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BUILDING MORE RESPONSIVE SCHOOLS

COMMENTARIES BY DR. ABRAHAM S. FISCHLER

BUILDING MORE RESPONSIVE SCHOOLS COMMENTARIES BY DR. ABRAHAM S. FISCHLER QUOTATIONS TO GUIDE TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS, PARENTS,

QUOTATIONS TO GUIDE TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS, PARENTS, AND STUDENTS

Quotations were pulled from the works of these authors:

BUILDING MORE RESPONSIVE SCHOOLS COMMENTARIES BY DR. ABRAHAM S. FISCHLER QUOTATIONS TO GUIDE TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS, PARENTS,

With Hillary Howrey and Steve McCrea

Building More Responsive Schools

1

Abraham S. Fischler

Copyright © 2012 by Abraham S. Fischler

All rights reserved. Quotations by others are quoted for educational purposes to aid the reader in following the commentaries.

ISBN-13: 978-14782 43594

ISBN-10: 14792 43590

CONTENTS

Selected Educational Pioneers ............................................ Introduction ........................................................................ The Problem ...........................................................

5

9

9

My Vision for Educational Change …

....................

10

What do we need ? … Short Quotations with Commentaries

..............................................

...............................

12

15

Excerpts from abe.TheStudentIsTheClass.com Questions & Answers with Dr. Fischler Commentaries on others' published works

..................

...............................

..........................

31

37

42

Comments from the public

.................................................. Links for additional reading Endnote by a taxpayer …

................................................

.................................................... Seven Points from the Blog …

............................................ About the Author and editors …

........................................

51

54

57

63

60

What's Next? …

...................................................................

62

The purpose of this book is to introduce teachers, administrators, parents and students to ideas of education that might be missing in their lives. As Dan Pink has observed, most institutions have changed dramatically in appearance and in how they operate since the 1950s – banks, supermarkets, restaurants, hospitals all have different procedures and employ architecture to improve the customer's experience. The exception: public schools (2001, page

278).

We have included quotes from over two dozen educational pioneers,

some who are not household names. To give the lay reader an easy

reference to these accomplishments.

experts, we

begin

with

a

short list

of

their

SELECTED EDUCATIONAL PIONEERS

ERNEST BOYER (1928-1995)

President of Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

BILL FERRITER (1965-)

Science teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina. He can be reached at wferriter@hotmail.com. His blog is found at

THOMAS FRIEDMAN (1953-)

Columnist for the New York Times, author of The World is Flat (2005). His call for better teaching has inspired teachers to rethink how they present information to students.

LOU HOLTZ (1937-)

Motivational speaker and retired football coach.

ELLEN LANGER (1947-)

Professor of social and clinical psychology at Harvard University. She was the frst woman to earn tenure in the psychology department at Harvard. She has studied the illusion of control and decision making.

DENNIS LITTKY (1951-)

Author of The Big Picture: Education is Everybody’s Business. His school, the Met Center in Providence, R.I., has spawned a chain of more than 75 schools in the USA.

TOM MAGLIOZZI (1937-)

One of the hosts of Car Talk on National Public Radio,

author of In Our Humble Opinion: Car Talk's Click and Clack Rant and Rave (2000).

JAMIE MCKENZIE (1958-)

His article in The WIRED Classroom

provides

a

list

of

descriptors of

the role of

a teacher who is a “guide on

the

side” while

students

are

conducting their

investigations. His website fno.org (“from now on”) is

recommended for teachers who want to teach better starting today.

MARGARET MEAD (1901-1978)

Cultural anthropologist.

MARIA MONTESSORI (1870-1952)

Italian pioneer in education.

JEAN PIAGET (1896-1980)

Swiss developmental psychologist.

DANIEL PINK (1964-)

Author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation, has several memorable lectures on YouTube (search “Drive Daniel Pink Motivation”).

ROBERT REICH (1946-)

Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.

KEN ROBINSON (1950-)

Author of The Element, Robinson has over 400,000 hits

on

his

lecture

describing how “schools remove

creativity.”

 

ROBERT STERNBERG (1949-)

Clinical psychologist who described a theory of human love.

MARK TWAIN (1835-1910)

Author and humorist.

TOM VANDER ARK (1959-)

Self-described “Edu-preneur,” blog commentator at EdReformer.com, former head of the charity funded by Bill Gates that distributed over $800 million to education.

W.B. YEATS (1865-1939)

Poet.

DENNIS YUZENAS (1957-)

Teacher in West Palm Beach, Florida and webmaster of WhatDoYaKnow.com.

DENNIS YUZENAS (1957-) Teacher in West Palm Beach, Florida and webmaster of WhatDoYaKnow.com. <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OexlFZK2g4s Dr. Fischler described his educational philosophy in this interview. Building More Responsive Schools 8 Abraham S. Fischler " id="pdf-obj-7-9" src="pdf-obj-7-9.jpg">

Dr. Fischler described his educational philosophy in this interview.

Building More Responsive Schools

8

Abraham S. Fischler

INTRODUCTION

The

excerpts

from

Dr.

Abraham

S.

Fischler’s

blog

(TheStudentIsTheClass.com) and commentaries by Dr. Fischler are in standard typeface. Editor’s remarks are in italics.

THE PROBLEM

A t the present time, teachers are working hard but we are still not fulflling the demands of our students or our society. Why not? The

schools are set up with an agrarian calendar and teachers are responsible for teaching to a class as a unit. Time is fxed and the only variable is performance – some pass and others fail. And, if those who fail do not make up and achieve the profciency that the test is measuring, they drift further and further behind. The consequences are numerous and punishing. How does this instill a love of learning? This approach does not take into account a truism: “all students can learn, but they learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles.”

Instead of asking the student to ft the administrative structure (i.e., the class and arbitrary time periods for learning subjects and achieving competencies), we must provide each student with the time and means to

succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class.

We must fnd a way of doing this. Other industries have made similar changes* and it is now time for education to do the same. *FedEx can tell you the location of any package at any time. Look at banking, which is now available 24 hours a day through ATMs and you can go to almost any ATM to withdraw or deposit funds. Both industries invested in information and delivery systems to meet the needs of their clients rather than asking their clients to accommodate to a fxed structure. Now the automobile industry is enabling customers to order on demand rather than requiring them to accept whatever is available in the dealer’s showroom. In the business world, however, there is competition that requires companies to adapt – education does not have this catalyst.

MY VISION AND STRATEGY FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE

Istudent. What investment is needed?

believe

that

we

in

education

must

make

the

investment to do the same for our clients, i.e., each

There are three modes of instruction: 1) self-paced or

CAI, 2) project or problem-solving and 3) discussion.

Self-paced or computer-assisted instruction (CAI) requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area. For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the 1st grade (and continue thereafter). The reason English and Math are chosen is that these are the two cultural imperative languages. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn. And, one of the goals of education is to create self-learners. For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student. Once the problem is defned, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to the problem. If complex, each of the groups may study an aspect of the problem. With these subjects, the student uses the computer as a research tool (after having learned to read). Students are taught to use search engines such as Google or Yahoo as well as the internet made available by teachers for the students to gather information relevant to them.

Students working in groups learn cooperation, shared responsibility and communication (face-to-face as well as e-mail). Having produced a written solution to the

problem utilizing the computer (power point) as a tool, they can then present to the class for discussion. They can also use email or a written report to other students as well as to the teacher.

Arbitrary learning within fxed time periods would be eliminated, i.e., no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. grades. Instead, students would be grouped chronologically with materials appropriate to their learning level and style using the CAI approach for English and Math, and the project-problem-discussion modes for other subjects. The projects given to the students match the level of English and Math competencies and are related to the students (their interests and their lives). For example, in 3rd grade, how would you study the amount of water that a plant needs to grow? I would utilize the students’ Math knowledge (learned through CAI) for science learning. Likewise, rather than studying history through memorization and chronology, it can be studied through problems based on the immediate environment for younger children and more abstract concepts in later grades.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

In order for this to be implemented, what do we need?

  • 1 We need to get the concerned people on board: Parents, teachers,

community

Dennis Littky points

out,

leaders,

as

“Education is

everybody's business.”

  • 2 We need

the

hardware

computers

with

modems and Internet access for each student. Initiatives like “Bring Your Own Device” can

help.

3principals, students and parents.

We need the management system (many existing

solutions can be adapted) to guide teachers,

  • 4 We need the curriculum – Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) for math and English and creative, relevant problems and projects for other

subjects.

5in place.

We need to implement teacher training. To begin

to implement change, we need all of these things

I would like to see a group of elementary and middle schools, and the high school into which they feed (a demonstration ‘zone’) of some size agree to adopt a vision where time is a variable and mastery what is expected from each student. A computer company can be found to donate (or the zone can buy) a laptop with a modem for each student. The zone needs to build an integrated management system in order to be responsive to what students do and how they learn. Part of the management system is administrative, part is the CAI component, and lastly, the management system needs to record and refect the student’s learning in non-CAI instruction (‘student portfolios’). The CAI component must be self-correcting and use artifcial intelligence so that the component improves as more students utilize the program for English and Math. Teacher training is critical and must be done during the summer prior to implementation.

