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Santa Fe Jr. High School Essay Sample

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Santa Fe Jr. High School Essay Sample

Introduction

The situation under consideration is the continual improvement of the eighth grade math curriculum in Santa Fe Jr. High school. A quarter of this school’s population is made up of Hispanic students. Their math results have indicated that much still has to be done with regard to meeting their needs. Also, the economically disadvantaged students’ needs also have to be met so that these two categories can catch up with the rest of the eighth graders. Recent reports show that the school’s math curriculum is above the 77% state’s average, consequently, the purpose of this paper, is to identify a solution to this discrepancy.

Article source, name and tile

The article chosen for analysis is called “Ritz Model: A model to take theory into practice; Old Dominion University” it is available at http://www.odu.edu/%7Ejritz/oted885/ritzmodel.shtml its author is known as John Ritz and it was written in the year 2007.

Summary of the article

The article is a guide for educators to look for ways on which they can translate theory into practice. The author does this by selecting two major curriculum thinkers in the past. The authors are known as Taba and Zais. The latter writers were chosen owing to the fact that their models proved systematic methods that could be used to develop curricula.

The next issue addressed in the article is how to lay out a curriculum foundation. According to the author, one ought to examine the program areas that they are dealing with as this acts as a guide in future methodology. Thereafter, there is a need to look into the reasons behind identification of the program area so as to have a propelling factor for engaging in the curriculum development. This should then be followed by an identification of a knowledge process that would assist in the process of creating the curriculum. (Ritz, 2007)

It should be noted that all the above still lie within the curriculum foundations. This first step also incorporates laying a structure of program implementation. This is then followed by a series of goals that will be necessary in achieving these respective outcomes.

The second step in curriculum development is known as creation of curriculum content. In this process, educators are expected to determine the skill or knowledge which they plan on transmitting to their students. The process can be achieved by first laying out the scope of ones content. Thereafter, one should establish a sequence that will be utilized to achieve this scope. This should then be followed by a creation of unit specification i.e. the smaller aspects of the curriculum that will be summed up to create the whole. Again, the rationale and clarification of unit activities need to be conducted in this segment. Additionally, all the materials required to achieve these unit goals must be clarified. By doing these, then a curriculum’s content specification will be well laid out. (Ritz, 2007)

The last aspect of the curriculum development process is setting out its evaluation. In this regard, one ought to look for ways in which they can assess learners for achievement of the objectives as set out in the first aspects of the curriculum development. This is the point where most educators go wrong, when the curriculum goals differ from the assessment ones, then student are bound to perform poorly. Educators need to ensure that they match these two aspects.

A plan for a proposal for a project that suggests a solution connected to my learning area which is tied to leadership (including resources and strategies)

The program will involve a pilot study among eighth graders within the Santa FE Junior High school. Eight children will be chosen for this pilot study. Four of them must come from the economical disadvantaged category while four of them must also come from the Hispanics category. Their mathematical performance will be noted prior to the program and then it will be assessed after the program so as to ascertain that the plan will be effective in the larger population of the school.

School personnel will be required to administer this program and also preside over the final test after the end of the program. First of all, teachers need to receive training about the following aspects

  • How to merge mathematical theory with cultural experiences of Hispanics
  • How to create and maintain social relationships with their students
  • How to identify hurdles faced by student’s external environments and to get past them

The latter issues will mostly be revolving around the needs of the economically disadvantaged children and Hispanic children. If teachers fail to understand how to identify these issues, then it can be increasingly difficult for them to implement even mathematical performance across the entire school population.

The other aspect of training that teachers will receive in this program is on methods for assessment of students who have interacted with trained teachers. It will be imperative to look for mechanisms that will assist in the process of merging the needs of these two groups with the overall goal of achieving state average performance like their other colleagues.

