Sunday, April 29, 2012

Your Voice On High-Stakes Testing Is Needed

You can make a difference in changing high-stakes testing. Read the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing and click on the individual button to sign.

Additional articles to support the resolution:

“I think if you talk to any parent, educator, student and now you have fiscal administrators speaking out all across the state, saying that we’ve gone way too far. We’re spending 45 days out of the school year preparing for benchmarks, drilling, and the whole thing, for the test,” resident Mike Corwin said during citizen’s communication. “I think there is a broad consensus that has come together to say we’ve overstepped on this issue.”

The authors conclude that there is no convincing evidence that the pressure
associated with high-stakes testing leads to any important benefits for students’
achievement.  They call for a moratorium on policies that force the public education
system to rely on high-stakes testing. 

In earlier posts, I have advocated banning high-stakes testing as a means of making significant decisions about student performance (achievement in a course, passing a course—end-of-year-tests, being promoted, and graduating from high school).  I suggested this because the research evidence does not support continuing the practice in American schools.

Do you have a comment on this testing mania our students are enduring?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mobile Learning

Lisa Johnson and Yolanda Barker (NEISD San Antonio Texas) visit with Kathy Burdick (Director of Development for Learning A-Z) about Mobile Learning. Kathy shares her passion for learning and how to connect with students. They also share valuable information on educational apps. I promise you this blogtalkradio session will get you excited about mobile learning and the use of apps in the classroom. Check out Kathy Burdick at Mobile iEducator and Lisa & Yolanda at Techchef4u

Listen to internet radio with Techchef4u on Blog Talk   Radio

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Value of Play

It seems education around the world has gone mad for testing and wanting kids to read earlier and earlier. Yes, a small percentage of four years are reading. I have a family member in that category but she is the exception not the rule. The age range for those beginning to read is very wide and getting wider. What’s the big rush! The best gift you can give a child is the gift of time and with this time hopefully comes some major time for play. Young children are learning through play! Play should not stop as children enter school. In fact, play time should be an essential part of the curriculum for children as they begin formal schooling. Play should continue through every young person’s school years. Hey, I would go so far as to say, play should also be an important part of our adult life. Now check out this video: Caine’s Arcade
I was reintroduced to the video with a blog post from Education Stormfront written by Andrew Barras. Here is the closing to his blog in titled “Caine’s Arcade – Teachers Should Watch This Video”: In this video Caine is learning the following skills: 1. Business 2. Marketing 3. Promotions 4. Math 5. Problem solving 6. Persistence 7. Creative thinking 8. Finances 9.
Things you can do with tape and cardboard. So the question you have to ask is how many of these skills will Caine learn in public school? Very few I bet. Even math will be learned in the abstract. I will wager that making this arcade will have more of an impact on his life than the 12 years he spends in a public school.

 What value do you see in play? Do you agree with the learning that Andrew Barras sees in Caine’s Arcade? Are you still playing and learning? At 73 years old I sure am!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Khan Academy

This guest post comes from Sean Gray. For those not familiar with the Khan Academy, Sean gives you a little history and a basic over view of the concept.

The Khan Academy and its methodology has become one of the hottest topics in the world of education. The reason it has become such a hot topic is because the Academy has “flipped” the traditional classroom and the way that lessons are presented to students. Traditionally, the teacher presented the material in a lecture format in the classroom and the students were assigned exercises that they were responsible for completing before the next day’s class. The Khan Academy, on the other hand, consists of lectures in video format that the students could watch on their own time and then go over the exercises with the teacher the next day in class.

The idea for the Khan Academy started simply enough. Sal Khan was tutoring his nephews long distance through phone calls. One day he got the idea to record the tutoring lesson and upload it to YouTube because he would not be able to connect with his nephews over the phone. The nephews enjoyed the lesson in this format so much that they asked him to continue recording the lessons rather than the phone calls. 

What Sal realized is that his nephews were able to use the videos whenever they needed. They could go back over the lessons as many times as they needed, including when they were doing their exercises. Their scores started to improve and word started to get around about the videos. The idea for these videos continued to grow until even Bill Gates of Microsoft fame invested in the Khan Academy.

The Khan Academy now boasts over 3000 videos on topics ranging from biology to physics. The videos themselves are simple enough, with hand-drawn explanations on a whiteboard with narration from the presenter. As the Khan Academy has grown, it has gained volunteers to present who are experts on these different topics. 
The Khan Academy itself is a non-profit organization with the simple goal of helping students achieve their academic goals. While even Sal Khan recognizes that the videos cannot replace a live instructor, the videos have proven to be a helpful resource for the students to use to help reinforce the teachings from their teacher's lectures. Some teachers have issues with the Khan Academy’s videos and its methodology. The technology is free and easy to use for those same teachers. They could take advantage and record their own lessons to help their students. \

What are your thoughts on the Khan Academy? You can leave a comment here or contact me, Sean Gray at