Monday, December 5, 2016

Field blog 6 and final field post blog

Today is my final observation at Height High. It has been interesting and memorable. When I went into the class room, I saw that Ms. Russell was frantically trying to set up the class room because the key to her room did not work, so she was late. I helped her pass out laptops and markers. Right when we finished the students started coming in for first period. I now know how the class is set up and how Ms. Russell runs the class. She always has a bell work so the students can warm their brains up and review past material. Then she gives them an independent assignment. She allows them to do this for a little bit, and then she goes over the independent work as a class. She does this so that the students can see what they know by themselves, and then she can make sure they are understanding the work. Today the students are working on a final project. They are supposed to create charts about the reaction rates of enzymes. The students use different colored markers to help them distinguish the data. This project is a better assessment of their knowledge than a test because the students have ample amount of time, and they can apply their knowledge on the subject. Both her second and first period classes work on the projects for the entire period.

Coming to Heights High opened my eyes. My entire life, I attended a public suburban high school that was in an affluent area. Heights High introduced me to people of different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Ms. Russell allowed me to see that teachers must be patient, kind, but accepting of students. She always gave her students respect so they students gave her respect. Ms. Russell is a good teacher because she never gave up on a child. She knew when she had to stop pushing a child that day, but she never stopped supporting a child. She had personal connections with every student and it allowed the students to trust her. The field observations helped me affirm that I want to be a high school biology teacher.

Field Blog 5

Today Ms. Russell is in a tough place. She has to send letters home to students who are below a C in her classes. In her first period class she has 13 students who are getting letters sent home. She says that most of those students are doing poorly in the first period class because they have poor attendance. Her grades are 60% in class and 40% assessment, so class attendance is key. While the students are working on bell work, she passes out the letters. The students seem to either be upset, or annoyed. She announced that the students need to have a parent or guardian sign the paper and the student needs to return the paper tomorrow. The students put their letters in their back pack or fold it and put it in their pocket. Then Ms. Russell has the students work on another web quest. I am starting to think that she uses web quests a lot. Ms. Russell walks around the class room and helps students if they have questions. The goal of today is to get above a 25% on the online quiz at the end of the web quest. This is so she knows that the students tried on the online quiz and did not just hit random answers. The bell rang and Ms. Russell pulled one student aside and said that he had to call home. He was failing the class and if he failed this semester, he would not graduate in the spring. It is his fourth time taking biology. He tried to talk his way out of calling his guardian, but he ended up calling. He left a voicemail. Second period started and the class was small. A couple of students came in late because they were finishing a test. Ms. Russell only had 3 students who had below a C in the class. This was a big difference than first period. Ms. Russell passed out the letters home and then helped students with the bell work and went over the bell work as a class since everyone finished it. Second period is always better behaved, on task, and ahead of first period. I think this is because Ms. Russell can give specialized attention in this class because it is a smaller class.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Field blog 4

The classes are working on another web quest. This time it is about enzymes and reactions. The students are finishing the web quest from the day before because barely any students finished. When they finish the activity, they are supposed to work on their homework packet which is due before Thanksgiving break. The students are working hard because they want to work on homework. I found out that students only receive a homework packet if they have a C or lower in the class. Five kids do not have to work on the homework packet. One student arrives half way through the class and sits in the back of class and listens to homework instead of doing the class work. Ms. Russell told me that he is purposely trying to fail the class so he can go back to juvenile detention. Ms. Russell is still trying her best to help him learn though. He has a C or higher in the class thanks to Ms. Russell not giving up on him. The students finished up the lab and are attempting their homework. They keep asking Ms. Russell the same questions so she does an example on the board. That helped the students a lot because the students were able to understand what the questions were asking. The second period class came in and they had already finished the web quest, so Ms. Russell allowed them to work on their homework packets and work on any assignments that are due this week for the biology class. The students are grateful because each week they have a class packet worth 100-200 points due each week. They want to make sure they complete it and that it is correct. Ms. Russell says she uses the in class packet as a guide on what needs to be accomplished, and it forces kids to make more of an effort in class. Normally the packet cannot be worked on at home so they need to work diligently in the class. Ms. Russell understands that students come from all backgrounds and strives to help every student. She believes that every student can succeed if they want to. This mindset inspires me because she is so kind and helpful to her students and never gives up on them. She is tough on students who need to be taught a lesson, but still kind. She is a great teacher.  

