Tuesday, October 23, 2012

End of Year Pre-Algebra

There have been a few times that a student will be getting ready for their pre-algebra final and get no help from their teachers as to what will be on that test. A few years ago, I ended up making my own multiple choice test for an overview of pre algebra test online. I thought I would share with you. 

It has topics in it like ratios, proportions, fractions, probability, stem and leaf plots, area and perimeter, and much more. There are 39 multiple choice tests. In the choices, I would do one correct answer and then some of the other answers I would solve it with common mistakes students make like forgetting to change the sign of the inequality when it's multiplied by a negative. 

Get a free copy of my overview of pre-alebra by clicking on the image of it below. It will open in Google Docs and you can save it from there. If you find any errors, please let me know. I've checked it through, but there are times when a calculation gets past me.

As I tutor my student through this test, we talk about strategies to get through the test quicker. I teach them to look over all the answers and estimate what they think the answer would be. They can then cross out which ones they know it couldn't be. I train them to solve the problems backwards if they are unsure where to start. For example, the student could take the answers and plug them into the equation to see if they work. 

These are just a few of the ideas I have for teaching test prep for a multiple choice test. What ideas do you have?

Monday, October 22, 2012

What to do when searching for life insurance

In the search of the best life insurance deal, people will need to undergo several steps. First of all they have to determine the kind of life insurance that they need to have. Second of all, they need to find some life insurance , and the last step that they have to do is to compare the quotes that they have found. To begin this, I am sure that it is better for us to discuss about the kinds of life insurance deals that we commonly have in the market.
When searching for a life insurance deal, there are commonly two types of life insurance deals that will be offered to you by any life insurance company. They are the whole life insurance and the term life insurance. The whole life insurance will be able to protect you for the rest of your life while the term life insurance will only be able to protect you for a limited amount of time. However, the whole life insurance will cost you more money than the term life insurance. Like what I have said, you need to determine which one that you really need. Make a wise decision based on your own calculation.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Technical Education Systems

Technical education has been around for many years and has been a popular form of training from the beginning. Technical education refers to learning about a particular field with hands-on experience. When one engages in technical education, they actually learn from someone who does what they teach.
Compared to the more traditional avenues of learning like college, technical education is much more specific to a certain field. College is a much broader scope and concentrates more on theory. The basic idea for this form of education is to teach you how to learn. Then you still have to learn the specific requirements for your job once you get out of college.
With technical education, you actually learn from a master in the field. This is also sometimes referred to as an apprenticeship. When you're done with this training, you are ready to do the tasks by yourself. You can go right to work for someone without needing any additional training.
The benefits for technical education are big for prospective employers. Many companies have spent a great deal of their money training new employees. Then, many times, the people don't like the jobs and quit. Then the companies are forced to start all over again with new employees. It is a never-ending cycle that costs the employers a lot of money and time.
In the past, technical education was looked at as a negative thing as it was associated with the lower class of the social scale. The industries that engaged in this practice were manual laborers such as welders, electricians, and blacksmiths. Many people stayed away from this type of training simply because of the reputation associated with it. However, in today's fast changing economy, technical education is generally accepted as the norm in many new industries.
Now industries such as retail, tourism, information technology, funeral services, cosmetics, and cottage industries all rely on some form of technical education.
Many types of businesses are demanding a much more specialized workforce. With the way the economy is changing, people with generalized knowledge are becoming phased out for people with highly specialized skills.
In many cases, this results in a higher level of starting pay for new employees. The companies that are hiring feel more comfortable about giving someone a decent salary when they know they can handle the work. Another great thing about technical education is the job placement. Many trade schools offer job placement directly after you graduate. They have many relationships with employers and the employers know exactly what they're getting in a new graduate.
Overall, technical education is a great way to get a head start on your career. You can focus on the skills you need to do the job that you want to do. If you want to be on the fast track to a great career, technical education may be the way to go. You'll no longer have to waste years of your life learning theory. You can get started learning what you need to know in order to succeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

