Thursday, June 30, 2011

31 Day Game Sites

Check out this awesome initiative called the 31 Day Game. The latest was a tournament bracket pitting Classroom Strategies against each other in head-to-head fashion until an ultimate Classroom Strategy champion is crowned. A previous game had Educational Videos going head to head over the 31 Days. What a great way to inform, debate and engage. Imagine the educational applications for our students! Sit on that idea for the summer and see you all in August!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We're Getting There (someday)...

Still not on board with using social networking to connect to 21st Century students?

Read this article...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tough Argument

Branding BYOD: On/Off
by Jason Ohler

There is a new acronym that is rapidly becoming embedded in the public narrative about technology and learning: BYOD. It stands for Bring Your Own Device. It opens up an area of inquiry that can be summarized in the following questions: How should communities, schools, and teachers address the issue of students wanting to bring their own digital devices to school? What new opportunities and challenges would a pro-BYOD—or an anti-BYOD policy—present? How do educators manage a BYOD world?

I recently had a conversation with someone whom I consider to be very bright and reasonable in matters of educational technology in which she argued that we should say no to BYOD. I pointed out that she didn't have the option. BYOD won. Kids already bring their devices to school and often use them in ways we don't like because we have yet to define ways to use them that we do like. We are left to figure out how to manage the situation, often in reactive mode, as we scramble our way up a new learning curve.

As a management mantra, I am going to suggest we brand our efforts with BYOD with the following: On/Off.

On/Off means that we say yes to BYOD, and then manage the situation by asking students to use them sometimes, and turn them off at other times.

It is up to educational systems to figure out how to use them when they are in the On position. And before we holler "technological determinism," just remind yourself that many of you didn't even have the Internet 15 years ago. Now you wouldn't consider living without it. The same has become true for your cell phone; for adults as well as kids. The average adult wouldn't dream of living in world that wasn't BYOD at work.

Likewise, it is up to learning managers to determine when to ask students and teachers to turn their devices off; that is, to unplug so we can talk, think, and collaborate face to face. On/Off. It's balanced. It's healthy.

If we tell students to turn their devices off all the time, they will turn them on anyway, sometimes defiantly, and do at least some things we wish they would rather not. But if we tell them to turn them on sometimes, and engage them in using their devices to pursue learning exploration in ways that we deem beneficial, they are more likely to turn them off when asked to. If the rhythm is On/Off, rather than "always off," we may find we are much more pleased with what happens when they are on.

... it is up to learning managers to determine when to ask students and teachers to turn their devices off; that is, to unplug so we can talk, think, and collaborate face to face.
But there is a much more important issue in a BYOD environment than simply engaging students to use the technology that feels so second nature to them in ways we deem beneficial. We need desperately to talk to them about their technology, something we can't do if they don't have it with them.

The fact that their technology is so invisible to them is their Achilles Heel. Because they don't see it, they don't think to question it.

They need us to help them put their technology in a social context, and to ask questions about how it connects and disconnects them, or, in McLuhan's parlance, extends and reduces them. We need to talk about how their technology impacts themselves, their communities, and their environment.

In the Preamble of my book Digital Community, Digital Citizen, I ask the question: Our choice for our children: Two lives or one? That is, do we expect students to live a digitally deluged lifestyle outside of school, then unplug when the bell rings? Or is it time to help them integrate their digital and non-digital lives into one healthy life based on a single identity, and talk about their technology in critical terms so that they become the kind of digital citizens the world needs?

I say it is time to help them pursue one life. And to do so, I say we brand BYOD: On/Off.

Are there issues with this? Of course. There are always issues with technology. After all, technology connects and disconnects—always. Most notably, there are three issues that vex us:

1.How do we keep kids safe when they are online?
2.How do we keep them on-task?
3.How do we address those who can't afford a device?
The first two issues are important, but I believe best addressed in an On/Off culture in which we actually discuss, as a matter of normal fare, the up and downsides of our BYOD lives. Make no mistake—we are looking at a new era of teaching and learning. Professional development will never be the same. An On/Off culture will require teachers to do many things they never had to do before, like manage students who are constantly plugged into the Internet. But certainly we can make no progress about this if we aren't teaching students the skills needed to address these issues. And we can’t do this effectively if they don't have their technology with them, and on, at least part of the time.

