Sep 27, 2012

12 Economic Facts About K-12 

Out of the twelve, I want to address three of them.
“Overall, the United States spends about 3 percent of its total expenditures on research and development, with that figure reaching as high as 23 percent in pharmaceuticals. In education, however, only 0.2 percent of expenditures are spent on research and development.”
Overall, there seems to be no interest in questioning century-old practices and studying research that points to potential success. Improving education means slashing budgets, increasing class sizes, and spending millions of dollars on new tests. Stupid.
"On average, students in a class with a higher 'value-added teacher' (measurement of a teacher’s impact on students’ test scores) for just one year experience the following benefits: The net present value of their lifetime earnings is nearly $6,400 greater."
At first, I was impressed with that number. Can you imagine $6,400 more a year? That would be awesome! But... that's not what it says. That's lifetime. Not so impressive.
“Publicly funded but more autonomous than traditional public schools, charter schools have greater space to innovate. While not all charter schools are successful, some have shown remarkable results and could offer guidance for public school systems.”
I'd like to edit that last sentence: While not all public schools are successful, some have shown remarkable results and could offer guidance for other public school systems.
SignUp Genius

Whether it's Fall Conferences or the anticipation of conference requests after report cards, I didn't want to send home a sheet with times, asking the parents to select three of them. It's such a pain to organize all of those requests. With SignUp Genius, I can create a schedule without worrying about organizing the choices. When a parent makes a choice, that time is marked as taken. Awesome!

Sep 23, 2012

Edmodo Resources

I'm late to the Edmodo party, but I see its potential. I'm looking for resources and lists and ideas. This livebinder has tons of stuff about Edmodo.

We asked, you answered! 15 more brilliant ways to use Edmodo

Another list.
1. Cultural Exchange
2. National Book Club
3. Teacher for a Day
4. Mini-Math and Mapping Lessons
5. Tutor Connection
6. Reading Critique
7. Mentor Sharing
8. Punctuation and Grammar
9. Teacher Lounge
10. Professional Learning Communities
11. French Language Practice
12. TV Show Live Blog
13. Activity Tracking
14. Flat Stanley on Holiday
15. Safe Facebook
I like the Mini-Math and Mapping Lessons, Teacher Lounge, and PLC. I tried using WallWisher to share ideas and create some discussion, but it's a bit clunky for that. Edmodo would work great. 
"Simple and FREE, Jing is the perfect way to enhance your fast-paced online conversations. Create images and videos of what you see on your computer screen, then share them instantly!
  • Take Screenshots: Capture an image of what you see on your computer screen
  • Record Screencasts: Record up to 5 minutes of onscreen video"
7 Brilliant Ways to use Edmodo that will Blow. Your. Mind.

Check out the article for specific information. I'm just going to list the ideas. 
1. Science Fair Exhibition Hall
2. Playground
3. In the News
4. 21st Century Field Trips
5. Lunch Count
6. Data Tracking Diary
7. Announcements and Special Events    
 I really like 21st Century Field Trips. There are more ideas in the Response section.
50 Popular iPad Apps For Struggling Readers & Writers

Intellectually, we know that we should meet the students where they are, and we should differentiate our instruction, and we should spend time with individuals and small groups, and we should follow IEP's and RtI's and OATWF's*, but where do we find the time?

Now, I'm not saying time is our excuse not to do these things. That's school now, folks. The other school is old-fashioned and won't reach many students. Blame it on whatever you want. If we're going to be teachers, we need to teach all of them. And that doesn't mean that we lecture at all of them.

I think great lessons, stations, and technology will help me accomplish that goal of teaching every student. With my district's influx of new technology, we're able to expand our reach. This site will help.

* - Other Acronyms That We Forget

Sep 22, 2012

Mythical Creatures: Integrating Art and Math

Cindy, we need to do this. You do mythology and I do geometry and transformations, so it's perfect. Like chocolate and peanut butter!

Research: High Teacher Expectations Raise Student Achievement


Robert Rosenthal, from Harvard, designed an experiment. In it, he told teachers that, after a special IQ test, a few students were expected to experience an increase in IQ. Low and behold, they did!
"As Rosenthal did more research, he found that expectations affect teachers’ moment-to-moment interactions with the children they teach in a thousand almost invisible ways. Teachers give the students that they expect to succeed more time to answer questions, more specific feedback, and more approval: They consistently touch, nod and smile at those kids more."
Over time, these small actions make a significant impact on those students.

