Archive for the 'Sciences' Category

January
23rd 2014
“All Aboard” with Blended Learning and My Future “Learning Engineer” Career

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Sciences & Teachers

When was the last time you asked a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and got the answer: “A Learning Engineer!” If you’re being honest, you likely would say it’s never happened. But maybe that all will begin to change soon. Rick Hess and Bror Saxberg give life to the concept in a new book that’s excerpted as “Education Rebooted” at Education Next:

When it comes to realizing the promise of digital technology, educators need to start approaching classroom challenges as learning engineers. While such a label may sound unfamiliar at first, stick with us for a moment. The fact is that learning engineering is what tech-savvy education leaders—and more than a few who aren’t so tech-savvy—already do every day (whether they know it or not). These educators ask what problems need to be solved for students, turn to research to identify solutions, and devise smarter, better ways to promote terrific teaching and learning. What is education technology’s role in all of this? Learning engineers see this technology as a tool, not a solution.

At times I’ve thought about becoming a railroad engineer (I kind of like the tall, striped hats!). A lot better than a chemical engineer, which I have to confess sounds hard and boring. Since I rarely act rude, maybe a civil engineer would be appropriate. But no: for now, I’ll set my sights on becoming a learning engineer. Continue Reading »

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January
17th 2014
Jeffco Middle School STEM Discussion Makes Me Scratch My Head

Posted under Education Politics & math & Middle School & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Sciences & Suburban Schools

Last night little Eddie was able to drop in on a school board meeting for what was until recently the largest school district in Colorado. That’s right. The Jeffco Board of Education took the show out into the community, coming to the people and giving residents a chance to sign up online to make public comments. (Apparently, this is all a new thing.)

So it was kind of funny to hear a couple of the commenters complain that the school board wasn’t being transparent enough because they increased transparency. I may be pretty smart, but some things are hard for me to get.

Part of the reason for the big crowd at the Arvada High School auditorium was a debate about adding sixth grade to Deer Creek Middle School as part of an expanded STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program. Now I don’t necessarily have an opinion on this course of action, but the way it’s been handled sends up red warning flags. Continue Reading »

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December
3rd 2013
Bad News for U.S. School Performance; How to Fix “Leaning Tower of PISA”?

Posted under Foreign Countries & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & math & reading & Research & Sciences

Today is PISA Day, and I’m not referring to pepperoni pies or unusual Italian landmarks. The 2012 results from the Program for International Student Assessment are in, and it doesn’t look pretty for the good old USA. At least not on the surface.

First, let’s take a quick trip back to September, when I brought your attention to the unsettling book Endangering Prosperity and pointed out that America needs to take a different path to improve unimpressive math test scores. That was when our nation’s 15-year-olds scored a sub-par 487 on the PISA: Continue Reading »

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September
20th 2013
Research Shows At Least Some Kinds of Field Trips Really Do Benefit Students

Posted under Arts & Just For Fun & learning & Research & Rural Schools & Sciences

I’ve been delinquent from blogging so much lately, you may think little Eddie just has been on a long field trip. Well, before you get too critical, you might want to consider the great advantages this could have for me. The results of a first-of-its-kind study, outlined by Dr. Jay Greene for Education Next, are worth a closer look:

Today, culturally enriching field trips are in decline. Museums across the country report a steep drop in school tours. For example, the Field Museum in Chicago at one time welcomed more than 300,000 students every year. Recently the number is below 200,000. Between 2002 and 2007, Cincinnati arts organizations saw a 30 percent decrease in student attendance. A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11.

Continue Reading »

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December
12th 2012
Are Colo. School Districts Really Doing Better on New Global Report Card?

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & learning & math & PPC & Research & Sciences

When confronted with the question of how well our schools are doing, too often we lack the full context needed to compare and understand what knowledge and skills students are acquiring to be strong citizens, competent workers, and trailblazing entrepreneurs for the next generation. Last year I told you about the Global Report Card, which found an effective way to compare the performance of school districts across America with national and international benchmarks.

This week the George W. Bush Institute launched GRC version 2.0 with fresh data from 2009. Taking a look at the data, Atlantic senior editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz asks “How Does Your Child’s School Rank Against the Rest of the World?” She examines a couple districts as an example to frame the question: Continue Reading »

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November
1st 2012
Don’t Ask to “Show Me” Why K-12 Education Needs Differential Teacher Pay

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & math & PPC & Research & School Board & Sciences & Teachers

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably are well aware of the numerous flaws in the way our K-12 education system pays teachers. Most of the flaws emanate from the single salary schedule, which the vast majority of school districts use. Pay is differentiated almost exclusively by seniority and academic credentials, factors that have very little or no impact on meeting student learning needs.

