kitchen table math, the sequel: Station math, part 2

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Station math, part 2

Julie writes:
My 7th grader, who was in an accelerated math class this year (in GA) experienced these same math stations. He said it was like being in elementary school all over again.

This same teacher "flipped" her classroom by making videos of her reading the textbook and examples aloud. He was expected to watch the videos each night before doing homework problems...but he couldn't stand it. He wanted to just read the book to himself and get the homework done.

Same teacher wanted parents and students to follow her on Twitter to keep up with daily son has no interest in using Twitter.
Part of what is going on in my district, and I imagine in Julie's district, is that administrators here are focused first and foremost on "infusing technology into the curriculum." This is the prime directive.

Just how to infuse technology into the curriculum remains a mystery, however, so the district has elected to buy a bunch of stuff and have teachers "innovate."

Which reminds me of a funny conversation. (Not funny ha-ha, I'm afraid.)

A fellow dissident here in the district invited me to a meeting she had scheduled with the high school principal re: flipped classrooms. As we sat down, the principal, who is new to the district, told us he "believes in" flipped classrooms.

"I encourage teachers to take risks," he said.

Having spent years of my life chewing over this and related issues, I had a response at the ready: "You're taking risks with other people's children," I said.

"Teachers have tenure and a union, they're not the ones taking the risk. The kids are taking the risk, and they haven't been asked whether they want to take the risk you're forcing them to take."

(I actually said these sentences, out loud. I didn't just think of saying them later on and wish I had. Very satisfying!)

The principal, who seems like a very nice guy, looked horrified. Clearly, it had never crossed his mind that "teachers taking risks" could be construed as anything other than an unalloyed good--let alone a borderline abuse of his authority as head of school, which is pretty much what I was suggesting.

Since then the administration has gotten a bit of an earful on the subject of experimenting with other peoples' children.

But the experiments continue apace.

"Station math" is, I gather, another effort to infuse technology into the curriculum, I guess because one of the stations has movies, and movies are technology.

So....time flies. I'm old enough to remember when SMART Boards were technology.

My district has beaucoup SMART Boards. We had to buy one for every classroom because we had a SMART Board equity gap.


Jean said...

I am SO HAPPY you said those words. Yay!

Anonymous said...

"another effort to infuse technology into the curriculum"

Same old same old. Fifty years ago teachers were ignoring blackboards are doing everything on those oh-so-clever overhead projectors.

And why listen to your Spanish teacher pronounce Spanish when you can sit it a language lab?

froggiemama said...

I am now on my district technology committee, and one of the things I have learned is how underresouced IT is. And we are a reasonably wealthy district. There are only a couple of people in IT who deal with the hundreds of computers in 5 schools, plus the central office machines. They simply do not have anyone available to help the teachers "infuse technology". The result is (and this came up a lot when the committee met) is that they have a perfectly good LMS that only a small number of teachers use. And the ones who do use it set their sites up very badly, because no one has shown them how to effectively organize a course site in the LMS. There is no budget for training, either. I suspect this underlies the decision to just "let teachers innovate". That is code for "we have no budget for training and none of the IT people are available to help out".

Jean said...

Oh, yeah. My dad does IT for schools--well, actually he retired, and the guy they hired to replace him promptly bombed, so they begged him to come back part-time. I guess admins (people in general really) have a tendency to think that things will just work. Computers are magic you know.

Anonymous said...

Good work!

I said the same thing to my colleagues here at a west coast CC when we switched all our developmental ed. (Pre-Algebra, Algebra I&II) to software based independent study courses.

I pointed out that we were experimenting on the students and not providing them with any alternative for those not served by this form of course delivery.

Not a popular stance!
But, the data speak for themselves - our passing rates in those courses went from 75% to 50% overnight before "recovering" to 55%.

momof4 said...

From what I remember reading, the data suggests that the kids most likely to succeed in forms of independent study (absent lots of instructor/teacher support) are the most able and motivated - not the population most likely to need remedial work.

As a 13yo, my DD spent her summer taking a year of geometry at a local CC, to get ahead in her math sequence. It was independent work on computers, with essentially no instructor support, and many of the kids were struggling. She ended up tutoring several of her classmates (all post-HS,mostly 18-21) who were willing to work and who were not totally clueless - and she's not one of the really mathy types. (although she did use her AP calc to help her freshman pre-med roommate through her calc class). She was amazed at the clueless level of many of her classmates; it sounded as if they were at ES level.