web analytics
June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘education’

The Essentials In Education

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail. – Henry D. Thoreau

 

Henry Thoreau, the nineteenth century American author, philosopher, and naturalist, was responding to the “speed of modern day” when he argued for simplicity. That speed has certainly gotten faster in the last one hundred and fifty years, and Thoreau’s argument for simplicity is still a good one! In fact, bestselling author Mike Schmoker makes the case in his book Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning. Schmoker says it is quite simple to get exactly what we want and what students need. We just need to go back to the essentials:

“If we choose to take just a few well-known, straightforward actions in every subject area, we can make swift, dramatic improvements in schools. Some believe we could virtually eliminate the achievement gap within a few years…”

But the price for such swift improvement is steep: Most schools would have to stop doing almost everything they now do in the name of school improvement. Instead, they would have to focus only on implementing “what is essential.” Hardest of all, they would have to “ignore the rest”… the fads, programs, and innovations that now prevent us from ensuring that every student in every school receives a quality education.

Schmoker goes on to explain what is essential for schools. He identifies three simple things:

Reasonably coherent curriculum (what we teach)

Sound lessons (how we teach)

More purposeful reading and writing in every discipline, or authentic literacy (integral to both what and how we teach).

While these three categories of educational reform are arguably simple, it is also important that everyone understands exactly what they mean in order to begin the improvement process together:

            What we Teach. There are many curricula focused on different skills and content. Schmoker explains that what we teach needs to be tied to authentic literacy. In other words, we need to have students reading, writing, and talking about the essential information in each subject. He says that too many students leave school without the skills they will need for the twenty-first century. They need to be able to “read, write, cipher… think and solve problems… draw upon a rich vocabulary based on a deep understanding of language and the human condition.” This means that students should engage in the material in sufficient intellectual depth, and should not be excessively tied to the “standards.” In fact, Schmoker claims that the standards detract from real learning. Working with curricula that truly allow students to read, write, and talk about the essential content will prepare students for college, careers, and productive citizenship.

            How we Teach. In 2007, a study reported that teachers are the most important school factor in how much children learn. Effectively teaching is not a mysterious process. In fact, it consists of just a few teaching practices that are not at all new. They are:

Clear objectives (or goals). These goals are established by the teacher and stated to the students

Teaching, modeling, and demonstrating. Students can get a sense of how to do the skills through the teachers’ words and actions.

Guided practice. Students have an opportunity to try their own hand at the activity.

Checks for understanding. Before moving onto the next skills, teachers ensure that all students understand the lesson at hand.

            Authentic Literacy. When Schmoker talks about “authentic literacy,” he is not talking about “reading skills.” Instead, he is describing purposeful (and usually argumentative) reading, writing, and talking about a subject. That means that in math, students will read, write, and talk about square roots. The same for science and history. Often, English is the only subject that deals with “reading comprehension;” however, Schmoker points out that this is the single most important skill in the twenty-first century. And, unfortunately, it is under-taught and under-valued. Reading, writing, and talking about the subject can help with content and with thinking skills.

Rifka Schonfeld

Beis Ya’kov Girls Get Passover Gift: Multiplication Table Printed on Cleaning Rags

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The 3rd grade students at the Beis Ya’akov school for girls in Netanya, Israel, which is part of the Independent (Haredi) school system, on Wednesday received an unusual gift from their teacher on the last day before the Passover break: cleaning rags printed with the school’s name, the multiplication table (1 through 100) and the following ditty (translated from the Hebrew, where it also rhymes):

To the bright schoolgirl,
Who scrubs and brightens with the rag in her hand,
Learn and memorize the multiplication table,
And honor your parents multiple times.

The parents of said schoolgirls told Yedioth Aharonoth the gift is offensive to the girls as well as to their families. They said the message that emanates from it is that “a woman is not too bright and her role is to clean the house.” One of the mothers who’s kids attend the girls’ school, said that if it turns out the rag was actually handed out by the school principal and not as a prank by one of the teachers, she would consider looking for a different school for her girls after Passover. Another mother called the incident “serious” and said “it is inconceivable that a teacher in Israel would express herself in such a way that represses the student’s self-esteem.”

The Netanya municipality issued a statement saying that since the school is part of the Independent system, it is not part of the general public school system programs. However, the city spokesperson added, “the content is entirely contrary to the values being taught by the municipal education administration, which fosters openness, achievement and innovation.”

The spokesperson announced there would be an inquiry with the Beis Ya’akov school management.

The school principal was not available to comment. However, several Haredi sources told the ultra-Orthodox Kikar Hashabbat website that the entire thing is a tempest in a teapot, and there’s no problem with schoolgirls memorizing the multiplication table while scrubbing the house for Passover. In fact, those mothers, instead of being offended, should be proud of their industrious daughters.

JNi.Media

Ariel University Wins BDS Case, Receives Compensation Payment From Spain

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Ariel University has received a payment of nearly $100,000 (NIS 430,000) from the government of Spain.

The payment is a compensation award by the Spanish government, paid to end a discrimination lawsuit forced on both parties by the BDS movement.

Six years ago, the Spanish government caved in to pressure from the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement and refused to allow students from the university – based in Samaria – to participate in an international contest.

The competition to design “green” buildings that were environmentally friendly was to be open to students from universities around the world. The students from Ariel University designed “Abraham’s Tent” – a design that attracted great interest, and brought them into the finals.

The anti-Israel BDS boycott movement got to work making sure the students would not be allowed to take part in the competition, however, because they study in Samaria.

Upon their arrival in Spain for the finals, however, the students were stopped. They were informed by the Spanish Construction Ministry which funded the competition that they had been barred from the contest.

