Meet self-made millionaire ... teacher?

CNN features a Georgia elementary teacher who has made over a million dollars on Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace where teachers can put up their creations for sale. TPT has caused a stir lately amongst math teachers on Twitter, as those who've enjoyed the free sharing of ideas are resisting the more entrepreneurial perspectives shared by TPT users. Not surprisingly, I tend to side with the "free sharing" camp, but I think there's a larger story playing out: if researchers and curriculum experts want to keep their high-quality curriculum materials in teachers' classrooms, they'll need to rethink and adapt their marketing strategies.

YouTube Blog: Finding the next generation of talented video educators with YouTube Next EDU Guru

YouTube is teaming up with Khan Academy to foster the growth of educational videos. While I like that this may draw some expertise into this space, the contest rules essentially guarantee that the videos you create have to be monitized -- meaning that you'll have to let YouTube put ads on your content. Thanks but no thanks.

Schools Matter: In Search of An Accountable Education Editor at the New York Times

While I find NYT's education reporting to be worth reading, a few of their editorials have left me puzzled. Jim Horn at Schools Matter puts a bunch of those puzzle pieces together and claims that Brent Staples, the education editorialist at the times, is far too willing to ignore the facts and push for unsound educational reforms.

Stale Ph.D.'s Need Not Apply - Graduate Students - The Chronicle of Higher Education

A few years ago I talked to a person with a Ph.D. in math education who, despite working at a university teaching methods courses to preservice math teachers, assumed that after 3-4 years of being away from research he was no longer marketable for a tenure-track position at a research university. That's troubling. People like that might be a little behind on the cutting edge of the research, but that kind of catching up might be easy compared to the value gained from teaching several years of methods courses or having other relevant experiences.

Segregation Prominent in Schools, Study Finds -

I think most Americans would be shocked to learn that the segregation found in some of our schools, particularly in our northern cities, is worse than it was before the Brown v. Board ruling in 1954. Jonathan Kozol was probably write to use "The Shame of the Nation" as a title for a book about this, and unfortunately, due to factors including more recent Supreme Court rulings, political climate, high urban poverty rates, etc., I don't see the problem getting better any time soon.

KOLD Curriculum: Killing the Darlings in Math « A Best-Case Scenario

I wish I were in more conversations with teachers about adapting to the Common Core, because so far I feel like the focus on what's been added to each grade level, and not enough focus has been on what's being removed. If the CCSSM is going to bring focus to the curriculum, we're need to empower teachers to let go of some topics.

The Coursera Gift Horse? » Educational Insanity

I like the pragmatic view in this post and share many of these sentiments. I don't care for the overselling of MOOCs ("Hey kid, turn down that scholarship and tear up that college application. Just take MOOCs for free!"), but I think we'll see them help individuals in interesting ways before we see a lot of systemic impacts. For example, how much value to a GED could be added with a few MOOC completion certificates? It might mean a second chance at college acceptance instead of settling for a "Good Enough Diploma." Even if MOOCs don't replace degrees anytime soon, might they start nibbling at the edges of college certificate programs? Or continuing education?

In Colleges' Rush to Try MOOC's, Faculty Are Not Always in the Conversation - Technology - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Last weekend on This Week in Tech (at the panel talked about more universities joining in the effort to create MOOCs, and their enthusiasm was, I felt, carelessly unbounded. People who seem to have concluded that MOOCs can already substitute for a more traditional college education might not be seeing things through. For an individual looking to learn a particular topic, MOOCs can be great. As a system, however, they have a way to go. Completion rates for many MOOCs are around 10% and it's unclear to me if that completion certificate carries the same kind of weight as a course on a college transcript. It's going to take a few years to see how MOOCs evolve, and I think the dose of skepticism from faculty such as those in this article will help balance out the enthusiasm. I don't want to see the MOOC concept go away, but I certainly welcome its steady evolution.

Teacher licensing emerging as key issue | EdNewsColorado

People like Bob Schaffer are right to ask, "Why do we have to have licensure in the first place?" but I'm almost 100% sure we'd come up with different answers. Even if I tried to share most of his free market ideals, I'd recognize that even in a free market parents choose schools, not teachers. In fact, once a student is in a school, the teachers they have should be assigned more or less at random if there's any hope for a value-added/growth model to work, and such models are usually key in the free market education strategy.

Stuyvesant Students Describe Rationale for Cheating -

As cheating becomes more widespread, more blame for the cheating has to be shared by systemic and cultural factors. That doesn't excuse the cheating, but it does mean if you want to fix it you have to look beyond simply punishing or controlling the cheaters. How do you reform a system so cheating serves little purpose and has little value? Is it a matter of replacing competition with collaboration? If you were able to make that replacement, would Steuyvesant and schools like it still attract the same students and produce students with similar outcomes, or would all that change?

