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Empowering collaborative communities


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Skills of the Multiliterate Student

From multiliteracyrevolution.wordpress.com

multiliteracyrevolution

Learning has changed.

The way we acquire, sift through, analyze, and synthesize knowledge within a global, digital world has forced us to use a different skill set. Becoming “literate” in the 21st century is much more than learning how to navigate written text. To truly thrive witin this new learning paradigm, one must become multiliterate.  Therefore, “literacy pedagogy now must account for the burgeoning variety of text forms” (New London Group, 1996, p. 2). Multiliteracies then is the  recognition of the “multiplicity of communications channels and media, and the increasing saliency of cultural and linguistic diversity,” focusing on “the realities of increasing local diversity and global connectedness,” (New London Group, 1996, p.3).

Students must be taught a skill set that reflects this new context of learning. Not only will they need to learn letter-sound relationships but also how to freely move in between formal and informal text, analyze text and…

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Venture Philanthropy

Venture philanthropy is the name given to wealthy people who made their fortune through entrepreneurship and venture capitalism and are now heavily funding education initiatives. Invested in education has increased since 2000 (Reckhow & Snyder, 2014). That’s great, right? Not exactly. Today’s philanthropists are very political. There are two specific ways venture philanthropy has hurt education: a) undermining of educators, and b) undermining of democracy.

The three major venture philanthropists whose foundations are involved in education are Gates, Broad, and Walton.  While these three men have different political affiliations, they all made their money through business and believe in using the business model in education (Reckhow & Snyder, 2014). Their money has made them powerful. These men are not education experts nor education professionals, yet their opinions are influencing education policy because they are powerful.  This undermines the professional status of educators. Scott (2009) reports, “A recent study that asked policy makers to rank most influential individuals in education policy found that Bill Gates was first, before the U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings” (p. 128). Bill Gates may be a smart business person, but this does not make him qualified to lead our nation’s schools. Because of their business backgrounds, venture philanthropists have catapulted market-based reforms based on business models.

In business, productivity not relationship matters.  Educational psychology research is clear that in education, relationship is everything. An example of how a venture philanthropist undermined teachers  is the small schools initiative.  A big-name foundation took over the teacher-initiated small school movement in Chicago (Lipman, 2011). The original movement was about limiting the number of people in a school so that people could really get to know each other.  The movement was also about teacher autonomy. If a teacher really knows his or her students, he or she can make the appropriate professional judgments about how to best serve those students. However, when the foundation came in, the small school movement became about standardization and replicability (Lipman, 2011).  The irony is that those two words standardization and replicability scream industrial period.  School reform is supposed to move education from an industrialization economy to our knowledge-based economy. The Gates Foundation gave East Wake High School (where I taught) $1M grant to become four academies rather than 1 large institution. Each academy had a theme and a principal and the students stayed in that academy for 4 years. This meant that big expenses like technology, the media center, football and band could remain shared between the academies but the principals would have a chance to get to know all of the teachers and the students. I thought it was a great idea but it didn’t work.  East Wake remained at the bottom of Wake County test scores. Lipman’s analysis of why the small schools initiative didn’t work makes sense. This next year, East Wake will become one school again, but Knightdale High will become four small academies (Hui, 2015). This would make a great education policy case study for anyone interested.  East Wake and Knightdale are neighbor schools and serve similar populations.  I know funding was the reason behind the first change. I wonder if funding is the reason behind the changes now.

The second way venture philanthropy has hurt education is undermining democracy. Democracy gives each person an equal voice, but with their deep pockets, venture philanthropists have an amplified voice. Rather than schools and teachers being accountable to community members, venture philanthropists push quantifiable measurables for accountability. Such measurables are part of market-based reforms. Scott (2009) aptly summarizes the key issue. “Wealth that comes largely from favorable public policies is not directed into mostly tax-exempt foundations, where trustees and philanthropists directly shape public policy for the poor, without public deliberative process that might have been invoke over school reform policies were that money in the public coffers” (p. 128). These philanthropists who push for accountability are not accountable to anyone. They can, and they have, pulled their resources, leaving communities to deal with the consequences (Lipman, 2011). These wealthy men are making decisions based upon what they think, not based upon experts’ research or upon public consensus.  However, the consequences are paid by the education community and marginalized students.

