Category Archives: Ed Tech

Physics Resources for the Flipped Classroom

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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Physics is not only interesting, but also helps us to understand how things work – whether it’s understanding kinetic energy in a looping roller coaster, or why your singing voice sounds so much better in the shower.

At Curriki, we have thousands of resources for teaching and learning physics. Here are a few of our favorites that can be used as part of the Flipped Classroom:

Coaster Creator
rollercoasterLearn the physics of roller coasters with this free, online game that allows students to explore kinetic and potential energy. Per Curriki Member Anna, “This is a great visual aid for students to understand potential and kinetic energy. In addition, it is engaging students to create a roller coaster on their own in order to experiment on what factors affect the change in energy.”

Full Physics Course from Sal Khan
You’ll find about 100 straightforward 10 – 15 minute tutorial videos comprised of simple graphics and personable narration, covering all topics in a complete high school or college course in Physics.

Physics Videos from STEMbite
stembiteThese short video clips are created by online science and math teacher, Andrew Vanden Heuvel, from Michigan, USA. Using Google Glass he makes  bite-sized videos highlighting the science in our everyday lives. The extensive Physics collection features such engaging topics as the physics involved in tennis, playrooms, and even singing in the shower!

The Physics of Sailing
sailingInspired by the America’s World Cup, Curriki just announced a new project-based learning (PBL) course that will be available shortly called The Physics of Sailing. Thanks to a grant from Oracle Corporation, the project will be developed by Curriki’s PBL team with contributions from sailing experts from Oracle Team USA.

Do us a favor please and share this with someone who’s interested in physics.

Homework Horror?

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Is the homework burden in American schools becoming heavier? Articles in the past 3 years in Atlantic magazine and The New York Times and a CNN story as well have raised this specter. But these stories, while accurate in their own particulars, look to be anecdotal and not statistically representative of the broad population of K-12 students. And this is not the first time such concerns have been raised – the debate has continued for at least the past 100 years.

The CNN story drew from a study which was biased by design. It used a small sample of upper middle class and highly competitive high schools in California, over half of which were private schools. In fact the name of the study was “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools”!

A further source of bias is that not all students in the chosen schools responded. The ones who did may have been in more of a mood to complain, or even brag about, their heavy homework loads. These are some of the most academically gifted students, who are striving to enter some of the most elite universities in the country and the world.

In Cupertino, California, where Curriki’s offices and Apple’s headquarters are located, many of the students have parents who are top engineers in Silicon Valley. These engineers were chosen from the best and brightest from China, India, the U.S. and the rest of the world. And such parents tend to push their children toward academic achievement. The Cupertino school district has a high school which was recently ranked #109 in the U.S., out of over 21,000 public high schools.

There have been a number of studies of homework, and they indicate on average that most students have less than an hour of homework, even in their senior year of high school. Trends in homework over the past three decades have been reported in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The assessment is part of the 2014 Brown Center Report on American Education from the Brookings Institution. See the table below, taken from the report, and which summarizes findings from a period of almost 3 decades beginning in 1984. Consistent with other studies, the latest NAEP report indicates that, on average, most students have less than an hour of homework, even in their senior year of high school. According to these results, only one such student in 8 has more than 2 hours of homework. At age 9, only one student in 20 has more than 2 hours of homework.

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Here is a description of the 10 minute per grade-level guideline, from the Wikipedia article on homework:

“A review by researchers at Duke University of more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 showed that, within limits, there is a positive interaction between the amount of homework which is done and student achievement. The research synthesis also indicated that too much homework could be counterproductive. The research supports the ’10-minute rule’, the widely accepted practice of assigning 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. For example, under this system, 1st graders would receive 10 minutes of homework per night, while 5th graders would get 50 minutes’ worth, 9th graders 90 minutes of homework, etc.”

So, in fact, the level of homework by grade level has been relatively stable for the past 3 decades. It will be interesting to see if major trends such as digital learning, flipping the classroom, and Common Core have any effect on the average amount of homework that students are assigned, or actually do.

Curriki is here to help with homework! Here you can find a long list of helpful resources for students that have to do homework, whether it’s a little or a lot!

References:

http://educationnext.org/homework-horror-stories/

http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2014/03/18-homework-loveless

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00220973.2012.745469 – “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools”

 

Introducing Curriki Japan: Open Educational Resources

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By Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

KimJonesimageI recently returned from a trip to Waseda University in Japan, where we proudly launched Curriki Japan, the first of Curriki’s international affiliates!  We are thrilled to announce that many of the same high-quality teaching and learning resources found on Curriki have been translated into Japanese by the all-volunteer Curriki Japan team and are now available to Japanese educators, parents and students for free.

 

The Curriki Japan team will also develop new Japanese content, including materials about Japanese history and culture that educators outside of Japan may use in their classrooms. At this time, there are 200+ resources that have been translated, with new resources being added each month.

 

wasedaHeld at the prestigious Waseda University, the Curriki Japan event was attended by over 300 educators, parents, students, and interested citizens, as well as leaders from Waseda University and Curriki.  Waseda University developed the affiliate program in Japan to fill the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who have lesser opportunity by making digital Open Educational Resources (OER) available for free on the web.

