Sunday, September 14, 2014

Napster, Udacity, and the Academy

http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2012/11/napster-udacity-and-the-academy/

I don't know if Clay Shirky is right about MOOCs, but I value this essay for his recognition that people will generally accept *good enough* if they can get it for little or no cost.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Discover the world's best K-12 curriculum

http://opencurriculum.org/

THere are a lot of curriculum repositories on the web and new ones crop up all the time. This is one of them. One way this site seems to have tried to differentiate itself is by enlisting the help of some prominent math teacher-bloggers for curating some of their content. Now they list a high school student as their content expert -- let's just say that's not ideal, but as a nonprofit in an increasingly crowded space that lacks good revenue models, maybe that's just making the most out of who you have available.

The Case for Slow Reform in Education

https://storify.com/tchmathculture/the-case-for-slow-reform-in-education

In response to Elizabeth Green's article in the NY Times titled "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?" Ilana Horn took to Twitter to rant a bit about the lack of high-quality professional development, a need for better frameworks for teacher development, and other ways we could be better at helping math teachers than we are now.

The product design sprint: a five-day recipe for startups

http://www.gv.com/lib/the-product-design-sprint-a-five-day-recipe-for-startups

In my work with and for teachers I've needed to expand my conception of design. Sometimes it's a physical object, sometimes it's software, but frequently we're designing a process or routine and thinking about whatever templates or facilitation guide that might make that process or routine replicable and effective. Given that designers like to design things, Google Ventures has designed a five-day sprint for startups that we're considering applying to some of our work. It's a design for design, and a new process might give us perspectives we haven't yet had.

Design for a Thriving UX Ecosystem

http://uxmag.com/articles/design-for-a-thriving-ux-ecosystem

One of the research projects I work on involves a customizable curriculum repository that houses the district curriculum, supplementary tasks and materials, along with tools for sharing and planning. The design of that tool includes a lot of teacher input, but increasingly we see the need to think about the user experience ecosystem, not just our site. It's just natural to think now that people want their social media streams and cloud storage to work in concert with other content on the web, which gives us a lot of interesting potential use cases to think about.

Friday, September 12, 2014

CGI Assessment Teacher’s Guide An assessment tool based on the work of Cognitively Guided Instruction

http://staff.washington.edu/klomax/Overview.html

I've read quite a few of the published studies on CGI, but I'm really not that familiar with CGI from a teachers' point of view. Now that I'm working with teachers in lower elementary, I might find resources like this site useful.

These Test Questions Show How Math Has Totally Changed Since You Were In School

http://www.businessinsider.com/common-core-math-test-questions-2014-7

I made the mistake of trying to add an intelligent comment to an article that didn't seem to have enough of them. It didn't help. The one reply I got to my comment kinda got under my skin a little, which is exactly what I'm sure the troll who left it was looking for.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=3470

I must admit that I occasionally find myself in meetings that start to head this direction, although rather than technicalities later it's been trips to the deep weeds of potential design choices.

A Lesson In How Teachers Became 'Resented And Idealized'

http://www.npr.org/2014/09/02/345104706/a-lesson-in-how-teachers-became-resented-and-idealized

Dana Goldstein's book "The Teacher Wars" is out and she got an opportunity to discuss teaching's past and present on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hippocampal-neocortical functional reorganization underlies children's cognitive development

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n9/abs/nn.3788.html

I saw a blog post making claims that a new study from Stanford proved that "Common Core is Bad for the Brain." That sent my crazy detector into the red zone, so I decided to check out the research for myself. As I expected, there's absolutely nothing in the research article about Common Core. There really isn't anything in there about teaching strategies. It takes as a given that children's problem solving strategies become more efficient over time, and it questions which part of the brain might be most involved. By using a fMRI machine to scan children's brains over time, they found that "the transition from use of counting to memory-based retrieval parallels increased hippocampal and decreased prefrontal-parietal engagement during arithmetic problem solving." This is *not* a study about teaching methods or curriculum or standards -- it's a neuroscience study to identify a part of the brain that takes on work as we increase our ability to do things from memory. As for the standards, I don't see anything in the CCSS that contradicts the research. In Grade 1 it supports students' addition and subtraction strategies that aren't yet memory-based through the use of models, objects, drawings, etc. and by Grade 2 it asks for fluency and knowing addition facts from memory. Thanks to some folks at Stanford, now we know that transition involves less prefrontal-parietal engagement and more hippocampal engagement. (And it's at this point where neuroscience frequently hits its limits when it comes to informing us about teaching!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/tips-providing-students-meaningful-feedback-marianne-stenger

