Category Archives: Education

Is Copying Big Problem in Universities?

As a student, you might not know a lot what happens in the teacher’s lounge or private offices of the dean and lecturers. However, the life behind closed doors of the educators is no less interesting than what goes on in the campus or hallways. For example, students might have 0 clues about how important a copy checker for universities, colleges, schools is.

Plagiarism across the world is spreading. Like a disease, it corrupts the conscience and honesty of members in various academic communities. Some see it as an easy way out of completing a difficult assignment, others just poorly manage their time and have no other choice. Whatever the cause, colleges, schools as well as the most prestigious universities around the world struggle against plagiarism, copying or duplication (call it as you like).

That is mainly because those educational institutions are always behind in IT and technological solutions. In recent times, however, they are starting to catch up and implementing the use of copy checker for universities and schools have proven to be great. If you look at the statistics of educational organizations before and after installing plagiarism checkers, the numbers will tell a wonderful story. Evasion of plagiarism decreases significantly while the hunt for copycats becomes more successful.

So, all in all, we can clearly say that plagiarism is a big problem in universities and schools. However, the tendency of its growth is diminishing and we can expect it to be eradicated or at least more contained in the near future. As universities become more modern, cheaters don’t have a spot under the sun anymore.

How to Use Entertaining Whiteboards in Online Training Sessions

art of the deal study guide

Now that many individuals are embracing online teachers, there is a great demand to offer an excellent teaching experience and provide results. Although time versatility and source accessibility are huge advantages of online teaching, it needs to be something different to help issue from class room learning and therefore offer methods to students who need help to completely comprehend ideas.

In to offer such a solution, it is essential to use technology to our advantage. One such academic technology that has been developed is an interactive white board. Entertaining whiteboards are a development from conventional blackboard and chalk, and even white boards. They do not require you to make or attract anything by yourself, and offer some excellent features that can be used for an excellent interactive educating period.

Interactive whiteboards come packed with features. You can show presentations, animated graphics, videos, charts, platforms, pictures, and whatever other content you wish to demonstrate your student. You do not have to do any of it by hand; you can use useful tools to make most of these sources, and can often find many useful sources for online. You can obtain these sources and easily prove to them on whiteboards.

Interactive whiteboards are also special because they are interactive. You do not just stand by while some materials are estimated on a screen; you can make on it, make notices, comments, annotations, display certain techniques to your students – all through a touchscreen technology or a stylus pen. All these can be stored for future referrals.

To make your class more exciting, and do away with long hand-written projects, tests and documents that you must spend a while rating, interactive whiteboards can be used again. They often come with gadgets which can record student reactions to several choice questions and such like, and instantly assess represents, making the educating job much easier for you in art of the deal study guide. It manages all the basic work so that you can focus on putting together some of the best content for students.

In case you do not work live teaching classes, interactive whiteboards can again be very helpful. Since you will not be present to describe questions to re-explain ideas that have not been recognized initially, it becomes a bigger factor to use content that can elucidate topic clearly. You can also record video clips on interactive boards; you can use this recorded issue for inactive teaching.

Watering The Seeds The Blossoming of Creativity in the Classroom

We tend to think of creativity as an intriguing personality trait, but one that is only useful in practice to the artist or the aimless dreamer. But what if I told you that creativity, not in spite of the due emphasis on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), is an increasingly essential skill to our children’s success, both in school and on the job?

Frankly, a non-creative person is an unadaptable person. Moreover, a person who cannot adapt cannot survive the turbulence of our ever-changing world. So why do we continue to push models of education that limit creativity in favor of rote memorization?

Of course, the transfer of traditional knowledge and information is needed for students to grow. However, that information would be little more than arbitrary if not for the creative ingenuity that transforms it into something meaningful in our minds. At a certain point, intellectual growth and evolution, skills like real-time problem solving, and the very seeds of entrepreneurial thought cannot take place without this ingenuity, so the fact that our educational system is based largely on spreading and storing data while neglecting creativity warrants concern.

In the following, we will examine our country’s current educational system and determine the ways in which it inadvertently stifles creativity and critical thinking. Hopefully, through a reassessment of our current practices, we can cultivate a more innovative society of tomorrow.

Let us begin by joining the typical elementary student in their classroom. Take your seat and remain silent. Do not fret, your input will not be necessary. There will be a man or woman at the front of the room that will handle all the thinking for you. Just memorize what they tell you. Once your ability to recite this information has been gauged to be on the level of your peers, you and your classmates will find a place on the assembly line. From there, you all will be packaged and shipped to the next level of institutionalized education, where you will undergo the process again. And so on and so on.