The program will also train teachers in the process of implementation; this means that a series or resources and strategies will be identified. (Ritz, 2007)One such strategy is the use of peer reference in this approach; one teacher who has already undergone training will create a report of their implementation process. Another teacher may also do the same. Thereafter, these teachers can compare notes and identify some of the problems that they are facing while looking at possible solutions to these issues. Another strategy for implementing the program could be through interaction with other schools that have similar demographics. This means that the School could identify other people that have a percentage of Hispanic or economically disadvantaged children that is close to theirs. Thereafter, they could discuss with their peer educators some of the approaches that they have used to boost performance. It would be preferable, if the school could identify schools that have performed better than they have in the eighth grade math scores.

At this point, it should be noted that practice based curricula are very important and effective in getting children to perform well in schools. When teachers incorporate these two categories in the learning process a little more, then chances are that they may heighten their performance.

Some of the resources that will be important in this process include video conferencing with educational peers. This will be instrumental in exchanging ideas at a wider forum thus engaging educator’s intellectual ability and their capacity to meet the needs of all their students.

After the students have interacted with these trainee teachers, it will be important to track their mathematics performance as they are progressing with it. (Ritz, 2007)This can easily be done by creation of tracker reports for the students chosen for the pilot study. The tracker reports will be essential in identification of week areas and then suitable methods will be used to create alternatives.

The program will also encompass training teachers in the process of assessing some of the gains that their students got after the program. This will be done at the end of the program. It will be up to the educators to decide the actual duration of the program but statistics show that most teachers are prefer a period of two months.

The students who will be chosen for the study need to take part in the program for a period of one and a half hours every day. This should be done in all the working days for the programs. Thereafter, teachers are supposed to implement the training program while they are intercutting with these students so as to ensure that they are benefitting rightfully from the idea. It should also be noted that the highest percentage of students – over seventy percent of them need to indicate that they have performed well in that respective situation. Most of them need to depict the fact that they have made certain educational gains within their lives (Ritz, 2007)

Recommendations for administrators

The first thing that this school’s administration needs to do is to give teachers greater autonomy in the classroom this means that the hidden aspects of the curriculum that are aimed at maintenance of the status quo will be eliminated. There is an obvious indication that the current approach being used by the school among these two categories of individuals is not working very well. (Ritz, 2007)Consequently, most of the teachers have to break down the walls of status quo in order to achieve this.

The second thing that they need to do is deal with culturally related problems associated with the Hispanic students. In other words, problems with their languages could be causing this disparity. Consequently, the school needs to implement a better language problem for these secondary English speakers. Additionally, care should be taken to ensure that those programs are implemented properly.

It will be necessary for the school administration to look for ways in which they can provide adequate materials needed to boost the performance of these students. (Ritz, 2007) First of all, it will be necessary for teachers to have wide access to training facilities that can be conducted online. Also, the issue of video conferencing needs to be included in the school’s budget. The school administration should also dedicate their time and resources towards garnering the support of other schools that have similar demographics to theirs and those that have been performing well in the eighth grade level.

In the latter area, much attention also should be given to provision of learning resources to the economically disadvantaged and Hispanic students themselves. The lack of resources could be serious impediments to their progress and by collaborating with them, it will be important in process of boosting their performance.

Since many people regard the process of curriculum development as an aspect that can be improved upon by teachers, then it is imperative for these respective individuals to look for ways in which they can implement their own kinds of approaches in the classroom. (Ritz, 2007) However, since looking at the curriculum as a process rather than a product largely depends upon the quality of the teacher, then it is imperative for the school administration to ensure that the eight grade math teachers invest in their quality.

Many experts assert that the major weakness of employing such an approach in education is that teachers must go out of their way to create meaning in the classroom yet at the same time link this to education experiences. If this is not done efficiently, then chances are that the economically disadvantaged students and their Hispanic counterparts will not improve in the math performances.

The issue of the hidden curriculum needs to be an important aspect of their curriculum. They need to incorporate this into the way they are handling this matter by creating a situation in which they address the problem at the teacher student level. Teachers need to be encouraged to interact more with the students.

Lastly, the latter school ought to examine their teaching practices with their social structure. This will go a long way in motivating the Hispanic students to embrace education generally and mathematics specifically.

Conclusion

The curriculum can be analyzed through a number of ways. One of them is through the use of the Ritz model. This model will provide a systemic way in which one can apply the method within the classroom environment to cope with the problem.

