Teaching Driver’s Ed

By Paul Silli

I am a classroom teacher who has taught both traditional and block scheduling. Normally I teach 5-classes per day at 50 minutes long. When the bell rings — I receive another set of students. However, when you teach at a summer driver’s education school it is divided into 10-sessions a week at two sessions per day. Each session is “three hours long” with a class size of about 20 to 40+ students. You generally see the same students for an entire week. It is important to plan well and keep your activities moving and fun.

Drivers Education content is dry– so try to be enthusiastic and upbeat with the content material.

Lessons consist of teaching your learners how to identify street signs, offer many defensive driving skills — to knowing how to drive in residential, urban and rural environments.

As for resources you can use PowerPoint slides or write on a whiteboard, show movies and give hands-on activities.

Salary (per hour) is comparable to what you would earn if you worked as a substitute teacher at a district. Accountability however, is very high. For example, as a teacher you are responsible to have your students pass two comprehensive multiple choice exams. These assessments keep you on your toes! Additionally, you are student evaluated each week. Students get the chance to grade you and offer a critique of the class.

Overall, working at a driver’s education school has been a positive experience. If you are looking for a job that puts you in front of many eager-to-learn students then maybe working as a teacher is a good fit. It is rewarding.

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What Technologies should High School students know?

By Paul Silli

To answer this question you must have a planning guide. I am using the ISTE Standards (International Society for Technology in Education). ISTE provides academic support to teachers in knowing what technologies should be taught for elementary, middle and high school students. Emphasis is on college prep.

ISTE recommends students learn how to use the Internet, develop word processing skills and create various presentations. Many programs such as MS Office, Adobe Photoshop and Weebly are used.

So, what should they know?

Students should learn how to produce multimedia presentations that contain rich content, graphics and video Podcasts. This includes creating projects that implement design, layout and editing. Students should also know how to research the Internet, use search-engines, setup email accounts and take digital notes. Teaching how to construct surveys & polls is helpful because it shows students how to gather and analyze data.

Group Presentations are important for collaborative learning. Using PowerPoint or Inspiration – allows members to share research with audiences. Learners can make slides, brochures, time-lines and other desktop publishing activities.

Additionally, it is important to make an Individual Portfolio. This is a larger, ongoing project that draws on many skill sets. You should use rubrics to evaluate progress. Individual Portfolios could be used to teach learners how to get a job or provide work samples and simulations that help them get into a specific college. The content should be visually appealing, include student interests and have a resume. (A wiki-website could feature this assignment).

You could also teach your students how to create and maintain a blog with video productions. For example, a subject could be: “How to purchase a used car?” — offering buying tips, purchase procedures and knowing what to look for in a model…

An advanced technology to teach would be Web Authoring. An introduction to HTML coding, Flash, layout and theme editing could be considered. ISTE also wants students to know how to develop spreadsheets and Data Bases. This teaches business skills in collecting, sorting and filing data. Programs such as Excel and Access are great. Studying computer hardware is valuable as well because learners begin to understand the science within the technology.

Finally, it is up to you and your school to decide what students should know. The best way to address this question is to identify how you plan on preparing your students for the world. Are you helping them learn skills they will use in our global economy? If the answer is “yes,” you are on track. 😉

How to teach urban students?

By Paul Silli

First… Be patient. Teaching at an urban school is challenging. You will have many wonderful diverse students who come from different cultural backgrounds.

I once had 45-students in one of my social studies classes. It was so crowded students were sitting on the floor because we ran out of desks. My school also did not have enough textbooks for each student. It was difficult for near four weeks. I learned quickly I needed to be patient. I decided to create an informal “survey” which examined what students found interesting. I remembered many of the facts from the survey and connected activities to my students interests. Knowing my learners and using a lot of humor in lessons helped me establish a fun, positive learning environment.

It is also important to develop a relationship with parents. I created a weekly class newsletter to improve communication. It informed parents about upcoming homework, cultural projects and tests. If you can get your parents onboard — success will follow.

To learn what my students knew about the subjects I developed a “pre & post test.” This offered vital information that I analyzed to improve my teaching practice. I adjusted lessons to meet the needs of my learners and worked hard to only “test what I taught.” It is essential to give a lot of one-on-one instruction as well.

Lastly, if you are having ongoing discipline issues with a student — do not hesitate to ask your fellow teachers to schedule a: “group teacher-parent meeting.” It is best to have the child present during the meeting so he or she can interact with the teachers.  You should be firm but fair with your kids. You “cannot bluff” if you are going to reward or discipline students. →For example, if you tell a class they will earn a pizza party if they perform well on a test you MUST give them that party. On the other hand, if a student is acting inappropriately and you tell him he is “forcing you” to give him a detention… you must stand by your words. Remember, students are constantly evaluating how you handle situations. It is important to be upfront, friendly and fair.  If you do this you should earn respect by showing your students you care about them.

