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LEVY: The new math must focus on basics

The Toronto Sun – Sue-Ann Levy

“PC Ontario leader Doug Ford says he’s talked to an “endless number of teachers” who are frustrated at being dictated to by Queen’s Park about how they must teach math. He recently told me he intends to seek input from teachers on the best way to scrap discovery math and get “back to the basics” — which means teaching students how to properly add, subtract, multiply and divide (without a calculator) by the time they leave Grade 6.” (more)

Are you smarter than a 10th Grader? Try Ontario’s literacy test

The Toronto Star – Staff Writer

“Grade 10 students in Ontario write the literacy test — which they must pass in order to graduate — on Tuesday. After a pilot project to move the test online ended in digital disaster, this year’s test is old school — pen-and-paper. And extra time to complete the mandatory test will be given to any student who needs it. Many people question the value of the test — saying it is out of step with contemporary literacy evaluations. But how would you fare? Here’s a selection of reading and writing questions from a sample test produced by EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office).” (more)

The man who’s fighting girls’ ‘mathematophobia’

The Toronto Star – Paul Hunter

“As a teenager beginning high school in his Ivory Coast homeland, Ismael Mourifié looked around his classroom and understood something was inherently wrong. He’d been placed in the math stream based on an admission exam that determined aptitude. But among the almost 45 students, there were only four or five girls. The next year, that number dropped to two. It didn’t make any sense, Mourifié thought. Math isn’t an innate skill; there shouldn’t be such a dramatic gender disparity. Fast-forward almost two decades and Mourifié is now an assistant professor of economics at the University of Toronto. He teaches courses in applied econometrics and quantitative methods but his passion, and a big part of his research, is grounded in his memories from the classrooms of West Africa. He is driven to understand why there aren’t more women that pursue studies, particularly math, that lead to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs and how that imbalance can be corrected.” (more)

How to teach your kids empathy and self-control

The Toronto Star – Pam Moore

“My daughter attends public school in Boulder, Colo., where her teacher is one of a handful of educators integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom. But the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) board recently approved a grant to fund the investigation of SEL Competencies, with the goal of creating a system-wide approach to SEL. That means more kids will be learning how to understand and manage their emotions, set goals, build healthy relationships, make good decisions and have empathy, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. SEL is based on five core competencies — self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. These skills can help kids in the classroom, but more importantly, they can make children and parents happier.” (more)

International Day of Women and Girls in Science encourages girls to consider STEM

The Toronto Star – Fatima Syed

“Held at Facebook headquarters in Toronto, the event served as the launch of the federal government’s second phase of its plan to encourage increased female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The next phase is called “Choose Science” — a digital campaign sharing why women chose to work in the sciences. The aim is to create a network of mentors to inspire future female STEM leaders. “We need to include all people to make sure we have the right answers for our future, and if you only have men making those decisions that’s not good,” said Kate Young, parliamentary secretary for science. “(Young girls) do need to hear these stories to know there’s a place for (them).” In 1987, only 20 per cent of the people working in STEM fields were female, a number that has moved up to just 22 per cent today. Just 29.6 per cent of individuals with a post-secondary STEM credential and 26.9 per cent of those employed in a STEM-intensive occupation in Canada are women.” (more)

Learning happens on multiple platforms these days

The Toronto Star – Uzma Jalaluddin

“A recent study reported a decrease in overall human attention span since 2000. Apparently, we now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. The culprit? Smartphones, collectively glued to our hands. I know the siren call of technology all too well. It’s something I deal with in the classroom and at home with my sons, every day. I was interviewed by two students working on a school project on this topic. “As a teacher, what do you think about technology in schools?” they asked.” (more)