We will need teachers to “buy into” this vision. Parents, administrators and students will have new roles, too. It will take a village to pull together the transformation described here. The process of building the new school system requires a new mindset—that is—we must agree that the Student is the Class. From that central mantra

we can build a new way of looking at education and the roles we play in making schools work.

we can build a new way of looking at education and the roles we play in

Dr. Fischler's principles have been turned into posters in PDF fles, which are available for downloading from Transform-Education.com.

Building More Responsive Schools

15

Abraham S. Fischler

SHORT QUOTATIONS WITH COMMENTARIES

“EDUCATION IS NOT THE FILLING OF A PAIL, BUT RATHER THE LIGHTING OF A FIRE.”

W.B. YEATS

Due to the pressures that teachers and students are under since the No Child Left Behind Act, more and more time is now being spent helping students learn at a comprehensive level. Little time is left for the skills of analysis, synthesis and self-judgment.

We put information in but we do not give them time to massage the information and go through Piaget's process of assimilation and accommodation at the concept level.

How do

teachers instill this “fre”

in

a

school that

focuses on

computer-based instruction?

The computer is a tool to be used in many different ways. It is a learning tool, it is a research tool, and it is a communication tool. So it depends on the environment and how it is orchestrated.

Bloom's taxonomy talks about levels of learning.

Comprehension is the lower level.

But the student also

needs time to utilize information for analysis and synthesis. So the computer could be used for those two

purposes.

In the CAI approach you can reorganize students to solve problems through projects. Small groups can improve their communication skills, working in cooperative teams, sharing research responsibilities, and giving presentations to the entire class.

We have to provide an environment so that students can use what they have learned through technology.

Rarely should you see a teacher lecturing in front of a group of students. That would make the assumption that all thirty youngsters are ready to receive what you are presenting and to process the information.

“ABILITY IS WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF DOING. MOTIVATION DETERMINES WHAT YOU DO. ATTITUDE DETERMINES HOW WELL YOU DO IT.”

LOU HOLTZ

Having a

"can

do" attitude and

being

motivated to

succeed are powerful behaviors. This is one of

those

quotes that belong on a wall to remind students of the importance of self-confdence.

“I HOPE THAT IN THE CENTURY AHEAD STUDENTS WILL BE JUDGED NOT BY THEIR PERFORMANCE ON A SINGLE TEST BUT BY THE QUALITY OF THEIR LIVES. I HOPE THAT STUDENTS WILL BE ENCOURAGED TO BE CREATIVE, NOT CONFORMING, AND LEARN TO COOPERATE RATHER THAN COMPETE.”

ERNEST BOYER

My test would use the following question: Have we produced a motivated person with the tools and desire to keep learning?

quotes that belong on a wall to remind students of the importance of self-confdence. “I HOPE

“OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM SHOULD BE CREATING MINDFUL LEARNERS.”

DENNIS LITTKY

“I HAVE BEEN A PSYCHOLOGIST FOR 21 YEARS, AND I HAVE NEVER HAD TO DO IN THE PROFESSION WHAT I NEEDED TO DO TO GET AN A IN MANY OF MY COURSES IN COLLEGE. IN PARTICULAR, I'VE NEVER HAD TO MEMORIZE A BOOK OR LECTURE. IF I CAN'T REMEMBER SOMETHING, I JUST LOOK IT UP. HOWEVER, SCHOOLS SET THINGS UP TO REWARD THE STUDENTS WHO ARE GOOD MEMORIZERS, NOT JUST AT THE COLLEGE LEVEL BUT AT MANY OTHER LEVELS AS WELL.”

ROBERT STERNBERG

It is clear that our schools should prepare students for “real world” conditions, where many workers have access to information. Students and teachers should practice using smart phones and the Internet.

“TOO OFTEN WE TEACH PEOPLE THINGS LIKE ‘THERE'S A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO DO EVERYTHING.’ WHAT WE SHOULD BE TEACHING THEM IS HOW TO THINK FLEXIBLY, TO BE MINDFUL OF ALL THE DIFFERENT POSSIBILITIES OF EVERY SITUATION AND NOT CLOSE THEMSELVES OFF FROM INFORMATION THAT COULD HELP THEM.”

ELLEN LANGER

I agree. Flexibility is the key to success.

"A GOOD TEACHER KNOWS WHEN TO ACT AS SAGE ON THE STAGE AND WHEN TO ACT AS A GUIDE ON THE SIDE. BECAUSE STUDENT-CENTRED LEARNING CAN BE TIME-CONSUMING AND MESSY, EFFICIENCY WILL SOMETIMES ARGUE FOR THE SAGE. WHEN STUDENTS ARE BUSY MAKING UP THEIR OWN MINDS, THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER SHIFTS. WHEN QUESTIONING, PROBLEM-SOLVING AND INVESTIGATION BECOME THE PRIORITY CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES, THE TEACHER BECOMES A GUIDE ON THE SIDE."

JAMIE MCKENZIE

THE TEACHER IS CIRCULATING, REDIRECTING, DISCIPLINING, QUESTIONING, ASSESSING, GUIDING, DIRECTING, FASCINATING, VALIDATING, FACILITATING, MOVING, MONITORING, CHALLENGING, MOTIVATING, WATCHING, MODERATING, DIAGNOSING, TROUBLE- SHOOTING, OBSERVING, ENCOURAGING, SUGGESTING, WATCHING, MODELING AND CLARIFYING."

" ...

“THE TEACHER IS ON THE MOVE, CHECKING OVER SHOULDERS, ASKING QUESTIONS AND TEACHING MINI- LESSONS FOR INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS WHO NEED A PARTICULAR SKILL. SUPPORT IS CUSTOMIZED AND INDIVIDUALIZED. THE GUIDE ON THE SIDE SETS CLEAR EXPECTATIONS, PROVIDES EXPLICIT DIRECTIONS, AND KEEPS THE LEARNING WELL STRUCTURED AND PRODUCTIVE.”

JAMIE MCKENZIE

“I NEVER LET SCHOOLING GET IN THE WAY OF MY EDUCATION.”

MARK TWAIN (SAMUEL CLEMENS)

What is the goal? To keep teachers employed? To hand students a diploma? To transfer skills to a workforce? I believe that the goal is to produce a motivated person

with the tools and desire to keep learning. We need to have the humility to see that we teachers and we principals do not have all of the tools. Students need to take responsibility for at least part of their learning. Can we shape the classroom and the curriculum to the shape and dimension of the student?

with the tools and desire to keep learning. We need to have the humility to see

Building More Responsive Schools

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Abraham S. Fischler

“NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU HAVE GONE ON A WRONG ROAD, TURN BACK.”

TURKISH PROVERB (FROM THE BIG PICTURE BY DENNIS LITTKY)

We have invested a lot of money and training in the big- box public high schools. Bill Gates has put a billion dollars or so into making high schools smaller and into technology for education. We need to stop, turn around, and start with the beginning of a student’s education— let’s start with elementary schools. By adding a layer of computer-mediated instruction over the existing system and by engaging parents, students, teachers and principals in a vigorous re-connection with the goal of education, we can move toward making the student the class.

“IT SEEMS TO ME THAT SCHOOLS PRIMARILY TEACH KIDS HOW TO TAKE TESTS, A SKILL ONE HARDLY USES IN REAL LIFE (UNLESS ONE IS A CONTESTANT ON A QUIZ SHOW). ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PREPARES KIDS FOR JUNIOR HIGH; JUNIOR HIGH PREPARES THEM FOR HIGH SCHOOL. SO THE GOAL (IF WE CAN CALL IT THAT) OF SCHOOLS IS TO PREPARE KIDS FOR MORE SCHOOL.”

TOM MAGLIOZZI

“THE TEACHER OF THE FUTURE IS AN “EDU-TAINER”: GIVING AN EDUCATION THAT IS ENTERTAINING”

DENNIS YUZENAS

Should teachers be entertainers? I want to change this

quote to:

“Learning should be fun for the

learner.”

Classrooms should be exciting. Students should be the performers. Teachers should be facilitators and motivators, asking students to think about challenging problems. Teachers should reward success, using language that make learners feel good about themselves. “You can do it.”

As the saying goes: “The teacher is a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.”

For the learner, education is a continuum and it is not important where the student is housed. What is important at the end is have we produced a motivated person with the tools and desire to keep learning? In order to do that, the learner must achieve competency in two languages, English and Math. Everything else can be learned if he or she is motivated to learn and to become a self learner. Professors make it easier by picking out what they think is necessary in the particular feld of knowledge. Thus you can achieve more knowledge in a shorter time if you work with advisors. They also provide guidance and help you achieve a number of life skills so you can function effectively with others and assume your share of the responsibility for achieving the objectives.

