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First, I am not a fan of the train the trainer method. I think, in GA, we will never know if the new math curriculum is any good because the implementation has been so bad. The implementation has been so bad because the state choose not to fund professional development for each teacher in the state who teaches math but rather to fund training for one or two teachers at each school who were then responsible for teaching/training the other teachers.So, I would have MUCH rather seen the system spend this money to have training delivered to each of the teachers here. I would have brought the experts here, paid for substitutes for the teachers or paid the teachers to attend a training on a Saturday and I would have let every teacher hear this information/receive the training first hand.Second, though, I have to agree with Dr. Lewis when he says that there is little benefit to purchasing materials with Title 1 dollars.“Rather than use dollars for teachers and principals to buy more supplies, we chose this. We find very little of those supplies end up benefiting individual students as it relates to achievement levels,” Lewis said. “We sent teachers because these are the people who will come back and teach our young people.”http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-school-employees-at-291275.htmlFinally, I hope the Board will ask for some kind of report that shows how much training the "trainers" are doing. This is a real chance for the Board to step up to the plate and ask tough questions.
A lot of companies & school districts are using web based training to eleviate the stress of budget woes like financing staffers across the country for training. There are other methods that could have and should have been checked. I do understand how Title I funds work and know there are stipulations on what can and cannot be purchased...but this new stimulus bill was open ended which is why so many in Congress had problems with passing it. Not because it was a Democratic bill...but the possibility of this type of misappropriation. I remember Cathy Cox mentioning this very attitude of wasteful spending when the announcement was made that stimulus funds were being distributed. Sounds like Wall Street has passed on some of it's traits to good old Main Street in DCSS.
I read somewhere (I can dig it up if you like) that we paid $8 million for the America's Choice curriculum. Dummy me - I assumed that included some pretty intense teacher training.
Oh, here it is - it was in the written part of the CBS report - The DeKalb County School System worked with America’s Choice back in 2001, but had to stop their educational programs with them because of budget issues. In August 2009 using federal stimulus money, the school district signed a one year deal with America’s Choice for $8 million.In the contract, the Deputy Superintendent Barbara Talley said, “They must attend the National Conference that starts Thursday.” The district is using an estimated $382,000 in title one funds to pay the cost of the conference, which includes registration, food, travel and a stay at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood.
I'm thinking Gloria will be announcing she is leaving DCSS to take a high level job at America's Choice in the near future.
If hearing from other educators is so vital, then how come I have never been asked by anyone in DeKalb what my experience was when I was part of the previous implementation of America's Choice. Oh, and it was for more then one year!!!
It is evident that DeKalb County School officials have developed a "bunker mentality". "Bunker Mentality" is a phenomenon that occurs when a group or individual stops taking new pertinent information into account, and begins viewing outsiders as enemies. It happens when a leader or administration becomes unpopular or is in some sort of trouble. Just look at how Dr. Lewis, Ms. Talley, School Board members. etc. respond to parent and teacher concerns.
In the interview with Gloria Talley, she said there was no other way to get exposure to other teachers who teach in America's Choice schools but to go to this conference. Go to this America's Choice website and see what other choices Gloria Talley and Crawford Lewis had:http://www.americaschoice.org/conferencecalendarFor example there is a conference in Nashville, Tennessee - a 4 hour drive from here. I think that they picked California because it was a more interesting place to go to a conference. Also, they know that going to California would be a nice "perk" for the 47 teachers who will be doing the training. What the other 140 administrators went is a different story. It seems they have enough "perks" as it is.
Now I see the connection. America's Choice and the ACT (that's the SAT's competition) joined together to develop and market America's Choice. With NCLB, the people getting really rich are the testing and measurement companies. This is so reminiscent of Springboard, the scripted teaching system DeKalb spent millions on. Springboard was developed and marketed by The College Board. They produce and sell the SAT. Make no mistake - it's about money and profits.
DeKalb used America's Choice for a number of years. Could Lewis or Talley possibly share the results of those schools who used America's Choice? Surely they looked at the results since we spent millions on the system at that time.
Word on the street is that Talley is headed to the great state of South Carolina in the near future. Where in line can I get to help her pack?