Reference,

Ritz, J. (2007): A model to take theory into practice; Old Dominion University, available at

http://www.odu.edu/%7Ejritz/oted885/ritzmodel.shtml

Appendix

Source: http://www.odu.edu/%7Ejritz/oted885/ritzmodel.shtml

Ritz Model

A Model to Take Theory Into Practice

Curriculum development is one of the key factors related to meaningful and successful program improvement. If one were to examine the curriculum development procedure, a number of recurring structural elements would be identified that are useful in the construction of a curriculum for any subject area. This review will be devoted to an identification and explanation of these elements. It is pursued to offer educators and trainers additional tools that may be used in the educational process. Besides this point, if educators are familiar with the logic and rationale accompanying the curriculum development process, they should be better equipped to defend and implement any program in their subject/training area.

Analysis of reports and texts in the curriculum area reveal that many proposals have been suggested for models or steps to be taken in educational program development. Those that had the greatest influence on the author have been presented by Tabu (1962) and Zais (1976). Both writers have developed systematic procedures for the development of curriculum. Their models are based on the establishment of foundations, content, and evaluation procedures. These are illustrated in Table 1.

Many of those who study the components of curriculum are in agreement with the selection and need for these elements in the development of programs or courses. However, for any model to be useful to educators or trainers, detailed explanations are essential so those who wish to employ these elements in the development process can fully take advantage of them.

With this in mind, the author has analyzed the models of Taba, Zais, and others to determine those structural components most useful in curriculum development. To this list have been added other elements that have proven useful in structuring a resourceful curriculum document. The resultant curriculum development model appears in Table 2. The remainder of this analysis will explain each of the structural elements cited in Table 2 and how they may be employed in the development of a technical course or program.

The major headings cited in Table 2 have been identified as curriculum foundations, curriculum content, and curriculum evaluation. Each of these categories and their anatomy will be reviewed to exemplify their use in curriculum development.

Curriculum Foundations
Curriculum foundations are the components that influence and control the content and organization of the curriculum (Zais, 1976, p. 101). They are based upon values one has developed pertaining to knowledge, society, learning, and the individual. Foundations tend to influence the philosophies of those who are developing the curriculum, and these philosophies are, in turn, reflected in the curriculum. Such components as (1) definition of the program area, (2) rationale for the study of the program area, (3) content source, (4) content structure, (5) program aim, and (6) program goals are included in the curriculum foundations. As implied in the above discussion, curriculum foundations are used to establish a basis for further undertakings in curriculum development. At this point, each of the elements found within the curriculum foundations will be explained. The definition of the program area shall be the first element reviewed.

A precise definition of the program area under analysis can be useful to those involved in curriculum development. By establishing a definition of the program area, one is laying out the boundaries for the curriculum development process. In this way, both the developers and users of the curriculum will know exactly what knowledge or content is to be analyzed and conveyed. In the case of production technology (an area where the author has developed curriculum), a broad definition that has been offered for describing this subject is:

The application of knowledge and technical systems that convert resources into structures or industrial or consumer goods (Hadley & Ritz, 1991, p. 23).

Others have provided definitions for this program area that also could be used.

With a knowledge of the definition of the program area, the reader is ready to pursue the second element of the foundations. This is a rationale for the study of the program area. Information interrelating the areas of knowledge, society, learning, and the individual can be used in this element to emphasize the need to study the program in schools or the work environment. Instances used to support the study of production technology include:

  • Integrating technology and daily life.
  • Gaining an understanding of production systems.
  • Using tools, materials and processes.
  • Developing problem solving skills.
  • Learning social/cultural impacts of technology.
  • Practicing industrial safety.
  • Practicing personal and business management skills.
  • Building human relations skills.
  • Practicing entrepreneurship skills.
  • Discovering employment and post-secondary training needs.
  • Developing leadership skills (Hadley & Ritz, 1991, p. 14).

With a definition of the program area and a rationale for its study, one should know the “what and why” of the content being shaped into a curriculum. With this information, the next step is to examine the source of the curricular content or knowledge base.

