Renascence School Education News - private school

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond the Classroom: Sparking a love for understanding science

The Miami Herald – Laurie Futtermank

“Science helps satisfy our natural curiosity: why is the sky blue, how did the leopard get its spots, what is a solar eclipse? With science, we can answer these questions without resorting to magical explanations. Scientific understanding leads to technological advances, and helps us learn about enormously important topics, such as our health, the environment and natural hazards. Yet each year it seems children know less about how the natural world works and have all but lost that curiosity. Is it because kids are spending less time outdoors and getting dirty? Is it because technology has made them intrinsically less curious? Is Siri, Wikipedia or Google to blame? Is it because they are reading less and being entertained more? Or is it because they just don’t care? No matter what the reason, not knowing spells trouble for all of us. It is frightening to think that we may be cultivating a generation of kids who don’t question or ponder. A 2013 article, “Why everyone must understand science,” references the fact that people feel excluded by science and scientific discussions. Although most people use laptops, fly in planes and use appliances in the home, they don’t know what’s behind this technology. The less people know the more they are likely to be influenced by people who may not have their best interests at heart.”(more)

Do you hate math? It’s not about you

The Bulletin – Sharon Noguchi

“Hate math? Relax; it may not be about you. Fear of math represents not personal failure or a missing gene but wrongheaded “one-size-fits-all” ways of teaching. That, at least, is the theory behind a quiet revolution in math education incubated in the Bay Area that is exciting teachers even more than an elegant proof of the Pythagorean theorem. A vanguard of math instructors is embracing ideas developed by two Stanford professors to reform math instruction. Their approach includes more visual and creative exercises, discussions of ideas and procedures rather than a focus on memorization and speed, and individually tailored lessons. Mention to people that you teach math, David Foster of the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative said, and “to a person they launch into a horror story about high school math. The only mystery is if they blame the algebra teacher or the geometry teacher.” ‘Hard work and practice’ Foster, whose Morgan Hill-based organization offers training and resources for teachers, advocates a more positive approach to get kids to love learning.”(more)

Innovation, Technology, and Rural Schools

Education Next – Andy Smarick

“According to Washington elites, rural schools’ greatest challenge is finding and keeping teachers. Ask the inside-the-beltway crowd for a solution, and, considering all the buzz over blended learning and innovation, they’ll probably shout, “technology!” One small problem: Rural superintendent don’t consider teacher recruitment and retention among their biggest challenges…and mixing rural schooling and technology is more complicated than you might think. Hmmm. Thank goodness for “Technology and Rural Education,” by Bryan C. Hassel and Stephanie Dean of Public Impact, the latest paper from Bellwether’s rural-education project, ROCI. The report begins as you might expect, arguing that technology holds great promise for rural schooling. “It can give students access to great teachers…enable them to tap into resources they would never find in a school’s media center…help them personalize their learning…open doors to forge networks with other students across the world.” But unlike many tech-focused reports, it also recognizes the special characteristics of rural schools, especially as they relate to educators.”(more)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Language May Change Perceptions of World

The Chosun Ilbo – Staff Writer

“A person’s language changes their perception of the world and others around them, a study seems to confirm. The study suggests that bilingual people’s perceptions change according to which language they use, which also means that learning a foreign language can change how people see the world around them. Panos Athanasopoulos of Lancaster University compared German and English speakers and found that English speakers place more importance on process, while German speakers value goals. Athanasopoulos asked 20 English and 20 German speakers to watch a series of video clips of a person walking or riding a bicycle and then say what they had seen.”(more)

Monolingual Myopia

The Huffington Post – Clayton Lewis

“Debates are sizzling about the efficacy of American education in preparing students for the global economy. Graduates face escalating competition as millions of recent job entrants hit the market from expanding middle-class economies such as India, China and Brazil. Of all the competencies that have the potential to set young Americans apart as they seek jobs, languages are most often overlooked. Recent statistics at both the high school and university levels reveal startling and preoccupying inconsistencies between a globalizing career environment requiring proficiency in more than one language and American students’ curricular choices. One measure of declining interest in language is the Advanced Placement Program, where in 2014, students took a total of 197,208 examinations in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. While that number may seem large, it is less than 5 percent of the almost 4.2 million AP examinations taken that year. Remarkably, far more students — 259,789 — took the AP psychology exam. The most common AP language is Spanish, as one would expect. However, the increase in the number of examinations in Spanish Language from 2013 to 2014 was flat. Enrollment in Chinese Language grew dramatically when it was first introduced as an AP course in 2007. Annual increases as high as 32 percent have fallen to only 6 percent in 2014, when a total of 10,728 students took the AP Chinese exam.”(more)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Prepare Kids for Success in Math

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Imagine learning to fluently read and write Chinese in one hour a day for only 180 days each year. Impossible!


