iBooks 2.0….Now with TEXTBOOKS! (or Why Districts Should Adopt the iPad)

At this point you have probably heard of the updated release of iBooks which now includes interactive textbooks! I am not surprised to hear about this, as I doubt anyone who has been following educational technology and Apple’s involvement would be. Of course as soon as I heard about this I downloaded the updated version and a couple of sample textbooks. 

First Impressions: I am a little bummed at the lack of textbooks in the initial offering (there are only 8) but I supposed it is only to be expected that the textbook companies are not lining up and down the block to get on board as the Pearson Biology textbook is only selling at $14.99 when the hardback version sells for $90+. I’m sure this will change as it becomes more popular, and as a former science teacher I can’t complain that 6 of the 8 books are science-based (the other two are Geometry and Algebra 1). Also all of the books are the national version so I’m sure the state editions will hit the market as soon as there is a demand for them. 

All of the books with the exception of E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth (which is free – AND AWESOME… go download it!) are going for $14.99 and range in size from 793MB – 2.77GB and include videos and interactive materials. This is actually not a bad price considering the cost of full-size textbooks, but you have to think about the cost of the iPad itself – another issue altogether that I will address shortly. 

The Breakdown: Now the Biology book is the largest of all the currently released titles at 2.77GB and after looking over the sample I can see why and it’s fully worth the space. It comes with the excellent Untamed Science videos which I sampled and used in my classroom. They are great real-world examples of biology and I love love love them. Just like in the hard-cover version of this textbook (which I had the good fortune to get a copy of last year) each chapter starts with an Untamed Science video which is an opening-chapter mystery that the students will collected clues to understanding as they read through the chapter. 

Just like any other iBook you can long-press on words to highlight, get a definition for, take a tagged note on, or search the web for – an EXCELLENT integration for learning I think. What seems to be a new feature for this though is that if you tap once anywhere on the screen you get your task bar at the top and there is now a button for your notes – it looks like a notebook and it organizes the notes by the chapter you took them from (complete with a small icon showing you the cover picture of the chapter for visual reference) and the order they appear in the chapter. There is also a feature called study cards which can be accessed by clicking the button at the top of the “My Notes” pad (it is greyed out until notes have been taken). OH and you can email your notes very easily, which is a HUGE plus. 

How the study cards feature works – for each note you create the highlighted portion of the book becomes the front of the card and the note you type for yourself becomes the back. You tap once on the card to flip and flick the cards to switch to a new card. 

Images in the textbooks are outstanding – tapping on an image goes to full screen and takes full advantage of the awesome resolution of the iPad. The captions also are included at the bottom of each image so the students always know what they are looking at. 

Interactive features include pop-ups, swipe-able image collections, interactive labeling activities, and the end of section (and I would assume chapter) assessments include a self-quiz which checks your answer for you with the push of a button. 

Wishlist - There are a few features which I would like to eventually come to the table here with these textbooks: 

1) A kindle-like ability to read aloud. I know many teachers have issues with students who have low reading levels who would be much more successful if the book was able to read to them. This would definitely add to the size of the book file, though how much I don’t know. 

2) Click-able vocabulary. The vocabulary words LOOK like they should do something when you touch them, but they don’t. In a world of interactive everything, students are going to expect words and phrases that are highlight with bolding or color to have an action attached to them. At minimum I would hope clicking on the vocabulary would give you a pop-up of the definition and the option of adding it to your notecard stack (without having to highlight and type out the definition). I would like to see the same thing with Big Ideas/Key Questions/Assessments features – automatically populate a note with the question so that the student can type out their answer. Some other textbooks may have this feature – and rightly so – but I hope all of them will eventually.

$$$$$ – The cost of this technology is going to prevent many districts from jumping on board, and I can’t say that I blame them, however after having my iPad2 for many months now I would recommend it for students without reservation. Here is my thought process:

  • iPad2 16GB wifi-only – $449 (educational pricing)
  • 8 textbooks/year (assuming a few semester courses @ $14.99/each) – $119.92
  • AppleCare (2 yrs) – $79.00 (OR $169.99 for BestBuy’s geek squad which will replace if you drop/damage/etc)
  • Case/Cover – $60 (being generous – also assuming you want it kept in good condition)
  • TOTAL (year one): $707.92

Now – assuming high school textbooks are about $90 a piece (some are higher, some are lower) you are looking at $720 for the same year of hardback books and if they get lost or damaged… well that’s it. The cost of the iPad the second year is only the cost of books – $119.92, while a new set of books is going to cost another $720 for hardback – and assuming you can keep your hardware in good shape for four years, we are talking big savings! 

