Education News

Happy Birthday, John Dewey (1859-1952)

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[Image Source: Biography.com]

Today, Learning List celebrates the life of John Dewey, the American philosopher, social reformer, and educator, who was born in Vermont on October 20, 1859.  Dewey was a leader of the Progressive Movement in American education, which emphasized active learning and democratic classroom practices as a means to transmit the core social and moral values (e.g., tolerance) needed to ensure the social continuity of America’s democracy.

In contrast to previous, more authoritarian instructional models that focused on rote learning, Dewey held that students must be actively engaged with and invested in what they are learning and that curriculum must be connected to students’ lives. Dewey’s approach recognized the role of students’ personal experiences in shaping their learning and that students learn best when they are ready for new content.  This idea was expressed again in 1966 with Jerome Bruner’s concept of the spiral curriculum where concepts are revisited across the elementary and middle grades in order to address differences in students’ readiness to learn.

Dewey believed that teachers should not act as instructional authorities.  Instead, they should serve as facilitators of student learning, observing, supporting, and attending to individual learning needs. Dewey also asserted that the curriculum should be relevant to students and their lives.  For example, in a 1916 argument in support of vocational education, Dewey wrote:

The problem is not that of making the schools an adjunct to manufacture and commerce, but of utilizing the factors of industry to make school life more active, more full of immediate meaning, more connected with out-of-school experience (from Democracy in Education).

This approach to curriculum and instruction continues to resonate in American education. Dewey’s work, along with that of Jean Piaget, is fundamental to the contemporary Constructivist movement. Beyond Constructivism, most contemporary American educators understand the importance of a relevant curriculum and student-centered instruction in engaging students with content and meeting diverse student learning needs.

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Are Digital Resources or Textbooks More Effective? OECD Weighs In

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Source: OECD

Are digital resources more effective than textbooks? They are certainly more trendy these days. Although Learning List has reviewed hundreds of instructional materials in both formats, it’s difficult for us to say that one format is better than another. Online adaptive products that individualize learning for each student have the potential to differentiate instruction and keep all students challenged, while textbooks are easier to use, particularly for students without Internet access at home. As more digital content providers are entering the K-12 marketplace, we are paying close attention to research and policy discussions about the effectiveness of online products. We thought our readers might be interested in a recent Bloomberg View that summarizes findings from a 2015 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report.

standardized_testThe report’s key finding is that “increased computer use in classrooms leads to lower test scores.”  The OECD compared test results from the 2009 and 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for groups of students who did and did not use digital resources for instruction. Results indicated that “the use of computers was negatively correlated with improvements in student performance” in both math and reading. That is, students who did not use digital resources performed better on the PISA tests, though there were some anomalies.

In addition, students in Japan, China, South Korea and other Asian economies where fewer students use computers, also did better on computer-based assignments. These students were no less comfortable using technology than students in Australia and Northern Europe where computers are more prevalent in instruction.

The reason? The report concludes:

Gaps in the digital skills of both teachers and students, difficulties in locating high-quality digital learning resources from among a plethora of poor-quality ones, a lack of clarity on the learning goals and insufficient pedagogical preparation for blending technology meaningfully into lessons and curricula create a wedge between expectations and reality. If these challenges are not addressed as part of the technology plans of schools and education ministries, technology may do more harm than good to the teacher-student interactions that underpin deep conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports, Editorial Reviews and new Spec Sheets help educators overcome two of the challenges identified in the OECD report: finding high quality digital resources and blending digital resources into lessons and curricula effectively.

multitasking-mobile-devices-557x362The new Spec Sheets are Learning List’s two-page checklist of each product’s key academic and technology attributes. The Spec Sheets complement our more comprehensive Alignment Reports and Editorial Reviews to help educators quickly identify high-quality digital products that meet their students’ needs and can be implemented successfully using the district’s current technology. We hope that this at-a-glance review will help districts’ curriculum and technology teams quickly narrow the list of products to review themselves.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports also help educators integrate digital instructional materials into their lesson plans/curricula for more effective instruction. These detailed reports identify multiple citations (i.e. page numbers, lesson names) that Learning List’s subject matter experts determined to be aligned to the content, context and cognitive demand of each standard. Only by assigning the parts of the material that are aligned to each standard can teachers have confidence that their students are learning the knowledge and skills the standards require.

