NEW HP PAVILION tx2510 TABLET PC – JUNE 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

I did it I went out and bought the HP Pavilion tx2510us, Tablet PC that I have been looking at last night. My wife’s 4 year old desktop bit the bullet and she got my 6 month old Dell 15.2 laptop. I don’t need the size and was looking to lighten the load when carrying around my computer.
Here are the specs

  • AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual Core Mobile Processor, ZM-80 (2.1GHz, 2 MB L2 Cache
  • 12.1″ Diagonal WXGA High Definition Bright View widescreen Display with Built-in Digitizer and Integrated Touch Screen
  • 250GB (5400RPM) Hard Drive
  • 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM (2 Dimm)
  • 802.11a/b/g/n (draft 802.11n) WLAN & Bluetooth
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 Graphics with 64MB DDR2 Display Cache

Plus a bunch of other things…still figuring out what is what. The touch screen and being able to twist the monitor around are pretty cool features. The screen is not as sharp as a “normal” screen, but I have to remember that it is a touch screen and has a different look to it.

The biggest adjustment that I am having is the size of the print (because of the 12 inch screen) on some of the buttons and websites. But I fixed a lot of that by going in and adjusting the DPI to 150% of normal. I don’t get as much information on the page, but my “old” eyes can read the print.

So far I have really enjoyed setting up the HP, it is fast and responsive and so far I haven’t had any difficulties. The keyboard is easy to use, but the layout is a bit different than the Dell was.

I have spent time off and on today, unloading a lot of the stuff that I won’t use and reloading the stuff I will use. I have made a couple of surprise moves for me, as far which software/applications I will use initially.

Programs that I have set as my main programs are
Office Suite – Think Free (I will be coming out with a blog on this and why later this weekend)
Mail Client – Thunderbird
Music – iTunes
Video – VLC
Web Browser – Flock
Notes – EverNote
Photography – Picassa
VOIP – Skype
BlogWriter – ScribeFire
MicroBlog – Twitter

I will go into greater depth on the rationales for using the one that I have chosen this time, but so far they seem to work pretty good together. I have attempted to make a good blend of Cloud and desktop applications that will work, I hope rather “seemlessly” together. Also, my needs have changed considerably, now that I am no longer teaching and I have been in my new job a week now. I have a better idea of which tools I am going to need.

No if I can just figure out how not to loose that pen. 🙂

Gotta go work on my old laptop, not recognizing the CD drive???? Wife not happy 😦

Link to updates:
http://hshawjr007.blogspot.com/2008/08/hp-pavilion-tx2510us-tablet-pc-after-2.html

Technorati Tags: HP, tablet pc, shaw, new, web2.0, webapps, software

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IT BEGINS AGAIN TOMORROW – JUNE 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

I start my new position as the AmeriCorps Program Officer for the Maine Commission for Community Service and other “as assigned” duties. I expect that this will cause quite a few changes in how my online presence will be maintained.I know that I have to maintain a public neutrality when it comes to political issues, but when a person volunteers to be a public service employee at either the State or Federal level, that is one of the things that has to happen. To some this may seem as if they are loosing some of their civil rights, but to me it is simply common sense…as a public servant you have to work with all political parties, not just the ones you support. Therefore, even though you can have political opinions, you need to leave them at home.

Another big change is that during the day, I am sure I will not simply plug into their system with my personal computer and be able to do Web2.0 stuff in my down times i.e. Lunch (I am actually going to have a lunch without duty or kids :P). I am going to have to see what their computer policies are and how they will affect my computer useage. Hopefully, they are not as archaic as some school systems are, so that is one of the things I want to learn a lot more about.

In anticipation of this I have moved my feed reader back to Google Reader, instead of Flock’s RSS feed reader, which worked really well, but I can’t access if not on my computer and renewed looking at Evernote.
I am really looking forward to tomorrow and will learn a lot this week…finally for all those teachers out there, I am jealous of the rest of June, July and most of August. I am back to being one of those “year-rounders”.

