Change Issues in Curriculum and Instruction/Final Assignment Links/Camilla Walck

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1. Ethics in Education[edit]

I personally feel that teaching students ethics is one of the most important lessons we deliver. After all, how much of our core curriculum will our students actually remember in five years? ten years? What they will remember is what we teach them about empathy, social responsibility, and morality. No matter what future career our students pursue, ethics will play a role. All educational endeavors should address ethics. Ethics is cross-curricular. Imagine exploring global warming in science with a perspect on the effects of global warming in China. Through this lesson the students can learn about the agriculture of China, the livelihood of the Chinese, and develop empathy for those who may be affected. In addition to science, the students are learning geography and economics. Including debates and discussions on these global topics also fosters communication skills, student discourse, and collaboration. Perhaps the English teachers can have the students write to some of the farmers to learn about their personal lives. Teachers need to be taught how to bring ethical issues into core curriculum. According to Mathew White (IB,2007), the true strength of an ethical education is that it can act as the foundation for peace. Sadly, many students are not taught ethics at home and the responsibility falls solely on the educational system. Perhaps the events that unfolded at Virgina Tech could have been prevented if the individual who committed such horrible acts had been taught to be ethical in his decisions.

I feel that a great way to bring ethics into the educational system is the requirement of community service hours. Through community service students learn about the plight of others. In addition, they gain the satisfaction of helping others. Serving others teaches empathy, concern, and social responsibility. The quote below is included because I wanted to point out the importance of the teacher modeling ethical behavior. Included in this behavior is a love for his/her students that should be shown each day.

"Too often we under-estimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. -- Dr. Felice Leonardo Buscaglia

2. Multicultural Education[edit]

This topic blends well with my number one choice, ethics. Teaching multiculturalism allows students to see that the world is full of variety. This variety goes beyond skin color to include religious beliefs, social organization, political beliefs, and cultures. By investigating and learning about others, students begin to see the bigger picture of their existance. When students are isolated from multicultural experiences, they begin to feel that their way of life is the only way of life. This leads them to the thought of their way of life being the only acceptable way of life. Multicultural education also reinforces ethical education. Respect for others is a vital trait that every human must possess. With our world becoming more and more interconnected, multicultural education becomes even more important. Many of our students will be entering a work force that consists of diverse individuals from all walks of life. They must be able to not only understand other cultures, but be accepting of them as well. How can students who lack multicultural education perform in a multicultural world?

3.The Digital Divide: The various issues that surround access to technology have a major impact on the extent to which and ways in which technology can be effectively employed in today’s educational system in American and beyond.[edit]

Teaching todays "digital natives" requires traditional teaching styles to change. The traditional lecture centered classroom will quickly disengage the new digital native learner. Digital natives are used to having information fast, interacting with that information, and being able to manipulate information. Traditional teachers must take on authentic teaching styles. They must engage the students in activities that work with the way their minds have been molded. Incorporating technology in their delivery is vital. There are so many ways to do this - power point (not a big fan, but better than overhead transparencies), internet searches, email buddies, electronic presentations, wikibooks, digital games, and bloggs are all ways of delivering material that will stimulate the digital native. The best digital presentations are those that are interactive and allow the student to manipulate material.

Reaching the digital native does not simply require the use of technology. Their brains can not absorb material that is presented in traditional lecture style alone. They need lessons that are interactive, constructivist in nature, and involve manipulative skills. Laboratory designs, debates, discussions, simulations, and demonstrations are all effective in engaging the digital native. Using differentiated lesson styles keeps the digital native engaged in the lessons.

As a final note, I think that the education of teachers on how to use technology effectively in the classroom is vital. This class has taught me more about technology than any other class I have taken. The use of wikibooks has enlightened me to new ways of incorporating technology in my classroom. I have shared my learning with other teachers in my school and found them to be eager to learn more. My students enjoyed the process of using wikibook and were amazed at my level of knowledge. It was the first time that I, a digital immigrant, was able to teach them, digital natives, a new technology skill. Also, as a side note I really love elgoog.

4. Maximizing the Effectiveness of Dialogue: Effectively using conversation in Education.[edit]

Dialogue in education seems to mainly be that of the teacher dispensing material and the students asking the questions. This is not effective. Students and teachers should be asking the questions and discussing the answers together. It is a myth that lecture does not lend itself to inquiry. I believe that lecture has its place in education, but it is the delivery method of the lecture material that must change. By actively engaging students in discourse throughout a lecture, having them come up with their own ideas based on the lecture, and debating lecture material, the teacher can bring effective dialogue into the classroom. According to the National Science Standards students learn through discourse. Verbalization of ideas allows students to self-analyze their thoughts, and modify their beliefs by hearing those of others. This brings collaboration and team work into the classroom - two skills that will be vital to the success of students regardless of their career choices.

Another area of change that is needed is the level of dialogue between teachers at all grade levels. Often teachers become isolated in their individual classrooms, schools, and divisions. There is much that can be gained through teacher discourse on educational practices. I have found that just being in this class with teachers from different school districts has given me new insights into education that I previously did not possess. Through discourse and collaboration with other teachers great things can be accomplished. Hopefully we will set up a Second Life and continue our dialogue. However, it is ironic that we need another dimension to communicate in when we often fail to communicate in the real one.

5. The student as teacher and the teacher as learner.[edit]

Following up on my number 4 choice, this issue is very important. Many teachers feel that they must have all the answers to any question the students come up with. Many students believe that the teacher knows everything. These two attitudes must change. Teachers need to be comfortable letting students know that they often do not know the answer to their questions. Then the teacher can foster collaboration with the learning process through teacher-student investigation. In addition, when presenting material, the teacher needs to be open to allowing the students to come up with their own questions. The teacher can guide the students to acceptable questions while allowing the students to take ownership of their investigations. Guiding them to acceptable questions allows the teacher to make sure the standards are being investigated so the students can still be successful on the SOL's or other standardized tests. My argument for student-directed learning is that the student will learn the material much deeper if he/she is involved in the creation of the learning process. This makes the student much more interested in finding the answers.