“CHILDREN ARE WORKING AS IF I DID NOT EXIST.”

MARIA MONTESSORI

When students work together in small groups on projects, they become self-motivated, interested in the problem that they are working on, and learn to help one another by sharing responsibilities.

The CAI approach delivers the needed level of comprehension. Jean Piaget says that we redefne a concept every time we meet a discrepant event: An event for the learner that does not ft the concept that he already has. As a result, the learner has to go through questions: “Did that really exist?” “How do I modify the concept to accommodate the new information?”

Students go through this when they learn that electrons might not be particles. Electrons act more like clouds in certain circumstances.

“THE PRINCIPAL GOAL OF EDUCATION IS TO CREATE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE CAPABLE OF DOING NEW THINGS, NOT SIMPLY OF REPEATING WHAT OTHER GENERATIONS HAVE DONE.”

JEAN PIAGET

In order to do new things, they have a concept of what ought to be. But now they are confronted with a surprise, something that does not ft. That is the discrepant event. Then the individual has to go through assimilation, asking, “Does that really happen? Is that real? What is true? What am I seeing or what have I been told? What

did I expect to happen?”

...and

then it did not happen.

Then, the student has to go through the process of accommodation, and modify his mental concept to take into account something that occurred which they did not expect. Then they are at equilibrium, and they are content again, until the next discrepant event is introduced. When you talk to children, you have to know their level of comprehension, so you know what information needs to be provided to help them develop and become more knowledgeable. The individual learner must experience these steps. The teacher introduces the discrepant event, and frst the learners assimilate and then accommodate the information.

Students at Bova Prep in Boca Raton, Florida If the student does not have the basic

Students at Bova Prep in Boca Raton, Florida

If the student does not have the basic comprehension, you will miss the mark – the information that you think is a discrepant event will “go over his head.” For example, you can tell a six-year-old that the earth is rotating on its axis at a rate of 25,000 miles per day, and this phenomenon is what creates day and night. Why don't we feel it? But, if you were in an automobile and you put your hand out the window, you would feel that force.

With a six-year-old, you are going too fast. You do better by starting with “day is when the sun is out” and “night is when the sun is hidden.” You can ask, “Why is the night dark? What gives light to the moon?” You can give

Building More Responsive Schools

28

Abraham S. Fischler

a six-year-old a bit of understand this concept.

this, but

he

does not

really

After introducing a discrepant event, we need to give the student time to process the information.

We tend to start with what the child can observe. Science for grades 1 to 3, the focus should be on “what can you see?”

Explaining that the earth is turning is not going to foster understanding in younger students. Rather, wait until they begin to ask you about rotation. However, not all students will be ready to ask you at the same developmental time. Some require more time, others less, but these concepts should be taught around their proximal zone of development rather than on an arbitrary schedule that inevitably prevents some students from being able to grasp the information.

“GIVEN THE WIDENING ARRAY OF POSSIBILITIES, THERE’S NO REASON THAT EVERY CHILD MUST MASTER THE SCIENCES, ALGEBRA, GEOMETRY, BIOLOGY, OR ANY OF THE REST OF THE STANDARD HIGH SCHOOL CURRICULUM THAT HAS BARELY CHANGED IN HALF A CENTURY.”

ROBERT REICH

There is a core of basic knowledge that one expects from a person at a certain point in time. I don't expect people to be experts, but biology is a science. In order to function as a member of society, it is expected that people have some knowledge about various sub-topics within biology. Mastery of certain concepts is expected according to current ability level. Science is not a cultural imperative. Knowing our language and basic mathematics are cultural imperatives; accordingly, I expect every child to function at a certain level in these domains. For example, the ability to handle and compute fractions and percentages is essential to function properly in society. How would one ever cook or shop effciently without these abilities? However, I do not expect everyone to know everything about trigonometry. Robert Reich is right, as long as we do not say “master.” We need a core in all areas and you have to give students the

tools for self-learning: if we can read English and we can do some math, we know when to doubt and we do not jump to conclusions without considering the proper information critically.

You can teach yourself most of the sciences and social sciences if you have the prerequisite English and Math skills.

“ONE-THIRD OF THE JOBS THAT WILL BE AROUND TEN TO FIFTEEN YEARS FROM NOW HAVEN'T BEEN INVENTED YET. WE ARE NOW AT A POINT WHERE WE MUST EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN IN WHAT NO ONE KNEW YESTERDAY AND PREPARE OUR SCHOOLS FOR WHAT NO ONE KNOWS YET.”

MARGARET MEAD

What can we do if

we

do

not know

what

we

do

not

know? The education system of the future needs to be

fexible, more so than our current system.

“AS CHANGE COMES ABOUT, THE WORK OF THE CLASSROOM TEACHER WILL CHANGE DRASTICALLY. INSTEAD OF LEADING GROUPS THROUGH STANDALONE LESSONS, TEACHERS WILL INCREASINGLY MATCH INDIVIDUALS WITH LEARNING SOLUTIONS ALIGNED WITH THEIR INTERESTS AND ABILITIES. CONTENT WILL BE PACKAGED AND DELIVERED ASYNCHRONOUSLY, ALLOWING STUDENTS TO WORK INDEPENDENTLY AND REVISIT LESSONS AS NEEDED. FACE-TO-FACE EXPERIENCES WILL BE COMBINED WITH DIGITAL INTERACTIONS; GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES BETWEEN TEACHERS AND STUDENTS—AS WELL AS BETWEEN LEARNERS—WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY IRRELEVANT.”

BILL FERRITER

He is on target. We have had individual teachers doing exciting things but remember we are now speaking about total schools with thousands of teachers.

Transformation in education begins when teachers exchange ideas in a culture that tolerates innovation. Boca Prep,

Transformation in education begins when teachers exchange ideas in a culture that tolerates innovation. Boca Prep, Boca Raton, Florida, bocaprep.net

Building More Responsive Schools

33

Abraham S. Fischler

EXCERPTS FROM THESTUDENTISTHECLASS.COM

BEYOND MEMORIZATION: GIVE 21ST CENTURY STUDENTS TIME TO UNDERSTAND

We can all agree that it is important for students to graduate from high school. However, what happens when “graduating” from high school does not necessarily represent an understanding of the basic skills needed in college and the workplace? More than half of the students entering public colleges and universities in Florida need remedial classes in math, reading, and writing prior to starting their college classes. The problem is not the amount of money we are putting into our public schools; rather, the structure and curriculum of public education needs reform. Memorizing information for the FCAT or College Placement Test is

not going to equip students with the skills needed for the

  • 21 st century.

Students need to learn to analyze, understand, and explain rather than memorize, recite, and regurgitate facts and information. A student cannot be expected to

master division if he or she does not know what dividing numbers truly means. Subjects—particularly reading and math—need to be taught on a student’s individual timeframe. Learning should be measured against each student’s past markers of progress. We must enable students to learn at varying rates so they come to understand and analyze information in a way that is useful and accessible both to them personally and for the

  • 21 st century.

We must change our expectations about time and make conceptual understanding (not rote repetition) our frst priority.

TIME MUST BE A VARIABLE FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

Nowhere in my readings have I found encouragement and funds to reward systems that are trying to build an educational environment As long as time is fxed, then student progress is what is variable within the fxed time frame. Thus, 30% of the student population is punished through failure.

If we moved in core areas - mainly based on students’ mastery and making time a variable. English and Math - to Computer Based Learning ("CBL" or Computer Assisted Instruction “CAI”), the student becomes the

class

and each

student is given

time

to

master the

materials. Further, what is learned becomes a tool for

future learning.

In science and social studies, projects that are meaningful to students can be agreed and assigned. Small groups then may use technology for research purposes as well as to make PowerPoint presentations to fellow students. This transformation cannot be done without the community, without curriculum design and without teachers who are trained to utilize the classroom environment properly.

Student management also is important so that the teacher, the student and the parent see the progress of each student. This type of system provides accessibility to all partners, including the principal and state, as well as a vehicle to help determine the effectiveness of the learning environment in the classroom.

ISCHOOL

A new model being used in select NYC schools, called iSchools, seeks to integrate ‘innovative technology with project-based curriculum’ and early results indicate highly successful outcomes. In this model, groups of students utilize virtual resources on the internet to complete research projects and in doing so take pride in their work and ownership of fnal results. Each student has his/her own laptop and access to a variety of online resources, which can be monitored by teachers and parents using a learning management system. These are all steps toward creating an environment in which time can be varied to accommodate the learner. As the student becomes more inclined to utilize technology and group-based project research, the skills gained will better prepare the student to enter post-secondary education and the 21st Century workforce. Source: eschool.com

IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE IN K-12

No longer can we afford to lose more than 30% of our high school students to the dropout pool. No longer can we tolerate the outdated agrarian industrial model. No longer can we tinker around the edges, substituting book A for book B or modifying a time dimension within a few

courses. No longer can we afford to leave the structure and organization of K-12 education the same.

