For a very long time now, technology has been one of the buzzwords in the classroom. And this is possibly the case now more than ever. Acquiring technological skills for higher education and the work place are undoubtedly some of the most important lessons for our students to take away with their diplomas, but more recently technology has taken even larger strides in supporting learning within the classroom rather than just shaping 21st century educational standards.
Since Apple’s release of the iPad in spring 2010, educators have been talking about its potential uses in supporting and enhancing learning in the K-12 classroom. Almost a year and half later, studies are being released that conclude that the iPad does, in fact, work very well in engaging and supporting students through the variety of downloadable education apps and e-book reading support features. In this posting I will first outline how iPad apps can enhance traditional reading strategies. Then, I will address the ways that e-books accessed through iPads are making astronomical strides in supporting reading comprehension and how teachers can use these tools in the classroom. And finally, I will be briefly outline some of the successes school systems have had with the iPad. Read on to hear more!
In a time of back to the basics education driven by standardized testing and cuts in school budgets and resources, it may seem counterintuitive to think of adding more course options and more technology to current academic menus. In spite of these facts, the number of K-12 students taking online courses is on the rise (Davis, 2009, para. 1). In 2008 Massachusetts based researchers Sloan Consortium estimated that more than 1 million students were taking classes online, a 47 percent from the previous school year (Davis, 2009, para. 2). Seventy-five percent of the polled districts offering an online component also had at least one student taking a class completely online and two out of three school districts surveyed expect their online-course enrollments to climb (Davis, 2009, para. 3). No doubt those number have risen even higher since the date of that poll. Statistics like these prove that schools are looking for a new model for the classroom—one that can “serve both students and teachers” by shifting our focus “from the three R’s to an education system that builds skills in the three C’s: content, collaboration, and community” (Pape, 2005, p. 12). By offering online courses and virtual schools, educators can “focus on building students’ literacy skills so they can ask questions, define inquiry, research multiple sources, authenticate sources of information, process and synthesize data and information, draw conclusions, and develop action plans based on their newfound knowledge […] while filtering the vast quantity of information they receive and determining what is authentic, useful, and of value” (Pape, 2005, p. 12). High schools are and should offer online courses not only because it increases the number of classes a school can offer, but also because it prepares students to thrive in a global economy where collaborating, communicating, and connecting through digital forms is essential. Read on to hear more!
The current status of bilingualism in this country is a complicated one, both inside and outside of the classroom. Teachers are increasingly faced with the task of educating children who do not speak English as their first language and many who do not speak it at all. At the elementary level this task may seem manageable: all young children are learning to speak, read, and write the English language properly. At this high school level, however, this becomes a much more daunting task.
Research shows that learning a second language becomes more difficult the older a person gets and after a certain age people rarely achieve the level of fluency they have in their first language (Barry, 2008, 227). Add to that the task of becoming academically literate in seven or eight subjects, each with its own specialized vocabulary, and the task might even seem near impossible. Thankfully, there are educators who refuse to let it be so. This posting analyzes the past and current situation of bilingual education in American high schools and the ways in which teachers and researchers are working to close the academic language gap. Read on to hear more!
We all remember what its like to sit through a class that is seemingly useless, and there are reasons why phrases like, “I’m pretty sure my IQ just dropped ten points” or “I totally just lost brain cells” or “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back,” exist: because students believe they are true. And maybe they are. Too often, many researchers say, students are disengaged from the teaching methods and material they are offered in school and they are missing the chance to have meaningful experiences with challenging, pertinent knowledge (Jensen, 2006, p. 208, Cole, 2010, p. 15). It is not fair to expect them to stay interested, or to stay in school, or perform at their highest ability, or any other number of things educators ask of them, if parents, community members, and teachers are not willing to take the steps to make schooling worthwhile, to make what they are learning mean something other than a good grade. Well-implemented school-community partnerships are one way in which teachers and administrators are working to build these meaningful experiences. By turning traditional classrooms into “contextual immersions,” students can start to “build identities as contributing members of a larger community” and to see learning as rich and meaningful (Cole, 2010, p. 15). Read on to learn about different ways that schools and communities are expanding the walls of the classroom and bringing authentic intellectual work and experiences within our students’ reach.