Field blog 3

When I go into the class, I am starting to recognize students and learn names. The first period is very talkative. Today they are working on a lab quest. They are using Google Chromebooks. The students are complaining because the computers are slow. The teacher told me that the middle schoolers get iPads. The middle schoolers used to be able to take the iPads home, but high schoolers would wait for them after school and steal them and bully middle schoolers. Now middle schoolers cannot take home the iPads. To punish the high schoolers, they have not given them iPads yet and are forced to use laptops. The lab quest they are working on is about enzymes. Throughout the quest, they must take online quizzes and send their results to Ms. Russell. Ms. Russell does this so that she knows that the students are taking the quizzes and working. This relates to what we were learning about in class. In the reading from Ayers, Chapters 5 and 6, we learned that the curriculum needs to have hands on experiences. The lab quest allows students to apply their knowledge and learn material in a new way. While the students are working, she is at her desk grading papers. Once she finished grading papers, she passed the papers back to the students. Some students did not receive a paper because they did not do the assignment. Ms. Russell announced that the students who did not get a paper handed back need to see her after school. When the bell rings, everyone leaves except for one student because he is asleep. Ms. Russell woke him up and told him that his grades reflect his habits. He needs to start putting in more effort if he wants to pass the course. Ms. Russell says that she is not a babysitter. She is supposed to help students learn and teach them what they must learn. She cannot force students to learn. They must desire it. All she can do is facilitate it.  Ms. Russell’s second period class is very quiet. They all sit down and work on the lab quest silently. This class has a girl who is learning English as her second language, so Ms. Russell gives this student more specialized attention. Ms. Russell helps her with the lab quest and helps her try to process the information.

Field Blog 2

Today when I went to Heights High, I found out that attendance is rare in this class. I come to Heights High from 8-9:30 usually so I see two classes. The students in first period slowly trickle in. At my first observation, I thought that there were around 15 in the class. Today the teacher told me that the class is supposed to have 28 students in it. She said that usually she has around 15-20 students on any given day. It is hard for students to arrive at school on time due to busing. The high school got rid of high school busing due to budget cuts, so students either must find a ride to school, walk, or rely on public transportation. When students take public transportation, they are at the mercy of the system. If the buses are behind they will be late and if they miss the bus they may have to wait a long time for the next bus. There may also not be a bus that comes to them. Because of this, many students are late, and have bad attendance. We learned on a field trip to Noble elementary that they have received a lower rating. I think that the lower rating affected their funding for the school. I think that school funding should not be based off tests. Students need busing so they can learn. It is not a student’s fault that they cannot find a ride to school. Today the students were taking a test. There were 13 kids at the start of class, and by the end of class there were 18 kids. Right when the students came in, they grabbed the homework packet and then took the test. The teacher allowed students to stay after class to finish the tests if they came in late, but only 3 kids stayed after class. I witnessed one kid turn in a blank test. I have noticed that this student is always on his phone during class, so he did not understand the material for the test and did not know any answers, in my opinion. Ms. Russell was very helpful to the students, answered questions and made sure that no one was cheating during the test.  

Field Blog 1

Today was my first day observing at Heights High. I am observing a high school biology teacher named Ms. Russell. She has been teaching for over 16 years and loves it. When I walked into Heights High, I was greeted with by a security guard and was asked to present my license. After this, I attempted to go to my teacher’s class room. A security guard tried to force me into the lunch room because the guard thought I was a high school student. I tried explaining that I was a student at John Carroll University and that I was doing teaching observations. She did not believe me, but when I showed her my Carroll card, she let me go to the class room. The class room was small and had bare white walls. The teacher said that the school used to be a small middle school but it is being used now while the new high school is being made. The students all came into the classroom talking and joking around. On this day, it was the day after election day. The students had just woken up and either had their dreams come true or their worst nightmare became a reality. The teacher struggled to get the classes attention because the students kept talking about the results of the election. All the students in the classroom were African American and it seemed like most, if not all, were unhappy that Donald Trump would be the next president. After about 10-15 minutes of time where the teacher tried teaching a lesson, she lectured the class saying, “I am a immigrant. You don’t think I am just as scared as you are? I am a woman, an immigrant, a teacher, and a mother. I am a mother of 2 kids who are the minority of the minority. They are mixed, and I am worried about them. We can either keep wasting time and keep being fearful of what the next president can do, or we can educate ourselves. He cannot take away your education and your knowledge. Now let’s expand your knowledge and learn today. He can only win when we stop educating ourselves.” This speech was amazing. The students listened to her and did their work. I gained so much respect for the teacher after her speech and the students did too. This helped me understand why the security was so tough on me today, because they may have been on edge after the results of the election. This teacher was able to inspire her students in 2 minutes and give them a new desire to learn. This relates to what we learned in class. We learned about how African Americans and other people can be discriminated against and how school needs to be a safe place. This teacher made the classroom into a safe space.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Blog Post 10