The last issue, affordability, is certainly real. But when touch pads and other key technologies become so inexpensive that they can vie with supplying each student with a number of textbooks, a development that seems all but certain, this issue can be addressed, whether through lending programs, or easy-buy programs or other approaches that will present themselves as vendors and schools get creative.

I don't think cost will end up being the issue. Rather, once we have the technology because it is so inexpensive, we will need to return the issue that has always vexed in education: just what does an educated person look like?

On/Off. Balanced. Healthy. Possible.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Check out this lecture about the future of education in North America...

About the Lecture
The Obama Administration’s recently unveiled plan for transforming American education through technology does not envision “plugging kids in and making them smarter,” declares Karen Cator. Instead, it focuses on leveraging aspects of digital technology “to create way more compelling environments in schools,” and to address educational inequities and the larger issue of undereducated Americans.

Cator illustrates the pervasive presence and transformative power of digital media with current examples: the use of Facebook and Twitter in Arab political uprisings; mobile media coverage of the Japanese tsunami; Super Bowl ads embedded with secret codes that invite viewers to go online and play games. Educators could bring this kind of immediacy and creativity to schools, finding opportunities “to work with students in the moment and build experience, before, during and after,” says Cator.

Now is the right time to push for these opportunities, she believes, because of 24/7 internet mobility; the explosion of social interactivity and digital content online; and new methods for aggregating and analyzing data “to help students learn better.” We’re at “an inflection point,” she claims, “between the print-based classroom and the digital-based environment,” and must design and develop “entirely new learning environments that take us further, where the locus of control moves from teacher to student.”

The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) delineates five goals for engaging and empowering learners of all ages through technology. In the first, Learning, the plan aims to personalize learning environments, incorporating life outside the school, and help for people with disabilities. New Assessment, objectives involve measuring a “full range of standards, not just those in bubble tests,” and should employ real-time feedback, as well as “persistent learning records” available to the parents of students. In Teaching, technology should “augment human performance,” just as it does in other industries, says Cator, enabling teachers to connect to experts and each other. Infrastructure, improvements mean bringing broadband internet to 98% of the country in a few years’ time, so no matter where they live, all students have online access. The Productivity, goal involves offering technology platforms so students may accomplish the most in a given subject.

Finally, the NETP addresses large-scale, persistent inequities in American education, says Cator. Some estimates suggest 90 million adult Americans may be undereducated – for instance, reading at grade school level or worse. Broadband access and new learning platforms will create a richer set of informal learning pathways for such adults and provide new opportunities for lifelong learners.

About the Speaker
Karen Cator
Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education

Karen Cator has devoted her career to creating the best possible learning environments for this generation of students. Prior to joining the department, Cator directed Apple's leadership and advocacy efforts in education. In this role, she focused on the intersection of education policy and research, emerging technologies, and the reality faced by teachers, students and administrators.

Cator joined Apple in 1997 from the public education sector, most recently leading technology planning and implementation in Juneau, Alaska. She also served as Special Assistant for Telecommunications for the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Cator holds a Masters in school administration from the University of Oregon and Bachelors in early childhood education from Springfield College. She is the past chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and has served on the several boards including the Software & Information Industry Association—Education.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Report Cites Need For More Arts Integration

Courtesy the Committed Sardine blog, and remember, Math IS an artform...

Although No Child Left Behind has prompted many districts to focus on core subject areas and ignore or cut arts education programs, a new federal report suggests that’s a wrong approach.
Released May 6, the report reveals that arts education might help student achievement in these core areas and is essential to the nation’s future competitiveness—and it urges school leaders to try creative approaches to arts education during the school day.

Compiled by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the report is titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” It is the first federal analysis of arts education data of its kind in a decade.

“To succeed today and in the future, America’s children will need to be inventive, resourceful, and imaginative,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in the report’s foreword. “The best way to foster that creativity is through arts education.”

Developed in response to President Obama’s Arts Policy Campaign Platform, the report presents five recommendations to help schools incorporate the arts into other disciplines:

1.Build robust collaborations among different approaches to arts education.
2.Develop the field of arts integration.
3.Expand in-school opportunities for teaching artists.
4.Use federal and state policies to reinforce the place of arts in K-12 education.
5.Widen the focus of evidence gathering about arts education.
“Imagine more science classrooms where kids learned about sound waves by playing the flute, or understood mathematical relationships by creating digital designs,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of the arts at the Knight Foundation. “Integrating arts into our everyday lives and learning is essential.”