This is the moment - this is the time for real change in the public schools of this country. We have the knowledge, the tools and the necessary technology to

create

a

positive

learning

environment

for

the

21st

century.

We can

focus

on the student

as

the class and

offer

individualized

instruction

based

on

students'

different learning styles. We can vary time so that those who need more time to master a concept have the opportunity to do so. The organization and structure of our current K-12 system must be changed to accommodate all learners.

DON'T BLAME THE COMPUTER!

Some schools are dropping the computer because they failed to get the results they wanted. This is a mistake. A computer is a tool that must be integrated into the fabric of the instructional process. By itself, it will not change nor improve results. The curriculum must be modifed; the teacher must change his or her role from presenter to a catalyst for learning. Opportunity must be given to students to work on real world problems. The computer can be utilized in many ways, including:

as a learning tool

acquiring and organizing information

communicating within a group

helping to analyze data

creating PowerPoint or other presentations and

sharing with the class

Remember: Do not blame the tool. The learning system must be changed, and teachers must be trained in a new learning paradigm rather than what is comfortable or familiar.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH DR. FISCHLER

FIFTY YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT WILL EDUCATION LOOK LIKE?

The Student will be the Class. We will have had years of developing the technology and skills and the communication banks that exist. There will be new ways of communicating throughout the world. Science experiments could be done remotely if we feed information to a central point. We can be doing a great number of things because of new networks and because of our ability to communicate. Thomas Friedman is not wrong. The world is fat. In economics, it is already happening: the assembly plant is in one location and the component parts come from a variety of locations, fed into a central assembly line. So cars are manufactured using components made wherever people can get them made to meet basic quality requirements. We need to strongly consider using the same approach in education.

PERHAPS TEXTBOOKS WON'T HAVE ANSWERS

In the science textbooks I wrote for teachers, I never provided answers to exercise questions. For example, in questions about a chemistry laboratory experiment involving titration, I would never answer the question, “What color did you get?” I never gave the answers to the teacher because if you accidentally add too much acid to the base solution, you are not wrong. Most books assume that you will do everything precisely according to the directions, so they assume that you will get a specifc color. However, if you are not perfectly accurate, you will get another color. You are not wrong because whatever color you obtained is the color you obtained in your experiment.

So, if I had described the color in the teacher's manual, the teacher would have told the students “You are wrong. It says that the color is intense pink and you have pale pink.” As a result, I tried not to give the teacher the answer where I could, especially in textbooks meant for use with younger students. Many teachers did not like my books—the uncertainty made them uncomfortable.

Instead, imagine if the teacher tells students, “Come over and see what color I got in my experiment. Why do you think are our colors different?”

This type of experiential learning is what fosters critical thinking, understanding of broader concepts, and integration of themes. Students do not receive these benefts simply by obtaining the answer that is specifed in the teachers’ manual.

Instead, learning takes time. It takes time away from pressure.

While you are working in the refective environment, the students are not gaining comprehension about what is being tested. So the more we go toward the testing model, the more rigid the classes have to become.

That's why the school of the future needs the second class area for small-group projects. Teachers have to be ready to move students into that area when it is time for analysis.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS OVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

There is no reason that we cannot encourage public schools to have the same liberties as their charter school counterparts.

Public schools tend to have a large number of children from low-income families and therefore have an increased need for the freedom to accommodate 'each student as the class'. If children are primarily in a success-oriented environment, they tend to behave differently because they are rewarded in a positive manner. If they have access to computers that contain software for computer assisted instruction (CAI), then it is easy to vary time for each student and give all students the opportunity to be successful. If we combine CAI with a 'project approach' (i.e., working in small groups on meaningful problems) in the areas of science and social studies, students acquire the skills to use technology as a learning tool, a research tool, and a communication tool. Such improvements—that may be available in new charter schools—must be available in our public schools.

CAN SCHOOLS BE SAVED?

Yes, of course. We have to try. Everything we stand for in the USA came through schools, so we have to transform our system of public education.

WHY DO SO MANY MATH STUDENTS “HATE MATH?”

Many math teachers do not know the beauty of math. They studied one required math course in college, which was named College Math. Math is a cultural imperative, a language that one needs in order to understand and function in our world.

HOW DO WE GET THE COMMUNITY INVOLVED?

HOW DO WE GET THE COMMUNITY INVOLVED? Parents, ministers, business leaders, employees, they all have a

Parents, ministers, business leaders, employees, they all

have a stake in the schools, so how do we get them to

participate in this plan?

This

takes

time.

The

community needs to understand a good deal of the new philosophy. So we have to take the time before we begin

to implement the system to make sure the community members are on our side. They know why we're

changing and how we're changing and we are not going to lose their child because we're going to know more about their child. The parents are going to get feedback from their children. Through a computer portal, the parents can come in and see the children's work, both in the tutorial and the group presentations.

The curriculum has to be bought for the computer- assisted and computer-mediated instruction (CAI and CMI). Technology has to be in place. Every child needs access to a computer and students can share computers and learn together, so there needs to be a minimum of one computer for two children. They need it for all three modes of instruction. The computers are not in a computer room, but rather they are in every classroom. What's important is that the computer is a tool.

Finally, we have to train the teachers. We have to organize the school and the structures so that time is a variable. If we require that every student fnish every part of the curriculum at the same time without this fexibility, we will not get the benefts of the individualized results. We need to allow some students to take longer to gain mastery. It is true that students start school at six years old, so they come to schools with different experiences and language skills, even though

everyone has been alive the same amount of time. We have to know where each student is, what they bring into the school, what the setting is at home and the reinforcement that is necessary for the learning process to take place. The parent has to be able to work with the child because the child might be working on something over the Internet.

This organization has to accommodate the change in philosophy and the existing organization. Not every student has to be in academically rigorous high schools. Not every student needs to be in high school until they are 18 years old. Some will get out at 17 or 16 and there may be some students who need an extra year. The important thing is that the diploma says to the outside world, “This student has reached a level of mastery in English and math and has the skills to use technology to be a self-learner.” The skills related to work or to go on to university or the community colleges. Not every child is oriented to go to the universities but they all have the skills to continue to learn after they leave high school.

The community college doesn't have to remediate the students because the high school diploma isn't issued

until the child has shown mastery. As self-learner that's what the diploma means.

Time Needed for the Change

You can't do this in one year just as the banking system couldn't change overnight. You have to wait for all of the technology, the buy-in by the community and training are in place. You're adding each year the incremental equipment. Each student has a computer, which needs to be purchased when the student comes into the system. Over a period of time, you continue operating the old system while you are investing in the parts for the new system. This is not like an automobile assembly line which can be shut down for retooling and in three months you come up with new models. This has to be done over time while you are operating under the existing system.

until the child has shown mastery. As self-learner that's what the diploma means. Time Needed for

Everyone wants to know “how quickly can it take place?” It depends on the resources you have available over and above what you are already spending to maintain the system to move, acquire and gather the necessary tools and help the teachers learn to use the computer as a tool for students to learn.

What would “outreach to the community” look like? New Learning Institute newlearninginstitute.org has engaged the neighborhoods around Nightingale Middle School in Los Angeles to design a plan called the Nightingale Initiative. The plan includes community resources that the school can use. Learn more at

TheD3lab.wordpress.com.

WHAT WOULD BE THE DROPOUT RATE?

There would be no dropout rate. If a student is an

active participant

in

the

learning

process

and

gets

positive feedback and is enjoying what he's doing because he's going through success, not failure, then

students stay in school.

not

fxed

in time

but

If you reinforce success, and it's

related to the student's rate

of

learning, then there is no need for the student to drop out.

It reminds me of an adult playing golf. The frst time you pick up the club, you fnd out that it's not so easy and when you fnally hit one good shot, it doesn't mean that the next shot will be good, too. It takes practice. You have positive reinforcement because you are playing the game against yourself. The frst dozen times you shoot over 100, then you eventually shoot in the 90s, and if you stay at it and you get reinforcement from those you play with, you end up getting a lower score. But you won't break 100 the minute you hit the frst ball. You have to practice. Don't focus on the balls you hit in the water or the woods. The structure focuses on your success. You can help students over the diffcult path and they will stay with you.

Under the existing system the dropout rate is roughly 30 percent and even more in some inner cities. Dropout tends to be related to economic backgrounds, so the drop out rate is generally lower in the suburbs. The economy determines whether the student succeeds, as does the home environment. This is why it is important to engage parents and get their support for this transformation of education. One of the major reasons for the drop out epidemic is when a child arrives at school with defcits. It's very diffcult for them to make up the difference in the time available and they drift further behind and they are left back. All the research points out that if you hold back a student twice, they drop out. If you reinforce the positives, people enjoy the experience. We have to change the orientation and culture of the school.

