EDUCATION – Creative Disruption
 

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Education

tech in schools

TECHNOLOGY HAS BECOME ESSENTIAL TO SCHOOLS

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Small-group work springs naturally from the use of computers and video technology. Four or five kids sharing a video camera can put together a project combining several media, for example. Or simulation software can generate realistic situations on one classroom computer, with teams of students working out solutions in smaller groups.

“No amount of interactive technology can substitute for dynamic human interactivity,” warns David Dockterman of Tom Snyder Productions, who has developed a number of classroom software programs that are geared to stimulate thoughtful discussions in the one-computer classroom. “But videos and computers can often spark that by setting up learning in a rich narrative context-which is how people learn things best.”

Merely to deal with the amount of information exploding into students’ lives, Kathy Pelles observes, teaching tasks must aim to develop what School of the Future calls students’ “GUMS skills”-getting, understanding, manipulating, and synthesizing information. “We asked kids to make hypermedia stacks about whether our school rule on offensive language violated their right to free speech, for example,” she says. “It took time for them to figure out what to put into the stack, how to make comparisons and contrasts, how to present the material persuasively.”

In fact, students working with computer hypercard stacks to select and organize information are often using their minds in quite different ways from their pencil-wielding predecessors, observes humanities teacher Kathy Juarez, who teaches at Piner High School in Santa Rosa, California. “It’s important to acknowledge that technology can stretch our mental boundaries,” she says. “We now have the power to do things we haven’t even imagined before.” Piner teachers believe that students must be trained to use technological tools to negotiate their future successfully; they are discussing a new list of desired high- tech skills that dovetail nicely, they say, with their Essential School goals.

On the other side of the coin, ed.gov notes that many worry that electronic short-cuts will seduce schools into shortchanging the three R’s. But they can just as easily have the reverse effect- computer searches don’t work, after all, if you can’t spell the key words. In the high-tech library at Paul M. Hodgson Vocational-Technical High School in Newark, Delaware, for example, a frustrated senior boy combed an on-line catalog in vain for materials on “19th-centrey tools.” Principal Steven Godowsky corrected the student’s spelling, then made sure his English teacher followed up on the problem.

Teaching higher-order basics, too, becomes more important in the information age. “If ever there was a need for coaching students to use their minds well, it’s now,” says Piner’s Kathy Juarez. “It’s naive to think that even with technology kids are going to be able to make meaning of this incredible glut of information without learning to make connections between things, ask the right questions, make logical selections. But that’s not to say it’ll have to happen within the four walls of the classroom with 30 kids.” Indeed, Piner students have liberal access not only to classroom computers but to the off-line adult world outside their school, where they work with mentors on a range of professional activities.
Curriculum Changes

computers in schools

Access to technology can change curriculum, too, in ways that reflect the Essential School emphasis on depth in student learning and a generalist’s attitude on the part of teachers. At Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, Arizona, science teacher Frank Draper uses sophisticated computer simulations to get students thinking about “system dynamics”-how decisions and actions affect the workings of entire systems from copper mining to flu epidemics. Working in teams at networked computer stations, students in one class compete for mining resources on an imaginary island, investigating nonrenewable resource management.

From bbc.com, “The computer tells them what kind of soil sample their team ‘discovers,”‘ Draper says. “Then they go get an actual sample from the classroom cupboards, analyze it chemically to determine its ore yield, and enter their results in. They can construct deals to trade land with other students, trying to run a profitable company while applying- and assessing-their knowledge of chemistry and economics.” After a week of such grounding, students play out a number of “what if” scenarios using computer modeling, through a simulation program called STELLA.

At Chicago’s Sullivan High School, where Socratic seminars drive the curriculum, students are using IBM’s modern version of medieval illuminated books and manuscripts; by clicking on a word in the text they can access interviews, background materials, and various other related topics. It is a small step, David Niguidula points out, to “illuminating” their own texts similarly, opening up a new realm of academic discourse. At Hope High School in Providence, Rhode Island, Kay Scheidler’s students have replaced their textbook with a Hypercard “corpus” of material about United States history and literature. Not only can students access key primary sources, but they can add to the body of knowledge by making their own work available for reference by other students.

self empowerment

THE LIFELONG PROCESS OF SELF-IMPROVEMENT

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If you’ve ever tried to work on a few different elements of your life at once (say, exercise, eating well and learning a new language) you’ve probably found that it’s a delicate balancing act.