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BAD TEACHERS – YES THEY ARE OUT THERE – JUNE 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

This is the not so dirty little secret of education – that the profession does have bad teachers (just like every other profession – has their poor performers).

I know that most everyone in the Edublogosphere attempts to be positive and present a “good” picture of educators, because there is so much negativity about teaching profession in general. Things are not as rosy in schools, members of the Edublogosphere seem to present a very positive image of what teachers can be – because they are not the bad teachers – they are the ones strongly motivated to improve the teaching profession’s reputation and teach students so that they are prepared for their future.

Bad teachers may be a minority, but they are in a profession that is under public scrutiny daily, while most teachers are dedicated to profession and do as much as they can to improve education for their students, bad teachers are more prevalent and noticed then we all would want. I strongly believe that the bad teachers out there (whatever their percentage) are the reason that teachers are held in such low regard, we all remember bad teachers from when we were in school, and bad teachers are the reason we have things like NCLB and mandated high stakes testing to ensure that teachers are teaching what they are supposed to.

Bad teachers have some general stereotypes:

  1. The teacher who is teaching a subject they are not trained to teach (the old you are a teacher mentality – so you can teach anything). This is not the teacher’s fault, they may actually be a great teacher, but incompetent in a subject they are not knowlegeable in. This is administration’s fault – not the individual teacher, but the students are the one’s that suffer most of the time. There are exceptions to this stereotype (teachers teaching out of subject area and being successful), but they are few and far between.
  2. The teacher who is coming in cold from another profession without any training. They might be fantastic people who are intelligent and know their subject area, but most of the time they don’t know how to teach. These teachers are often teaching by the seat of their pants and are thrown to the “wolves”. They try hard, but it takes 2-3 years for them to get up to speed under these circumstances (if they ever make it), I know — been there done that. This happens because of teacher shortages in certain areas or subjects, and for those first few years, the students are not getting the quality of education they deserve – I apologize to my students from the first couple of years of my teaching career, if I could do it over again, I would do a lot of things differently for them.
  3. The teacher who doesn’t like kids and/or doesn’t like being a teacher, but love the 181 day work year. These kind of teachers really “suck” the life out of the teaching profession. They do just enough to get by, but don’t do anything more than that – they typically have a laisse faire method of teaching. It is easy to fake grades in a gradebook (just don’t give back the papers – that is why these teachers hate student Portfolios, they have to actually grade and return student work for inclusion there and are usually the most vocal in their opposition to having to use portfolios). The students talk about how “easy these teachers are and how little work they did to get their grade. We all know these teachers and yet they come back year, after year and continue to be in the profession. These teachers are very memorable and politicians and others always remember these ones when they are drafting new education legislation.
  4. The teacher who is retired while still teaching. These teachers may have been top flight teachers at one time in their career (who has had a bad experience or is just burnt out) or they were a laisse faire teacher who just kept coming back until they were almost ready to retire. Who doesn’t have a story about a teacher who slept during most of class or did just enough to get by during those last couple of years. These teachers are “kept” around until they are eligible to retire with everyone saying “Oh that’s just “so and so” they are getting ready to retire in a year or two and have just started a bit early”. So who suffers, the students who have them in their classes and the other teachers.
  5. Finally, the teacher who refuses to incorporate technology into the classroom. They may be a fantastic teacher of their subject area and great people, but they are still bad teachers for this day and age. They are not preparing students with the technology skills they will need to be successful beyond school incorporated into their curriculums. These teachers fight technology integration tooth and nail and with every tactic they can summon.

These are just a few of the stereotypical bad teachers. The teachers in 1, 2 and may be fantastic people who are just in over their head, but are incompetent/bad by circumstance. The teachers in 3, 4, and 5 have made personal choices regarding their teaching and to me are bad teachers by choice. Although those in 5 are often, are considered by many to be outstanding teachers by their colleagues and the public, their lack of ability to continue to progress and their often outspoken resistance or opposition to teaching students with or how to use the technology in connection with their subject makes them a poor role models and a bad teacher.

