Archive for September, 2012

EDCI 506 Governing and Administering Week #5

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Governing and Administering

Why are higher test scores sometimes difficult for students (and teachers) to produce?

In the video that we watched the special education teacher mentioned how a lot of times standardized tests are not focusing on the little gains in students’ education, instead they are only looking for major gains, and that was frustrating to her.  She discussed how the student, herself, and other colleagues have worked really hard to make progress, and that they are making progress (Foundations).  The standardized tests are ones that only assess the child on one day out of the whole year, which the teachers in the video thought made for a bad system.  Another teacher that the video highlighted said that the test does not know her students like she does, if they are sick that day, or if their parents are going through a divorce the test does not know that information.  She said she gets to assess them all year round, which is what standardized assessments should be doing (Foundations).  All of these reasons are many reasons as to why it is difficult for students and teachers alike to produce higher test scores.  There are so many factors that go into producing high test scores such as family life, wellness of the particular test day, amount of sleep the child has had, has the child eaten that day, what is going on in the students social life, their motivation level, and many other factors.

Do you think the NCLB Act is an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance?

Personally, I do not think that NCLB has an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance, and there are a lot of other people who agree with me.  One reason why I do not believe it to be effective and accurate is because it is only one test on one day out of the entire school year.  The amount of factors that go into a student performing well, which will ultimately reflect upon the schools performance, are many.  For the student, they may be having family problems, they may be sick, they may have distracting thoughts about other areas of their life, there are so many factors, that one test on one day just cannot capture all that a child can do.  This idea that one test on one day of the year is not enough, is supported by the video we watched for this week (Foundations).


Another reason why I do not believe it to be an effective and accurate way to measure performance is because all students are different and perform at different levels, but yet they are all expected to meet a minimum standard.  For example, a child may have been 2 grade levels behind in performance, made huge gains during the year and are now currently are performing only a half grade level behind, but the standards according to the NCLB act do not capture those types of gains.  Diane Ravitch agrees with me, she says “I try to encourage people who study child development to speak up, to say, this is wrong, children develop in different ways and at different paces and respond differently to different experiences. Standardized tests can’t be the measure of all things that have to do with children” (Educational Leadership, 2012).


A third reason why I do not think the NCLB act is an effective and accurate way to measure student and school performance is because it is only measures the minimal competency levels and only measures specific subjects.  In some of my other courses at UMW, we are discussing the multiple forms of intelligences; if a child is not very good at math, but has a lot of intelligence in the musical areas, does that mean they child is not intelligent in any areas according to standards?  There are many reasons why the NCLB act does not provide effective and accurate forms of performance measurements from the students and school, but these are just a few of my ideas.


What will you do if a student with a disability is in your classroom? How will you meet their specific needs? Who will you consult for assistance?


I am assuming that at some time or another in my teaching career I will have children with disabilities in my classroom.  I think and hope I will treat them as fairly and as equally as possible and make sure that I am including them in all of the lessons, which I will make appropriate for their specific level.  I think that I would do more research on whatever disability they may have, and try to understand it to the best of my ability.  I would also find research based instructional tips that deal specifically with students who have the same or similar disability and use those in my lessons to better my instruction and to better meet the needs of that child.  Of course I will accommodate the assignments and evaluation processes where necessary, and will also modify the curriculum where necessary.  I also hope to have a very collaborative relationship with the special education teacher, and any other specialist that can guide me in how to better serve all children, but especially children with disabilities.


Think of a few teaching reforms that are currently taking place in a school, district, or state. Which reforms do you think will stick? Why? Which instructional practices have remained constant? What factors contribute to their persistence?

One reform that has changed teaching practices is the accountability reform that coincides with the NCLB Act.  I do not think that this reform will stay around because I think it is going to be nearly impossible to have all children in the U.S. meet the proficiency standards set for English and Math by 2014.  In a New York Times article (2011), Larry K. Shumway, a Superintendent in Utah, is quoted saying, “Pretty soon all the schools will be failing in America, and at that point the law becomes meaningless.”  I think that it has stayed around this long so far because of its good intentions, and also because of how difficult it is to change national reforms like this.