Stop throwing money at the current system

We can't put money in the existing system and expect change. The analogy that I use is the propellor vs. rockets. You can throw all the money you want at the propellor system, but you'll never get to the moon. You need a new principle operating with a new fuel that can operate external to the atmosphere to get to the moon.

We have the same problem in education. We have created a structure that comes form an

We have the same problem in education. We have created a structure that comes form an age that is entirely different from the one we have now. The demands of society today says that we have to educate every child to at least have a bona fde high school diploma and skills to get employed. That's the minimum requirement we have. We have to take into account what we know about learning and we have to look at what the student brings into the school and how to capitalize on the learning style of the student. The diploma has to be defned by what the student can do. Time becomes a variable.

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Abraham S. Fischler

If the student is having trouble from going from A to B or B to C,

If the student is having trouble from going from A to B or B to C, that's where the teacher comes in to differentiate and adapt the curriculum to the needs of the student. With the CAI and self-paced system, the teacher has time to sit with individual students. Over time students that are rapid learners and bright and motivated are moving at a faster pace. The child who has more diffculty conceptualizing the material can get help from the teacher, who now has time to help. The slower child can get help from a student who has already mastered the material or a teacher's aide. You can have students helping another student. This changes the climate of the school and the parents through the

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Abraham S. Fischler

internet portal sees what the student is doing. Homework isn't just doing repetitive work, it's being able to come into the servers and continue to grow because you are working on projects that you enjoy and you're motivated to learn.

We have to provide time to let students become successful. Bringing in good teachers and principals is not enough. We need the transformed structure, and a change in philosophy and culture.

internet portal sees what the student is doing. Homework isn't just doing repetitive work, it's being

Three parts of the transformation: A concerned member of the community, a teacher and an administrator during a school visit. Dr. Fischler and Dennis Yuzenas (teacher and webmaster for WhatDoYaKnow.com) listen to the dean of student life, Richard Tripp, at a school in West Palm Beach, Fla.

COMMENTARIES ON OTHERS’ PUBLISHED WORKS

DISRUPTING CLASS

C. M. CHRISTENSEN, M. B. HORN & C. W. JOHNSON

The authors explain why major changes are required in

public education if we are to educate every child from every background to fnish high school with the knowledge and skills needed either to either enter the world of work or

continue

their

COMMENTARIES ON OTHERS’ PUBLISHED WORKS DISRUPTING CLASS C. M. CHRISTENSEN, M. B. HORN & C. W.

education in the 21st century. This book appreciates the uniqueness of

each

student

(referencing

the

Multiple Intelligences theory introduced by Dr. Howard Gardner) and recognizes that we need to adapt instructional

methods to match the learning styles of each student. Its

'disruptive innovation theory'

explains

why

it

is

so

diffcult to move public education from its current focus

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Abraham S. Fischler

on the 'class' to a new and needed focus on the 'student'. The authors' concept of a future classroom is one that incorporates technology and software to provide alternative methods and options for students to achieve the required objectives. They also encourage an environment in which students work together on projects and share and conceptualize their learning rather than memorize bits of information. Whilst this book recognizes the need for fexibility within the organization and structure of the learning environment to accommodate individual variations, it does not spell out suffciently the need to vary time because students learn at different rates.

WHY GO TO SCHOOL?

STEVEN WOLK, PHI DELTA KAPPA

The May 2007 issue of Phi Delta Kappan has a wonderful article written by Steven Wolk entitled “Why go to School?” It is a critique of what we are teaching

and how we are teaching. In the article, he states the following: “If the purpose of our schools is to prepare drones to keep the United States economy going, then the prevailing curricula and instructional methods are probably adequate. If, however, we want to help students become thoughtful, caring citizens who might

be creative enough to fgure out how to change the status quo rather than maintain it, we need to rethink schooling entirely.” Mr. Wolk outlines what he considers to be the essential content for a new curriculum. The essence of what the article states is similar to the essence of the early writings found in my blog.

be creative enough to fgure out how to change the status quo rather than maintain it,

International exchange student from Hungary in a Florida school that uses the International Baccalaureate program.

SPEAK UP SURVEY: IS TECHNOLOGY MISSING THE MARK?

DAVE NAGEL

The nationwide survey polled approximately 270,000 students, teachers, and parents on "subjects ranging from technology, math, and science instruction to communications, collaboration, and self expression". The fndings were very interesting.

The article quotes Julie Evans, CEO of the non-proft group Project Tomorrow-NetDay as saying that "[m]ost importantly, this survey shows that technology presents a unique opportunity to engage students in their core- curricular subjects, such as math and science, by providing them the high tech tools that raise their levels of interest in this coursework." Students also expressed interest in the integration of real-world problem solving, talking to professionals, and using multimedia and interactive simulations.

We, as educators, must prepare the youth of this country to creatively address problems and challenges—some that may have happened before and others undoubtedly that will be unprecedented. We have gone through many

ages as a nation and world: agricultural, industrial, technological, information, and now we must enter the age of creativity. Creativity involves imagination, innovation, and entrepreneurship along with reasoning, problem solving, and critical thinking. Listening, memorizing and regurgitating learned information is no longer suffcient. We need to do more in our schools through personalized education. And, in fact, it is even time for us to consider how to integrate the home environment into the fabric of the learning process.

“TOUGH CHOICES OR TOUGH TIMES”

THE COMMISSION REPORT (NCEE)

A report by the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (National Center on Education and the Economy) entitled 'Tough Choices or Tough Times' has some wonderful recommendations that should be taken in serious consideration. Therein, Richard W. Riley, the former Secretary of Education states, “The question this report raises is whether our country has the kind of education system that is needed to maintain America’s standard of living for our children, our grandchildren, and future generations. I very much hope that it will spark the kind of tough, honest debate on that topic that it so richly deserves.” Another notable quote

from the report is by Thomas W. Payzant, Former Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. He states “Piecemeal reform of public education in America is insuffcient to deliver the promise that every child will receive an education that leads to a good job, productive life, and responsible citizenship. The New Commission Report is a coherent, comprehensive, systemic plan for how to enable public education in America to be the best in the world.” The report concludes that our current public K-12 education system cannot be fxed, and therefore it must be replaced.

The generalization which emerges relates to what I have been advocating for a very long time. Every high school graduate has to be competent not only in the two languages (English and mathematics), but also must be able to analyze, synthesize, use value judgment, and be able to communicate effectively using modern technology. In addition to these outcomes, every student must graduate with a salable skill to be employed, should he or she choose not to pursue higher education. In order to achieve all of the above, we must reorganize and restructure public education to accommodate every learner.

“HOW TO BRING OUR SCHOOLS OUT OF THE 20 TH CENTURY”

CLAUDIA WALLIS

On December 16th, 2006, we read the following headlines: “More Teens Drop Out” in the Miami Herald and “Dropout Rate in Broward Increases” in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. This did not surprise me, nor should it surprise you. The higher the standards, the more diffcult it is for students to achieve their goals if the structure and organization of the learning environment is not changed. In my previous blog entries, my theme is consistent- “Children learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles.” Time must be the variable and mastery the goal. If students do not fully understand algebra, they will have a diffcult time learning trigonometry. If they have not mastered reading, they will have a diffcult time comprehending high school science textbooks or the New York Times. The consequences of not making this change leads to an increase in dropouts and eventually to an increase in the poverty-level class.

TIME magazine recently ran an interesting article entitled ”How do we bring our schools out of the 20th

Century?” by Claudia Wallis and Sonja Steptoe. It states, “The world has changed, but the American classroom, for the most part, hasn’t…kids spend much of the day as their great grandparents once did: sitting in rows, listening to teachers lecture, scribbling notes by hand, reading from textbooks that are out of date by the time they are printed.” This article also introduces a new commission on the skills of the American workforce. The commission reports that standards of living are being jeopardized by the current system. The report lays out a series of steps designed as an integrated approach to change the entire system. The recommendations include:

Revamping the high school-college transition. · Reallocating funds to high priority strategies for improving system performance.

·

·

Pre-K for all.

Redesigning how schools are funded. Redesigning how schools are managed. · Educating the current workforce to a high standard. · Creating personal competitiveness accounts. I can agree with these recommendations, but the absence of computer assisted instruction in the core (and the use of the computer as a research and communications tool for all students), as well as a learner-centric approach with time and learning style as variables, are errors of omission. It is only through the use of technology as a

·

·

learning tool that will enable us to vary time and allow each student to master the requisite objectives.

