top All In All, Kids Just Another Brick In the Data Wall
1) Based on teachers I know and have discussed this with (yes, yes, not a valid sample, blah blah blah...) I can't imagine that the 99% stat quoted is anywhere near accurate. Many teachers have problems with posting student data, especially in elementary school where I teach.
2) I can't think of one instance during my career where comparing "achievement levels" or anything like them have motivated the lower performing kids, the ones that the NCLP, RTTT, and other government programs say we are supposed to be helping by "analyzing and sharing data with kids". What I have seen happen over and over is jealousy and hatred formed for higher kids in the class, and the lowering of self-image and tendency to give up for the lower kids (not the ones scoring poorly because they are not really trying, but the ones who truly need help).
This practice is certainly the rage among administrators who don't actually have to deal with kids though.
top Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:
Count me as one...
top To Boldly Go Nowhere, For Now
I was fortunate enough to listen to an hour long debate about ten years ago between Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye on this subject at the National Science Teachers Association Conference. Tyson was on President G.W. Bush's manned spaceflight council and made the same basic argument you did, while Nye made an argument very similar to TFA - science now, humans later. At the end of the debate there was no clear "winner." I think most of the 300+ of us in attendance just walked away wishing that we put more money into both types of programs as they both have great value.
It always just comes down to money, and this is part of a much larger issue IMHO. Our government is not funding basic science at anywhere near the level they should. Everything is left to business, and as a result the vast majority of research being done is focused on immediate return (and profit), not on long-term gains.
top Google Releases Raspberry Pi Web Dev Teaching Tool
I'm a public school teacher. The crap Dells my district buys last maybe 4 years before something major dies in them, and the warrantee only lasts 3. Keyboards and monitors generally last much longer (not so for the mice they way they are used by my elementary school kids, but they are pretty cheap to replace). The result is I have lots of extra monitors and keyboards, so the Pi, a vga or dvi adaptor, and maybe a mouse come out to $60, plus the plastic for our 3d printer to print cases. This was part of the plan from the profs in England who designed the thing to get it in the hands of school kids.
As for the Google tools, I just downloaded them and will play with them this weekend to see if they might be useful for my engineering club to work with. From TFA they look promising. If any of you want to volunteer to teach my 4th and 5th graders assembler, let me know. I haven't messed with it since I had an Atari 800. My goal is to allow them to begin learning to control their technology instead of just being passive users of it, and hopefully set them up for deeper learning later. HTML, CSS, Python, and Arduino's IDE have all been useful tools for me to do this the last few years, and I'm hoping to ad RPi to the lineup.
top Disney Closes LucasArts
Or Rescue On Fractallas! An old favorite on my Atari 800xl.
about a year and a half ago
top Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact?
I think that it is more parents, school administrators, and teachers. Just today a fellow teacher who had her 5th graders using Scratch to program solutions to math problems as a programming exercise was visited by our principal. The principal walked around and observed, asking the kids questions like "How will this help you in the future?" because that is apparently one way to assess teachers now. She had no clue what the kids were doing, or how it may help them understand math, logic, problem solving, or that they may find they have a talent, like, or even passion for it. We sent her a link to code.org with the hope that Gates and Zuckerburg endorsing something not in our standard curriculum may hold more weight than two rebellious teachers.
If coding is going to be more than a small elective in some middle and high schools, politicians and the educational bureaucracy need to believe that there is some value in it. They are the target.
top Chicago Teachers Rip 'Big Money Interest Groups'
Here's some data from Florida to back up your point. You have to conclude that either a) most teachers who teach in lower-socioeconomic schools are bad, or b) standardized tests assess student socioeconomic status better than teacher quality. I've worked in several Title 1 schools and from my experiences, teachers there work hard, put in more time, and work smarter than teachers at upper socioeconomic schools just because they have to.
I know that the politicians and testing and charter companies have done everything they can over the last few decades to convince you otherwise, but nothing pisses most teachers off more than when one of their students isn't learning and we do everything possible to help them.
top How Do You Explain Software Development To 2nd Graders?
I'm an elementary school teacher, and we have 2nd graders using Scratch at my school with great success. Having them create interactive multimedia may be a better way for you to start - create some characters, program them to do or say things in sequence and interact when they touch each other. Be sure to check out the in-program help section and print out the "Scratch Cards" as an easy way to get kids started. Also, check out
http://scratched.media.mit.edu/ for lesson plans and ideas from teachers around the world.
