Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grants For Schools: Lots of Homework for Educators

Educational grants are not impossible to obtain. In fact, if you put in the effort, I can virtually assure that your school can get a grant. But free money is not easy to get, there is a long and almost tedious process.

The good news is that getting an educational grant is very possible for you. The bad news is that the process is not easy. However, because it is not easy to get a grant, many people do not bother to try. It will take patience, attention to detail, and creativity to be on the winning side.

Incidentally, the definition of an educational grant is anytime a person or organization is willing to give your school or educational program something you need to do something you want for the benefit of your students. Grants are not always money. Sometimes they come in the form of what is called "in kind gifts"--like computers or science lab equipment.

Grantors want educational results, they want their educational grants to create marked changes in the students and their learning. Focusing in on your real needs, i.e. things required to make learning possible is the most difficult step in the grant process. The key to getting help is to ask grantors who want the same results as you do. You need to look to the core of your problems. What are your classroom needs? You must be able to answer this question in one sentence before you move on.

Who Should I Ask?

There are several types of grantors that give educational grants. And some are harder to get to than others. Therefore, persistence is key. Most people do not want to go through the work that is required to get a grant. But if you don't try, you'll never get a grant.

Ask the principal:

If you have passion and motivation to get something you need, you have a good chance of convincing the principal that it is worth the spending. If you invest some of your own money, you have a better chance because it shows commitment to your desire for a teacher grant.

Approach the school district:

You may immediately think that you can not do this...why? Isn't what you want to do desirable? Check with the principal and find out how to approach the superintendent or school board, just follow the appropriate school protocol and ask.

Ask the local government:

Local politicians know where the money is, and it is surprising to find out how much is around. A politician who sees an opportunity for publicity through teacher grants will often be helpful in your search for funding.

Ask the supplies State government:

For example, the New York State Legislature gives out money in state legislative grants. Members are allocated funds for their districts. So tell the state government about your ideas for an educational grant.

Ask the Federal Government:

Every day the government lists programs, including teacher grants, in the Federal Register.

Ask a Foundation:

Thousands of foundations want to give money, and they have billions of dollars to work with. Find those foundations that share your goals. Use the Foundation Center as a source, or newsletters that offer regular suggestions on who is offering educational grants.

Ask a Local Company:

Local businesses are another good source. Banks are particularly good places to start.

Some tips:

a) Always follow school and district rules.

b) There is specific grant jargon you must interpret correctly. Read the grant description several times. Call to clarify any points that you are not sure of. Mention what you have in mind and ask if he or she thinks it would be "competitive." The word competitive is part of the grant jargon that is very important.

c) Do some search to see if your problem is already being approached somewhere else. Find out how others have reached their goals for education grants of similar concerns.

d) Think of the grant application as a test. You will be asked to repeat information. No matter what, leave out nothing that is asked for.

e) Submit your proposal on time. Follow the instructions. If you do not do this, your
education grant application might not even be read, let alone considered by the grantors.

f) Complete the proposal and put it aside for a few days. Then read it over again and make changes if you need to. Ask others to proofread for you--just in case.

g) Be sure to check prices and anticipate that prices will increase. Be careful what you ask for and make sure the amount of your education grant will suit your needs.

h) Remember, if you do not ask, you definitely will not get your education grants.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Education - No Child Left Behind

In the ever growing war between educators, No Child Left Behind is probably one of the most hotly contested topics in the world of education today. Nobody can seem to agree on it and it's no wonder, because it's a rather radical concept that years ago would have been unthinkable. In this article we're going to present both sides of the argument but in no way will we try to determine who is right and who is wrong. We'll leave that decision to history itself.

No Child Left Behind, the act, was instituted in 2001. One of the biggest problems with No Child Left Behind is that most people don't really understand what it means. Parents are under the impression that it means their child is not allowed to be kept back in school if his grades are poor. This is not true at all. No Child Left Behind was instituted so that the poorer districts could give their children the same level and quality of education as children in the richer districts. To achieve this end, the poorer districts are allocated a certain amount of additional funds. These funds increase a certain percentage each year. Since the act was instituted, the average dollar amount allocated has risen from $13,500,000,000 in 2002 to an estimated $25,000,000,000 in 2007.

But there is a catch to this. And this is where the arguments come in. In order to qualify for this funding, schools have to have a certain percentage of students pass the standardized tests that are given each year. Currently, those tests are only given to high school children. Future plans for No Child Left Behind are to have these tests given to every child in every grade.

