"My own take is that freedom—for educators to do their work and for parents to choose an environment that's right for their children—is necessary, but not sufficient, for the creation of excellent schools. That it's 'necessary' is obvious by looking at what happens in highly controlled, regimented systems in the United States or around the world. These systems can bring a certain degree of quality control to the task and make sure that outright failures (educational, fiscal, or otherwise) don't happen. But it's hard to find an "excellent" school in a command-and-control system. That's because of a simple fact of human psychology: We hate being told what to do. But removing all strings isn't sufficient to get you excellence, either. You can't just empower anyone—you have to empower a team of people who actually know what they are doing. And these people, collectively, must have the capacity to run a great school. They need to have a coherent pedagogical vision, know how to build a curriculum, know how to create a positive school culture, know how to build and follow a sensible budget, know how to put reasonable 'internal controls' in place, know how to recruit a great staff, and on and on. These people, it turns out, are scarcer than I had realized at age 22."
"Multiple-choice tests had their origin in World War I, when Dr. Robert Yerkes2, President of the American Psychological Association (APA), convinced the Army to commission them to test the intelligence of recruits.3,4 The Army's goal was to improve the efficiency of evaluating men by moving away from time-consuming written and oral examinations. Yerkes' motives were to make psychiatry a more scientific field and move it away from its affiliation with philosophy. A total of 1.7 million recruits were tested, giving the multiple-choice test an air of legitimacy, but in the end, the Army found no value in the results. Yerkes omitted that part of the story when he sold this idea to educational testing outfits. The validity of the test was not questioned. The rest is an unfortunate history.
"In an effort to curb Western influence, China's leaders have reportedly banned the discussion of seven subjects in university classrooms, including press freedom, universal values, and the historical mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese professors and political analysts said a recent directive from Beijing to universities indicated an awareness among the country's leaders that the government is losing its ideological grip over students and younger faculty members. While many faculty members said they had not been briefed by university administrators about the taboos, and in some cases had never heard of them, several professors said university leaders had instructed them at the beginning of May to avoid the subjects in class. According to academics who have been told about the list, the other taboo topics are judicial independence, economic neoliberalism, the wealth accumulated by top government officials, and civil society."
"It's both a fun time of year in high school and a time to reflect. I've had kind of an interesting juxtaposition of a couple of items. We have a couple of students that I know at my school who are graduating and think they want to become teachers (we have a great Teacher Cadet program where they get an opportunity to learn about teaching/learning as well as a mini-student-teaching opportunity). In many ways I think this is great - we must be doing something right if we have bright, amazing students thinking they want to become educators. But the second item gives me pause, so I thought I'd take just a few minutes to share some numbers that I've come across recently."
"Miriam Hughey-Guy will never be a household name, but she is a star among principals."
"Dora Sue Black, the lead teacher for reading at Barcroft, said Hughey-Guy 'encourages staff involvement in decisions and implementation. She provides support when teachers come with ideas to support and challenge the students.'
'She is a whirling dervish that doesn’t stop,' said Arlington County School Superintendent Patrick K. Murphy. 'She always has an opinion, has strong beliefs and is always action-oriented.'
Sixty-one percent of Barcroft’s 481 students are from low-income families. Fifty-two percent are Hispanic, 23 percent white, 10 percent black and 9 percent Asian. The school has an 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. extended-learning program. It offers Spanish as a foreign language to all students.
Hughey-Guy said she plans to spend more time with her husband while spreading the word of how to build a great school. She loved talking to kids. She encouraged teachers to be leaders. She shared and analyzed new student data immediately. She had her staff plan for each student. She had frequent meetings with parents."
"Young writers show an appetite for risk in college application essays about money, class and the economy, submitted at a columnist’s invitation."
"What these four writers have in common is an appetite for risk. Not only did they talk openly about issues that are emotionally complex and often outright taboo, but they took brave and counterintuitive positions on class, national identity and the application process itself. For anyone looking to inspire their own children or grandchildren who are seeking to go to college in the fall of 2014, these four essays would be a good place to start."