Teachers are mostly human and want to get along with their peers and many of these teachers are genuinely nice people, but they are sucking the life out of the teaching profession. Almost every school has at least one of these “bad” teachers and typically more than one. So other teachers put up with them, cover for them, and basically do a lot more work because of them. But the ones that suffer the most are the students, who are CHEATED out of the education that has been promised for them.

Who can solve these issues, it starts with other teachers helping these ones improve (yes we have all attempted this and it usually is met with limited success), but it comes down to educational leadership holding teachers accountable…for their actions or inactions. Accountability has such a negative connotation in education today, but it needs to be done…not based upon student test scores, but a teacher’s actual performance in the classroom.
Administration knows which teachers are not pulling their weight and abdicate their responsibilities when they do nothing about them or give a “glowing” job reference for their next teaching position, so they become “someone else’s” problem, but continue to teach. Administrators shouldn’t use the excuse why they don’t hold these bad teachers responsible to tenure, unions or because we have a teacher shortage. It is simply in many cases easier to ignore the “small” problem of a bad teacher to all the other issues that are taking up their time.

Because it does take more time and effort to hold teachers accountable, to setup remediation programs to improve skills and abilities, to go through the unions or the paperwork, etc., but in the long run the schools and the students will reap the benefits of holding teachers accountable for their work.

I personally believe that in many/most cases many problems at a school would be lessened considerably if teachers were held accountable at the local level. This would also improve the image and reputation of the educational field to the general public and those who hold the “purse strings” and mandate educational improvement programs.

I understand that that this might a simplistic view of a much larger problem, but sometimes simplistic views are a great place to start.

This was a tough one to write — I don’t want people to think I am slamming my former profession, but it is an issue that does need to be discussed more openly than it has. What do you think?

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Week 1 – not teaching – June 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

This is my first week as a “non-practicing teacher”.  I have noticed that my priorities and interests are changing quite a bit.  Typically during my first week of school vacation, I try to wind down and up my exercise output significantly, but due to my leg, still haven’t started running a great deal.  I am not visiting my usual websites, blogs, video site or trying out “new” software/web apps related to education.  I am not listening to any podcasts except for WICKEDDECENT LEARNING on my iPod.  I am just not doing things related to education that were so much a part of my life before.

Also my wife took this week off to “motivate” me to get a summer’s worth of “honey dews” done in a 2 week period. I have done more this week around the house than I usually do in 1/2 of the summer vacation…some vacation huh.  She figured that I would have just lazed around the house this week, like I usually do on the first week – She was right, I would have.  So been really busy on house chores this week, maybe can slack back a bit next week, she goes back to work Monday.  😛

So what priorities are changing that when I am online, I am not visiting education sites, reading all the blogs (I have cut education blogs to under 20 from over 50), that is another thing that I am doing, culling my education related feeds (down to under 5), bookmarks (left Diigo bookmarks alone (you never know),  links, files and other related material.  Doing this was quite a trip down memory lane, I worked so hard to find this information .
I was just starting to get interested and had established a bit of an identity in Second Life (Therin Sideways), but in the last month, I just haven’t had much interest in going there and haven’t visited at all this week.  Maybe next week.

I still follow my Twitter – feeds in TwitBin, but for some reason, I don’t get involved in the conversations like I did in the past…but I want to keep in contact with many of the people on here – I have learned so much and “met” some really fantastic people who took me out of the egg carton teaching rut I was in.  But I imagine that as I get further into my new position that I will have some decisions to make…I seem to do okay at around following a max of 200 Twitterers, but get overloaded after that point, so as I add people from my new Professional Network that I will develop, I will be dropping some Twitterers that are not as active.