                       Traditional Student                                 iPad Student

Year One                $720                                                 $707.92

Year Two                $720                                                 $119.92

Year Three              $720                                                 $119.92

Year Four                $720                                                 $119.92

TOTAL:                 $2,880                                               $1,067.68

 

Now I know textbooks are re-used from year to year and so this isn’t literally how much each student will cost for books each year – but you can see that from this perspective the iPad has the ability to drastically lower the costs of textbooks. The hardware can be lost or damaged – but the book investment is stored digitally and can’t be lost. Considering that my former school lost close to $70,000 worth of textbooks one year, and that most students who lose a textbook lose LOTS of textbooks – well you can minimize your losses when they can only lose one item instead of 8. Plus with the “Find My iPad” apps now on all iPads recovering your lost items may find itself to be a much easier task than before. 

There are other benefits to providing the students with iPads – they can also create presentations, write papers, use educational apps, or even things as far out there as connect with classrooms around the globe using Skype. Sure there will be problems with rolling out something like this – but there are problems with every roll out and the simplicity of the iPad is sure to mitigate these issues, and isn’t something to be afraid of. 

Verdict: I always hate it when districts jump on the next big thing without thinking of the actual uses of the technology and how feasible it is to be used – and prior to the release of textbooks I would not have recommended the iPad as it’s potential had not been realized yet, but assuming more quality textbooks are added the market I would give this a full-steam ahead! This looks to be a great buy for the 2012-2013 school year. 

 

iBooks 2 Textbook

iBooks 2 Textbook

Life on Earth screenshot

Yes it is an iPad

So I bit the bullet…or actually my wonderful husband did-and I got an iPad 2.I have only had it for a few days but I can tell that I love it already. As a result I’m going to be doing some reviews of apps for productivity and also apps that would be appropriate for an education setting as more and more schools are purchasing them.

I don’t have much to say about it just yet, but I will say this – I find typing on this (in landscape mode) to be much easier and more natural than I would have ever imagined. In fact, I have typed this whole post on my iPad with very difficulty. The keyboard is very similar in size to a netbook, so those with large hands may find it more difficult, but the predictive text corrects most of my mistakes and I can type without staring at the keys, something I never expected to be able to do without the tactile guide of physical keys. Longer fingernails get in the way of the capacitive touch on the lower row of keys occasionally, but honestly I will just cut them if it bugs me enough, that is how convenient this keyboard is.

Also, the battery life is amazing on this thing. I have used it extensively the past few days, and not once has it ran out of battery after a full overnight charge. My cell phone cant even do that and it is a fraction of the size. Oh and did I mention that I was streaming HD videos during parts of the day? Yeah you should be impressed. This is a piece of hardware that could easily last through six classes of moderate use without needing to be charged.

Speaking of streaming media, the video quality is great and the speakers are loud enough for my husband and I to watch tv shows on it together. If you are a teacher this could easily be used to set up stations with different videos on them for the students to watch together. Or you can have them create them by some of the apps I will be talking about at a later date.

Now if your a teacher or technology coordinator you may balk at the $500 starting price for the wifi only version, but from what I can see so far, this is not a purchase that you will regret making. There are some downsides (for example the lack of easy or inexpensive repair in case of accidents) however if you purchase an extended warranty with the product that shouldn’t be a problem. Network integration is a cinch, and you don’t have to worry about kids downloading programs that will slow down or screw up the hardware because they have to know the password for the owner account (which you won’t give them!)

So stay tuned for future app reviews, currently I am evaluating a note taking app that, if it works as they claim could be very useful in a 1-to-1 environment, or even in a collaborative group setting.

See you soon!

Why I Am Considering Divorce from Android

I’m going to take a break from my regular blogging about educational technology to discuss something that really irks me. Android.

I love(d) AndroidI was young, in love, and naive. I should have coughed up the money and went with an Iphone but no… I was lured in by the promise of open-source and Google and freedom from Steve Jobs. At first the relationship was great, we were a perfect fit – I use Google every day so the ability to search right from my homescreen, connect everything on my phone to my Google Account, and customize the background and apps were wonderful.