Data highlighted in the report show that low-income students who participate in arts education are four times more likely to have high academic achievement and three times more likely to have high attendance than those who don’t, with these results continuing into college. Schools that participated in an arts-integration model had consistently higher average scores on district reading and math assessments.

Neuroscience studies demonstrate that arts education can have a significant impact on brain development. Music training helps with the development of phonological awareness and spatial-temporal reasoning, helping with reading skills, while children who practiced a specific art form improved their attention skills and general intelligence. Links also exist between high levels of music training and the ability to manipulate information in both working memory and long-term memory.

Studies cited in the report show that arts integration leads to better attendance and fewer discipline problems, as well as increased graduation rates, especially for economically disadvantaged students. This information comes at a time when the national dropout rate has fluctuated between 25 and 30 percent since 2001, while some demographic groups have far higher rates.

Approximately 50 percent of males from economically disadvantaged groups are estimated to leave high school before graduation, while 2 million students attend what federal officials call “dropout factories.”

PCAH developed the report after 18 months of school visits, interviews with educational leaders, and reviews of recent research. The panel concluded that arts education is a boon for the private sector—business leaders are looking for innovation and creativity from their employees—and is an important way to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers.

“We know that education is key to winning the future and that, to compete, we must challenge ourselves to improve educational outcomes for our children,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “The administration recognizes the powerful role that the arts education strategies presented in this report can play in closing the achievement gap, improving student engagement, and building creativity and innovative thinking skills.”

PCAH plans to spend the next year presenting the report’s findings to policy makers, superintendents, principals, and educators and exploring ways to implement its recommendations.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Six Nations Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes June 1st, 2011

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes
June 1st, 2011 2:30 – 4:00 pm
District Teacher Office (J.C. Hill School)

In attendance: A. Anderson, T. Claus, M. Martin, J. Restoule General

Regrets: L. Martin

Absent: C. Froman, D. Hill, A. Noyes, J. Skye

1. J. Restoule General shared with committee information from OAME 2011. This included many handouts, resources and supplies from various publishers and presenters. Committee members in attendance divided up the resources based on their school’s/classroom’s needs. Copies were made of Edutopia, Curriculum Associates, Literacy & Numeracy Secretariat, Statistics Canada, GEDSB, and OAME workshop materials. Committee reviewed some of the workshops from OAME 2011, which can be found here.

2. Information pertaining to the next OAME conference was shared. Committee is encouraged to pass along information regarding the 2012 conference, May 10th-12th in Kingston, ON. Now is a good time as staff will be filling out Learning Plans for the 2011-2012 school year. The conference is akin to “Reading for the Love of It” but for math. It was noted how many teachers from each school go to that conference and it was recommended that teachers consider enhancing and building upon their math knowledge. It would be nice to see at least one teacher from each school in attendance at OAME 2012. There will be some excellent featured speakers. For more information, go to the OAME 2012 website: (Registration opens February 1st, 2012.)

3. Committee members were each given a brochure ( on the OAME Leadership Conference scheduled for the Fall (Oct. 27th – Oct. 29th) to share with their respective schools/staff. The theme for this year is “Creating Communities of Assessment Inquiry
and Practice: A Vision for Leadership in Mathematics”. Schools are encouraged to send a staff member and to include this on their learning plan.

4. Numeracy committee reviewed desk book headings for further development over the summer. A recap of the concept behind the binders (distributed to each school’s members last meeting) occurred, with committee members to continue to gather information/resources to be included in the desk book.

5. Meeting adjourned at 4:00 pm.

Next Meeting: September 7th, 2011.

Can Learning Really Be Fun and Games?

For those wondering what a game-based classroom looks like in a traditional school, take a peek into Ananth Pai’s third-grade class in Parkview/Center Point Elementary school in Maplewood, Minnesota.

Using his own money and grants that he applied for, Pai has managed to round up seven laptops, two desktops 11 Nintendo DS’s, 18 games for math, reading, vocabulary, geography, and 21 digital voice recorders.

Students compete in games with other kids across the world, learn about fractions and decimals by riding a virtual ghost train, for instance, work on their reading skills on sites like Razkids, figure out whether they can make a living by growing flowers, learn about their constitutional rights with the Go to Court Game, and so on.

If parents are wondering what their kids do with the Nintendo DS in the classroom, Pai’s students will tell them about Brain Age 2, the word scramble game, or Math Blaster, which helps students practice their multiplication.