I am seeing a lot about NECC though and while I wasn’t going, I probably would have participated by U-Stream and volunteered to help out with some the Second Life stuff that is being planned but I have no interest in participating now..  My main Conference is already over and now I have a Board Retreat to go to next week to focus on.

I was invited to attend the MEA Bias review meeting in August and had to send a declination email back, it was kind of strange, because I have worked so hard to get included in these type of meetings and now I am turning down the opportunities to attend them.  Oh well, new possibilities await me. 🙂

One thing that I am increasing is my Microsoft-centricity…I was told that my new job is very Microcentric, so I am getting myself re-acquainted with Microsoft products, except IE7, which just seems so clunky after using Flock for the past 3 months — (thanks Clay B for pushing me to use Flock and Twitter). I have added Plaxo and Xobni to Outlook and I really like the added functions they give me.  HMMMMMM maybe a couple of blog ideas?
This is basically a “flow of consciousness” blog post to give some insight into what’s going on in my head, now that I am no longer a practicing teacher (I will always be a teacher).

The other big thing I am doing is following the Boston Celtics – Drive for 17 :).  One more win!!!!!  Been a fan since Henry Finkel took 5 minutes out of his life for a bunch of 10 year olds at the Bangor Auditorium back in the Russell Glory days.

Technorati Tags: blog,shaw,Microsoft,Plaxo,Xobni,Twitter

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STAYING WITH BLOGGER – JUNE 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

I attempted to use M/S Word 2007 as my BlogWriter, but many of the more “advanced” features, didn’t translate well, when posted to the blog. So after the excitement then experimentation stages — reality sets in. Word2007 is an extremely powerful document creation tool, but not as simple (blog friendly) when it comes to being a primary BlogWriter.

Could I use it — yes, but Windows LiveWriter is in my opinion a better tool to create a complex blog and ScribeFire is better to me for quick blogging.

After using WordPress and attempting to “make” it do what I want, I remembered why I came back to Blogger. None of the themes really pleased me, getting non-WordPress widgets to “show” correctly was frustrating. I spent about 3 hours this afternoon attempting to get WordPress to where I was happy and while I was okay with the result, I still liked my Blogger theme, quite a bit more.

So based on the actual blogging abilities of Word2007 (after I experimented a bit) and the displeasure with the results of updating my WordPress blog — I will remain with Blogger and tweaked the present theme a bit to let it load more quickly.

I am glad I went through this exercise, but unfortunately it didn’t do what I wanted, but I can still use Word2007 to prepare text (no images) blogs to Blogger, if I choose to. :).

Powered by ScribeFire.

Technorati Tags: shaw, blog, Blogger, WordPress, LiveWriter, Word2007,BlogWriter,

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A BLOG BUTTERFLY

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

I have been looking around for the past 6 months for the perfect blogwriter, I have looked in-depth at Windows LiveWriter (which is pretty good), ScribeFire (improving quickly), Flock’s Blog Editor, and the BlogEditors that come with WordPress, Edublogs, LiveSpaces, Blogger and others. What I have found is that none do everything that I am looking for, so instead I will look to simplify my life a bit.
microsoft Word 2007 has a “publish to blog” function and it is one of, if not the most powerful document creation software around. So I got to thinking why not use Word 2007 as my blogwriter.

The past couple of days I have explored using it as a blogwriter and run into frustrations around image posting to Blogger, LiveSpaces EduBlogs and other blogs, but found out that WordPress hosts their own images and works fantastically with the Word2007 publish to blog function.

Using Word2007 as my primary blogwriter would give me a very powerful document creation tool at my disposal and increase my knowledge of a program that I use every day. The biggest downside is quick blogging in response to an article or other blog online and I can use ScribeFire to meet those needs, so I have to make a decision. I still have to figure out how to add Labels and Tags, but am sure there is a way.

