Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bullying Stops in Pink

Celebrate Pink Shirt Day 2012 on February 29th!!  Show you refuse to allow bullying to occur in YOUR school by showing your support and wearing your pink shirt.  (Pink Shirt Day is also known as “Friday” throughout the year at OMSK.)

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Let’s Get Ready to Oppperaaaaaate!

Here’s a site suggested by a reader, World Maths Day, brought to us by Mathletics.  Sign up is free and the competition is head to head.  Students compete against others across the globe in practice for the day of competition, which is March 7th, 2012.

Holy Caribou Competition Results!!

What a fantastic addition to the Caribou Math contest contestants yesterday, as Ms. Charles’ grade seven class and some grade four students from ECG joined Mr. Hickey’s grade 7 and 8 students and Mr. Freeman’s grade six class in writing the fourth contest.  The added interest and competition resulted in some difference in results for some students, as some tried to hang on to their top teir status, while others moved upward from their previous results in prior contests.

I continue to be impressed by the perseverence and effort exhibited by many, many students.  Willing to work through challenging and difficult problems is commendable in and of itself, and its great to see the thinking and strategizing come a little more naturally to each student as the year progresses.

While I don’t have the time and space to highlight everyone’s great work, I will take a moment to recognize the achievements of some in each category:

In the grade 3/4 division, we had three contestants write for the first time this year.  They did well, scoring higher than the Canadian average in number of correct questions and number of points. One student even finished 240th out of 1319 in Canada, which was 220th out of 1223 in Ontario.  This placed them in the top 17% in the country.  Nya:weh to Ms. Charles for giving them the opportunity and also to Miss Charles for thinking of her fellow classmates when it came to writing the test.

In the grade 5/6 category, there seemed to be a tougher set of questions for our returning class.  We had a new student come out on top, with seven correct responses.  This placed her 612th out of 2000 students in Ontario, 714th out of 2370 in all of Canada.  That is the top 28% in the country.

The influx of a new class in the grade 7/8 group boosted our totals to 45 students overall.  This resulted in some students rising up in the ranks while others fell from more competition.  At ECG, the top student answered 13 questions correctly, returning to the top of the heap at their school.  This placed him 540th out of 1848 in Ontario, 642nd out of 2163 in Canada, or the top 29%.

However, two students from JC Hill placed 1st and 2nd in our district, with 13 questions answered correctly as well.  The only difference from the gentleman from ECG being that the questions may have been worth more points OR the test may have been completed in a quicker time frame.  These two students from JC Hill finished 495th and 523rd in Ontario, good for 585th and 621st in Canada respectively.  That is the top 26 and 29% in the country.

Congratulations to ALL students on competing in a challenging contest.  Your participation is its own reward, as hopefully you are gaining a better understanding of how to strategize a solution to a problem, and growing in your mathematical processes.

Educational Technology Bill of Rights for Students | Digital Learning Environments

I absolutely LOVE this…

Educational Technology Bill of Rights for Students Digital Learning Environments

Here’s the post in its entirety…maybe we should have students reciting this everyday.

Educational Technology Bill of Rights for Students

by Brad Flickinger

The following are what I believe are the rights of all student to have with regards to using technology as an educational tool, written as a student to their teacher:

1) I have the right to use my own technology at school. I should not be forced to leave my new technology at home to use (in most cases) out-of-date school technology. If I can afford it, let me use it — you don’t need to buy me one. If I cannot afford it, please help me get one — I don’t mind working for it.

2) I have the right to access the school’s WiFi. Stop blaming bandwidth, security or whatever else — if I can get on WiFi at McDonalds, I think that I should be able to get online at school.

3) I have the right to submit digital artifacts that prove my understanding of a subject, regardless of whether or not my teacher knows what they are. Just because you have never heard of Prezi, Voki, or Glogster, doesn’t mean that I should not be able to use these tools to prove to you that I understand what you are teaching me.

4) I have the right to cite Wikipedia as one of the sources that I use to research a subject. Just because you believe the hype that Wikipedia is full of incorrect information, doesn’t mean that it is true — besides we all use it anyways (including you). I am smart enough to verify what I find online to be the truth.

5) I have the right to access social media at school. It is where we all live, it is how we communicate — we do not use email, or call each other. We use Facebook, Twitter and texting to talk to each other. Teachers and schools should take advantage of this and post announcements and assignments using social media — you will get better results.

6) I have the right to be taught by teachers who know how to manage the use technology in their classrooms. These teachers know when to use technology and when to put it away. They understand that I need to be taught how to balance my life between the online and offline worlds. They do not throw the techno-baby out with the bathwater.

