kitchen table math, the sequel: 1/15/12 - 1/22/12

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clear as mud

I was just reading one of my favorite "market monetarists," (pdf file) Jose Marcus Nunes, who writes Historinhas. Apparently, the Fed is at last making its move to increase transparency.

The results - charts (pdf file) illustrating such arcana as the appropriate timing of policy firming and the appropriate pacing of policy firming - brought to mind my all-time favorite edu-chart: the strands.

Friday, January 20, 2012

how to free up time for action research

more from authenticeducation:
Action research requires that each individual or team have at least 4 half-days of non-contact time spread across a year, over and above in-service training days like the one we just had together....

Some ideas for creatively freeing up time are provided below:

1. Half the faculty covers for the other half once per month on pre-assigned days; classes double up and/or teachers of “specials” plan large-group activities to free up half the staff.

2. One hour per month of action research/design time, is set aside from currently scheduled faculty/department/team meetings and in-service days.

3. Late start/early release once per month to permit 2 hours of work in teams.

4. Each design team gets 2 hours per week, covered by other teams, administrators & subs.

5. 4 days in the summer becomes part of the contract, to be scheduled by each design group.

6. 2 hours of non-contact time are added to each Monday, traded for 3 days added to end of year.

7. Hire 1 permanent sub per Department/Grade Level for the needed period of time.

8. Reorganize the School Year next year - 1/2 day twice per month should be scheduled with no students; add 5 minutes to other instructional days for the minutes lost.

9. Teachers meet for an extended lunch and resource period or assembly schedule.

10. Providers of special group learning (Project Adventure, National Endowment for the Humanities, etc.) give assemblies to release teachers of one or more grade levels for 3 half-days per year.

11. Hire roving subs for a day to release teams for 90 minutes each.

source: "Now what?" Possible next steps after the workshop
Out with teach, test, and hope for the best.

In with hire a roving sub, shadow a student throughout his day, and keep the momentum going (Word doc).

Peter Meyer on MLK and education


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the new, new thing

When was it school personnel used to talk about what students should "know and be able to do?"

The 90s?

The 80s?

For the last few years, whenever I've thought of it, I've checked my district's documents for the words "knowledge" and/or "know." So far, I haven't found them.

What I have found is lots of references to understanding. Students in my district will understand this, that, and the other.

Occasionally, too, a district document will mention 21st century skills.

Which sets me to exactly does one acquire a 21st century skill?

Can you memorize a 21st century skill? (And if you can, would that be kosher?)

Can you practice a 21st century skill until you get really good at it?

And does aptitude for 21st century skills fall on a bell curve?

Can you be gifted in 21st century skills?


Below average?

Are there specific 21st century skill learning disabilities?

This could be big.

"Now What?"

from Authentic Education:
The workshop is over, and many staff naturally want to know: “What is going to happen next? How will we follow up on our good conversations?” This is of course a key question! So, how will you build upon the day? How will you avoid cynical comments about “This, too, shall pass”? How can you keep the momentum going? How can you show your colleagues that you are serious about long-term, focused, and well-supported renewal?
On the next pages we offer an array of possible actions and approaches for follow-up.
Examples of 10 possible ‘next step’ actions: Design/Analyze/Research
1. Design a model unit in teams. Ask staff to commit to a timeline of the design of a unit or unit elements. e.g. try using essential questions next week; have a complete unit by semester’s end, designed and piloted, etc.....
2. Design a model scoring rubric (supported by work samples) that makes “understanding” a clear, prominent, and explicit aim. Have staff use the rubric and work sample models (‘anchors’) to clarify for students that the aim is understanding, not recall.....
3. Design a transfer task for a key Standard (e.g. a complex novel-looking math problem; a document-based question in history; a test of reading strategy and skill on a new piece of non-fiction, etc.). Analyze the Standard carefully: if that’s the Standard, what would count as performance evidence of meeting the Standard? Then, sketch out a task. Design a protocol for administering the task in which students initially receive no hints or scaffold, but can receive hints if they truly need them. Use a graduated-prompted rubric to score the results (4 = needed no hints, 3 = needed 1-2 minor hints or reminders, 2 = needed reminders and hints all along the way, 1 = even with much scaffolding could not produce an adequate response.)
4. Design a Gradual-Release-of-Responsibility unit. Use the 4-step process (I do, you watch; I do, you help; You do, I help; You do, I watch) to design a unit or set of units deliberately aiming at autonomous transfer of student learning. Use a graduated-prompting rubric to score student performance.
5. Analyze model and typical units against UbD design standards. Have teams/departments assess units or lessons using our peer review process against the criteria for “good design” (see the UbD design standards, or use your own). Have teams report out what they learned from studying and self-assessing units against standards.
6. Analyze local assessments. For a targeted time frame, (e.g. the month of November or the next marking period) collect all the assessments given in a building. Then, taking a sample of the assessments (e.g. every 4th assessment item) analyze the type and validity of the assessments. Use credible criteria to rate the assessment (e.g. Bloom’s Taxonomy, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, the six facets of understanding, state standards, etc.) Make 1-2 specific recommendations for improving the quality of local assessment, based on the findings.
7. Analyze local grading. Examine trends in local teacher grading to identify the validity of grades (given Mission, state standards, critical thinking, understanding, etc.). Compare local grading standards to state performance standards (e.g. state-wide writing, college freshman exam scoring, etc.) – i.e. how predictive are local grades of later important performance? Also, look at cross-teacher consistency by having teachers grade the same student work on their own, then discuss their grading in groups.
8. Analyze results on a common assessment that you design, making sure that the assessment includes higher-order as well as lower-order questions....
9. Research test results: go to your local site or to the Florida FCAT, Massachusetts MCAS, or Pennsylvania PSSA websites to download their released test items with analysis. Study the results – especially the ones in Reading and Mathematics. Note the hardest questions and most common wrong answers. (All test reports in these states show the correct answer and what % of students picked which answer; they also code the purpose of each test question against the key state standard it is assessing)....
10. Research motivation in students. In teams, study a small group of ‘typical’ kids over the course of a day; you might shadow one student each through their day or half-day. In what work are they most motivated and engaged in class - and out of class (sports/computer games/arts)? When are they least motivated? When do students persist with a challenge and when do they quit? What general conclusions can you draw from motivation and engagement about how to make schoolwork less boring? (We have online student surveys you can use, too).
So I guess there's not going to be a lot of time left over after teachers get done with all this to administer a spelling test or two.