In the video interview above, Pai talks about how he realized that with a 20-1 ratio in a third grade class (a luxury at this point in many American public schools), it would be difficult to help each student progress at his or her own level.

So he found websites he thought would work best for his class, and connected them all to his own site. Take a look at how he’s organized the curriculum: Simple and intuitive.

He’s divided Literacy into Decoding, Reading, Syllabication, Writing , Vocabulary & Spelling, Grammar, Literary Devices, and Genre.

Similarly, Math is divided into Geometry, Number Sense & Computation, Algebra, Data Analysis, Math Challenge, Math Dictionary, Easier Math Dictionary, and other general games.

He’s also got sites and games for categories like Inquiry, Skills for Life, Health & Well Being, and Would You Like Hot Chocolate With That?

Pai says that in a matter of four months, the class’s reading and math scores went from below average for third grade to mid-fourth-grade level.

When Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad and CTO of Best Buy visited Pai’s class recently, he was struck by not just the fact that technology was being used, but how Pai organized the class.

“He groups the kids on how their brains learn,” Stephens said.

From what I can tell, this is what learning should look like.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Debate Rages On...

Digital citizenship is impossible until we help students live one life instead two. Right now they live two—a digitally unplugged life at school and digitally deluged life outside school. Having them bring their devices to school is a great first step in creating a reality-based environment for the discussion of digital citizenship. But what do we do about those students who have nothing to bring?

posted by Jason Ohler
May 19, 2011

‘Bring Your Own Device’ Catching On in Schools

Mobile devices are now found in the hands of most children, and school leaders are using that to their advantage by incorporating devices that students already own into classroom lessons and projects.

Concerns remain about students who are unable to purchase or borrow a device for use in the classroom, but districts might find creative ways—such as asking local businesses or community organizations for help—to provide devices in such instances, advocates of the trend say.

With access issues in mind, allowing students to bring their own devices from home can offer educational benefits, as well as some surprisingly positive results when it comes to creative thinking and classroom behavior.

While there has not been a large amount of research on mobile learning devices in the classroom, research on one-to-one computing is a type of presage to some of the current research on mobile technology, said Richard Hezel of Hezel Associates, during an International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) webinar that focused on mobile learning.

Studies of Maine’s one-to-one laptop program, for instance, revealed that laptops were used for math and science, organizing and sharing information, and playing educational games.

“In Maine, findings indicate that teacher knowledge and practices and use of technology increased,” Hezel said. Math and reading scores increased, and all involved learned lessons about technology, learning, and assessment.

“The studies give a sense of what happened when students had a device that they controlled in the classroom and could carry around with them. … We’re beginning to get some understanding of how students use technology,” Hezel said.

It is especially important to understand how students use mobile devices for learning, and how educators can encourage that use, so that technology is not incorporated without a positive impact.

“One thing that we’re always going to come back to is that technology is just a tool—it may help to amplify learning, but it’s not the panacea, and we’re always making statements about the appropriateness of technology,” Hezel said.

Research-based benefits of one-to-one mobile learning initiatives might include:

•Improvements in attendance and discipline
•Broader array of learning resources and experiences
•Increased frequency and quality of supportive individual and group interactions
•Improvements in student and parent attitudes toward the school
•Increases in student achievement

U.S. Department of Education (ED) data from May 2010 indicate that about half of all public schools in the U.S. are giving handheld devices to administrators, teachers, or students.

But most of those handheld devices go to administrators, Hezel said. “A few teachers get mobile phones, and very few schools actually give those mobile devices to the students,” he added.

Still, a growing percentage of students with cell phones or smart phones makes it possible for teachers to incorporate mobile devices in their classrooms without targeted device donations or distributions. April 2010 data from the Pew Research Center indicated that 75 percent of students ages 12-17 own a cell phone or a smart phone.

“How do mobile devices change the scene for all of us?” asked Rick Angelone, a board member with the Catholic Schools K12 Virtual. “We’re looking to the students to drive that process, because they have the tools, and it will cost districts less if parents are buying the hardware.”

Angelone said some challenges that surround incorporating mobile devices into classrooms include the speed with which technology changes and ways in which educators might differentiate between what is good for teaching and learning and what is simply technology for technology’s sake.

And while some are concerned about how much time students spend on task with internet-enabled devices that offer potential distractions, Angelone said it is not a huge issue.

“The novelty wears off and they move from using Facebook” to using the device for academic purposes, he said. “Smartphones really are becoming the resource tool and the communication tool of the future,” and networks such as Facebook have grown because more students have access to social learning, collaboration, and immediate gratification.