Tim is a six-year-old boy who has been brought to a family medicine clinic for an initial visit. On entering the examination room, the physician observed Tim spinning in circles on the stool while his mother pled, “If I have to tell you one more time to sit down…” Tim was not permitted to begin first grade until his immunizations were updated. His mother explained that Tim had visited several physicians for immunization but was so disruptive that the physicians and nurses always gave up. She hoped that with a new physician, Tim might comply. The mother described a several-year history of aggressive and destructive behavior, as well as four school suspensions during kindergarten. He often becomes “uncontrollable” at home and has broken dishes and furniture. Last year, Tim was playing with the gas stove and started a small fire. Tim frequently pulls the family dog around by its tail. Tim’s older sisters watched him in the past but have refused to do so since he threw a can of soup at one of them. Tim’s father is a long-haul truck driver who sees Tim every three to four weeks.
Sharon, a 15-year-old girl, was brought to the doctor’s office by her mother. Her mother explained that Sharon was suspended from school for assaulting a teacher and needed a “doctor’s evaluation” before she could return to class. The history reveals that this is Sharon’s 10th school suspension during the past three years. She has previously been suspended for fighting, carrying a knife to school, smoking marijuana and stealing money from other students’ lockers. When asked about her behavior at home, Sharon reports that her mother frequently “gets on my nerves” and, at those times, Sharon leaves the house for several days. The family history indicates that Sharon’s father was incarcerated for auto theft and assault. Sharon’s mother frequently leaves Sharon and her eight-year-old brother unsupervised overnight.
(both stories were used as illustrative cases on the Searight, H. Russell, Rottnek, Fred, and Abby, Stacey L. (2001) article on conduct disorders)
Despite their age differences, Tim and Sharon have a lot in common: they both have conduct disorders. They exhibit challenges related to self-control, anger, and impulsivity, little on-task behavior, reduced frustration tolerance, and poor self-concept and social skills (Salend, 2011, pg. 66). In the classroom these characteristics would display themselves in the following ways:
(Salend, 2011, pg. 66)
This blog endeavors to show that people like Tim and Sharon are not simply bad boys and bad girls. It provides information on what a conduct disorder is, how it affects students in the classroom, and what kind of strategies teachers can use to help students with conduct disorders succeed at their full behavioral and intellectual potential.
Individuals who have emotional and behavioral disturbances exhibit significant behavioral excesses or deficits. Because of this, they will exhibit patterns of behavior that depart significantly from the expectations of others or societal norms. In recent years, “behavioral disorders” has gained favor over “emotional disturbance” as a more accurate label leading to more objective decision-making and fewer negative connotations.
IDEA defines serious emotional disturbance (SED) as “a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects educational performance: An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.” (CEC, 2011). The federal definition includes children who are diagnosed as schizophrenic, but excludes socially maladjusted children “unless it is determined that they are seriously emotionally disturbed” (CEC, 2011).
Conduct disorders are more specifically defined as “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal rules or norms are violated” (American Psychiatric Association, quoted in Salend, 2011, pg. 67).This includes those with oppositional and defiant behaviors as well as those with antisocial tendencies. For more information on what conduct disorders look like see the “characteristics” post below.
Like most behavior disorders, it is believed that the cause of conduct disorders involves an interaction of genetic/constitutional and familial/social factors. According to Searight, Rottnek, and Abby (2001), “children who have a conduct disorder may inherit decreased baseline autonomic nervous system activity, requiring greater stimulation to achieve optimal arousal. This hereditary factor may account for the high level of sensation-seeking activity associated with conduct disorder” (2001). Recent research has also been trying to delineate the neurotransmitters that influence aggression, with imbalances in serotonin most strongly associated so far (Searight, Rottnek, and Abby, 2001).
But, as earlier stated, hereditary factors are not the only influence contributing to conduct disorders. Searight, Rottnek, and Abby (2001) also outlines parental substance abuse, psychiatric illness, marital conflict, and child abuse and neglect as increasing the risk of conduct disorder. Exposure to the antisocial behavior of a caregiver is a particularly important risk factor. Children with conduct disorder, while present in all economic levels, also appear to be overrepresented in lower socioeconomic groups. Another common feature appears to be inconsistent parental availability and discipline. As a result, children with conduct disorder do not experience a consistent ties between their behavior and its consequences (Searight, Rottnek, and Abby, 2001).
The early childhood pattern for conduct disorders is similar to that of other behavior disorder patterns and includes “irritability, inconsolability and impaired social responsiveness” (Searight, Rottnek, and Abby, 2001). The response of caregivers to these behaviors, particularly caregivers who have their own psychiatric conditions and substance abuse problems, may respond with strategies that only exacerbate the problem such as coercion or inconsistent corrective behaviors or punishments. Financial stress is another common factor among families of children with conduct disorders and can cause further stress a child predisposed to have disordered behaviors. These children are also more susceptible to the rise in peer group influence that typically occurs in later elementary school and into middle and high school (Searight, Rottnek, and Abby, 2001).