Some days you’re really rocking one category while the other takes a backseat. Some days all are making incremental progress. And some amazing days, you make big strides in all your areas of change.

As you read over our improvements week after week, you’ll find that we’re often working on strengthening old habits that have gotten weaker, getting back our focus on a previously forgotten improvement or trying to balance a few different changes.

Sometimes we fail, and that’s okay. But sharing with one another—and all of you–every week helps us go farther than we ever could alone.

After taking the previous week a little slower with the running, I’m aiming for another three runs this week: 2 x 8 km and one 10 km. As for my language learning, I’ve taken a note out of the Power of Habit and replaced a similar activity with another. Usually when I eat lunch, I watch videos on reddit/youtube etc. I’ve decided to replace this with watching a Chinese TV series instead. I try and watch during lunch and a little more after that. To make the activity less of a challenge (& more entertaining), I usually read the episode synopsis in English before watching it all in Chinese.

Flying back to from Casablanca on Tuesday, had a great surfing session & published my article on Medium over the weekend. Looking forward to more reading (done with Quiet – The Power of Introverts a nice read, now reading Winning without Losing (about entrepreneurship and balance). Looking at a 10km run tonight (Monday) – might regret it 😀 – and 4 meditation sessions (8-12 min after lunch). Also trying to schedule my summer travels this week (Amsterdam, Barcelona, sailing, home & Copenhagen + maybe Hamburg) and think about September.

This week the main focus will be towards productivity and picking up the daily reading habit, which I neglected a bit in the last two weeks. So the idea, is to be able to achieve the three main routines (body, mind, spirit) on a daily basis while having a high productivity level. I have set the goal of reading for at least 30 minutes per day, take a reflection and gratitude moment for a minimum of 20 minutes per day, lastly I’m doing the 10-Day FitStar World Cup Workout Challenge (I love challenges, I’m currently on day 4) to have a fun new experience and stay healthy.

After two piano lessons I realized that I enjoyed the challenge and the new experience, and yet financially the lessons were a little too much and it was tricky time wise. In Manchester I was talking about our self improvements and was challenged to have another push at this. I’ve taken the advice of Cheryl Cherian of Florida and I’ve bought an electric keyboard and begun using the lessons built in to Garageband, having a 20 minute session every evening.

I’m continuing to work on my sleep goals and am aiming for another 3 day streak of 8hrs, I’d like to find out what improves the amount of time I get deep sleep, too. As a mini-project, my iPhone has become a little overloaded (I have 136 apps), as something I use and rely on in so many situations, I’ve decided to make sure that it’s as well organized as possible! And with 10 days until I go to Paris, improving my French with podcasts, duo lingo and some background French talk radio is more important than ever!

Headed to Maui this week for another change of scenery. I’m excited to be in a new timezone too, I think this will be a good one. 🙂 Whenever I head somewhere new, the three things I like to hold on to are running 3x a week (half marathon might be in the future), reading each night before bed and drinking lots and lots of water. I’m also holding on to the send 1 letter/week improvement to keep letting my friends/family know I’m thinking of them and lucky to have them in my life!

With the upturn in the weather of late, something I want to do is to try and spend more time outside each day. It’s all too easy to stay indoors, but there’s really no need nor excuse since I work exclusively from a laptop. Just need to get out of my comfort zone and find a good spot (that isn’t the pub!). Also, I’ve stopped writing a list of things I want to look into for each day, so I plan follow the advice found at radaris.com and bring that back, in electronic form.

This week, my focus is with eating healthier food. My goal is to have 2 home cooked lunches that I bring to the office instead of going out for lunch. I’ve also bought scales so I can measure my food intake a bit better, which I think will be a big improvement. I’m also keen to keep on with my meditation habit which was fantastic last week at 5 sessions. Hoping to do the same again in the office this week.