The arguments for this procedure is that children will all be taught the same material and therefore will all have the same education. If a child doesn't pass the standardized test by his last year of high school then he must either go to summer school and pass it or repeat his last year of high school. Those for this say it will make sure that every child who does graduate from school is prepared for the outside world. By making the money given dependent on these test scores, this forces the schools themselves to focus on what they consider the core contents. This makes sure that every kid is properly educated.

Those against No Child Left Behind argue that the money allocated to the school districts should not be dependent on how well the students do. Their argument is that children in poorer districts do poorly because they are poor and the money should be given to them regardless of test scores. They view this as a catch 22, which most teachers in the poorer districts seem to agree with.

As to where this money actually goes, that would take a book to explain. Suffice it to say that portions of this huge amount are divided up among many areas including Comprehensive School Reform, Advanced Placement, School Improvement, School Dropout Prevention and the list goes on and on. This is where another argument comes in. Most teachers feel this money is being wasted and should go to teachers salaries and text books, where the money is really needed.

If you'd like to do more research into No Child Left Behind, the entire act is posted on the government educational web site. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Violence in Schools

School violence has been identified as an increasing problem facing all members of school communities. Intervention programs have been developed to combat this ever increasing problem, with varying levels of effectiveness. Following, individualised and generic intervention programs which aim to reduce the incidence of school violence will be discussed in relation to issues such as cost, cultural fit, power, training, acceptability, and involvement.

Both individualised and generic intervention programs aim to reduce the incidence of school violence and create a safe and secure learning environment. In which staff and students are protected from all forms of violence. Bullying and aggression occur more frequently in schools where there are unclear standards of behaviour, inconsistent methods of discipline, inadequate supervision and lack of awareness of children as individuals (Pearce, 1991, p76). Generic intervention programs may address issues relating to methods of discipline and supervision but less often address issues relating to the children as individuals. Individualised intervention programs address the specific learning, social and emotional needs of the student rather than the wider school community. Individualised intervention programs also address issues relating to discipline and supervision of the target student.

Generic intervention programs appear to have limited scope when addressing the effects of violent episodes on victims and witnesses. Generic programs may be less effective in addressing the specific needs of the victim as they are typically general in nature and not developed for the specific and individual needs of particular students. Individualised intervention programs address the specific needs of the victims within the specific school context. Therefore, individualised intervention programs are likely to be more effective in addressing the effects of violence for those involved, including the victims of violent episodes. Intervention programs, either individualised or generic, which require the abuser to make amends, are effective in reducing further incidents (Pearce, 1991).

Some teachers commonly use emotional maltreatment along with punitive practices to discipline and punish students for unwanted behaviour (Briggs & Hawkins, 1997, p34). Abuse perpetrated by teachers often occurs within a school climate where violence and aggression is tolerated (Saudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996, p5). A generic intervention program may be effective in changing the culture of the school and impacting on expectations of acceptable professional behaviours. However, the changes required to limit the abuse by teachers may happen over time as the culture of the school improves. An individualised intervention program would also be effective in reducing incidents of abuse by teachers, although changes in abusive behaviours should occur more rapidly. Both generic and individualised intervention programs can provide abusive teachers with new strategies for managing students' behaviour thus reducing the incidence of violence and abuse.

Due to its broad focus generic intervention programs may not meet the needs of the students that it is targeting. A 'one size fits all' approach may not meet the specific needs of students, teachers, parents or community because of its generic nature. A generic intervention program strives to create a school environment that is warm and interesting and has clearly defined limits regarding behaviour. The program fosters consistent, non-violent strategies to address violations of the school rules (Olweus, 1994). Generic intervention programs mainly utilise staff already available at a school, including parents or caregivers, school administration, teachers and students (Olweus, 1994). These program and of others like it aim to reduce maladjustment and violence by providing at risk students with alternative, pro-social attention (Jackson, 2002, p115).

Individualised intervention programs are developed according to identified needs of individual students. They are very costly as they require intensive observation and investigation as to the context and the purpose of the misbehaviour. They require the ongoing support of specialists in Functional Behaviour Analysis (FBA). The FBA is the process of identifying events that predict violent episodes and maintain that behaviour (March, 2002). Specialists may be required to complete the behaviour analysis and to develop a plan of action to address the violent episodes. They may require extra staff to assist teachers in development and implementation of the program. Using an FBA to develop an individualised intervention program, whilst being effective, is costly and requires the use of non-school based specialists or highly trained specialist teachers.