  • Change to Word 2007 as my blogwriter, which will necessitate a blog change back to WordPress (which was my original choice back in January)
  • Keep my blog at Blogger, and all the stats, technorati rank and history and the current theme and continue to use Windows LiveWriter as my primary blog writer.

I wish that I had reviewed and explored this option earlier. I feel like such a Blog butterfly, changing from blog to blog to blog. Let’s see I started out in Ning, then WordPress/Blogger (choose Blogger by accident), checked out LiveSpaces, went to Edublogs back to Blogger and now looking to use WordPress again. I believe that using Word2007 as my primary document creation tool is a good choice, but I have to settle on a blog, stay within its limitations and just stay there. I guess what they say about the first six month of doing something new, you experiment a lot to see what fits your style best.

Well I believe if I am to switch over to WordPress this would be the best time to do. I am beginning a new chapter in my life and though I am not enamored with any of the WordPress themes, there a couple that are okay. So over the next couple of days I will make a decision whether to stay with Blogger or change back to WordPress.

I purposely kept this without images, so that I could dual post to Blogger and WordPress.

 

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NOT EVERYONE WANTS/NEEDS COLLEGE

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

Things that I believe are limiting or slowing progress of education in the U.S. and Maine are: High Stakes Testing, Standards Based Education, Lack of Vocational Education Opportunities in high school, the expectation that all students will/should or want to go to college, unrealistic expectations and attempting to put too many social programs into the academic environment.I have previously covered High Stakes Testing and Standards Based education in my previously. I chickened out in my last blog about discussing FAPE and how it could be limiting our ability to compete internationally in educational achievement and bowed to being politically correct.

I will discuss my views on the expectation — that all students will/should attend college. To me this is ludicrous, many students have enough difficulty completing 12 years of school, much less wanting to go for another 2-4 years, no matter the advantages that adults see for them in them doing so.

High School to many students is pure and simply “hell” or worse. They are bored, made to do things they are not good at and/or don’t like to do. If we as adults don’t like to do something, we find something else to do, but students do not have this option in most cases and many times the only option they have in their eyes is dropping out. They are required to attend school, play the student game (where the teachers and the school make the rules) and get out with that H.S. diploma that allows them to attend college or start their life – sort of a entry level – right of passage in the U.S.

Based on my experience, the low performing students which make up 20-40% of most schools have no desire and do not have the academic background to attend college when they graduate.

From what I am seeing is that in High School – No one fails. This is not a good thing, that is not real life, if you don’t do the work outside of school, they will fail – they will be fired. We are teaching kids in school today just the opposite — that no matter what happens you will be propped up artificially and allowed to advance even though you don’t meet the “standards” that are in place

These are the same students that in many cases are not prepared for the entry level jobs, that they will have, being barely literate or getting by with very basic math skills. But these students do have a high school diploma – in many cases undifferentiated from the student who took AP courses and busted their butt in high school – that is another rant for another time.

So who are we fooling when we say that all students should attend college immediately after high school – ourselves and the students that we send who are not ready, capable or engaged in the pursuit of education at that time.

Is it in the interest of the all-mighty dollar (and support of declining enrollments) that some of these students get into college who shouldn’t and then flunk out after the first semester when they find out how much work college actually is (compared to their lower level high school classes) – then they get the label college drop-out added to their psyche. Really good for students who have already had so much failure and difficulties in school.

In our efforts to ensure that all students attend college how much are we also willing to “dummy” down the college curriculum to help those low-performing students get a college degree. This lowering of standards devalues the college degree considerably and I believe if we continue in this manner, our colleges will become 2nd rate colleges, degree mills to who will give degrees to those who would not have qualified not so many years ago. Our country’s reputation for college educational excellence – would be trashed if we continue down this road of expectations — of a college education for all.

