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We Can Stop Kids From Cheating in School By Eliminating the Need

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As a high school teacher, I’ve seen a lot of cheating. So much, that I’ve concluded most adults don’t realize how many kids, even otherwise good and honest kids, cheat in school.

If you think of cheating as simply acting unfairly or dishonestly to gain an academic advantage, many people reading this column might remember their own experiences cheating. Whether you actively sought to cheat, or the opportunity simply landed in front of you, many of us can recall at least one occurrence with vivid detail. Your heart raced, your palms sweated, and you felt that undeniable sinking in the pit of your stomach, all due to the fear of getting caught. Yet you still did it.

But why? Why continue the act even when the body sends all the signals identical to a near-death fight-or-flight response? For some, it may be for the sheer thrill. But I argue most people who are tempted to cheat choose the better of two evils, both connected to failure.

Today, more so than when you and I were teens, the pressure to excel is unbearable. From the parents who demand it and the peers competing for it, the colleges that require it and the “influencers” who embody it, the pressure to be perfect has become the driving force for many students. And when the need to maintain perfection trumps the actual learning that occurs, you’ll begin to override your body’s natural warnings.

Our kids cheat because they fear the consequences of failing. So many are raised in a bubble, completely protected from failure. Any time it may have approached, those around them, who love them very much, happily deflected that failure for them. So a disproportionate number of adolescents truly feel they are geniuses, that they can do no wrong.

Unfortunately, an educator’s job is to confront his or her students with challenging obstacles to overcome, and they won’t deflect that failure. This forces our inexperienced youth into a corner, and many react by ensuring their success by any means necessary.

I’m one of these educators, and I absolutely challenge my kids, but I made a decision a few years back that completely changed the culture of my classroom: I eliminated the need to cheat.

I made the decision that the goal of my science class was to learn and appreciate science. From that day, I recognized that to pull these anxious kids from the corner they’ve been trapped in, I had to entice them back to the center. I had to establish an environment that eliminated the fear of failing, and I did it with a few very basic but powerful methods.

First, I eliminated due dates within a unit and moved to a mastery grading model. There are many varieties of this, but in my model, the kids receive a list for the unit describing the tasks to be mastered by test day. For every activity, the kids were encouraged to copy from each other and work together, but their grades came from 30-second conversations I had with each student, when I’d ask a variety of questions to gauge their mastery on the topic. Completing an assignment meant nothing if it couldn’t be verbalized, so the kids quickly learned that copying without understanding was a waste of time in my class.

Then, I encouraged cheat sheets. I let students write or draw anything they’d like on the front and back of a 3-by-5 notecard. The card had to be hand-written and turned in with the test. Many teachers may argue that doing so would invalidate their tests, to which I say, if your kids can write the answers to your tests on a notecard, you write bad tests.

We’ve worked hard to build high-level questions that require students to expand beyond the basic content from a notecard, and the sheer process of internalizing and paraphrasing an entire unit into such a small space encourages that level of critical thinking for our kids; moving beyond comprehension and into application. Plus, I save their notecards and return them before semester and state exams, providing the most personalized, hand-written summative reviews they could ever create.

Finally, after taking the test once on their own, I let them take it again, this time in groups. After grading the exams, I assign them in homogeneous groups; As in one group, Bs in another, etc., but I don’t tell students their scores. Then, I hand them back their original exams to take again. They don’t know which questions are correct, so the intellectual debates that happen over each question are incredible. When they resubmit, the group score is averaged with a student’s individual score.

Of course, there are those who say we need to teach our kids responsibility, to prepare them for the real world by not allowing late work, cheat sheets or group corrections. But it’s these classrooms where cheating is rampant, and it’s specifically because no recovery is possible.

As for tests, consider what every major exam over the course of someone’s professional career has in common: SAT, ACT, CPA exams, MCAT, LSAT, teaching certifications. You can take all of these multiple times for full credit. So where did this fallacy begin that somehow my biology exam is more pertinent to their lives and future success?

In a world that’s constantly demanding risk-taking and creativity, we cannot continue to produce robots of compliance and task completion. As a young gymnast develops her technique, she rehearses in an environment developed to safely take risks, with balance beams low to the ground and foam pits into which she can fall.

So, too should be the goal of every classroom. When kids see that failure is recoverable, the demand to succeed the first time, by any means necessary, is eliminated, and they finally have the freedom to take a leap.