If You Are a Real Estate Investor You Must Continue Your Real Estate Education

With all things that are done intentionally as a real estate investor your education comes first. A real estate investing education is primary to your success in business, and in all circumstances there is an identifiable pattern of learning that leads from thought to action. When experiencing something new, first you hear about it or learn of its existence. Next you learn what it is. Then you learn how it works. And finally, you practice it, which is where experiential learning begins.
This article is intended to discuss education, separate from experiential learning (but a little more on that below). Your real estate education should not be looked at as a phase you go through, but rather as an ongoing process. This is a requirement to stay in the real estate business and to excel. There are at least three very good reasons why your real estate investing education should be continuous and ongoing. One is that having new information can allow you to improve the process of what you're already doing, so that you can do it better. Another is that having new information can allow you to do new things that you're not already doing, such as implementing new profit centers in your real estate business. A third is that the world is always changing so that knowledge needs to be continually updated to be useful.
The fastest way to develop yourself educationally is to actively seek out as many sources of education as possible on a continuing basis. There are three common modes of education to be aware of that can help inform your search. One is private education that you digest on your own, which can include books, audio recordings, video recordings, websites, and online and offline real estate investing newsletters. Another is participatory education, which involves some sort of interaction with an educator, and can include seminars or boot camps, conference calls, and webcasts.
Yet one more is hands on education, which can be gotten by working with others already in the business. This could take the form of a mentorship or an apprenticeship with another investor. You could also take advantages of all the resources of a local real estate club, either online or offline, which is dedicated to helping investors further their education in all sorts of ways. As an ongoing business activity, your real estate education deserves management and balancing against the other ongoing activities of your business as well as all of the other demands on your time.
You should work it out however is best so as to ensure that a dedicated portion of your time and resources on a regular basis go to furthering your real estate and business education. A final word on education from experience, or experiential learning, comes last. Education can be overrated by beginning real estate investors. While it does have a large role to play in your overall progress and success, the amount you actually learn from studying educational materials is negligible compared to the amount you learn from actually performing an action or having an experience.
Keep this in perspective if you feel paralyzed by an insufficient real estate investing education.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guiding Principles For Educational Reform

One reads a great deal concerning education reform nowadays. It might almost seem as if this were some new trend in education. Indeed, it is not. I have been an educator for over thirty years. My field of expertise is reading. After teaching in a regular elementary classroom for a couple of years, I completed a master's degree in reading and learning disabilities. Except for a five year break to attend seminary and serve as a full time minister, I have been a teacher of elementary reading. In 1995, I completed a doctorate in reading/educational psychology. At that point, I began teaching reading methods in a college setting.
Over my thirty years of involvement in education, I have seen many, many reforms. Some have come from the right, others from the left. In the field of reading, when I began my teaching, basal reading programs were in, and we attempted to teach every skill known to humanity. Next, whole language gained quite a following. Next, an oldie, but a popular one, reappeared: phonics. Now we are emphasizing a balanced approached-I think that is likely a step in the right direction.
We can easily extend this discussion beyond the boundaries of reading. When I started attending elementary school in 1960, math was a "drill and kill" activity. The expectation was learning of the basic math facts and procedures whether you understood them or not. It is rather easy to see if you learned under this method. Just attempt to explain "conceptually" why 1/2 divided by 4 is 1/8, and why to arrive at that one must "invert and multiply." I am surprised at how many cannot explain the multiplication and division of fractions at the conceptual level.
When I was about half way through my elementary school education, the so-called "new math" hit the educational world. I remember well spending most of my fourth-grade year (when it started in Kansas City) marking that 5 + 2 > 1 + 3. I liked this math. I was not too good at the old stuff, and I found this a breeze.
People become very opinionated about educational reform. I have seen many a battle over the issue of whole language vs. phonics. It seems like everyone gets involves. Classroom teachers form strong opinions. Politicians form strong opinions and include reform as part their political platform. They know education is a hot button issue with voters. One group that I watch with great diligence is the religious right. It seems as if they have turned such aspects of educational reform as phonics-based reading instruction and support for the No Child Left Behind Act into something resembling religious dogma. It seems to make little sense, turning reading methods into a religious or quasi-religions crusade, but that is what the leaders of the religious right seem committed to support (James Dobson, for example).
I reiterate: educational reform is not new. With that notion disposed of, I would like to suggest three principles of any lasting and useful educational reform. These are characteristics of reform supported over the long haul by much research and dictated by commonsense. I have arrived at these through observation of reform cycles that I have seen throughout my years of work as an educator.
First, education reform cannot be test-driven. Currently, the watchword is accountability. From this perspective, teachers are cagey, lazy actors who need to have their feet held to the fire to make them perform. I have observed thousands of teachers over the years, worked with thousands of pre-service teachers, and supervised well over a hundred student teachers. I must admit, one does rarely encounter a lazy, careless teacher, but it is unusual. The attempt to control teachers and student achievement by means of standardized tests is a misguided approach.
A recent study by the Educational Testing Service, makers of the SAT and nationally used teacher certification exams, revealed that there is much in student performance that cannot be controlled by schools. In fact, ETS discovered four variables: absenteeism, the percent of children living in single parent families, the amount of television kids watch, and how much preschoolers are read to daily by caregivers (especially parents) were very accurate predictors of reading test results used for No Child Left Behind reporting in eighth-grade. It seems that learning involves many variables (the four factors accounted for over two-thirds of the differences in aggregated state testing results). Home factors are things that schools and teachers cannot control.
Instead of testing and testing yet more, a better use of funding would be the improvement of conditions for parents and families. Funding Head Start results in a measurable increase in IQ scores for disadvantaged children. Why not continue to fund enriched environments for Head Start children when they leave the program and help retain ground already gained? Why not fund more "parents as first teachers" programs to go into the homes and teach parents how to help get their preschoolers ready for school? Why not spend more money eradicating poverty-especially since that seems to be the real issue?
Second, an effective reform program would insist on scope and sequence. By scope, I refer to the content taught, by sequence, I refer to when content is to be mastered. This was one of the downfalls of the whole language movement. It taught reading without any real coordination of materials, curriculum, or expectations for mastery in terms of when expected benchmarks should be met. Much more coordination of teaching needs to take place and curriculum guides and agreed upon content are essential.
At the same time, I am not implying that methodology needs to be completely standardized. There needs to be some general guidelines on how to go about doing things. Still, teaching is as much art as science. To address methodology too much turns teaching into a mechanical act, and we know that the relationship, or blending, of teacher and learner are all important concepts. What we need are standards and benchmarks without denying teachers the authority to make hundreds and thousands of critical decisions each day. What we need are flexible standards and flexible benchmarks.
Lastly, we need a new way of doing things. After all of the years of reform, after all the years of researching what works, an amazing trend is notable. Educational critic and researcher, John Goodlad, notes that the most common activity one observes in today's elementary schools is seatwork (i.e. worksheets, quiet work from textbooks, etc). The most common activity noted in high schools is lectures. Both of these approaches are notoriously ineffective. Just consider lectures, for example, how often do you "zone out" during sermons? And, if you do attend, what keeps you "plugged in?"
We have lost the wisdom shared with us by John Dewey so many years ago and supported by study after study. Children learn best by doing. Kids need to make a classroom democracy, not just study government in their civics textbook. They need to come up with ways they can recycle and begin a neighborhood recycling program, not just read about pollution. Education needs to become real. The real is better than the contrived. As psychologist Jerome Bruner has pointed out, doing is better than seeing, and seeing is better than just reading or hearing about something. Probably the best approach combines all three methods.
Reforms come and go. However, on these three principles, we can arrive at a reform that will stand the test of time. All of us want our schools to improve. Isn't it time to skip the political rhetoric of the right (including the religious right) and the left and do what is best for kids? Isn't it about time?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Bright Tomorrow of Online Education

