Dialogue with our peers about the website and book:
BM 7/22/2010 2:08 PM - Edited(7/22/2010 2:09 PM) Hey Group 4, Wonderful job. I really enjoyed your web page. Teaching by Numbers seems like a book that I need to buy and take to my school. It sounds like I (and my peers) would completely agree with your author. I really caught on to the impact on teacher morale. It is nice to see someone take into meaningful consideration, the things that are going on in the classroom minute by minute and place value on what we do (when we are not teaching to the test). Being a fifth grade science teacher, we are also consumed by TAKS and really do teach to those bubble kids. My current position are small group classes just to address those kiddos. I also appreciate knowing that someone else is experiencing what I am as we continue in this class...negativity about everything educational. I hope it can have a positive impact on me as I have time to reflect on all of this. I feel helpless to make changes in political policy and mandates. Again, you have a great web page...very aesthetically pleasing and filled with pertinent information. Oh yes, one more thing. I absolutely loved the question and completely agree, "Where did we lose our way?" I've been teaching for 25 years and cannot figure out how this "out of control" era of accountability happened and where are we going from here. I detest it for the sweet children that walk in my door every day.
LL 7/22/2010 4:55 PM - Edited(7/23/2010 12:17 AM) Thank you for your kind words. I do recommend the book to all. It was very interesting and enlightening. I learned a lot about how the whole idea of accountability and standards came to be. The book does give insight into how "we lost our way" and who allowed it to happen.
BM 7/23/2010 8:10 AM I may just have to read this one. I hope I can find it at the Baylor library. Buying these books is getting a little expensive! Thanks again.
JK 7/23/2010 4:29 PM Beth....It is a must read. I truly wish those making decisions on testing would come spend some time in our classrooms. What students learn over a year can not be measured by using a test. Much more learning occurs in our classrooms!!! Read it, and Thanks.encourage your colluages to do the same.
DG 7/22/2010 3:25 PM Group 4, you have a very bright and engaging website! I enjoyed reading your refections and your photos were a nice touch. My favorite part was the great cartoon of NCLB! As a teachers, I know we all feel that pressure to TEST! In the beginning when I thought we were going to get to pick our "choice book" yours caught my attention. After reading your recommendations, I know I need to read it.
LL 7/22/2010 4:59 PM Thanks for the positive feedback. The title fits the book perfectly. It really does explain how we have come to the point of teaching by numbers. It really opened my eyes to how it all came about and why.
VO 7/22/2010 5:12 PM - Edited(7/22/2010 5:13 PM) Dana, I agree they did entice me to go out and read Teaching by Numbers. I had to read the cartoon slowly, because I wasn't sure if it was one of those reading jokes as well, especially with it being NCBL. Since I'm a math teacher I know this book would be an assest to my arsenal of resources. They did a great job!
AM 7/23/2010 10:23 AM I'm glad we got you interested to go read the book. I know we all have a lot going on this summer, but I definitely think this is a must read for all educators. Very insightful!!
KW 7/24/2010 12:40 PM Allyson, Kudos to your group on your website! You mentioned about Wright and also Oakes-Lipton in Chapter 8 of Teaching to Change the World discussed the elimination of homogeneous tracking as one of the most important factors to improving education for all in this country. What was Taubman's opinion on this matter, or did he not mention about educational grouping?
KS 7/22/2010 10:17 PM I agree, I thought your cartoon at the bottom of the reflections page was cute. I also liked how you put your picture beside your paragraph. Looks very nice.
AM 7/23/2010 10:23 AM Thank you Kathryn! We all came up with different ideas to add to the website and feel very proud of the final outcome!
DG 7/22/2010 4:15 PM Hello Group 4! Awesome job on the website. I liked your reflections. I have enjoyed reading everyone's different perspective on the same reading. It helps me to realize that there is always a different way to think about things and the way I read and interpret something is probably going to be totally different than someone else. The photos were also a nice touch and more personable. :)
AM 7/23/2010 10:25 AM Thank you Debra! I agree that it is interesting to read different people's perspective on the same topic. Everyone views the same materials differently and has different main points that stand out to them. Doing this assignment as a group helps embrace our individuality.