Ariel University petitioned the decision in Spain via a local attorney, and sued the Spanish government for compensation. The university also demanded the students be allowed to return to the competition.

As mentioned above, that was six years ago.

After a legal struggle, the Spanish government was forced to admit it had discriminated against the students and the university. It offered to settle the case for NIS 430,000; the payment was transferred recently to the university.

“The decision to compensate the university and to declare the barring of the students from the competition as ‘null and void’ is the required, ethical and legal response to this attempt to boycott Israel,” Ariel University President Yigal Cohen-Orgad told the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Acharonot.

“It proves that it’s possible to succeed in foiling these efforts,” he added.

Hana Levi Julian

Tel Aviv Visits Efrat

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai visited the town of Efrat in Gush Etzion to observe how the town protects its educational centers and students.

Ron Huldai in Efrat classrom

Photo of the Day

Dozens of Former Hareidim Sue Israel for not Teaching Basic Skills

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

A lawsuit by 53 young men who studied at strictly Hareidi yeshivas are suing Israel for the school system’s not having taught them basic skills that are needed to work, according to an ABC News reported filed by The Associated Press.

An organization called “Out for a Change” is behind the lawsuit that argues that the lack of skills in math, English and computers have left the plaintiffs without the basics that other Israeli students received, enabling them to progress into the job force.

The suit charges the “political pressure” has forced the government’s hand to acquiesce to Hareidi yeshivas that shun secular subjects, which Hareidi school systems teach only on a limited basis and only through seventh grade.

The former Hareidim also are asking the government to establish a fund to help men and women who leave the Hareidi world learn secular subjects from which they were barred as youth.

AP added that Hareidi activist Shmuel Poppenheim said that the lawsuit might change some attitudes in the Hareidi community.

Jewish Press Staff

Bennett’s Bonus Incentive to Entice Students Into Higher Mathematics

Monday, December 21st, 2015

The government has just announced a new incentive for students who complete five units on the mathematics bagrut (matriculation) exam in high school.

(Ed. – The “bagrut” is the final exam administered to high school students in Israel, similar to the Regents’ exams taken by high school students in New York.)

The bonus, initiated by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is an extra 35 points added to the overall score on the bagrut when the student applies to enter university.

It is intended to encourage more students to enter the field of higher mathematics.

Up to this point, the government has offered a bonus of 25 points as an incentive to study mathematics.

“I was happy to discover that, within a short time, all Israeli universities adopted my request,” Bennett said in a statement on Sunday. “This is an unprecedented mobilization for Israel’s students and for strengthening the study of mathematics.”

He urged students “who are debating between four and five units [to] make the effort.”

Bennett’s new bonus pushes the award up by an additional 10 points – but it also widens the gap between students who end their exam at four units – and receive only a 12.5 point bonus – and those who persevere to the fifth level.

All of Israel’s leading universities have accepted the initiative and will participate in awarding the bonus incentives to students.

These include: Ariel University, Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and University of Haifa.

The study of higher mathematics is essential to the continuity and future development of Israel’s technological base, government officials have said. Maintaining the edge in cyber defense and cyber warfare is only a small part of that field.

Developing new technologies for water conservation, renewable energy and medical breakthroughs, let alone other manufacturing areas, all require a thorough grounding in higher mathematics; hence the focus on encouraging students to enter the field.

Hana Levi Julian

Education Ministry Official: We Have Plans to Integrate the Ultra-Orthodox

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

(JNi.media) Director of the ultra-Orthodox Dept. in the Ministry of Education Meir Shimoni recently revealed some of his office’s plans and objectives in a speech he gave at the Center for the Study of ultra-Orthodox Society, Kikar Hashabbat reported Monday. Shimoni’s statements have arouse a huge storm among heads of Haredi educational institutions and increased their concern regarding an intervention of the Ministry of Education not only in administrative matters but also in matters of curricula and children’s education.

Among other things, Shimoni said that his office is engaged in a “significant and historic groundbreaking,” recalling that “what happened with the ultra-Orthodox sector was very simple,” Shimoni said, “It was very convenient for the state over the past 40-60 years to come to the ultra-Orthodox society and tell them, here’s 5 billion shekel, take the money and do with it what you wish. That’s how things rolled on and on. Various norms were created. They didn’t deal with the core curricula, or the quality of teaching and learning, and everyone did as they saw fit.”

According to Shimoni, the Education Ministry is now determined to improve the ultra-Orthodox educational system. He said there are individuals both inside and outside the ultra-Orthodox society eager to institute these changes. They just need to be connected together.

Saying he is determined to use a carrot and stick approach, “a lot of carrot, only a little stick,” Shimoni spoke about the issue of integrating Haredim in the job market: “If we review the demographics, then by 2040, possibly towards 2050, if the ultra-Orthodox sector stays on its current trajectory, it would constitute about 50% of the Jewish population. That’s the data, give or take, and if we want that this 50% will be integrated into society, employment, the military, the security, all of that, we must take care of the education system yesterday.”

Shimoni insisted that the Education Ministry’s plan is to move at a moderate pace, “not by force but with smarts, with a great deal of caring and sensitivity, but also with determination, never give up the goal.”

Shimoni was appointed by the former Education Minister, Shai Piron, an appointee of Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who had made forcing ultra-Orthodox integration one of his main agenda topics, concentrating on an “equal burden” policy in IDF conscription. The new Education Minister, Naftali Bennett is considered friendlier to the ultra-Orthodox, being a religious Jew himself.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/education-ministry-official-we-have-plans-to-integrate-the-ultra-orthodox/2015/11/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: