One small voice in the field of education

Addressing elements of education

In Conclusion December 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 3:57 pm

Writing, editing, and commenting on a blog site was a new area of learning for me. I was unfamiliar with the particulars of the blog and the site in general but quickly caught on. The blog showed me a different way of learning and responding to my classmates. It was quite helpful to be able to access and learn about GoogleReader. This site made the process of obtaining an article much easier and faster, especially considering I had a topic in mind. It is beneficial when teachers can offer their students with resources such as GoogleReader because many students may not know about it prior to the assignment, and it is useful even after the class has ended, which is a signifcant part of learning and teaching. It is always a positve when students take numerous things away from a class in terms of learning, and basic knowledge available to everyone such as GoogleReader is an example of this.

Using technology in the classroom always causes me a bit of worry. I’m always behind on the latest forms of technology and websites and worry that I will end up behind on the material or coursework if it involves working outside of the classroom without someone instructing you directly in person. These nerves were present when the blog unit was assigned, but I quickly realized it was a managable and simple process which one could catch on to quickly without the need of an instructor at all times. I believe it is a good idea to incorporate blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other forms of technology in the classroom. It allows for change from the norm of presentations and writing assignments in the classroom. These forms of technology are a positive for students who do not do well standing up in front of their classmates presenting material which they have been researching or working on. A blog allows students to express themselves and respond to their classmates in a comfortable setting, and many times the students views and ideas are more clearly expressed when it is in a different manner than standing up in front of a classroom.

Overall, I think the blog was a very good learning experience. I believe it would be a good alternative to other assignments in the classroom, and would definetly use it in my own classroom. I believe the blog could also be useful if the teacher were to assign a blog for a particular unit, such as novel. It could serve as the student’s journal and they could respond to different prompts given by the teacher, work on free writes, or respond to articles relating to the novel or themes in the novel. If students have access to a computer, blogging is a tool useful to many grade levels.


Avoiding Laziness November 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 4:31 pm

For some parents, and unfortunatly some educators, teaching students has become nothing more than a chore. Clearly it is going to be a challenge to teach a young student most subjects because they are just beginning to gain knowledge, and therefore one must remain patient. But when one gets frustrated the alternative has become bribing and encouraging cheating according to the article “Our Schools: Where to?”. A smart and caring parent would do everything possible to try and help their child gain the necessary knowledge and master that knowledge to the best of their ability, one would hope. But according the article by Dr. Suad Al-Sabaa he has encountered at least one parent who would rather sell and bribe to see her student pass the necessary classes and grade. The mother’s student is only in the 3rd grade and she is already bribing and bargaining for the students basic exam grades to be changed; what kind of message must this be sending to the young pupil?

Students are already under a significant amount of pressure later in their academic careers. Parents should be there to encourage their child to strive for their best, and if they fail if one subject or course they will make it up in another class or way. Students success is also greatly affected by their home environment. If students are encouraged to read and study and challenge themselves from an early age, the results will be likely prove to show a hardworking, good student. But if students are taught to be lazy, such as the child who is only in the 3rd grade and struggling with a bribing parent and poor grades, then their habits and patterns for learning and retaining information will be greatly affected later in their life.

If parents are not going to be strong and strive for mastery of knowledge from their children then it is unfortunatly up to the educators to strive for the best in each of their students. As the article states schools should be referred to as: “Primary Illiteracy Promotion School” instead of “Primary Education School” (Sabaa). This is due to the fact that education is not being enforced and stressed as important, rather “just getting by” and passing students who do not deserve to be passed is occuring and being suggested through the actions of some of the parents.

Our Schools: Where to?

Dr. Suad Al-Sabaa

November 30, 2008

Full Article


Education as a Priority November 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 4:33 pm

Students at the K-12 level are easily swayed and influenced by adults and the messages which are sent to them. The messages being sent to the them by their school, educators, and parents will quickly and easily influence how they take and use their education. It is crucial for students to be in a productive, challenging school which will strive to bring out the best in each student, not the bare minimum. In Nigeria it is not simply based upon one school being better from another, rather about the government encouraging overall postive performance from its students and not simply waiting for an oppurtunity which may not arise.

This is not the case for students hoping to obtain admission into what is known as “Unity Schools” (in Nigeria). The students who apply to these schools must take an entrance examination, and then wait to hear if they were accepted, sometimes for a couple of months. During this time period the students do not resume school along with their peers, rather than wait to hear if they have been admitted. As the article states students stay at home idle, likely doing nothing productive, and not furthing their education. At the same time these students are idle at home, many teachers (during the months of July and August) were on strike because of the poor conditions and pay of schools: “the dilapidated school structures across the country; the poor living and working conditions of our teachers; and the lack of infrastructure and laboratory facilities in public schools across the country”. While these disheartening issues are present in some of the schools of Nigeria the article claims that many teachers still encourgage and challenge their students to succeed in their course work.