JL7/23/2010 4:32 PM Debra, I am glad you enjoyed the website. I would encourage you to read the book. It gives good background information about our testing society. I always knew politics played a huge role in it, but was blown away by how much of what we do is implemented and controlled by politicians and CEOs.
AB 7/22/2010 4:32 PM Your website looks awesome! It was very well layed out, informative, and creative. You all did a great job. The book sounds like something that I would be interested in reading. Thanks for sharing your insights.
RL 7/22/2010 5:12 PM Thanks for the kind words, Alecia. I think this book was very informative and readable. It was also nice to hear someone stand up for teachers in this whole mess. It definitely opened my eyes to what is going on in the country as far as educational policy and the money behind it.
VO 7/22/2010 5:04 PM - Edited(7/22/2010 5:06 PM) GREAT JOB group 4! I'm a member of group 5 and I'm envious of your pictures alongside your reflection. Super idea. It made the web-site so much more inviting and helped me connect with you. I've already asked my team if we wanted to do the same. Kudos to y'all. Also, I like the way your group made quick to point bullets regarding your recommendations. Very clear and concise. A+ job!
RL 7/22/2010 5:17 PM Thanks, Vonda! I was glad we ended up doing the pictures. They helped me put a face with the people I have been working so hard with on the web. I thought it was a good way to make things more personable. Lauri did a great job with compiling our recommendations. I thought they flowed well. Thanks for your comments.
VO 7/24/2010 11:26 AM Yes, it is difficult not having a face to face with our groups. Eventhough we are getting a feel for our different strengths, words alone leave everything so cut and dry. The pictures at least gives a glimpse of a persona.
JK 7/23/2010 4:33 PM Thanks, Vonda! It was neat to post the pictures of each one of us, we were able to put a face with the name. I wish all groups would do that....
LA 7/22/2010 5:14 PM When I initially saw the title of your book, Teaching with Numbers, I immediately thought it was going to be a math book, but I soon realized that it was book over standardized testing, which quickly caught my attention. I liked that you were able to inject some humor to your site by adding a cartoon of what students have to be thinking about all the testing going on today. I also agree that standards and accountability dominate the field of education, which was expressed in your reflections on course literature. Did the book offer any suggestions to combat this? I liked that you were able to add pictures next to your reviews however, I did not see any contact information listed. The website is informative and well thought out; great job!
LL7/22/2010 10:51 PM. Thanks for the positive remarks about the website. The book is a good read. It really gives insight into the whole standards and accountability idea and how it came to be. The author does not offer any suggestions to fix it per say. He does say that the only way it will get fixed is if teachers and other educators make a stand- he actually talks about an organized resistance -- to let the policy makers and corporate executives know that their ideas are not working, but making it worse.
LA7/23/2010 5:44 PM I agree that policy makers and corporate executives' ideas are not working...I think it is because they have never taught in the classroom! Thank you for the recommendation of the booK!
DM 7/22/2010 5:37 PM Group 4, I like your website. It is easy to navigate. Did you set-up a chat?
AM 7/23/2010 10:27 AM Hi Donna, Thank you for your kind words! We corresponded mostly via group emails all throughout the day, everyday over the past week. We just didn't include our conversations on the website. There was a lot of discussion though, I'll tell you that:)
DM /23/2010 5:35 PM Allyson, I am sure you had a lot of communication. The proof of that shows in your finished product. Good job!
MM 7/22/2010 7:12 PM - Edited(7/23/2010 7:33 AM) Great job Group 4! Which one of you is moonlighting as a graphic designer / website designer? I am hungry for more on NCLB after reading ch 11 in our textbook and it looks like your book would be a good one. After reading the comment "found the book easy to read, understandable" I was struck with a wave of jealousy! You all did a wonderful job of selling the book and you have made me want to read it. Do you want to trade?