I found traveling to be a neat way to hone my workflow. When you only have time for essential tasks, essential tasks are all you do. I’d love to see how I can bring some of those lessons into my back-home workflow this week. I’d also like to finish the book I’m into now (Stephen King On Writing); World Cup soccer is making this more difficult than I thought.

My focus this week is to keep going with all my habits as part of my routine (evening walk, good sleep, meditation, gym, good eating). My focus will be to zoom in on the sleep and try to be better with that this week than I was last week. I also have ear plugs as an experiment, and last night’s sleep was my best in probably a month, so early results are great! I’m accidentally on a 7 day streak of 10,000+ steps a day, so I’m going to try and keep that going this week too.

More than halfway through 30 days of no sweets now, still going strong. Last week was one of my best weeks as far as steps/general activity has gone, 7 straight days over 5k steps. Cherian says that’s a big improvement compared to my normal steps, but I’d still like to go a bit higher, aiming at 8k a day as my goal. Inspired by Rodolphe Dutel’s post on Medium, I want to create some goals or ways to improve, big or small, over a longer term. I’m hoping I can spend some time this week getting a few down on paper. I already have some thoughts floating in my head, looking forward to creating a new personal manifesto of sorts this week!

I bought a book called Drawing on the right side of the brain a couple of weeks ago, with the intention to start learning to draw. It’s been sitting untouched on my desk for while, so this week I would like to give it a go! I’ll try to do some drawing each day. I did have some art classes at school, but I really can’t draw well! I’m hope that tapping into some right-brain skills will help boost creativity and focus in other areas of my life. I guess the biggest challenge here will be keeping up my encouragement, no matter how bad the results might be at first!

I’ve gotten into a wonderful flow last week where I totally disengage from my computer at dinner time. I put on a podcast and just totally focus on either cooking, eating food or just listening to the speakers. This has been extra relaxing, and really put me in a good mood at the end of the day. I’m going to continue this habit this week, but build in some extra time to read. I’ve compiled a big list of books I’d like to start learning from, so this will be a great place to start.

school high tech

SUPERCHARGING EDUCATION WITH THESE TECH TRENDS

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The education sector could potentially change significantly in 2018. This comes as technology continues to be a greater force for good. Here are ten trends to check out in the coming year that will influence education for the better.

Collaborative learning will be vital to learning

Collaborative learning can be supported in the classroom through technology. This includes students getting in touch with each other through social media sites and other forms of content to make it easier for them to complete group tasks. This can also include students working together with the same online resources to help them with doing more with their studies. Collaboration is especially vital for helping students to work together to fill in the gaps that they might have when trying to learn things. The teamwork approach that can be utilized here is vital for the success of any program.

Learning spaces are being redesigned with technology in mind

The final thing to see with technology entails the use of new learning spaces. New designs for how students may be seated while working in certain spaces makes it easier for those students to learn at their own pace. Much of this includes working with computers in social environments where many students can work with a few individual computers.

Virtual reality will be a big deal

With virtual reality devices, students can review different concepts in various digital environments. For instance, a student could see things in a foreign location when wearing a virtual reality headset. This could include a look into some kind of historic event or other important site. Having such headsets in the classroom makes it easier for students to want to learn and have fun while doing so.

Artificial intelligence makes testing easy

Artificial intelligence programs will help with improving upon how students are tested and how their skills might work in any class. Such programs help people to understand how to handle unique learning concepts while reviewing test results in many forms. These programs can even work in online testing programs to adjust the questions that appear based on what a student understands and how much of a challenge that student requires in the process.

Data-driven content is vital to success

Data in a classroom can be collected through a program that utilizes a unified standard within a school. Computers can help to review data and see how students are performing in a class, thus allowing teachers to adjust their lesson plans based on what needs to improve. This is important for ensuring that a great educational program can develop in some fashion without being complicated.

Educational video content is becoming more important

Various online video collections are making video learning all the more important and valuable. School curriculum can incorporate videos from various channels like Khan Academy or Ted Talks spaces to get content that may work well for various educational purposes. Video content can especially be valuable considering how many students might learn better through video programs than via other methods. The ease of accessibility of such content makes it easy for people to reach the content that they want to work with as well.

