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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
Volume 3 Number 6

COVER STORY
Harry & Rosemary Wong remind us that, "The effective teacher is prepared"...
ARTICLES
The Blueberry Story: The teacher gives the businessman a lesson byJamie Robert Vollmer
A LOOK AT . . . Getting Back to Basics by Alfie Kohn
We Have Achieved Education For All...Now We Seek Education for Each by Bill Page
Revisiting a "Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood" by Dr. Rob Reilly
Partner Book Talk Procedures -- Kindergarten Precursor to Literature Circles by Sandy Hamilton
How Teachers Can Benefit From School Choice by Robert Holland
The Tipping Point by Jay Davidson
Best Practice: Establish a "No Putdown Rule" in Your Classroom by Susan Gingras Fitzell
The Words We Use by Tom Drummond
Authoring an eBook in 10 Basic Steps! by Paul Jackson
Online Course with Leslie Bowman Aims to Break the Cycle of Bullying by Kathy Noll
Teaching Gayle to Read (Part 6) by Grace Vyduna-Haskins
Teaching Is A Full Time Profession
In Quebec Many Politicians Do Not See It This Way
by Dave Melanson
Volunteer Recognition Poems from: The Second Grade mailring
Teachers.Net Adds Chatboards for all U.S. States & D.C. from: The Editor
Homeschooling from: ERIC Clearinghouse
True Scientific Literacy for All Students by Stewart E Brekke
Index of Columns
Index of Regular Features
Index of Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:


About Bill Page...

Bill is a teacher who has served as originator, program director, teacher trainer, and demonstration teacher for Project Enable* ...a six year research project of the Central Midwestern Regional Educational Laboratory (CEMREL) funded by the U.S. Office of Education. Bill went on to apply his research principles in an elementary school and trained teachers through summer courses at the University of California.

Bill has taught courses at 86 different universities and has presented Staff Development Programs, seminars and conferences to more than 100,000 teachers, at more than 2000 school districts, throughout the U.S. and Canada.

*Project Enable involved the lowest achievers in 15 junior high schools in suburban St. Louis, Missouri and inner city Nashville, Tennessee. One premise of the research was that "It's not what is wrong with the kids; it's what we are doing to them. "Bill trained 48 teachers as an integral part of his research, changed their relationships their attitudes and their teaching strategies. The students in turn changed their attitudes, their responsibility and their achievement. Their gains in reading and math were remarkable, many gaining three and four grade levels in a matter of months."

For additional information, visit Bill's web site: www.teacherteacher.com.
or e-mail him: billpage@bellsouth.net.


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Teacher Feature...

We Have Achieved Education For All...Now We Seek Education for Each

When we get our new classes of students for the 2002-2003 school year, do we expect that they will all be alike, that they will all be prepared, that they will all be at grade level, that they will all behave? What a ridiculous question -- of course not! Than perhaps between now and the start of the new school year, we can prepare ourselves mentally for those differences which we know exist and our preparedness to help all students increase their achievement and improve their test scores. Accepting and understanding differences is the first step to improving our effectiveness as teachers.

A Position Paper On Individual Differences

by Bill Page


In any classroom grouping, there are only two possibilities: either all the kids in class are alike or some of them are different. If they are all alike, then I can teach them all the same. But, if some of them are different, then I have only two choices: I can change all of those who are different to make them like the others so I can teach them the same. Or, having been unsuccessful in that choice, I must find a way in my teaching to accommodate those differences. That being the only choice, my responsibility as teacher is to be in the continuous process of gaining the latitude to provide for a wider range of differences in more kids, in more lessons, more often. I must seek more strategies, more techniques, more procedures, more variations and more ideas. And, certainly, I must be more aware, more understanding and more tolerant of differences in the students for whom I have the responsibility to teach.

To herd a group of dissimilar students together as a class, grouped on the basis of such factors as residence location, student age or grade level for the purpose of instruction or meeting behavioral or educational goals makes little sense. But student differences are something with which every teacher copes and has always coped every day of their professional career in every class, every second of every period in instruction, learning, motivation, discipline, behavior, and classroom management and control.

