Monthly Archives: March 2017

Federal Education in America

One of the greatest mysteries is why education was left out of the Constitution.  I think it is safe to say that the Founders might have blundered on that point.  What should be said about a country that does not guarantee education as a right?  And we still do not to this day, but there has been a push in that direction from the Common Core Standards Inititive.  Needless to say, everybody involved (students, teachers, parents, administrators, etc.) has an ax to grind with Common Core, but I still support any move toward a federal education system.

Common Core is a set of language art and math standards.  The purpose was to provide a template for classrooms everywhere  and to emphasize skills that students will need for college.  From personal experience, having a system to follow is very helpful.  But to the teachers with many years of experience, it could stifling or just frustrating that another system is being replaced.  But at the heart of the issue is the question, “Is education necessary; should it be a right?”

I truly believe that education is a right that should be guaranteed to all citizens.  Amendments to add education into the Constitution have failed, but if we want to increase the efficacy and standards of our educational infrastructure, we may have to do so.   However, how do you have a system that works perfectly for such a diverse population.  The United States is roughly 4 million square miles and there is a good chance that two randomly chosen US citizens may not have much in common, culturally speaking.  This is why education has always been politically filed under “states’ rights.”

Common Core’s inability to address regional issues is a fundamental weakness.  To receive the federal funds, a state was required to adopt at least 85% of the CC curriculum, but this number was too high.  A federally funded education system would need to offer more autonomy to account for this diversity.  Even though education has been supported federally -I’m just going to leave this here-–  I think we need to add an amendment to the Constitution that holds our education system to an incredibly high standard.

Using Surveys as an Educator

Surveys are an excellent way to gather information about education from the community.  Surveys give communities a sense of belonging and input and give teachers valuable information about that community’s needs.  Teachers can use surveys for so many different things: test-prep efficacy, curriculum feedback, parent involvement, etc.

Students will love surveys because they are interactive and give them a stake in their own education.  The questions on your survey could get the students to really reflect on a subject and make them conduct their own investigation.  Wouldn’t it be nice if every unit started out with organic enthusiasm?  In my first observational experience, my mentor teacher created weekly surveys for the students over their interests.  By the end of the week, the subject with the highest popularity would be taught.  Students looked forward to it all week and even the students whose subject was not chosen still had a blast.   If surveys are used effectively, we could gain the insight we need to increase participation.  While teachers can’t cater to everyone’s needs, it certainly will help out the classroom overall.

However, in my opinion, the best use of surveys is for parent feedback.  This is something that I would like to do at the beginning and end of each year.  Teachers can find out about new students, what disappointed parents about the previous year, or what areas the child struggles  in.  We need to be able to find out how students spend their time outside of class and what role parents are playing in their kid’s education, and surveys can make gathering that information much simpler.

Here is an example:

3D Printing

3D printing is a technology that opens up many possibilities in the education world.  A 3D printer operates on the same principles as a traditional computer printer, but instead of color being patterned on to paper, raw material is turned into 3D objects.  It helps to picture a regular computer printer repeating the same printing job over and over again, eventually the ink would build up and create a 3D version of the print job.  As with many new technologies, we have to ask ourselves what role it will play in the future.

First of all, 3D printing alone is worth exposing to our students.  The process is intimidating because it is new but it is actually pretty simple.  Because it is ran by a computer, and is done layer-by-layer, students can easily see how the software and hardware interact to create the product.  In other words, there are a million things 3D printing can create that will enhance lessons, but on top of that, the technology itself is worth examining.

3D printing can enhance almost every subject.  In art, students can create literally anything conceivable into a 3D object.  In science, real, perfectly-scaled models can be brought to life.  Complex geographical maps can be made.  3D printing would completely change how we view kinesthetic learning.  You name it and it can be made.

Just like with all new technologies, cost is what keeps it out of the education world.  But many people are convinced that this is going to drastically change the future.  The ability to perform super complex tasks is going to be able to be done by the push of a button.  Our students will benefit greatly from early exposure to technology that will dominate the future, and 3D printing is a prime example.

Here is a video on how 3D printing works:

Khan Academy-The Ultimate Web Tool for Teachers

Khan Academy is one of the most useful tools for students and teachers and it is only getting better.  Khan Academy started out as online tutor service that the creator, Salman Khan, made for a few friends.  After seeing the potential, he took on the work full time and turned it into what it is today.  Khan Academy is now a fully-functioning website and application.  It has short lectures, tutorials, supplementary exercises, and tools for every subject imaginable, from early education to high school.  Recently, a profile system was added which allows for an award system, progress-checker, a projects section, and discussion boards for teachers, parents, and students to communicate with each other and the academic community.

Khan Academy is always expanding!  One of the newest features, and maybe the most helpful for teachers, is that it is now synced with Common Core.  The entire math section is labeled with Common Core standards, which is pretty handy when you need to come up with new projects or worksheets.  I’ve also read that they (and other education apps) are developing software that would allow students to screenshot their homework and send it in for one-on-one tutor help, which is simply amazing.  Khan Academy also comes in three languages: Hindi, Spanish, and English.  On top of all of that, it is free, with no weird or inappropriate advertisements.