Another teaching reform that is very controversial is tracking.  Tracking has been going on for a long time.  Our textbook dates tracking back to the colonial periods and before, it reads, “The colonists at first recreated the socioeconomic class-based dual-track school system that they had known in Europe.  Boys and girls from the lower socioeconomic class attended primary schools… Meanwhile, the upper-class boys attended Latin grammar schools… (Orstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.128).  Currently tracking is a system being practiced in many schools across America.  Children are being identified as advanced and therefore take advanced classes in all areas, and the same goes for underperformers.  But are these children who are identified as advanced and college material really advanced in ALL areas?  And are the underperformers really underperforming in all areas and are bound to blue-collar jobs?  There are many pros and cons to a tracking system and that is why I think it has been around for so long.  Jeannie Oakes is a scholar in the area of tracking and has written many books on the topic.  In one of her books, Keeping Track, she discusses the viewpoints of people for and against tracking.  One of the reasons for it is because it helps teacher be able to tailor their lessons to a more specific population, and it also might make the students feel more comfortable by being surrounded by peers with similar abilities.  A reason against tracking it because it makes the self-fulfilling prophecy come true; a teacher’s expectations about students will become reality (Oakes, 1986).  Tracking is a system that has been around for a very long time and will continue to stay around because many people see the system as beneficial.


Here is some more information on tracking from Jeannie Oakes perspective.  You do not have to read the whole thing, but it has a lot of good information if you wanted to know more about tracking.




Dillion, S. (2011, August 14). State challenges seen as whittling away federal education law. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Dodge, A. & Ravitch, D. (2011). The resourceful school. Educational Leadership 69(4). 54-58.


Foundations: aligning instruction with federal legislation (Video file). Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Retrieved form


Oakes, J. (1986). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality (2nd ed.). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Idealism and Realism Week #4

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Idealism & Realism

How The Cave and The Over-soul relate to Idealism

When reading The Cave, I found many similarities to the Idealism philosophy, which made sense to me considering Plato is the originator of the Idealism philosophy.  In relation to the metaphysics of Idealism, Plato discusses the people who live in the cave as only being able to perceive the world through shadows, meaning only seeing part of what exists. These shadows are ultimately a part of the whole, they exist within the whole truth, but without knowing the whole truth they are meaningless.  Once the freed person saw the real light, and not just the fire, they were able to see more of the whole truth; they were able to perceive the world for what it really is.  Once they returned to the cave and darkness they were able to then recognize what the different shadows represented, whereas the others who were too afraid of the light still were ignorant to the truth.  The real sunlight represents the macrocosm or universal mind and the fire and shadows represent the microcosm or personal mind.

The Cave also can relate to the Idealism epistemology.  The book says that “the Absolute or God has been revealed, over-time, to those who have sought the truth” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.171).  The people who were willing to leave the cave are the ones who sought the truth, which was ultimately revealed to them.  Idealists believe that “education is the intellectual process of bringing these ideas into the learner’s consciousness” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.171).  The people who decided to leave the cave are the ones who are being educated. According to the WiseGeek website (2012), the ones who saw the true light “would know their previous existence was farce, a shadow of truth, and they would come to understand that their lives had been one of deception”.

The Over-soul also relates extremely well to the Idealist philosophy.  The logic is where I personally saw a huge overlap, and that is because of the “whole-to-part relationship between the Absolute and the individual minds” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.171).  In Emerson’s essay he states, “within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE” (Emerson, 1841).  Emerson (1841), also reinforces the epistemology of Idealism; he states “the spirit of prophecy which is innate in every man,” meaning that the mind of the Absolute exists in all of us innately, we just have to discover it.  There are many ways in which Emerson and Plato influenced the philosophy of Idealism, these are just a few of the connections that I made.

Realism Tree Question

The question considered here is, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, would it make a noise?  From a realist’s perspective, yes the tree would still make a noise because “reality exists independently of our knowing it” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.173).  Objects, like trees, exist in a real world that was not made by human beings, therefore, stills exists even when no human beings are around to see it or experience it falling.  The realist axiology focuses on human beings thinking and acting in a rational way, or “making decisions based on knowledge” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.174).  If a human saw a tree that was fallen over, than they can assume that at one point the tree was upright and that at some point in time it fell and made a noise, even though they may never have seen it all actually happen.  We as humans make decisions based on knowledge, and part of our knowledge base involves trees.  So overall, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, it still does in fact make a noise, from a realist’s perspective.

How do the ideas of Idealism and Realism relate to teaching and student learning?

According to the idealism philosophy, teaching should involve stimulating the “learner’s awareness of ideas by asking leading questions” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.172).  It should also involve a lot of modeling so that students may imitate and learn from replication.  The idealism philosophy also relates to teaching and student learning because of the high intellectual expectations that teachers are supposed to have for all students, this relates really well with current trends in education.  Teachers should have high expectations for all students, which will help foster their learning and achievement to the highest possibilities.  I also think that the idealist philosophy relates well with teaching and student learning from a technology standpoint.  I would say that in many schools in America, technology is used as a tool to help educate students, and is not used as a means to an end (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).