I believe that philanthropists and donors have a right to know how the money they gave was spent and can even have strings attached if they so desire. I also believe that most people have good intentions when getting involved in education politics. It’s just that venture philanthropists have so much money which means so much influence that an unintended consequence can be local educators and community members being bypassed on decisions. The philanthropists making the decisions do not suffer the consequences if the experiment fails, the community does. All I am saying is that the people need a real voice in the decisions about their local schools. Teachers may not be productive based on test scores, but they know what their kids really need. Democracy might not be efficient, but it’s what our country is built upon.

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Hui, (2015). Changes proposed for Eastern Wake schools. News & Observer. Retrieved from  http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/01/12/4471314_changes-proposed-for-eastern-wake.html?rh=1

Lipman, P. (2011). The new political economy of urban education: Neoliberalism, race, and the rights to the city. New York: Routledge.

Reckhow, S. & Snyder, J. W. (2014). The expanding role of philanthropy in education politics. Educational Researcher, 43(4), 186-195.

Scott, J. (2009). The politics of venture philanthropy in charter school policy and advocacy. Educational Policy, 23(1), 106-136.


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Researchers urge Secretary of Education to drop new regulations on teacher education

Scholars urge administration to drop new regulations on teacher training at Colleges of Education.  The new regulations include more accountability measures similar to the high-stakes testing fiasco in K-12 schools. Do we really think that more bureaucracy is going to help young people want to become teachers?  I think the answer is not more hoops to jump through but more teacher autonomy and salaries competitive to other bachelor-level professions.

Photo Credit: James D. Hogan

Read more about the changes in the US and NC.

On the national level . . .

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/28/researchers-urge-arne-duncan-to-drop-proposed-teacher-prep-regulations/

And here in North Carolina. . .

http://www.newsobserver.com/welcome_page/?shf=/2015/01/27/4509832_changes-in-teacher-training-proposed.html

and more in NC

http://www.wral.com/fewer-people-want-to-be-teachers-nc-education-leaders-look-for-solutions/14402713/


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You Can Support NC Teachers Global Learning

Our world is increasingly interconnected economically, politically, technologically, ecologically, and socially (Merriweather, 1998). Our schools worldwide must prepare students for work, private, and public life in a global society (The New London Group, 1996). This means that in addition to college, career, and civic ready, students must also be global-ready. Global-ready means ready to work, live, and interact with anyone in the world from anywhere in the world (Zhao, 2010).Donna in Belize with  cropped

Experiential Learning for Global Competence

Experience is the primary to the learning process (Kolb, Boyatzis, & Mainemelis, 2002). Direct experiences with people of different cultures has been reported by teachers as the most influential means of gaining cultural understanding about different cultures (Merryfield, 2000). This has lead 4 THE WORLD to create experiential professional development in Central America. 4 THE WORLD’s Global Experiential Learning Excursion takes educators to schools in rural Belize and Guatemala on spring break. US teachers experience life in the developing world and learn the history, culture, and contemporary issues of our Central American neighbors.

4 THE WORLD’s global learning model is listen, learn, and act. In professional development sessions, teachers consider issues of importance in Belize and Guatemala by listening to teachers, students, and community leaders in-country.  Teachers then identify a pressing problem to investigate and learn about the issue from diverse perspectives.  After assessing the possible solutions, the teachers facilitate collaboration for students in North America and Central America to partner and take action to implement a solution.  The process then starts over, as the teachers and students listen to those affected and assess the solution, identifying strengths and weaknesses and learn from the experience in order to improve the world one project at a time.

