RobotsLAB Blog


Profesional Development Tips

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Jul 17, 2014 12:00:00 PM

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When computers first burst into the classroom back in the late eighties and nineties, most teachers were nonplussed by a new technology they had hardly been aware of, much less trained for.  They stared at these new machines and wondered what were they supposed to do with them. A lifetime of teaching couldn’t provide them with a clue and what they were hearing from their administrators only added to the confusion. As a result some retired rather than deal with the newfangled things and some simply set them on their desks and ignored them.  

The majority, thankfully, buckled down and decided to find out how these things worked and how they could be made to serve their students. Of course one of the first things they discovered was that the students either already knew how to use the darn things or were capable of learning to use them faster than their teachers … and teachers are still playing catch up with their students with each new technological arrival.

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Topics: EdTech, Education, 21st Century Classroom

Awards

Posted by Brendan Barnard

Jul 17, 2014 11:18:00 AM

Best in Show, ISTE 2014 

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Topics: Awards, 21st Century Classroom

What makes a parabola relevant to kids?

Posted by Anna Sandler

Jul 16, 2014 10:00:00 AM

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Conveying to kids the idea that math plays an important part in their lives is, as any math teacher can tell you, one of the most difficult things about teaching math. The blackboard, the book and rote memorization were for years the only tools math teachers had; that, and the hope that they were getting it across. As most of us are aware, for the great majority of kids over the years it wasn’t enough.

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Topics: Math, EdTech, 21st Century Classroom

profesional development for technology use

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Jul 15, 2014 2:39:16 PM

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In an earlier post (Professional Development Tips) we discussed professional development courses for teachers as presented by noted educational consultant Tom Daccord of learning consultancy EdTech Teacher. Mr Daccord offered six tips that he believed would improve teacher professional development courses leading, of course, to improved teacher classroom effectiveness.  

One point he made that we found particularly arresting was his insistence that it was no longer necessary or even wise for teachers to attempt to understand the “nuts and bolts of technology” when dealing with new tech teaching aids. Learning how to operate the new technology, something that students seemed to be able to do almost instinctively, was not as important as having a plan that would insure that these new tools were applied effectively in the classroom. Good pedagogy was  to be preferred over technical proficiency. What adult, after all, can move his thumbs as fast as a teenager?

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Topics: EdTech, 21st Century Classroom

Math meets art -- are you inspired?

Posted by Brendan Barnard

Jul 14, 2014 10:36:35 AM

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That math and music are closely related has been known forever. Music symbols (not cymbals) read like strangely designed math symbols -- or maybe the other way around depending on your orientation. A musical piece divides into measures and bars, which are further delineated by beats, and fractions are used to indicate the length of individual notes. What isn’t as well known is the relationship between math and the graphic arts. That math can be beautiful...

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Topics: Math, National News

Meet the newest Math summer camp

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Jul 9, 2014 5:55:10 PM

 

Louisiana math teachers are stepping up their efforts to make teaching their discipline special. These are not your father’s math teachers. Nineteen of these new model teachers, five from Lafayette Parish middle school and fourteen others enrolled in UL-Lafayette’s Louisiana Mathematics Masters in the Middle program, a graduate course funded by a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, recently took math off the blackboard and out of the classroom to an Olympic-themed summer math camp held at J. Wallace James Elementary School, Scott La.

Lasting ten days and hosting more than 40 gifted students from at-risk Lafayette schools, this is a great example of a university and neighboring elementary schools cooperating in bringing fun -- that’s right, FUN -- the newest paradigm in math instruction, to students. Instead of learning math procedures by rote, these young people had a chance to see how math can be relevant to their lives and, yes, fun!

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Topics: Math, 21st Century Classroom

3D Print Your World -- and your classroom!

Posted by Brendan Barnard

Jul 8, 2014 10:30:00 AM

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 A few weeks ago my wife took my two grandchildren to a paper-cutting artist who snipped out near-perfect likenesses of both their profiles in a matter of a minute with nothing more than paper and scissors. As I am incapable of doing the same with a pen and paper- - much less scissors -- in any amount of time, I was greatly impressed. This led me to look online for more examples of paper-cut art; of which, it appears, there are more than a few.  One of the most impressive examples that I found of this art form was a project by artist Rogan Brown.

Aptly titled "Outbreak," these paper-cut figures are painstakingly-detailed reproductions of microscopic pathogens and human body cells. While it took the artist cutting out my grand-children's profiles less than two minutes, artist Rogan Brown worked on OutBreak for four long months. As I have even less patience than graphic talent, I was impressed yet again and wished I could behold them in all their 3D splendor; but having even less money than either talent or patience, it was impossible to imagine how that could ever happen -- I Mean, what would you have to pay an artist to possess such an intensely time-consuming creation? No, online pictures were the only way work of this nature could ever be enjoyed by the average individual.

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Topics: 21st Century Classroom, 3D Printing

What Can We Do About Math Anxiety?

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Jul 7, 2014 5:20:59 PM

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Parents, are you feeling guilty about inculcating your children with that educational scourge, Math Anxiety? Take heart, it might not be your fault. According to a recent study at Ohio State University, there is a genetic component to the malady. Says lead author Zhe Wang, We found that math anxiety taps into genetic predispositions in two ways: people’s cognitive performance on math and their tendency toward anxiety..."

Which leaves us wondering, what can be done about math anxiety in teachers and students if math anxiety is genetic?  I’m not a teacher and I haven’t been a math student for nearly half a century, but as a parent (Ok, Ok, a grandparent!) I’m relieved that yet another potential, parental guilt trip has been resolved in favor of nature rather than nurture.

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Topics: Math, Education, 21st Century Classroom

Google and Lego want to send kids to the moon!

Posted by Brendan Barnard

Jul 2, 2014 1:28:06 PM

 

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Forty-two years have passed since Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon. I think it is way past time that we went back and I am pleased to find I'm not the only one who thinks so...

It's called the 2014 Moonbots Challenge. Sponsored by Google and LEGO for 9 through 17 years olds, its goal is to stimulate interest in young people about returning to the moon. First the kids are asked to form teams and produce a video that answers the question “Why should we go Back to the Moon for Good?” Twenty-five teams are picked from all over the world based on their answers in their videos. Each of the twenty-five video winners will then get a LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics toolkit, a lot of LEGO bricks and some other as yet unspecified materials (faux moon rockst?) with which to build a robot capable of surviving in a simulated moonscape.

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Topics: National News, 21st Century Classroom

Silicon Valley stars put up $15 Million in prize money to inspire future mathematicians

Posted by Brendan Barnard

Jul 1, 2014 2:28:46 PM

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After very little deliberation I have decided to forgo the Nobel Prize in Physics and work on the less well-known but better funded Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics announced just last year by Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri Milner and their respective wives. The aim of the prize is to help make mathematics a more appealing career course. It’s discovery certainly did wonders for my view of the subject!

My interest in a Nobel had been waning since 1980 anyway when they debased the Nobel Prize Medal by cutting the gold content from 23 to 18 carat. But what really decided me was learning that the Breakthrough Prize this year was 3 million dollars, 2 1/2 times the Nobel’s measly 1.2 million. This year's five winners will take home a total of...um, let’s see...that’s fifteen million dollars (I obviously need to practice more).

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Topics: Math, National News

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