AM 7/23/2010 10:30 AM Thank you Mark! Lauri Larson gets all the credit for uploading our group's content onto the website. I agree, she did a fantastic job! Our book was very easy to read and we actually found ourselves wanting to read more. Taubman is a very relatable author about such a sensitive issue for educators. We all highly recommend this book and feel you will not be disappointed. Haha, no we're perfectly happy with our book...thanks though! :)
JC 7/22/2010 9:06 PM Hey group 4, wonderful job. You really piqued my interest in this book. I was surprised to see the book was not about mathematics, but how teachers today are being pushed into teaching to the numbers for accountability. Our school district is trying to have us analyze every child and teach to their needs for the TAKS test. In other words, they are pushing teachers to teach the test. When are they going to understand that the TAKS (or any standardized test) is teaching to a minimum set of standards. If we teach our TEKS, the tests should take care of themselves. I am not surprised by the corporate world looking at education as a negative thing. Contrary to their beliefs, I really think that corporate methods would not work well in education. I have worked in industry and what worked on products does not work with students. We have problems in the classroom that the corporate world cannot even fathom. We have students with feelings and baggage, we have students who are abuse and hungry, we have students who don't want to be in school, we have students who have special needs, we have students who cannot speak the language of the classroom, and we have one year to try to catch up students. There is no way that the corporate world would work under these conditions. Your site was easy to navigate and well thought out.
RL 7/23/2010 4:44 PM Judith, Thanks for your kind words about our site. Group 4 was a great group to work with. I agree that teaching to the test is detrimental and what we are encouraged to do to keep the numbers where they need to be. At the beginning of the year, my principal puts up all the numbers for the past year's tests and publicly announces if they have increased or decreased from the year before (even though that's like comparing apples to oranges) and where our school stands in comparison to other schools in our district. Our school is not ever close to the top, so of course teachers are shamed into feeling like they are failures and try to get the scores up for the next year. I even think teaching to the TEKS is almost teaching to the test because they give the minimum that students have to know for the year. I know when I am running out of time, I can tend to use them as a check-list making sure that I have taught it, etc. instead of pushing my students further. It's amazing how much of a foothold business has in education. The people making policy are not educators nor have they ever been, yet the presume to know what is best for schools, students, and teachers. I would love for them to come in and have a reality check and understand the diverse populations of schools today.
JC 7/23/2010 11:10 PM It sure is amazing. I would really like to see how well the policy makers (government especially) would do on the test. I really don' t think many of them would pass, especially the math and science portion. Plus, they have no clue what it is like to teach. Anyone who makes education policy should be required to teach for at least a year, and full time (although I don't think I would want any of them teaching in my school district).
KB 7/22/2010 11:23 PM - Edited(7/23/2010 11:16 AM) WOW group 4! Fantastic website. I loved that your pictures were included. It was great to get to put a face with a name on at least a few of my classmates. I can't lie, my absolute favorite thing was the comic! I'm going to have to copy that and put it on the wall with the rest of my math and teacher comics. I could so relate to all of the reflections you wrote. I had already decided I needed to read this book after just those.... then I got to your recommendations and I will definitely be reading this book. It's all about the numbers today - what about the kids?? and the great teachers??? and the wonderful experiences that may have nothing to do with what's on the blasted test??? Wonderful job!
AM 7/23/2010 10:34 AM Hi Kathy, We're glad you liked our website. I agree that it was neat to be able to picture some of the people whose names have appeared everywhere throughout this program. The comic was perfect, wasn't it? I think Lauri found that and it fit in wonderfully with our topic. We all loved the book and think all educators will enjoy reading it too. Well, that is, when you have some more time after this class is over:) We believe everyone will gain alot of insight into a very sensitive topic by reading Taubman's book!