7) I have the right to be taught by teachers who teach me and demand that I use 21st Century Skills. Someday I am going to need a job — please help me be employable.

8) I have the right to be accessed with technology. I love the instant feedback of testing done technology. I live in a world of instant feedback, so to find out a couple of week later that I didn’t understand your lesson, drive me crazy. If you were a video game, no one would play you — feedback is too slow.

9) I have the right to be protected from technology. I don’t want to be cyberbullied, hurt, scared or find crud online that I would rather not find. Please help me use technology responsibly and safely. Please stay up-to-date with this kind of information, and teach me to make good choices. I am not you and we don’t see eye to eye about what to put online, but help me to meet you in the middle.

10) I have the right to be taught by teachers that know their trade. They are passionate about what they do and embrace the use of technology to help me learn. They attend trainings and practice what they learn. They are not afraid to ask for my help; they might know more than me about the Civil War, but I know Glogster like nobody’s business.

This is a work in progress, please comment below on what to add or change.
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About Brad

Brad Flickinger is a technology integration specialist who teaches technology at Bethke Elementary in Timnath, Colorado and is the founder of SchoolTechnology.org

This Explains It All

How Education Fails Technology (And What to Do About It)

Posted on January 23, 2012 by Victor Rivero

SHIFT PARADIGM
by Mark E. Weston

Education has failed technology. Yes, you read that correctly. Education has failed technology.

To understand why this is, not vice versa, requires understanding what the research literature makes clear: It is possible to get all children learning at levels beyond their respective aptitudes. The same literature, however, makes clear that such levels of learning rarely occur outside one-to-one tutoring settings. Let’s unpack these seemingly contradictory statements to shed light on why education has failed technology and what we can do about it.

Nearly three decades ago, Benjamin Bloom (author of Taxonomy of Educational Objectives) led a research effort to find methods of group instruction that were as effective as one-to-one tutoring through which students performed two standard deviations higher than their classroom educated peers. Bloom named the target of his search the 2-sigma problem. The research-based solution he found was simple, yet profound. If certain instructional practices are used and specific conditions met then one teacher, instructing a group of students in a classroom, could help the students attain 2-sigma. The practices he identified that make 2-sigma possible include reinforcement, cues and explanations, corrective feedback, and cooperative learning. The conditions include student classroom-participation, student time on task, and classroom morale.

Despite Bloom’s work and thousands of subsequent studies by other researchers (e.g., John Hattie, Robert Marzano) that demonstrate the positive effect that specific practices and conditions have on classroom learning, 2-sigma remains a rare attainment for teachers. This is largely because in the current educational paradigm individual teachers must shoulder a disproportionate share of the pedagogical load for making 2-sigma happen.

The teacher-load conundrum is exacerbated by the organizational and operational design of schools that make load-sharing nearly impossible for 2-sigma oriented teachers. In such schools, a teacher trying to take a classroom of 30 students to 2-sigma must make it happen alone. That is a lot for an already heavily-laden teacher to do; a load even heavier if that teacher lacks the emotional, intellectual, or pedagogical wherewithal for unilaterally taking on 2-sigma. That these circumstances exist at all is a failure of the field of education, not the teacher. This failure is quite ironic given the intense pressure placed on the education field to get teachers to produce ever-greater student learning and achievement, mostly in the form of improved test scores.

When viewed through a produce-greater-student learning lens, school-level support for all teachers, especially the 2-sigma seeking ones, may be the most pressing, yet least recognized educational challenge of our era. My colleague Alan Bain and I call that challenge 1:X.

Sadly, schools are not designed for 1:X.

What can be done? The answer to that question must involve technology, because without its powerful benefits teachers stay in the same predicament and the educational paradigm stays the same.

During the past two decades many technologies have entered our lives. They brought with them lofty expectations for transformation of classrooms and schools. Implicit in such expectations was a belief that teachers and students with access to and mastery of technology would transform education.

While some evidence suggests that the personal lives of teachers and students may have changed as a result of new technologies, little evidence shows that their education lives have changed much. Technology has exerted little overall effect on educational settings and the teaching and learning in them. Student achievement test scores remain flat, school completion rates have not declined, and instruction is still mostly teacher-led in classrooms with neat-rowed desks.

The minimal effect that technology has had on teaching and learning is a failure of the field of education not a failure of technology. Teachers who strive to take their classrooms of students to 2-sigma, but have no school-level supports know this well. Further, those teachers know that the technology available to them barely connects to the real work that they do every day and the extra work they must do to make 2-sigma happen. And they readily admit that in many instances the technology that they do have actually increases their load. Not surprisingly, data show teachers rarely using technology in their classroom instruction.