How You Can Help

This March, 6 teachers from North Carolina would like to experience this professional development opportunity.  But, as you probably have heard, North Carolina teacher salaries rank near the bottom of the states.  Airfare will cost $750 for each teacher. You can contribute $100, $25, or even $10 to help out.  This helps not only these teachers become better teachers but in turn benefits the 100s of students they have every year.

To make a Donation:

1. Go to

https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1421440?uniqueID=634870486156807932

2. Fill out the form on behalf of NC Teachers

Type NC Teachers on the form

3. Share with your friends so they can do the same!

References

Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles1, 227-247.

Merryfield, M. M. (1998). Pedagogy for global perspectives in education: Studies of teachers’ thinking and practice. Theory & Research in Social Education26(3), 342-379.

Merryfield, M. M. (2000). Why aren’t teachers being prepared to teach for diversity, equity, and global interconnectedness? A study of lived experiences in the making of multicultural and global educators. Teaching and teacher education16(4), 429-443.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills & VIF. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/our-work/global-education

The New London Group.(1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review66(1), 60-92.

Zhao, Y. (2011). Preparing globally competent teachers: A new imperative for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education61(5), 422-431.


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UNC Scandal & Literacy Levels: Racism, Relationships and Reading Instruction

In a recent opinion piece, Mary Carey, the founder of a volunteer group representing children who can’t read, points to the low literacy rates of black males as the cause of the UNC academic scandal. She raises important issues about race, literacy, and our education system.

Unfortunately, Ms. Cary oversimplifies aspects of both student achievement and reading instruction that we as literacy educators need to correct and explain. Above all, we want to point out that the UNC Scandal is about adults cheating, it is
not about young black males who cannot read. Young black males were a small percentage of those implicated in the cheating scandal, which was perpetrated by many non-athletes and many non-Black students, and many women. To use the UNC scandal as segue to talk about black males’ reading achievement is disingenuous at best and racist at the worst.
However, there are some important points that we feel need to be addressed. As experienced educators and literacy scholars, our classroom experiences and scholarly research address many of the issues that are related to this topic. So, while we feel that Mary Carey conflates issues when she uses her commentary about the UNC cheating scandal to focus on literacy rates of black males, we believe that there are many important issues that should be addressed. Our intention is to bring up some issues from her commentary, provide research-based understandings, and suggest some possible solutions.

Certainly, race is an issue and understanding how race impacts literacy rates is paramount to literacy levels of black males. We cannot effectively focus on low levels of literacy rates without addressing the larger issue of race and education. Achievement in public schools reflects systemic issues that affect achievement for many minorities. While some research
demonstrates that after background characteristics are controlled, African American and White students enter school with equal reading readiness, research almost unanimously demonstrates that reading achievement gaps widen for African American students as they progress through school. Research has also demonstrated a discrepancy in participation of programs that support future opportunities for African American students, such as advanced placement programs, high
school graduation rates, and admittance to college programs. All of this points to the idea that schools may sustain or add to racial disparities and thus create achievement gaps.

We believe that a key answer is to recruit more diverse teachers into education and specifically the teaching force, which is predominantly white and female (n=83%). Teachers must help African American students develop healthy racial identities and show students that academically successful people are part of all racial and ethnic groups. Also, it’s important to
incorporate diverse perspectives into the curriculum in the way of curriculum materials, texts, and approaches to learning. For many students who may be struggling with reading, the ways in which students respond to reading instruction can reflect larger issues, including what it means to be a reader and whose ideas or perspectives are accepted in school settings. We need more diverse participation in education so that we hear from multiple perspectives and voices so
children have role models.

Read more at http://www.publicschoolsfirstnc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/UNC-Scandal-Response.pdf 

By Angela Wiseman, Abbey Graham, Kirsten Aleman, Donna Hawkins,
June Hurt, Jill Jones, Julie Justice, Shea Kerkoff, Justin Richards


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Bishop Gene Robinson on discrimination from God Believes in Love

“It is difficult for a majority to see, let alone sympathize with, a practice that discriminates against a minority. It’s not unlike trying to get a fish to understand the concept of water! It is simply the medium in which the fish resides, requiring no cognition of the water that supports it. Discrimination–not just individual, but systemic–is the “water” in which the majority swims, and unless something happens to bring that discrimination into the view and consciousness of the majority, nothing will change, because the majority hardly, if ever, notices it.”