LL 7/23/2010 11:50 AM Kathy, Glad you loved the cartoon. I thought it went perfect with what our book was trying to say. Here is the link where I got the cartoon from --
KB 7/23/2010 10:38 PM Thanks Lauri !!
BB 7/23/2010 11:33 AM I really like your web site, it is very informational and very easy to navigate. I loved the testing cartoon. I also liked that you included pictures with your reflections. It really made that section stand out against other web pages. I really will read this book because I believe that the main problem with our schools today is all the commercialism that has came into our schools. It is all about making money and that is all that our government cares about. How much money will it cost and how will they look politically. I will quit here because I have a real soap box about how our schools are evaluated. I really liked the web site.
LL 7/23/2010 12:08 PM Bryan, Thanks for the positive words about the website. The pictures were a great addition and we have Robin to thank for that suggestion. The author does a good job explaining how the corporate world seeped into the world of education. I was completely clueless until I read the book. It is disappointing that it has come down to the money and the numbers. How does that help our students? It obviously doesn't. I wander how long it will take for that to be realized and for changes to happen? There is no quick fix, but there has to be something better.
BB 7/23/2010 3:20 PM When the lobbyist run the government it is going to stay commercialized. They are going to do just enough to keep the public satisfied, but they are always looking out for number one.
CD 7/23/2010 2:19 PM Great job group 4! Your website was very easy to navigate and all of your comments/reflections hit home in regards to testing in our schools. I have some disagreements with the author especially in regards to businesses and "Corporate America." If our schools don't graduate students with skills needed to meet the job requirements for employment in the twent-first century then they won't be able to FIND a job and thus be unemployed which is already a nightmare in this country. The following qote posted on your website struck me with opposition, "Corporate leaders are influencing the educational transformation more intensely sense the passage of No Child Left Behind. Their vision for the purpose of education and how to achieve it come from the corporate world and sometimes involve a financial gain for the corporations. Taubman explains that these ideas are detrimental to the public school system." I don't see how graduating students with skills for technological jobs is detrimental. Corporations create and provide jobs in our country. A small business can be a "corporation." In my generalization paper from mod 2 I refer to the fact that everyone in society gains when we have a strong economy. This is not a new concept, and I don't believe that it is more intense now than ever before. By the 1920’s, a major role of schools was to teach both specific job skills and the dispositions required for factory work (Oakes & Lipton, 2007, p. 46). This benefited everyone in society because employers could increase their production and profits, while consumers (workers) could gain purchasing power, thus ensuring a strong economy (nation). “Business” is forced to pressure “education” to produce students with the requisite understandings and competencies (Moses & Cobb, 2001, p. 12). Our book Radical Equations addresses the fact that businesses drive education and that in order for minorities and poor people to gain economic access, they are going to have to become literate in math in order to successful in our newly emerging technological industries. I totally agree with your group that data is driving every decision being made in education. Last year our first 2 days of inservice were titled: Data Dig! This year we are going to incorporate a strategy similar to that of Dallas ISD where our teaching will be evaluated based on our students' test scores. We label all of our students based on their TAKS performance and guage/predict their future success based on benchmarks. We must lose close to 6 weeks of "meaningful" teaching due to TAKS blitzes, benchmarks, the actual TAKS test, and teachers out of class due to TAKS trainings. The following quote posted by your group made me nod my head in total agreement: "Certainly testing has come to define our approach to education, and test results have come to define educational reality." (p.17)
LL 7/23/2010 4:28 PM I totally agree that we have to graduate students with job skills for the corporate world. What the author was more talking about is that policy makers are trying to run education like a corporate business. Standards and accountability are lingo and ideas that originally came from the corporate world and were thrown into the education world. Corporate executives are making education policies, not educators. And it is these corporate ideas and policies that are ruining the education system. The author does believe we need to teach students job skills for their futures. He just believes that running the education system like it is a corporate business is detrimental.
