10 Mar

Headphones for School Testing

The industry of educating our country’s youth is constantly changing in order to keep up with new inventions and the advances of modern technology. Subsequently, there’s no question that school testing is extremely different these days than it was just a few decades ago. Children now need to have skills to fit the world around them and school officials are encouraged to take this into consideration when preparing testing materials. Modern technology allows teachers and staff to implement the use of devices like computers and tablet when testing children for proficiency. Many state’s standardized tests are now even incorporating a digital section into the test to ensure each child is well prepared. For the most accurate results when it comes to these type of tests, it’s only understandable that students will require some type of headphone gear for audio portions. If you’re a school administrator looking to purchase new headphones for your school, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Purchase the Right Type – Knowing exactly what type of headphones you need before ordering is key to supplying classrooms with the appropriate items required to assist with audio testing. Earbud style headphones are the most popular choice for adults, but aren’t always the best choice for children. These small buds usually don’t fit a child’s ears properly and can be difficult for small hands to put in and take out. Earbuds are lightweight and easily breakable, which is why most schools purchase disposable buds or opt for more durable styles that fit over the entire ear. If you will be ordering the traditional over the ear type of headphones, consider whether you will need wireless ones or the standard type with cable attachments. Computer labs will be fine housing attached headphones, while classrooms that use wireless technology like tablets and laptops might benefit more from wireless ones.

Buy in Bulk – The best way to save money on headphones for the students at your school is by purchasing in bulk. It’s recommended you know exactly how many pairs of headphones you will need to adequately supply your entire school or specific department without spending too much. You might want to coordinate with other departments or other schools in the district to consolidate your order to save more money by buying wholesale. Most retailers also offer discounts to schools and educational institutions, so be sure to ask. Also, don’t forget to keep and file the purchase records for tax purposes.

Don’t Forget Accessories – Some sets of headphones require the accompaniment of accessories, so be sure to order all that you need for your new audio devices to work accordingly. When placing your order, don’t forget items such as headphone cushions, cables, speakers and chargers. Also, keep in mind that school headphones can often times get extremely dirty after multiple uses, so it’s recommended you purchase a quality cleaner to keep in the classroom in order to wipe them down between uses.

If the audio equipment at your school need replacing, use these valuable tips to guide you through the process of purchasing the best headphones for today’s students.

10 Oct

Common Core Standards vs Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills

Teachers in Texas have a guiding standard to use when writing lesson plans, when establishing a schedule and setting the pace for learning particular content. It’s called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. TEKS governs every subject matter taught in Texas and tells teachers what specific skill to teach at a given time. For example, with reading, a middle school 6th grader has to know how to find the main idea in a reading passage, how to compute mathematical algorithms, how to test scientific theories, how to identify geographic locations of varied societies and more. Texas is one of the states that elected not to participate in Common Core Curriculum. To clarify that, it passed the House, but Governor Rick Perry banned it with House Bill (HB) 462.

The TEKS are provided using particular language, and every single one has a unique TEKS number.

However, things get even more specific within the content areas. For example, to take the main idea requirement a little further, a students in 6th grade may start the year off reading informational text and summarizing the main idea and the supporting ideas in that text. Students will learn how to keep opinions out of main idea summarizations, and they learn to do this through practice. Later in the year, the student will need to read expository text and summarize the main idea and supporting ideas in that text. Expository text will likely be more complex, and typically involves Science and Social Studies passages. By scheduling expository text later in the year, planners anticipate that the student will have gained mastery of main idea using the simpler text periodically; and then graduating to expository text when they’ve gained the necessary skill. This is because they will need to have to wade through the complexities of the expository text itself later in the year. If students have mastered main idea, they won’t have trouble with it using varied text. Practice is what will get them to the destination called mastery.

There are even TEKS in physical education. For that same 6th grader, they will need to demonstrate the ability to do activities in a smooth, flowing sequence. The way it reads, they have to “perform sequences that combine traveling, rolling, balancing, and weight transfer into smooth, flowing sequences.” A PE teacher may have to have them practice each individual skill until they master it. Otherwise, when it’s time to do them all in a flowing sequence, they will have much trouble.