"A new 2-year computer science graduate program at Georgia Tech will run on open online courses and cost between $6k and $7k." "Georgia Institute of Technology announced that it will offer a two-year master’s degree in computer science in the format of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), reports Douglas Belkin of the Wall Street Journal. Georgia Tech is the first top-tier school to offer this type of online program for a graduate degree. The program will be offered through Udacity, a widely-used MOOC platform. 'We have our name reputation and excellence behind it. These people will be assessed graded, take exams, have help, will have access to individuals that answer questions.' The course is available to anyone, but in order to obtain the degree from Georgia Tech the student must gain admission and pay the course fees, which will amount to between $6,000 and $7,000. Students must have a bachelors degree in computer science or the work equivalent and earn a grade of B or higher in the first two classes."
"If ever you come across a set of math teachers, whether at a common planning meeting or a bar during happy hour, bring up the conversation of calculators and watch the sparks fly. The arguments for and against calculators have the spirited vigor of a Red Sox vs. Yankees game without the animus. One side argues for the use of efficient and available technology in the classroom, while the other argues for numeracy and fluency to the highest order. In other words, are you old school or new school?
"Annie Lennox delivers Berklee's 2013 commencement address, sharing the history of her love of music, and how it singularly shaped her future. She reflects on milestones from her own musical journey, hoping to inspire the students as they move forward in their lives and careers at this critical moment of profound change.
She recounts the musical loves from her formative years: the Beatles, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Motown, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, Traffic, and Fleetwood Mac."
"Citizen scientists, environmentalists and anyone who lives near a power plant -- your services are requested. Climate change scientist Kevin Robert Gurney needs your help in a grand undertaking: the mapping of all the power plants in the world." "'We thought, there are lots of people around the planet who live near power plants. Maybe they could tell us where the plant is, how much energy it produces, and whether it uses coal, oil or natural gas' he said. 'That alone would give us more information than we have now.' To make it more fun for people to contribute, the lab turned the project into a bit of a game. Users contribute information about a power plant by pinning it to a Google map. The more information about power plants they contribute, the more points they get. When the project ends in 2014, the winner will be declared the 'Supreme Power Plant Emissions GURU!' and will get a trophy. The person will also be named a co-author on a scientific paper that demonstrates the usefulness on crowd-sourcing in scientific research."
"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in a new study, found that 30-year-olds with student loans were now less likely to have debts like home mortgages than 30-year-olds without student loans — even though most of those with student loans are better educated and can expect to earn more money over their lifetimes. The same pattern holds true for 25-year-olds and car loans. 'It is a new thing, a big social experiment that we’ve accidentally decided to engage in,' said Kevin Carey, the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, a research group based in Washington. 'Let’s send a whole class of people out into their professional lives with a negative net worth. Not starting at zero, but starting at a minus that is often measured in the tens of thousands of dollars. Those minus signs have psychological impact, I suspect. They might have a dollars-and-cents impact in what you can afford, too.'"
"Teachers need to create the right conditions for students to concentrate and focus, writes Dr. John Jensen." "Studies to date have found that multi-tasking causes all the tasks to suffer in effectiveness due apparently to the cost of the effort at switching focus. To take the research a step further, the Carnegie Mellon study examined first the effect on mental tasks of interruption compared to non-interruption. Interruption made the brain 20% dumber. Other variables were introduced. Research subjects were told to expect an interruption (which later occurred), and then were told to expect one but that did not occur. In the former, being able to expect the interruption improved mental efficiency from a 20% deficit to a 14% deficit. The results of expecting an interruption but it not occurring, however, were startling. Mental efficiency improved 43%, exceeding even the control group."
"Yahoo just unveiled a completely redesigned website for Flickr, and it looks great. What makes it even better is that each user now gets 1 TB of free storage and 3 minutes of 1080p video. The new look is very image-centric, as it should be. Profiles are collages of photos in a scrollable list with a Facebook-like cover photo. You can check it out now at Flickr.com. A message from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on the company’s Tumblr blog (funny how Yahoo bought Tumblr today too): 'Photos tell the stories — stories we’re inspired to relive, share with our friends, or capture simply to express ourselves. Collecting these moments is a part of our everyday. Since 2005, Flickr has become synonymous with inspiring imagery. Today, we’re thrilled to take Flickr even further with a beautiful, completely re-imagined experience that puts photos front and center. When it comes to photography, technology and its limits shouldn’t hinder the experience. So we’re also giving our Flickr users one terabyte of space — for free. That’s enough for a lifetime of photos — more than 500,000 original, full-resolution, pixel-perfect, brilliant photos. Flickr users will never have to worry about running out of space.'"
