Tag Archives: Not On The Test

Merit Pay: Forget Learning… Just Start Learn’en’ Them More!

Welcome to a reflection based on the happenings in Florida and its dealings with merit pay and standardized testing. I have tried to present a little message I call “Forget Learning… Just Start Learn’en’ Them More!”.  Please take a moment to read and I encourage your reply and thoughts!  Remember, I also invite you to subscribe by email or RSS .  As always, please give a follow on twitter (@mjgormans) and I will return the favor. Check out the video link  provided at the bottom… it relates with this post!  Have a great read and wonderful week! – Mike

For those watching the educational news stories this week,  Florida had to be a major place of interest. Governor Charles Crist crossed party lines and put the veto on controversial Senate Bill 6  that promoted a form of merit pay for teachers. While all could argue the assets and liabilities of merit pay for teachers, what  stood out to me was the direct link of teacher pay to student standardized  test scores. I am a  believer in necessary educational transformation that puts students at the center of their learning, employs rigorous real world applications to facilitate curricular standards, integrates appropriate and engaging technology, and facilitates those important 21st Century skills. It is very difficult to comprehend how linking teacher effectiveness exclusively to standardized testing achieves results that prepare today’s students for their future.

For this reason, I have started a list that I call Forget Learning… Just Start Learn’en Them More!  Since “Learn’en Them” is my own phrase, I will define it as putting information in students’ heads. This process of teaching can be successfully spot measured on some standardized tests, but Learn’en Them is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Real Learning.  While some may see my list as a tribute to Standardized Testing, I call it a look into the future…  if all merits are based on the results of Standardized Testing.

My List: Forget Learning, Just Start Learn’en Them More

Forget about inquiry, problem solving, and reflection, it is not efficient…  just start learn’en them more.

Relationship building, where on the test is that?…  just start learn’en them more.

A “Whole New Mind”,  the right brain takes too much time…  just start learn’en them more.

Children at the center of their learning, way too confusing and inexperienced…  just start learn’en them more.

Making connections with the real world,  it’s all in the textbook…  just start learn’en them more.

Networking with parents and community, where are they on the test?…  just start learn’en them more.

Collaboration with other students, the teacher has the test knowledge…  just start learn’en them more.

Technology integration, a worksheet will do and it’s a lot easier..  just start learn’en them more.

Listening to a student, takes valuable lecture time away…  just start learn’en them more.

No Bloom’s Taxonomy, Pavlov’s conditioning will do just fine…  just start learn’en them more.

Their future?  what’s the  matter with our past?…  just start learn’en them more.

I could continue on… but I invite you to join me with at least one reply. It would sure help my own learn’en!  Merit pay based on standardized testing… Where’s the Merit?  To me it seems like the easy way out. We can reward teachers for filling kids heads with stuff, and as more stuff is found we find ways to fill their heads even more. After stuffing their cognitive functions with all this stuff, we can then check our success by testing a fraction of a percent of that stuff.

Or… we can transform education by providing professional development that puts students at the center of their learning, employs rigorous real world applications to facilitate curricular standards, integrates appropriate and engaging technology, and facilitates those important 21st Century skills. It will not be an easy way out, but our students may just pass the test of providing a successful and rewarding future for themselves and their own children.

Thanks for joining me on yet another journey towards transforming education for the 21st Century!  I also invite you to take a moment to view this video.  It provides a great reflection on Standardized Testing!  Please take a moment to share with others and if you are on twitter, give it an RT.  Remember, I invite you to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans). Feel free to explore  the wealth of resources I have for you at my 21centuryedtech Wiki.  Now take a moment to reply/share and then…  forget learn’en them more, and just start learning! – Have a great week! – Mike


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What does the White House, County Music, President Obama, Fine Arts, Steam, Arne Duncan, STEM, and Daniel Pink have to do with 21st Century Education? – Welcome to the Future!