Now consider learning the foreign language of math in one hour a day for 180 days each year. Realistic?


If the goal is to ensure basic proficiency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and percentages, the level of exposure is probably adequate. If the goal is to get students to the math levels required for high quality 21st Century employment, there is not nearly enough time.


For success in math, kids must be able read, memorize, organize, and write and sketch legibly. In addition, they need strong spatial abilities, excellent sequential processing skills, and attention to detail.


All these skills take many years to hone. Sadly, most early education programs have a heavy focus on reading and memorizing, but have little (or inadequate) emphasis on organization, handwriting and sketching, attention to detail, sequential processing, and spatial orientation.


Part of the problem is early childhood education teachers are taught in programs where these skills were not a priority, so they either have weak skills themselves and/or do not understand the importance of teaching the skills.


Then there are curricula problems. Most early childhood education curricula are developed by individuals or teams of individuals who have years of experience with humanities and social sciences so spatial, sequential processing, and attention to detail skills are not priorities.


Another challenge is that these technical skills are generally not imperative in math until students reach late elementary school. As a result, teachers, school administrators and regulators often believe students are performing well even though they have skills deficits.


The combination of curricula that does not include the necessary skills, instructors who not well equipped to teach the skills, and delayed feedback on skills deficits is a recipe for disaster.


To correct the problem, we must change our early childhood education graduation requirements to include a 50/50 balance between the humanities/social sciences (psychology, sociology, language arts, etc.) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses.


Then, we need curricula developed by well-balanced teams that include equal representation from the humanities/social sciences and STEM.


Finally, we need a way of confirming that preschool to grade three students are obtaining these necessary skills.


With these changes, our kids should have the skills to succeed in math, the humanities, engineering, and social sciences!


Friday, January 23, 2015

STEAM is the direction to head

Elkin Tribune – Staff Writer

“Elkin City Schools’ focus on preparing every child in grades pre-kindergarten through 12the grade with a STEAM-infused educational experience parallels the programming trends of some of the cutting edge educational programs and institutions in America…Kemi Jona, professor of learning sciences and computer science at Northwestern University, noted that Design Thinking and STEAM were at the top of her list. “In 2015, we will see a growing movement to incorporate design thinking and STEAM (integrating arts and design into STEM) into the curriculum. Districts and schools will launch efforts both large and small, from simple design projects in early elementary to after-school and summer school offerings. Visionary schools will transform their career and technical education programs into STEAM labs.”(more)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015: The Year of Curriculum- Based Reform?

Education Next – Robert Pondiscio

“You may have missed it over the holidays, but NPR ran a fascinating profile of Jason Zimba, one of the primary architects of the Common Core math standards. The piece, by the Hechinger Report’s Sarah Garland, an exceptionally thoughtful education reporter, traces Zimba’s career from Rhodes scholar and David Coleman’s business partner to “obscure physics professor at Bennington College” and unlikely standards bearer for the math standards that he had so much to do with creating.”(more)

Friday, January 16, 2015

100 Schools to Pilot Core Curriculum for the Arts

NPQ – Shafaq Hasan

“Time and again, studies have shown the importance of integrating arts into the curriculums of grade schools. From helping to improve graduation rates to increasing literacy rates and helping the learning process, the arts serve multiple functions with a number of benefits when properly invested in our educational system. In an attempt to focus attention on the arts, next month, 100 elementary and middle schools will pilot a new national arts standards education project as an edit to the Common Core standards already in place. Eventually, the standards will be expanded to high schools by 2016.”(more)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Clearing Up the Curriculum-Standards Confusion

Education Week – Liana Heitin

“If, in rounding out 2014, you’re still finding yourself a bit fuzzy on the difference between the common-core standards and curriculum, two recent NPR pieces might offer some clarity…William McCallum, another lead writer for the common-core math standards, put it well when I interviewed him in November: “Standards are just expectations for what we want students to know and understand and be able to do … . Curriculum is how you get them there.””(more)