Alternatively, generic intervention programs which are commercially available are less expensive for schools to purchase and implement. They may require a training component, but this is usually an isolated period of training for those involved. Research has shown (March & Homer, 2002) that these one off teacher training programs are not likely to generate skills that teachers can use and maintain in various classroom settings. Teachers require meaningful and regular training in the strategies outlined in the intervention program for it to be successful. Generally, generic intervention programs are able to be effectively implemented by classroom teachers with limited training in violence reduction strategies.

Antecedent-based interventions, a type of individualised program, are effective in reducing violent episodes at school and therefore reduce the need for punitive consequences to violence (Kern, 2002 p 113). They address the environmental issues that contribute to violence occurring within a school or classroom setting. The Antecedent-based interventions are similar to the FBA, a component of an individual intervention program, as they address the specific needs of individuals and the factors that contribute to violent episodes occurring within a particular setting. These individualised intervention programs have been identified as being effective in reducing school violence by limiting the identified environmental factors that contribute to violent epsidoes with targeted students.

Many generic intervention programs are long term and may take several years to see meaningful improvements and changes in the school culture, as well as a reduction in violent episodes. Teachers may find an increased workload due to increased expectations (Saudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996, p9) and find this difficult to manage within an intense workload. During the initial stages of intervention, there may be an increase in the frequency of incidents of peer violence, as previous acts of violence may not have been dealt with. Within several months of implementation, fewer incidents of violence are likely to occur and as a result the school climate should become more positive as the environment becomes safer (Saudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996, p9).

Individualised intervention programs are designed to address the specific needs of the target individuals. They are developed using specific data which informs the type of program that needs to be implemented. Individualised intervention programs access specific information through meaningful investigation of the behaviours of those students involved. A hypothesis is developed regarding the function the violence performs and the intervention is developed to specifically address this need. Generic intervention programs generally do not address why a particular student is violent and therefore run the risk of failing to meet their specific needs. They provide a bandaid solution to prevent and reduce violent incidents in general. All students exhibiting similar behaviours will receive similar intervention (March, 2002, p159), without addressing the cause of the violence and the student's specific emotional, social and academic needs.

Generic intervention programs usually involved teaching those involved skills to reduce the level of school violence. These may include conflict resolution and peer mediation for the students and new strategies to manage student's behaviour for teachers. The skills taught during the intervention are not usually transferred by students into other contexts, therefore are far less likely to reduce violence. Generic intervention programs may include a proactive prevention section which outlines procedures, lessons and supervision ideas to prevent violence actually occurring within school contexts. This may include instruction relating to the development of effective social skills. Social skills should be taught, as part of an intervention, with effective instructional techniques (Scott, Nelson & Liaupsin, 2001), to maximise the enhancement of student's pro-social behaviours. Individualised intervention programs may also include opportunities for students to develop social skills which may enhance their school experience, skills that are useful in many contexts.

Behaviour mapping programs encourage students to identify and understand their non-productive behaviours and explore more appropriate alternatives (Unruth, Anderson & Bartscher, 1997). This encourages students to become more aware of their behaviour and to make choices about how they want to behave. Behaviour Mapping is an effective generic intervention program that is tailored to the individual student's behavioural needs. It requires a skilled, knowledgeable and committed teacher to implement the program effectively.

Some generic intervention programs by nature must be general and include information that is aimed at the dominant white middle class student. These programs may therefore exclude students who don't form part of the dominant school culture. (Hyman & Snook, p134) These programs may contain a lot of assumed knowledge, behaviours and expectation which may be unfamiliar to some students. This may render the intervention program ineffective for those students. An individualised intervention program should be tailored to the specific cultural and language needs of the student. To be effective, an intervention program should be culturally inclusive and be accessible for all targeted students.

Peer violence can be related to a variety of causes, including family, individual and school factors (Saudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996, p4). Intervention programs should therefore address these factors if they are to be real successful. Generic programs to reduce school violence are often limited in their scope and only address individual and school factors. Family factors which may contribute to peer violence within schools are rarely addressed in generic intervention programs. Studies indicate that aggressive behaviour is elevated in children who witness violence within the home (Jaffe, Wolfe & Wilson, 1990). Therefore, family factors must be addressed for any intervention program to be successful. Peer abuse may relate to a power imbalance between the abuser and the victim (Sudermann, Jaffe & Schieck, 1996, p2). Therefore, intervention programs should include opportunities for students to develop interpersonal skills and self esteem.

