Running head: WHAT
What Works in
Joseph I. Williams
Learning is a cumulative art. As there can be a curriculum of the classroom, there can also
be a curriculum of the home. The
Websters dictionary defines curriculum as a series of planned instruction that
is coordinated and articulated in a manner designed to result in the
achievement by students of specific knowledge and skills and the application of
this knowledge. Including locations,
there are differences between home curriculum and classroom curriculum.
Teachers and parents often hold diverse value systems, beliefs, attitudes and
perceptions of where, when, how and to what extent curriculum is implemented. As a result, there are public schools,
private schools, charter schools, religious schools, home schools and so
on. Each of these types of schools
exists to instill in students the values and beliefs of parents. However, when parents show interest in
children's learning at home, and participate at school, they affect their
children's achievement. Leopold &
Penn (1995) wrote research of more than a quarter-century validates the
importance of family involvement in education. Contemporary studies have found
consistent evidence that when parents encourage children, show interest in
children's learning at home, and participate at school, they affect their
children's achievement, even after student ability and family socioeconomic
status are taken into account.
Language forms the core for both the strengths and
weaknesses of students. Research shows
that children acquire language best through meaningful experiences. Phonics is well-known method for teaching
first graders to read. Children that
are taught with phonics, first rehearse a letter, sound it out, and repeat it
with games, sing-along songs, and reading activities. Next, they are introduced to blending conceptsputting letters
together to sound out words. Last,
readers practice using words of only the letters and sounds that have been
reviewed. As expected, phonics is one
way to introduce the art of language.
However, phonics alone does not directly develop critical reading
skills. The Partnership for Reading
(2000) suggests that individual language arts should not be taught in isolation
of each other nor should skills necessary for reading and writing be taught in
isolation of actual reading and writing experiences. Readers should be encouraged to write and tell stories, which helps
them analyze, draw inferences, and make judgments on the connotative power of
words. In the primary grades one of the
first critical reading skills the teacher might attempt is to develop in
students the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy.
There have been many ideas, techniques, and innovations
for the classroom that have come and gone.
But theres no telling what the future will uncover. Kids might be hooked on phonics today but
may require a 12-step program to get unhooked tomorrow.
How mathematics is taught is just as significant as what
is taught. A learners ability to
reason, solve problems, and use mathematics to communicate their ideas develops
only if they actively and frequently engage in these processes. Teachers should work toward situations that
give pupils a chance to consider purposes for mathematics instead of simple
formula recall. The natural curiosity
of children, eager to understand their surroundings, is often overlooked by
instruction that discourages inquiry and discovery. Teaching math with objects helps learners to develop
comprehension by using realistic contexts and applications that appeal more to
students' intuitive sense. Rather than
a routine presentation of instruction ideas, instruction should provide repeated
opportunities for students to generate, discuss, test, and apply mathematical
ideas and validate their findings.
Herbert & Heidema (1992) consistently stress several things:
solving should be the focus of school mathematics.
study of mathematics should emphasize developing higher order thinking skills,
understanding of concepts, communicating about mathematics, making mathematical
connections, and applying mathematics.
skills in mathematics should be defined to include more than computational
mathematics should provide for an integrated study with increased emphasis on
content such as geometry, measurement, patterns, relations, numeration,
probability, statistics, logic, algorithmic thinking, and applications.
programs should take advantage of technology such as calculators and computers.
The mission to improve education is a concern that is
enforced by laws in the United States.
In January of 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left
Behind Act. The Center on Education
Policy (2002) wrote, The central
feature of this law requires the states to adopt
a specific approach to testing and accountability, intended
to lead to higher achievement for all
children [Online]. The Center on
Education Policy (CEP) maintains that the federal government would assume a
more aggressive role and would take direct action to
improve poor performing schools that receive federal funding (2002).
In fall 2002, new teachers hired with Title I funds or teaching in school-wide programs must be highly qualified. All Title I supported
paraprofessionals who perform instructional
duties and who were hired after January
8, 2002 must have completed at least two years
of college or must meet a rigorous standard
of quality as determined by a test. In fall 2002, students
in schools that have failed for a second year to meet
the improvement provisions of the prior law
will have the option of leaving the failing
school and enrolling in a different public school
in the district. According to the
U.S. Department of Education, students
in an estimated 8,652 schools will qualify for this
option. The local school board
must pay for some or all of these
students transportation expenses.
In fall 2002, students in an estimated 3,000
schools will be offered both the option of public school choice and of taking away from the public school system their per-pupil share of Title I funding (between $300 and $1,000 per child) and transferring that amount to a private company, religious institution, or non-profit organization to pay for after school tutoring or other supplemental services. This provision applies to students in schools that have already been labeled as failing for three years under the previous federal law.
As an African proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a
child. In the U.S. it takes
governments, laws, teachers, school administrators, school directors, parents,
and communities to ensure no child is left behind. Education should be a cooperative process involving the home, the
school, and the community and that all parents can participate actively in
their children's schooling. It places responsibility for parent involvement
primarily on the school and encourages parent participation in decision-making,
school activities, and home study. It also provides for training of school
staff and parents themselves, with parents helping to decide the focus of
Center On Education Policy. (2002). A new federal role in
education. Retrieved October 7, 2002 from http://www.ctredpol.org/fededprograms/newfedroleedfeb2002.htm.
M., & Heidema, C. (1992). Submission to the Program Effectiveness Panel of
the U.S. Department of Education. Aurora, Colo.: Mid-Continent Research for
Education and Learning.
International Studies Education Project
of San Diego. (1998). Preparing todays children for tomorrow.
Retrieved October 7, 2002 from http://wwwrohan.sdsu.edu/dept/istep/index.htm
& Penn, P. (1995). Field test of family connections 2 in Putnam County, WV.
Charleston, W.V.: Appalachia Educational Laboratory.
Partnership for Reading. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based
assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its
implications for reading instruction. Retrieved October 9, 2002 from www.nationalreadingpanel.org.
D.J. (1987). Reader-selected miscues.
In D.J. Watson (Ed.), Ideas and Insights: Language Arts in the
Elementary School, 218-219. Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of