Education Across the Globe

Kim JonesBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

The infographic in this post has some very interesting information on education and literacy around the globe. It was produced by Tutoring Expert in Canada.

A few facts: there are 1.4 billion students on earth, fully 20% of the world’s population. There are 65 million educators around the world. This is approximately equal to the population of France. Developed countries typically spend about 10 to 15% of their total government budgets on education.

Around 800 million adults across the globe are illiterate. Three nations each have over 1 million girls not in school: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. Only 12% of women in Afghanistan are able to read. Around 31 million girls of primary school age around the world are not in school.

In India, 88% of boys are able to read, but only 74% of girls. Clearly one of the challenges is increasing literacy for all, and especially, educational access for girls. On the other hand, in the Philippines, there are many more girls in school than boys.

Global edu infographic

In the U.S., only 32% of students are considered proficient in math. Children in Finland have the world’s highest scores in math and science, despite not starting school until age 6 or 7.

Despite the problems that remain, 1 in 3 young people are now expected to receive a college or university degree. Education is key to job opportunities, and to one’s standard of living, health, and social position. Most societies and parents around the world care deeply about their children’s future, for both boys and girls, and thus for their educational development. They invest considerable resources in their children’s education. But there are also serious shortcomings that must be addressed.

Curriki, as a not-for-profit foundation, is fully dedicated to improving education access and educational outcomes around the world. Over 50,000 Curriki educational resources are freely available to anyone with Internet access. These resources are also open source, in order to allow customization as needed. To date, 10 million unique users have visited the Curriki web site.

Take a careful look at the infographic, and see what other interesting factoids you are able to discover. The variation of school attendance hours between countries is fascinating!

National Museum of Mathematics

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer

At Curriki, we believe that math does not have to be boring. One institution that shares this belief and brings it to life is the National Museum of Mathematics (a.k.a. MoMath) in Manhattan, New York City. It is the only museum in the U.S. devoted purely to math.

Science News said the museum is “the antidote to math phobia”. MoMath stresses interactive exhibits so that one can gain an understanding of math concepts by doing and exploring.

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According to the MoMath website: 

The National Museum of Mathematics strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics. Its dynamic exhibits and programs will stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics. The Museum’s activities will lead a broad and diverse audience to understand the evolving, creative, human, and aesthetic nature of mathematics. 

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The museum was established at the end of 2012 to promote the understanding and importance of mathematics, and to present math concepts in a fun and engaging way. A particular focus is placed on kids in the middle grades (4th grade through 8th grade) but there are attractions for kids of all ages and adults as well.

In addition, there are a large number of lecture videos on various math topics available at the MoMath web site and on YouTube as well, go to http://momath.org/gallery/ to access these.

The museum’s approach is compatible with the principles behind project-based learning. Curriki has developed two mathematics courses built around the project-based learning methodology. These are for Algebra and Geometry and can be accessed here:

Algebra course = http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_kathyduhl/Algebra1

Geometry course = http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/curriki-geometry-course/

If you live in or happen to visit New York City, we encourage you to take your class or your own children to visit the National Museum of Mathematics. You’ll probably have fun too!

References:

www.momath.org

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/national-museum-mathematics-antidote-math

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/roots-of-unity/2014/05/23/moma-to-momath-mathematical-art-new-york-city/

5 Fun Summer Learning Activities for Kids and Teens

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Worried about summer brain drain? Encouraging kids to continue learning so they stay on track when they return in the fall is a top priority. Here at Curriki, we wanted to ignite the learning spark by taking advantage of the out-of-classroom time to allow kids the freedom to direct their own learning. Here are some fun and creative ideas for students of all ages.

 

reading3Read a book!

StorySnoops has many different recommended reading lists for students and you can search by age and topic ranging from “Girl Power” and “Feel Good Reads” to “Books for Reluctant Readers” and “Coming of Age” books.

 

monster physics liteFive Free Apps for Summer Fun and Learning

Curriki is featuring 5 apps that are both fun and educational.

 

 

 

aliceFree online workshop to learn computer programming

 

“This is a part of truly inspirational course with great support both online and in the final two face to face days… it is a highly engaging tool for students … Did I mention that the ORACLE Fundamentals of Java course is free?” – Clifford F, Curriki Member

From Oracle Academy, Getting Started with Java Using Alice engages students with little or no programming experience to learn basic Java programming concepts. Participants use Carnegie Mellon’s Alice* platform to do something fun – create animated stories, movies and games.

