start to work themselves out and the United States could be back on the road to having one of the world’s best education systems again.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dropout Billionaires

By Sean Scarpiello

Today, some of the richest business people on earth are college dropouts. Take, for example, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Both had dropped out of college and were still successful. However, these days students are constantly being told to do well in school so they can go to college and be successful. But is it true? Do you have to go to college to be successful in life? Some entrepreneurs are paying students $100,000 to drop out of college and start their own business. So far, this idea has been promising. But does a college education always lead to success or is it better to drop out and work towards owning your own company?

Do you need a college degree to be successful? No. College is not for everyone and some people simply learn better outside of the classroom. There are people with careers regarded by society as being blue collar jobs that make much more money than people with college degrees. That is why there is no shame in having a less prestigious job like a mechanic or plumber and owning your own business. Some of these people find a lot of success in their field because we will always need people with the skills to fix cars, plumbing systems, and more.

This being said, society should not look at a college degree as the only key to success. There are ways of being successful without a degree. Society should reconsider looking at a college degree as increasing one’s probability of being successful. Some people graduate from college and think they will be making the big bucks, which is not true. Also, some college graduates may not work as hard and expect more money because of their degree. In this economy, a motivated electrician can be making a lot more than an incompetent lawyer.

Is it a good idea to drop out of college and start your own business or attempt to hit it big with an idea, just like many of today’s businesspeople had done in the past? No. Some people would definitely benefit from this, but not enough people would do well. The only reason Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and other college dropout billionaires made their money was due to their monumental ideas and persistence in working towards making these ideas a reality. Plus, most people simply do not have ideas as fruitful as Microsoft and Facebook.

Another reason to stay in school is to increase your knowledge so you can open your own business one day based on what you have learned. For example, people cannot dropout of school and open their own architect or rocket science business. Businesses based off of knowledge can also bring lots of success. Creating Facebook does not take a doctorate in Computer Science. However, running your own law firm does take several years of schooling. Most people need to realize that not everyone can own their own island like Fortune 500 CEOs. But there is nothing wrong with owning a few houses around the world or having a new Porsche in your garage. The best doctors and lawyers in the world will never make as much a Bill Gates has but they still contribute to society and find success.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

The FOCUS Program

By Sean Scarpiello

In New York, the Liverpool School District is implementing the FOCUS program for the 2011-2012 school year. The program is being implemented to raise the 81% district graduation rate. The new program will be held in a recently closed elementary in the district and is expected to have approximately 50 students enrolled in the program by the fall. This program is designed to focus on students who have trouble in high school by personalizing classes and giving students more individualized attention. Although the program looks like it will be successful, many parents are skeptical and feel that it is not a prudent investment.

The program has good intentions and will definitely raise the graduation rate. It is important to personalize education for students that struggle, especially in high school. As society attempts to educate more and more people, education is becoming less personal. When students have less individualized attention, many begin to struggle because they have different learning styles, ineffective teachers, or because they need more time to grasp information. As educators find successful methods of educating more people in a shorter time, it is important to remember to keep education personal to some extent.

The FOCUS program however looks as if it will find success only at a high cost. The fact that the district is reopening a school for 50 students is a bit ridiculous. It costs a lot of money to reopen and maintain a school. The original idea to shut down the elementary school in the first place was to save money. Reopening the school for a small group of students is not efficient. When it comes to educating students in a public school, districts try to limit the amount money being spent on each student. My high school spent about $9,500 a year to educate me. This included everything from books to my share of teachers’ salaries. When the FOCUS program is implanted, the majority of students will have a similar amount of money being put towards their education, but there will be 50 students with much larger amounts of money being put towards their education.

In all, the FOCUS program will be good for the students who need it but there are easier and more efficient ways of carrying the program out. The only problem which really seems to upset the district’s taxpayers is that the local elementary school is being reopened. If the FOCUS program could be carried out in the high school, the program would be perfect. This would reduce a lot of the costs that accompany reopening and maintaining a building for a small number of students. Perhaps the administration will recognize this after the first year of implementing this program. The current state of the economy forces school districts to use their money wisely and the best way to make this program cheaper and efficient is to use high school classrooms.