EACH STUDENT NEEDS CREATIVITY, TIME AND THE BASICS

DOROTHY RICH

On Monday, December 4, 2006, I read a wonderful article by Dorothy Rich in the Miami Herald. In the article, she incorporates much of what I try to say in my blog. For example, she states, “there are no magic answers for the many teachers and students in our many classrooms…I would like to have a magic bullet.” She points out that in every classroom there are individual students, each with different sets of genes, learning at different rates, and having different strengths.

Because of the state’s emphasis on testing, teachers are under such pressure that there is little time for creativity, for allowing students to derive joy from learning. Learners need hope and optimism but unfortunately in our educational environment their natural imaginations are often stifed.

In New York City, there is an area superintendent by the name of Kathleen M. Cashin, who is responsible for one of the roughest areas in the New York City School System. In her schools she reinforces the opportunity for students to utilize their creativity through group learning. She encourages students to write stories and discuss their ideas. She also encourages the teachers to take the time to get to know each student. Through her efforts the scores in Region 5 have been steadily increasing.

I call this blog “The Student is the Class.” I reiterate that we must allow time for students to learn the basic core (English and Math), allow them also to acquire the ability for self-learning through working in groups, and fnally do written and verbal presentations where they can utilize their higher learning skills and interact with their peers. The teacher is like a conductor blending all three modes in a classroom setting, while the utilization of computers facilitates in the process.

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC

HOW DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?

I think a student like me should use really modern methods. To learn English (or another language), studying the perfect grammar at school is only the beginning. The real way to learn English perfectly is practicing. So it's a really good way using Facebook (for example, my best friend is American, so I always speak in English with her and it really helps me) and then talking about things we like. You should give the student all the things you know and then let her choose the things he/she wants to do. Most teachers think that being under pressure makes us give our best. THAT'S NOT TRUE. When I'm anxious or nervous, I really cannot do anything. It's like I am blocked. So I think that the right way to improve is feeling comfortable and doing things that interest us.

-ARIANA CONSTANTIN (MILANO, ITALY)

WHAT MAKES LEARNING INTERESTING?

A student's opinion—I think this class is interesting and I believe it is because we can lead the lesson by suggesting topics, discussing and discovering new things on the net and changing the program if we don't like it or fnd it boring. I can't really suggest a way to make this class better since we have a lot of freedom and can change what we are doing according to what we would prefer much more.

What makes a class boring? The wrong topics, a boring teacher, bad classmates are things that can make a class terrible. Choosing a topic that is not fascinating or not putting passion in teaching destroys the attention of the class. Not helping in creating cooperation within the students is the worst thing a teacher can do.

I

like

the fact

that

students are nice and

we

get

along. I love

choosing every day what I want to do and I'm fond of discovering

something I didn't know, such as "Save the Last Dance For Me" (a song that was sung in our class).

-GIULIA MASTRANTONI (PIACENZA, ITALY)

HOW CAN WE IMPROVE THE METHOD?

We could read more books, like the ones about the method we are experimenting with. And this would be interesting. Or we could keep some books on our own as I would like to do tomorrow, to practice with the reading with chapters that are more diffcult than newspaper articles.

– GIULIA MASTRANTONI (PIACENZA, ITALY)

1) It is best to know enough about your students that you can start a lesson from their interests. If they are interested, then they will work. You may have to set up small groups based on interest.

2) Give students the opportunity to share with others what they are learning, especially after they reach a point when they are ready to share. After they have completed their presentations, positive reinforcement is important.

– DR. ABRAHAM S. FISCHLER

OTHER COMMENTS FROM REVIEWERS

I was shocked when I witnessed a language arts meeting in my school on Thursday. It was 100 percent FCAT test strategies. There was no language arts at all! When I brought up authentic assessment, I was shot down. "This is what we're graded on" and "We don't have time for the cutesy funsey stuff" are two replies that stick in my head. This is what NCLB hath wrought. It's about time we wake up and realize the severity of the educational crisis we fnd ourselves in. The disconnect between the people determining educational policy and the people asked to be the practitioners of that policy is a mile wide and a mile deep. Dr. Fischler has managed to distill ffty years of educational research into a manifesto that should be taught to the policy makers and shared with teachers and parents everywhere.

Dennis Yuzenas, high school WhatDoYaKnow.com.

teacher,

West

Palm Beach,

Florida, and

webmaster

of

Dr. Fischler tells us that teachers, parents and administrators will have new roles, and students will be more responsible for their education in 21st century. It's not about better and more memorization. It is clear that students will need to work more flexibly than they have in the past.

Ugur Demiray, Editor, Turkish Online Journal for Distance Education (TOJDE), Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey. Anadolu University is the largest distance education university in Turkey with 1.5 million students.

Over the last decades, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Many aspects of daily life have changed profoundly. Unfortunately, our school system has not. We must adapt our teaching methods to the needs of today's students. The student is the class. This is what Dr. Fischler's book is all about.

Christian Braun, English language teacher, Germany Christian612@web.de

Dr. Fischler makes use of his enormous wealth of knowledge and

experiences to focus our attention on the key problems of education in the United States today. Being a pioneer of educational reforms, Dr. Fischler takes us on a short but solid reading which focus on three main aspects: the time factor in learning, the correct methods for delivering instruction, the role of technology, and the need to bring all the main actors together into his vision of the teaching- learning process. A very intelligent selection of educational quotes guides us through the main aspects in question. This is a necessary

reading for teachers and families.

Mario Llorente, teacher, Miami, Fla.

While a student at Nova University in the 1980s, I heard a professor say that there is a certain amount of social responsibility that we all take on because of our relationship to the community. That has always stuck with me. This is the power of a single quotation when presented with commentary and passion. I have repeated the quotation hundreds of times to students that I counsel. I believe Dr. Fischler's commentaries will have the same widespread impact.

Maria Espinosa, guidance counselor, Miami-Dade County Schools, mae33012@gmail.com

Dr. Fischler is qualifed by experience. The wisdom and concepts in this book, based on his experience, represent the only way to produce the flexible education system required to prepare every

student for life in the 21 st century. We, in education, owe it to the next generation to create the mindset shift that will bring about these reforms.

Will Sutherland, director, QBEAcademy.net, ws@QBEglobal.net

Advice from a master. These techniques can be adapted to classrooms now. I use them everyday.

Matt Blazek, developer of the Blazek CD for Projects and Discussions,

An interesting look at modernizing education and improving the learning process of a student. In essence, it's a manual on helping a student learn to learn.

Rohit Kilpadi, software applications, Budapest, Hungary

Search on Youtube.com “Abraham Fischler education” Building More Responsive Schools 72 Abraham S. Fischler

Search on Youtube.com “Abraham Fischler education”

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Abraham S. Fischler

LINKS FOR ADDITIONAL READING

WEBSITES—SCHOOLS

BigPicture.org, the Dennis Littky / Eliot Washor organization

CHADphila.org, Charter High of Architecture and Design, Philadelphia

HighTechHigh.org, San Diego, Calif.**

MavericksinEducation.com, chain of charter schools

MetCenter.org, Providence, R.I.** One of the schools in the Big Picture network of schools

NewCitySchool.org, St. Louis (publishers of a widely used workbook for introducing multiple intelligences in academics) Tracy.MHS.schoolfusion.us,
NewCitySchool.org, St. Louis
(publishers of a widely used workbook
for introducing multiple intelligences in
academics)
Tracy.MHS.schoolfusion.us,
Millennium High School, Tracy,
California. Motto: Aspire, achieve,
advance
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Abraham S. Fischler

UrbanAcademy.org, New York City** Motto: A small school with big ideas

**These schools were profled in High Schools on a Human Scale:

How Small Schools can Transform American Education (2003) by Thomas Toch, introduction by Tom vander Ark, Beacon Press, ISBN 978-

0807032459

WEBSITES—REFORMERS & PUBLISHERS

ASCD.org, publishers of The Big Picture: Education Is Everybody’s Business (2004) by Dennis Littky and Samantha Grabelle, ISBN

978-0871209719

EdReform.com, Center for Education Reform

EdReformer.com, Tom vander Ark’s blog, now at gettingsmart.com

edSpresso.com, newsletter, served hot with a twist

emaginos.com, Jack Taub’s site

RevLearning.com, vander Ark’s investment group

EssentialSchools.org, Coalition of Essential Schools

GatesFoundation.org, funding for education reform

GuideontheSide.com, Steve McCrea, teacher training workshops

New Learning Institute, newlearninginstitute.org, search for “d3 lab new learning institute” Slogan: “Transforming how young people learn.” Sponsored by the Pearson Foundation.

