RobotsLAB Blog


california schools embrace blended classrooms

Posted by Mike Nardine

Jul 30, 2014 10:00:00 AM

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Oakland CA schools have a problem trying to teach their academically diverse student body. Kilian Betlach, the principal of Oakland’s Elmhurst Community Prep says that while one third of Elmhurst’s kids are at grade level in reading and math, the remaining two thirds are from one to four years behind. No doubt Principal Betlach’s school shares the same problem with many inner-city, high-poverty middle schools.  

The question of how best to address this problem is complicated by lack of staff and lack of funds -- another common problem with inner-city schools. With too few teachers, how can they keep the slower learners from falling farther behind without denying faster learners the time they deserve and thereby cheating them all of a decent education? Unfortunately the answer to this problem is not to be found in the old factory model of education most of us grew up with.

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Topics: Education Politics, 21st Century Classroom

Summer slide achievement gap vacation

Posted by Charles Nimrad

Jul 29, 2014 10:00:00 AM

 

This shouldn't come as a surprise, but after three months off in the summer most kids return in September at a lower learning level than when they departed: A whole month behind, according to Catherine Augustine a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who has studied summer learning loss. Apparently a majority of children come back behind in math, whereas fewer are left behind in reading. This step backward is most obvious with children in low income neighborhoods where they might have less access to libraries and books in the home.  

Over the years educators have promoted various changes in the educational system they thought might go a long way toward cutting back this deficit. School year-round was one idea; a marginally longer school year was another. The year-round idea apparently wasn’t anywhere near as effective as its proponents had hoped: studies still showed a deficit of one month or so at the beginning of the next year. It didn’t make much sense fiscally, and it surely ruined a lot of family summer vacations. Extending the school year made better financial sense but didn’t work all that well in some countries that had tried it, and Canadian schools showed better than the U.S. on the tests while only holding the kids in for three more days during the year.

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Topics: Education, 21st Century Classroom

looking for ways to interest kids in tech? 3D print their ice cream!

Posted by Mike Nardine

Jul 28, 2014 1:35:00 PM

 

We’ve all heard the old saw “the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  I can’t say I put much stock in that one, but I’ve heard that the “quickest way to get a kid’s interest is with an ice cream cone” -- I believe that one based on my own experience an impossibly long time ago.

Therefore it didn’t surprise me at all to hear that the fine institution of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was experimenting with producing ice cream with a 3D printer in hope of drawing kids' interest to the technology. It apparently started one semester when Professor John Hart’s class in additive manufacturing printed 600 ice cream spoons. Additive manufacturing, by the way, is considered by many including President Obama to be the new revolution in manufacturing. Instead of forming things in molds or by punching, pressing and whittling them down on tool and die machines, additive manufacturing builds things up nature's way, one layer at a time.

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Topics: 21st Century Classroom, 3D Printing

RobotsLAB is a winner of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator powered by TechStars

Posted by Elad Inbar

Jul 24, 2014 9:36:33 AM

Kaplan, Inc., the global education company and largest subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC), and Techstars, the global startup accelerator, announced today the 12 education-technology startups selected to participate in the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars, their three-month immersive mentorship and business development program beginning today in New York City.

 

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Topics: Awards, 21st Century Classroom

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