The realism philosophy also relates to teaching and student learning in many ways.  Realists claim that formal education “is the study of knowledge organized and classified into subject-matter disciplines” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.174).  This involves teaching and student learning, because teachers teach specific subjects such as math, science, and English, and students learn those specific subjects.  Realists also claim, “schools are academic institutions that societies establish to provide students with knowledge about the objective world in which they live” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.175).  Today’s students are going to school to get prepared to be in the real world.  We discussed this is class the other night, how school is really a way to prepare students for life after education and for adulthood, and I think that the realists would agree.  Another realist idea that relates to teaching is the idea that teachers need to be experts in what they teach, or in other words major in the area in which they want to teach.  Realists are also in favor of standardized tests; they claim, “standards help keep schools and teachers accountable” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.175).  Overall, there are many ways in which the idealist and realist philosophies relate to teaching and student learning.

Which idea best fits with your own views of reality? Why?

There are many aspects of both the idealist and realist philosophies that I agree with and that fit with my personal view of reality.  I tend to agree more so with the realists from a metaphysics standpoint; I think that reality exists in a “material world that is independent of and external to the knower’s mind” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.174).  I think that reality can exist beyond what someone personally knows.  For example, I am not very knowledgeable in a lot of areas, however, it does not mean that those aspects of life are not based in reality, it just means that I might not be fully aware of all that those areas entail.  According to the text, idealists and realists believe that classifying subjects and knowledge helps people learn about reality, and I agree with that to some extent.  I do think that I learn best when information is categorized and organized in a way that makes sense to me; if I am given information in a jumbled way than I am not very likely to learn anything.  I do not however, think that that is the only way to learn about reality, I think you can also learn by simply experiencing aspects of the real world.


Additional Link

Here is a website that summarizes the literal meaning of The Cave and the allegorical meaning.  A quote that I really like, talks about the people adjusting their eyes to the light at first and then to the darkness again.  The quote reads, “The dazzling of our eyes for the first time symbolizes difficulty of denies the material world. The second time dazzling of the eyes symbolizes our difficulty to accept ignorance after knowing the reality.”


Emerson, R.W. (1841). The over-soul. Retrieved from


Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


What is the allegory of the cave? (2012). Retrieved from

EDCI 506 Issues in Education Week #3

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

The Purpose of Education

I think that the purpose of education is to help develop students into productive members of society.  My purpose relates with the Ancient Greeks purpose of education, which was “to cultivate civic responsibility and identification with city-state and to develop well-rounded persons” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 60).  I know that many people say that they want to create productive members of society, but I really do believe in that.  I think that education can help students realize the different between right and wrong, can help students want to give back to the community, and to help them realize the value of hard work.  I do not only hope for my students to become white collar workers like doctors, my wish is that they give back and participate in any way that they can for the greater good of society, and that is why we have education.

How has the Institution of Education Changed? And how has it Remained the Same?

The institution of education has gone through many different reforms and has been effected by many different groups of people.  From the preliterate societies to the current institution of education, many changes have happened but also many aspects have stayed the same.  I would say that the overall purpose of education has changed dramatically over the years.  I would say our society’s current view on the purpose of education is similar to that of the preliterate society, which included the “transmission of the group’s existing traditions, cultural patterns, and survival skills” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 57).  Different groups and people along the way have included religious commitment and knowledge about their religion as being the sole purpose of education.  Today, all public schools in the United States are supposed to be upholding the separation of church and state, meaning no religious affiliation allowed, which is a huge difference.

There are also many aspects of the educational institution that have remained the same.  For instance, the Chinese were the ones who first came up with standardized tests, and those are heavily used today around the world.  Other aspects that have remained the same are instructional methods focused on drill memorization.  Most standardized tests are multiple choice, so as long as the student answers the question correctly, which can be done by rote memorization, than they will pass.  The problem with this is that it does not lead to full comprehension or long-term learning.  I would assume most educators today say that they do not teach in a way that promotes drill memorization, however, I believe that it still happens all of the time.  The idea of a liberal education has also been sustained over time.  Liberal arts education, or education of many subjects, started with the Greeks, and has continued to be valued to the current times (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 60).

How have Educators from the Past Contributed to Teaching Today?