 

podcastLearn to create a podcasT

This highly rated Podcast Collection resource was created by Judy Scharf and includes ideas for podcast topics, tips to create a podcast, how to submit a podcast to iTunes and more.

 

 

?????????????????????????????????????????Science Experiments

 

Here are a few special science collections that include hand-selected engaging, open-source, interactive digital content created by Curriki teachers and partners such as NASA, PhET, and Khan Academy.

Choose from “Fish Mummy Project,” or “14 Experiments on Plant Life & Growth” to “Chemistry Video Project,” and more.

 

Meet Kristen Blomstrom, Student Ambassador at Curriki

Curriki Student Ambassador Kristen Blomstrom

Curriki Student Ambassador Kristen Blomstrom

In this interview, Kristen Blomstrom shares ways that fellow students can use Curriki for homework help, to study for a test or just learn something new. She is a junior at Carroll Senior high school in Southlake, Texas.

What is Curriki?

Curriki is a free website with resources in all different subjects that are credible and useful for all ages. It’s a great website for parents, teachers and students.

Do you use Curriki in your studies?

I’ve used Curriki since I was a freshman. I use mostly the Sal Khan math resources (e.g., Algebra or Calculus) and some sciences (e.g., Physics or Biology) too. I learn best visually, so these videos are good for me and they help me gain a better understanding of the topic – especially when I’m not grasping the topic from the teacher’s explanation.

What do you do as a Curriki Student Ambassador?

I demonstrate Curriki at different schools so more people can benefit from the thousands of high-quality learning resources, all available for free! I recently talked to a 5th grade class of gifted students at a public elementary school nearby. They attend a very progressive school where all students have their own iPads and they’re using open educational resources (OERs). Since the class was working on a project on the American Revolution, I showed them how to type in a topic, filter a search, and find the resources they need – whether a document, PowerPoint presentation, video, map, or something else.

What do you like most about Curriki?

I like that it’s free, and has very reputable content. It’s not random stuff – which is what the internet offers. Plus, there’s the Curriki Review System, so I know I’m getting top-quality resources.

If I’m a student, how can Curriki help me?

Curriki is great for homework help, studying for a test or just learning something new. Curriki can help you expand education and really, truly grasp certain concepts. I always want to learn something new, and it’s a really great place to do that. I’m a big reader and into the Classics, and we read Shakespeare freshman year. I enjoyed it so much that I used Curriki to find additional resources so I could learn more about Shakespeare.

What are your favorite Curriki resources?

I use the Sal Khan videos a lot, they’re probably my favorite – especially the math videos.

What advice do you have for students who are just getting started using Curriki?

Start with the tutorial videos on Basics for Using Curriki. And connect with Curriki via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or the weekly blog to find out about new resources, activities and ideas.

About Kristen Blomstrom
Kristen Blomstrom is the President of the Student Ambassador Program at Curriki. Since 2012, Kristen has brought a student’s perspective to the Curriki team through reviewing content and sharing Curriki with social media such as Twitter and Facebook. In addition, she speaks to teachers and students around the country about integrating Curriki into the classroom. Kristen frequently collaborates with the Executive Team to bring resources of the highest to students across the globe. Kristen is currently a junior at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas. She has received numerous academic and service awards throughout her high school career. Kristen is also a top-ranked equestrian and competes in events across the country.
 

studenthow to Become a Curriki Student Ambassador

Curriki Student Ambassadors are creative and resourceful individuals who are passionate about learning and want to spread the word. At this time, new participants are being accepted into the program. Find out more here. You can earn volunteer hours, gain valuable marketing and leadership experience, and proudly show your commitment by being featured on our website and more.

 

How Should Teachers Be Evaluated?

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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Are teacher evaluations useful, or even necessary? Do some methods affect “good” teachers in a bad way, and perhaps reward “bad” teachers in a good way? For example, some teachers in Florida are evaluated on student test scores in subjects they do not even teach, which could mean that an Art or PE teacher would have his/her value or rating based on their students’ English and math scores!
Every state is figuring out how to conduct evaluations to ensure learning. Clearly, there’s no single, best answer.