The range of the differences in individuals can be so diverse as to be considered differences in kind, not just differences in degree.The combinations, complexities, variations, and the aphorism that "no two humans are ever alike," reminds us that all classrooms of more than one student are inclusive and require individualization.

For emphasis and as a reminder, I offer the following list of categorical differences that might be found among the student body of any school and in any given classroom. Included is a singular phrase describing just one specific difference within that category. It might be revealing to name a particular student and check some of the differences s/he exhibits; or add five or six more descriptors for each category, or add more categories.

Categories

A Sample Descriptor

Learning styles

A kinesthetic, active, constantly moving learner

Physical difference

In the 5th percentile for height, 90th for weight

Ethnic backgrounds

Is from an Inuit Indian (Eskimo) tribe

Cultural manifestations

Taught looking you in the eyes shows contempt

Socioeconomic level

Homeless -- Lives in the family station wagon

Emotional patterns

Has violent temper -- throws frequent tantrums

Behavioral traits

Twists hair, wrings hands, twiddles thumbs

Personality types

Shy, withdrawn, timid, voluntarily mute

Attitudinal dispositions

"Nobody can make me do nothin"

Prior experiences

Has lived in six foster homes plus an institution

Family influences

Father and Mother are traveling circus performers

Psychological needs

Seeks (wants, needs) attention constantly.

Language usage

Speaks rural Tennessee (Hillbilly) dialect

Diverse interests

Has complete science/chemistry lab at home

Medical/health variance

Is a hemophiliac and is HIV positive.

Religious influence

Practices Christian Science religious beliefs

Age/grade level/gender

Has been retained in grade three times

Trauma/abuse background

Burn scars, deliberately scalded, 14 skin grafts

Even with responsibility for just two students in the same room, at the same time, with the same learning objectives, teachers have to make allowances for their differences. Each additional student adds more differences to the group. By the time the size of this group of two has doubled and redoubled to a normal class size, their differences have become an exponential factor for which the teacher must consider, allow, and provide.

To provide for differences in the classroom, teachers need help far beyond knowing and using traditional teaching procedures that most have been taught in pre-service training. By the time a teacher graduates from college, he or she has had about 20,000 hours of formal instruction, most, if not all of it, in the traditional didactic mode, and he or she has participated as a student in typically homogeneously grouped classes. Since teachers most often teach the way they themselves were taught, they must now learn a "new" way of teaching if they are expected to "leave no child behind."

The best way for teachers to learn a new way to teach is to utilize continuous, ongoing, job-embedded, interactive, in-school professional development. Teachers can use active research, self-reflection, study groups, mentors, peer coaches and net-working for improvement. Programs such as The Project Approach, Authentic Learning, Contextual Learning, Differentiated Instruction and techniques such as pairing, partners, collaboration, production driven activities and thematic units are available and ready to be implemented.

Further complicating the diversity with which teachers deal is coping with "the whole child." If we have the student, we also have his or her mind, thoughts, feelings, and everything that is a part of him or her. Each student is living the only life s/he has; the only life s/he will ever have. What we see as well as what we donít see in the classroom is what we have to deal with. If a child is in our classroom, we have the "whole child"(Is it possible to have "part of a child?") Students are the way they are, what they are like is what they are like. We cannot change that fact. We canít change the way s/he is.

S/He has:

The size he has

The feelings he has

The language patterns he has

The age he has

The background he has

The disposition he has

The knowledge he has

The home life he has

The personality he has

The ability he has

The prior experiences he has

The character he has

The attitude he has

The parents he has

The values he has

The beliefs he has

The religion he has

The temperament he has

We cannot say, "leave your feelings at home, forget your worries, concerns, and your unique perspectives." If we have the child, we have his total being, all of his differences, his uniqueness, and idiosyncrasies. And, there is only one thing we as teachers can do about all those differences - we can deal with them. Ignoring them is a way of dealing with them. Given that singular choice, we must decide how to deal with the differences. Because no two individuals are alike, there is a wide range of ways to deal with the differences. We can ignore and refuse to acknowledge any differences whatsoever; we can concern ourselves with all of the differences; or we can choose to work somewhere within those extremes.