Thousands of Virginia students aren’t required to get an education - The Washington Post

Heeeeyyyy, Kids! Do you hate school? Well, have I got a deal for you: Move to Virginia and get used to saying the phrase, "religious freedom" like you mean it!

Batting Averages Puzzler » A Recursive Process

Authentic Inquiry Maths: Show me 31/100

I like that Bruce Ferrington gives students some freedom to develop their own models. Not only is this good for students, but it reminds us teachers that the way we model mathematics might not be a natural starting point for students. We need to approach our curriculum recognizing that students need help moving from less formal, less organized ways of using to models towards more organized models and eventually formal mathematics. (In RME-speak, "progressive formalization.")

What Is Your Financial IQ? -

I know there's a pile of things we want students to learn, but I often wonder why financial literacy isn't closer to the top of that pile. The WSJ says a survey revealed that only about half of Americans know mutual funds usually provide a safer return than a single stock, while 40% said they didn't know which was safer. Stories like this make me miss teaching business math, a class I didn't think I'd enjoy until I tried it.

“Sample” curriculum raises a few hackles | EdNewsColorado

It's telling when the title of an article says, "curriculum raises a few hackles" while the URL says "curriculum project draws praise." Both are true. Colorado school districts -- particularly rural ones -- are facing the overwhelming task of revamping their curriculum in light of the Common Core State Standards. Districts who want to work together are looking to the state to coordinate the effort, which sounds like a good idea to some (usually democrats) but smacks of "loss of local control" to others (usually republicans). Even if CDE wants to help it's unclear where they'll find the resources, and if they don't help it might be equally unclear where qualified and affordable "budding curriculum entrepreneurs" (to use Bob Schaffer's words) can be found.

The Chicago Strike and the History of American Teachers' Unions - Dana Goldstein

Some people say that public sector unions have outlived their purpose. As Dana Goldstein points out in this post (which she will expand on in an upcoming book), the modern teachers' union movement started in Chicago in 1897 as a response to inequity and unfairness. How does an institution outlive its purpose when its purpose is equity and fairness? Or have ideological forces changed the public's view of fairness? If that's the case, how important are the traditions of the labor movement, and what does that mean for society?

Teacher accountability and the Chicago teachers strike | Economic Policy Institute

Richard Rothstein, as he often does, makes important point after important point in this article. I was fortunate to be part of a large discussion in the School of Education earlier this week, and Lorrie Shepard said some smart things (she tends to do that a lot) about "weighing" versus "weighting." We know traditional forms of teacher evaluation haven't always identified underperforming teachers, and we have to own up to the fact that's a big reason we're seeing policy battles like we see in Chicago. But instead of "weighting" information from student test scores -- meaning make them some percentage of a formula that spits out teacher quality scores -- Shepard says we shouldn't give up "weighing," meaning to accept a variety of evidence that shapes an overall picture of teacher quality that can be judged by trained and qualified administrators.

Colorado School of Mines has big numbers, big brains - The Denver Post

I'm sure there are many things the Colorado School of Mines has to worry about, but when students come in with average ACT scores of 30 and SAT scores of 1300, creating an honors program probably isn't one of them.

Career and Technical Education, a Key to Good Jobs, Needs Help, Report Says - Students - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Our greatest untapped reservoir of student potential might best be accessed when we recognize and appreciate the diverse and forward-looking possibilities in career and technical education. We're way past the days of wood shop and typing classes, and many technical skills schools can offer will be needed by the college-bound, not just those looking to jump from school to work.

The importance of basic academic skills … and much, much more | Dangerously Irrelevant

Scott McLeod shares interesting survey results showing the diverse set of goals Americans expect from their public schools. Above all else, my vision for public schools is that of supporting a democracy, and the subplots of that mission tend to address various citizenship, social, and economic purposes. Basic skills are part of that, but I wouldn't have ranked them most important.

Chicago Teachers’ Union Votes to End Strike -

Officially the strike has been suspended, not ended, because negotiations are ongoing and a contract has yet to be ratified. I supported Chicago teachers' in this action, but it reminds me that two of the major issues affecting teachers -- professional trust and student poverty -- are often too big to be encompassed within the confines of a contract negotiation.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

It's easy to find this comic funny when, like me, you're annoyed by unlabeled axes and you have a predilection for writing unusual comments on student work.

Possible Breakthrough in Math’s ABC Conjecture -

If there's one big idea that I'd like math teachers to take away from this article, it's the reminder that our language of mathematics -- all those symbols and structures -- have been socially constructed. As such, they aren't perfect and sometimes they don't convey ideas and relationships as well as we'd like them to. When pushed to the extreme, as in Dr. Mochizuki's effort to prove the abc conjecture, sometimes new mathematical languages get invented, and they are just as puzzling to experts in the field as the language we take for granted is to students when they encounter it for the first time.

