Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CJHS Star Chart

<div style="width:425px" id="__ss_11361679"> <strong style="display:block;margin:12px 0 4px"><a href="http://www.slideshare.net/jeremyviermann/cjhs-star-chart" title=" CJHS STAR Chart" target="_blank"> CJHS STAR Chart</a></strong> <iframe src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/11361679" width="425" height="355" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> <div style="padding:5px 0 12px"> View more <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/" target="_blank">presentations</a> from <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/jeremyviermann" target="_blank">Jeremy Viermann</a> </div> </div>

Technology in the Classroom: A Reflection on the Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology

"As students who have grown up with technology enter Texas classrooms, it is essential that all professional educators acknowledge that the world in which they live today, and the world that their students will enter as adults, is radically different from what existed in even the fairly recent past. Teachers must be able to prepare students for their future in a manner that assures that all students will not simply survive, but truly thrive in the world that awaits them."
-An exerpt from the Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology. (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=5082&menu_id=2147483665)

The vision set forth by the Texas Education Agency tells us that Texas teachers should be trained experts in the fields of technology so that Texas students will be college and career-ready individuals by the time they graduate from high school.  Data shows us that students have more access to technology than ever before.  Most homes have internet access.  Many students across the state have internet access literally in the palm of their hands through smart devices such as iPhones.  At the very least, school computer labs and public libraries provide every student with at least some level of connectivty.  Teachers should model this technology use in connected classrooms through interactive lessons and activities.  Students need to be exposed to the productive potential of technology, rather than simply being mere participants in the online social world.  The internet is a great place to find information on literally any topic imaginable, and the social networking skills that students develop on their own can be a great avenue into becoming productive and collaborative members of the workforce.

It's vital for our students that teachers provide extensive exposure to a vast area of technological outlets.  Students need to learn how to research on their own.  They need to learn how to collaborate, both personally and remotely.  They need to be able to organize their data and present their findings.  Technology provides ways for students to do this like never before.

Teachers need to be trained in order to properly guide the technological learning of students.  What's the best way to find reliable information online?  How do you safely search the internet, while avoiding websites that may compromise privacy or websites that contain viruses?  How do you cite internet sources when you present research?  How can I display the results of my findings in an attractive way that's presentable to my audience?  What is the proper way to conduct online communication?  These are issues that our workforce faces on a daily basis.  In order for teachers to prepare students to enter this workforce, teachers themselves need the answers to these questions.

On a side note (and in closing)..I think technology is an amazing tool.  So my question, to the State of Texas, is this: why can't my students use it?  My students can do amazing things with technology.  But, when it's all said and done, everyone of my kids will have to sit down at a desk in April, enclosed by carboard partition, with nothing but a pencil and a scantron.  On that day, they have to tell you everything they've learned.  No internet, no smart phone apps, not even a calculator.  Just a pencil and a scantron.  That's how you judge them.  And, ultimately, that's how you judge me.  Now, I'm not suggesting that the TAKS test or the STAAR test will ever be a collaborative, group effort.  But why not connect the academic knowledge that I'm teaching with the technology tools that they have at their disposal?  You'll never get a clear picture of what my students can do from a scantron.  Let them show you what they can do.      

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010

The Action Research Plan will continue as previously stated, beginning in the Spring Semester in January, 2011.  Feel free to post comments and suggestions as my research continues.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Action Research Plan

I would like to research which intervention techniques work best for our math students.  We have seveal kids at Canyon Jr. High that were not successful on the Math portion of the TAKS test during last school year.  Each of these students has an extra 50 minute class period everyday, which replaces one of their electives, set aside as a math intervention period.  I would like to track the progress of these students through a series of pre-tests and post-tests to monitor their progress.  I would also like to use log sheets to track how much help these students are receiving outside of class time (before/after school, or during our AFL tutorial time).  I would like to track all of these interventions to help our math team determine which of them is the most successful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This week I am focusing on three interviews:

Mr. Johnny Briseno, Principal, Rancho Isabella Elementary School, Angleton ISD
Dr. Timothy Charogis, Director of Research, Planning, and Development, Beaumont ISD
Dr. Kirk Lewis, Superintendent, Pasadena (TX) ISD

Each of these educators was interviewed by Lamar University for my current course on Educational Research.  I would like to share some thoughts, ideas, and quotes from those interviews:

Mr. Johnny Briseno:
"We don't make decisions without looking at data first.  That's the bottom line."
However, statistical data must be balanced with qualitative data, "sometimes if you just look at numbers, it doesn't tell you the whole story."
"It's a lot better for them (teachers) to go out and present it (data) to the staff that it is for me because it's their peer telling them 'it's working, here's what I'm doing with this student.'"

Dr. Chargois suggested that teachers can longer simply present content, but that research must be applied to instruction to ensure that best practices are being implemented and student success is maximized.  He also suggested that the old teacher's addage "if I can just reach one student, then I have done my job" no longer applies.  Accountability within school systems is at an all-time high.  Teachers are now required to reach all students.

Dr. Lewis spoke of a grant that was received by Pasadena ISD to implement a program that they call "Expectation Graduation".  They have used the funds from the grant to change the way instruction is delivered.  He described the grant as data-driven due to the fact that the results of the changes that they are making are monitored to ensure that they are using the grant effectively.

The underlying theme to all of this research is that every student must be reached.  Whether you offer a change in practice, alter a teaching style, differentiate delivery, break down data, or use grant funding, the bottom line is, every student needs to be successful.  There also needs to be an understanding that results go beyond TAKS testing.  Educators must realize that we aren't reaching students just so they can pass a test.  We do what we do as educators, because every one of our students is worth the effort.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nov. 21, 2010

In this blog post, I will be referencing the book Leading with Passion and Knowledge: The Principal as Action Research by Nancy Dana.

Traditionally, educational research concerning campus improvement has been conducted by "outsiders", often times university professors, brought in by the school district to oversee the practices of the district or specific campuses within that district (Dana, 4).  This often leads the principal and teachers to feel like they are being left out of the decision making process and may even unneccessarily bring about a feeling that campus is under some sort of scrutinity.

In 1986, Carr and Kemmis developed the term action research.  This new way of thinking is much more hands-on and interactive.  In action research, the principal collaborates with his/her staff and the campus itself is now viewed as the cooperative problem solver.  One misconception about this new paradigm is that it requires principals to admit failure in their administration (Dana, 4).

According to Dana, one of the best examples of action research is the recent development of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).  In the math PLC that I am involved in at Canyon Jr. High, we actively work together to try and improve our math instruction campus-wide, while also looking for ways to measure and improve student success.  We are, in essence, our own problem-solving team.  We work together to make sure a teacher is always available both before and after school to help whatever students show up for extra help.  We also build assessments that will be used to measure student success and we evaluate the results of those assessments to determine which students need to be brought in for tutorials during the school day.

Action research takes time.  Adding something else to your schedule or doing something differently requires a time adjustment.  Dana spends several pages discussing the importance of time management, not only for changing practices, but also for reflection.  Part of making action research work is taking the time to reflect on the effectiveness of your new practices.  Action research works when the stakeholders (principals, teachers, and other practitioners) are the active problem solvers, and effective strategies are put into practice to reach the desired outcome.