Nightingale Initiative, Nightingale Middle School, Los Angeles. Search “new learning institute nightingale initiative” to fnd the 7

MB PDF update (57 pages) or the original 25 MB version of the “Phase 1” report (47 pages).

media.newlearninginstitute.org/downloads/NightingaleInitiative.pdf

PZ.harvard.edu, Project Zero, Harvard University, teacher training

QBEAcademy.net, Will Sutherland, innovative curricula

theLearningWeb.net, Gordon Dryden, New Zealand, author of

The Learning Web with Jeannette Vos: How to quit school at 14 and eventually write a top-selling book about learning.

abe.TheStudentIstheClass.com, Dr. Abraham Fischler's blog

2mminutes.com, Two Million Minutes, Robert A. Compton’s project

WhatDoYaKNow.com, Dennis Yuzenas, master teacher and trainer, developer of workshops integrating digital portfolios

Other Resources: BIBPenpals.com

BIBPenpals is a program to bring classes together. Professor Jair da Silva has participated in numerous Skype classes. His English for Special Purposes class in Florianopolis, Brazil used posters available from Dr. Fischler for pronunciation practice.

Contact Jair on Skype Here's an example of a screenshot from a Youtube video recording of

Contact Jair on Skype

Contact Jair on Skype Here's an example of a screenshot from a Youtube video recording of

Here's an example of a screenshot from a Youtube video recording of an in-class Skype call. Students can study the results and replay the video for students who missed the class.

Similar results can be obtained by using video-sharing sites like YouTube and email or social media

Similar results can be obtained by using video-sharing sites like YouTube and email or social media like Facebook.

VIDEOS TO SUPPORT TRANSFORMATION

These videos can stimulate discussion.

Dan Heath has produced a series of videos with Fast Company to guide transformation in business. Schools could use many of the

methods described by Heath.

Search “dan heath fast company.”

VIDEOS TO SUPPORT TRANSFORMATION These videos can stimulate discussion. Dan Heath has produced a series of

These videos have millions of views:

VIDEOS TO SUPPORT TRANSFORMATION These videos can stimulate discussion. Dan Heath has produced a series of

1.1 million views (November 2012)

Education

scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa

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Abraham S. Fischler

to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching. Sugata Mitra's "Hole in the Wall" experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they're motivated by curiosity and peer interest. (Review reprinted from TED.com).

to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize

13 million views (November 2012) Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence (reprinted from TED.com).

Over 9 million people have seen this “animate” based on Dan Pink's talk to the Royal
Over 9 million people have
seen this “animate” based on
Dan Pink's talk to the Royal
Society of Arts (RSA). Pink
describes his book Drive on
Twitter as follows:
Carrots & sticks are so last century.
Drive says for 21st century work,
we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery & purpose.
Building More Responsive Schools
80
Abraham S. Fischler
Also available from danpink.com Excerpt: The manifesto you have here offers advice that runs counter to
Also available from
danpink.com
Excerpt: The manifesto you
have here offers advice that runs
counter to what you might have
heard elsewhere. I’ve found that the
individuals and organizations doing
great things have often flipped the
conventional wisdom. They’ve taken
age-old beliefs—and turned them
upside down. What they’re doing, and what I’m advising based on their success, represents
smarter advice—despite (perhaps because of) running counter to what many others believe.

New Learning Institute has a collection of videos “highlighting the important work of education leaders and innovators.” Go to NewLearningInstitute.org and click on “Film Series.”

Found at http://www.newlearninginstitute.org/flm-series. YOUTUBE CHANNELS Youtube.com/ channelname BPLearning by BigPicture.org HTHvideo QBESchool AGuideOntheSide VisualandActive 2MillionMinutes EdutechFoundation

Found at http://www.newlearninginstitute.org/flm-series.

YOUTUBE CHANNELS

Youtube.com/channelname BPLearning by BigPicture.org HTHvideo QBESchool AGuideOntheSide VisualandActive

2MillionMinutes

EdutechFoundation

Please send your suggestions for additional websites and YouTube channels.

Building More Responsive Schools

82

Abraham S. Fischler

ENDNOTE BY A TAXPAYER

Dr. Fischler began blogging in 2006 about the advantages of a well-rounded, well-designed CAI system. His frst entry at TheStudentIsTheClass.com lays out the features of a three-tiered system that could be introduced in a zone of a public school. Careful implementation of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) could invigorate a K-12 environment. As a pioneer who introduced technology to higher education and distance learning, Dr. Fischler aims to bring new learning methods and experiences to children and teenagers currently stuck in school systems that have changed little since 1950.

The photo shows an informal after-class gathering of students, bringing together people from South America and the Middle East. These sorts of gatherings are possible when the teacher takes time to get to know his students and looks for ways to “cross pollinate” classes. Why not ask students in a math class to meet with international visitors who are learning English grammar?

ENDNOTE BY A TAXPAYER Dr. Fischler began blogging in 2006 about the advantages of a well-rounded,g ned CAI system. His frst entry at TheStudentIsTheClass.com lays out the features of a three-tiered system that could be introduced in a zone of a public school. Careful implementation of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) could invigorate a K-12 environment. As a pioneer who introduced technology to higher education and distance learning, Dr. Fischler aims to bring new learning methods and experiences to children and teenagers currently stuck in school systems that have changed little since 1950. The photo shows an informal after-class gathering of students, bringing together people from South America and the Middle East. These sorts of gatherings are possible when the teacher takes time to get to know his students and looks for ways to “cross pollinate” classes. Why not ask students in a math class to meet with international visitors who are learning English grammar? can As a taxpayer, I am always looking for better ways for my tax dollars to be spent. As a teacher, I want to work in a school where students have a role in deciding what they will study each day. As a trainer of teachers, I know my limitations: I show teachers what has worked in my classes, but I don't have the academic background to explain why the techniques work that I pulled from Piaget, Friedman, Littky, Gardner and Daniel Pink. Building More Responsive Schools 83 Abraham S. Fischler " id="pdf-obj-82-14" src="pdf-obj-82-14.jpg">

can

As

a

taxpayer,

I

am

always looking for better ways for my tax

dollars to be spent. As a teacher, I want to work in a school where students have a role in deciding what they will

study

each day.

As

a

trainer of

teachers, I

know my limitations: I show teachers what has worked in my

classes, but I don't have the academic background to explain why

the techniques work that I pulled from Piaget, Friedman, Littky, Gardner and Daniel Pink.

In 2009, I saw the need for a small book that the stakeholders in schools could carry with them and refer to often for guidance. In the classroom, under pressure to deliver results, I often slip back into comfortable behaviors, copying my mentors and imposing on my students the same disciplines that I suffered through when I was a teenager. Some of the techniques work; others should be improved. Dr. Fischler's perspective has guided me in selecting more effective methods. Computers can help students learn – but it's not a good idea to impose digital devices on students who are not ready for the potential distractions of a multifaceted computer.

Dennis Littky, an educational pioneer in Providence, R.I., writes, “Education is everybody's business.” This “quote and commentary” project began with you in mind. Teacher, student, parent, principal, taxpayer: you all will fnd something new and helpful in these pages. In 1964, a little red book spawned a political and cultural revolution in China. Eighty years later, why can't a small book of commentaries by the president emeritus of a pioneering university make a positive change in education?

If you have a favorite quotation about education that you would like Dr. Fischler to consider commenting on in his blog, please send your request to emeritusassistant@nova.edu.

- STEVE MCCREA (FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND EDITORS

DR. ABRAHAM S. FISCHLER, ED.D.

Dr. Fischler is President Emeritus and University Professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He served as President of Nova University from July 1970 to July 1992. Prior to coming to Nova in 1966, Dr. Fischler was Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. He began his career in education as a science teacher and earned his Ed.D. degree at Columbia University. Subsequently, he became Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University. After his retirement as President, he served on the Broward County School Board from 1994 to 1998. Dr. Fischler has been a consultant to the Ford Foundation, to various State Departments of Education, and to school districts in a number of states. He has authored many articles and publications dealing with science education and advanced teaching methods. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of numerous other educational and scientifc organizations.

HILLARY L. HOWREY, M.S.

Hillary is the executive assistant to Dr. Abraham Fischler. Hillary is a doctoral candidate and psychology trainee in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University, having previously obtained her master’s degree in counseling. Hillary’s main research interests include twelve-step based recovery from substance use disorders, positive psychology, and secondary outcomes (e.g., psychological well-being, sense of community, etc.) of individuals in long-term recovery from substance use disorders.

STEVE MCCREA

Steve McCrea is an advocate of using video in the classroom. His Youtube channel visualandactive and website GuideOntheSide.com show ways that teachers can support integrated lesson plans with technology. He curates the Network for Educators and TransformTeaching.org.

Seven Points from “The Student is the Class” blog

  • 1. Time is a variable: We must provide each

student with the time and means to succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class (see Note 1 below).

  • 2. Three approaches of instruction: 1) self-

paced or Computer Assisted Instruction, 2) project or problem-solving and 3) discussion (see

Note 3 below).

  • 3. One of the goals of education is to

create self-learners. For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student. Once the problem is defned, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to

the problem (see Note 2 below).