~Bishop Gene Robinson, from God Believes in Love


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Reducing violence against women

The statistics are devastating. 7 in 10 women have experienced physical violence. 1 in 4 women around the world has experienced rape or attempted rape. A woman is murdered by an intimate partner every day, EVERY DAY.  Between 1 and 2 million girls and women are being held as sex slaves RIGHT NOW. More statistics are reported by the UN http://www.un.org/en/women/endviolencInternational day for the elimination of violence against women November 25 logoe/situation.shtml

One of 4 the World’s programs is educating girls with the hope that education will empower them to be able to provide a livelihood for themselves, to make well-informed decisions, and to be better mothers.  The research also shows that education and empowerment helps reduce violence against women.  But the education cannot stop with just girls.  In order for violence against women to be eradicated, men must also be educated and feel empowered.  If women are empowered but not the men, that can backfire.  Men, feeling threatened, may lash out at women.  Research has shown this effect in response to micro loans to women in Southeast Asia and literacy education in the Americas. Remember Malala’s story? Educating women is not the magical pill.  It is not easy and it has severe, sometimes deadly, unintended consequences.

We have to change an entire human history (with few exceptions) of patriarchy. It seems impossible that this could change in my lifetime, but the institution of slavery collapsed.  That isn’t to say that racism is over or that there is not slavery today.  But, the world did change. The institution of imperialism collapsed.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t still colonialist attitudes or that there aren’t residual problems still today.  But, the world did change.  We have to believe that the institution of patriarchy can collapse and with it people’s attitudes about violence against women can change.  We have to believe it is possible!

To show your support for women, wear ORANGE on the 25th of November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action#sthash.5kCHMTEQ.dpuf

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Mutually Beneficial Professional Development for Teachers in North and Central America

Global Education Conference 2014 logo


Our world is increasingly interconnected economically, politically, technologically, ecologically, and socially (Merriweather, 1998). Our schools worldwide must prepare students for work, private, and public life in a global society (The New London Group, 1996). This means that in addition to college, career, and civic ready, students must also be global-ready. Global-ready means ready to work, live, and interact with anyone in the world from anywhere in the world (Zhao, 2010). Global-readiness includes global competence and 21st century skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills & VIF, 2014). Teachers are expected to promote global competence and 21st century skills in their students, but may not be globally competent or 21st century literate themselves.

Experiential Learning for Global Competence

Experiential learning theory places experience as primary to the learning process (Kolb, Boyatzis, & Mainemelis, 2002). Kolb, Boyatzis, & Mainemelis (2002) describe the four steps of experiential learning as concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Direct experiences with people of different cultures has been reported by pre-service and in-service teachers as the most influential means of gaining cultural competence (Merryfield, 2000). This has lead researchers to examine experiential professional development as a means to increase teachers’ cultural knowledge and intercultural sensitivity. Much literature has been produced about study abroad experiences for pre-service teachers, but what about teachers who may not have the ability to live abroad for months at a time? 4 THE WORLD’s Global Experiential Learning Excursion takes educators to schools in rural Belize and Guatemala on fall, spring, and summer breaks. Educators experience life in the developing world and learn the history, culture, and contemporary issues of our Central American neighbors.

Professional Development for K-12 Educators

4 THE WORLD is a US non-profit organization that provides support for communities around the globe. 4 the World has provided books, school supplies, and technology; constructed school buildings, playgrounds, and restrooms; initiated pupil feeding programs and supplied food; mended water purifying systems; granted secondary school scholarships; conducted fun and educational day camps for children, and provided teacher professional development on topics such as literacy and technology. Their mission is to identify and collaborate with communities across the globe to empower them to identify and solve the most pressing needs of their communities within the areas of health and education. By partnering with communities and educators, 4 THE WORLD provides a critical link that utilizes the assets of each partner to help meet the needs of the other partners.