The Schoolmaster - Dana Goldstein - The Atlantic

Dana Goldstein's long-read on David Coleman provides a lot of insight behind the Common Core State Standards and the traditional, liberal arts-for-all philosophies that drive them.

Voices: Social justice in teacher evals crosses line | EdNewsColorado

This Denver teacher says "social justice" is a loaded term with political implications that "go beyond a teacher's role."

Crowdsourcing Classrooms: Should Teachers Sell Their Lesson Plans? | TIME Ideas |

I spend a lot of my time thinking about new ways to increase teacher collaboration and how to facilitate the sharing of resources. It's great that technology is helping this happen, and I like to poke around on blogs and lesson-sharing sites to see what's there. But with all apologies to their creators, a lot of what I see doesn't strike me as very good, and I worry that there are so few quality controls in place or feedback cycles that help creators revise their materials. For all we know from research about quality tasks and curriculum, we seem to know relatively little about how, on a large scale, to give teachers the knowledge and resources they need to select and create first-rate materials for their classrooms.

If We Actually Taught Math… | ThinkThankThunk

Shawn Cornally is frustrated that much of the math we teach has no clear end goal other than to prepare students for the math they might study at a higher level of education. I love TJ Hitchman's question in the comments, essentially saying, "I'm higher ed and I'm open to students learning other math. How do I change the signal we send?"

danah boyd | apophenia » open-access is the future: boycott locked-down academic journals

I think I've heard all the arguments danah boyd makes in this post, but it's powerful to see them come together from a scholar who knows the game, has something to lose, but more to win.

Here's the deal on the deal (updated)

Here's NCTQ's take on the deal that ended (or suspended, to use the union's term) the strike in Chicago. Today I happened to be sitting next to Gene Glass and mentioned the longer school year. Apparently that was something he researched some time ago and really did not find much if any association between lengthening the school year and increased learning, although we both agreed it would be nice if things were indeed that simple.

AERA President's Corner

I've viewed AERA with skepticism primarly because (selfishly) I'd never heard of them in my 6 years of teaching. How does the nation's largest organization dedicated to understanding and improving education become unknown to teachers? There's no single reason, but publishing practices are part of the answer. I like that the current AERA president, Bill Tierney, seems to understand this. Maybe he doesn't have a lot of plans or answers, but he knows that AERA must adapt its publishing practices or perhaps face the same kinds of problems facing the newspaper industry. Here are the six challenges Tierney outlines:

What does this mean for AERA? I see six key challenges ahead of us:

1) We need to rethink our publishing outlets and communications schemes.
2) We need to reimagine the Annual Meeting to provide the highest quality presentations in the most advanced communicative formats.
3) We need to make membership attractive to more individuals and groups who can contribute their inspiration and insight. Non-tenure-track faculty are a primary example.
4) We need to broaden our financial base and become less dependent on membership dues and conference registration.
5) We need to consider offering MOOCs (massive online open courses), online training modules, digital badges, and other options for professional development and research training that will appeal to our membership and to education audiences worldwide.
6) We need to broaden and improve our outreach to multiple constituencies.

I don't get the sense that AERA can transform their practices quickly, but hopefully this gets people thinking about taking some decisive steps.

Thousands Gather in Support of Chicago Teachers -

I hope both sides in Chicago do come to an agreement today. I've read in numerous places that what the teachers really wanted is to be treated as first-class professionals. I don't know if any contractual detail can accomplish that, but the support they were given in yesterday's rally surely helps.

Training Teachers to Embrace Reform -

I appreciate that this post recognizes that frustrations with teachers unions doesn't simply have to require the dismantling of unions. Instead, it (briefly) looks at how unions are working in successful systems and suggests ways we might transform our own system.

Assessment vs. task | Learning is life.

Russ Goerend's "Assessment vs. Task" post fit so well with my co-facilitation of my assessment class last week that I had students read the post and then we invited Russ in via hangout. I think Russ hit on the same thing we were finding as a weakness with the "assessment triangle" from "Knowing What Students Know": every assessment should be approached with an explicit question of "What will this do to help the learning of the student?"

Math Techniques and Strategies: EdStartUp Idea 2.0

Trever Reeh is on the right track, but so are a lot of other people and not enough of those tracks are merging. I'm still thinking about starting a wiki for housing research briefs, but I hesitate to do so until I feel like I've really worked out a model that encourages collaboration and sustains participation.

