The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the examination for business graduate schools, surveyed over 600 corporations to find what they are looking for in a future MBA graduate. The top four qualities are all literacy related: not “business” or logic, even though those elements are considered foundational. The top four qualities are oral communication, listening, written communication, and presentation skills. If this is the current and future needs of our society when it comes to business, are professors of business and secondary school teachers who teach business courses ultimately teaching these skill sets? If not, then how are these educators serving their student’s needs? Interestingly, technology is ranked much lower even though there is a large push in California schools to have more technology with teachers who are asked to integrate technology into their lesson plans.
The ROC van Amsterdam is a “community college” style school. The system of education here in the Netherlands is different than other countries, so calling it a community college is the closest example (there are 16-year olds at the school so it is more of a vocational school). The school focuses on the track of Travel & Tourism. As a vocational school, students may receive a diploma and enter the workforce, or use their education to transfer into a higher education degree. Mr. Jorgen van Waes welcomed me to the school and gave me a tour. I also had the chance to observe a classroom debate. He teaches a class on Tourism and Travel in English so that students are speaking, writing, and reading in English to fulfill requirements for their certification. English classes are required at the school, while German, Spanish, and French are offered as electives.
The debate activity went well for the students, and I had the chance to give feedback. It looks like the students are beginning to “authorize” their thoughts when speaking, but a skill that is necessary for the students to grow and master is imperative when putting forward arguments. I will return to the school next week for additional observations, and it looks like ROC van Amsterdam can become a regular visit where I am welcomed to teach seminars. Ms. Palabiyik is an English teacher at the school who allowed me to observe two of her English classes. She used Flocabulary at a 3rd grade level with her students. In the U.S., Flocabulary is a popular web-based tool for English instruction, especially at the elementary and middle school levels. She finished the lesson with students playing Hang Man for recently studied vocabulary. Students were curious about my existence, so I introduced myself and encouraged them to study abroad with particular emphasis on what we offer in California.
Fischer, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. Text Dependent Questions, Grades 6-12: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading (2015).
A 2015 study by professors at San Diego State University’s School of Education points to the importance of going beyond just reading. Teachers should “resist the urge to turn close reading into an independent activity. The point of close reading is to foster extended discussions about a piece of text.”
Recent studies are moving away from the popular “quiet time reading” or Sustained Silent Reading (SSR). ReadWriteThink.org offers a strategy guide for Socratic seminars and the methods for applying the approach in your classroom to help students investigate multiple perspectives in a text. To see the strategy in action, visit the lesson plan “Facilitating Student-Led Seminar Discussions with The Piano Lesson.”