But then the relationship turned sour. My first phone was a mytouch – which was incredibly slow and glitchy and had to be sent back in to T-Mobile no less than 3 times until I accidently dropped it and cracked the screen – forever ending my ability to have the thing replaced. I sent it in so many times because it was SO SLOW and took forever to load things, frequently force closed applications, dropped calls, and would even call the wrong person on a regular basis (and this was before I dropped it). Finally I traded in my first phone for a newer, shinier version which promised great things.

When I bought the Samsung Vibrant, T-mobile promised an upgrade to Android 2.2 before the end of the year. Stupid me to actually believe them. It’s now January and there is no sign of an upgrade, and I read the most disturbing rumor mill story recently that Samsung was actually delaying the upgrade because they are about to release a newer, shinier version of the Vibrant. This rumor went on to say that the “new” Vibrant is really just the old Vibrant, same guts and all, with a plus at the end of it’s name.

Evil AndroidIf I could sum up the problems facing the Android platform as a whole it would be this (and I hope the Google and the carriers are reading this):

  • fragmentation – there are currently phones with operating systems dating back to 1.6 (or earlier!) all the way to 2.3 (if you’re a developer) which causes irritation for the consumers *who care* and the App developers – imagine trying to create an app that works on
  • carrier modifications/set-backs – before each version of the OS is pushed out to the lucky few phones that get it, first the hardware companies and then the carriers tweak and add their own doo-dads on. This results in a several month lag between when Google releases it and when it actually starts arriving at handsets.
  • Android Market – I almost wish I could say “enough said” but unfortunately there are probably those out there who aren’t aware. The Market is unreliable and if there is a way to sort your results then I haven’t found it yet. Plus I don’t know if the apps are vetted at all (doubtful) but there is a lot of junk mixed in with the gems if you know what I mean. Oh and did you know there are other Markets springing up that aren’t run by google? (Ex. Amazon App Store)
  • No Flash – SERIOUSLY  - unless you have 2.2 there is no flash support. This is the thing that Iphones were lambasted about not having and yet Android has not had flash support until very recently and again only for the lucky few with the newest phone.

Now to be fair there are things that I do like about the Android platform – I like the idea of open source (although not the execution), I like the customization that you can get on an Android phone that Steve Jobs wont allow, and I like not being tied to AT&T (although that is obviously less of an issue now that Verizon has picked up the slack). But you can’t argue that the simplicity of the Iphone is a huge plus. You may not be able to customize it, but this also means that it is easy to use. Steve Jobs may rule the app market with an iron fist but you also know that you get what you pay (or don’t) for. I can’t say that I will jump ship any time soon from my contract with T-mobile (I still have another year and a half technically) but I am vociferously discontent.

So if you too have been burned by your love of Android – don’t be shy, don’t stay quiet. Maybe if we all keep talking about it they will fix something… maybe. It’s worth a shot anyways. I even propose a new hashtag #WhyAndroidWhy for the discussion.

In the meantime, will someone please ask Samsung to send me my Froyo!

P.S. I am aware that you can root the android phones and upgrade them and all that jazz, but I’m hesitant to do so and void my warranty. As stated earlier I do have a tendency to drop my phone on a semi-regular basis and really need to be able to send it in when I do!

Engaging a Gaggle of Googlers

So I stole the title from my #VSS2010 presentation, but it is catchy! (credits go to @dcmcgeary and my husband for helping me come up with it)

The presentation was about information literacy, which I have to be honest, when I first heard about it thought… ugh what a snooze (hence why my presentation is not called “Information Literacy for Students” or something like that) . However, when I started doing my research in order to put my presentation together I realized that it is a really important topic.

Essentially information literacy is the ability to access, evaluate, and create information. What this boils down to is that we have to teach our students how to effectively use google (or any other search engine but yes I am preferential to google) to search for information, how to evaluate the results of that search to make sure that the information they are finding is valid, and then how to take that information and create something new and unique, to add to the experience and journey of other’s.

NASA discovers bacteria that incorporate Arsenic (a poison) into their DNA

From everything that I have learned about information literacy over the past few months of researching for my presentation I have come to realize one thing. This is a topic we cannot afford to ignore if we want to be creating productive citizens from our schools. Here is what I mean, and if you saw my presentation forgive me for repeating myself. As a biology teacher I have the unique perspective of knowing that all of the “facts” that I teach my kids are likely to be declared obsolete before the students graduate, and possibly are already obsolete before I even teach it to them. Is this because I’m a lazy teacher and don’t make sure that I’m teaching the correct information? No, I do my resarch, I’m very well read in my subject area, however the pace of discovery is astounding in the biological (and other) sciences.