In this Edutopia article about the importance of feedback there's an insightful comment left by Dylan Wiliam: <blockquote>Most of the research on feedback is a complete waste of time as far as school teachers are concerned. The studies that dominate the research literature are conducted by psychology professors on their own undergraduates in laboratory sessions that rarely last beyond three hours, in which students are given feedback, not told why they are being given feedback, don't get time to use the feedback, and are tested again. In their magisterial review of every single feedback study conducted between 1905 and 1995, Kluger and DeNisi (1996) pointed out that the only important thing about feedback is what it does to the recipient. Specific feedback can be helpful, but the danger is that it just tells the student what to fix without telling them why they need to fix it. It improves the work, but not the student's thinking. The article claims that the research shows that feedback should be given as quickly as possible, but Val Shute's review of the research literature, which appeared in the same journal as the Hattie and Timperley review, found that immediate feedback was better for lower-order thinking, but delayed feedback was more effective for higher-order thinking. Feedback that comes too quickly scaffolds the learning too tightly, so that, again, students do not have to think for themselves. Ultimately, the only thing that really matters in feedback is the relationship between the student and the teacher. Every teacher knows that the same feedback given to one student will make that student try harder, and to a similar student, can make the other student give up. When teachers know their students, they know when to push, and when to back off. And students have to trust their teachers. If students don't believe their teachers know what they are talking about, or don't believe they have their best interests at hear, they will not invest the time needed to take the feedback on board (rule one of feedback: feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor). Ultimately, when your students trust you and you know your students, you can ignore all the rules of feedback. And without that relationship, all the research in the world won't matter...</blockquote>

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Euclid: The Game

http://euclidthegame.com/Tutorial/

I really liked doing constructions in geometry and spent a lot of time with a compass and a straightedge. It's not something that really comes naturally to some students. This site presents Euclid's Elements as a series of construction tasks, all created with GeoGebra.

Objections to the Common Core Standards

https://storify.com/tchmathculture/objections-to-the-common-core-standards

Ilana Horn crowdsourced a list of the kinds of objections people are making against the Common Core.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Inquiry

http://websofsubstance.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/inquiry/

This post about inquiry learning reminds me of how much we tend to dichotomize issues, pick teams, and then make a caricature out of the other side. Sometimes we forget our manners when we do this, which, thankfully, Webb does not really do here. Still, I get puzzled by what some people think of as "inquiry" or "discovery learning." My critique (which seems to be shared by many, including Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2007) of the Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) paper is that to them "minimal guidance" really is minimal, assuming that teachers play a passive role in instruction if they're not doing direct instruction. I certainly wouldn't advocate for minimal guidance, nor would I advocate for direct instruction like Kirschner et al. do. There's a middle ground that gets lost too often in our arguments, one that is supported by research. Webb does admit that he is only aware of one major study in favor of inquiry, a 2011 Educational Psychologist paper by Alfieri, Brooks, Aldrich, and Tenenbaum. I wasn't aware of that one, but in these cases I immediately think of the meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies by Furtak, Seidel, Iverson, and Briggs (2012). That study found greater learning gains for students in guided or structured inquiry approaches than for students in *either* traditional lessons or minimally guided learning. Furtak's findings support a previous meta-analysis by Schroeder, Scott, Tolson, Huang, and Lee (2007), which also found positives in inquiry-based approaches. Interestingly, the two meta-analyses do not rely on any of the same underlying studies, so when considering how much evidence this represents, it's important to not think of the Furtak et al. and Schroeder et al. work as just two studies, as together they summarize the findings of 98 smaller studies.

Trending Topic Research File: Common Core State Standards

http://www.aera.net/Newsroom/TrendingResearchTopics/TrendingTopicResearchFileCommonCoreStateStandards/tabid/15329/Default.aspx

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has provided a one-page list of the articles published in its journals related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These typically look at differences between the CCSS and prior standards, assumptions of the CCSS, and adoption processes.