The language starts off with words to the effect of, “The student will be able to,” or “The student is expected to.” From there the language completes the sentence beginning with a verb such as demonstrate, conduct, identify, describe, express, etc.

One example for health education for a 6th grader might read like this: The student is expected to analyze healthy and unhealthy dietary practices. Another one reads as follows: The student is expected to compare immediate and long-range effects of personal health care choices such as personal and dental hygiene.

To piggyback off of that last TEKS described, the student learns compare and contrast using reading passages in their reading classes. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, compare and contrast are higher order skills, and a student who is able to do it well has learned information at a deeper level called synthesis. In addition, the student learns in reading what compare and contrast mean, and how that signals distinguishing similarities and differences. It is often practiced using a Venn Diagram, which is a special graphic organizer of interlocking hoops. If students were to compare and contrast bats and blue jays, the students use the sides and middle to complete the exercise. One side is labeled bats, the other side is labeled blue jays and the middle is labeled similarities. On the side labeled bats, the students will write or otherwise list the things that are true of bats, but not blue jays. On the side labeled blue jays, they will list or write the things that are true of blue jays, but not bats. In the middle, where the loops overlap, they will write things that are true of both.

The truth about TEKS is that they are specific enough to guide teachers in their state’s curriculum, ensure that students are taught content that is specific for their grade level, and builds from year-to-year.

13 Sep

How common core standards have changed education

classroom-379216_640Education would not have evolved to the place where it now stands were it not for standards, those well-defined articulations of what students should know by a particular benchmark, such as a certain grade level. Some states use terms like essential knowledge and skills to define such standards. For example, in Texas they have the acronym of TEKS, for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. At any rate, state agencies had their state specific standards outlined in detail so that educators and others would be in compliance by setting up lesson plans and activities that exposed students to the right learning opportunities and content at the right time. Ultimately, standards informed what a graduating student should know when they finished high school. The only drawback, was that Johnny could move from Texas to Virginia and find that another standard was in place while he was getting his education. This could conceivably put him too far behind or too far ahead of his peers. Common Core standards were designed to eliminate the variances among different states.

One additional argument in favor of a common standard was that graduating high school seniors could find themselves in a college or university in another state where the preparation was deficient. Many reasons were raised that seemed to justify an across-the-board standard. It’s math and English language arts, some core subjects, that are directly impacted by the new standards. A justification given for focusing on these subjects is that they are building blocks for other subjects like Social Studies and Science. Common core applies to grades from Kindergarten to 12th grade.

Teachers were contributors to the dialog related to Common Core, and were involved in its development and implementation. Parents, administrators, state leaders, experts and others were involved in the process, as well.

Even with the advent of standards that were held to be agreed upon as consistently relevant and appropriate for all states, there was no mandate that any participate if they chose to keep their state standards intact. After all, it is a standard and not an absolute law. There are a few states that opted out, but, according to www.CoreStandards.org, 43 states are now participants.

What it means for teachers in the participating states is that the tools, resources, materials and other things should provide content that aligns with the standards. In addition, teachers in various states can now work together to develop curriculum material that aligns with the standards.

Likewise, each state does not have to have its own unique assessments with common core standards. The core standards website indicate that each state’s best came into the mixing pot, so that the end result would be a top-tier set of standards for core subjects that would provide rigor, be aligned with future goals and based upon research. Even the standards and ways students learned in other countries where student performance was high was taken into consideration.

In addition to the need for new curriculum material, ranging from digital resources, books, teacher materials, headsets for testing, audio/visual aids, flash cards, maps, textbooks and other resources; common core also requires that teachers in participating states receive adequate training so they can take their new standard back to the classroom and properly implement them. Without teacher training, and teacher buy-in the common core standards would amount to interesting text on paper.

Policymakers, leaders in business, the College Board, the National Parent/Teacher Association, and other thought leaders are in support of common core standards, according to the website.