The content source is the third element that assists in establishing a foundation for the curriculum development process. It is the knowledge base where the curriculum content is derived for use in program development. In simpler terms, a content base is a bank or reservoir of knowledge where information (knowledge) is obtained for structuring a program. Depending upon whom is developing the program, and for what purpose it is being designed, i.e., work, leisure, general information, various content sources can be used.

A number of these include employment, job cluster training, general literacy, specific technologies, or technological areas. If one were to develop a curriculum on computing, these differing content sources would drastically change the shape of the curriculum. A computer course for general literacy would be much different than one to train network engineers or program designers. The source one selects to design a curriculum shapes its intent, or aim, and is often dictated by ones philosophy, understanding of the knowledge base, knowing the needs of society, and realizing how and why learners learn.

With an understanding of the content source, the next step in the curriculum foundations is to establish a content structure. It is the fourth element used in establishing a foundation for the curricular program. The content structure is employed to display graphically how the information being derived from the content source might be arranged for program and curricular unit development purposes. An example of a content structure for a production technology course appears in Figure 1. As can be observed, the content structure illustrates how the content for the program might be structured for program development purposes.

The program aim is the fifth element of the foundations portion of a curriculum development structure. This element describes the expected outcome of having students/learners study the content prescribed in the curriculum. For a production technology education program this outcome might be “to acquaint learners with the processes and systems used to produce our industrial and consumer products” (Hadley & Ritz, 1991, p., 5).

The final curriculum development element useful in establishing the foundations for a program or curriculum is the program goals. Goals are long range program outcomes that reflect the directions in which the curriculum should work. Examples of goals for production technology include:

  • Learn how production systems originate.
  • Describe how production systems influence people and societies.
  • Discover how industry processes resources into products using processing, construction, and manufacturing systems.
  • Use management systems to support the operation of production systems.
  • Investigate technical developments in production technology systems which will probably change our products in the future.
  • Analyze career options in the technologies of production systems.

As represented through this listing, goals are more specific than aims, but they still do not provide any means for direct student attainment of knowledge.

The above discussion has provided some insight into the development and utilization of foundations for curriculum development. Incorporation of these structural elements into the curriculum development process provides a means for expressing a philosophical view based on knowledge, society, learning, and the individual. Thus a strong foundation can be established for further undertakings in the curriculum development arena.

Curriculum Content
Curriculum content is the second major category of curricular elements. It includes the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (values) which educators are interested in conveying to learners. As the foundations of the curriculum determine what and why to teach, the content focuses upon the specific information to be transmitted and the means of transmission. In this category are the scope, sequence and unit specifications. The unit specifications may be further divided into goals, rationales, objectives, activities, and references. In all, the content elements provide direction for organizing curriculum content and for transmitting it to learners. At this point, each of the elements found within the curriculum content category will be discussed.

Scope and sequence are vital elements in structuring any curriculum in the education/training program. These elements establish content guidelines for the curriculum development and implementation processes. The use of a scope and sequence provides an effective format for organizing learning experiences for both curriculum developers and implementors.

The term scope encompasses the magnitude of content and objectives within a curriculum (Beauchamp, 1975, p. 198). More specifically, it is the breadth of knowledge to be covered within the curriculum or a particular subject area. As an example, in the production technology program, the scope of the curriculum might include production technology and its impact on societies, the production technology cycle, processing technology systems, manufacturing technology systems, construction technology systems, and future implications of production technology. From this example, one can see that the scope includes the breadth or magnitude of content that the program wishes to transfer into learning experiences.

Sequence is usually associated with scope. However, its meaning does differ. Sequence is the ordinal structuring of the content found within a curriculum (Beauchamp, 1975, p. 198). More simply stated, it is the order in which scope or content and objectives will be arranged for instructional purposes. In production technology, the sequence for a unit on the production technology cycle might include material resources, resource extraction, transforming materials, the production process, marketing, the service industry, and resource recovery. In curriculum development, the scope would list all the content areas to be taught, while the sequence would provide the ordering of this content in a coherent fashion.