The aforementioned scenario illustrates (albeit crudely) our educational model. Sounds outdated, doesn’t it? That’s because our system of education is actually a remnant of 19th-century philosophy and a product of the Industrial Revolution’s economic circumstances. The model was created with the idea that intelligence was to be measured by one’s knowledge of the classics and their ability to carry out deductive reasoning. As a consequence of this model, the usefulness of the arts (its ability to provide both emotional stimulation and intellectual stimulation while inspiring new patterns of thought) was also forgotten.

Essentially a system of standardization, our public education model was constructed to mimic factory assembly lines because that was what worked best for production, and what worked to make machines must also produce efficient workers. Prior to the Industrial Era, a system of universal education simply did not exist. When the system was first proposed, it was based on the premise that the skills that are needed for work are the only skills that should be emphasized by educators.

The purpose was to get a group of students to consume the same information and all apply it in a similar fashion. For what it’s worth, the system was great for industrial productivity.

So, you may be wondering, where is the harm in the above process?

Well, as philosopher and politician Roberto Mangabeira Unger argues, it only serves to create more worker bees. The workers who were trained in this fashion were unadaptable because they were made (prepared) purely for a static function (job). By teaching students merely to take in information without first analyzing it, we imply that the world is static and constant. We teach them that it is only their task to internalize the prescribed laws of the world. There is no need to question anything or investigate the world because that has already been done for them. Educator and philosopher Paulo Freire argues that this practice robs them of their ability to become active participants in the world. So how can they improve and add value to their community when they only know how to follow directions and not how to maximize their full potential?

In fact, students’ ability to think critically may actually be reduced because of this process. In their book, Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today, researchers George Land and Beth Jarman present a study which corroborates this theory. Land and Jarman tested 1,600 students between ages three and five on their divergent (creative) thinking skills. They asked questions requiring abstract thought such as “How many ways can a paperclip be used?” More than 98% of the students scored at the level of creative genius. The authors waited five years before assessing the children again. When evaluated for the second time, only 32% scored at this same level; by the age of 15, less than 12% scored at this level. The test later made its way to some 280,000 adults (average age 31) and only 2% scored at the level of creative genius. Land concluded his study by asserting that “non-creativity” must be a learned behavior. Given the results of the study, it is not unreasonable to believe that our educational practices are largely to blame for the declining levels of creativity over time.

You see, the brain is responsible for two kinds of thinking: There is the divergent thinking referenced above and there is convergent thinking, which refers to the brain’s ability to make judgements about, critique, and evaluate a situation. Land refers to divergent thinking as the “accelerator” while convergent thinking is likened to the “brake.” Children are initially asked to use both, but it becomes difficult to think creatively while listening to the inner critic. Students will likely develop a fear of being wrong (having the wrong answer) as a result. Because of this disconnect (neurons on both sides of the brain are “fighting each other,” as asserted by Land), the brain is less able to capitalize on the divergent thinking. When a person succumbs to fear, then even less of the brain is active.

It is this stigmatization of mistakes (a fear cultivated by our deep-seated reliance on ranking students through standardized testing) that will hinder our children’s development because all evolution is the product of trial and error. One cognitive scientist, Guy Claxton, has caused an uproar in the educational community by referring to erasers as the “instrument of the devil.” While his statement does employ a bit of hyperbole, he bases it on the idea that the classroom often perpetuates the shaming of mistakes and errors.

Claxton argues that children should not be encouraged to hide their mistakes because mistakes give students an opportunity to reflect on the process that brought them to the right answer rather than just focusing on the answer itself. Further, in the real world there is no magic button that allows one to omit past decisions.

Instead, we must think wisely about the effects of any subsequent actions, while using past mistakes to help us adapt to new situations. In a consenting opinion, Chairman of the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE) John Coe stated that it is the job of teachers to be aware of the mistakes made by their students so that they “can target their instruction.”

In nature, certain characteristics arise within a species but are later removed or augmented when their applicability in the world is assessed. We are stifling our students’ growth because we insist on assessing the fitness of our educational practices against an antiquated model of the world. Our educators are trying to prepare our students to participate in the economy while ignoring the fact that it is constantly changing. How backwards is that? Teaching our students how to adapt is the only way that we can adequately prepare them for future problems.

So what can we do to promote more divergent thinking?  Well, we must first remember that cultures are malleable. We always have the opportunity to try new things to facilitate growth. So let’s shed the cocoon-like dogma that certain patterns of thought afford us. Let’s get rid of the notion that all students, all people are the same and learn the same way. Through the practice of differential education, we can assess students’ talents on an individualized basis. We can understand their strengths and find ways to help them discover and develop their special talents. We can also make use of the Socratic method, instead of only assessing a student’s ability to spit out a preprogrammed response without them understanding its applicability to the question. Focusing on inspiring inquiry and evaluating the level of abstract reasoning inherent to a student’s answer can foster creativity. Providing informative reviews of the students’ work rather than simply giving a letter grade will put the focus back on learning.

