Category Archives: Ed Tech

Higher Income = Higher SAT Scores?

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Currikijanetpic_preferred_cropped

Did you know that Curriki originated from the idea that technology could play a crucial role in breaking down the barriers of the Education Divide, i.e., the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who do not?

To this point, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal dubbed the SAT test the Student Affluence Test (aka Scholastic Aptitude Test) and showed some troubling statistics. “On average, students in 2014 in every income bracket outscored students in a lower bracket on every section of the test, according to calculations from the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (also known as FairTest), using data provided by the College Board, which administers the test.”

SAT test

Perhaps it’s not surprising that students from more affluent backgrounds scored higher on the SATs. Their parents make more money because they’re likely college-educated. Many live in neighborhoods with higher performing schools. And they have the option to hire in-home private tutors or attend after-school tutoring centers.

But not everyone has those opportunities.

Free Learning Resources Available to Anyone, Anywhere

Here at Curriki, we want to make learning possible for anyone, anywhere in the world. And here’s the best part – it’s completely free. There are more than 57,000 free, high-quality resources for you to download, use, or customize.

For example, you can download SAT Vocab cards or the SAT Math Curriculum Guide for free.

Can’t afford a tutor? Sal Khan’s videos are very popular and you can find tutorials on everything from Algebra 1  to Biology and Projectile Motion.  STEMbite offers some great videos too that cover math and the sciences. There’s also A Survivor’s Guide to College Writing.

SalKhan.3=5x

The goal of Curriki is to make a high-quality education universally available. Join Curriki today: http://www.curriki.org

Please help us spread the word by sharing this with your friends and colleagues!

Making STEM Learning Fun!

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Whether it’s teaching kindergartners to code, or keeping students’ engineering knowledge “fresh,” I’m amazed at the innovative and entertaining new resources available to enrich the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning experience.

Learning should be fun. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

LEARNerds

This is a great idea for students interested in STEM! LEARNerds offers “bite-sized engineering challenges” in the form of a daily question/problem. It’s a fun way to stay on top of engineering fundamentals – especially if you’re studying for Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) & Professional Engineering Exam (PE). Can you solve this problem?

learnerd1

ScratchJr.

Here’s a simple (and free) way for young children to learn coding! ScratchJr is an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-7) to create their own interactive stories and games. Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. Children can modify characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their characters come to life. ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (http://scratch.mit.edu), used by millions of young people (ages 8 and up) around the world.

Curriki STEM Resources

Did you know that there are thousands of STEM resources on Curriki? There are simply too many to mention, but here are a few popular ones:

  • STEMbite videos  – A collection of short video clips created by science and math teacher Andrew Vanden Heuvel from Michigan, USA. Using Google Glass he makes these bite-sized videos highlighting the science in our everyday lives and covers: biology, physics, technology and math. stembite
  • Sal Khan videos  – these popular videos from Khan Academy cover mathematical concepts.
  • STEM sheets –  A collection of printable and customizable worksheets, flash cards and more from STEM Sheets.

Do me a favor, please, and share this post with someone who’d enjoy these STEM resources.

Speak Up Against Bullying!

Photo by Eddie~S via Flickr Creative Commonsjanetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer

Bullying used to be the tough kid beating up a smaller classmate. Today, cyber bullying is much more prevalent with students using electronic devices to send mean text messages, post rumors on social networking sites, and share embarrassing pictures and videos.

Video – Bullies and Bystanders: What Teens Say

Here are a few concerning facts from 2014 Cyberbullying Statistics:

  • 25 percent of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying via their cell phone or on the internet.
  • Over half (52 percent) off young people report being cyber bullied.
  • Of the young people who reported cyber bullying incidents against them, one-third (33 percent) of them reported that their bullies issued online threats.
  • Over half (55 percent) of all teens who use social media have witnessed outright bullying via that medium.
  • More than 80 percent of teens regularly use cell phones, making them the most popular form of technology and therefore a common medium for cyber bullying.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and now is an ideal time to get your school and students involved.

Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center offers several ways to show your support:

  • Register your school or organization as a Champion Against Bullying
  • Add your name to the digital “The End of Bullying Begins With Me” petition
  • Sign up for the Bullying Prevention Newsletter
  • Talk in your community about bullying prevention and local activities.

Stop Bullying: Take a Stand

StopBullying.gov offers several training resources as part of their Bullying Prevention Training Center, including a Bullying Prevention Training Module Presentation, a Community Action Toolkit that includes materials to create a community event, and Training for Educators and School Bus Drivers.