Virtual learning and the availability of digital content have changed to offer more methods of student engagement, increased customization of learning objects, open resources, and personalized education, Angelone said.

Forsyth County Schools in Georgia embarked on a “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) initiative that includes seven schools and 40 teachers. Teachers received face-to-face and web-based professional development that included modeled examples of what BYOT activities might look like in a classroom.

Managing a classroom when students bring different devices can be a challenge, said Jill Hobson, the district’s instructional technology director. The district’s IT team boosted its wireless access points to support the pilot, and it maintains a separate wireless network for students to avoid placing students on the same network as administrators accessing sensitive student information, such as that contained in a student information system.

No one was required to adopt BYOT for their schools, said instructional technology specialist Tim Clark, but as word spread “it took off in a viral fashion among our school leadership and among our community.”

Clark said anecdotal evidence indicates that theft and discipline issues regarding technology have gone down. Devices include iPads, netbooks, laptops, and gaming devices.

“BYOT isn’t about the devices themselves—kids bring in a variety of technology—it’s about creating constructive change in teaching practices,” Clark said. “Just like kids bring pencils to school … they bring their technology to help them whenever it’s appropriate.”

“Students become information producers rather than information consumers,” Hobson said. “They’re engaged in higher-order thinking.”

Instead of wondering what students can do with their devices, Hobson said district educators ask students to create or brainstorm ways they might use their devices for learning purposes.

IT operations aren’t burdened with a BYOT initiative because students handle maintenance and updates for their own devices, Clark said.

The district started a small iPod Touch initiative with 10 devices in three classrooms. “Although they’re great, and the kids love them, it’s very difficult for us to manage synching and all the technical aspects,” he said. “It’s easier when kids bring their own devices.”

Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s official online course provider, is running an iPad pilot through its “Beyond Textbooks” initiative. Students use a custom app to learn about the historic Jamestown settlement and supplement that digital content with face-to-face instruction.

Virtual Virginia also operates a pilot in which an Advanced Placement (AP) biology textbook is delivered entirely through student-owned iPads.

Tara Farr, an AP biology and environmental science instructor with Virtual Virginia, said one-fourth to one-third of her AP biology students enrolled in the iPad program, which is in a pilot phase this year. Students who registered for a full year of AP biology chose whether they wanted to use a textbook, or whether they wanted to buy the app for their iPads.

Farr said the app offers portability in addition to note-taking and social sharing features, and that students “don’t want to carry those backpacks with 50 pounds of books in them.”

As an instructor, Farr is able to see what her iPad students highlight and focus on, and is better able to communicate with them through the social sharing feature.

A final assessment comparing the iPad biology app with students who used the traditional textbook will be conducted at the end of the school year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nation Shudders At Large Block of Uninterrupted Text

Here's an article from The Onion to make you laugh after two weeks of EQAO testing...

Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text
March 9, 2010 ISSUE 46•10

12.11.02 WASHINGTON—Unable to rest their eyes on a colorful photograph or boldface heading that could be easily skimmed and forgotten about, Americans collectively recoiled Monday when confronted with a solid block of uninterrupted text.

Dumbfounded citizens from Maine to California gazed helplessly at the frightening chunk of print, unsure of what to do next. Without an illustration, chart, or embedded YouTube video to ease them in, millions were frozen in place, terrified by the sight of one long, unbroken string of English words.

"Why won't it just tell me what it's about?" said Boston resident Charlyne Thomson, who was bombarded with the overwhelming mass of black text late Monday afternoon. "There are no bullet points, no highlighted parts. I've looked everywhere—there's nothing here but words."

"Ow," Thomson added after reading the first and last lines in an attempt to get the gist of whatever the article, review, or possibly recipe was about.

At 3:16 p.m., a deafening sigh was heard across the country as the nation grappled with the daunting cascade of syllables, whose unfamiliar letter-upon-letter structure stretched on for an endless 500 words. Children wailed for the attention of their bewildered parents, businesses were shuttered, and local governments ground to a halt as Americans scanned the text in vain for a web link to click on.

Sources also reported a 450 percent rise in temple rubbing and under-the-breath cursing around this time.

"It demands so much of my time and concentration," said Chicago resident Dale Huza, who was confronted by the confusing mound of words early Monday afternoon. "This large block of text, it expects me to figure everything out on my own, and I hate it."