Stop by our booth (#1817) at the TASA/TASB Convention this weekend, and let us show you how our service and our new Spec Sheets can help your district choose and use instructional materials more effectively. If you won’t be at the conference, request a webinar at your convenience, and we’ll be glad to introduce you to our service.

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New Reviews: Measuring Up to the TEKS Mathematics

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[Source: Mastery Education]

Mastery Education Measuring Up to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: Mathematics is a supplemental print resource to help students in grades 3-8 (i.e., Levels C-H) prepare for STAAR testing in math. Content is organized in short lessons that address specific TEKS. Instruction provides ample opportunities for students to practice and apply problem-solving strategies. Learning List recently these materials for grades 3-8.

Content is organized in chapters that address key concepts in the TEKS for each grade level (e.g., rational numbers, place value, measurement). Each chapter is made up of short lessons that address specific TEKS. Lessons are presented in five parts: (1) Understand the TEKS, (2) Guided Instruction, (3) Critical Thinking, (4) STAAR Practice, and (5) STAAR Assessment. Content is scaffolded, building from simple to more complex concepts, and includes frequent opportunities for students to write about mathematics.

Student worktexts contain a letter to parents in English and Spanish. The letter explains the importance of the TEKS and the STAAR test, describes the Measuring Up program, and suggests ways that parents can support mathematics education at home (e.g., involve students in mixing recipes).

TX_MEASURING_UP_MATH

[Source: Mastery Education]

About Mastery Education*

Mastery Education®, formerly Peoples Education, is a creator of print and online educational materials for the K-12 school market, best known for the flagship brand Measuring Up®. The company focuses on supplemental instructional and practice materials that are standards-based and customized for specific markets. Founded in 1991, Mastery Education has a long history of accurate and astute content creation, working closely with educational partners and analyzing mandated standards and assessment criteria in order to create the most useful and relevant teacher support tools.

*The content in this section is provided by or adapted from Mastery Education.

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EdNext Poll on Testing

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[Source: The 2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform
WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1]

Over the last few months, the national conversation about public education seems to have shifted from a debate over the Common Core State Standards to a debate over state testing.  Daily, newspapers feature stories about states dropping out of the Common Core testing consortia, PARCC or Smarter Balanced; states abandoning long-standing state testing contracts; and parents opting [their children] out of taking state tests.  Increasingly, state legislatures are examining ways to reduce the number of tests students have to take.

A new poll by Education Next suggests that there may be less hostility towards testing than the media would have us believe.  The nationally representative survey solicited responses from approximately 4,000 members of the general public, parents and teachers.

When asked:  “Do you support or oppose the federal government continuing to require that all students be tested in math and reading each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school?” respondents answered as follows:

Members of the public:  67% supported vs. 21% opposed continuing the federal requirements for annual testing (contained in the federal  No Child Left Behind Act)
Parents:  66% supported vs. 23% opposed continuing the federally-mandated testing;
Teachers:  47% supporting vs. 46% opposed continuing the federally mandated testing.

In answer to the question, “Do you support or oppose letting parents decide whether to have their children take state math and reading tests?” The responses were as follows:

Members of the public:  25% supported vs. 59% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state tests;
Parents:  32% supported vs. 52% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state testing;
Teachers:  32% supported vs. 57% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state testing.