Many educators from the past have contributed to teaching today.  Scholars dated back to the late 1500’s have contributed to teaching today.  Comenius, a seventeenth century educational pioneer, came up with the idea that teachers should be caring people who created pleasant classrooms.  He also wanted teaching to heavily involve the senses, thought that teachers should incorporate pictures into lessons, and believed that lessons should be related to students’ practical lives (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 98).  Many of the same ideas are still valid in today’s teaching world.  Rousseau, a French theorist, believed that children developed in stages, and that curriculum should follow the interests of the child (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 102-103).  Pestalozzi, a Swiss educator, added manipulatives to the mix of teaching, and thought that learning should begin with concrete objects and move towards abstract ideas (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 104).  The list could go on and on of the different educators from the past that have contributed to teaching today, but the three previously mentioned are considered the builders of our elementary education.

Experiences Role in our Teaching and Student Learning Throughout Education History

Many educational pioneers throughout history have emphasized the role of experience in education.  John Dewey may be the most famous educator, however, many others have contributed to the idea including some people that I have already mentioned, such as Rousseau and Pestalozzi.  Dewey, though, stated that the scientific method is the “most effective process we have to solve problems” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.112).  He also thought that through interaction, children would be eager to explore their environments and to learn new things.  Dewey made it very clear that everyone has experiences, but that it is the quality of the experience that really matters (Dewey, 1938, p. 27).

Montessori took Dewey’s idea of experiencing education to a new level and created schools where children solely learn through experiences and exploration.  Montessori schools emphasize children working with materials at appropriate stages, and students taking control over their own education (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 117).  Not only do Montessori based schools follow experiential based learning, but in many public schools teachers try to incorporate experiential learning into everyday lessons.

This is a great website to look at because it is set up in a similar manner to our book.  It breaks down the history of education into different sections based on place and time, for example they have sections titled Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, etc.  This is a great place to further our class discussion and readings from the week.


Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 The Beginnings of My Teaching Philosophy Week 2

Friday, September 7th, 2012

My Teaching Philosophy

When thinking about my own teaching philosophy a lot of different ideas come swarming into my head.  My first thought was something along the lines of “well I know why I want to be a teacher, but I’m not fully sure of my teaching philosophy because I have never been a teacher before”.  I think I will get a more complete idea of my teaching philosophy once I take more courses and am actually a teacher, but for now these are some of the ideas that come to mind.


Goals are an aspect of a teaching philosophy that I can relate to.  I have been a student for basically my entire life up to this point and along the way have had to set and achieve many goals.  When thinking about being a teacher I have many goals already set for myself.  First and foremost, I want to create an environment that is positive, where children feel free to express their opinions and ideas.  I plan to achieve this goal by modeling how to stay optimistic, and by using inquiry based learning techniques to encourage my students to ask questions and to learn how to find answers on their own.  I am a believer in experiencing education, and I think that when kids come to their own conclusions the likelihood of them remembering what they learned increases substantially.  I will not use inquiry based learning all of the time, but I would like to set aside time during each major unit for the students to explore their personal interests in the subject within guidelines.  An article about inquiry instruction states, “Inquiry learning can significantly improve student achievement and knowledge acquisition as compared with more traditional learning” (Saunders-Stewart, Gyles, & Shore, 2012, p.15).

Another goal that I have for myself is to have high expectations for all of my students.  I am aware that a teacher’s subconscious opinion of a child’s abilities affects their academic performance.  Children understand those subtle hints and behaviors that a teacher engages, which ultimately sends a message to a child and says either “I know you can do this”, or “I know you won’t understand this”.  Children usually perform in a way that is expected of them; so if a teacher has low expectations the student will probably perform poorly (Hamachek, 1995).  I want to try and free myself of negative expectations of certain students that were placed in my head by other people.  I think preconceived expectations for specific students, especially bad expectations, makes it nearly impossible for the student to prove that they are something other than what a teacher initially thought.  I want to have high expectations for all of my students and I want them to all know that I believe in them and think that they can be successful.  This specific goal is going to be a challenge for me throughout my teaching career, but I will consciously work at it every day.  One way to help me achieve this goal could be to keep a positive journal, in which I write positive things about all of my students.