Monday, June 20, 2011

United States vs. Europe: Higher Education

By Sean Scarpiello

The American education system is constantly getting a bad reputation when it is compared to the rest of the world’s education system. Although there are some flaws in parts of America’s education system, the United States definitely has the best higher education system, especially when compared to the systems in many European countries. In Europe, schooling is very cheap or even free, yet college professors teach large numbers of students and remain relatively detached from their classes. Classes are typically held in buildings scattered all around cities and there is no real campus where students coagulate like in American Universities. How exactly does America have the upper hand when it comes to higher education?

First and foremost, the United States is home to most of the world’s best universities. These universities graduate the best leaders, business people, lawyers, doctors, and more. Also, a large percentage of Nobel Prize winners work at these universities. So overall, the United States has universities with solid professors and a quality education. Even though America has strong professors, the way the system is set up also gives the United States an edge when it comes to higher education.

European universities do not typically have main campuses. Along with this lack of a common area for students, European universities have fewer clubs, sports teams, and other social gatherings. Plus, professors at European universities do not really interact with their students. They usually give there lecture and hand out exams. There is no guidance or help given to students by professors in Europe. Even in some of the largest American Universities, there is still some sort of interaction whether it be a question and answer session or office hours. The point is that education is more than memorizing facts and grasping concepts. Education is a growing process that must be built from sources other than a lecture. Clubs and social interaction among students helps to build education. Students can learn just as much from each other than from a professor and this decreased amount of social interaction in Europe. Even the lack of feedback from professors in Europe is a problem. Students will know what they get wrong, but nobody tells them how to fix their mistakes.

One last way European universities fall short in higher education is how they are cheap or free. At first, little to no cost education sounds great; however, there are some flaws hidden within this system. Many students finish up their education and prepare to enter the workforce and discover that it was great being a student. This leads to many students staying in school because it is easy being a student and it allows people to put off working in the real world. This causes many problems with the government, employment, and the education system itself. In the United States, large college tuitions limit the amount of time students stay in college and give them reasons to hurry up and graduate. Once students do graduate, they can begin to pay off college loans by entering the workforce. For some students, the pricy tuitions motivate them to graduate in less time than previously thought.

Although America is weak in some areas of its education system, it is easy to see that higher education is unparalleled. Even though the education is not free or very efficient, in the long run it proves to be the best. People from all around the world get college educations in America because it is more than just an education. Higher education in America is an experience worth having.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrity Tutors

By Sean Scarpiello

A friend of mine who recently immigrated to the United States from India was talking to me one day about the differences between life in the United States and India. When I asked him how high school compared in each country I was shocked to hear his comparison. He described that in India, school work always comes before fun, but in the United States, sometime fun can come before school work. This really made me think about the types schooling systems there are in other countries of the world. Currently in Hong Kong, there has been a lot of fuss about tutors who are treated much like celebrities. How exactly are these celebrity tutors affecting Hong Kong and will the rest of the world adapt these methods one day?

In Hong Kong, there are currently a hand full of tutors who are famous for their teaching skills and regarded as celebrities. They pretty much live the celebrity life style and have nice cars and big houses. Parents are willing to spend a lot of money on their children’s education and hire these tutors so that their children can do even better in school. But, is this good for the education system of Hong Kong? In my opinion, it is good in moderation for more than one reason. First off, when tutors are suddenly being viewed as celebrities, a lot of the fame and fortune can get to the tutors heads. This can later cause a decreased quality in education for these students. Also, tutoring needs to be implemented in moderation because it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If parents are hiring a tutor, it should be to help the student in one or two subjects where the student is weak. In Hong Kong, some parents are having their children tutored in several classes. This is not tutoring. If a student is constantly struggling in more than two academic subjects, it is probably best to just accept that the student will not be able to succeed in an education system as brutal as that of Hong Kong. This just turns in to unnecessary stress.

Since there is such a large amount of students and a low college acceptance rate, it may be best to come to the realization that not everyone is cut out for college. This may be hard to grasp for some parents but the world still needs plumbers and electricians to function properly. I am in no way down-playing these jobs, but really I am describing how these occupations are just as important as jobs which require years of education. Also, I am not saying that a quality education is not important. Quality educations are important, but there should be no shame in having an occupation that comes with little prestige. There are some blue-collar workers out there making a lot more money than some lawyers.