A move away from extrinsic motivation (motivation by external incentives, like an abstract grade) in elementary and middle school can be especially helpful for student development. Researchers Ruth Butler and Mordecai Nisan have shown that the ability of a student to think critically is reduced when too much emphasis is placed on a grade rather than the actual learning process. Grading can also be damaging when the rational student realizes that the potential consequence of an intellectual challenge (a failing grade) isn’t worth the risk. They may ultimately choose the easier alternative because they are afraid of lowering their grade average.

Author and lecturer Alfie Kohn argues that believing competition, rankings, reward and punishment are just the “the way life works” obscures the fact that these are all simply societal practices which people can choose to respond or not respond to. Kohn reminds us that collaborative skills (employing someone else’s strengths) are essential to societal development, as well.

Furthermore, while in an interview with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), educationalist Sir Ken Robinson argued that “most original thinking comes through collaboration and through the stimulation of other people’s ideas.” On the other hand, pure competition may beget an overdependence on self that may hinder the development of the whole. Let’s remind our students that learning isn’t just about attaining an “A” or being better than the next person.

Earlier I alluded to how the arts can stimulate students both emotionally and intellectually, and even inspire new patterns of thought. To elaborate on this idea, empirical studies have also shown that the benefits of education in the arts transcends its immediate aesthetic and sensory appeal.

A 2002 report facilitated by James Catterall, an affiliate faculty member at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development, drew from the findings of 62 studies conducted by 100 researchers and revealed positive correlations between arts education and academic performance. For example, students who engaged in music education showed improvements in their mathematical skills, reading skills and cognitive development. Dance students tended to show improvements in their critical thinking skills and originality. Furthermore, students who were educated in a multitude of arts showed improvements in higher-order thinking skills.

I don’t mean to imply that math, science, and our other traditional school subjects aren’t useful areas of study, or that they should be tossed aside. Nor should we presume that higher-order thinking skills are limited to the college classroom. I’m only suggesting that students, even our youngest students, often miss out on a more applicable understanding of these subjects when they aren’t encouraged to approach them in novel and creative ways. It has less to do with the information presented, and more to do with how that information is presented. Do we want a generation of spectators and trend-followers, or do we want a future world filled with leaders and critical thinkers? The choice begins with how we educate our students.

As we recognize and respect our ability to change, we will see that certain situations will require new modes of thought: Innovation. George Land suggests that we tap into our “inner five-year-old.” So let’s think outside the box. Remember when we weren’t so afraid to think differently? It may sound odd, but we can only move the collective when we begin to think for ourselves.

A caring and comforting school

My wife died when my daughter was just four. She took it very hard and became a very quiet and sullen child. Her teachers advised me to take her for counseling but even that didn’t seem to help. After three years, I moved to Bangalore to be closer to family. Even being closer to family didn’t help her come out of the shell she seemed to have gone into. After visiting many schools, I decided to enroll her in Candor International School.  Though the school was very big almost 20 acres the school was new and just had 200 students. So I thought the small number of students would make her feel less intimidated.

At first there wasn’t much difference. She was still quiet but slowly I found her starting to talk more, draw, paint and make and play with friends in the new apartment complex. I was extremely curious and wanted to know what had changed. So one weekend I went across to meet her class teacher. Her teacher had also noticed the difference and said that my daughter had befriended another student who also experienced a loss of a parent recently. Both the girls bonded immediately. That student somehow worked through her pain and now was helping my daughter through hers.  I was shocked. I mean how much help can a seven-year-old be? Then I discovered that the other student used to regularly see the Candor counselor and a few times, my daughter had also gone along with her. Though I can’t fathom why she found her family unapproachable I am happy she found a listening ear and someone to help her through the pain.

In just four months there was such a tremendous change in her life. I know she will always miss her mother but she’s starting to become her old self.  She even told me the other day that just the two of us should go for a holiday somewhere.

The teacher’s have been so patient with her – they have neither pitied nor patronized her. As a parent I’m extremely thankful for schools that go beyond academics and can care about the emotional wellbeing as well.  To see my daughter happy and smiling again is the best gift I could receive. Parents don’t just put your children in any school but choose a school like Candor that genuinely cares.

Effective Teaching

A student spends most of her productive waking hours in school. Thus, teachers play a pivotal role in her life. It is very important for a teacher to assess the needs of her students. A comfortable and congenial environment is very important for effective teaching and learning.

Students will feel motivated to learn only if they understand the significance of what they are learning. A teacher knows that all the knowledge imparted in school, according to the prescribed syllabus, may not directly fulfill the needs of each of her students. However, through her teaching, she can create the need, the urge to learn by connecting the theoretical with the practical i.e. interlinking the knowledge that she wants to impart with the day-to-day relevance of such knowledge.