Another one of my goals includes being the best teacher that I can possibly be.  In saying that, I know that being the best teacher one can be requires a lot of work and I am ready to put in the effort.  I plan on always staying up to date on current research in education so that I may better serve my students.  Our textbook mentions staff development, and how continuing education is a requirement for most, but I think people should want to seek out new information in order to make their teaching the most effective (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  I plan to collaborate with my colleagues to improve my performance, just as the teachers did in the video we watched this week (Teaching as a Profession: Collaboration with Colleagues).  In that particular video, I loved how the different collaboration teams came together and shared what they talked about in a large group setting, that is something I would love to do in my future teacher career (Teaching as a Profession: Collaboration with Colleagues).  I also plan to seek resources in areas that I struggle in the most.  Another goal includes wanting to meet all of my students’ individual needs by accommodating lessons and assessments to be on their level.  Differentiating between students is very important to me, and is something that I think all teachers should be able to do, and do well in order to be successful.  A list of my goals could be endless, however these are a few of the really important ones.

Interests in New Techniques

I have a lot of interests in new teaching techniques, one particular interest is in whole brain teaching or power teaching.  This type of teaching involves a lot of responding from students; it is a very interactive way of teaching and reminds me of John Dewey’s progressive theory of education.  In whole brain teaching, the teacher might make a statement that the students have heard many times before and know to respond in a certain way.  For example, if the teacher says “class”, then the students know to respond by saying “yes” in a way that mimics the teacher’s way of saying “class”.  Another technique involved in whole brain teaching is for the teacher to say “hands and eyes,” the students will repeat the statement while placing their hands together and intently looking at the teacher.  This “hands and eyes” saying helps teachers make really important points to their students, all students are listening and looking and, therefore, are more likely to be paying close attention to what the teacher is saying.  This form of teaching keeps students engaged for a long period of time because they are always reacting to the teacher’s actions.  I personally really like it because of how interactive it is, and how useful it can be for all ages.

Here is the link to a video describing the basics of whole brain teaching… it is really fascinating!

How My Teaching Facilitates Student Learning

In relation to my goals and interests in new techniques comes my view on how my teaching will facilitate student learning.  I believe that through the different teaching techniques I mentioned, such as inquiry based learning and whole brain teaching, students will be engaged in the subject matter and interact with it, which will ultimately facilitate learning.  I hope to be a teacher who always makes learning fun and interesting and who will instill the desire and eagerness to learn in all students.  I also am a firm believer in students teaching other students; if someone knows a topic well enough to teach someone else the information, than they fully grasped the concepts and learned what they needed to know.  I know that I will not fully reach every student in the way that I hope to, but I hope to I reach all of them in some way.

My Conception of How Learning Occurs

I think that learning occurs in many different ways for every person.  We are all individuals with unique needs that need to be met in order for learning to take place.  I think the process of how it occurs is most interesting though, and it is all because of how the brain is set up and how it works.  When someone receives new information they have the option to take it in or discard it; many pieces of information come into our brains every second of everyday, but our sensory registrar determines what is important and what is not (Bjorklund, 2012).  Once we have decided that this new information is worth attending to, then we address it in our working memory where we process the information and make it relevant.  Next comes the storage of the new information and the decision where to put it in their brain.  If nothing is done with the information than it will be lost, however if different cognitive operations are preformed than the information will move along to the long-term memory (Bjorklund, 2012).  If the information fits along with preexisting information than they can assimilate the information into existing schemas (framework that helps organize information in the brain).  If the information is completely new and does not fit with any already known information than the brain has to accommodate, meaning reorganizing the schemas to make this new information fit in (Bkorklund, 2012).  This conception of how learning occurs combines the information processing theory and Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.  In knowing this information, as a teacher I think I will really try and make every hook or attention grabber in my lesson very interesting in order to spike their interest in hopes of the information getting to my student’s long-term memory.

Evidence of Student Learning

I think that there is many ways a student can show you that they have learned something, however I think the most common way to prove it is through assessments.  I plan on assessing my students frequently in order to have evidence that they are learning.  On a daily basis I plan on doing informal assessments, whether I listen to the students while they are sharing what they know to their classmates, or have them write answers on a personal white board and hold it up.  I always plan on doing informal assessments every day to keep track of my students and their progress.  I also will do many formal assessments as well.  At the beginning of every unit I would like to give a pretest so that I know each student’s starting point.  If at the posttest they show improvement than I know that the student learned something.


Bjorklund, D.F. (2012). Children’s thinking cognitive development and individual differences. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Hamachek, D. (1995). Expectations Revisited: Implications for Teachers and Counselors and Questions for Self-Assessment. Journal Of Humanistic Education And Development, 34(2), 65-74.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Saunders-Stewart, K.S., Gyles, P.D.T., & Shore, B.M. (2012). Student outcomes in inquiry instruction: a literature-derived inventory. Journal of Advanced Academics, 23 (1), 5-31. Retrieved from

Teaching as a Profession: Collaboration with Colleagues (Video file). Retrieved from