CD 7/23/2010 6:08 PM Hi Lauri, Thanks for the clarification. One place I see where education could be run like a business is in the handling of the budgets! I see so much waste in our district it's incredible. I do believe the accountability has gotten out of hand. I feel like I spend more time doing paperwork so that I or the district don't get sued by someone, that it leaves very little time for much needed planning in creating inquiry and meaningful lessons. I'm going to have to read this book. Did the author mention anything about politicians making education policies who know very little about educating? I think education has become a political puppet. It seems like every year some new bill is put into law and it always seems to add more stress on the teachers and the students!
LL 7/23/2010 6:18 PM Hey Carol, The author does mention how educational policies are made by several people who have never been in education themselves, like politicians and CEOs. They have no idea what teachers and students are doing or going through.
JH 7/23/2010 9:50 PM Group 4, You did a great job on your website. I am often frustrated with the amount of standardized testing that we do on the students. I understand that there has to be an accountability system in place, but testing the students to death is not the only answer. “Tests constitute one way the educational reforms shock the educational system. Extracting data from students, teachers and schools, they force our noses into the bottom line. Keeping us under constant surveillance, they make us vulnerable to centers of control beyond our reach, and, providing the illusion of objective accountability and meritocracy, they reduce education to right answers and information.” (p. 53) This sample quote that you posted really spoke volumes to me. I feel like I can't take the time to be creative in my lessons because the students have to be ready for a test every 9 weeks, and we are held accountable for the students performance. It does feel like we are under a constant surveillance and a lot of things are out of our control. Your book sounds like an interesting read and I may have to pick up a copy after this class is over.
LL 7/24/2010 1:36 PM Jennifer, Thanks for the positive feedback on our website. I think many of us feel the same way you do about not being able to be creative and enriching in our lessons due to distirict mandated benchmarks, etc. It is a real shame that it has to be that way. It just takes so much more time to make the lesson creative that it takes time a way from "teaching to the test" - at least that is the reasoning from the administrations point of view.
JK 7/24/2010 9:19 PM Jennifer H, I am in Group 4. I am glad that statement spoke to you. That quotation, to me, summed up what we are asked to do in our classrooms on a daily basis. Education is about so much more than a set of 50 multiple choice questions on a test. Education is about teaching students to explore, ask questions, being creative, solving real-life problems, getting along with a diverse group of people, etc. Unfortunately what we are required to teach is reduced to a test given on one day of the score year. How can that accurately measure what a student has learned?
MP 7/24/2010 1:30 PM Group 4, Your website is wonderful! I loved the NCLB cartoon and the detail of your pictures beside your reflections. That detail makes me feel welcome to read all the information and creates a personal connection between all of you and me. I love the way you connected your own experiences with the book you read. The book seems to be very interesting and engaging. I also liked the fact that you stated your recommendations about reading the book in a clear and concise manner. This book looks like a good source to understand our public school educational system and how everything works around the accountability of our school districts. It sounds sad but it explains part of our reality. Congratulations one more time.
LL 7/24/2010 1:40 PM Mariana, Thanks for the comments. I think the pictures were nice too. We have Robin to thank for that brilliant idea. It was nice to put a face with a name after all these months! The book did explain how we came to be in the age of standards and accountability. It was a pretty easy read and made sense of the situation we are in currenlty.
SS 7/24/2010 5:40 PM Way to go group 4! Nice job. You had some really cute touches, I liked your pictures by your reflections. It was nice to see a face with a name. The NCLB comic picture was hillarious, that is so true! I feel so sorry for our kids, they are tested to get ready for a test all the time! Our district is implementing common assessment testing at the 3wk and 6wk grading periods for our HS Science Program, not to mention our regular unit tests too. They are taking a test every time we turn around, it makes it hard to have the time to teach them! I was really able to relate to many of your groups feelings toward "education being a numbers game". I think this would be an interesting read!