Online education will play a major role in the future of postsecondary education in America. Colleges and universities are scrambling to be aboard, and state legislatures, with long-term economy in mind, are making major commitments of support. There are, however, many hurdles before viable cost-effective/learning-effective online education programs are in common use. At this point, the majority of programs is simply an extension of passive lecture or lecture discussion through electronic means. Few institutions understand the economies of these programs, nor have they faced the structural changes that are required. As important, institutions have not understood the quality and accessibility of programs that will be needed to meet the challenge from private sector initiatives.
"You Can't Predict the Future But You Can Plan for It"
The following are ten important questions concerning the future of distance learning:
o Will faculty adapt? The pay isn't great, but the job of a full-time faculty member is really very nice. By tradition a faculty member controls his own work; functions independently; gets to perform by lecturing; and has adequate time for study, reflection and interaction with stimulating colleagues. The use of technology in education, and particularly in distance learning, requires cooperation, teamwork, performing a role in an organized structure, more effort in design than in delivery, and less self-directed time. Quite simply, it is counter-culture for faculty. Will sufficient numbers of faculty adjust to permit institutions to design and deliver educational services in new ways?
o Will online education grow through shadow colleges? In many instances, rather than face the obstacles presented by traditional faculty, the existing work rules, union contracts, and faculty attitude, many institutions have created new organizations outside of the basic institution. These organizations have new salary schedules, reward systems and work policies. Will this be the only way that colleges can restructure? Can these organizations exist within traditional institutions?
o Will college administrations adopt new, more sophisticated planning and/or management systems? While it will be difficult for faculty to adapt to new delivery arrangements, it will also be difficult for administration. In educational budgets, management has typically been concerned with only three variables -- classrooms, mean class size and professors. The use of information technology and online education introduces a myriad of new cost elements that have to be worked into the basic cost structure. New and more sophisticated planning/management systems must be put into place, or the new arrangements will simply cost more and will not be practical to initiate.
o Will state bureaucracies establish a single online education institution? It is no secret that in recent years state legislatures and bureaucracies have increased their control and decision-making with regard to public higher education. In a number of states significant appropriations are being made to develop infrastructures for distance learning. The question that will be asked is, "if distance programs are expensive to develop, and if all of our sites are tied together, why not have one organization that delivers these services statewide." Colleges and universities need to prepare to answer that question.
o Will funds become available to develop quality learning software that uses the full capability of information technology? To date, substantial state appropriations for online education have gone for infrastructure, equipment and networks. While these are useful, there is real question as to the need for these expenditures. There are so many networks (for example, the Internet) available to use. Important advancements in learning can be made if significant appropriations are shifted to learning software. This software should use the full capabilities of information technology and the research on adult learning.
o How will learning be certified? In the United States each institution basically makes its own decisions with regard to what learning will be credited. Very often decisions are based on a well entrenched "not invented here" syndrome. As increasing numbers of individuals register for courses and learn through a wide array of institutions, there will be a demand from the public for that learning to be assessed and credited toward degrees and certificates.
o Can colleges keep their certification monopoly? The strongest cards that colleges and universities hold in competing with private organizations in online education are prestige and certification control. To keep the certification monopoly. Colleges and universities are going to have to work with other organizations and be considerably more accommodating in recognizing learning that was not provided by their institution.
o How will on-campus and distance use of technology integrate? Much present online education is simply the extension of the lecture classroom to distance locations. But, there are few examples of the instructional software designed for distance coming back into use on campus. Materials that are developed that are time and place independent. As well as time variable. Can be used on campus with the addition of more interaction with college staff. This would provide new options for students and increase student volume. Thus providing more capability for greater expenditures on development of quality educational software.
o How can we substitute for the inspiration of personal interaction with faculty members? In all of my years at Miami-Dade Community College, I never received a letter complementing a college program without reference to a faculty member or other staff member who had inspired or contributed to the development of the writer. Almost all of us can point to an individual, very often a faculty member, who had major impact on our lives. Is there a way to keep that inspiration in an online education situation? Is there something to be substituted?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Three Sex Education Lessons From The Teen Pep Stories