While federal and state policymakers may change the type, number and timing of tests students have to take, testing will remain an indispensable part of our education system.  Learning List’s independent alignment reports help educators understand how the instructional materials they use may be affecting their students’ test results.  If students repeatedly missed test questions associated with a particular standard or group of standards, teachers can refer to Learning List’s alignment report(s) to determine (1) whether the district’s instructional material(s) is/are aligned to those standards, and (2) more specifically, whether the specific citations (e.g., page numbers, lessons) they assigned are aligned to those standards.  If either the material or the citations were not aligned to those standards, students likely did not learn what those standards required them to know.  Either situation is easily fixed by providing supplemental materials aligned to those standards or by assigning other citations listed in the publisher’s correlation that have been verified to be aligned to those standards.

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Teacher Shortages Force Districts to Rely on Online Courses

help-wantedAs the new school year approaches, schools across the country are in a hiring frenzy.  The layoffs from 2008-12, an increasing population of limited English speaking students and college graduates wary of going into teaching because of the uncertainty in that traditionally stable employment market, are just a few reasons why districts are scrambling to fill vacancies. The California Department of Education estimates that California districts have 21,500 slots to fill while fewer than 15,000 new teacher certificates are issued annually.  

How are districts filling the gap? As one rural Texas principal told me recently, “We’re having to rely on online courses more heavily than ever before.  High school math teachers are hard to come by in small Texas towns. So, smaller districts like ours are using self-paced online courses when we can’t find a teacher for the course. What’s scary is that we don’t really know how good the courses are.”  

Students can’t learn what they’re not taught. A material’s alignment to state standards becomes even more crucial when there’s not a certified teacher in the classroom to act as a safety net for a material’s deficits.  In such cases, students have to rely exclusively on the online course for the knowledge and skills he/she needs to master the state tests.  If the material is not well aligned, the district is setting the student up to fail.

Learning List gives districts peace of mind that the materials they are using are teaching their students what they need to know to be successful.  For each material, Learning List provides three types of reviews, including an independent review of the material’s alignment to state standards.  Our detailed alignment reports show specifically where the material (e.g., page numbers, lesson titles) is aligned to each standard and where necessary, which standards the material is not aligned to at all. If a material is not aligned to 100% of the state’s standards for a grade and subject, our Fill-in-the-Gap tool recommends additional materials – supplemental and/or comprehensive; publisher-produced and/or open educational resources – that fill in the gap to ensure that students are getting materials that teach 100 percent of the state’s standards.

With reviews for over 1000 of the most popular materials, Learning List has reviewed many online, self-paced courses (e.g., Compass, Edgenuity, Khan Academy, Think Through Math, US History.org, and Vschoolz) that can help districts fill in their gaps.  Subscribe today to find the materials that will propel your students to success!

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Infographic: 14 Ways to Celebrate National Teachers’ Day

National Teachers’ Day is a special day to recognize and show appreciation to teachers in the USA for their extraordinary contributions to education and development. Let’s celebrate and honor them for their special contributions throughout Teachers’ Appreciation Week (May 4-8).

Share this Infographic with others; more details and active links are included below the image:

Click the Infographic to download and share.

Click the Infographic to download and share.

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3 Empowering and Inspiring Videos

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A Letter to the Future [Kid President]

 

 

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What’s Stopping You From Achieving Your Goals?

 

 

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The Science of Happiness

 

 

 

 3 Popular Facebook Sites

  • NEA Today: The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA’s 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States (source: NEA}
  • We Are Teachers: WeAreTeachers celebrates educators with classroom ideas, “helpline” advice, inspiration and laughs every day. Why? Because teachers are AWESOME! (source: We Are Teachers)
  • Mind Shift: Exploring the future of learning in all its dimensions – covering cultural and technology trends, groundbreaking research, and innovations in education. (source: Mind Shift)

4 Ways to Celebrate

  • Host a mini class party for class teachers.
  • Make an Award or Artwork for your Teacher
  • Hang banners on classroom doors as decoration and sign of gratitude.
  • Write a personal “Thank You” note or card to your teachers.

Famous Teacher Quotes

The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth. – Dan Rather

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people. – Chinese Proverb

Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults. – Abraham Lincoln

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. -George Bernard Shaw

If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around. – Jim Rohn

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. – George Bernard Shaw

© 2015 Learning List

 

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