Current Educational Trends
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In the advent of new technology, writing skills are more essential than ever. Current educational trends in middle schools favor reading at the expense of writing which is of the same importance for purposes of review and assessment. Being the base of other lessons taught in middle schools, the role of language for purposes of effective communication cannot be underrated. The need to score higher in chosen core curriculum areas can be fostered by a well orchestrated appreciation of the languages as well as adoption and integration of a writing wary curriculum into the current system. With reading the preferred avenue for language learning and teaching in the small Southern school district, there is a dire need for induction of a writing sensitive approach to the curriculum. Such a move is likely to post highly improved results in language as well as the other lessons which rely on language as the medium of instruction and learning.
Middle schools generally serve students in grades 6 through 8, most of them relatively in their youthful years. Due to this, an integrative approach towards language is applied. This allows space for flexibility which creates effective teaching units that cross subject-matter barriers and help students learn across disciplines. This collaborative freedom approach, exploited to the fullest, enables the teachers to engage the young minds of the learners beyond the common terms as well as recognizing their abilities. At this level, the curriculum should explore the students self awareness, creativity and engage their capabilities. In line to this, integration of writing into the curriculum is essential.
The main strategy is to introduce writing alongside the existent reading curriculum. The appreciation of writing as a necessary skill for excellence will stimulate the learner’s awareness as well as rouse their curiosity. The ego to excel will foster increased participation and perfect execution of realistic conventional writing skills. The academic progress will bring about collaboration; a team focused environment as well as an enjoyable classroom environment. Writing is an effective measure of student progress and class participation can be evaluated via the materials they produce.
This necessitates an interdisciplinary approach in content based lessons. The common practice will lead to interdisciplinary nurtured writing culture. The skills acquired in language writing will be expanded to other spheres like culture, geography, math and history (Levin, 2008). The SmART school of thought will come in handy where the emphasis will be laid on writing and prominence given to writing as a special discipline. Because of the related nature of reading and writing, the two will be viewed as essential for success in language arts. The SmART School response is a systemic response for the growth of the student and improvement of school and community.
This calls for a new vision of practical education with an emphasis on the written content. Children should have the opportunity to increase their knowledge of through reading as well as express themselves perfectly in writing. This will elicit a number of positive outcomes. Writing is a way in which the thoughts in the brain can be replicated, evaluated and assessed (Willets 2002). The ultimate goal of a teacher is to impart the target understanding level in the learners. At this age, most of the learners can effectively communicate and make themselves clear. With perfect vision and active body, writing is not quite a task for learners at this age. Students are required to read hypothesize as well as record their progress and draw conclusions about their understanding of the subject mater. (Alexander 2006).
Located in a small southern Georgia county, the school district is comprised of a diverse population. With an estimated growth rate of 44.5 the population gets diverse each passing year. More than 41 percent of the population is non-white, including large and vibrant black, Hispanic, and Asian communities. The population is estimated to be 25,115 (U.S. Census, n.d.). The racial makeup of the county is 60.6% white, 28.5% African American, .92% Native American, and 9.5% Hispanic (U.S. Census, n.d.). Those that live in poverty are represented by 22.2 % of the population (U.S. Census, n.d.). The teacher-student ratio is estimated to be 14:1. Due to the mingling of these diverse cultures, the adoption of a multicultural approach is of essence. Students interaction with each other coupled with the image entangled in their brains due to technological advancements has offered an avenue for a multicultural understanding. It is this notion that the curriculum needs to adopt and help the teacher transfer it to the classroom. Travelling and the internet have served in a great deal to broadly expand the students’ scope of thinking as well as an appreciation of varieties of ideas, skills and concepts.
There is also the negative influence of the socio-economic situation that many of these children find themselves facing. There is a great need for optimism, asset development, positive self-esteem growth, met nutritional needs and helping students develop strategies to improve thinking.
Education is serious business in Georgia. The state boasts almost 70 public colleges, universities, and technical colleges, plus over 45 private institutes of higher learning. Thus, the opportunity for a place in high school is guaranteed for an excellent performance. Georgia also has a unique scholarship program—the HOPE Scholarship, funded by the state lottery—that enables all qualified Georgia residents who graduate from high school with a 3.0 or higher grade point average to attend a public college or university in the state. The administration and the parents are deeply concerned with academic performance of their students. Every parent has a success dream for their son or daughter. Despite their not so strong economic footing, the parents are fully committed to the academic cause and play a very significant role in the progress of their children.
This curriculum is devised for a Title 1 school. Most of the students, in fact over 71% are beneficiaries of the free lunch or reduced meals program. Breakfast is free for all students. This provides a nutritional footing for the students as the economic status could adversely affect the overall achievement of students. This ensures that students stay healthy and retain enough mental strength averting diversion of attention due to the inconvenience caused by an empty stomach. Irrespective of the parent’s weak economic footing, there is a jolly good number who show unbelievable concern in the progress of their students as well as the school in general. The high parental involvement is the pivotal point in the success of this curriculum. Studies have shown that students perform better if parents are involved in the school through parent, student interactive assignments, or get involved in the PTO or other organizations (Epstein, 2009). The reliance of students’ creative nature and the teacher talismanic involvement is equally important to guarantee the curriculum a success story.
Thus, the economic lynchpin is dependent on the Title 1 funds as well as the minimal contribution of the parents. The instructional materials for the students will not necessarily be that expensive with the curriculum adopting a relatively good use of the few available paraphernalia. Title 1 funds are used to lower the teacher student ratio and provide additional instructional materials for the students (Grady n.d.).
The cure for academic poverty is a dedicated learning and teaching curriculum. This curriculum will lean broadly on the content as well as rely heavily on the teacher ability and resources at their disposal. This will dictate the modes of teaching as well as the student’s innate ability to internalize and effectively execute learned ideas, skills and concepts especially through writing. Cognizant of the role of reading as a mode of knowledge acquisition, reliance of writing as a means of execution of learned tasks should endear the students, teachers and parents alike who believably will be more than pleased to participate in the academic progress of their children. Thus, the current education standards can be greatly improved by incorporation of writing into reading and making them part and parcel of the language art curriculum.
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