According to the Searight, Rottnek, and Abby (2001), the clinical features of a conduct disorder include four types of recognized symptoms:
1. Aggression or serious threats of harm to people or animals
2. Deliberate property damage or destruction (e.g., fire setting, vandalism)
3. Repeated violation of household or school rules, laws, or both
4. Persistent lying to avoid consequences or to obtain tangible goods or privileges.
There should be at least three specific behaviors present for at least six months for a conduct disorder to be present. Isolated behaviors, which are common in about 80 % of youth in the United States (e.g., shoplifting, experimentation with marijuana or alcohol), do not qualify a person to have a conduct disorder. A diagnosis of conduct disorder requires a persistent history of multiple problem behaviors.
Other features of conduct disorders may include an inability to appreciate the importance of others’ welfare and little guilt or remorse about harming others. Adolescents with conduct disorders often develop skills in outwardly verbalizing remorse to obtain favor or avoid punishment, but do not experience any apparent guilt. Individuals with conduct disorder often view others as threatening or malicious without having a substantial reason for doing so. As a result, these children and adolescents may lash out preemptively, and aggression may appear unprovoked.
Several common childhood psychiatric conditions have features similar to those of conduct disorder, and overlap is also common. The major categories include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorder (major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder), substance abuse and intermittent explosive disorder (Searight, Rottnek, and Abby, 2001).
(Click on the picture above to watch a short video on the school impact of conduct disorders)
As Peter Wong stated in the video, the school impact of a student having a conduct disorder is both academic and social (2011). Students that choose to be defiant, that choose to get into fights, that choose to take drugs, will get themselves in trouble at school and get themselves in trouble with the law.They will also often miss out on class time, spend class their time in class trying to avoid doing assignments, or spend their time in school in a resource room trying to remediate their behaviors. Time spent out of class puts the student behind the rest of the class. Another concern for classrooms with a students with conduct disorders are the distraction that they cause the rest of the class.
As the Council for Exceptional Children (2011) points out, multidisciplinary educational teams, including parents, must design programs to meet the individual behavioral and academic needs of identified with conduct disorders. Most students can benefit from supportive treatments provided in regular programs. For others, at least temporary placements in special classrooms, schools, or institutional programs may be appropriate.
Special programs usually attempt to provide a structured environment where students experience a high degree of success; rules and routines are predictable; and students are consistently rewarded for appropriate behavior. Behavior management techniques, such as positive reinforcement, token economies, contracting, and time-out, which rely on direct measurement and monitoring of behavioral change, are commonly used in SED programs. The assessment and systematic teaching of social skills through modeling, discussion, and rehearsal are frequently used to help students increase control over their behavior and improve their relations with others. In addition, supportive therapies involving music, art, exercise, and relaxation techniques, as well as affective education, individual, and group counseling are sometimes employed to improve self-understanding, self-esteem, and self-control (CEC, 2011).
I like the above picture because it illustrates the difficulty of pinning down exact number on statistics that measure behaviors. According to DO Bettina E Bernstein’s article on conduct disorders in Medscape Refernce, “in the United States prevalence rates for conduct disorder (CD) are estimated at 2-9%, 5 out of every 100 teenagers,” and “are complicated by relatively high rates of co-occurrence or comorbidity with other disorders” (conduct disorder). Salden’s calculated percentage is a bit more conservative, estimating 3-5% with actual identification at 1% of students (2011, pg. 66). So the exact percentage on conduct disorders, at this point at least, is unsure. We do know that boys far outnumber girls in identified cases of conduct disorders and that there is a large percentage of overlap between conduct disorders and other behavior disorders. Conduct disorders are qualitatively different from these other disorders, however, because they “clearly involves aggression or other behaviors in which the basic rights of others or common social norms are violated repeatedly” (Bernstein, 2011).
Although the percentages presented pertain to students, conduct disorders have no lower age limit. In children under 10 years, Bernstein (2011) points out, the repetitive presence of only 1 of the 15 behaviors in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Diseases is sufficient for the diagnosis. With this fact in mind, it is important for both health professional and educators to use caution with this label, as its overuse could possibly deter progress or even encourage misdiagnosis of the disorder. The Response to Intervention model outlined in the educational strategies section of this blog give more information on supporting student success without have to view them through a label.