Why is it the schools with the lowest test scores always get the scripted teaching systems? Most teachers dislike teaching from a script, and it's insulting to students. Students in low performing schools like to think critically and creatively too. The rules of learning apply equally to all children.Scripted teaching does not promote critical thinking skills or creativity, quite the opposite. Just because you can control what a teacher says doesn't mean you can control what a student learns.We never ask our teachers what they think will help their students. I think that's why teachers are so frustrated. They have no authority over what is taught (especially if they are in a scripted learning environment) and yet they have all of the accountability on their shoulders. The recession will help hold down our teacher attrition rate, but wait until the economy turns around. You will see it pop back up again.
Don't ask Gloria Talley about online training or teleconferencing as alternatives to flying everyone to Hollywood. I have been in meetings where she states she knows nothing about technology.Now I ask you, in the 21st Century, why in the world would we have someone in charge of Curriculum and Instruction that knows nothing about technology?And that is exactly why you can go into many of our classrooms in DeKalb and they do not look appreciably different that they did in the 1950s or 60s when they were built. Parents and teachers and yes even students who come from outside the county are always so shocked when they see the level of technology we don't have.
There as so many things wrong here. By using America's Choice DCSS is saying we can't fix the problems ourselves so let's out source it. The reason you outsource a problem is to save money by getting rid of the staff that normally take care of the outsourced work. I don't see this happening. But overall I'm sad to say most staff development falls short and employees use only a small percentage of what they were taught. This is especially true for technology. Millions is spent on smart boards only to have teachers use them as little more than overhead projectors.One of the main reasons teachers do not adapt to new methodologies and new technology is lack of time and lack of trust that it is really going to work.But the other posters are correct America's Choice is just a company profiting from schools with bad leadership.
Let me help here Anon February 7 2010 12:00PMBusiness people out there: how long do you take to prepare and rehearse a fancy and animated powerpoint presentation of 10-20 minutes?Do teachers really have the hours to create or find 2 or 3 Promethean Board lessons that are going to last each 10 or 20 minutes every day? Are teachers supposed to pull these fancy lessons from their nostrils or elsewhere? I mean after they keep on entering a ton of meaningless grades to say that Johnny can't or can do some task instead of the 1 grade that matters, after they attend 1-way discussions with parents who are bamboozled, when do they have time to do this? At 9PM? 10PM?We are all part of these farce!
Parents are under the impression that having smart boards and other fancy technology is going to give their children a superior education. This is not true. All of this technology takes time away from teachers to what they are paid to do, teach the children.
The beauty of the Promethean Boards are that they come with a world-wide database of lessons on every topic imaginable and allow teachers to share information. If used correctly the Promethean database will save huge amounts of lesson planning time. IB schools in Europe have used these boards and database for a few years now and have achieved significant improvement in student performance. Teachers should not have to reinvent the wheel for any lesson; there are thousands already there waiting to be customized.
Smartboards were great when I had classes with them in college, but my professors needed a lot of training with them, and it took them a while to be comfortable with them.Someone else posted it here and its true: Gloria Talley often talks about how she doesn't know anything about technology, and she revels in it. She's proud to be a luddite. The school system receives millions from Title 1 and other schools that can be used on technology, yet Gloria is clueless about it, and Tony Hunter has no educational technology education or experience. He worked for a company that did installations. Tough to be a "premier" system with mediocre leadership.
Kids love technology. Any teacher will tell you that, and every parent knows this is true. While there are great teachers who don't use technology, most young teachers are comfortable with it and expect to use it in their workplace with their students.These young DeKalb teachers and quite a few old ones who want to use technology in their classroom are frustrated to have only a 3 or 4 (if they are lucky) computers in a classroom of 30+ students, little access to a computer lab, and laptop carts that often have problems connecting to the Internet.I think the way the Interactive boards were distributed contributed to the problem. As far as I know plain ol' teachers and parents/taxpayers were not asked to contribute their ideas in the form of focus groups, online solicitation of ideas, parent councils, etc. Rather many of the decisions as to where to place the boards (in particular in middle and high) were made by the instructional group led by Gloria Talley. Some (not all) teachers were given interactive boards that did not ask for them and didn't want to use them. Many of these teachers are good teachers, they just didn't want the Interactive board. Other teachers did not get boards who were really excited about using this technology with their students, and would have done so very effectively.Teachers, what are your comments about the Interactive whiteboards? Did you want the boards? Do you use them? How was the installation and maintenance of the Interactive whiteboards in your school? Has anyone even asked your opinion about this multimillion dollar expenditure?Parents really do want to know what you need to be effective in our children's classroom.