Also, if there are teams of grownups at school wanting to 'shadow' my 'typical kid' over the course of a day, I would like to be asked whether that is OK with me.

Then, when I inform the team that shadowing my typical kid over the course of a day is not OK with me, I would like the grownups to return to the classroom and teach.

Monday, January 16, 2012

math and race in Iowa

Among the possible explanations offered for the decline [in ITBS scores] are increased drug use in the mid-60′s, permissiveness, increase in divorces and single family homes, as well as the progressivist trends in education resulting in student-centered and needs-based courses. (See  Protecting Students from Learning for a more extensive discussion of this last item.) Another explanation offered is that the population of test takers starting around that time began to include more minority students, resulting in a dilution effect. That argument fails to explain, however, why the same pattern of declining test scores for the SATs exists for the ITBS and ITED test scores which were not limited only to college bound students. Also significant is the fact that the population of test takers in Iowa, Minnesota and Indiana remained primarily white which has been noted by Bishop (1989) and Murray (1992). Specifically, the U.S. Census of 1950 shows that the population in Iowa was 99.2 percent white, declining by 0.7 percentage points to 98.5 percent white by 1980. Similarly, the populations of Minnesota and Indiana were 99 and 95.5 percent white in 1950, dropping respectively to 98.2 and 92.8 by 1970. (Hobbes, 2002).
Barry Garelick: The Myth About Traditional Math Education
Education News

Nobody Gets Out Unless Everybody Gets Out

Why to oppose Mayoral Academies

While it's true that charter schools form a way to self-select into a more willing group of students, the author's assumption is that those left behind will be less well served. She does not explain why that would happen. Although she argues that separation does help, she does not explain why public schools will not offer the same separation. She does not argue that Achievemnt First does not work. She does not argue that some public school are failing. She offers no solution other than the supporters of Achievement First should be putting their efforts into public schools.

OK. Separate kids by willingness to work hard. Offer them a more rigorous curriculum.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

what is a professional learning community

I would like my school board to hire a superintendent who has headed a district with Professional Learning Communities.

teach, test, and hope for the best

Richard DuFour:
”Typically, teachers teach, test, and hope for the best. [Adlai] Stevenson [High School] teachers established standards of mastery for...common assessments and for each subtest within a common assessment. They set a bar for student performance and then worked to ensure that each student could make it over that bar.”
The Learning-Centered Principal
Richard DuFourMay 2002 | Volume 59 | Number 8 
Beyond Instructional Leadership   Pages 12-15

professional learning communities

is this a clinically-known hypothesis on autism?

when asked about the yelling, humming, hands over ears, etc., the girl in the video explains that it's because of a sensory overload, saying, "we create output to block out input".

Rocketship Schools

Does anyone have any information about a bunch of new charter schools called The Rocketship Schools?

Andy Rotherham gave a rave about it here.