 

By leveraging the power of technology, Curriki Japan is giving all students the same opportunity to access world-class learning materials for free, according to Professor Emeritus Muraoka of the School of Engineering and Science at Waseda University.

 

L-R: Professor Kakei, Dean of Open Education at Waseda University; Professor Muraoka, School of Engineering and Science at Waseda University; Kim Jones, Curriki CEO; Hasegawa-san

L-R: Professor Katsuhiko Kakehi, Dean of Open Education Center, Waseda University; Professor Emeritus Yoichi Muraoka, Waseda University; Kim Jones, Curriki CEO; Susumu Hasegawa, Director, Curriki Japan and Member of the Board, JTP

Curriki continues to be an inspiring global community where educators, parents and students can collaborate, create, learn, and connect with others. Would you please share this news with friends, relatives or colleagues who live in Japan or speak Japanese?  

Pinterest: Ideas for Teachers

pinit2By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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A popular site for teachers, Pinterest boasts over 500,000 education pins each day! It’s an easy and visual way to share and find creative new ideas for the classroom (sounds a lot like Curriki!).

We’re steadily growing our boards, and encourage you to follow Curriki on Pinterest , where you can find Boards ranging from Books Worth Reading and Favorite STEM Resources, to New Teacher Info and Project Based Learning.

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But as we expand, we need your opinion!  Please take a moment to let us know what information is most valuable to you.

New SATs – Leveling the Playing Field

janetpic_preferredBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

The College Board has announced major changes to the SAT format (sometimes called SATs, and officially the SAT Reasoning test) beginning in 2016. The test is very widely used in college admissions in the U.S. Many have argued that the results of the test are given too high a weight in admissions. Research indicates that high school grades are much better correlated with college performance than SAT scores. But the SAT is here to stay, and will remain of major importance in determining where high school graduates can attend college or university. The new set of tests will revert to a maximum score of 1600 based on the combination of the math and the English reading/writing sections. The essay portion of the exams will remain, but become optional, while also more rigorous.

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Much of the motivation toward redefining the test is in an attempt to level the playing field and deliver opportunity for students coming from various economic and cultural backgrounds. See the College Board web site for their thoughts around this issue. There is an excellent article from the NY Times discussing the story of how the new version of the SAT came to be.

In addition to the issue of how much to weight the SAT and its competitor, the ACT, are given in admissions, there have long been concerns that the affluent have a double advantage in taking either of these tests. First, they are generally attending better schools than less privileged students, and have been exposed to more difficult concepts in math and more difficult vocabulary. And second, a whole SAT preparation industry has been around for decades – almost since the first SAT was introduced in 1926 – to help students improve their scores on the exams.

Many students attend training sessions for several weeks in the hopes of gaining an edge by increasing their scores by 20 or even 50 points per section. Some firms in the test preparation industry offer money back guarantees of improving scores by 50 points per section, although research indicates that the average gain from such preparation is a total of 30 points across the current 3 sections of the SAT. Still, even a modest improvement can be the difference between getting in to that higher ranked school or not. The courses easily run several hundreds of dollars, and the parents of students from lower economic strata generally cannot afford to send their children to these SAT preparation sessions.

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In order to help level the playing field, the College Board and the Salman Khan Foundation have announced an initiative to make freely available SAT preparation materials and videos via the Web. Here’s a brief video including an interview with Salman Khan.

Curriki applauds this initiative from these two organizations. We would also like to let you know that there are a number of SAT-related resources on Curriki. Just go to our site and search for “SAT” and you will find resources such as:

1. Vocabulary resource – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_trish1/SATpreparationshelpfulforenglish

2. Vocabulary and SAT prep – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_NassauBOCESCurriculumAreaProjectsCAP/Gr10-12VocabularyandSATPrep

3. Word Dynamo – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jennifermorgan/SATStudyGuidesWordDynamo

BYOD in the Classroom

janetpic_preferredBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Most elementary and secondary students are using mobile devices in their studies, either in the classroom or at home, according to a study by Pearson. The study polled more than 2,300 American students in grades 4 through 12 (aged 8 to 18) and found that almost one-third of students already own a tablet and 43 percent own a smartphone.

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Pearson Student Mobile Study Device Survey 2013 Grades 4-12 Infographic 

In fact, the survey found that seven in ten students would like to use mobile devices more often in their classrooms. The rise of mobile devices in the classroom will be greatly aided by the ConnectED initiative’s planned E-Rate Reform in the U.S. which will help connect more students and provide faster access to Internet in schools, paving the way for digital learning resources.

Geometry Course Designed for Mobile Devices

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This week, Curriki announced the Curriki Geometry website  where usability and page design for its innovative Project Based Learning (PBL) geometry curriculum is optimized for mobile devices.

Available for free, students and teachers now have access to a geometry curriculum that is designed to meet the needs of students born in a global, interactive, digitally-connected world.

Curriki Geometry is a set of six Common Core Aligned projects delivered in a mobile-optimized web environment with access points for students and teachers.

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Teachers are provided with pacing guides, formative assessments, rubrics, guidance on managing a PBL project, tools to help teachers guide students as they learn to collaborate with each other, and reflection tools for both students and teachers.

Please share this new resource with friends and colleagues and let us know what you think!