My Thoughts on America

Flickr ID: clappstar I can’t believe I have been back in the States three weeks already. Summer goes way to fast. Family, friends, and the continued remodel of our condo has filled my time which has kept me away from the computer…that’s a good thing when it comes to vacation time though. 🙂 Now I find myself some 30,000 feet over the mid-west on my way to Washington D.C. and the JOSTI conference. I was asked by the U.S. Deptartment of State and the Jefferson/Overseas Schools Technology Institute (JOSTI) organizers to represent the EARCOS region (Southeast Asia) as they discuss a program called the World Virtual School. It also means that I miss out on this year’s ISTE conference. I’ll be following via Twitter and other streams but not the same as being there and connecting with your PLN in person and making new connections. Next year for sure in San Diego! This year marked my 9th year of being overseas. Each year the U.S. seems more “foreign” to me. The more global I become the more strange the U.S. becomes. What is interesting is the fact that I get to see huge changes in the use of technology within American society. Unlike those that live here who see the technology slowly roll out. I get 6 weeks once a year to see how technology is changing America. This year is no different and here are a couple of my early observations.   Social Media: We know it’s everywhere, we know it’s what the “new web” is about. But it fascinates me to see Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and Yelp signs in 99% of all the places I go to in Seattle (we’ll see if DC is the same). The last couple of years you’d find a sign here or there, but this year the Facebook f and the Twitter t are front and center in most shops. Asian societies aren’t there yet in their adoption of these tools for customer connections. American based companies are leading the way and we’ll see how long it takes, if ever, for this kind of social media induction to take hold in other parts of the world. Favor: US QR Codes: I predicted this would be the year these little buggers would show up in American society and I have to say not a bad guess on my part. What I notice from last...

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America….you just don't get it!

From cbsnews.com Math Tests For Five-Year-Olds? The experiment could involve tests as long as 90 minutes and change reading assessments for kindergartners through second-graders in the nation’s biggest school system, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has embraced testing. The approach dismays some parents and educators who see it as mechanizing education. Show me one piece of research that says a 90 minute test is good for a 5 year old? Heck….show me a 5 year old who can sit for 90 minutes! The Department of Education unveiled the $400,000 program in an e-mail Monday inviting elementary school principals to participate. About 65 principals have expressed interest, and as many as 12,000 pupils may ultimately be involved, said James Liebman, the department’s accountability chief. Let’s see why would principals be showing interest in testing Kindergardeners? HHHMMMM……I wonder…..$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. …going beyond No Child Left Behind requirements. For each of the city’s more than 1,400 schools, third-grade through 12th-grade test scores factor significantly in letter grades – which can earn principals bonuses or jeopardize their jobs. And you wonder why you can’t find people to teach in inner city schools. The school grades and stress on test scores anger some parents and teachers, who say classes are being drained of creativity and reduced to drills on how to ace standardized exams. Dear Policy makers….please read A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink. Thank You! The rise of testing in No Child Left Behind’s wake has caused contention nationally. Some studies show students’ math and reading skills have improved, but that schools have cut back on history, music and other subjects. Seriously….why is this a shock to anyone? We still have an 8 hour school day and we can only teach so much. If we’re going to teach more math and reading than something has to give. And to think that at one point in my life my wife and I packed up everything we owned into a storage unit and drove to Albany, New York to find jobs. Lived out of our car and a tent for three weeks with no luck before driving back to Washington and getting jobs in Aberdeen and Westpoint. What’s the reason for this? Really we need to know where kids are in their reading and math? I mean, teachers can’t and haven’t been doing that for…..like……ever? Here’s the thing….do we really want America to be like China?...

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