Why can’t we differentiate pay based on instructional specialty, how hard it is to find someone qualified to teach in a particular area? A new report by James Shuls of the Show-Me Institute sheds some interesting light on the need for that commonsense approach. Missouri has far more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs available than non-STEM jobs, so shouldn’t there be a premium for people who are qualified in those areas? Continue Reading »

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October
26th 2012
Colorado Initiative’s Early Success Raises the Math and Science Bar (Gulp)

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & math & PPC & Sciences & Teachers

I occasionally get accused of being some kind of verbal prodigy. Less often do I get asked about my math and science skills. And frankly, it’s fine with me not to go there. But I get the scope of the problem associated with not enough students qualified and ready for careers in science, math and engineering. And so does the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which I told you about last December.

The difference is NMSI is doing something about it — something remarkable and effective, something that has begun taking off in Colorado, as their new 4-minute video shares: Continue Reading »

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September
4th 2012
Colorado Springs Early Colleges Student’s Heroic Actions Worth Bragging About

Posted under Journalism & PPC & Public Charter Schools & Sciences & State Legislature & Urban Schools

Not everything in the world of Colorado K-12 education is a serious statement about policy. Sometimes the more compelling story comes in the heat of a dramatic moment, when more is at stake than grades on a test. The Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Matt Steiner reports on a high school freshman who, when confronted with a potentially life-threatening situation, (literally) charged forward and took the wheel:

[Jeremy] Rice, 14, remembered noticing the bus driver reach down for a garbage pail that had been knocked over by a student. While the bus was in motion, the driver attempted to right himself in his seat and make sure his safety belt was secure. Then, the driver tumbled to the right and down into the bus’s stairwell, Rice said.

From eight rows back, Jeremy raced into action. With some instruction from the bus driver, he was able to steer the large vehicle, and the students on board, to safety. Continue Reading »

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July
26th 2012
Harvard Study Puts Three States on Medal Stand for Boosting K-12 Achievement

Posted under Grades and Standards & International & learning & math & PPC & Public Charter Schools & reading & Research & Sciences

The latest edition of the Olympic Games is almost here (who else do you know who gets to live through two different Summer Olympics at age 5?), so what better time to hand out some figurative medals to states for K-12 student learning success? A new Harvard study by Eric Hanushek, Paul Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann sheds some helpful light on trends in Achievement Growth among nations and states.

The authors examine gold-standard test results of 4th and 8th graders to see where the United States’ progress from 1995 to 2009 ranks among 49 nations and how 41 individual U.S. states with enough data stack up against each other from 1992 to 2011. The good news? American students cumulatively picked up nearly a year’s worth of additional skills learned in math, science and reading, with stronger gains at the earlier grade level. The not-so-good news is we’re stuck in the middle of the pack:

Students in three countries–Latvia, Chile, and Brazil–improved at an annual rate of 4 percent of a std. dev., and students in another eight countries–Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia, and Lithuania–were making gains at twice the rate of students in the United States. By the previous rule of thumb, gains made by students in these 11 countries are estimated to be at least two years’ worth of learning. Another 13 countries also appeared to be doing better than the U.S.

I guess you could sum up American educational progress over the past 15 years with the word so-so. But the more fascinating part of the report to me is the comparison of 41 states who have participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) since it started in 1992. The authors of the Harvard report seized the Olympic spirit and handed out “medals” to the three states that have shown the biggest learning gains over the past two decades. And they are: Continue Reading »

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December
13th 2011
Effective Math and Science Program Making Big Leap in Colorado High Schools

Posted under Denver & High School & learning & math & Middle School & PPC & Sciences & Teachers

Raise your hand if you agree with me that the USA — and Colorado in particular — can do a better job preparing enough students for success in the areas science, math and technology. Don’t worry about feeling self-conscious if you are in a room with other people. If you can’t overcome it, at least mentally raise your hand. That’s right. If you agree with me, and I don’t see how you couldn’t, then you should be excited by some news I have to share.

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is a four-year-old program (younger than me!) that has demonstrated successful results in increasing the number of students who pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math and science, particularly among underprivileged students. The Colorado Legacy Foundation has reported similar positive results here in our state for the seven schools who participated in a less-than-fully-vamped version of the program in 2010-11.

The news? The effective math and science program is expanding dramatically in Colorado: Continue Reading »

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