To further assist in the development of curriculum and instructional plans, unit specifications are needed. Unit specifications are those rudiments which are helpful in the actual developing and structuring of a unit of study. The sub-components of unit specifications are unit goal(s), unit rationale, unit objectives or competencies, unit activities, and references. These curricular components will be reviewed next.

Unit goals are the overall outcomes which instruction within the unit should be directed. Examples of unit goals, for a production technology unit on marketing, could include:

  • Describe the concept of market analysis.
  • Organize marketing activities.

As can be gathered from this example, unit goals are broad in nature, but they attempt to show what the purpose and instructional focus of the units are.

The next unit specification component to be discussed is the unit rationale. It is an element which supports the unit goal(s) and explains the “what and why” of the unit. The unit rationale should provide the reasons for providing such a unit of instruction for learners. These descriptions should be short but meaningful narratives and provide specific reasons why studies in such units are vital to the learner’s total education.

A third curricular component under the heading of unit specifications is unit objectives or competencies. While aims and goals are broad and somewhat removed from the learning situation, objectives or competencies are measures of specific learning outcomes. They are essential targets and can be measured through classroom activities and evaluations. Examples of unit objectives are illustrated for a unit on resource extraction for a course in production technology:

  • Describe how material resources were gathered during our early history.
  • Explain how resources are extracted from our environment today.
  • Differentiate between mining and harvesting.
  • Construct models of resource extraction devices.
  • Experiment with the production of materials through biotechnological means.

As illustrated through these examples, objectives or competencies are specific targets for instruction within the education or training program. They prescribe perimeters within which instruction should evolve, and they can be used to evaluate whether learners can achieve these targets.

Unit activities are the fourth set of components found under the element of unit specifications. These elements, as stated by Zais, “represent the heart of the curriculum because they are so influential in shaping the learner’s experiences and thus [his/her] education (1976, p. 350). Unit or learning activities are those parts of the curriculum where learners become involved. They are the reading, listening, manipulating, writing, experimenting, and other learning processes that provide learners with experiences in the content of the curriculum. It is through these various learning activities that the content of the curriculum is transmitted to the learners. Activities are what involve the learners in the curriculum. Through these various experiences, the process of learning actually takes place.

The final component of unit specifications is references. These are the books, videos, periodicals, and other resource materials that are helpful in developing instructional plans to implement the educational program. Many who have proposed models for curriculum development have not included this element, but it is felt by this author that references are a vital component for those who are faced with implementing the curriculum. For this reason, it has been listed under the unit specifications element.

In this review three major elements have been included in the curriculum content section of this model. These have been labeled the scope, sequence and unit specifications. After one attempts to transmit the content of the curriculum to the learner using these elements, a final category of curriculum development comes into use, i.e., the evaluation elements useful to curriculum development.

Curriculum Evaluation

The final broad category of curriculum elements is evaluation. It exists for two primary purposes. First, it attempts to measure whether the learners are achieving the content objectives set forth in the curriculum, and second, whether the curriculum is doing what it is supposed to do, content validity. Therefore, the evaluation category of a curriculum should be divided into student evaluation and document validation elements.

The student evaluation element is concerned with unit objectives and unit activities. Through student performances and assessment through testing, learners are measured to determine if they can competently achieve those standards prescribed in the unit objectives. In addition to this means of evaluation, there exists an area know as document validation. This type of evaluation determines whether there is a correspondence between the ideas set forth in the foundations section and the information transmitted through the content section of the curriculum. All too often, curriculum documents describe one set of intentions and offer a different set of content and outcomes. Consequently, the curriculum document is not fulfilling its intended purpose. The document validation is intended to insure the curriculum foundations and content are directed toward the same outcomes.

In the above discussions, a number of useful curriculum development elements have been cited and illustrated. These elements have been organized into three categories. These included curriculum foundations, content, and evaluation. If these elements are used in the development of a curriculum or program, a more meaningful and understandable curriculum should result. This occurs because those who are developing the curriculum must identify and structure their ideas following a logical sequence. This allows for more directed dialogue and research by those undertaking the curriculum development. When these steps are used in the curriculum development process, a number of effective instructional programs and units of instruction should result.

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