Historically, teachers in developing countries have limited formal training in teaching.  In Belize, only 49% of primary school teachers held an associate’s degree or higher (Ministry of Education and Sports, 1999, p. 49). Less than 60% of teachers in Belize had any pedagogical training (UNESCO, 2005). 4 THE WORLD is acutely aware that every teacher, every school, and every community has specific needs and desires and that these must be fully taken into account before professional development is implemented. In order to respect the autonomy and dignity of these teachers, I conduct an annual survey of teachers from beneficiary schools to ask if professional development is desired and if so, what topics are pressing. North American teachers who apply for the trip are asked about their experiences and areas of expertise. The list of professional development topics are then matched with North American teachers’ experiences and areas of expertise. Lessons from past professional development sessions will be shared at the conference presentation.

Educators on Location

Traveling teachers from North America follow 4 THE WORLD’s iterative model for problem-solving: (a) identify the problem, (b) assess the solutions, and (c) collaborate to implement a solution. This model emphasizes working with the people affected by the problem in order to solve the problem in a sustainable way. 4 THE WORLD’s model for problem-solving works for small groups of children in a classroom all the way to international organizations working on vital development issues.

4 THE WORLD organizes trips from North America to Central America for pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and teacher educators. The North American teachers choose a global theme from their curriculum to explore from diverse perspectives while traveling.   (The conference presentation will include discussion of past project topics.) 4 THE WOLRD provides professional development on how to use global themes to integrate problem-based learning with global learning.

4 THE WORLD’s global learning model is listen, learn, and act. In professional development sessions, teachers consider issues of importance in Belize and Guatemala by listening to teachers, students, and community leaders in-country.  Teachers then identify a pressing problem to investigate and learn about the issue from diverse perspectives.  After assessing the possible solutions, the teachers facilitate collaboration for students in North America and Central America to partner and take action to implement a solution.  The process then starts over, as the teachers and students listen to those affected and assess the solution, identifying strengths and weaknesses and learn from the experience in order to improve the world one project at a time.

While in-country, the North American teachers provide professional development training sessions for teachers in Central America.  The session topics are based on Central American teachers’ requests on the annual survey and North American teachers’ potential of expert knowledge.

These experiential global learning trips support capacity-building initiatives for the communities, professional development for teachers in North and Central America, and global experiences for the traveling teachers. Ultimately, these partnerships help everyone connected contribute in the present and continue to grow and thrive in the future.

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References

4 the World. (2014). Retrieved from http://4theworld.org

Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles, 1, 227-247.

Merryfield, M. M. (1998). Pedagogy for global perspectives in education: Studies of teachers’ thinking and practice. Theory & Research in Social Education, 26(3), 342-379.

Merryfield, M. M. (2000). Why aren’t teachers being prepared to teach for diversity, equity, and global interconnectedness? A study of lived experiences in the making of multicultural and global educators. Teaching and teacher education, 16(4), 429-443.

Ministry of Education and Sports (1999). Belize: Education statistics. Retrieved from http://www.childinfo.org/files/LAC_Belize.pdf

Partnership for 21st Century Skills & VIF. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/our-work/global-education

Statistical Institute of Belize. (2012). Abstract of Statistics: Belize. Retrieved from http://www.statisticsbelize.org.bz/

Zhao, Y. (2011). Preparing globally competent teachers: A new imperative for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(5), 422-431.

The New London Group.(1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics. (2005). Education for all: The quality imperative. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2005-quality/


Join me as I present this topic at the Global Education Conference on Friday, November 21 at 10am US Eastern Time.  All presentations are virtual.  You can find my session information at http://www.globaleducationconference.com/forum/topics/mutually-beneficial-professional-development-for-teachers-in and view the calendar at http://www.globaleducationconference.com/page/globaledcon-schedule-gmt-5