Nasa Historical Photograph

I have lately been  trying to write shorter blogs on a more frequent basis.  Thanks for the positive comments and emails. Your thoughts and ideas are really an inspiration. I am practicing my tweeting skills by tweeting my blog titles  and links under mjgormans. Go ahead and follow if you wish. It has already given me some great ideas for an up coming tweet blog (Do they go together?). I may have a title! This posting is a follow up of a blog I posted at the start of the 2009 school year. I have recently found some extra information on the posting “Welcome To The Future“.  Please take some time, I know if you spend a few moments with the material it will provide you with a message to share with educators and also students. As always, please visit me at the 21centuryedtech Wiki!  for even more information – Mike

I hope I was able to get you wondering about the connection between all the players in the title and 21st Century Learning.  I believe as you read you will see the connection and understand its importance. This posting has been several months in the making and contains some outstanding material for professional development. Please take a moment to  explore and reflect.

 About  three months ago I posted a country music video by singer song writer Brad Paisley. This song and video reminded me that our dreams as educators must be to protect and nuture the dreams of our students.  If you never read the posting or viewed the video I am speaking of, please take a moment from your internet browsing and enjoy. As you view the video Welcome To The Future  keep in mind the important and neccessary mission of 21st century skills and education. I have had the pleasure of sharing this with teachers and students and have always seen people walk away with excitement and  enthusiasm.

Now, the reason for my follow up. I knew the video was powerful but have since found out it made a bigger impact then what I knew at the time of my original posting. I had often wondered what singer songwriter Brad Paisely had thought as he wrote the song. He answered some of my questions in an interview held at the White House. I have included both the blog  posting and video of this White House interview and performance. It was moving to see see the performance in the formal setting  of the White House as President Obama listened, and the camera panned famous pictures such as George Washington and lyrics resonated famous people including Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.  This amazing performance was part of the White House Performance Series ,a program developed to promote arts education. As part of this initative, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been in dialogue with Support Music, an organization dedicated to the promotion of music and fine arts in the nation’s schools. Take a moment to read a recent letter, listen to a conference call (mp3), or read the transcript of Secretary Duncan’s support for the Fine Arts.

This leads me to Daniel Pink , author of A Whole New Mind : Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future. At a recent keynote, Pink eluded to the idea that STEM education must include the fine arts. Take a look at this amazing video as students use visual Thinking Strategies. These students are part of the program,  Visual Thinking Strategies, a non-profit organization that “uses art to foster kids’ capacities to observe, think, listen and communicate.”  With this in mind, listen to the  TASA 2009 Podcast that includes Pink’s thoughts on teaching to the Right Brain in education. While speaking of adding Arts to STEM, why not call it STEAM ,as proposed by the Ohio Alliance For Arts Education . Enjoy this article  filled with great reflections and resources.

I conclude this posting with one last reflection of another past post. The post referred to another musician, Tom Chapin, with a message that cannot be ignored. Chapin is also a proponent of fine arts education and promotes its neccessary place in today’s schools in order to promote 21 st century learning. I know you will want to share his music video Not on the Test with other educators.

I hope you can see that there really is a connection between the White House, STEM, Secretary Duncan, country music, fine arts, Brad Paisley, Daniel Pink, and steam. It really is a convergent of the right and left brain. It is a partnership that will develop creativity, ingenuity, problem solving, and a new way to look at the world. These are 21st century skills, the very skills our students will need to seek their dreams and continue our dreams. It truely is an amazing “Welcome To The Future”!

I invite you to email, comment, and as always visit the 21centuryedtech Wiki. I also invite you to download  my Welcome_to_the_Future  Document. I put together for teachers who may wish to have their students study the video Welcome To The Future. It contains standards that cover writing, film making, and social studies. I look forward to hearing from you . As always thank you joining me as I reflect  upon and dream about a 21st century educational sysytem that will make a difference for the future of our students!

– Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

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