By: Ramy Mahmoud

Ramy Mahmoud is a lecturer at the University of Texas at Dallas Teacher Development Center, a high school science department head in Plano and a two-time TEDx speaker. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/

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How Powerful Use of Technology Can Increase Student Engagement – Digital Promise

Rather than taking a traditional multiple choice test at the end of their unit on weather, sixth grade students at Gilbert Middle School in South Carolina created their own live weather reports—complete with green screens and fake snow. Down the hall, seventh graders used digital tools to design memes based on quotes from a novel in their English/language arts class……..

Source: How Powerful Use of Technology Can Increase Student Engagement – Digital Promise

How Business Can Make An Exponential Difference In The Lives Of Students – Lisa Dughi

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We know how much of a difference one person can make in another’s life. But what if your goals are loftier than reaching just one person? What if you want to make a difference in the lives of a hundred, a thousand, or more? There are millions of young people across this country that need access to opportunity so that they can have successful futures after high school. What if you could play a pivotal role in providing that access? That’s the challenge NAF is working to solve. With over 100,000 students enrolled in NAF academies in underserved high schools across the country, reaching these students wouldn’t be possible without our business partners…………..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gradsoflife/2018/11/13/how-business-can-make-an-exponential-difference-in-the-lives-of-students/#33d522411227

 

 

 

 

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How This Teacher Left The Classroom And Built A Million Dollar Education Business – Robyn D. Shulman

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Did you know that nearly one out of five public school teachers hold down a second job during the school year? According to EdWeek, half of teachers with second jobs currently work in a role outside of education, and 5% of teachers take on a second teaching or tutoring job outside of their school districts. Some teachers work 60 hours a week, and then take on second gigs. Across the country, teachers are renting out their homes across the country. In fact, according to a new study from Airbnb, one in 10 Airbnb hosts, or approximately 45,000 people who use the service are teachers……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robynshulman/2018/09/19/how-this-teacher-left-the-classroom-and-built-a-million-dollar-education-business/#30afc8212d8c

 

 

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Five Simple Strategies That Can Help Any Student Learn – Teach Thought Staff

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Empowered with some basic information about how the mind and brain work during learning, teachers can plan to use some new strategies for supporting high student achievement. Through the years we have facilitated the use of brain-based strategies that help foster growth mindsets through the internalization of learning successes, individual choice, positive self-talk, and teacher modeling. Teachers tell us that using these teacher-friendly tools can jumpstart the learning process early in the year……

Read more: https://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/five-simple-strategies-that-can-help-any-student-learn/

 

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Implementing Student Accessibility Strategies – coralee czinkota

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I am proud that Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the institution I teach in, is committed to meeting the needs of its diverse student population. In particular, it has dedicated support to ensure equal access to students with disabilities. This support requires students to self-identify as having an intellectual, learning or mental/physical disability. For these students, and those that do not self-identify, I also have a responsibility that the online learning environment I design is accessible.

Below I have shared student accessibility strategies I have implemented in the design of my prototype and identified areas that need additional work or resources.

Formatted instructional materials for assistive technology

I used a variety of digital media tools to present course content, including text, images and video that includes audio as one of my efforts to create an engaging learning environment. The following are strategies I used or need to consider to ensure the instructional materials in these various formats are more accessible:

Text: Adding a text to speech or speech to text option is helpful for students with physical impairments and EAL students. I found the suggestion of Google Read&Write Chrome extension from a resource my classmate, Colleen, shared on Twitter. There are many possibilities for student support in this extension, including a text to speech player, translator, dictionary, picture dictionary and web search features. Students can also use the talk and text feature when contributing to the discussion board.

I found the text to speech player adequate for the text materials within Brightspace and Adobe Spark Page. However, I found the language options for the translator limited and are not representative of the first languages of most of our international students. ImTranslator, a free alternative Chrome extension, translates English to over 22 languages with audio presentation and dictionary. I tested it on my prototype and believe it may be a useful tool for EAL students.

Video: Providing closed captions and/or a video transcript is typically targeted to those who are hearing impaired. However, providing text with videos can also provide greater accessibility to students whose first language is not English and students who have special learning needs. In addition, viewing text with videos can provide greater knowledge comprehension and retention for all learners. To ensure students were aware of these accessibility options, I indicated that closed caption option and transcript below the videos I included in my prototype.

Images: Adding alternative text to an image provides students with an explanation of its contents when using a screen reader. I tested this function using Google Read&Write and found it useful with images embedded in Brightspace webpages. However, when testing with Adobe Spark Page I was disappointed this feature did not work. This is a limitation I had not considered when developing online content using Adobe Spark Page. This is an area I will need to further investigate to make this content more accessible.

