College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Tags Posts tagged with "preparation for life"

preparation for life

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Curiosity and Courage
Curiosity and Courage in the Classroom

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

WGBH, one of our Boston NPR stations, recently ran a three-part series titled, “Teaching the Future: Climate Change Education on Cape Cod.” The series explores the challenges for teachers who are trying to teach about climate change when they have not had deep training on the subject.

It’s an interesting look at how teachers are tackling the issue, from the challenge of bringing the science down to the cognitive level of the students to the issues of funding real-life exploration around solving real-world issues.

While listening to the broadcast I thought back to JFK’s speech on September 12, 1962, at Rice University which contained one of his most famous quotes: “William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.” This speech kicked off the investment in science education that would see its fruition on July 20, 1969, when the United States completed its first mission to the moon.

When leaders take the reins and seize the opportunity to ensure that the United States is leading the way in the world, we are capable of incredible feats. Sadly, that is not always the case.

Climate change is real. Some may quibble whether human activity has caused the rapid changes, but I would rather follow the lead that urges we stop arguing about causation and start acting on what we can do for mitigation.

Public K-12 systems are not always where leaders focus their efforts to solve imminent crises. Fortunately, in a group of schools noted on the program, there are teachers who are driven by something greater than fame or funding: they are driven by curiosity. This reminded me of Hobbes’s remark in Leviathan that “Anxiety for the future time disposeth men to enquire into the causes of things: because the knowledge of them maketh men the better able to order the present to their best advantage.” If only we had more anxiety.

The reality is that climate change is happening. We need to engage students in the search for solutions. The GBH program suggests that this sort of problem-solving should not be left exclusively to the science classes. Issues of this global magnitude require the collaboration of all the core subjects, because it will take all the expertise of all our experts in training to confront the challenges of the next generation.

Teaching to the Real Tests, Curiosity and Courage

As an educator, I can’t think of a better way to make school relevant for students than to identify a real issue in their lives. As problem-solvers, students need to be able to look at the scientific facts, the mathematical realities, the social and historical causes, and then evaluate the arguments for and against taking action. And what form that action might take.

Climate change is not the only issue on which this sort of approach would work. There are any number of real-life concerns that encompass all core subjects to encourage our future leaders to solve: energy resources, pollution, health care, disease control, food management, water resources and social justice, to name just a few.

In the moon speech, Kennedy said “If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.”

The program notes that “A 2016 study from the National Center for Science Education found that about 75 percent of science teachers do teach about climate change in their classes, but most of them spend only a few hours on it a year.”

It is inspiring to learn about communities that are modeling the sort of determination we need to head off this approaching crisis. This is the curiosity that can foster inquiry-based education that bridges all subject areas and readies today’s students to be the leaders of tomorrow.

As a nation, we need to encourage students be problem solvers. The teachers mentioned in the WGBH program demonstrate the kind of inquisitive courage we, as a nation, need to nurture in order to confront the issues of our time. The program is worth listening to for anyone interested in innovation and relevance in education.

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Words Matter, Language and liability in a sensitive time

What did he say and When did he say it? And what did he mean?

By Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

When I read recently that UMass Amherst football coach Mark Whipple had been suspended for using the word “rape” in a press conference, a burst of memory went off in my mind. I flashed back to the high school cafeteria line where a classmate blurted “I just got raped by that calculus test.” No one blinked. My first thought was not about his choice of words, but my GPA. His grades in calculus were usually higher than mine; if he had done poorly, my grade would probably be zero.

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Thank you for your continued support

Dear friend of JFYNetWorks,

You may remember a young man named Joey whom we have featured before. Joey was a pleasant, affable high school student with a winning smile and a low opinion of himself. “I want to go to college,” he said, “but I’m not sure I can do it. There’s too much to learn. How am I ever going to make it?” We have recounted how we helped Joey work his way through our College Readiness course by showing him the periodic reports that documented how much he had achieved and how much closer he was to the goal. Our blended learning specialist, Melissa, even counted the number of software modules he had to complete and checked them off as he did them. By the end of the year, he had learned enough to pass the college placement test. In the fall, he was admitted to community college without having to take any remedial courses. We’ll never forget his charmingly modest expression of triumph to Melissa: “I got this, Miss.”

Every year, we ask you to help us prepare disadvantaged young people like Joey for college and careers. But does everyone have to go to college? Aren’t there jobs that don’t require a degree? Is college really worth the cost? We hear these questions often. As college costs rise, we hear them more often. With unemployment at historic lows, it’s a seller’s market for job-seekers. So why bother with college?

If the economy were a static system, it would make sense to count on current conditions continuing. But the economy is not static. It’s as changeable as the weather—or oil prices. Today’s sunny labor market could cloud over in one bad quarter, or one oil shock, or one revolution halfway around the globe. Or it could implode as it did barely a decade ago.

Even if nothing undermines our full-employment labor market, technological advance is changing the content of every job in that market. New technology drives new processes, and new processes require new skills. American workers will have to learn new skills throughout their careers.

This tech-driven need for re-skilling has changed employers’ ideas. When they describe the skill set they are looking for now, they list critical thinking, problem-solving, communication skills, teamwork, ability to find and use information—a profile commonly dubbed “21st Century Skills.”

These skills sound a lot like the skills needed for college and, in fact, they are the very same. The education goal of “College and Career Readiness” adopted a decade ago signaled the recognition of the new labor market in which skills are the primary raw material and innovation the primary product.

