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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

This Company Could Be Your Next Teacher: Coursera Plots A Massive Future For Online Education – Susan Adams

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Sitting in a fluorescently lit conference room dressed in a pressed gray work shirt, jeans and gray suede sneakers, Jeff Maggioncalda, the tightly wound 49-year-old CEO of Coursera, doesn’t touch his plate of plain spaghetti, edamame and artichoke hearts from the company cafeteria. By the end of our hour-and-a-half lunch meeting, he is still talking nonstop…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2018/10/16/this-company-could-be-your-next-teacher-coursera-plots-a-massive-future-for-online-education/

 

 

 

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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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Four Education Blogs to Explore this Back-to-School Season — Discover

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Whether they tackle tough topics or inspire better learning habits, these sites prompt readers to think, question, and engage.

via Four Education Blogs to Explore this Back-to-School Season — Discover

 

 

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6 Resources to Help Students With Information Literacy – Laura Ascione

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Information literacy skills top many lists of must-have abilities, especially in the age of fake news. Not all results in a Google search are legitimate–but how many of today’s students know this?

Children have access to devices at younger ages, which underscores the importance of teaching them how to look at news with a critical eye and to evaluate the information’s origin. Because today’s students are growing up in an age where information is easily accessed, they need to know how to apply critical evaluation skills when met with information purporting to be truthful.

Last year, a Stanford University study determined that students from middle school through college were not able to distinguish between reliable news sources and sponsored content or advertising.

“In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation,” the study’s authors write. “Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded will depend on our awareness of this problem and our educational response to it.”

During the 2016 presidential election, fake news stories were more popular than legitimate media reports.

A BuzzFeed analysis found that in the last three months of the U.S. presidential campaign, the most-viewed fake election news stories on Facebook elicited more reader engagement than legitimate top stories from sources such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and NBC News. In all, top-performing fake news stories received roughly 1.3 million more shares, reactions, and comments than did the legitimate top-performing news stories.

Here are some resources to help teachers and students navigate media and information literacy:

1. The American Association of School Librarians notes that the definition of information literacy has changed as technologies and resources have evolved, but critical thinking and evaluation skills will help students succeed in a tech-based global economy.

2. In Media Literacy: Where News Comes From, the American Press Institute explores how students can determine if news is reliable. They also participate in a mock press conference to experience the process and challenges of effectively communicating and disseminating information.

3. The National Association for Media Literacy Education offers resources, lesson plans, and member-submitted ideas to teach students about information literacy and how to critically evaluate news.

4. Common Sense Education’s News and Media Literacy is an educator toolkit, grouped by grade, to help teachers show students just how important critical thinking and evaluation skills are for today’s world.

5. PolitiFact, a nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning website, fact-checks news reports and aims for transparency, fairness, and thorough reporting. It also offers a section that exposes fake news and false claims reported in the media.

6. The CRAAP Test continues to be an educator favorite. It was developed by university librarians and focuses on currency, relevance, authority or source, accuracy, and purpose of a piece of information.

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5 Ways to Build Capacity for Solving Problems

Getting better results doesn’t happen by having a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets. Better results come from having a long term perspective and working diligently to make things better now and in the future. We need to have a process for growth we can rely on, not just a quick fix.

Quick fixes usually make things better just for a moment. But looking good is not the same as being good. Looking good is on the surface. It’s superficial. We want to actually be good and continue getting better. Ultimately, we want to help students succeed for the long term, not just for today.

Lots of educators are working tirelessly every day to try to make sure students succeed. They are trying to be as productive as they possibly can. They’re putting out fires left and right. They’re dealing with urgent problems. They’re attending workshops to learn new ideas. And trying to implement new ideas.

But many feel like they’re spinning their wheels. And it’s no wonder.

In the busyness of everything that’s urgent, it’s really easy to neglect the importance of growing. Are you really examining your own growth? Are you looking inward? Are you developing greater self-awareness? Are you reflecting? And most importantly, are you really investing in building your own capacity?

Schools need to create environments to support educators in the process of growth. We must make sure professionals are given time, encouragement, and opportunity to build their own capacity. Leadership needs to support growth, not just demand productivity.

We focus lots of energy on problems. But how much time are we focusing on how we can become better problem solvers? Too much professional learning seems to try to “teacher-proof” the instructional process. It turns educators into implementers instead of initiators. And that’s clearly not professional learning. I believe professional learning should actually help people grow as people and professionals.

One of the best strategies for solving problems is building capacity for solving problems. Everything about your school can be improved as the people in your school grow and learn together, all of them—students, teachers, everyone. The best way to improve a school is for the people in the school to be focused on improving themselves. The entire school becomes a dynamic learning environment.

Here are 5 ways you can be more dynamic in your learning and build your capacity for solving problems:

1. Listen Before You Act

As we get input from our colleagues, mentors and PLN, we can grow into problem-solving before we rush into problem-solving. We become more like the people we spend the most time with. Spend more time with people who are growing and who are capable problem-solvers. Soon, you’ll be stronger too.

2. Think, Don’t React

Better schools are built on better thinking. Take the limits off and look at issues from all sides and as objectively as possible. Emotions may say one thing, but careful thought may lead you in a different direction.

3. Test Ideas and Solutions

We can become better problem solvers when we are open to trying creative solutions. Generate lots of ideas and test them. We can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Try a slightly different approach. Try a radically different approach. And see what works. Sometimes a massive change is needed.

4. Make Time for Learning

The most successful people make time for learning, not just doing. Benjamin Franklin, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates all follow the 5-hour rule. At least five hours a week should be dedicated to learning something new. Always be learning.

5. Look Within, Reflect

Self-awareness allows us to examine our own thought process. When we take time to reflect, we learn more from our experiences and the experiences of others. Without reflection, we are constrained by our bias, blind spots, and habits. We won’t grow as problem-solvers unless we acknowledge the areas where we need to continue to learn and grow.

So what’s your reflection on these thoughts? Are you making time to learn and grow? Are you only focused on being productive (checking off your list each day)? Or, are you also focused on building your capacity? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

By: Dr. David Geurin

https://www.facebook.com/DrDavidGeurin/

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