With teachers on strike and students not attending classes, the issue of obtaining knowledge and falling behind in course work becomes a serious issue. The government of Nigeria commits to avoiding and changing illiteracy and yet students are still struggling: “Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy, and to this end, government shall as soon as and when practicable provide: Free compulsory and Universal Primary Education, free secondary education, free university education and free adult literacy programme”. Why then are students struggling to learn and further their basic education? The article explains that one of the problems lies in the fact that students are at home preparing for an entrance examination when they should still be in their classes continuing their basic education. When many of the students are at home preparing for the exam many of them choose not to return to school to finish their education. This causes issues of completion of basic knowledge and learning which is essential to functioning, literate citizens.

It is discouraging to hear about the issues facing many of the students and teachers of Nigeria. Students need to have support from a government which encourages a complete education and a literate society of people. Simply stating that this is their intended goal is not enough, it must be enforced and stressed upon so that students finish their studies and or remain in school.

The Punch: Of Unity Schools resumption and the eradication of illiteracy

Kemi Obasola

November 23, 2008

Full Article


Beyond Writing and Reading November 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 11:30 pm

Illiteracy surrounds each of us everyday. From the people we pass walking on the street who may not be able to read the street sign, to those we pass who may have little knowledge beyond the basic required facts. We may not realize how many people are truly illiterate in our country until someone conducts and researchs studies of people to truly grasp the vast number of people illiteracy is directly affecting.

Illiteracy goes beyond one’s ability to read and write to encompass different types of illiteracy, such as civic illiteracy. As the article “What’s past is prologue, so read up”  states, Americans have become illiterate to their own country’s past. Knowledge which many of people consider basic is difficult for people to answer according to studies by columnist Cal Thomas. The questions regarding the history of our country were formatted and based on a literacy test which many people struggled with: “For the third straight year, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has found that a large number of Americans cannot pass a basic 33-question civic literacy test on their country’s history and institutions”. Just as being a literate citizen is crucial in our society, it is important for Americans to know and understand the history of their country. This knowledge constitutes a large part of being literate; having knowledge about events and people which were crucial and important in society and history.

Many citizens clearly do not realize the importance or significance of being able to pass a basic literacy test. The information should be familiar to every graduate of K-12 considering it is all material which was covered in one’s basic curriculum. Just as literacy is considered essential and important to many citizens, knowing ones history is tied closely with it: “The survey found that up to three-fourths of Americans believe teaching America’s heritage is fundamental to a good education and to producing good citizens. So why is it not being done?” Many people choose to leave problems and issues such as illiteracy in the hands of others and hope it will progressively improve in time, but everyone knows it cannot with the encouragment and support of literate citizens striving for a change. According to the article TV has a negative influence on one’s learning of basic facts and basic knowledge. One therefore spends too much time focused on the media and not on important knowledge crucial to being an informed citizen.

While illiteracy in which one cannot read or write is namely more important than civic illiteracy, it is still an important issue. Students in K-12 need to be able to read and write as well as be well informed about history and events relevant to the country. It is important to stress to students the importance of them having this knowledge when outside influences such as the television and media have such a large impact on their lives and how much time one spends focused on homework or other studies.

Illiteracy is not an issue that is going to go away, there will continue to be citizens which struggle or fail to read and write, or obtain/know certain important knowledge. It is interesting and important to note the different types of illiteracy present in our country, and how many people choose to continue living their lives illiterate to certain information (such as civic illiteracy). While some may not see the significance of such knowledge, it is crucial for future and present educators to stress to their students that illiteracy is an issue at all levels and types which needs to be changed.

“What’s past is prologue, so read up”

Cal Thomas

November 23, 2008

Full Article


Word by Word… October 19, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 7:16 pm

Education is the key to success in nearly every society, especially in the United States. While it may not be simple to obtain a high school degree, many students who earn one do not fulfill the full requirements. This discouraging behavior can be seen in lower income school districts, namely in the inner city. The article “Word by Word, the World Becomes a Little Less Mystifying for Illiterate Adults” gives an example of two adults who recieved their high school diplomas and yet are illiterate.

The article points to the trouble they experience on a day-to-day basis such as helping their children with homework and reading menus and signs. While helping their children is a personal matter, a grown adult in our society (namely one with a diplmoa) should be able to read signs posted in public. Why is it then that schools let students get by unnoticed when they are clearly lacking an essential skill such as reading? The article pin-points a key area where the education is clearly lacking:”But an even more harmful shortcoming is that students in the classes find it difficult to get adequate treatment because teachers are not fully trained, cannot keep order or are wedded to techniques that may not work” (Berger 1). It is clearly the responsibility of the school districts to establish standards but the effort and emphasis the teacher plays in the classroom is highly important. An passionate teacher will create an entirely different teacher from one who’s goal is simply to imprint facts into a students mind. While many areas may face this problem of students graduating while not fully qualified by state standards, the article speaks to the city of New York.