I believe that colleges need to continue to be exemplars of educational excellence and high expectations, to lower these ideals would be a sad and unnecessary state of affairs. A continuation of the flattening of education in America to meet the lowest level instead of demanding high achievement. Not all students should be successful in college, some will fail, those that can will pick themselves back up, do things differently and those that can’t need to move on elsewhere until they are ready to try again – which may unfortunately in many cases never happen.
In many cases after being out in the “real world” many former students see why they need to attend college or finish high school and do go back to school and do much better in education than they ever did in high school. It has to become their choice to go back to school, not someone else’s idea.

I know this from personal experience, I was a low performing student in high school, who simply wanted out…to have the freedom to choose my future and get away from everyone telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. It took me a few years, but I realized that I needed more education to be successful and even though it took me 19 years to get my B.S. degree :), but I got it. I believe that there are many more stories like mine out there. I also know that I was a much better student than I would have been if I had gone straight from high school, when I would have become another statistic…too much partying, bad grades and then college drop-out.

So for me and many others it was/is better to go out and experience life and then come back to continue our education with a new found respect for why we are there.

This current trend to expect all students attend college immediately after high school is in my opinion — a “fools gold” approach to higher education – it sure looks pretty, but is actually not worth very much.
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Technorati Tags: college degree,high school,expectation,exemplars,excellence,dropout,dummy-down

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FIVE THINGS TO LIVE BY

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

Yesterday was my final function as a teacher.  I participated in Averill High School’s Baccalaureate and Commencement exercises.  There were several instances where, I had to carefully wipe at a moist eye.  I was very proud of all the students there, but there were a couple that were even more special to me…I have seen how far they have come and am extremely proud of their personal triumph in receiving their high school diploma.

While at Baccalaureate Pastor Don Smith gave these very powerful “5 Things to Live By and guaranteed if you did, your life would be successful.

1.  Make time for those you love.

2.  Work Hard

3.  Have Fun

4.  Do the Right Things

5.   Get along with Others

Make time for those you love – this is probably the one that I need to improve the most, as a teacher, during the school year, it seemed that loved ones “play second fiddle”, in my new position hopefully, I won’t be required to “bring” my job home with me – as much.  This is something that I am going to try to make more of priority in my life!

Work Hard – I would like to add to this — work smarter and more focused as well…working hard will get you far in life…but working smarter also, will get you even farther.  That has never been a problem (the working hard part), I just gotta get that working smarter and more focused part down better.

Have Fun – Sometimes my idea of fun isn’t the same as others…playing on the computer to learn new things is “fun” to me, playing RPG video games are fun, getting outside hiking or jogging is fun.  According to my wife, I always have to be doing something…so maybe this should include having some “down time” when I can be winding down.

Do the Right Thing.  This is my favorite saying “Do the Right Thing for the Right Reasons.  I attempt to live by this and although I am not always successful, I make the good effort.

Get along with Others.  You don’t have to like everyone, but it does not cost you anything to be civil and polite to others, even when you don’t like them or don’t know them.  Being rude or negatively sarcastic often creates tension or worse in the workplace or home.  This kind of atmosphere really “sucks” and I hate to be around it and try not to add to anyone’s negativity.  You haven’t “walked in their shoes” and don’t know the reasons for what they do, so be positive — it costs so little and adds so much.

So those are “Pastor Don’s” 5 things to live by with a few additions by me.  He guarantees if you live by these, that you will have a successful life and I tend to agree with him.  Do these things and you will be respected and liked by others in your sphere of influence.  Thank you Don.

In Memoriam – Darrell Smith – May god bless and may you rest in peace.

Technorati Tags: 5 things to live by,self improvement,help,love,work,fun

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HIGH STAKES TESTING/STANDARDS BASED EDUCATION — THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION – PART 1

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

This is one of those “who do I think I am posts” – sooo here goes.Quickly some of my background, so you don’t get the wrong impression of where I am coming from. First I and foremost I am/was a parent of both a regular education and a special education student, second I am a Certified Special Education Teacher and third I have chosen to leave teaching to pursue a new career. So I believe that I can give a candid view of what I believe the direction education should be taking.