It is very important for a teacher to plan her lessons in advance. However, sticking to the plan to the core is not advisable. There should be enough scope in her lesson plan to incorporate changes that make teaching and learning more effective. A teacher, who is prepared, is confident. She comes across as someone who is sure of what she is doing and this creates a degree of trust between the students and the teacher.

If I am interested in the topic that I am teaching, students will also be interested.  People naturally feel drawn towards people who are sprightly. Stress is a part of everyone’s life these days including students. Thus, it is important for the teacher to be happy, lively and enthusiastic so that learning becomes interesting.

As a human being I know that it is very difficult for me to pay attention to something that I am naturally not interested in.  The same applies to students. Lessons can be made interesting by involving the students in the learning process. They shouldn’t be passive listeners. Regular questioning and inviting suggestions and opinions from them, forces them to concentrate.  The teacher can quote famous personalities, use examples from popular T.V. programmes, movies, books etc. Creative association between the lesson and popular media captivates the attention of students and helps in retention. The students should know that the teacher has put in a lot of effort to make her lesson interesting. Students respect teachers who do that and try their best to please them by being more efficient themselves.

Students don’t like it if they are expected to acquire a whole lot of new skills to understand what is being taught. While delivering her lesson, a teacher should be able to utilize the existing skills of her students to the optimum. She should understand that new skills can be acquired only gradually with a lot of hand holding. Also, children shouldn’t be insulted if they don’t know the things that the teacher thought they knew.

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Just because a teacher is older than her students does not authorize her to be rude and insensitive towards her students. So a teacher should try her best to be likeable and approachable. It is only when you give respect that you get respect.  And If I as a teacher get respect, then, I will also feel motivated to be a good teacher.

I know it is not possible to be a perfect human being. Also, it is very difficult to be around perfectionists. When a teacher acknowledges some of her shortcomings, mistakes and choices she made in life and shares her own school life experiences, children feel more comfortable with her. They feel less pressurized.  So the aim of a teacher should not to be to become perfect but be someone who is human, humane and wants to make a positive difference in the lives of her students.

Bullying – A misnomer in preschool terminology

The idea of of writing this musing is to present a case to state that the word ‘bully’ is not a relevant one to describe a child in an ECE environment.

As a teacher, I have always thought it inappropriate to label children in this age group with a negative connotation. This has long term effects on a child as he could very easily grow out of a particular behaviour with guidance at this stage of development. These are the years for children to develop their social skills, and comprehend the foundation for socially acceptable behaviour. I feel that the word ‘bully’ has a very negative connotation for any young child before they even comprehend the concept. Let me reason why I believe ‘bullies’ do not exist in early childhood settings and why we should not label them so. Behaviour management is an important area for us as teachers to keep reflecting on. We need to keep working on strategies depending on the type of behaviour of the individual child that we are addressing. I consider the development of social skills for children as the key factor for teachers to address and promote in the environment.

Farrell (1999) states that, “A range of authors concurs that bullying is repeated, intentional, gendered oppression, of a physical or psychological nature, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group of persons and exclusion from the social group” (p. 40). Now think of any child in your early childhood establishment and decide for yourself if any of them fit that description. These are adult perceptions of people with intentional behaviour that is repeated and I suggest that bullying is different from aggression. Tepetas et al. (2010) cites Olweus (1993) who states that, “There is a general agreement that for a behavior to be considered bullying, it must have three elements: It must be intended to harm, it must be repetitive, and a difference of power–physical, social, or other–must exist between the bully and the victim” (p. 1675). With current teacher-child ratios in an early childhood environment I cannot fathom how this adult perception of the word could even have a place. Teachers as a team are aware of a child’s patterns of behaviour and address them through positive guidance. Farrell (1999) reiterates this point as she states that, “In early childhood education, however, we note a relative paucity of research into bullying using the nomenclature of the bully and the bullied or victim. Perhaps a different lexicon is used by early childhood teachers to provide descriptors of the deleterious attitudes and behaviours which others may describe as bullying” (p. 43).

Drewery & Bird (2007) suggest that bullies are,”people who intentionally harm another person, are not fully developed in social role-taking, that they do not realise how extremely harmful their actions are to another person” (p. 195). I would consider this to be the case during post preschool development, otherwise, we would be labeling a child who bites, snatches toys, pushes, or not being able to keep his hands to himself, as a bully. Intent is the key word for me in that definition and I do not think that children in their early years have yet developed that cognitive function to that particular level. Aggression is a different issue and we all have to deal with it in some form or another during our working day. Strategies that we use to deal with inappropriate behaviour need to be consistently applied by a teaching team. Boundaries are then automatically established and a social awareness around those boundaries begin to develop. That is why ongoing PD is also vital to keep up the momentum of our own reflective practice. A programme like ‘The Incredible Years’ is one such behaviour management programme that I can think of offhand that offers strategies for us to take back to our own environment, and to apply them as we see fit. The foundation before applying any strategies is to build a strong relationship with the child in question for these strategies to be effective.