In my school, the smart boards are rarely used. There's one in a media center conference room that stays locked up. Classrooms rarely have more than two computers for student use.
At my school, the teachers who wanted a smart board had to prepare a proposal stating how they would use the technology. Several teachers did not want the boards and did not receive them.
Anonymous February 7, 2010 1:36 PM The answer is “time”. Lots of it!“The beauty of the Promethean Boards is that they come with a world-wide database of lessons on every topic imaginable and allow teachers to share information. If used correctly the Promethean database will save huge amounts of lesson planning time.”Still:1. Teachers have to look for these lessons (This takes time)2. Teachers may have to adapt these lessons (otherwise they may not effective!)3. Teachers have to rehearse these lessons (otherwise they look like fools!)4. Teachers may have to print and copy supporting material (otherwise the lesson does not fit/flow)“IB schools in Europe have used these boards and database for a few years now and have achieved significant improvement in student performance.”Do you any idea what the planning time and the administrative support a high school teacher in England, France, or Germany has per week? (Look it up…..It’s less than 18 hours in front of students per week… For each 1 hour class/prep, teachers have 1hour 30 minutes of planning. That is the European educational secret weapon…. )The answer is “time”. Lots of it!Vox
“Smartboards were great when I had classes with them in college, but my professors needed a lot of training with them, and it took them a while to be comfortable with them.”You can’t “squirt” a Smartboard lessons without preparation. Not only your professors had lots of training, they must have adequate time to plan the lessons!
Ask Gloria Talley how many people work directly under her at the huge administration offices of the DCSS?More people that do not work in the classroom!
If the AC conference was to train teachers, why didn't classroom teachers attend. I know of one school where no classroom teachers attended.
That was my main issue with it. They only sent (I think) 47 teachers, the rest were all administrators of one kind or another. Now, imagine if they had sent 200 teachers. That may have actually had an impact on students.
At my school, there is at least one Promethean board for every grade level. The first group of teachers were asked if they wanted and would use one. Now, all the fifth grade classes and 2 classes in the other grade levels (except K) have boards. The teachers were chosen by the principal based on our use of technology and it was made known that if we didn't use the boards with our students, we would be switching rooms with another teacher who would use the boards.I use the board for at least one lesson or activity each day, most days more. Most of these lessons are flipcharts I've created that mirror the manipulatives my students are using.The problem with using lessons from the database is that they are often not aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards. We can't have anything in our lesson plans that's not GPS.
FWIW - here's a link to another blog's post on the subject -The AdmonitionGeorgia School District: California Trip Paid For With Stimulus Money February 4, 2010 | Posted by Shannon BellHey, here’s a shovel ready project for you; DeKalb County school employees are taking a trip to California that will cost the tax payers almost $400,000 in stimulus money.200 employees of the DeKalb County school system will be attending seminars conducted by America’s Choice.What’s the problem? It sounds completely logical to me to send your employees all the way across the country to take part in a seminar that they could likely take part in closer to home. Maybe not provided by America’s Choice, but no doubt there’s no shortage of educational seminars that 200 employees could attend. They’re not really into the whole cost effective, cost cutting, budgeting side of things are they?What did the school system have to say about the fact that they’re wasting $400,000 dollars of stimulus money that was originally intended to put people to work? Spokesman Dale Davis said:“I am happy that you are expressing interesting in this training opportunity for our employees. We are focused on student improvement. America’s Choice is in partnership with the district to help improve the academic success in 40 of our lowest performing schools.”I’m sure that’s it, student improvement. I’m almost positive it doesn’t have anything to do with a trip to Hollywood on the government dime. Which of course is our dime.
FYI - I attended a faculty meeting this afternoon where people who had attended this conference needed to present to the staff about what they had learned. One of the teachers basically got up there and said that she didn't really learn anything. Can I have her $2,000 dollars back for her trip?
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