Many will disagree with my thoughts, that is okay, this blog will – I hope develop some healthy discussion about this topic. The suggestions and comments are not “research based”, but based upon my personal experience and observations in my small part of the U.S., so they may or may not mirror your experiences in this important subject.

Things that I believe are limiting or slowing progress of education in the U.S. and Maine are: High Stakes Testing, Standards Based Education, Lack of Vocational Education Opportunities in high school, the expectation that all students will/should or want to go to college, unrealistic expectations and attempting to put too many social programs into the academic environment.

1. High Stakes testing. Teachers, administrators, politicians, parents and students are placing too much emphasis on testing as the “only” appropriate measure of a student’s progress. Much has been written on this topic and many who are smarter than I am will write more about it in the future.

What is tested is what is taught, that is a very true and accurate statement, right now we test English and Math and are don’t have enough time in a school day to teach other things like History, Government, the Arts, Music, Career Prep, and the many other subjects that are necessary to create a well-rounded citizen or person. With the consequences that are in place for those schools or students that don’t do well on these tests, it make certain what the priority of teaching will be. PREPARE FOR THE TEST.

This is extremely unfortunate, because it takes away opportunities for the student to learn persistence and that many problems cannot be solved and finished within a 2 hour “magic window” or how to think creatively and strategically to find ways to solve a problem that needs “outside” the box thinking to solve it. What is being taught now it that it is enough to memorize facts and formulas to solve problems, when this is not enough.

What does the testing do to the student? Does it prepare them for their future? I don’t really think so, unless they are going into a position that requires testing for advancement i.e. the military. It does not prepare them for critical thinking or other higher level thinking skills that they need for college or in business.

2. Standards Based Education. From my vantage point as an “on the frontline” teacher, what is the big deal about standards? They are the law of what we are “required” to teach – Here in Maine we have the Maine Learning Results. They are a great roadmap of what should be taught and what students should learn while they are in school. But with the emphasis on high stakes testing, which is it going to be teaching to learn what will be tested or teaching to the standard? I can tell you that 90% of the time, due to the penalties of not having good test scores at a school standards are going to be given lip service and the real priority will be test preparation.

What are standards really? They are simply expectations of a student’s learning while in school that are developed by National, State or local “experts” who decide what a student should know at a certain grade levels. Are these standards arbitrary? – yes, are these standards realistic for all students? – no. Many students (maybe as many as half) will never actually achieve each or all standards that is/are required of them. So what do we do with those that are not able to meet the standard?

Supposedly the standards are the minimum standards, well if these are the minimum and many students are having difficulty reaching them, are they realistic?

So we have two systems in place today that are like a set of railroad tracks each going in the same direction (either forward or backward – dependent upon your perspective) but never come together to form one system that supports the other and each has it own demands on time, pedagogy and students. These demands are my biggest concern, it seems as though they are made to make public education the scapegoat for all that is wrong with the country, when public education can be part of the answer — but just a part. There are many other factors that need to be taken into account far beyond the “simple” setting of standards or interpretation of test scores.

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LAST DAY – JUNE 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

The kids are all gone, done for the summer. We are gearing up for the beginning of Graduation weekend at Averill High School. Today is Last Chapel and Senior Spring (where the Juniors are advanced to Seniors) we have a tradition that the school will always have a senior class and this our way of doing this.

It has been a really tough morning, lots of emotions washing over me.

Saying goodbye to many people I have worked closely with, students who have come so far and the Cafe staff who embarrassed the “hell” out of me by singing a “miss you variation” on their birthday day song. (But I enjoyed every second of it). :).

So I am a bit melancholy right now and reflecting a bit on things past. But I have no regrets or second-thoughts, leaving is the right thing for me at this point in my life, but saying goodbye is always difficult.

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