Is there a possibility that the United States will one day have these sorts of celebrity teachers? There will probably be some celebrity educators but only to an extent. There will not be celebrity tutors to the extent that there are now in Hong Kong. This is not because American students do not want to learn, but this is attributed more to the way the United States education system is made up. The United States has more colleges with more spaces for students. There is a greater opportunity for students to learn in the United States. Some of the students who are accepted into American colleges may never come close to getting into college if they lived in Hong Kong. However, parents in the United States still drop large sums of money on their children’s education and if an educator were to step up and create a successful learning program that is personalized for students, much like the tutors of Hong Kong, there would be a bit of a fuss. America would still find many benefits that Hong Kong has found, just not to the extent. There is definitely the possibility for tutors to become popular in other parts of the world where the education system is harsher. Some parts of Europe and Asia would find a lot of success with tutors. At this point, there really needs to be someone who steps up and creates tutoring programs for students around the globe.


Monday, May 30, 2011

What Makes a Good Teacher?

By Sean Scarpiello

As teaching gradually becomes a popular profession, more and more people are looking to be teachers. We currently have the highest number of people qualified to be teachers than ever before. Although there is such a large amount of people to pick from, most of these people would probably be terrible teachers. Even of all the people currently employed as teachers, a lot of them are simply poor educators. It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher. A good teacher needs to have a particular personality and qualities. So what kind of qualities make a good teacher?

We have all had bad teachers. They come in all different forms. There are the popular teachers that everyone likes, but cannot teach their subject. Likewise, there are extremely well educated teachers that cannot get their point across. These teachers just do not know how to teach. Many teachers do not pay much attention to their lesson plan and curriculum and that is very obvious to the students. Good teachers do not get enough credit for the hard work that they do put into their time in the classroom. Good teachers are able to put themselves in the mindset of their students whether they are in 2nd grade or seniors in high school. A lot of critical thinking goes into teaching. Many teachers either underestimate or overestimate the intelligence of their students. Many high school teachers are notorious for overestimating their students’ intelligence. For example, many math teachers have several struggling students a year. In math, many students forget some of the basic principles which direct complex math equations. While a handful of teachers assume all the students remember their basic math skills, good teachers take some time during class to review these simple concepts.

Finding this balance in each class is difficult but the best teachers always find this point in their students’ intelligence. The good teachers are also able to stimulate the brains of the smarter students while still being able to attend to the students that have a difficult time learning. Too many teachers pick one of the two extremes of students to target. Often, teachers target the smarter students in the class and cause even the average students to become lost. Some teachers which target the students which learn slower find just as many problems as teachers which focus on faster learning students. The smarter students quickly become bored because they are not being challenged. Therefore, many students lose interest in the subject being taught and even the smarter students' grades begin to drop because they put in less effort.

Everybody has also had a teacher being unfair, unreasonable, or one that just cannot be pleased. These are probably the most frustrating teachers to have as a student. More often than not, students struggling with C’s or D’s in a class are putting in more time than students with A’s. It is extremely difficult to be a student these days and students put in more time into their studies than it may seem. The best teachers recognize this and motivate their students to keep up the good work. Many teachers call home if there are problems in class. What teachers should do is call when students are doing a good job. As a student, it feels good to know that your hard work and effort is not going unrecognized. Even if the student has a less than spectacular grade in class, a phone call home telling mom and dad that there is an obvious increase in effort will motivate the student to keep working hard. Even in high school, students like to have their hard work recognized by both their teachers and their parents.

One last key quality which good teachers possess is respect. This means the teacher respects the students and the students respect the teacher. If the teacher respects students, teachers will have a better time teaching. They will quickly learn the strengths and weakness of their students and help each student work to fix their weaknesses. Students will recognize this and will become motivated to work harder in school to prove to themselves and others that they can improve. If students respect their teachers, teachers will be taken seriously and will have more authority in class. Many substitute teachers have a tough time demanding respect from students. Thus, they are taken advantage of and walked all over whether they realize it not. It is rare that a substitute teacher comes into class and has even a little control over the class. Substitute teachers need to lay down the law quickly in the beginning of class and set the tone for the rest of the time in class. This is easiest if the substitute knows the classroom policies and implements them right away.

These are only a few of the key differences which set the great teachers apart from the average teachers. From a student’s perspective, these aspects are very important because students like to have attention and feel important in class. Many students also like to be motivated and need an authority figure to push them to reach places that they once thought impossible.

Saturday, May 21, 2011