The two adults, Lissette and Carlos, are classified with disablities which impair them or have impaired them from reading at a “normal” level. They claim they were pushed aside and lumped into one class with other kids with impairments or disabilities simply so they were out of the way. They therefore were not given the best education and skills needed to cope or overcome their struggle to learn and therefore read. School systems have hopefully improved since thirty years ago when Lissette and Carlos were struggling in school but one knows many students still slide past the standards and requirements and earn diplomas when they are not meeting the necessary academic standards.

Illiterate adults and young people affect all of us when they have a difficult time functioning in society. It is necessary to promote the importance of education and the need for meeting state standards before earning a diploma. It is also important to stress the need for proper classrooms and teacher instruction for those students with disabilities. While they are struggling in a subject matter or area that may come more easily to others that does not mean they should be classified as dumb or a need to get out of the way, as the article states: ““At that time,” he said, “ they put all the rowdy kids and the kids who are retarded all in one class just to get them out of the way.” (Berger 2). Students will not improve if they are continually discouraged, therefore a positive environment must be created for them.

Word by Word, the World Becomes a Little Less Mystifying for Illiterate Adults

Joseph Berger

October 19, 2008

Full Article


Illiteracy All Around Us October 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 5:59 pm

Commonly being illiterate is defined as the inability to read or write. This therefore encompasses those who cannot read signs on the street and lack necessary education. In today’s day and age it is difficult to be a functioning member of society when you are illiterate. Employers are less likely to hire you (if at all) and typically the pattern of illiteracy will continue in one’s family cycle. This means if children’s parents are illiterate, they are more likely to be illiterate themselves.

For those who are not illiterate in society it may be difficult to see how and why this affects you indivdually. As the article “Illiteracy Aid Found To Lag in District” states, those who are illiterate cannot contribute to society by means of a qualified job, and therefore the districts are losing valuable tax money. Those most likely to be illiterate in our society are defined by the article: “The largest group of illiterate individuals were those who did not complete high school or did not speak English when they entered high school” (Alexander). While many students do complete high school today, there are more immigrants coming to our country who may fall into the category of not speaking English until high school. The growing number of immigrants in our country could mean an increase in illiteracy, which is an issue that affects us all. It is important to have a well informed society that is literate, because being literate helps one function properly in society.

The article breifly addresses the issue of education in an academic setting versus having “street smarts”. While both are quite necessary in society, academic education is cheifly more important. This includes being literate and being able to communicate with other members of society. A stronger emphasis needs to be placed on students who entered high school not speaking English and those who are illiterate at an age when they should have mastered the basic reading skills.  Schools need to place and divide more spending on these students who are struggling with literacy and provide them with qualified teachers and materials.

Illiteracy Aid Found To Lag In District

Keith L. Alexander

October 19, 2008

Full Article


Outside the Classroom-Underground RR Conference

Filed under: Uncategorized — hubbardj87 @ 4:08 pm

My first thought when hearing it was necessary for each student to attend an outside professional development conference was not excited. I assumed boring speeches that I as a young undergraduate student would not be able to relate to. I realized I was wrong, and quickly began to appreciate the knowledge I was gaining by stepping outside of the classroom and learning about information that was new to me.

I choose to attend the Underground Railroad Conference in downtown Grand Rapids. I listened to three presentations each unique in their own way (Cass County to GVSU, Underground Railroad stories for the public, and Writing the Underground Railroad story for children). Each presenter raised relevant points, issues, and research which were unique from the other presenters. While two of the speakers I listened to were not as relevant to an English course, Christopher Paul Curtis was.

The first presenter (Cass County to GVSU) spoke about slavery in Cass County on the Indiana border with Michigan. The presentation was a story and history of the county and there beliefs about slavery in the past. In relation to English writing the speaker (Sondra Mose-Ursery) discussed how writing provides light and redemption on a difficult subject matter (slavery).

The second speaker, Mary Edmond, told the story of Issac Edward Bailey, a run-away slave from Virginia. While her presentation was interesting it did not relate to English in the sense of writing, rather it was the research of a man’s life history. Christopher Paul Curtis proved to be the most relevant for the course seeing as he writes books for children which also incorporate history. Curtis spoke about the words commonly used in his children’s books about slavery which he tends to repeat for emphasis (such as depot, conductor, spirit). Curtis discussed how it is important for him to find a medium between an interesting book for children to read while also covering history and facts. The challenges which are presented to him are keeping the words at an appropriate level for the audience and the hope that the audience or readers will take something away from the novel or story.

While I do not plan to be a writer myself or research the Underground Railroad in the future the conference was a positive day for me. It was a chance to get out in the society and hear other writers and educators speak about a subject matter passionate to them. I was able to see how much research and time was put into their work to prepare it for not only the day but for it to be accurate. It allowed me to see how much work I will need to put into my own future as a teacher in order to be successful and knowledgable. I hope to attend more conferences to further educate myself about the society and people around me.

Underground RailRoad Conference