  • 4. The culture in a school starts at the top

and filters down. Culture is what you bring to

the table: your experiences, your knowledge, your

personality.

It's not better or worse, there isn't a

"good culture" or a "bad culture" because within the population some people respond to different cultures in different ways. A school can have open

(bottom-up) or closed (top-down) management and still be transformed.

  • 5. Math is a language. Math is a way of using

synonyms. One quarter is like 25 out of 100 or 41 out of 164. Math teaches students about the need to be fexible.

  • 6. Suspend judgment. If we anticipate a

particular result or predict what will happen, then we usually see what we expect to see. Do not prejudge. Keep your mind open to what is actually happening in front of you.

  • 7. Science is a verb. Many people

approach chemistry as a challenge to be memorized: halogens do this, sodium and fuorine do that. When asked the difference between mitosis and meiosis, some people recite defnitions like a catechism. Instead, let's act out our learning in science. Let's make the learning interactive so that we can explain Bernoulli's principle with a sheet of paper rather than with a well-rehearsed defnition.

Note 1: Other industries have made similar changes and it is now time for education to do the same. FedEx can tell you where any package is at any time. Look at banking, which is now available 24 hours a day through ATMs and you can go to almost any ATM to withdraw or deposit funds. Both industries invested in information and

delivery systems to meet the needs of their clients rather than asking their clients to accommodate to a fxed structure. Now the automobile industry is enabling customers to order on demand rather than requiring them to accept whatever is available in the dealer’s lot. In the business world, however, there is competition that requires companies to adapt – education has not had this catalyst. As long as time is fxed, then student progress is what is variable within the fxed time frame. Thus, 30% of the student population is punished through failures. I would like to share some good news with The Student is the Class readers. In New York City Schools, under the direction of Chancellor Joel Klein, there has been initiated a program wherein time is used as the variable and competency the expected outcome. Currently they are building 30 high schools (known as “Transfer Schools”) where at risk 9th graders will be given the opportunity to go through an assessment process from that point until graduation. If it takes the students fve or six years to achieve the needed competencies, they will not be punished along the way; instead they will be encouraged to reach the goals through the

delivery systems to meet the needs of their clients rather than asking their clients to accommodate

reinforcement of personal achievements. (12 September 2007, abe.thestudentistheclass.com)

Note 2: If the project is complex, each of the groups may study an aspect of the problem. With these subjects, the student uses the computer as a research tool (after having learned to read). Students are taught to use search engines such as Google or Yahoo as well as the intranet made available by teachers gathering information relevant for the students. Students working in a group learn cooperation, shared responsibility and communication (face-to-face as well as e- mail). Having produced a written solution to the problem utilizing the computer (power point) as a tool, they can then present to the class for discussion. They can also use email or a written report to other students as well as the teacher.

Note 3: Teachers must be trained to allow each student to progress at his/her own pace in the CAI approach, and yet be able to integrate them into the other two modes. Some teachers fnd it diffcult to allow students to learn at their own rate without being actually instructed by them. In the CAI mode, the teacher should be a motivator and one who rewards each student for success. The teacher is responsible for setting the stage for the other two modes of instruction.

My theme is consistent: “Children learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles.” Time must be the variable and mastery the goal. If students do not fully understand algebra, they will have a diffcult time learning trigonometry. If they have not mastered reading, they will have a diffcult time comprehending high school science textbooks or the New York Times. The consequences of not making this change leads to an increase in dropouts and eventually to an increase in the poverty-level class. (28 December 2006, abe.thestudentistheclass.com)

Self-paced or computer-assisted

instruction (CAI) requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area.

My theme is consistent: “Children learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles.” Timep overt y -level class. (28 December 2006, abe.thestudentistheclass.com ) Self-paced or computer-assisted instruction (CAI) requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area. For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the1st grade (and continue thereafter). The reason English and Math are chosen is that these are the two cultural imperative languages. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a Building More Responsive Schools 91 Abraham S. Fischler " id="pdf-obj-90-16" src="pdf-obj-90-16.jpg">

For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the1st grade (and continue thereafter). The reason English and Math are chosen is that these are the two cultural imperative languages. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a

self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn.

Arbitrary learning within fixed time

periods would be eliminated, i.e., no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. grades. Instead, students would be grouped chronologically with materials appropriate to their learning level and style using the CAI approach for English and Math, and the project-problem-discussion modes for other subjects. The projects given to the students match the level of English and Math competencies and are related to the students (their interests and their lives).

Followup: what is next?

Contact Fischler@nova.edu to suggest more quotations for commentaries.

self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn. Arbitrary learning within fixed timeFischler@nova.edu to suggest more quotations for commentaries. Use the discussion sheets in the next pages. Building More Responsive Schools 92 Abraham S. Fischler " id="pdf-obj-91-15" src="pdf-obj-91-15.jpg">

Use the discussion sheets in the next pages.

Ask for a collection of free posters in PDF format from TheEbookman@gmail.com (or download it from TransformTeaching.org).

Available: Workshops and to assist teachers, students, parents and principals to work together to transform schools.

Extended remarks about culture

Culture is what you bring to the table: your experiences, your knowledge, your personality.

It's not better or worse, there isn't a "good culture" or a "bad culture" because within the population some people respond to different cultures in different ways.

You might like to work for a manager who is direct, tells you what to do, you know what he expects, you know what you will be doing and you know how you are going to be judged. Another teacher might not like that.

Another teacher likes someone who interacts with him and reaches a point where the employees are helping to defne the policy and the behavior that they like to respond to. Some teachers don' like a directive. The directive cuts off communication. If I tell you, "This is what I want you to do," the probability is that you are not going to argue with me because I'm the authority. Some employees like that. It's clear to them. They like to be judged in clear terms. They will give you what they think you want.

A school can have open (bottom-up) or closed (top-down) management and still be transformed. The culture starts at the top.

PRESSURES ON THE PRINCIPAL or SUPERINTENDENT

What pressures are on a principal? A principal sits in the middle of a triangle. At the top is the board of governors, the trustees. In a public school it's the school board or the superintendent.

On the left are the staff, on the right are the students and parents. The students and parents can make noise. The staff can rebel. You're in the center. You have to make sure before you make change that the trustees or the school board have bought into what your philosophy is. If they buy in, you can almost escape the staff rebellion and the noise from the students and parents.

PRESSURES ON THE PRINCIPAL or SUPERINTENDENT What pressures are on a principal? A principal sits in

For a discussion in a workshop

Here are some statements.

Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with each statement.

We will discuss each point.

  • 1. Time is a variable: We must provide each student

with the time and means to succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the

class.

  • 2. There are three approaches for instruction: 1)

self-paced or Computer Assisted Instruction, 2) project or

problem-solving and 3) discussion.

  • 3. One of the goals of education is to create self-

learners. For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student. Once the problem is defned, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to the problem.

  • 4. The culture in a school starts at the top and

filters down. Culture is what you bring to the table: your experiences, your knowledge, your personality. It's not better

or worse, there isn't a "good culture" or a "bad culture" because within the population some people respond to different cultures in different ways. A school can have open (bottom-up) or closed (top-down) management and still be transformed.

5. Math is a language. Math is a way of using synonyms. One quarter is like 25 out of 100 or 41 out of 164. Math teaches students about the need to be fexible.

6. Suspend judgment. If we anticipate a particular result or predict what will happen, then we usually see what we expect to see. Do not prejudge. Keep your mind open to what is actually happening in front of you.

7. Science is a verb. Many people approach chemistry as a challenge to be memorized: halogens do this, sodium and fuorine do that. When asked the difference between mitosis and meiosis, some people recite defnitions like a catechism. Instead, let's act out our learning in science. Let's make the learning interactive so that we can explain Bernoulli's principle with a sheet of paper rather than with a well-rehearsed defnition.

FOR DISCUSSION

  • 1. In your small group, please discuss and

agree or disagree with these seven points.

  • 2. Describe the methods used by many

teachers in classrooms today.

  • 3. Talk about how you would put the ideas in

this blog into practice. What procedures would you introduce into your classroom (if you are a teacher) or into your school (if you are a principal)?

Talk with your small group about why these procedures are needed. Why will these

procedures lead to better results than how we are teaching today in many classrooms?

Transform-Education.com TransformTeaching.org

Copyright 2012 by Abraham S. Fischler

procedures lead to better results than how we are teaching today in many classrooms? Transform-Education.com TransformTeaching.org

It takes time to visit schools, but it's worth it. A school visit shows us how our colleagues are using the principles of psychology in education. We can learn by observing. Shown here: Dr Fischler with Mario Llorente, a teacher in Florida.

WHAT’S NEXT?

We invite

you

to

subscribe to the

blog, The

Student

is

the

Class,

at

abe.TheStudentIsTheClass.com. I continue

to blog about these issues, so please send

your

questions and comments to Fischler@nova.edu.

Transform-Education.com