College used to be the province of the few and fortunate who could afford to spend four years inside ivy-covered walls. Now we use the term “post-secondary training” to include a range of options from technical certificates to coding camps to associate degrees and including bachelor’s and advanced degrees. The new post-secondary training doesn’t necessarily happen in one concentrated chunk immediately after high school. It can be modularized over time as the learner’s career develops and requires new skills. The old static concept of college is morphing into a new paradigm of flexible lifelong learning that adapts to the evolving life and career needs of the learner.

Does everyone have to go to college? The answer is no—not in the old sheepskin and mortar board sense. But does everyone need the skills to handle college? Yes, because the skills required for college and for careers are now identical. The 21st Century workplace is every bit as cognitively challenging as any college classroom. 21st Century skills rest on a strong academic foundation but go far beyond classroom theory into the applied world of work. And there’s no final exam—this course never ends.

JFY helps young people build the foundational skills that underly every academic and career endeavor. Last year we helped 4500 high school students develop those skills through blended learning programs that prepared them for high school and college benchmark assessments. This year we are on track to reach even more. We’re the largest College and Career academic support program in the state, and we work hard to be the best.

Your charitable contributions help us support and guide young people like Joey toward a productive future. Whether they go on to further education or training, or go into the workforce or the military, the skills we help them develop give them the foundation to keep up with the changing demands of the workplace. And it’s not just they who benefit: their productivity keeps our economy thriving for all of us.

As we approach the holidays, we thank you for the support you have given us and ask you to renew it. With your continued help, we will continue to help build a skilled, competitive workforce one young person, like Joey, at a time.

With deepest appreciation and best wishes,

Gary Kaplan

 

Gary Kaplan
Executive Director

 

Donate to Help a Student Today

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Tragedy and Triumph, The Highs and Lows of Working in Schools

The Highs and Lows of Working in Schools

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

The schools I work in have been back in session since the beginning of September. I was excited to get back to see teachers I have worked with for years, to meet teachers who are new to the JFYNet program, and to see all the students, new and returning. I have also gone to new schools, giving presentations on the JFYNet blended learning program. I enjoy doing these demonstrations since it gives me a chance to meet other teachers and principals and to show them a program that I know helps raise students’ skills and scores on MCAS and college placement testing.

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Astronomy in the Fenway

Reading the Red Sox’ Stars

by Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

    “I’m amazed you can see Venus with all the lights around Boston,” my friend Tyler commented as we walked back to the car after a Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

    “That’s not Venus,” I assured him. “That’s Mars.”

    “It can’t be Mars. It’s too bright to be Mars.”

    “Actually, Mars is at its brightest point in 50 years right now. And the only time you can see Venus is right after sunset or right before sunrise. It’s too late for Venus.”

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How teachers and coaches help students find their own success

How teachers and coaches help students find their own success

By Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

“You have a great ability to quickly develop an analysis of the topic. If we can teach you how to speak, we might have something here.”

These were my first comments to Jackson, a new student, almost three years ago after he gave a practice Impromptu speech. “Impromptu” speaking gives the student a random topic on which to speak for four minutes after ninety seconds of preparation. Thus began a journey which would culminate in a way often found in my daydreams, but never allowed to creep into conscious thoughts for fear of jinxing the whole thing.

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Predictions: Snow days! School delays! Red Sox win! WHen?

It will snow. Just don’t ask me when.

by Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

I would never want to be a weather forecaster in Boston. The changing jet stream winds, the effect of the warm ocean on a snow or rain line, and the pressure of predicting whether rain will hold off long enough for the Red Sox to play would be too much for me. Engineers were thinking about traffic when they built Routes 128 and 495, but those lines on the map are now rain and snow boundaries. Making those storm calls may be the most thankless job in the region– after predicting the Red Sox finish.

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Tyrone Figueroa, East Boston HS Teacher

A teacher gives back to his community

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

In my last blog post, I talked about building relationships with people in the schools I work with. Today I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite teachers, Tyrone Figueroa. How Tyrone came to be a teacher is an interesting story.

I first met Tyrone last fall. He was teaching the Senior Math Seminar, one of the classes in which we embed our JFYNet College and Career Readiness program. In the course of working with him I got to know a little bit about his story.

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The Magic of Opening Day

Today is Opening Day at Fenway Park

by Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s the worst-kept secret in offices, boardrooms and schools anywhere within striking distance of Fenway Park: people play hooky the day of the home opener. And why not?

In early April, young baseball fans find more to learn at the ballpark than in a classroom, and older ones more to do than in an office. In schools students are told to dream big, to imagine the impossible. Walt Whitman in Song of the Open Road sings “These are the days that must happen to you.” Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland asks “’Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” Exploring Wonderland, Alice realizes it is she who’s changing, not the world around her. She grasps to hold on to the innocence of childhood, a yearning all adults can relate to on opening day. What is the ballpark but a scene of eternal childhood?

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Does Homework Have to be Boring?

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

The value of homework is the subject of longstanding debate among educators. In simpler times, homework required no more than rote repetition of concepts taught in class. That’s no longer enough. Today’s teachers don’t want reinforcement to be merely repetitious. They want homework to drive deeper understanding of concepts. They use techniques that reinforce daily lessons while promoting deeper understanding through application and differentiated instruction. For example, one study of teachers who assigned technology-based homework linked their students’ improved performance on final exams to the way the teachers structured the homework ccording to the principles of cognitive intervention (Butler, Marsh, Slavinsky et al., Educ Psychol Rev (2014) 26: 331).