Friday, March 27, 2009

Lessons from Costa Rica

In the article, "Lessons from Costa Rica," Arlene Borthwick and Irina Lobo share about their experience in Costa Rica. Rather than travel there for vacation or sight seeing, the authors traveled to explore the teaching infrastructure in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is very advanced in technology despite it's vast rural living environment. The education systems are thriving and are based upon incorporating high end technology into their classrooms.
The authors went to observe several schools in Costa Rica and were able to witness students excelling in their computer based programs. Specifically, CREATE Together was a wonderful multimedia program that was being used throughout many Costa Rican schools. The authors witnessed that the computer lab fostered a learning environment where both cognitive and social learning were taking place. Students were interacting amongst each other and were engaged in high levels of thinking.
I feel that Costa Rica is an excellent example of how incorporating technology into the classroom is very beneficial. The students are learning efficiently and show that they are genuinely interested in learning. Technology opens new doors for students and allows them to interact with more resources. Having technology in the classroom enables students to explore different ideas and concepts that they wouldn't necessarily be able to research in depth otherwise.

1. How long has technology in Costa Rica been very prominent? The surge of technology began around 1988 with FOD.

2. Will the U.S. be able to incorporate as much technology into their classrooms as Costa Rica? Yes, I feel that the U.S. is heading in that direction and will soon have much more technology.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No Longer a Year Behind

In the article, "No Longer a Year Behind," Valerie Stokes discusses how beneficial it is if schools adopt the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) program. This program allows schools to test their students as many as four times a year in different areas. Rather than consisting of a written test that the students have to fill out, this test is a computer generated test. Students who take the test are asked questions that are at a lower level. Then, as the student answers questions, the computer generates questions that are easier or harder, depending on their level. This allows the results to record the true level of the student based on their abilities.
The teachers are then able to use the results to determine where the student needs more attention and aid. The computer results can precisely determine what areas the student is behind and where the student is excelling. Furthermore, the school can use this data by looking at the accumulation of all the test results to discover what weaknesses and strengths the school has as a team. The testing results will determine what areas the school needs to pull more resources in to better meet the standards.

1. How many schools use the MAP program? I would assume that only a few schools use this program, but I feel that its usage will increase over time.

2. How effectively does the computer generate the appropriate test for each student? The computer generates fairly accurate results. It has the ability to narrow down a student's level more accurately than a written test.
I feel that this is an excellent program because it closely monitors students and what they have learned. It is an ongoing assessment that serves as a tool to better enhance the learning experience for the children and the school has a whole.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Scaffolding for Struggling Students

In "Scaffolding for Struggling Students, " Sara Kajder and Glen Bull discuss how students are becoming less inclined on reading. With the way that most classrooms are becoming geared towards testing, reading has become a chore rather than an enjoyable activity. By making reading a tedious and boring experience, students are being turned away from the notion that it can be a pleasant experience.
The authors discuss how after graduation, most students will never pick up a book again. This is a very depressing thought because even though a person's formal education has ended, a person's education should never cease. By continuing reading throughout one's life, a person is able to grow and learn continuously.
Poetry slams were more popular in previous decades and brought social groups together to share their writing and thoughts. This was a wonderful idea because it allowed people to discover their inner creativity and associate pleasure with reading. Without having an outlet such as poetry gatherings, people may never experience reading in a different light. If one is to judge reading based off of just what they know from school, they may very well never want to pick up a book after graduation.
Nowadays, a new reading phenomenon has risen in the form of blogging. Blogging allows people to write about anything and everything that they find interesting and worthy to share with others. Technology has opened up a new outlet for people to come together by reading and writing about common interests. By encouraging students to become active bloggers, you are encouraging them to find joy in reading!

1. Will teachers assign blogging as homework in the future? I feel that high school teachers may assign blogging as homework in the future.

2. Will blogging sites encourage students to read more? Yes, because as they write their own blogs, they will be curious to read other blogs.