NCTM brief: Local Educator adopts clever method which allows kids to do math without understanding | mathlovergrowsup

Maybe I just don't like having fun, but I'm always skeptical of classroom songs and games. Most seem to just be "cute" ways of memorizing bits and pieces of content, not engaging contexts to be mathematized.

f(t): Online Population Projection

John Golden links to a cool post by Kate Nowak. Now, if only Facebook would release enough data for us to compare the growth of fake accounts versus real accounts...

The school that swapped its laptops for iPads… and wants to switch back | PC Pro blog

I'd guess a lot of schools are in this situation. They bought iPads because they wanted to be part of the next revolution, then later realized that it broke some of their workflows, particularly with office documents and file management. Some of that is just part of the learning process, but some of it is just amounts to having the wrong tool for the job.

Immersion - YouTube

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I spent almost the entirety of my 6 years teaching math in low-income, rural Colorado school districts without having students who didn't speak English fluently. (I've come to wonder if there wasn't something Latino immigrants found unwelcoming about the communities I lived in that I never recognized.) This great 12-minute film is way to imagine the difficulty of being an English language learner in an English immersion classroom and leaves me wondering what I'd do if I were Moises's teacher.

What Its Really About « X Y Pi

A post from a math teacher on strike in Chicago, driving home the point that it's not about money or other specific contractual details. It's about having teaching treated like a first-class profession.

Highlands Ranch Herald: News

As the unrest in Douglas County schools has increased, so has the time the DCSD school board has spent behind closed doors -- five times as much so far in 2012 as compared to all of 2008.

Secrets of the Schools That Create Math Geniuses | TIME Ideas |

I haven't read the paper, but using data from the American Mathematics Competition is, if nothing else, an interesting choice of a data set on which to judge schools. The number of students in each school who take the AMC might be relatively small, but also relatively important when judging certain aspects of the culture of the school.

Physics Buzz: Can iPads Make a Difference in Physics Education?

It's great to see my colleague +Ben Van Dusen make progress with his research, partially because it means more opportunities for me to chide him for turning Apple fanboyism into a PhD. Of course my teasing and criticism is only in jest, except not really. Or not. Seriously, if you're considering tech for your school, don't just fall for the marketing and make sure whatever tech you buy is accompanied by a plan for using it and resources to help teachers make the most of it. (And if using it requires having an iTunes account, then think about buying something else.)

What's At Stake for Chicago Public Educators? - Gapers Block Mechanics | Chicago

Chicago's teachers are on strike. Having been a teacher who's talked to other teachers about taking this kind of action, I know it's not a decision that's reached lightly. On the one hand, it's a very powerful way to defend yourself and your profession, but it comes with great risk, especially in these times when public support for teacher unions seems so low. This post describes the feeling from a Chicago teacher's point of view.

State Board now can wade back into eighth grade math debate | EdSource Today

California looks to be backing away from it's 8th grade algebra-for-all and let some 8th graders take prealgebra. However, if they fully embrace the Common Core at 8th grade, I think those students will still see a lot of content people are used to seeing in Algebra 1. Regardless, I doubt many policymakers really understand the differences in which content gets taught when.

Motivated History of Mathematics - Circles and Tangents

Theron Hitchman shares his thoughts about teaching a course about the history of mathematics. I took that course (the "to the calculus" version, not the "from the calculus" one) as a UNI undergrad and remember the experience well. (Although I've surely forgotten most of the proofs.) In my comment, I discuss the possibility of designing a history of math class to specifically support Freudenthal's principle of "guided reinvention."

NY teachers unions on Labor Day 2012—Editorial -

An ugly Labor Day editorial from the NY Post that seems to argue (even now in the era of Citizens United) that teacher unions should not be able to donate to campaigns, and spreads the false beliefs that teachers enjoy "ironclad job protections" even when they're found to be sexually abusing children.

Ask a Researcher: Advice for New PhD Students - EdTech Researcher - Education Week

Although I thought it was depressing when I first read it, this is probably good advice for those who want a job in academia: "You need to decide early on if you want to keep an academic option open. If you do, you need to devote yourself more or less entirely to academic publishing." Let me add this: If you're dissatisfied with the state of academic publishing, getting into academia might be a key step in helping change it.

26 Amazing Facts About Finland's Unorthodox Education System - Business Insider

I'm pretty sure some of these facts have been oversimplified or perhaps even misrepresented, but the point that Finland's education system operates on a different set of values than our own is pretty clear.

Students of Harvard Cheating Scandal Say Group Work Was Accepted -

This accusation of widespread cheating at Harvard is a bit of a mess and is sounding more like an understanding than a blatant abuse of the rules. Yes, students might have gone beyond mere collaboration and cut some corners. But it also sounds like they got mixed messages from the professor and teaching fellows. At the end I hope leaders at Harvard focus on what is probably most important: Did each one of those students learn the material?