One of the oft-repeated comments by characters in my novel, The Sex Ed Chronicles is that, in the absence of sex education, children learn about sex from their friends. However, the novel was based in 1980, before New Jersey high schools started to involve students in peer counseling.
On Valentines Day 2008, I read about a mini-controversy involving peer counseling on a New Jersey radio news Web site. The news coverage came out of one New Jersey high school: Clearview Regional High School in Harrison Township in the southern part of the state. There, parents object to peer counselors, high school juniors and seniors, counseling freshmen on a variety of topics related to sex education. The counseling model comes from a program called Teen Pep. Designed by the Princeton Center for Leadership Training (not affiliated with Princeton University), Teen Pep has been implemented in over 50 Garden State high schools for the past eight years. Therefore, Teen Pep is not a new program and school districts have had time to investigate its merits-only now, one school has made the news.
Teen Pep trains not only students, but also faculty advisors, to work one-to-one, but also as a team in various counseling situations. Schools contracting for Teen Pep work with the Princeton Center for a minimum of two years and there are supervisory field visits by qualified professionals to help ensure the program is running smoothly. A school that engages in Teen Pep makes a considerable intellectual investment, as well as a financial investment, to make it work. Part of this investment is to explain this program to parents.
Which takes me to lesson number one: if you are not ready to take these investments seriously, don't make them.
As I read about the incident at Clearview High, it became clear to me that the fault is not with the program, but with the school administration. It would have been easier for them to consult parents and clergy from the get-go, as they are supposed to do. I realize that teachers have objected to this-they did back in 1980 as well-but sex education is a subject where parents and clergy believe they have important opinions and knowledge.
I found it interesting to read that an advisory board would be formed after parents objected to individual aspects of the program. That should have been in place from day one.
Which takes me to lesson number two: after consulting parents, decide which topics students are qualified to discuss with peers.
Parental objections at Clearview stemmed from the idea that "kids were teaching kids to have sex. But there had to be clear differences between the topics teen peer counselors were allowed to teach, and those that had to be covered by a qualified sex education teacher-but they didn't make it in the press. Parents deserved to know, if they asked before school started. I realize that pro-abstinence organizations also use young speakers; their programs should be subject to the same parental review as the peer-counseling program.
Then I get to lesson number three: make sure you have qualified teachers.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act emphasizes a need for qualified teachers, meaning that a teacher should be certified in the subject they teach. That applies as much to sex education as any other subject. In the example of Clearview High, the program leader was an English teacher. When I reached family life education, I learned that sex education instructors were most likely to come from health education, home economics or social studies as well as nursing. I would also assume that guidance counselors could become qualified sex educators; they handle personal student issues as part of their job description.
It appears Teen Pep is working in most schools; only one school is in the news complaining, but those involved with this program should consider offering an alternative: to use degree candidates in counseling and education to counsel students.
This would not be peer counseling, but it would appease parents who worry about kids teaching kids about sex. It would also help provide professional development for sex educators.
Stuart Nachbar operates EducatedQuest.com, a blog on education politics, policy and technology. He has been involved with education politics and economic development as an urban planner, government affairs manager, software executive, and now as a writer. His first novel, The Sex Ed Chronicles, about sex education and school politics in 1980 New Jersey, earned a coveted "Publishers Choice" selection from iUniverse.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How Effective Is Distance Education?