"Most folks are familiar with the most common Google tools. Search, Hangouts, Docs, Mail, Drive all are used by countless folks around the world. In fact this blog is written with Google Blogger. I use Google and live there most days. But did you know there are some under used features outside of the typical ones that have great value? Here is just a handful of some of the Google Tools to check out for your classroom."
"In addition to that wealth of advice, here are links to other useful resources: Finishing the School Year Strong and Teaching Secrets: The Last Day of School are two pieces I've previously written for Education Week Teacher. Ideas for English-Language Learners | Celebrating the End of the School Year is a post I recently co-authored for The New York Times Learning Network. Middleweb has pulled together a very nice collection of related posts and articles. And, finally, you might want to explore The Best Ideas On How To Finish The School Year Strong.
"Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence."
Katie and I can't cover the entire education app industry by ourselves. Luckily, there are dozens of other sites specifically devoted to education app reviews for teachers and students." Click the title above to go to the article for the list of 46 sites.
"Clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for twentysomethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade." What the "facts of life" lead you to say to someone in their 20's.... "Thirty is not the new twenty so claim you adulthood. Get some identity capital. Use your weak ties. Pick your family."
"The tech industry is officially out to remodel your kid's classroom -- and it feels like there's a good chance that it's going to succeed. After years of more or less resisting the pull of the web, both college and K-12 seem ripe to be remade for the digital age. There's political buy-in. There's investor buy-in. There's, frankly, a pervasive sense that it's just time. But what exactly will tomorrow's schools look like after they get a SIlicon Valley-style makeover? What exactly are we trying to accomplish pedagogically by integrating computers more deeply into the classroom? And how do we work more science, math, and tech education into our schools? These were some of the issues that the guests at The Atlantic's Technologies In Education Forum tackled earlier today. Here are a few of the interesting ideas I took away from the wide-ranging discussion."
"I posted earlier today about a new Xerox machine that is being marketed to “read” and grade student essays. Not to score bubble tests, but to grade essays. Granted, this is not a new idea. There are now different companies selling machines to grade student writing. I have seen demonstrations of this technology, and I can’t shake the feeling that this is not right. Why? I am not opposed to technology. But here is the nub of my discomfort. I am a writer. The moment I realized I was a writer was when I discovered many years ago that I write for an audience. I think of my reader(s). If I am writing for a tabloid, I write in a certain style. If I am writing for the New York Times, I write in another way. If I am writing a letter to a family member, another style. If I am writing for a scholarly journal, something else. When I write for this blog, I have a voice different from the voice in my books. I don’t know how to write for a machine."
"Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on how student debt is crushing the American dream, and what to do about it.
It’s cap and gown time all over the country. And since it’s this country, that means a lot of new young college graduates graduating with a lot of debt. $26,000 on average now for student loan borrowers. In total, more than a trillion dollars in student debt. Famously more student debt now in this country than credit card debt.
Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says this isn’t just an astonishing number. It’s a real drag on the US economy, and a real promoter of US inequality. It’s got to change, he says.
This hour, On Point: Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz on student debt in America."
"With soaring costs, stagnating incomes and little help from the government, there is only one way to pay for higher education: debt." "A certain drama has become familiar in the United States (and some other advanced industrialized countries): Bankers encourage people to borrow beyond their means, preying especially on those who are financially unsophisticated. They use their political influence to get favorable treatment of one form or another. Debts mount. Journalists record the human toll. Then comes bewilderment: How could we let this happen again? Officials promise to fix things. Something is done about the most egregious abuses. People move on, reassured that the crisis has abated, but suspecting that it will recur soon. The crisis that is about to break out involves student debt and how we finance higher education. Like the housing crisis that preceded it, this crisis is intimately connected to America’s soaring inequality, and how, as Americans on the bottom rungs of the ladder strive to climb up, they are inevitably pulled down — some to a point even lower than where they began."
"Bees disappearing. Cicadas coming out. A new generation of scientists coming up. We'll talk with super-biologist E.O. Wilson about our future and nature." "Super biologist, naturalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner E.O. Wilson is as big as popular figures come in science these days. Father of sociobiology. Master of ants. Marvelous communicator. He’s 83 now. But once, E.O. Wilson was just an Alabama kid crazy about snakes and bugs. He followed a passion for the natural world around him into a life in science. Now he wants to show others — young people — the way. The country needs you, he says to the young. The world needs you."