Student Yash Narayan designed BullyWatch to empower students.

5th grade student Yash Narayan designed BullyWatch to empower students.

Encourage students to make a difference too! Recently, Harker School 5th grade student Yash Narayan received the “Best Educational App” award from iOSDevCamp (normally attended by adults), where he created an innovative app called BullyWatch. Using BullyWatch, when students feel bullied, they press a button that turns orange, expressing emotions to the bully of feeling bullied. Usually bullies will then back off, but if not, the student can press the watch for a few more seconds and it will turn red, sending a text message to school staff with the victimized student’s name and location, thus alerting teachers.

Visit Curriki to find a collection on bullying resources.

Student Online Information Privacy

janetpic_preferredBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Student privacy is a growing issue, as more and more data is being gathered on K-12 students. The intent of thIs data acquisition is generally worthwhile. The primary purpose is to obtain more knowledge about student achievement and learning styles, and to support individualized instruction. The goal is to allow students to learn at their own pace.

There are, however, potential risks, since such data is being held in databases distributed on computers owned by school districts, or by state governments, or increasingly, by private companies and organizations. In some cases this data is being loaded into cloud computing resources owned by third parties.

Data privacy

The California state legislature has proposed the most comprehensive law ever to safeguard student information. The proposed law, titled the “Student Online Personal Information Protection Act”, awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. The bill “requires operators of K-12 online sites, services, and applications to keep student personal information private. Under the bill, online operators can only use student personal information for school purposes; including adaptive and personalized student learning. The bill prohibits operators of K-12 online sites, services, and applications from selling student personal information to third parties, like advertisers.”  (This quotation is from SOPIPA Fact Sheet available at:

http://sd06.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd06.senate.ca.gov/files/SB1177_SOPIPA_FACT-SHEET.pdf)

“It’s a landmark bill in that it’s the first of its kind in the country to put the onus on Internet companies to do the right thing,” said Senator Darrell Steinberg, the California state senator who wrote the bill.

“Legislators in the state passed a law last month prohibiting educational sites, apps and cloud services used by schools from selling or disclosing personal information about students from kindergarten through high school; from using the children’s data to market to them; and from compiling dossiers on them. The law is a response to growing parental concern that sensitive information about children — like data about learning disabilities, disciplinary problems or family trauma — might be disseminated and disclosed, potentially hampering college or career prospects. Although other states have enacted limited restrictions on such data, California’s law is the most wide-ranging.” – NY Times blog of September 15th

A majority of states in the U.S. have implemented, or are considering, various forms of student privacy legislation to prevent disclosure and commercial use of student data outside of the school context. The federal legislation currently on the books is now four decades old, and not suited to the modern era of mobile devices, social media, cloud computing, and Big Data (massive databases).

Here is Curriki’s privacy policy with respect to young children:

OUR COMMITMENT TO CHILDREN’S PRIVACY

Protecting the privacy of young children is especially important. For that reason, Curriki does not knowingly collect or maintain personally identifiable information on the Curriki Site from persons under 13 years-of-age. If Curriki learns that personally-identifiable information of persons less than 13-years-of-age has been collected on Curriki without verifiable parental consent, then Curriki will take the appropriate steps to delete this information. If you are a parent or guardian and discover that your child under the age of 13 has obtained a Curriki Site account, then you may alert Curriki at Webmaster@curriki.org and request that Curriki delete that child’s personal information from its systems.

And for the benefit of all of our users, Curriki is not in the business of selling your personal information. You can see our entire privacy policy here: http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/PrivacyPolicy

We’d love to hear your comments. Where do you stand on this student privacy issue? How can we implement Big Data technology in schools so as to gain the benefits of better student learning outcomes, but without compromising personal data?

10 Most Popular (and Free) Math Resources on Curriki

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

If you know a math teacher or a student who’s interested in math, please tell them about Curriki. Did you know we offer more than 15,000 free online math open educational resources (OERs)? Here are our most popular math resources over the past year.