Thomas Edison predicted early this century that motion pictures would replace textbooks as the principal medium of instruction. In a new study to be released today, the College Board cites that anecdote to warn that the higher-education community should employ a healthy skepticism toward those currently touting the virtues of the virtual, online classroom.
As colleges and universities invest in the latest computer technology to ride the early wave of euphoria over online distance education, the College Board study cautions that the trend could actually create barriers to higher education for poor and minority students.
In addition, the study, along with another to be released next week by the American Federation of Teachers, raises concerns about assessing the quality of courses offered online. The AFT report takes issue with the conclusion of several studies that online courses can be just as rigorous and successful as those presented in a traditional classroom setting.
In the past year or two, many schools have started to offer online courses, and some even offer entire degree programs over the Internet. So far, the course offerings have been targeted to the booming adult-learner market: working adults who have little time between career and family obligations to travel several times a week to a college campus for further training, and are attracted instead to the convenience of taking a course via computer at home or in the office.
But some think that the online market will expand to include some of the bread-and-butter core courses that undergraduates have traditionally taken in campus classrooms. Last year, Pennsylvania State University ran a test with four online courses that enrolled about 40 students. This year, it launched its World Campus, an array of 30 online courses across 10 programs that currently enroll 400, most of whom are graduate students.
Temple University has nearly three dozen online courses, with an enrollment of 500 or so students, mostly at the graduate level. University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School has joined forces with Caliber Learning to offer graduate business courses, using a combination of online and video-conferencing technology.
"There is no doubt the World Wide Web shatters barriers of time and space in the delivery of instruction," Lawrence E. Gladieux, the College Board's executive director for policy analysis, writes in its report. "But its advent is also likely to create new barriers and inequities, simply because of differential availability of the required technology."
The report, using U.S. Department of Commerce data, notes that, while 41 percent of white households have a computer, only 19 percent of black families and 19 percent of Latino families do.
And according to the Higher Education Research Institute, 80 percent of freshmen at private universities used e-mail in the past year, compared with 64 percent at public four-year colleges and only 41 percent at public, historically black colleges. Such statistics, the report warns, raise concern that a greater focus on online education will actually prove a barrier to poor and minority students.
Gary Miller, associate vice president of distance education at Penn State, dismissed such criticism. "By using the new technology, you're extending the university learning experience to more people," he said.
"Because the new technology has not reached everyone yet isn't a reason not to pursue it," Miller said. "If you use that line of thinking, there would be no college campuses in the country.
"And it doesn't mean it won't expand," he said. "Because of their perceived benefit, the penetration of radio ... into homes occurred at a much faster rate than one might have expected during the 1930s, given the economic situation." By venturing into online education, universities will generate demand and spur the market, forcing online access onto the social-policy agenda, he said.
The College Board report warns that private philanthropy alone -- much less the marketplace itself -- cannot fix the problem of access, and argues that government must play a role.
Lee Alley, associate vice president for distance education at Temple, agreed that, if access to the new online courses is not managed well, it could become a problem. But he also said he thinks that, for most schools, online education will be a supplement, and not a replacement, for traditional methods of instruction, or for the many safety nets and supports that commonly come with a campus-based education.
While both reports question the potential quality of online courses, Miller and Alley both argue that online offerings can be even better than classroom courses, and that the new competition from online offerings can generate improved quality across higher education.
"Online distance education marks a real shift in buyer-side clout," Alley said. "The epicenter of choice will be shifted to students, and that competition will push quality up to a new max that you don't currently see in a lot of remote college campuses."