Research has identified that intervention programs that emphasise punishment, control and zero tolerance are ineffective at preventing school violence and may even contribute to antisocial behaviours occurring (Leone, et al 2000). Teachers are in a powerful position to reduce the incidence of school violence through their use of appropriate behaviour management strategies, providing adequate supervision and an engaging curriculum. They can also attain this position by establishing an environment where violence of any kind in unacceptable and students are treated respectfully. According to Scott, Nelson & Liaupsin (2001), students who are successful in school have little incentive to engage in behaviours that might typically result in their exclusion from school. Long term generic intervention programs with multiple components which include conflict resolution, values education, cultural education, positive discipline and effective communication that is aimed at teachers, staff, students, and parents are powerful in changing the school's culture (Smith, Duaric, Miller & Robinson, 2002, p574).

Effective academic instruction has also been identified as a strategy to help prevent school violence. Scott, Nelson & Liaupsin (2001) contend that by creating schools that facilitate student success, the goal of improving school safety will also be addressed. Therefore, teachers must provide an academically challenging environment in which positive interpersonal relationships are fostered.

There are many programs that can be implemented across school level or to target individuals to reduce incidents of violence at school. Certainly there are many commercially available intervention programs available for schools to choose from. It is important that programs are identified and implemented that are appropriate to the school culture, are acceptable within the wider community, involve parents. Individualised intervention programs are invaluable for creating behavioural change for students exhibiting serious aggressive behaviour. A generic intervention program may be effective in preventing and addressing violence across a whole school level by encouraging students to develop effective and pro-social interpersonal skills.

Often through early experiences with family, schools, media, peers and community children learn that violence, rather than communication or negotiation, is an appropriate way to solve interpersonal problems WHO/UNESCO, 1999, p2).

Samantha is a qualified Early Childhood teacher with 10 years experience. She is currently studying Master of education. She is the mother of 2 young boys. Although parenting is her main focus, furthering her understandings about how children learn and develop is something of great interest to her. She is interested in parenting, as a teacher, as a mother and a member of a wider community.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Modeling Student Behavior

Whether you as a teacher realize it or not, you are the best model of behavior in your classroom. A large part of your proactive behavior plans should include your own behavior you demonstrate to the students every day.

You must set expectations for your students, demonstrate the behaviors, and be vigilant to correct the kids. Don't waver on your expectations; inconsistencies will only confuse the students and cause you more problems.

If you stay calm, collected, and in control, your students will exhibit the same behaviors. The same is true about enthusiasm; if you are excited about your lesson and truly believe in its importance, the kids will respond in kind. Conversely, the kids will know when you are tired, bored, don't want to be there, or are 'winging it.'

If you are late to class, or don't start on time, the kids will pick up on it and be more likely to do the same. The same is true about the way you dress, the way you act, the language you use, and your 'body language'.

If you want your students working from 'coast to coast', or from bell to bell, you need to set the expectation of activity all hour. Start with a warm up, and ensure the kids are doing it. Keep them busy on activities with transitions between each. Don't let there be any down time. Work them to the end of the period, and have them pack up when you say so, not whenever they want to.

If you want your students to quietly read in class, but you are spending that time working on other things, it sends the message that you don't value the activity personally. Modeling the skill for the kids reinforces your belief that it is important. It shows you as a lifelong learner who values the skills you're teaching them.

The same is true for writing, or labs, or math problems. Students rarely have the chance to see real people performing schoolwork - for many, the only examples (and role models) are their classmates. Work along with your students.

Now this doesn't mean you have to do this the entire time. You must also supervise, coach, monitor, and actively support their learning. But you can spend at least a few minutes 'at their level'.

Monday, September 26, 2011

English Class vs Language Arts in Education

Most schools do not put enough emphasis on the fine arts, namely, as an example--the art of language. In an English class the teacher will focus on reading skills, reading comprehension, grammar and vocabulary--but language arts is recognizing written word as an art form.

Yes we do want our students to study and master the English language. But the fine arts should be reserved as different kind of lesson, preferably in a creative writing class that is separate from English class. But every English class, if there is no specific language arts class required, should at least include a unit that focuses on the beauty and importance of literary accomplishments throughout the ages. Poetry, plays, song lyrics, screenplays, novels, from authors like Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, Ken Kesey, Harper Lee etc.

Language is composed of words--words carry specific meaning and sometimes carry double meaning. So the primary tool of language is words, another is sound. Words are, in combination with an almost musical goal, can show the transformation of words and basic communication into art.

Words are to the writer what paint is to the painter, they are what the instrument is to the musician, and they are what tone and pitch are to a singer. That is why children must understand that English is not just what they learn in English class--but the language itself is spawned the language arts years and years ago.