As a result of this research, I'm going to smile and nod uncontrollably at a few kids in my class. Once they've reached a respectable IQ, I'm going to smile and nod uncontrollably at all of the kids in my class. Take that, low IQ!
Public School Funding Unequal: State and Local School Finance Systems Perpetuate Per-Student Spending Disparities 
"According to a report out of the Center for American Progress, inequitable per-pupil spending perpetuated by regressive state and local school-finance systems remains cause for concern in U.S. public schools, despite state aid formulas designed to work to the contrary."
Those darn formulas. I just can't believe that they're not perfect.
"For instance, according to the report, non-property sources of revenues, like income taxes and fees, are generally higher in low-poverty districts than high-poverty ones, and are seldom equalized through the state aid formula."
Wait, what? The formula doesn't consider the income taxes in rich areas? I'm no accountant or crazy formula writer, but that sounds stupid. Does the formula consider differences in PTA funds between low-poverty and high-poverty areas? Prob'ly not.
"Last month, another Center for American progress report determined schools that enroll 90 percent or more non-white students spend $733 less per pupil per year than schools that enroll 90 percent or more white students. These “racially isolated” schools make up one-third of the country’s schools. Nationwide, schools spend $334 more on every white student than on every non-white student."
Honestly, I don't believe that success depends on money, but, crap, folks, we've got to even it out a little. Look at those numbers. That's just embarrassing. Shouldn't our nation be passed that?
Tennessee Middle Schools Nix Graded Homework, Extra Credit In Hopes Of Improving TCAP Scores
"Although extra credit is now a thing of the past, grades will also not be reduced for behavioral issues. Meanwhile, homework is intended solely for practice and will not have any effect on a student’s grades."
Good. In the elementary and middle schools, homework is nearly pointless. Oh, I know that we say we don't have enough time during the day, so stuff has to go home. I'm sorry, but a lack of time is not reason enough to send work home. Let them go home and live. Keep the work in the classroom where you can observe and question.

But, if something goes home, I don't think it should be graded. Practice is practice. 

Here's the problem: School isn't about learning and improving. It's about grades. What's my grade? Are we going to grade this? What can my son do to bring up his grade? Are you going to post the grades?

So, teachers give grades. Sometimes, they give lots of grades--you know, the law of averages. If a kid's grades suck, just take a hundred more grades, and everything should work itself out. Hang on, what about the failed assignments? Are we just going to move on and chalk them up to lack of studying or didn't turn them in or didn't follow directions? 

I understand the system. There comes a time when you have to call it. Before that time, though, why doesn't a kid get the opportunity to learn the material and retake the test or quiz or assignment? Are we in it to get 'em or teach 'em?

For the most part, we have Macs at our school, so iMovie seems like the obvious choice when making videos. But, at home, Loopster is an online option for editing videos. The process resembles that of other video editing software.

Sep 6, 2012

High School In The Community, New Haven Turnaround School Run By Teachers, Union, Has Turbulent History: Report

The "principal" of this school is a teacher, elected by the other teachers. He wrote a proposal to the state. In it, he made these recommendations:
• Hire a truancy officer or “parent liaison” to help with chronic absenteeism.

• Hire former Wilbur Cross teacher Chris Kafoglis as a new “academic coordinator” focusing on student achievement.

• Hire a magnet resource officer to boost student enrollment.

• Hire a full-time substitute teacher, to cover classes when teachers are away at trainings.

• Pay teachers to stay after school an extra hour each day, four days a week, for training, planning, and, twice a week, mandatory after-school catch-up sessions for students. Teachers will also show up four days early for the school year, and stay four days after it ends, for prep work and data analysis.

• “Rebuild the identity of the school” as an “Academy for Law and Social Justice.”

• Upgrade technology, including: Smart Boards, iPad carts, Macbooks and iPads for teachers, iPads for students, computers, and in Year 3, a Mac computer lab.
Huh? Whataya think? I hope it works--I'm excited for them.

Sep 3, 2012

The Differentiator
"The Differentiator has been re-written from scratch with more power and flexibility, and sports a clean new look. Experiment to create differentiated objectives for students of all levels. Plus, it works great on an iPad!"

Performance-based Teacher Assessment Begins in Arizona
"Students in the Scottsdale Unified School District in Arizona have begun their school year by taking tests. Lots of tests. They will end their year the same way. And the results will, for the first time, have an impact on more than just them. Starting this year, the results of students achievement testing will play a part in the system used to assess the performance and effectiveness of their teachers."
The Arizona Dept. of Education expects districts to use student data in their teacher evaluations, but it has not created the evaluation, so there's bound to be a great deal of variety from one district to another. 

Rather than one high-stakes mystery test at the end of the year, Arizona is using its brains and having students take pretests and post-tests. That gives you a better idea as to the teaching and influence a teacher has on that student. Remember, though, there are many factors affecting the education of a student, but this seems like a good move.