I am a public school teacher who graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Go Savage Storm!) with my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and my graduate degree in School Administration. It is an honor to write this blog addressing the state of public school elementary education in Oklahoma, and I just want to hit on some areas strongly affecting the education of the youngest children in our state.
Trends-Oklahoma is in the process of transitioning from our Oklahoma state learning objectives called PASS to national standards called Common Core State Standards. Full implementation in Oklahoma will occur during the 2014-2015 school year.
The purpose of this national curriculum is to ensure students in every state are learning the same objectives at basically the same time. This will help with students who move across state lines and even to a new school district in the same state. One of the main objectives of the new curriculum is to get students college, career, and citizen ready. Students from K-12 are encouraged to read more non-fiction material and write across the curriculum.
Technology-It is a very safe statement to say the public school classroom’s technological capabilities have dramatically increased within the last five years. Classrooms, teachers, and students have been inundated with the newest gadgets to use. Technology is a wonderful tool to utilize when thinking about ways to capture student interest. It seems common sense to think elementary students will learn sight word vocabulary when it’s introduced and practiced through computer programs or academic software. Right? Actually, a lot of the newest research is showing the increased “screen time” students are experiencing in school is actually DECREASING reading ability. The recommended screen time a day according to neuroscientists is 2 hours, which includes computers, TV, and video games. In the coming years, this will continue to be a hot topic facing public education as teachers try to find the balance in using technology as a learning and teaching tool.
Time-As a teacher, I hear about time ALL the time. It’s a very rare day when I feel I have accomplished all I set out to do in my classroom. With increased teacher accountability and increased student learning expectations, teachers across the board are finding it hard to fit it all in.
However, some of the highest performing countries in the world are spreading the word about INCREASED down time in schools. I was watching a Dan Rather Reports “Finnish First” (January 17, 2012) who had scored #1 in an international test. One of the main aspects Finnish education experts say contribute to their educational system’s success is built in time during the school day for students to take learning breaks. This correlates with some United States leading neuroscientists who say “bring back boredom” because it allows students to make sense of what they have learned. As the United States strives to be more competitive in the international education scene, education experts must examine the education systems of successful countries around the world.
These 3 T’s of Education are just the tip of the iceberg when beginning the conversation about the challenges facing public education. It is an exciting, exhilarating time to be involved in the field, as well as stressful and challenging. Please continue to stay informed about the shifts in public education to best help the students in your life. Thanks for reading!
Technology Could be Making it Harder for your Kids to Learn. http://www.tesh.com/story/cc/9/id/13704
Dan Rather Reports “Finnish First” (excerpt available via Youtube).
Common Core Information: http://www.commoncore.org/
Teacher/Parent Ideas: http://www.carlscorner.us.com/
Book Recommendations to get every member of the family involved: http://www.lazyreaders.com/
Beth Bean is a first grade teacher at Northwest Heights Elementary School in Durant, Oklahoma. She is certified in both Elementary Education and School Administration. Her passion is to educate parents and the public about developmentally appropriate, hands-on learning. Beth has presented at the local, state, and national levels at various conferences and classes spreading the message about effective teaching in public school classrooms and sharing her original ideas about creative ways to teach learning objectives.