What most teachers do not realize is that the lack of support for their 2-sigma work and the ineffectual technology they are given are symptoms of a much more pervasive failure. Both are a result of the field of education failing to acknowledge its own research about what works. And each is compounded by the field failing to investigate and build consensus about how to take what works to scale. This failure of scale limits the field’s ability to provide direction to the technology industry. It in turn limits the industry’s ability to help schools attain 1:X and teachers attain 2-sigma.

Fortunately, these circumstances can be changed significantly. The way forward starts with you, me, and other like-minded educators embracing Bloom’s and other researchers’ findings about the practices and conditions that have the most powerful effects on teaching and learning. Then, girded with these findings, we push, pull, and prod to secure school-level commitments that those practices and conditions become the basis for organizational and operational designs and decisions. The designs and decisions will in turn support putting technologies in place that enable teachers, students, and other educational stakeholders to generate emergent feedback about the school-level support they receive and guide further refinement of their efforts.

The shifts that we must seek in educational thought, theory, and action require education to demand technologies that extend, connect, and develop the capacities of teachers, students, and other educational stakeholders to benefit from the research of Bloom and others.

Sound preposterous? Perhaps it is. Anything less, however, reinforces past failures.

Mark Weston Ph.D., a co-author of The Learning Edge: What Technology Can Do to Educate All Children resides in Dunwoody, Georgia. He can be reached at shiftparadigm2011@gmail.com

The Power of Feedback

The Power of Feedback courtesy @NumberScheme

A Good Math Laugh

Teacher Arrested: A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. ‘Al-Gebra is a problem for us’, the Attorney General said. ‘They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.’ They use secret code names like “X” and “Y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns” but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philosopher Isosceles used to say, “There are 3 sides to every triangle.” When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.” White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President. It is believed that another Nobel Prize will follow.

350,000 Textbooks Downloaded From Apple’s iBooks in Three Days

At the Brock U Teaching and Technology showcase, Pearson shared what they call “The Digital Backpack”.  There were a number of their current textbooks available in digital form, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from the Apple iBooks concept of digital textbooks.  Full colour photos that can be pinched to shrink and pulled to expand.  Embedded videos or links to content related to the page’s topic.  Kurzweil like tools that allow teachers and students to take notes, place a sticky or post-it, highlight and manipulate texts.  In the math series, there are direct apps or widgets that open up the virtual manipulative required to explore the question/activity, or a modelled solution for more clarification.  The future is now and it is coming fast, as evidenced by the article below.

Original article posted on JANUARY 23, 2012 AT 3:50 AM PT and can be viewed here.

Though nascent and unproven, Apple’s new textbook initiative appears to be gaining lots of momentum — and quickly, too. Within days of its debut, Apple’s iBooks textbook store had already racked up a significant number of downloads. Same thing with the company’s textbook authoring tool.

According to Global Equities Research, which monitors Apple’s iBook sales via a proprietary tracking system it doesn’t much care to discuss, more than 350,000 textbooks were downloaded from the company’s iBooks Store within the first three days of availability (caveat: a number of these may well have been free copies of E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth downloaded for free by folks interested in seeing an iPad textbook in action)

And there were some 90,000 downloads of iBooks Author, Apple’s free textbook-creation tool, during the same time.

If those numbers are accurate, Apple’s textbook effort would seem to be off to a good start. Which is good news for everyone involved — particularly textbook publishers, who stand to make more money on books sold through iBooks than those sold at retail.

According to Global Equities Research, the supply chain markup on textbooks ranges between 33 percent and 35 percent. So there are savings to be had in cutting out that publisher-to-distributor-to-wholesaler-to-retailer process.

Add to this the lower cost of iBook production, which the research outfit estimates to be 80 percent less than print publication — and a system under which textbooks are sold directly to students, who use them for a year, rather than to schools which keep the texts for an average of five years — and the math here starts to looks pretty good.

Said Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry, “[This is] a recipe for Apple’s success in the textbook industry.”

Kill Math

Here’s another site/resource shared by Mr. Petro…with a number of diatribes about making math meaningful once again.  Be prepared to get lost in the site for awhile, exploring the interesting links and asides to the argument/project.

What is the Question?

Here’s a blog post of a really cool strategy to use to frame ANY of your subject lessons, not just math.  I like the math example presented, and even though it is a high school level, it can very easily be used for a high number of content areas or math concepts.  Thanks to David Petro for sharing this in the Math eCommunity session on the first of February.