Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Website for Teachers by Teachers

By Sean Scarpiello

Every year, teachers are faced with the daunting task of planning lessons that fit into the school district’s dynamic curriculum. For many experienced teachers, this may not be difficult because after years of teaching the same material, it is easy to fine tune the course. For other less experienced teachers, this can be tough. It may take several years of teaching a subject to gauge what students can easily digest and what they have difficulty comprehending. In both cases, a group of educators collaborated online and created a website called Here, teachers at all different levels can purchase the lesson plans of other teachers. The site also offers free products for teachers looking to improve their classes or add something new to class.

The concept of this sort of site is novel. Every year, teachers make lesson plans which are often not shared among teachers. Since each teacher makes a lesson plan, it would only make sense to get other opinions on plan. By collaborating with other teachers, teachers can bring more experience into their class rooms. When a teacher buys one of the lesson plans for sale on this website, they are able to see how another teacher would teach a similar class. The teacher may like some aspects of this new lesson plan and incorporate these good ideas into their own class. They may also see some things that do not work and can decide to leave these ideas out. Overall, by seeing the class through another teacher’s eyes, a teacher can look at their class in a new way. They will be able to adapt their lessons to fit the class better by using others experience and essentially collaborating with their counterparts.

This concept is also great because teachers of Kindergarten to 12th grade can use the site. Also, teachers at all levels of experience can benefit from the site. A new teacher can go to this site and get an idea on how to run a certain class. They can learn about what works and what doesn't. By learning from the successes and mistakes from other teachers in the same position, newer teachers can improve their classes rapidly. Older or more experienced teachers can also benefit from this site. Teaching the same subject year after year with little change can become monotonous quickly. These types of teachers can go on this site, purchase some material, and use what they learn to spice up the lesson plan. They may find new, interesting, or ingenious way to teach a difficult subject. Also, they will find ways to keep the class engaged in the class. Either way, if used properly, all teachers can find innovative ways to allow their students to get more out of class.

Some people may argue that the site would allow teachers to become lazy and just completely adopt the new lesson plan. This is highly unlikely because the curriculum of each school district and state differ slightly. Also, each curriculum is changing a bit each year and needs to be updated and fine-tuned. Also, the majority of the lesson plans are cheap. This allows teachers to purchase several different plans and take a little from each. On the contrary, if teachers do not want to buy anything from the site, there are still many free downloads and blogs for teachers where they can find new ideas to bring to the class room.

In all, offers and abundance of materials that all teachers can use. Teachers can buy fully made lesson plans or browse ideas and concepts in the free download or blog sections of the site. Essentially, teachers at all levels of education with varying levels of experience can find way to improve their classes and improve their students’ learning experience.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

OnLine Learning solves several school problems
Parents Involvement - They could choose the subject their child takes.
Teachers Unions - It would be a Student's Responsibility to get Educated.
Deteriorating Buildings

No School Buses - Less Traffic
Tax - Less Taxes
No Charter Schools
No Vouchers
What is YOUR Take on OnLine Learning?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Mandatory Electives" in High School

By Sean Scarpiello

By the time we enter high school, many of us have different outlooks on our future. Some of us know that we definitely want to move onto college, some of us know that they want to enter the working world right as they graduate, and still others have no idea what they plan on doing upon graduation. The majority of people probably fall into this last group where many of us enjoy the thought of going to college, but we simply do not know what we would be studying when and if we get there. Many freshmen in high school simply have not found their passion in life just yet.

When I was in high school, everyone needed to take 4 years of math, science, English, history, and physical education. Each student had to take 8 classes total, so each year students could pick three electives of their choice. Many students fill these three classes with throw away classes such as cooking, typing, and fashion. Now it is fine if you have a true passion for cooking or fashion, but these classes were notoriously filled every year by students looking to get an easy A. Part of the problem with this is that students are seeking these easier classes when they could be studying more difficult topics which they may find to enjoy.

One way high schools may be able to improve their curriculum is by creating a new set of required courses. Each year, students could be required to take classes that they could major in at college. These “mandatory electives” could include classes in business, psychology, sociology, and philosophy/law. These social sciences are some of the most popular majors in colleges which high school students never get a chance to learn. There are tons of psychology majors in college who never took a psychology class until their freshmen year in college. In high school, there may be a lot of students who are extremely interested in a class like philosophy, but since they are never exposed to it, never find their passion in the field. If these types of classes are made mandatory by schools, many students may take a class and find that they like it enough to push them to go to college and study it further.

This kind of “mandatory elective” option would also allow for students to pick other electives, such as art, music, foreign languages, and other upper level classes. Therefore, students would not be given a list of all of the classes they need to take in the next four years. By allowing for some flexibility, students could pursue upper level business courses if they find they enjoy them. If they find that they still do not like any of these mandatory courses, they still have the option to seek out even more subjects such as graphic design, politics, economics, wood shop, and more.

Overall, this option would work well in high schools at introducing new fields of study to students in a way that forces them to become engaged in the material. While there are many math, science, English, and history majors in colleges, there are just as many business, psychology, sociology, philosophy, arts, and more. By exposing students to these fields early, they may find a true passion and become motivated to succeed in these fields as an adult.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Courses that Improve People

By Sean Scarpiello

Last spring as I was choosing classes for the fall semester, a few of my academic advisors had looked over my schedule and pointed out what seemed to be a problem. All of the science classes looked normal, but then I had a miscellaneous class—public speaking. Each of my advisors had pulled me aside and asked why I wanted to take this public speaking class. The class would not fulfill any requirement courses or count towards my major in any way. When all of my advisors asked me why I wanted to take it, I simply described how I want to improve my public speaking skills.

As the class is entitled “Principles of Public Speaking,” it is often taken by freshmen or seniors as a class that will yield a high grade without much work. However, within the first week, the professor had everyone standing up in front of the class giving speeches. The class is not at all what we had expected, in regards to both the course load and to the general setup of the class. Many of the students taking the class figured that they would only be learning about the principles of public speaking, not applying them in weekly speeches. Also there is much more to the class than just speaking. The professor has already gone over the proper way to make an argument in a persuasive speech as well as the psychology of a public speaker. By learning about what is exactly going on in our heads, we are learning to avoid our nervous tendencies and stiffened postures.

One other element of the class that no one had predicted was the classroom. We are performing speeches in a full theatre. Everyone figured that we would be in a classroom with twenty desks performing in front of a small class. Learning to give speeches in a theatre takes the learning process to another level. It also allows us to be more relaxed in the future when giving speeches. After practicing in a huge theater in front of an entire college class, speaking to a smaller group will be no problem.

One of the points I am trying to make is that although a class may at first seem useless from a curriculum view, students are in school to learn. Taking a public speaking class is a whole new form of learning where students can take what they are leaning in class and use it in the real world instantly. In reality, the majority of the things we learn in school are not seen again unless we specialize in the field. Unless you are an architect or engineer, there is a good chance that you will not put to use the physics and algebra that you learned from high school and college. This public speaking class is great because everyone will be in a situation in their life when they need to speak publicly. We may find ourselves in this situation in a conference or presentation at work or even at a friend’s wedding. Everyone could probably benefit from a public speaking course not because it is something that will better your career, but because it will better yourself.