Just recently I had to come back to my students and apologize for teaching them that lysosomes were only found in animal cells because recently researchers have discovered them in some plant cells as well. Many of my students were way ahead of me and had seen that in their research for their cell analogy projects that they had turned in the week before. I’m glad the students were able to say “yeah miss, we saw that in our research” because that meant that they had actually dont the research, but on the other hand not a single student questioned me about it. I can, and will, take that two ways. 1) they didn’t remember I had said it or 2) they weren’t paying attention to me in class when I said it.

Advanced Search on Google: Make your searches more specific

Advanced Search on Google: Make your searches more specific

How many of us have decided that kids are less and less well behaved in the classroom, and seem to pay attention in class less and less? Can you blame them when we are teaching to a model that no longer fits with the way that they learn? Our students are raised in an environment of instant information where they are the gatekeepers to their own knowledge. In the classroom the teacher is the gatekeeper and parses out information as if bestowing a gift (ha!). Instead of teaching facts to students, which is a part of the old model, we should be teaching skills, concepts, ways of thinking. I’m not advocating a fact-less education, as that would be basically impossible, and there are definitely lots of things, facts, that are not going to become obsolete any time soon, if ever. However we do our students a disservice if we do not teach them HOW to find, evaluate, and synthesize information on their own.

One of the first things that students need to learn is the basics of a good google search. Filtering out information that is unnecessary or irrelevant is a big step in the right direction. Here are a couple of basic search operators (replace term with the search phrase you are using)

  • Define: term- this will produce a definition (or multiple definitions from various sites) for the search term you have input
  • term OR term- this will provide you with results from either search term (but not both)
  • “term” – this will provide you with results that contain the EXACT phrase found within the quotation marks. Very useful if you are trying to check for plagiarism!
  • search phrase -term this will provide you with results that do not include the term with the (-) attached to it (leave off the space after the dash)
  • *- google calls this the “fill in the blanks” operator, you may (or may not) have heard it called a “boolean operator”. Basically input the * in place of any word in a search phrase and it will return results with a variety of terms substituted in.
  • Everything: By default, your Google search will show unfiltered results that can include all the types of content below.
  • Images: See only results from Google Images.
  • News: See only results from Google News.
  • Books: See only results from Google Books including reviews, excerpts, and where you can buy the book.
  • Videos: See only results from Google Videos and YouTube.
  • Blogs: See only results from Google Blog Search.
  • Places: See only results from Google Place Pages.
  • Shopping: See only results from Google Product Search. (With this option, you’ll see results within the Product Search site rather than in a Google search results page.)
  • Realtime: See only real-time updates from micro-blogs like Twitter, FriendFeed, Jaiku and others. Learn more about Google real-time search.
  • Discussions: See what people are saying in discussion groups, forums, and question-and-answer sites.

there are a variety of other operators or advanced search options to choose from, do a quick google search for “advanced search options” and you will find not only a google article, but many websites and videos with tips.

Well this is the first in my series on improving the information literacy of your students, in following posts we will discuss ways for them to validate their sources, as well as ways to take the new information they find and create something to further someone else’s information journey.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year to all!

*Note: Google has recently added a feature that allows you to view the reading level of your search results – it’s found in the advanced search box and there are only three levels, basic, intermediate, and advanced, but hey it’s a start! If you are searching for introductory information for your kiddos you may want to select basic or perhaps intermediate.

*Update 12/22 – check out this website (The Google Guide) for even more information on Google skills! It has options for Teens, Novices, and Experts to get started learning more!

My Kind of Blended

I have a vision for a 21st century school, and I’m determined to make my vision a reality. I know that a lot of talk is going on right now about education reform and what are we going to do about our current school system. Honestly I’m not sure that the problem of the public school can be fixed from the inside.

I have long believed in the power of the free market – yes it can be used for evil and not good (RE: current economic crisis and meltdown of wall street) but I also know that, just like my students in the classroom, excellence is bred in the evolutionary soup of survival of the fittest (I’m of course being metaphoric here). Anyone who has read 1984 knows that mediocrity is the only thing that comes of everyone doing the same thing because it’s what they are supposed to do, and that is what our public school system has become.