Another idea - I just downloaded and started reading some documents on "CT" - Computational Thinking from ISTE and CSTA (
http://www.iste.org/learn/computational-thinking.aspx - free registration required to download). Haven't read it all or used it with kids yet, but it looks interesting. There are suggested activities that don't involve computers, similar to a few mentioned in previous posts to get kids to think about processes, algorithms, etc... including stuff for younger kids.
top Homemade 'Mars In a Bottle' Tortures Bacteria
Kim Stanley Robinson wrote about "Mars Bottles" in his Mars Trilogy 20 years ago. I'm glad someone is finally trying it!
top Ask Slashdot: Online Science For 8th Grade Students?
I'm not a grad student at the Media Lab, and I'll second everything the poster above said. I've been using Scratch with 5th grade students for physics and even some simple ecosystem simulations (all student created) for about 4 years now. The programming language is simple enough to get out of the kids' way and let them create what they want. Whatever you are teaching - if the kids truly understand it they can show you by creating a sim for it, and if they don't understand it they have to figure it out in the process.
top Ask Slashdot: Online Science For 8th Grade Students?
Gizmos are great, but pretty expensive... figure out when you are going to use them and start the 30 day trial right before you need it!
top Obama Says Offshoring Fears Are Unwarranted
I have a friend who just flew to India for a month to clean up an outsourcing mess for his company. Months behind schedule, 1/2 million over budget... from what he told me folks there had been promoted way above their ability level resulting in really substandard management and unsurprising results.
top Union Boycotts LA Times Over Teacher Evaluation Disclosure
I obviously don't know all the details of these two classrooms, and the data appears to show a real difference in the teaching abilities between these two teachers. However, let me throw out a few real scenarios that could provide other explanations...
If Teacher A's students get lower test scores and Teacher B's students get higher...
1) Teacher A specializes in working with lower level and learning disabled kids. He gets good results, although his students regularly don't make whatever the state deems "annual yearly progress" with his LD kids, so his results seem lower.
2) Teacher B is friends with the principal and is regularly assigned students who are already high performers. What, your boss never shows favoritism in your workplace?
3) Teacher A sees the standardized tests for the jokes they are, and concentrates on higher level skills that aren't measured well these tests - (processing, analysis, creativity, teamwork) all the while teaching the required reading, math, and science. Teacher B drills his students with the test prep books, the kids do ok on the tests, then forget everything. Teacher B's students do well as they continue on in middle school and high school because they have learned how to think, not just regurgitate. Teacher B's kids become part of the majority of High School students who can't really think, and whose scores and performance continually drop. Which class would you really like your child to be in?
Yes, I'm an elementary school teacher and no, I'm not just whining. Standardized tests are one measurement, but not the only or best one... just the cheapest and the easiest for politicians and lazy reporters to spout about. In evaluating teachers they should be considered by school administrators as one metric. The problem with what the LA Times has done is that while they say that there are other metrics for evaluating they present none.
top 400 Years Ago, Galileo Discovered Four Jovian Moons
I just don't see why there is anymore reason to celebrate it tonight than there is to celebrate it in June...
I guess because Jupiter won't be up until 3am in June?
top Stacking of New Space Vehicle Begins At KSC
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the lower part of the rocket!
top Stacking of New Space Vehicle Begins At KSC
Not live but recent images here:
top Why Is It So Difficult To Fire Bad Teachers?
Ok, I know that I am biased (I currently teach 5th grade) but that has to be the lamest argument against raising teacher pay that I have ever heard. Our profession is quite a long way away from hitting a pay scale that keeps people in it just for the money. My fellow teachers and I work long, hard hours, and have to take extra jobs both during the summer and after teaching, grading, and planning all day during the school year. I'm glad you love teaching - I do too - but it is my Profession, I am highly trained and good at it, and I should be paid well for doing it well just like someone in any other profession.
top March 14th Officially Becomes National Pi Day
On a saturday!?
Someone didn't think this through...
It wasn't that hard to engage my 5th grade students with deriving pi yesterday - pi day eve - instead. Please find something reasonable to complain about!
top Gaming Netflix Ratings?
I teach 5th grade, and many of my students have read and enjoyed these books. I'll bet most of the reviews are kids who liked the books, and don't really think or care yet about whether the book does justice to the movie, if the movie is any good, if Slashdotters think that their rating is fair. They're ten... and they know how to use a mouse.
And really, do you take any kind of online polling seriously?
top Favorite Made-up Swear Word?
How about "blerg"?
krswan has no journal entries.