In January, PBS LearningMedia announced findings from a national survey of teachers grades pre-K-12 that highlights the rising role of technology in America’s classrooms, and points out barriers teachers face to accessing the “right” digital resources. Ninety-one percent of teachers surveyed reported having access to computers in their classrooms, but only one-in-five (22 percent) said they have the right level of technology. Read more at PBS.org.
Other teachers begin the year with wonderful new technology such as interactive white boards, computers, and electronic responders, but don't have funding for technical support or replacing parts when the equipment needs to be repaired or serviced several years later. Some teachers become frustrated with equipment or software that doesn't work consistently and abandon the technology after a period of time.
According to the PBS survey, most teachers using technology in the classroom are using it to visit websites and find online images and games. If you are one of those teachers looking for some educational websites for the classroom, here are some helpful links:
Excel Math is correlated to state standards as well as to the Common Core. To download math correlations for your particular state, visit ExcelMath.com/downloads/state_stds.html.
To become better informed about the Common Core Standards (CSS), here are some online links to the Common Core discussion and what it means for educators:
- Now What? Imperatives and Options for "Common Core" Implementation and Governance (PDF) by Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- TheHuntInstitute – YouTube
Education Week is holding a webinar on July 11 called Revealing How Education Leaders Can Work Together on Common-Standards Implementation on the topic "implementing the Common Core." Here's a link for more information.
If you're interested in hearing both sides of the debate about whether national standards are a good thing for your students, this article from the Wall Street Journal, "Should All U.S. Students Meet a Single Set of National Proficiency Standards?" has some excellent points. (The comments are especially interesting.)
According to this Wall Street Journal article, "Today's young Americans are falling behind their peers in other countries when it comes to academic performance. What makes the situation particularly concerning is research showing a close link between economic competitiveness and the knowledge and skills of a nation's workforce."
For some teachers and administrators, technology seems to be the answer that will help students bridge the achievement gap. For others, the answer is Project Based or Challenge Based Learning. (Read more about Project Based Learning at edutopia.com and about Challenge Based Learning at challengebasedlearning.org.) Other educators find the answer in smaller class sizes or more testing and assessment.
Although many of these recommendations can have a positive effect on education, there seems to be no one panacea or easy solution to raise academic performance. Perhaps a well-balanced mix of technology, top-notch classroom instruction, student engagement, collaborative learning, increased rigor, systematic spaced repetition, true spiraling, guided practice, homework, parental involvement, and regular assessment will prove to be the answer. Wow! That sounds like a lot to ask. Then again, helping our students gain proficiency, confidence, and a life-long love of learning may just be worth it.