Not enough research has surfaced around bullying in preschools in comparison to what has been established in this topic regarding older children. Alsaker & Nägele (2008) have conducted studies that suggest bullying does occur in preschools and offer examples of day care centres in Norway, Switzerland, and United States. They also state that,”we still need more precise knowledge concerning the similarities in bullying between younger and older children, the impact that bullying and victimization has on younger children’s well-being, and the stability of the roles before and during the transition to elementary school” (p. 230). Once again we are getting into lexical semantics around the word bullying. The demarcation for me between aggression in preschool and bullying at school is a more developed social mindset during the school stage when there is intent to victimize. I do feel that this intent is beyond the cognitive capability of preschool children and once again state that social skills and understanding are still in a developmental stage. The behaviour in preschool could be the precursor to bullying that sets in with intent at a later stage, but that doesn’t mean that we label a child a ‘bully’ right from preschool. This is where we as preschool teachers play such a defining role in our behaviour management strategies. Offering positive guidance based on a centre’s policy, as well as one’s own pedagogical beliefs, further strengthens my stance of a necessity to have 100% qualified staff at a centre that cover acceptable ratios.

In conclusion, I request my fellow colleagues in the ECE profession to not get too caught up with semantics by applying the word ‘bully’ with reference to a child in the early years. Let them learn their social skills through trial and error, as well as role modeling and guidance from us. This will enable them to build on their foundation towards a greater social awareness in their school years. Sure, some may turn out to be bullies in the future, but to stigmatise them from the start does not offer them any positive guidance towards a better social understanding.

Comprehension Strategies and Routines Based on Research Knowledge

This article explores four evidence-based comprehension reading strategies and one comprehension routine relevant to improving reading comprehension for struggling readers. The four research based comprehension routines discussed will be as follows: visual representation-mental imagery, summarization, and strategies used by good readers.  The comprehension routine will discuss inferring and/or drawing conclusions.  All of these research-based strategies and comprehension routines are important to the effectiveness of teaching reading and being a child in a classroom.

“ There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.  When it comes to comprehension, this saying might be paraphrased, “a visual display helps readers understand, organize, and remember some of those thousand words.”  (as cited in Duke and Pearson, 2002, p. 218).  Visual representation and mental imagery are very important to the reader.  When children see an image, it helps put things in a different perspective in reference to what is occurring in the story. The right comprehension strategy can mean the start or the end to a wondrous relationship with reading.

Children of all ages, grade levels, and those with disabilities can use mental imagery to digest what has been read as it provides them with a mental picture in their head.  Early readers rely a lot on picture books to tell a story.  They build upon their reading strengths by following sequential images.  As they get older, the picture books are combined with text; as they age and get closer to middle school, text is primarily the sole provider of information.

A study done by Gallagher and Pearson concluded that fourth grade students that used both content and structural features such as matrix and flow charts, allowed them to significantly learn better.  The children were composed of mainly poor readers and the study took place over a series of several weeks. They held discussions of short books about different social insects such as ants, bees, and termites.

They read, in order, a passage about a fourth social insect, the paper wasp, a passage about a human society, and a passage about geographic formations such as gulfs, capes, peninsulas, and the like.  As the conceptual distance between original set of books and the testing passages increased, the effect of the intervention (compared with a group who read the same texts and answered questions and with a group that only read texts) decreased in magnitude, but was still statistically significant, suggesting that students were learning something about (a) insect societies, (b) social organization in general, and (c) how to unearth the structure of an informational text. (Gallagher and Pearson, 1989, p. 217).

This study speaks volumes about the importance of content knowledge and text structure, and especially why it is important to use visual charts (matrix and flowcharts) to better understand reading content.  The students were taught information in an organized way and intertwining the lesson with the use of two different types of flowcharts, provided students with another informed way to digest information.

When someone walks into a school, they can immediately see the flooding of visual imagery such as televisions, computers, illustrated texts and smart boards.  All of these tools are necessary for laying the foundation for successful students, but are they helpful in terms of reading comprehension?