"I've never seen anything like it," said Mark Shelton, a high school teacher from St. Paul, MN who stared blankly at the page in front of him for several minutes before finally holding it up to his ear. "What does it want from us?"

As the public grows more desperate, scholars are working to randomly italicize different sections of the text, hoping the italics will land on the important parts and allow everyone to go on with their day. For now, though, millions of panicked and exhausted Americans continue to repetitively search the single column of print from top to bottom and right to left, looking for even the slightest semblance of meaning or perhaps a blurb.

Some have speculated that the never-ending flood of sentences may be a news article, medical study, urgent product recall notice, letter, user agreement, or even a binding contract of some kind. But until the news does a segment in which they take sections of the text and read them aloud in a slow, calm voice while highlighting those same words on the screen, no one can say for sure.

There are some, however, who remain unfazed by the virtual hailstorm of alternating consonants and vowels, and are determined to ignore it.

"I'm sure if it's important enough, they'll let us know some other way," Detroit local Janet Landsman said. "After all, it can't be that serious. If there were anything worthwhile buried deep in that block of impenetrable English, it would at least have an accompanying photo of a celebrity or a large humorous title containing a pop culture reference."

Added Landsman, "Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure it doesn't even have a point."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Computer Desktop Clutter Reveals Your Personality

For the Luannes, Dans, Joes, and others out there...

Computer Desktop Clutter Reveals Your Personality

By Samantha Murphy, TechNewsDaily , – Mon, 16 May, 2011

Computer users with messy desktops are more likely to be liberal, educated city-dwellers who are career-minded and good at math, while those that keep their computer icons neat and tidy are more likely to be young tech-savvy suburbanites that say their personal life is more important than work. At least according to a new survey.

A new study by — a site that makes recommendations based on preferences, ranging from which car you should drive to which vacation or college choice is best for you — suggests your computer desktop says a lot about you, from education level to political views.

(The web-based survey is not scientific because, among other limitations, it was not based on a representative sample of the population.)

Hunch used 80 million answers to questions that it asked its 700,000 members to predict particular demographics, personality and other characteristics based on their computer desktop.

The report found that gender plays a role in whether or not a desktop is clean: Men are 13 percent more likely than women to have neat desktops compared to women.

Education is also a factor, as messy desktop users are 7 percent more likely to have completed a four-year college degree and 19 percent more likely to have completed a graduate degree.

People who live in crowded cities are also more inclined to keep a cluttered desktop (42 percent), while those that keep it clean are 9 percent more likely to live in the suburbs and 13 percent more likely to live in a rural area.

“Messiness seems to skew two ways; someone may be messy because they use the computer for various endeavors, which could explain why CEOs are more likely to have messy desktops,” Amanda Green, lead author of the Hunch report, told TechNewsDaily. “On the other side of the spectrum, some people are messy because they don't know how to get organized. They're not that comfortable with their computers, and they may not really rely on the computer enough to let the mess bother them.”

Those with messy desktops — self-describedentrepreneurs who are 12 percent more likely to have a stronger aptitude for mathematical concepts and numbers — said that work is an important part of their life and sometimes puts their personal life on the back burner.

Not surprisingly, a person with a messy desktop is more likely than someone with a neat desktop to have a disorganized closet, the report found.

However, neat people, who tend be more tech-savvy (such as knowing how to use external hard drives and how to back-up their computers), are 5 percent more likely to put their personal and social life first and 10 percent more likely to say they work just to pay the bills.

This story was provided by TechNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Myth of Bell-to-Bell Instruction vs. Golden Rule of 15 Minutes

An interesting case study, courtesy "The Committed Sardine"...view the original article here.

Many teachers have been told to teach from bell to bell. Unfortunately, some teachers believe this means they must stand and deliver in front of the board for 50 minutes. Big mistake! In traditional urban schools, it is hard to keep students' attention for even 5 minutes without them taking out their phone or simply daydreaming while acting like they are paying attention.

I teach urban high school students with a history of failure, helping them succeed in mathematics, as well as closing achievement gaps across content areas. I credit my success to the CREATE instructional model—a style of teaching that is strongly against bell-to-bell teaching. In fact, I'm never up in front of the board "teaching" the class for more than 15 minutes at a time. Let me explain:

A typical class starts with a 10-minute warm-up exercise where students refresh what they learned the previous day. Then comes the "golden 15 minutes of teaching," which I call "interactive teach-back." During the interactive teach-back, I explain a concept through the context of a problem or scenario. Then I have different students immediately explain or teach-back what I taught by helping me with similar problems. Making students explain a theory by doing problems or through the context of a scenario is a way of checking for students' understanding, because students have to apply the theory to a novel situation.

