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Post-Modern Me

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Pam Mayfield

on 24 February 2011

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Transcript of Post-Modern Me

Post-Modern Me By Pam Mayfield Personal Context I was educated in the Sugarland, TX school system. I started school in 1968, and graduated high school in 1981 in Greensboro, NC. Although I graduated from high school in NC, all but two years of my education were in Sugarland, TX. All I remember from Kindergarten is that we colored and played. In today's Kindergarten classes, there is very little coloring, and children are learning to read and write paragraphs. There were many different tools for instruction when I was in school. Some of which include things like the chalkboard, chalk and erasers, the overhead projector, the movie reel, wooden pencils, wooden rulers, color-coded SRA reading books, and the library's card catalog. For the most part, these tools have become obsolete in their use in schools today. I find the demise of these objects' use in the classroom interesting, and will further explore the attributes and qualities associated with the chalkboard and the SRA reading books in this presentation, including their historical context and their effectiveness. The Chalkboard [noun] a sheet of smooth, hard material, especially dark slate, used in schools, lecture rooms, etc., for writing or drawing on with chalk (Dictionary.com). James Pillans, of Edinburgh, Scotland, is credited as the inventor of the blackboard and colored chalk. He used his inventions to teach his geography class. Pillans lived from 1778 to 1864. It was invented in 1854 (AnswerBag.com). The chalkboard was in every classroom when I was in school. It was the back drop of the teacher. I was taught with the teacher lecturing from the front of the classroom while writing key information or questions on the chalkboard pertaining to the lesson. Sometimes in math class, problems or equations were written on the chalkboard and the students were asked to come to the chalkboard and “work” the problem. One of the highlights pertaining to classroom jobs when I was in elementary school was to wash the chalkboard and to beat the erasers. As I moved on to Junior High (as it was called when I was in school) and High School, usually one of the teacher’s pets got to wash the chalkboard and/or beat the erasers. My favorite job of the two was to beat the erasers. If you were the chosen student to beat the erasers you did it outside. What kid does not want to leave the classroom and go outside? SRA Reading Books (Science Research Associates) Today, dry-erase boards have replaced chalkboards. Teachers seem to be able to keep students attention more with all the different colors of dry erase makers one can use with dry-erase boards. It also makes organizing lecture notes or information on the board easier. The students love to write on the boards and use the different markers, and the dry-erase boards are much easier to clean than the old chalkboards; no white residue. SRA books were color coded reading units in which you had to read the information and then answer questions. The students were tested with what were like index cards after reading each book. The reading level of a student determined what “color” SRA set of books each student began with. Also, different skill sets were in the books of each color level. This reading program would be implemented at the beginning of the school year and the student would work on SRA books/test independently throughout the school year. The SRA books were used as a supplementary program along with other teaching methods for reading. SRA books have been around since 1969. Schools bought SRA Reading Laboratory Kits and they were best known for individualized reading instruction programs.
I vividly remember the SRA books/test from Elementary school. Everyone would talk in the beginning of the school year about what color SRA book they were assigned to. It became a real competition amongst students to try to beat others on test scores and who could move through each color set the fastest. It was very embarrassing when you did not do well and stayed in a certain color set longer than other students. I felt more pressure from the SRA book program to succeed because everyone in the class knew what level every other student was on. My parents and teachers thought this was a real motivator. I guess it was but I am not sure that I really learned or mastered the skill set needed or if I just learned or memorized just enough to do well on the test and move on, because to me that was the whole point.
In schools today, SRA books are obsolete in that other reading programs and teaching methods have been adopted. In today’s schools, there is more differentiation in teaching students how to read as a whole classroom than in small reading groups. Students today partner read or read independently. The AR program is used in Elementary schools now, where students read books based on reading skills/abilities and take tests on the computer. This type of reading program is better than the SRA program in that the computer keeps up with the test scores of the students, the books that have been read or need to be read, and all the different levels. Also, the AR program has the ability to show you what questions the student got correct/incorrect, letting the teacher know what needs to be reinstructed or what skills the student has mastered. In addition, the emphasis with today’s AR books is placed upon a point system, whereas the SRA books categorized the students based on a colored-level system. This caused each student’s reading level to be transparent to the other students. Different tools in teaching have been changed or updated to meet the needs of 21st Century students, like the chalkboard and SRA reading books. It will be exciting to see what tools used today will be changed and updated for the next generation.
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