Most evaluations today are based on test scores and classroom observations. The problem with student test scores is that teachers with students at higher achievement levels tend to fare better. Yet despite all the furor over test score gains, a report from The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution found only 22 percent of teachers are evaluated on test score gains. On the other hand, all teachers are evaluated based on classroom observation and that “nearly all the opportunities for improvement to teacher evaluation systems are in the area of classroom observations rather than in test score gains.”

Then again, what decides a teacher’s effectiveness? While teachers must be experts in their subject area, they must also be able to share that knowledge in an interesting, memorable and engaging way. But how do we factor in other qualities that make for an effective teacher like patience, empathy, and commitment?

We need to continue to assess the way we currently evaluate teachers and figure out how and where improvements can be made. Do you have an innovative idea to share in this area?

Coding

janetpintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer

 

 

Programming, or coding, or writing code, is an important and well-paid skill today. There is a shortage of good programmers. But most students approach computers or mobile devices as consumers. They use computers or devices to play games, or as social media platforms. And they also use computers to search for information, as part of the learning process, which is all to the good. In some cases they are users of interactive games that promote learning.

But all of these use cases are students being consumers of code, and not creators of, producers of, code. Photo by popofatticus via Flickr Creative CommonsProducing is harder than consuming – coding is more difficult than using an app. Yet our modern economy is increasingly reliant on coding and computer science technology more generally.

This blog on the topic at the New York Times is actually entitled “When Kids Would Rather Play Computer Games Than Code Them”. Here’s another article from the New York Times on the topic of learning to code.

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These articles note that coding instruction is trending. In the U.S. there are over 20,000 teachers involved in teaching how to code, according to code.org. The organization states: “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.”  And they believe all kids can learn to code. Code.org helps train high school teachers to instruct coding. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) have contributed $10 million to Code.org in support of their mission.

Public school systems in Chicago and New York City are building the capability to offer more coding instruction to their student populations. Chicago is looking to make the ability to code a graduation requirement within the next 5 years.

The challenge is getting students over the initial learning hump and frustration around creating code that doesn’t work the first time it’s used. Coding requires persistence, and the ability to think logically. One must eliminate every mistake found in the first version of the code, through testing, modification and iteration. Persistence and logical thinking are great skills and attitudes for students to learn and are important life skills more broadly than just around coding.

Scratch is a simple programming language freely available from M.I.T. The site provides small code blocks that can be tied together to help create stories, games and animation. It is designed for children from age 8 and up, and is used in more than 150 different countries.

And here’s a unit on Curriki for game design in a science classroom, using the Scratch language. Check it out!

 

Early Childhood Education Pays for Itself

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

The US is lagging behind other developed countries in Early Childhood Education. Many children enter school (Kindergarten and then primary school) unprepared and they tend to fall further and further behind during their many years of education. Early childhood education leads to improvements in students’ cognition and social and emotional maturity, and provides long-term positive results and cost benefits to society at large. 

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Childcare and PreK (before kindergarten) education provide many such benefits according to earlychildhood.nyc.org:

Cognitively:

  •  Improves school performance
  •  Raises math and language abilities
  •  Sharpens thinking/attention skills
  •  Reduces special education placement
  •  Lowers school drop out rates

Socially and emotionally:

  •  Improves and strengthen interactions with peers
  •  Decreases problem behaviors
  •  Encourages more exploratory behavior
  •  Helps adjustment to the demands of formal schooling

Long-term positive results and cost savings of Early Childhood Education:

  •  Increases lifelong earning potential
  •  Achieves better academic outcomes
  •  Lowers rates of teen pregnancy and incarceration”

Here are some sites where you can investigate the benefits of, and issues around, Early Childhood Education:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/early-childhood

http://www.earlychildhoodnyc.org/resources/aboutECE_whyImportant.cfm

And we have some excellent PreK resources on Curriki, including:

Shapes and Colors Science Kit -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_cabocesmst/ShapesandColorsScienceKit?bc=

Meet a Puppeteer -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Nobiah/MeetaPuppeteer

Improving Learning -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Folwell/50littleThingsTeachersParentsandOthersCanDotoImproveLearning

Reading List for PreK – 

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_briansharky22/PreK-KReadingList

Math Games -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_3rdGradeMathGames/MathGameTime

But we need more! If you have open educational resources suitable for PreK, please contribute these at:  

http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/contribute-content/publish-resources/