Thursday, March 12, 2015

Should we be teaching cursive in schools?

The debate is that maybe cursive writing is a thing of the past and we should not be teaching it. A lot of teachers and educators can't seem to let go, and think we should be teaching it. Of course we all know it is a thing of the past. With email being the number one way of communicating, writing letters has indeed become a thing of the past. But that's not really related to education, is it?

So let's take a look at the educational side. In years past, an elementary student would need to start writing stories and essays using cursive. It was a more formal way of writing. Then, around junior high, one needed to type their research papers and essays. Of course we still mostly wrote a rough draft using pen or pencil. But were we forced at that time to do it in cursive? No. Our final paper must have been typed.

That means that even in days gone by, at least the last 50 years, school-age students were not turning in essays and research reports using cursive.

We now are at a stage where nobody has a need for it. Everything revolves around computer, tablet, or smartphone keypads. No writing of any kind is required. Even at a very early age. Of course some sort of writing is needed. We scribble notes, maybe send cards, and young kids in elementary school still need some sort of writing.

But is cursive handwriting really needed? Not today. I can't say the last time I saw a cursive note written. We jot things down, printing things with little thought.

Before some teachers go bonkers with no cursive, they must come to grips with the fact that it is a thing of the past. If teachers thought about the past, they might be more readily convinced that cursive is indeed, a thing of the past. Here are some of the things that you might not have thought of.

Girls were taught how important it was to sew and do needlepoint. I doubt if any teacher would want to require that. Students used slate and chalk. We certainly do not want to go back to that. In fact, educators are screaming to use online textbooks! Colleges, and some high schools, are doing many classes online.

When I was a kid, using a slide rule was a needed skill. I challenge anyone today to tell kids that they need to know how to use a slide rule.

We do not actually write the way we did even 25 years ago. Of course we need to have kids work on things in school that are needed. We have changed many things. There really is no need for a child to struggle with mastering cursive. Perhaps to appease some teachers, kids could get a quick lesson, but not be required to use it.

It's just a fact that adults do not use cursive. There is no reason to require it in school. 60 years ago, Latin was required. Who today would want to force their students to learn Latin? We need to let go.

>> Free worksheets

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Common Core Teaching Tips

Are you a teacher dealing with common core standards? Perhaps you are struggling or looking for ways to improve your classroom experience. Remember, common core standards are just that, standards. Good teaching has not gone out of style or replaced. But many teachers have not been taught good teaching practices in college. Doing the common core actually requires quite  bit of what one should call good teaching techniques.

First, many teachers have trouble getting students to collaborate on anything. Many don't even want to. But having students work together and help each other should be in every classroom. You cannot reach all students at once. Many students quickly grasp the material and can pass that along. If you were not doing this before, you should now. We will leave it up to you at this point to seek help on how to do group activities. One important tip is not NOT let students choose their own groups. You must divide them up evenly, with a good student in each group, as well as poorer students passed around as well. Your classroom has to be setup so that you can move quickly from groups to individual, as well as allowing the teacher to get around the classroom quickly. You won't stop "teaching" just because students are in groups. Another group work tip is to have students listen to you every few minutes. Students can get off track after awhile. So get them to look and listen to you at various times. You can answer questions and give feedback, as well as perhaps steer them back in the right direction.

Before planning lessons, look at the standards. Single out some that you know students either don't know, or will have difficulty doing. Place more emphasis on these. Also, your lessons do not need to only cover one standard. All lessons you do should included multiple standards.

You will still need to stand in front of the class and lecture. But good teaching is not just lecturing. It is engaging.  Ask questions,  get feedback,  change your voice inflection, be animated. Most teachers have not heard that being a good listener is also required to be a good learner.

Just because it's "common core," it does not mean that you can't interject your own material, ideas, and techniques.

>> Teaching Strategy for calling on students. >> Being a creative teacher.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Teaching in Africa

Many challenges exist for teachers in certain parts of Africa, in countries like Nigeria. Perhaps you can think of ways to help the cause of teachers and students in various parts of the world. If you are currently a teacher in these countries, find some things you can do at:

>>Should your child join the military?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sponge activities for students

A sponge activity is what you give students to do to soak up the time in between their assigned tasks. It makes an easy transition from activity to the next if fast students have something to do while waiting for the others to finish. New teachers often lack the skills to keep them busy, and some students can start to create a disruption. You should also have something for the students to do when they first come in. Mornings and after lunch for elementary, upon entering for secondary. Secondary teachers need time to take roll, collect homework, etc. at each class period.

So, what should the sponge activity be? Well, you could write a assignment on the board. This works well when they first come in. Transition activities do not necessarily need to be on the same subject. But, for example, after finishing a math assignment, students can do a times tables worksheet. Drawing or art is another way. In fact, you should think of sponge activities when planning a lesson. What can students do in conjunction with the assignment? Did they write a story? Okay, how about now doing an illustration?

Other things to do could be wordsearch puzzles. You can find some here:

If you have ever had trouble with disruptive students for lack of anything to do, start thinking about sponge activities and start soaking up that dead time!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Free wordsearch puzzles

We have created a new part of the main website. It will have wordsearch puzzles in various subjects. Right now, we have 6 wordsearch puzzles on science topics. You can view and download them for free at:
Free science wordsearch puzzles.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Creative Teacher

I have a brand new teacher article up on being a creative teacher. Do you consider yourself a creative teacher, or just one that goes along with the flow? If you have ever thought about what kinds of things you can do to be more creative and add some excitement to your classrooms, check out: The Creative Teacher.

Friday, May 9, 2014

School lunches

Have you heard all the recent horror stories of school lunches where students have no money and food gets thrown away? That's pretty insane. One person has the thought of giving all students a free lunch. What do you think? Check it out: Should school lunches be free to everyone?
It could make sense. Of course schools were never set up to feed students anyway. That was always a parent's responsibility. Funny how times change. We have turned a lot of parental duties over to schools. We actually should be ashamed of ourselves.