Gaming technology will make learning fun

Gaming technology can work with various programs that make it easier for students to learn in fun virtual environments. Such technology will entail the use of virtual programs that deliver responses to students based on their answers while focusing on key learning objectives. This makes students more invested in the overall learning process.

The Internet of Things will make a bigger impact in classrooms

The Internet of Things is a great solution for learning that works to improve upon how well students can learn with physical objects. This would use more sensors and codes on physical items to make them easy for mobile devices to read. This includes working to help people learn more about items they might see in any space. The Internet of Things is unique, but it should be organized carefully and with enough codes and systems to ensure content can be read well enough.

Coding is becoming more important

Coding has become a vital point for study in many schools. This part of technology involves helping people to learn about how to control computer programs and digital devices or applications. This is a point that will be found in more schools in the future as people realize how valuable this line of learning works.

Students are expected to be not only great learners but also creators

Technology will impact education by making it easier for students to use more computer programs. By incorporating computers and tablets into classrooms, it becomes easier for students to learn through creating. They can work with many programs on their devices that help them to create new things and to organize the things that they might learn in any situation.

All of these features will make the education industry thrive in 2018. Technology will surely make classrooms more enjoyable and unique while making lessons exciting. It is especially amazing to see how well technology works for giving any school a more exciting experience.

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PRESCHOOLERS AND THE TEACHING OF SCIENCE AND MATH

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Unfortunately, young children don’t get enough math and science experiences. Even well-regarded programs for young children tend to have a strong focus on language and social development but a weaker focus on math, and little or no focus on developing children’s potential for scientific thinking. What’s more, the small amount of math and science that young children are taught is often not of high quality.

How can we support high-quality math and science learning in a way that’s appropriate to children’s development? The answer lies in seeing that learning progresses along research-based, learning trajectories.

A learning trajectory has three components: a goal, a developmental progression, and instructional activities. To attain a certain competence in a given math or science topic (the goal), students progress through several levels of thinking (the developmental progression), aided by tasks and experiences (instructional activities) designed to build the mental actions-on- objects that enable thinking at each level.

For example, we might set a goal for young children to become competent at counting. A developmental progression means that a child might start by learning simple verbal counting, then learn one-to-one correspondence between counting words and objects. After that, the child learns to connect the final number of the counting process to the cardinal quantity of a set (that is, how many elements the set contains). Finally, the child acquires counting strategies for solving arithmetic problems (up to multi-digit problems, for example, 36 + 12: “I counted 36 … 46 … then 47, 48!”).

kids reading

It’s important to mention that while it is a good idea to introduce young children to technical topics, a strong emphasize on topics such as the promotion of self-worth, diversity and self-confidence should remain. A variety of children’s teaching resources including books, children’s stories, work programmes can be found online at sites such as 1 You World.

Many early childhood teachers aren’t eager or prepared to teach STEM subjects, even though children may be eager to learn them. Historically, teachers of young children haven’t been prepared to teach subject- specific knowledge to young children. In-service professional development also tends not to emphasize math and science, despite the existence of learning standards and increased curricular attention to these subjects.

If teachers are to help young children learn STEM subjects, their professional development must help them explore content and teaching methods in depth. In general, research suggests that effective professional development in early STEM should be continuous, intentional, reflective, goal- oriented, and focused on content knowledge and children’s thinking. It should be grounded in particular curriculum materials, and situated in the classroom.

But all training needn’t occur in the classroom. Teachers also need off-site, intensive training that focuses on the three components of a learning trajectory—goals (the STEM content), developmental progressions, and instructional activities. Then they need time to try out the new strategies in their classrooms, supported by coaches who give them feedback.

The success of our Building Blocks curriculum and other projects can largely be attributed to such professional development that’s organized around learning trajectories. These projects included far more extensive and intensive professional development, ranging from five to 14 full days, compared with the usual one-shot workshop.

Current research in learning trajectories points the way toward math learning that is more effective and efficient—but also creative and enjoyable—through culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate curricula and assessment. However, we still have much to learn about teaching certain topics in math, science, engineering, and technology. We also need to understand better how to improve curriculum and teacher training so that children can realize their full potential in these critical subjects.