Our obligation is to deal with those differences that most affect our course objectives and classroom responsibilities. From the standpoint of instruction, all we need to decide is the parameters of the inclusion. Through the years, our inclusion policies have been quite narrow, grouped within some arbitrary framework such as age, size, grade level, classroom assignment or scores on tests. Inclusion was further restricted by subdivisions such as tracking, ability grouping, and special classes. There was always a constant hassle on the margins of those groupings. no matter how flexible the margins or how they were determined.

Now with new policies on de-tracking, diversity, inclusion, and multi-cultural sensitivity; pluralism, un-graded schools, with demand for equity, quality, equality, effectiveness, excellence, accountability, state standards, and achievement, the task of teaching becomes increasingly difficult. In fact, teaching becomes impossible using traditional strategies, techniques, ideas, procedures, or the relationships that have served us in the past. Any educational program based on antiquated, traditional methods would be not only completely inadequate but would be mis-education and could be considered malpractice.

Teaching Individuals IN a Group

In any classroom, at any level, at any time, in any subject, a teacher has only two choices -- to deal with the students as individuals or to deal with them as a group. The only alternative to grouping is individualizing; conversely, the only alternative to individualizing is grouping. Whether we group in pairs, as a whole, or somewhere in between; or whether; we use a sophisticated, elaborate, homogenous grouping does not really affect the fact that they must still be dealt with either as a group, as sub-groups or as individuals.

If we are to have inclusion in the classroom, teachers must learn to deal with the diverse students as individuals, they may deal with individuals in a group; but that is different from dealing with them as a group.

Any time the student to teacher ratio is more than one-to-one, complete individualization is not possible. But since very few learning tasks require 100% teacher to student management, there is a way in which individualization is possible -- by a change in the basic student-teacher relationship. The student must have the responsibility for his/her part of the learning.

So long as the teacher is in unilateral control: so long as the teacher is the one who knows what to do, how to do it, what to do next, how long to do it; so long as the teacher is solely responsible for whether the student should take a test, what would be on the test, whether he should retake the test, and so forth -- the student is dependent on the teacher and cannot function individually on his own. The student can be independent only to the extent he or she, knows what to do and can thus take responsibility for his or her part in the learning process.

Any teacher functioning in a classroom with increasingly diverse students must help the students to become more independent and to assume their own part of the responsibility for decisions about learning. A way for teachers to shift from lecturing, directing and leading to becoming a resource, helping each student with what he/she needs as it is requested, and to show students how they can assume responsibility for their individual learning.

If the teacher is responsible for every member of the class all of the time, it is not possible to meet the needs of individual students. It is only the extent to which students are independent and self-directing that the student can be responsible himself and the teacher can be relieved of responsibility for the class as a whole to become a resource, helping each student individually and letting them be resourceful to one another. Shifting responsibility requires a fresh look at the role of teaching, the role of the student and the relationship between them.

In the new era of educational restructuring, the inclusion concept has been revised in at least five dimensions: (1) Legally --It varies from state to state but is based on the federal law of least restrictive environment. (2) De-tracking -- Separate is unequal. Tracking, grouping, special classes, segregated classes have been shown to be ineffective academically and harmful emotionally. "Separating and grouping" is simply no longer acceptable. (3) Whole-child -- Emotional. social, personal, affective domains are now understood to be an integral part of the learning process, to be integrated with academics. (4) Applied brain research -- left-right brain, multiple intelligences, learning styles requires differentiate, integrated instruction. (5). Student achievement -- Every child can learn, we can teach them. No exceptions! No excuses!

I hereby posit that, whatever the classroom grouping from traditional to full inclusion, we as classroom teachers be prepared to accept (not fight about) the grouping, the class assignments and to use our professionalism and energy to find ways to provide continuous learning for each child in each class. WE HAVE ACHIEVED EDUCATION FOR ALL -- NOW WE SEEK EDUCATION FOR EACH

Contact me: billpage@bellsouth.net for more ideas.
Or check my web site: www.teacherteacher.com
Bill

 

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