 

  1. fractionsTeaching Fractions  – this collection includes lessons and videos, including “Fraction Operations” and “Fun with Fractions.”
  2. Math for Americas: Lessons, Activities and Problems – designed for middle and high school students, this includes collections of lessons, activities, and problems organized by subject (pre-algebra, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, geometry and more).
  3. Geometry_mobile2Curriki Geometry PBL Modules –  Curriki Geometry comprises six Common Core State Standards (CCSS)- aligned projects. The projects are available in both PDF format for easy download and in an online course format at www.currikigeometry.org.
  4. Division (video) from Khan Academy –  This video is an introduction to division: what it means and how to do it. You can find links to many other Khan Academy video resources here.
  5. algebra2For Students: Project-based Pre-Algebra – This unit is meant to provide supplemental support to a standard Pre-Algebra course and is meant to connect the world of math to that of art. These projects follow the typical sequence of a standard 7th/8th grade Pre-Algebra course.
  6. Relationships between Quantities and Reasoning with Equations – By the end of eighth grade, students have learned to solve linear equations in one variable and have applied graphical and algebraic methods to analyze and solve systems of linear equations in two variables. This unit builds on these earlier experiences by asking students to analyze and explain the process of solving an equation.
  7. FHSSTMathematics - This collection is a full course of material in the form of a textbook provided by FHSST (Free High School Science Texts). FHSST is a project that aims to provide free science and mathematics textbooks for Grades 10 to 12 science learners.
  8. Area of a Triangle – This lesson walks students through a classic optimization problem involving building the maximum area of a triangle, expressed in terms of an angle. The lesson uses a worksheet in The Geometers Sketchpad.
  9. algebra1Curriki Algebra – These modules are based upon the domains and Common Core State Standards clusters. They contain daily lessons based on the four algebra domains and the standards and standard clusters found within. The daily lessons are based on 50-minute sessions and build up to a culminating project-based activity.
  10. Math eTextbooks -  A collection of free math eTextbooks including algebra, statistics and probability, calculus, geometry and more.

Please help us spread the word and share this list with a friend or colleague!

What are OERs?

OER2

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Here at Curriki, we talk a lot about OERs assuming everyone is familiar with the term. But in case you’re not, here’s a short explanation of what they are and why they’re so beneficial. janetpic_preferred_cropped

What are OERs?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources, which are high-quality, openly licensed, online educational materials that teachers, educators, or other professionals have created and have made freely available to others for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing.

What does that mean to you? If you’re a teacher or a student, you can freely use or adapt these materials to suit your personal needs.

How are OERs used in education?

Digital technologies like OERs allow us to personalize the learning experience so that students can learn at their own pace and have instant access to the latest information.

OERs can improve education by allowing costs to be shifted away from expensive, proprietary resources to open, sharable ones. Plus, OERs can help break down the barriers of the “Education Divide” – the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who do not.

Curriki offers K-12 OERs

Reaching more than 10 million users worldwide, Curriki is the largest global learning community where you can find more than 56,000 free learning assets, ranging from lesson plans, videos, and worksheets to multimedia activities and courses.

All of the OERs have been created and contributed by educators, curriculum designers, curriculum partners, and school districts. They are “mashable,” which means that you can select resources (e.g., lesson plans, videos, animations, photos, etc.), tweak them, or combine them with other resources to generate your own custom teaching tools. And many OERs have already been mapped to standards.

Have you checked out the thousands of OERs in all subjects and grade levels available on Curriki?  Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

July2014

You can get access to these free learning resources by joining Curriki (it’s easy and it’s free). Start downloading resources today.

Got Curriki? Summer Tips for Teachers

Portrait of a mature woman lying on a sandy beach

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

I enjoyed a recent blog on Top 12 Summer Tips for Top Teachers from Edutopia that includes lots of great tips on how we, as teachers, can become more productive and better at our jobs.

I thought I’d build on these tips with some additional ideas:

  • Rework the Worst to Be the Best. Take the time to revise last quadraticyear’s lesson plans to make them even better. Incorporate recent events, videos or hands-on learning experiences to enrich the classroom experience. You can find lots of ideas on Curriki. For example, use the Curriki Search function to find games like Quadratic Review or Free Online Math Games to make learning fun. Curriki also has video collections like this Technology Video collection from STEMbite that includes how to make your own bone conduction headphones, and how you can use a new pair of sunglasses to explore the polarization of light.
  • Tinker. What better way to spur creativity, especially in the dog alicedays of summer! Why not explore 3D printing or learn a new skill? We follow Teacher Christine Mytko, who’s using 3D printers in her classroom and blogs about it in Tales of a 3D Printer. Did you ever want to learn programming? Check out the free workshop Getting Started with Java Using Alice, where you can learn basic Java programming concepts with little or no programming experience. It’s fun and you can spend time creating animated stories, movies and games.
  • Laugh. I’m sure you can find plenty of things that will have you laughing out loud. But as teachers, we sometimes appreciate a special kind of humor. “Like” Teachers with a Sense of Humor  or Grammarly on Facebook to get more of these posts.

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LOL. If you know a teacher, please share this post with them!