“Unfortunately this bombardment of visual images does not necessarily transfer to students’ ability to create mental images that support reading comprehension.” (Hibbing and Rankin-Erickson, 2003)  As Hibbing and Rankin-Erickson had noted, children need more than just an overload of visual representation.  Students need to be able to have pictures included in their textbooks to show them what’s going on.  I feel that visual representation and mental imagery provide support for children that experience comprehension problems.  It is an informative, necessary tool that aids students in the understanding of what is being discussed whether it be something stated inside of a text, or written in a novel.  Children can close their eyes while a book is being read to them and use mental imagery to explore the author’s ways of representing the story. This not only proves to be effective, but enlightening.

Another comprehension strategy that is useful for reading comprehension is summarization.  “ The ability to summarize information requires readers to sift through large units of text, differentiate important from unimportant ideas, and then synthesize those ideas and create a new coherent text that stands for, by substantive criteria, the original. (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, and Pearson, 1991, p. 220).

Having taught students how to do this, I have seen that it is hard for children to accomplish this task. Teachers have to provide examples and lots of student practice before children really catch on how to summarize effectively.  Summarization helps students understand the material that they are reading. Students are able to put what is read into their own words.  Students need to learn how to omit unnecessary material within a chapter of a book that they are summarizing.  They also need to replace words in a text or novel with their own vocabulary.

When children can put into their own words what is happening inside of a book or a section of a text, they enhance their reading comprehension.  The strategy of summarization through practice and teacher instruction, allows a student to better understand what it is that they are reading.  Summarization forces students to look at the criteria, identify what is important and what is not, turn a writers words into their own, and truly pull out only necessary information to form a summary of their own.  Summarization also helps students recall what has happened within text and apply it to several different avenues of teacher instruction.

Strong readers not only use effective strategies such as summarization, visual or mental imagery.  They also use predictions, rereading, make inferences on what is read, draw conclusions, compare and contrast what they are reading with what they already know, and successful readers take the time to figure out unfamiliar words.

“The quickest and best thing you do to boost the reading abilities of all students is to increase the amount of time they spend reading.” (Gunning, 2006, p. 99).  The more time students spend on reading inside and outside of the classroom, the better equipped they will be at using effective reading strategies.  If poor readers do not read continually, they will drastically decrease their ability to make progress.  Children that are struggling with reading need to devote time to reading daily. In my opinion, reading aloud is an extremely helpful tool. Hearing oneself pronouncing words enhances a child’s ability to decode, therefore to read effectively.

Struggling readers will most likely have difficulty making inferences.  Teachers need to guide students and ask them to go over the information to look for important facts and supporting details. Teachers should model an example of inferencing by referencing things in their life to what was read. This learning model should be followed by asking students to do the same. Forming these relationships brings higher meaning to text, and a broader understanding of conceptual thinking. By making inferences on what is read, a student can successfully incorporate the joy of reading into the knowledge of learning strategies that can make them insightful readers.

Drawing conclusions is also an important comprehension based reading strategy.  It is part of making inferences.  Readers come to conclusions after looking at details and facts within text. In accordance with making inferences, teachers should use guided practice with their students and instruct learners on how to pay attention to details in a story and form conclusions. Students should use supporting details when doing this due to the implication that conclusions are based on facts and details from stories.

Comprehensive reading strategies are essential to the productivity and growth of all readers and grade levels.  As educators, if we can combine our own teaching techniques with research-based information, we can offer all of our worthy students a positive establishment for effective reading. Providing these methods and learning from research-based knowledge will ensure continuous growth.  A well-skilled student is not only the foundation of our future, but they are the dreamers of tomorrow, and the educational constitutes of our emerging world.  As teachers, we can create a solid platform for our students to walk on, and be fundamentally successful.

Helping Children Become Writers

Toni Bickart, author of WHAT EVERY PARENTS NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT  FIRST, SECOND,  AND THIRD GRADES  observed:  “The process of learning how to write begins at a very early age.  Young children, using crayons or markers, write with great enthusiasm and eagerness.  Toddlers and preschoolers think that all they have to do is pick up a pen and scrawl little lines and dots.

Gradually, they realize that writing is speech in the form of symbols on paper, so they talk and scribble away and expect you to read this scribble.  As their fine motor skills develop, children draw pictures and dictate words to accompany the pictures.  Sometimes they try to write words.  They may start with words they remember seeing somewhere, or they may attempt to write the sounds they hear when they say the words aloud.  For example, a child might write “d” or DG” for “DOG.”  From these modest but enthusiastic beginnings, writers emerge.”

The following advice will help your child develop strong writing skills:

First, encourage writing at home.  Bernard Ryan, author of HELPING YOUR CHILD START  SCHOOL  concluded:  “Children get a big kick out of writing their own stories and poems, even jokes and riddles.  Encourage your child to write by making sure he has paper, pencils, and pens. If you have a computer in the house,  introduce him to your word-processing program.  Writing also calls for listening to books read aloud, so your child hears ideas expressed in sentences that move along into narratives. Keep reading aloud.  You provide several messages when you read to your child.  You show respect for the written word.  You provide a warm, intimate experience that is particularly enjoyable, especially in the winding-down time before bed.  Keep the praise flowing.  Read your child’s stories, project papers, and book reports, but read conscientiously and praise honestly.  Point out what is well done before you belabor the weaknesses, for encouragement is vital food for the writer.”