Layout of content is easy to navigate and read

Consistent and logical content layout is important to enhance the user experience, especially for those who have low digital literacy skills and users of assistive technologies. Brightspace provides templates to ensure content is provided in a format that is compatible with assistive technologies, including suggested headings to differentiate blocks of text and colour contrasts to signal new topics. I was pleased with this feature within Brightspace to assist designers in increasing accessibility for students.

Accessibility offline

For students who have limited access to the Internat, each webpage within Brightspace can be downloaded and viewed offline. Currently, Adobe Spark Pages cannot be downloaded in a PDF document. When this course does go live, I will convert these pages into a format that can be downloaded.

Group, Team, Feedback, Confirming, Balloons, Clouds

One of the most important ways to meet the needs of students is to ask them the preferences. Students who are users of assistive technologies or require other accommodations are a great resource to ensure the instructional materials and learning environment is engaging and accessible. While I don’t have this opportunity with my prototype, I will solicit student input when it does go live.

In summary, I grateful accessibility was a suggested topic for discussion. Although I had considered basic accessibility options including offline access and closed captioning and video transcripts, I now recognize there is much more an educator can do to ensure learner accessibility in an online learning environment. Before going live with my prototype I plan to consult with our accessibility office and instructional designers to find a comprehensive solution.

Can you suggest other assistive technologies or strategies that I can implement in an online learning environment? What other benefits do you see for accessibility in online education?

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How To Transform Problem Solving – Cheryl Capozzoli

Technology has become vital to our day-to-day lives and critical in the K-12 classroom. In a tech-saturated market, parents of our students have raised questions about how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact their future careers.

Whether you believe AI has potential to meet or surpass human intelligence, it is imperative that we equip students with skills to match the nearing demands of the future workplace. Computational thinking (CT) is the latest skill set that addresses the demands of the future workplace.

CT enables us to analyze and process data algorithmically, and often visually. CT offers a process for problem-solving, where one develops a series of steps (an algorithm) to solve open-ended problems. Put simply, it’s a framework to approach problems like a computer would: by processing data in a well-defined series of steps.

Harrisburg School District implements a 5th “C”

By introducing our students and staff to CT as a thought process, we have been able to provide skills to more deeply engage in problem solving. Many standards identify the 4Cs of 21st-century skills—critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration—as the most vital skills needed for success today.

If educators and students begin using CT as a more systematic way of thinking about solving real-world problems, the better we can prepare our students for a future in computer science or STEM. At Harrisburg School District in Pennsylvania, we have taken initiative to teach the CT skill to our K-12 students. After all, computation is how the world around us operates.

Rallying staff, student, and parent support

With a clear, district wide goal in mind, we partnered with Discovery Education and Tata Consultancy Services to support our vision for equity in STEM. The Ignite My Future In School initiative is a five-year commitment to transform the way our students learn. We adapted the program’s curriculum, career vignettes, and teacher training in collaboration with staff, students, and parents. With an emphasis on equity, we designed an approach that demonstrates our dedication to all support systems that surround our students.

Before integrating CT into curriculum, we hosted a professional learning day with staff to introduce the nature of computational thinking and computer science. The day was dedicated to exploring methods to engage our students in deeper levels of thinking and learning across subjects. Following this, we invited parents to share our experiences in an open and friendly environment. We introduced parents to CT and shared resources and games to enforce concepts at home.

Exploring cross-curricular connections

The key to successfully integrating a CT program is to start simple. We’ve found that basic data sets are a great way to introduce CT concepts to students. Data.gov offers information collected by the U.S. government in nearly every topic imaginable. Find more free resources here.

Curriculum Connector activities assist our staff in creating engaging lessons and tasks in which students learn to use the seven key CT strategies. Students are required to collect, analyze, and decompose data so that they can better understand large amounts of information. This helps them to see the larger picture to create designs that solve complex problems.

Students are also encouraged to use models to design algorithmic computing methods to create a model or a simulation. For example, our eighth-grade students recently used CT to design a SMART tiny home to become comfortable with the “CT mindset.”

For educators looking to introduce CT concepts into curriculum, be prepared to make continuous changes to your lessons. Embrace the fact that CT is prone to change as technology changes. Leave room for adjustments in your curriculum from year to year.

Our 6th “C”: commitment

Computational thinking is a new way to process information within our school community, but we are excited to have embarked on this journey because we know that it is vital for our students to be successful thinkers, problem solvers, inventors, scientists, and divergent 21st-century leaders.

We want to empower students with the confidence that they are fully capable of approaching an unfamiliar problem independently and solving the challenges most important to them. Through our continued work and partnership, we will sustain our priority to provide a modern and equitable education to all students.

If everyone who reads our articles, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

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