When I look back at all my blog posts, I realize how much I have learned about education. I brought real life experiences, opinions, and lessons together so I could reflect on education in greater detail. I spoke about how I think that schools should not diagnose students left and right with different learning disorders. I also wrote about how I think discussions are very beneficial to students. It allows students to apply their knowledge and answer and ask questions. I also believed that schools need to be safe havens for students, and teachers need to be accepting of all students. I also wrote in a couple blog posts about how schools need less standardized testing and more funding.

The themes that were common were that standardized testing hurts students. I wrote about how at Noble Elementary, they lose funding if they do poorly on tests. Schools also get graded on how well students do on tests. Noble received a poor rating, so now they must provide money to students in the Cleveland Heights and University Heights area who wish to go to other schools. I also wrote about how standardized testing causes teachers to have to teach to the test. Teachers must focus on information that will be tested. It is not bad to focus on material that is tested, but it causes teachers to forget to teach other valuable lessons and skills to students that their students can use to further their education and knowledge.


I believe that standardized testing and the Common Core do not benefit students or the educational system. Standardized testing causes students to have more stress in their lives. A couple of tests throughout their lives cannot and should not dictate their future. I believe that education should shape and form students. It should allow students to grow and understand the world around them. Teachers should be able to teach information that applies to what is going on in their community. A school’s purpose is to help students find passions and gain knowledge. Schools should help students find a subject matter that they enjoy and can possibly apply to a job. Standardized tests take the focus away from that and turn the focus onto whether you can do something. Now do not get me wrong, students need to be tested to see if they understand subject matter, but standardized tests are so broad that teachers have to cover too much information. Adding on the that, Common Core causes teachers to not focus on helping students find their passion and gain knowledge. It causes teachers to force information down students’ throats. School should be a safe haven where students can find themselves and learn about the world around them. Teachers should be able to facilitate these ideas and nurture students so they can grow. Standardized Tests and the Common Core cause all growth to be stunted and it turns schools into factories where each student is made to regurgitate information.

Problem Statement

Common Core fails students because it dictates what teachers should teach. Teachers cannot teach students different ways to understand something. This can cause some students to be confused. Common Core and Standardized Testing causes teachers to teach information that will be tested on, or information that is mandated by the government. I think that the idea behind Common Core is good. There should be a standard saying what students should know at each grade level, but it should be flexible and allow teachers to teach the information how they want to. Standardized tests take up too much time in the class room. Teachers give students practice tests. These practice tests take up valuable time in the classroom. Standardized tests also take up time in the classroom because there can be days, up to weeks, dedicated to administering and taking the tests. Standardized testing affects students who are not taking the tests too. This topic is important to me because my junior year of high school I was affected by the mass amounts of standardized tests that were given to freshman. I was in an AP US History class and the teacher was forced to administer the freshman standardized tests. My teacher had to miss over two weeks of class time because of the tests. This caused our class to be behind in the subject matter. Those two weeks of class time that was lost could have helped us learn ore history. The class had only gotten past WWII. In the time that was lost, we could have gotten to present day.  During the test, there was a question that counted for 40% of the exam. It was about the conservatism of the 1980s. I knew nothing about it, and the class knew nothing about it. Because of the time lost to standardized testing, the class performed poorly on the AP test.

There have been many studies that show that students who have been taught with the Common Core have had lower test scores. There have also been studies that show that students who have been taking standardized tests their entire life, are less prepared for college. I think this is because schools have been rewarding students who can regurgitate information, instead of rewarding students who can think critically, make connections with the world around them, and apply what they have learned in the classroom. I also believe that basing a school’s funding off these tests is terrible. The standardized tests a designed to help some students and hurt others. For example, if a student was told to write a story about the time their mom took them to the beach. Can a student without a mom write as good of a paper as one who does have a mom, or can a student who has never left their city let alone gone to the beach write as good of a paper compared to a student who was been to the ocean. A school’s funding should be based on their need and what they will use it for. Standardized tests already cause some students to be at a disadvantage.