First of all, we have to get rid of the “one size fits all” educational system that we currently have. Okay so maybe we have two sizes, possibly even three if you count special education, but overall you are either advanced or you aren’t, and other than that we all learn the same thing (give or take). I can tell you that from looking around at the population of my school, 65 percent, 65 PERCENT (and I’m understating it even I think) of the students at my school are being failed by the system we have in place. Our test scores are great, our graduation rate is the highest in our district (and that is including the rich schools), we were even Recognized ratings in the accountability standards, and only missed Exemplary by a few points, and still I say we fail them. They know that they are just jumping through a series of hoops in order to graduate, and in the end many of our students are unprepared for the rigors of college, and are certainly unprepared for the real world critical thinking and problem solving that will be expected of them. Not to mention that the majority of the students in my school have little ambition to even attend college (many are poor and first generation (if that) citizens) and so will leave high school with that notch on their belt and join the working world. WHY are we not preparing them for the path that they intend to take???

I’m calling first of all for a return of the vocational school! There is no shame in a student learning a trade that will actually benefit them and give them a valuable, marketable skill (not to mention that many skilled tradesmen and women make more money that us teachers do!) in the process. Many economists are citing the lack of skilled tradesmen as one thing that is hurting our economy as we have to outsource many of the jobs that were originally done by Americans. Many of our students are checking out mentally, and sometimes even physically, because school has lost it’s relevancy to them. We are one of the few first world countries that still tries to force everyone to fit the college-bound educational mold. Why?!

Three girls completing virtual school course work in their bedroom

Christine Ward, left, Katherine Cohoon and Catherine Ward take classes through the Florida Virtual School, the fastest-growing school system in the state.

Secondly, we need to be integrating blended education into the “traditional” schools that remain – classes that meet online the majority of the time and only meet face to face a few hours a week. This would eliminate the need for “seat time” requirements, allow students to work at a pace that fits their lifestyles (when do most of your students do their work… I guarantee you it’s after 7pm) while still giving them a measure of accountability in the face to face meeting times.  Students who are advanced can work ahead or be given supplemental assignments without it being awkward or difficult, and students who are behind or need extra help can get remediation BEFORE the test because the remediation will be a built in part of the course.

Flexible scheduling will also allow for school buildings to be smaller – rooms can be shared when meeting times don’t overlap, which cuts down on maintenance costs, and the role of the teacher switches from that of dispenser of knowledge to that of a facilitator. This could even potentially allow for teachers to take on (slightly) larger numbers of students, as many online tasks can be automated and when you are answering questions and facilitating it takes much less time per student than lecturing, grading, discipline management, etc can take currently. Teachers can also lighten the grading load by assigning collaborative projects in which the students work in more realistic group settings than individually, and even can allow students to critique and assist each other. One of the greatest side-effects of my class facebook page has been that when students have questions they post them on the facebook page, and other students will actually answer them!

Another benefit to flexible scheduling will be in creating a more college like atmosphere to help prepare students for the actual schedule of college. I know that one reason many of my friends struggled in college was the adjustment they had to make to the new schedule. Add in the fact that many professors just didn’t take attendance and you had a recipe for disaster. If students are already familiar with and comfortable with only physically attending classes a few hours a week, plus have it built in as a habit to attend class, I think they will find it easier to adjust and make them more likely to attend their classes. Not to mention the fact that the type of blended classes I envision are going to build in the students a habit of learning on their own and using all of their available resources to make sure they understand, which is going to create more independence and self-reliance – definitely both traits essential to success in college. Right now many students are learning the exact opposite in their secondary school classes (ex. if i keep quiet or alternatively yell out the wrong answer enough the teacher will give me the right one).

Seattle Science Fiction Museum

Flexible scheduling also will be useful to students who are heavily involved in other activities. If you do not have to be in class every day, or can schedule to attend on a different day when conflicts arise in your schedule, then you will have more control over your learning, and be less likely to be penalized for being absent for various activities. As an example I have a student who recently switched into my class, and I kid you not today was the 4th time I have seen her in the 3 weeks she has been in my class. Now she was sick a couple of days, and I was in Arizona at VSS for another 3 of those days, but the rest of the time she has been out for various school activities. Her grades are suffering because she hasn’t been present in class enough to keep up with her work and really know what is going on. Her learning is seriously disrupted by her extra curricular activities but there is no way she is going to give them up if  you ask her. I’m sure that other people have had experienced similar situations.

This idea is still open to suggestions and if you have any I would love to hear them. As I said I fully intend to see my blended school become a reality one day soon, although I may have to leave the public school system in order to do it unfortunately. I would really like to open something like this in Seattle and last I checked charter schools were still a no-go there. Texas allows charters but I love the weather in Seattle… plus I have never seen so much green in all my life. Plus how can you not love a place that has the craziest looking sci-fi museum ever, and a troll under a bridge?!