The empty page means to the writer what the score of music means to the musician or singer. The empty page is the blank canvas, the untouched page in a sketchbook and so on, the empty page is--the thing that the any artist of the written word must make to come alive.

As I mentioned before, there is a musical aspect and technique to literary language that is hard to grasp without providing prime examples of it. The musical technique involved in the art of language is well exemplified by the works of William Shakespeare, but he is just one of many. The poem, when read silently or aloud. Should have a certain song about it. Whether it in written in iambic pentameter, as a sestina or in the more modern style of free form, the music should be there. For example in a poem by Dylan Thomas, the first stanza reads:

" Do not go gentle into that good night

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night..."

The poem was written as Dylan Thomas watched his father lay dying, and there is a beautiful song here. Note the repetition. Note the syntax in which the words are used which is different than regular speech--there are articles like "the" or "a" that the author will drop--removed for the sake of rhythm. This particular poem is easy to find at the library or on the Internet, and I highly recommend it as a tool for any Language Arts instructor.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Enrich Classroom Learning with Educational Magazines

Magazines created for elementary, middle school, and high school students are a great way to enhance core curriculum studies with current, up-to-date information. Periodicals have the ability to take into account current social trends among young people while reflecting the latest advancements in educational theory.

Between the "juvenile" and the "teen and young adult" categories, lists over a hundred magazines devoted to people under the age of eighteen; many of these are designed to meet the educational needs of kids at the same time that they entertain and inform. Science, math, history, social studies, art, archeology, sports, and literature are only a few of the topics covered. Adding some of these well-written, colorful magazines to the classroom can keep young people excited about school and learning.

Emphasize the use of magazines in your classroom.

Subscribing to a number of these magazines is a great first step; but you can do more to integrate the periodicals into your classroom. Some of the publishers offer free previews of upcoming issues and curriculum guides that allow you to plan your themes around specific issues. Beyond that, it's a good idea to announce the arrival of a new issue to your class, and even to give the students an overview of the contents of each issue. Consider checking with your school library to find books with content that enhances the material in the magazines, and display the magazines and books in your reading center. You may find that students will get really excited about certain issues and actually request more information on specific subjects, which will give you additional ideas about possible themes for future study.

Depending on your budget, you may be able to actually poll your students at the beginning of the school year to discover what magazines they would like to see in their classroom, and order the most popular requests. Even fashion magazines or automotive magazines, while not a reflection of the curriculum, will get your kids reading and will let you, the teacher, discover the interests of your students, and monitor to some extent the information these young people are exposed to. If you have the money in your budget, or if you can find a benefactor for your class, you may be able to subscribe to a magazine or two and receive enough copies for every student in your class - a great motivation for kids.

Offer magazines at different reading levels.

Every classroom has students at a variety of reading and maturity levels, and your collection of magazines needs to reflect that. Some magazines, such as Appleseeds Magazine, by Cobblestone & Cricket, have content suitable for older kids who may be struggling with reading. You may also have students who are way beyond their age level in terms of reading comprehension, and magazines are a great way to provide enrichment for these advanced students.

Stay connected to your students by staying relevant.

As young people mature, they crave more independence, both in their school careers and in social areas, and can pull away from adults whom they see as uncaring or not understanding of them. High-quality magazines and books attuned to both their educational needs and their desire to connect with today's world can help keep their school studies relevant and keep them connected to the educational process so important to their futures. By providing them with reading materials that reflect their concerns, their lives, and their interests, you will manage to keep that important connection to them as they grow and learn; perhaps more importantly, as they see you working to understand their world, they will feel more comfortable turning to you when they confront problems they feel unequipped to handle. Stay up-to-date on the information they're reading, stay relevant to their world, and you stay connected.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Myotherapy Schools

While there are several options in obtaining a myotherapy education, one has various options to enroll in a myotherapy educational institution or gain self-study lesson training and education through online learning or distance education programs.

Myotherapy schools offer training in specific trigger-point treatment that facilitates a variety of diagnostics and unique bodywork technique to effectively treat musculoskeletal disorders. Standard curriculums often include, of course, hands-on myotherapy training; in addition to students learning how to assess patients based on pathological conditions affecting muscle function; how to implement treatment plans by applying a variety of myotherapy techniques; and how to monitor and manage patient progress.

Myotherapy school courses may include but are not limited to introduction to massage therapy; anatomy and physiology; stress and pain related syndromes; massage therapy professionalism; acutherapy; hydrotherapy; mind-body interrelation; trigger-point therapy; kinesiology; polarity therapy; basic business skills; and other coursework relevant to myotherapy training.