Second, create a list of  at-home writing activities.  Bickart urges parents to include the following items on their list:

*message board- put up a message board family members can write messages to each other

*diary- give your child a diary or a calendar with space to write or word or two about what happened each day

*discuss writing- when interesting or funny things happen, talk with your child about how you could write stories about these events- begin by saying the first line, have your child say the next, and  keep alternating until you have finished the story

What everyone needs to know about education

The most striking thing about our public schools is that they have been in perpetual decline for many decades. Why?

The government has its own tests called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); these tests regularly suggest that two-thirds of fourth-graders and eighth-graders are “below proficient” in reading. That’s what decline looks like. It’s guaranteed those two-thirds will never be literate as that term has been traditionally used. Some may learn to read in a painful struggling way but they won’t be reading a daily paper or curling up with a good book. And yet, a century ago, this country was said to be headed toward universal literacy.

A single anecdote can tell you more than years of statistics. College professors report that incoming freshmen often do not know, for example, what 7×8 is. This is totally fascinating. Ask yourself, could schools be this bad by accident? Or wouldn’t somebody have to carefully organize the school to be this bad?

Another fascinating kind of evidence is a dozen books written from the 1950s to the present, with titles like So Little for the Mind, Educational Wastelands, Quackery in the Public Schools, Brainwashing in the High Schools, Why Johnny Can’t Read, The New Illiterates, Ed School Follies,  Dumbing Down Our Kids, The Conspiracy of Ignorance, and many others.

These books are basically reports from the front lines, provided by the country’s smartest and most sensitive people; always they write from the same perspective of stunned, what-the-hell amazement. How, they wail, could the people in charge do such a horrible job?

Everyone who studies public education comes to that question very quickly. Then you have to deal with the two most likely answers: our self-anointed experts are grossly incompetent; or they are grossly subversive.

If the decline weren’t so pronounced, over so many years, you might want to argue that we should give these experts the benefit of the doubt. They’ve had some bad luck, they made some bad decisions, that’s all. A relative of mine insists, “They mean well. They just can’t get their act together.” This attitude is precisely the one that our Education Establishment hopes you accept. Please don’t.

Twenty years ago Charlotte Iserbyt, who once worked in the Reagan Administration, came up with this book title The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. When you first encounter this phrase and contemplate its implications, you are probably stunned. “Deliberate” implies conspiracy and Fabian termites (i.e., socialists) chewing away at the foundations.

Conspiracy is an unpleasant word, much like pedophilia when that scandal rocked the Catholic Church 30 years ago. People do not want to believe bad things about their authorities and their experts. But priests, in many cases, were in fact child molesters. Our Education Establishment, it seems to me, similarly works against the best interests of children. (Siegfried Engelmann coined the phrase “academic child abuse.”)

Professor John Dewey laid out a scheme more than a century ago: take over the ed schools, brainwash the teachers, send them out to brainwash the kids, and thereby radically transform the society. This remains the primal mission today. The result is a secret agenda that deserves the word “conspiracy.”

But how, you might be wondering, can they get away with it? They dumb down the country in plain sight…but nobody stops them??

Here is one sweet irony. The Left often speaks of their contempt for capitalists and ad agencies; these pests create appetites for things that nobody needs. I would counter that our Education Establishment has almost no skill aside from creating a market for educational theories and methods that are not only not needed, they are destructive. In order to keep all these gimmicks, as I would term them, in play, they have to keep the public perpetually befuddled. That is how they get away with it.

They have two principal techniques. First, they constantly change the names, the jargon, and the selling points. New Math, introduced in 1965 and quickly rejected by the country, was re-branded as Reform Math 15 years later. Despite all the minor differences, the common intent seems to be to prevent children from mastering elementary arithmetic. Mastery, in fact, was specifically denounced by Reform curricula. That’s why students in college don’t know what 7×8 is.

The premier example of perverse marketing appears in the Reading Wars. You had Look-say, Whole Word, Whole Language, Balanced Literacy, Dolch Words, Sight Words, and many other phrases. Surprise: they all mean the same thing, that is, phonics is no good. Instead, kids should memorize words as logos. This goofy idea creates the NAEP statistics mentioned in the second paragraph.

