kitchen table math, the sequel: 9/21/08 - 9/28/08

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the natives are restless

A No Vendor Left Behind thread on eduwonk.

Have I mentioned lately that public education in the United States sucks up a half-trillion dollars a year?

And we've still got teachers buying their own supplies?

Why is that, do you think?


Sorry to be scarce - I've been distracted by Armageddon.

Also by my 25th wedding anniversary!

Is there a reason these two things have to coincide?

I think not.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clifford Stoll was right

In today’s online era, the concept of a classroom extends beyond a walled room with desks and chairs and into the realm of cyber space. Computer screens are replacing the blackboard and keypads are replacing chalk.

To provide learners with the best experience, many educators are opting for a blended approach: a traditional classroom with face-to-face interaction supplemented by online resources. One University of Missouri researcher has found that while this approach is currently not necessarily more effective, there is hope for developing an effective hybrid approach to learning.
her findings:
  • "Strickland discovered that there were few statistical differences between the effectiveness of a traditional course delivery method and a hybrid one."
  • "The student satisfaction evaluation also revealed that students in the hybrid classrooms are more frequently confused regarding course requirements."
  • "It also was noted that the students who completed the course in a traditional setting were more pleased with the course outcomes than the students who completed the blended course."
her conclusion:
“While there was slightly more confusion regarding hybrid classrooms, the results favor the continuing practice of blended learning environments as a viable option for course delivery in health care education...”

Effectiveness Of Traditional And Blended Learning Environments

Brace yourselves.

We the people are going to be buying a lot more of this stuff.

High Tech Heretic by Clifford Stoll


from Niki Hayes:

decline at the top part 2

You hear that up to 60% of kids learn to read using whole language [aka balanced literacy]. But I've always suspected that these children may have subtle deficits people miss

Today, confirmation arrived in the form of an email to the DI list written by a long-time teacher, reading consultant, and author who gave me permission to post (didn't ask whether I could use her name):

At least 30% of whole language taught readers will learn the code for themselves, but that doesn't always mean that they will always be fluent readers. I've been having discussions with young campaign workers in their mid to late 20's, almost all who have gone through whole language. These days I don't mince words anymore and am blunt, "Your generation was screwed." One English professor at OSU told me that she no longer can teach Dickens because the sentences are too long (i.e. readability level too high). If any group of college students were immersed in whole language, it's in Ohio where WL is still the order of the day.

They 20-year olds want to talk about their reading experiences and those who struggled always start by saying, "I'm not stupid, but........." Basically they fall into three camps.

1. the readers who broke the code for themselves or had parents who as they read to them did some sounding out things and don't understand what the big deal is because it's so easy to learn to read (unfortunately, this is the group of people that I suspect usually become gen ed literacy professors.)

2. the readers who started to fail early and whose parents of means got them early phonics tutoring. It's interesting that they still feel like failures in reading because they had to have this additional help. We can't forget that trauma starts young.

3. the readers who broke the code enough to be successful until they hit law school or medical school where the words were so "big." The kids I talk to made it through, but it was painful and remains so. THey talk about having to use rulers under the sentences and sounding out loud. When I remark that reading so slowly must have made it difficult to comprehend the text, they look at me as if I"m a sage. How did I know that? Everything took twice as long for them. These were the WL kids who needed the fluency and advanced word reading practice when they were younger.

4. The group that failed with WL didn't make it as far as these kids. They are already filling up the prisons in disproportionate amounts; they are working menial jobs; the brightest are entrepeneurs where they can hide their lack of reading.

Thus when you give that nonsense word test to whole language readers, those in group 1 and 2 will be able to do it, although there will usually be some errors for a few letter-sound combinations. Group 3 will do fine with the easier nonsense words and then start to slow down and make more errors as the multi-syllable ones are introduced. Group 4 bombs out.

I feel fairly confident that C. could have been in Group 3 without Megawords. He started Book 6 this weekend. 

I also think his years of Spanish instruction here have been a help (possibly a big help); I'm guessing the Latin he's required to take this year (and would have been able to take in our public school, too, fyi) will also be good for "big word reading."

I don't know any of these things but in this case I'm happy to act on a hunch.

help desk - info request for Project Lead the Way

I heard this week from a teacher-commenter on KTM who has just had word that her district has adopted Project Lead the Way (aka Project Bleed You Dry - scroll down) & is seeking info on the program. Teacher is disturbed by the fact that this program has appeared out of nowhere:

What is really bothering me about the adoption of PLTW is that there seems to be a lack of transparency in the decision making process and a sense of responsibility to the tax-payers. I'm so tired of districts and states being "sold" on these sorts of things. Maybe states and districts feel that if they buy these products/programs, then it will be up to the developers to prove their effectiveness and they'll be off the hook... (just speculating...)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help a Teacher Out: Second-Language Competency Testing

Miss Profe teaches in an NE independent school:

I am a career middle and high school MFL/Spanish ToC (Teacher of Color). I have been teaching for 14years.
She blogs at It's a Hardknock Teacher's Life, and today's question is:

I have been struggling with whether or not to implement competency testing with my students. A fellow Spanish teacher at another school does this. In her opinion, there are certain things we teach students as part of their foreign language education that without exception must be mastered.
Go read the post and give your two cents.

Monday, September 22, 2008

writing to learn

Remember this photo?


WRITING TO LEARN: Brenda Mitchell, left, and Elizabeth Cooke show their notebooks during a science-writing workshop for teachers in Oakland, Calif.

Writing to Learn
Education Week
Published in Print: August 27, 2008
page 1