Final thought: Be passionate about teaching. If you are excited about a subject your students will be to. 😉

Controlling your computer class

By Paul Silli

How do you keep your students on task in a large computer class? Easy! Install remote control monitor software.

I have used InterClass to instruct, monitor, send feedback and evaluate students in a 30-seat computer class. InterClass allows me to see on my “administrative computer” what my students are doing on their computers. At my desktop I can offer suggestions to students — while keeping them working on their assignments.

With InterClass you can “remotely” control the opening and closing of programs, give live instruction, offer collaborative activities and grade students from one computer console. You can even show videos. You also can monitor student online activity… If you discover an inappropriate website — you can block it.

To run InterClass you do not need any extra cables or servers. Your existing server through either a LAN or WLAN will network your computers.

I enjoy using InterClass and appreciate its features. For example, you can organize small group-work where students create and edit projects.  You can also select a “group leader” and when the group starts working, the leaders computer will be shared with each member. Then each learner can “login-in” to the leaders computer which enables them to work as a team.

InterClass is just one of many remote monitor controller software programs available. There are others to choose from such as Smart Sync, Netop Vision and iTALC. Whatever you decide you will find installing remote control software is helpful.

An International Baccalaureate World

By Paul Silli

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is a non-profit educational foundation which was developed for students age 3 to 19. The heart of the program is to help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills of learners. Lessons are geared toward offering real-life activities for students to produce work that directly affects their lives in our world community.

According to the Education Foundation Association, the IB principle in learning was founded in 1968, and has reached worldwide where there are currently 3,397 schools in 140 countries participating. It is estimated that more than 1,015,000 students are enrolled in an IB program. It is used in both private & public schools.

IB is more than its educational development – it is intended to engage students to creatively learn how to make our world a better place. The program allows universities to monitor student grades and progress. The IB culture also teaches students how to “analyze” what they are learning, rather than simply memorizing facts.

Students are assessed by how they evaluate and solve problems while gaining valuable critical thinking skills. IB programs prepare learners for university education through rigorous projects and home studies. Graduation success rates are high. 🙂

Academically, IB schools are not easy for students — and if you wish to earn an IB diploma you should prepare to spend additional time for class workloads. For more info visit: http://www.ibo.org/

Do students really need 4G?

By Paul Silli

A lot of students have asked me what is 4G.

The new 4G cell phones were developed from previous technologies. It started with the 1G or First Generation phones that were invented in the 1980s. They were the size of a shoe box and weighed about 50 lbs. The older models really were large and heavy. Reception also was poor due to a lack of tower signal support — but owning a phone where you could call someone from anywhere was exciting to consumers.

The 2G – Second Generation phones offered users the ability to take pictures with a built-in camera and send text messages. They also were smaller devices and a bit easier to use.

As for the streamlined 3G – Third Generation phones they were created to hold large file data. This is so you can keep your movie  clips, images, social network accounts, texts and emails within your phone plan. Features like accessing the Internet are much more available.

Today, your 4G – Fourth Generation “Smartphones” can produce extremely fast network uploads/downloads of data. The operating software and Internet access can hold huge amounts of files through increased memory. The International Telecommunication Union defines 4G as: “The ability to download data at speeds of 1 gigabit per second.”

However, students do not need large memory capacity 4G phones. Most people do not fully use the data plans — and 4G service is expensive. It can cost you anywhere from $85 to $120+ per month.

If you are patient, 4G will reduce in price as it is replaced by something new in the market.

A Civic point of view

By Paul Silli

What does it mean to you to be an American?

According to society_culture.com, a gallop poll showed that 83 percent of teachers think the United States is a “unique country that stands for something special in our world.’” The poll also showed 82 percent think it is most important for high school students to “revere and appreciate” our country, but also believe they should learn about its shortcomings.”  America is wondrous — but like all countries it is imperfect. Offering your learners the opportunity to have open debates where they feel safe to voice their opinions is essential. We should allow our students to explore social issues that directly affect their lives…

Civics classes should cover our country’s history, culture, political system, economics and government structure. Students need this knowledge so they can address current issues that affect them and the world. The trick is to teach your students “How to think,” while avoiding teaching them “What to think.” Open discussions and group collaborations where students share ideas with peers is crucial.

Teaching about how to be a good citizen is a vital part of civics as well. In fact, lessons on good citizenship will teach students first-hand how to be productive in society — and to care about others and the environment. Performing work that builds character and demonstrates respect are imperative parts of civic education.  Activities that have students do community service, participate in elections and work with charity organizations present lessons that they will carry into adulthood.