kitchen table math, the sequel: 1/30/11 - 2/6/11

Friday, February 4, 2011


"Call for Papers
Integrated STEM Education Conference 2011 (ISEC 2011)
Best Practices in Integrated STEM Instruction
We are soliciting papers for the inaugural meeting of ISEC 2011, co-located with the
Trenton Computer Festival (TCF; at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ),
on Saturday, April 2, 2011."

"Our goals for ISEC 2011 are to have thought-provoking discussions on how the “silos”
separating instruction in and, ultimately, comprehension among STEM fields can be
removed and, subsequently, on the various ways “integrated STEM methods” take shape
in K-16 classrooms. To this end, we invite you to submit original papers on best
practices in integrated STEM instruction that provide descriptions and assessment of
innovative integrated STEM instructional modules. Papers detailing initiatives that use computers to support programmatic initiatives are especially welcome."

I just got an email from IEEE with this call for papers. Can anyone translate the sentence that talks about goals? No wonder my dues are so high.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Graphic organizers "cheat sheet"

After my post on the middle school character cluster assignment, I thought I would follow up with an introduction to graphic organizers (aka concept maps).  This might be helpful to parents or others unfamiliar with these commonly used teaching tools.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Students Talking About Student Life

Over at The Atlantic a guest blogger brought up for discussion a study showing students don't really learn anything their first two years at college, then he posted for further discussion some of the replies he received Student Life: Still More Views. All of it was interesting, but these two three comments really caught my attention.

There were many students that were thoughtful, interested, and hardworking. They did assigned readings, asked good questions in class, were ready to debate and argue, etc. THE MAJORITY WERE NOT. My friend and I would complain. We always thought that, yeah, you have to put up with people who aren't really interested in learning in high school, but then they get weeded out in college. Not the case, at least not at [my university]. My friend has since gone on to law school at a top 40 program. He thought that by graduate studies, those TRULY uninterested would have gone another way. Yet he still finds himself, at times, sitting next to students who have no intellectual curiosity or even a strong work ethic. I had one political science professor, who in a moment of candor during office hours, noted that when he taught at Princeton, he taught the same identical class (intro to political philosophy) and in the identical way. It was no harder at Princeton, and he was no different. The only difference he noted was the caliber of the students. Whereas at [the state university] there was a bell-curve distribution of a few As, some Bs, and lots of Cs and Ds, at Princeton, there were hardly any slacker students.

A different commenter said:
I went to a private, top 20 liberal arts school in New England for undergrad. I now attend a large state university as a grad student, and what I have to say about the quality of undergraduate education between the two institutions is this: state schools suck.

A professor's point of view:
As a tenured professor with a 22-year career teaching history at a "comprehensive public university," here are my reactions to Mr. Tierney's interesting musings on Contemporary Student Life....Most of the negative changes I have seen in college education began in the period when college aid, which tended to be dependent on performance in school, but which did not burden students with heavy debts upon graduation, was converted to loans, which are not usually as closely linked to getting good grades, but do burden students with debts. Result? Students want to get through school as quickly and efficiently as possible, to minimize their debt, and they are less concerned about grades. So they put more time into work, to try to work their way through, or overload their schedules, to get more units for each semester's loan money, and less time into study. (He/she also mentioned two other possible reasons)

Is this true?

Middle School Assignments and Kindergarten Ages

Two new posts at some favorite blogs:

Grace describes a middle school assignment that would have benefited from some proof-reading and attention to detail here: How to Confuse a Middle Schooler

And Connecticut considers whether to raise the age when Students can start kindergarten here:
Kindergarten Age Change Supported by Governor Malloy