The “New Normal” of Sec. Duncan

Secretary Duncan gave a speech last week that has surely ruffled many a-feather. While I certainly agree that this is a time to re-vamp our educational system, disrupt the current model and innovate, I do not agree with everything he had to say.

The first thing that is bothering me is his announcement that districts need to think about increasing class sizes. I have three problems with this and I will address them each separately.

(1) He claims that Japan and South Korea have larger class sizes and are far more successful than we are and therefore we should increase class sizes. This is not a logical argument. For one thing, the culture of asian countries is EXTREMELY different than the culture in the United States. Hello! How many times have you heard from your kids “oh yeah well _____ is asian so of course he/she makes good grades”. There isn’t anything biologically different between Asian students and American students (at least.. I don’t think there is), the difference is cultural! The majority of my Asian students have been instilled from a young age the value of hard work and education. Kudos to their parents! Shame on the rest of us. In any case – saying that because these countries do well with larger class sizes and then so should we is easier said than done. It would also involve a massive cultural shift here in the States. Additionally I have done a little reading myself and find that parents in these countries would prefer for their kids to be in small classes, but financially it isn’t viable for their governments. Many of us have also heard about the excellence of education offered in Finland – their classes are even smaller than ours… an average of 20 students per class! (let’s not even begin to talk about how much more the teachers get paid….)

(2) Secretary Duncan is listing this class size reduction as a part of a group of reforms to help schools deal with smaller school budgets, but contradictorily had this to say:

During a question and answer period, one teacher questioned that rationale [larger classes], saying that if she took on additional students, that’s asking her to do more for the same amount of money. Duncan said he’d like districts to consider reworking contracts so that effective teachers (particularly those who choose to work with more kids) can make a lot more money, say $80,000, or even $125,000. *

How on earth are districts going to be paying between double and triple the current salaries (depending on where you are from -i’m basing my projections off my own district) when we are discussing how we don’t have any money?! This doesn’t make any sense. Especially since in the same speech he was discussing class size increases to a mere 26… umm I don’t know about you but I would LOVE to have classes that small. My BIOLOGY classes were 38 kids each up until this about a week ago. Let’s not even talk about the safety issues that causes. Most classes are already very large and I dont see my district saying “Hey Adrianne… you know you have been dealing with ridiculously large class sizes, we are going to triple your salary”. Right. Also – what constitutes an “effective” teacher – one who has high standardized test scores? I think we all know how reliable a metric that is… (another post for another day)

(3) I have first hand (see above) experience with large class sizes (related to the mentality that if you teach Pre-AP you are teaching the “good” kids – that is a post for another day though) and I can tell you that I absolutely would not want that for my own children (whenever I decide to procreate that is). Even in classes with the “good kids” you have discipline issues – they are a chatty bunch those advanced students – and teachers just DO NOT have the time to assess understanding on an individual level and make sure everyone is keeping up. Also the load on the teachers to deal with the headache of keeping that many kids in line and the grading.. oh the grading… I don’t have enough time in the day to grade and provide the level of feedback that I feel is necessary to redirect and correct misconceptions, not if I want to have a life and spend time with my husband, and even if I didn’t I still wouldn’t have enough time to grade 178 student’s papers when we give assignments every day (and yet another post for another day).

The second thing I wanted to (briefly) discuss was his comment about not paying teacher’s with Master’s degrees more. Why shouldn’t we reward teachers for continuing their educations? Do we not want life-long learners in our classrooms? If you want talent you have to pay for it! Now I know that having a Master’s degree is no guarantee of teaching capability, but that is a separate issue. If a teacher sucks, then help them improve, and if they can’t or wont, then get rid of them. Having a higher degree means that you are (theoretically) more knowledgeable than someone without. And if we are going to go that route then why even hire a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree? Have any studies proved that Bachelors improve student achievement? Why not just stick someone in an alt. certification program, provide them with the text and send them on their way? You learn more about your subject from actually teaching it anyways. (Note: I am not advocating this). For an educational secretary he certainly doesn’t seem to value an education very much!

Sadly I feel that it is thoughts like this that are driving more and more potential teachers away from the profession because the opportunity to make more money and have less stress is increasingly being found in the private sector, not the public school system.

But enough about what I think, what do you think? I want to hear it all, agree or disagree. I’m admittedly not as well read on many of this as some of you are so I want to know!

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