A second technique for befuddlement is to flood the nation’s psyche with dozens of alibis and excuses: kids are texting and taking drugs; the Internet is distracting; there isn’t enough money; teenagers are sex-crazed; parents don’t care; and many more. The intent is to take attention from the real culprits and to wear everybody out. Look at the typical education article in the newspaper or on TV. You probably won’t be able to discern what the article is trying to tell you or what you should do about it. Typically, our media report in great detail about surfaces.

These techniques—coordinated with great persistence—have been overwhelmingly successful. The average citizen understands nothing about education. Community leaders, the movers and shakers, the people who should be defending us against our home-grown barbarians are themselves as confused as the average mother of a first-grader. Nothing is solid. You don’t know where to find the truth on any issue.

I’ve never met a doctor, lawyer, etc. who knew anything about education. Their kids go to private school, what do they care? Further, the Education Establishment concocts jargon that neutralizes thought. Test yourself. What exactly are Whole Language, Sight Words, Reform Math, and Constructivism?

If you don’t know what they are and why they’re bad, then there’s no way to defend yourself against them (or against Common Core which wraps those old scams in a shiny new package).

As I’ve watched the Obama administration, I’ve often thought that to really understand it, you have to study education. Similarly, to understand education in our country, you should watch Obama. The unifying theme is constant deceit and deception to ensure that people don’t know what is being done to them.

I’m not particularly interested in grand educational visions, nor do I think we need them. I believe the answer to our dilemma is remarkably simple. Get back to what works. In a pinch, make a list of the best hundred private schools, pick a few at random and copy whatever they’re doing. You’ll be fine. Education ain’t rocket science. Smart people who love knowledge will invariably create good schools.

You want rocket science? That’s our Education Establishment keeping an entire society ignorant and befuddled. I think of these people as evil. But I never said they aren’t smart.

Significance of identifying different types of learners

There are three different types of learners – visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learners have a photographic memory. They create a mental picture of everything they learn. Auditory learners are active listeners.  They learn best by listening and can memorize and recall things easily. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. They want to be active all the time.

My experience of assessing the different types of learners in my classroom has indeed been an interesting one. I feel that it is very easy to classify some learners whereas it is extremely difficult to classify the others. The visual learners stare at me all the time while I am teaching. They draw flowcharts and maps in their notebooks. They enjoy watching PowerPoint presentations and short videos.

The auditory learners listen to me very carefully. They are disturbed by sounds in the corridor, the playground etc. They enjoy participating in group discussions. They could memorize things very easily.

The kinesthetic learners are hyper active. They don’t like sitting at one place for more than five minutes. Unless they are allowed to express themselves in some way in the class, they become very restless. Some of them even start day dreaming. They like learning through games and other activities. I feel that It is easiest to find the kinesthetic learners. However, there are many students who display the learning traits of both visual and auditory learners.

The auditory learners can be taught easily by using traditional teaching methodologies.  They are the conventional type (Indian) of learners. The visual learners improvise the teacher’s lessons on their own. They make mind maps, flowcharts, web-charts and drawings in their notebooks to understand whatever the teacher says in class. But kinesthetic learners are different. My knowledge about the various types of learners has helped me in a lot of ways. Earlier I didn’t know what to do with the kinesthetic learners. They seemed to be disinterested. They were easily distracted and disturbed everyone in the classroom.

After assessing the types of learners in my classroom, I realized that there must be something in my lesson to facilitate learning for every kind of learner.  I introduce a lesson by using PowerPoint presentations, short videos and photographs for the visual learners.  I recapitulate the content shown through the audio-visual media by explanation and questioning for the auditory learners. I ask children to draw something related to the lesson and make a flow chart about the theme for the kinesthetic learners.  While teaching the lesson, I allow the kinesthetic learners to express their opinions freely. I ask developing questions for the benefit of the auditory learners and I move around in the classroom for the benefit of the visual and kinesthetic learners. I also ensure that there is at least one group activity related to the lesson, so that the children learn through peer interaction.  Recapitulation questions are also asked to capture the attention of the auditory and kinesthetic learners. I make optimum use of the blackboard while teaching for the visual learners.  I also plan the post lesson assignments according to the needs of various types of learners.  The visual learners are encouraged to get pictures related to the lessons, the auditory learners are encouraged to gather information about the central theme of  the lesson and the kinesthetic learners are encouraged to interpret and analyze the lessons.

My knowledge of the different types of learners has also helped me plan the seating arrangement of the class. I ensure that the auditory learners sit at a place where there is minimum noise or disturbance.  The visual learners have been seated in the front rows so that they can see the teacher and the blackboard. The kinesthetic learners have been seated in places where free movement is possible. This has made the classroom environment very comfortable.

I think it is very important for a teacher to assess how every child in her classroom wants to be taught. Traditional teaching methodologies need to be improvised regularly to address the needs of different types of learners. Every child is gifted. It is the job of a teacher to bring out the best in her students.