JK /24/2010 6:38 PMTesting too much is definitely an issue. When we test every other week, when are we teaching and observing learning? I am responsible for teaching students that are Tier 2 and 3 in the Rti process and have to progress monitor every two weeks. I could tell you who was at mastery and who was not without testing them I think both our students and our teachers are tired of testing. We are frustrating our students and taking away their opportunities to learn. Thanks for commenting.
LL 7/24/2010 7:00 PM Suzanne, The book was an interesting read. It really opened my eyes to how all of this standards, accountability, and high stakes testing came to be. I understand your point about all the testing. My district did benchmark testing every 4 weeks last year, but is going to only every 6 weeks this year. That will help a bit, but it still takes away from instructional time because it takes all period to take the test.
JR 7/24/2010 10:02 PM Wow! What a great job you have done! Your website reflects the pleasure you felt, lucky ladies, reading this book. Not all the groups were so fortunate in their assignment :( Going to my point: Allyson, I'm also a 4th grade teacher at Dallas ISD. Bilingual, all my students are hispanic. I've been teaching only for four years, but it called my attention your reflection, when you say : "We need to find a way to make learning enjoyable for teachers and students again." My question is your word "again". Was it enjoyable in the past? When? Is not enjoyable today? Why all this research in education then, just to address diversity and minorities? Your group essay ends with the sentence "We must seek alternatives in our approaches to education.". Is that your sentence or Taubman's? What is the author's final proposition?
LL 7/25/2010 12:08 AM Jose, Thanks for the positive feedback. After reading everone else's websites, I do feel fortunate that we were given our particular book. Taubman does mention that there needs to be alternatives to the "practices of accountability", but he does not offer any specifics. He kind of eludes to the opinion that change has to start from the bottom -- with teachers taking a stand and creating a resistance, but again he does not really offer any suggestions on how to go about doing that either.
JR 7/25/2010 9:03 AM Hi, Lauri, Thanks for the clarification. It is surprising for me to learn that many researchers just present facts, a lot of references, and some suggestions to further research, but do not present ideas for solutions. I sustain that we teachers need more applied research, specific strategies for specific instructional challenges that we confront every school year.
PE 7/24/2010 11:19 PM As I read through your website, I was thinking about how I spent my last month or so of the school year. As an "interventionist" my job was to take the 5th graders that did not pass reading and math and work with them before the next administration of the test. It was grueling for the students and for me. The district bought our campus a $36,000 Reading program from Scholastic. By the time we got it and put it in place we only had 9 days to use it. Does it work? I don't know but I do know that Scholastic has made a fortune just from our district alone. Of course, Pearson seems to "rule our world" in every way. Do the numbers really mean anything? I don't think so. With the projection measure put into place this year, the numbers look good on paper but they do not reflect what the students really did on the test. it is amazing that there is such manipulation with the numbers all for the sake on the state looking good. Ugh! I hate standardized testing!
LL 7/25/2010 12:15 AM Pamela, I totally agree! What do the numbers really mean? Who knows. A big hang up for me is the "passing" grade. Since when is 52% good enough? When I tell my friends who are not in education what it really means "to meet standard", they are shocked. Their response is always "why isn't it 70%"?. My best friends's daughter missed meeting the standard by one question a couple of years ago. She was kind of blowing it off. Then I explained to her that really meant she got a 50-something, she could not believe it. She thought it meant she had scored a 68 or so. It was not unitl then that she realized there was a problem and wandered how her child could score so low.
VK 7/25/2010 11:27 AM Group 4, You guys did an amazing job on your website and analysis of your book. I especially liked the NCLB cartoon. I think our system is too focused on numbers these days. The numbers kids get on tests are not a true indication of what they know. I think that the numbers are leading us away from creating lessons and activities that promote independent thought and learning. We as teachers are being forced to teach to tests that are not authentic means of assessment.
LL 7/25/2010 2:26 PM Virginia, I completely agree with you. Having to teach to the test takes most of the creativity and freedom out of teaching. If we stray from the standards that will be tested, administrators start to worry that our scores will suffer. It is really sad.