During teach-back, I break objectives into smaller steps and concepts, do 10-second mini-lectures on a "baby" concept in the context of a problem, then immediately put up several problems on that baby concept and fire questions at several different students, asking them to teach the class to apply what I taught by doing the problems. (A variation of this approach grabbed headlines in a recent, popular NYT story on reforming math instruction.)

Throughout my 15-minute "lecture," I call on all students, and especially my most-at-risk students. I use a visible scorecard to reward points to student responses and to take away points for anyone not paying attention in any way. Once I am convinced that even the most struggling students can teach back baby concept one, I do another 10-second lecture on concept two using a problem. Again, I put up a few similar problems and then fire questions at different individual students and have them teach the class how to do those problems. I continue this interactive question-and-answer dialogue for 15 minutes, at most. All students are in the hot seat! I make sure that all students learn the objective by using 8 to 10 relevant lecture problems to elicit responses from at least 20 different students.

For my students, the most significant teaching and learning happens during the golden 15 minutes of interactive teach-back. I don't need to combat short attention spans and text messaging over 50 minutes of traditional lecture. Interactive teach-back makes it hard for students to lose focus because I am frequently and randomly asking kids to reteach concepts as part of my lecture. Kids don't get lost in the content because I'm checking for understanding with each step.

Keeping the core of instruction to these golden 15 minutes also allows for 20 minutes of student work at the end of class, what I call the "exit price." More on that concept in my next post. In the meanwhile, check out my book, Create Success! Unlocking the Potential of Urban Students, and share your tips for busting the myth of bell-to-bell instruction.

Post submitted by 2011 California Teacher of the Year and ASCD author Kadhir Rajagopal. Listen to a chat with Rajagopal here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scale of the Universe

Click on the link above to get a lesson on the scale of the universe.

Kind of makes you think about this...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Skype Chat Adds New Dimension for Young Readers

Not a math post, but certainly an interesting take on how technology like Skype can bring experts into the classroom...or characters from the book you are reading...or in the spirit of the latest Pen Pal gathering, bring classrooms together.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes
May 4th, 2011 2:30 – 4:00 pm
District Teacher Office (J.C. Hill School)

In attendance: A. Anderson, J. Restoule General, C. Froman, J. Skye

Absent: T. Claus, D. Hill, L. Martin, M. Martin, A. Noyes

1. J. Restoule General shared with committee information for math camp 2011. Math camp will be held from August 15th, 2011 - August 19th, 2011. All staff members are invited to attend. Complete an online form at as soon as possible if you are interested. This camp is paid for by the province and is free!!! Authors like Marian Small, Amy Lin, Dr. Ruth Beatty and Dr. Bruce will be sharing knowledge and their books. Camp is appropriate for all grades K-4, 3-6, 7-10, and 9-12.

2. GAP closing resources for grade 6 - all students are participating. Amy Lin did a presentation on diagnosis/think sheets/ open questions. J. Restoule General and J. Skye are to attend additional training offered on Monday, May 16th, 2011 at Toronto.

3. System Planning meeting on May 18th, 2011 will be attended by A. Noyes and J. Restoule General (PLMLC)

4. “Leaps and Bounds” meeting will occur on May 5th, 2011.

5. Numeracy committee researched on computer laptops websites that may be used for desk book.

6. Numeracy committee discussed forum for Livebinder - Six Nations Numeracy Desk book;
J. Skye and A. Anderson logged onto system. Committee continued to discuss optional set ups for desk book; e.g. divisional (Primary/Junior/Intermediate). Group agreed to work on a standard binder and branch out from there at a later date.

7. C. Froman shared that JAM school got manual, workbooks, CD-ROM of “Leaps and Bounds” resource. Additional manuals were scanned.

8. Meeting concluded. Binders were distributed for members to include website and information to be included in the desk book.

Next Meeting: June 1st, 2011.

TheSpec - Bridge over troubled water

Friday, June 3rd (this Friday) is the Pen Pal Gathering. Read this article from the Hamilton Spectator to see how this little project became something so momentous and special, and how one person can cause a ripple to inspire so many. Mrs. Miller is very much like the people she teaches about, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.