Monthly Archives: November 2014

Public Online Charter School Students

I’m a fan for the use of technology. For those of you who know me and/or follow my twitter feed, @DrVicGonzalez, this comes as no surprise. However, I don’t consider myself a “technovangalist” because I do not believe that technology in the classroom is the salvation of public education. I firmly believe in the use of technology where it can be leveraged increase student learning. In, Public Online Charter School Students, the authors provide some additional insights regarding the effectiveness of online classes for students. Also, not surprisingly, students who do not do well in a “traditional” setting are not necessarily more likely to fare any better in an online environment.  Students who struggle tend to struggle in class and online. Students still require additional supports for success in either environment. One area that an online course may have an advantage is supporting the monitoring of students by parents. Automated updates to parents were seen as a key factor in why parents selected an online school for their respective child. I am currently working on an online pilot which emphasizes those “other supports” to be provided by a “case manager”. We hope to see increased student success with those additional support provided. Stay tuned!


Are you smarter than a 5th grader? It may be a cultural issue…

Have you ever thought or said, “that kid is smart!”. What is smart? Is it intelligence? Is it innate? Is it something you’re born with or something you develop? Is it universal? Beth Hat from Illinois State University argues that it is neither biological not universal. In fact, she argues that it’s cultural. Moreover, it’s something that is used to control students along class and racial lines.

Imagine you are learning a new language. You, naturally, have a limited vocabulary but your thinking in your native language is not slowed nor diminished. In fact, over time, your thinking is expanded as you have a host of new concepts/vocabulary from which to draw from and make connections. However, in your new language you may appear inarticulate and perhaps even dim-witted.

“School” is a new language for many students; especially kindergarten. It in kinder that students may first experience the sorting that takes place in regards to “smartness”. How “smart” a student is may be based upon how well the parents reflect the culture of the teacher; the facility with which a student aligns themselves with authority figures, “…students are more likely to be framed as smart if parental expectations closely align with those of the teacher. Hence, smartness becomes largely about possessing the cultural capital most valued by the teacher.” Students are typically adaptable but the case of dissonance may remain unresolved in conflicting models are provided between acceptable/expected behaviors are exhibited between home and school. Overtime, this lack of coherence may lead to alienation from the home “culture”, inability to develop social capital at school, or both.

Smartness as a Cultural Practice in School by Beth Hatt.

10 Strategies for struggling students

There are many people and companies that have an opinion about the best way to support struggling students. Over time, however, research and anecdotal evidence shows that there is no “magic bullet”. The work of educators is instruction and instruction is complicated work. Some vendors may repackage common practices and try to resell them to school but make no mistake, quality instruction is done by quality teachers. Here are some of the strategies that those quality teachers use:

  • Visuals. All sorts, from graphic organizers to pictures; illustrations to movies.
  • Think-Pair-Share. Socializing intelligence is a key practice to improving thinking and learning. Speaking out loud, sharing your thinking, is a simple yet effective way to clarify your thinking and help remember information.
  • Cues. Students are expected to learn a lot and make connections to prior learning. Cues help students with those tasks. Cues supports students that are wary and help re-direct students who are lost.
  • Want to rest of the tips? Check out September/October 2012 Leadership.