Tag Archives: math

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

Girls and STEM: Bias begins with Toddlers?

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Even when girls and boys demonstrate similar actual competence levels in math, during the early school years, boys are more confident about their math skills. Already by kindergarten, boys have more interest in pursuing math learning than do girls.

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STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related jobs are some of the best jobs out there, and increasingly important in our technology-driven economy. But the percentage of women in many STEM jobs remains very low. Only about 1/4 of STEM jobs in the U.S. are filled by women. Women’s share of computer jobs has actually been falling in recent years. At present, only 18% of U.S. computer science majors are women.

According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, women in STEM professions earn 33% more than those in other fields.

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It’s generally understood that by school age, girls receive less encouragement in math and science pursuits than do boys, from both parents and teachers. What’s interesting is that it now seems this bias starts from a very early age, less than the age of 2 years!

In a study entitled “Gender Biases in Early Number Exposure to Preschool-Aged Children”, published in 2011 in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, researchers at the University of Delaware found that mothers spent fully twice as much time talking to their sons about numbers and numeric concepts as they did with their daughters! The average age of the children in the study was only 22 months, for both the boys and the girls.

Here’s a related set of resources on Curriki – Math for Girls. This link includes a series of videos featuring women working in mathematics and presenting pieces of math that excited them when they were in middle and high school.

Help girls realize that math and sciences education is not just for the boys. Even if they don’t end up pursuing STEM careers, there is a lot of useful and interesting knowledge to be gained in studying math, science and engineering topics. The use of math in traditionally non-STEM careers, such as finance and marketing, is only increasing. And maybe they are better at math than they think they are!

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jpinto/MathforGirls

You’ll also find other resources at this link including profiles of women in Math, and in STEM careers in general.

References:

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/09/10/2599491/women-stem/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alicia-chang/bridging-the-gender-gap-encouraging-girls-in-stem_b_4508787.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/women

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/mothers-talk-less-to-young-daughters-about-math/?_r=0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_11rwb4vEc#t=40 – Girls in STEM: A New Generation of Women in Science

Best Online Math Resources

math-blogBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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Many children don’t understand why they need to learn math if they’re not studying to become an engineer or an accountant.  But we use math every day, whether we’re calculating a meal tip or budgeting for a big ticket item.

At Curriki, we offer more than 10,500 math resources  designed for grades K-12. And the best part is that they’re FREE for teachers, students and parents to use.

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Our two newest math courses are now available: Curriki Algebra and Curriki Geometry.  Both curricula are aligned to Common Core Standards and use project-based teaching methods to engage today’s “digital” student through interactive technologies, videos, real-world examples and more.

Here are several sites that offer quality math resources:

Khan Academy – A popular site among teachers and students alike, Khan Academy offers thousands of videos for students to learn at their own pace.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics – Illuminations offers standards-based math resources for K-12 teachers including online activities and lessons.

PBS Teacher’s Math  – You can search for math resources by grade level or subject, which all have a focus on games and interactivity.

Super Kid’s Math – This site not only rates educational software, but offers a handy way to easily create math drill worksheets.

Inside Mathematics   – This is a professional resource for teachers and features innovative teaching methods and tools and promotes the sharing of best practices.

Passy’s World of Mathematics  – A blog written by Passy, a teacher of mathematics and ICT (information and communications technology) sharing “all the fun ways of doing mathematics online 24×7.”

Curriki –  –10,000+ math resources that can be personalized for different styles of learning and range from lessons and workbooks, to interactive games and videos.

[Note: Curriki also offers 1000s of resources in other subject areas such as ELA, science, arts , world languages, education technology and more.]

Curriki Continues Rapid Growth

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Thank you to our members and user community! Because of you, Curriki has continued to grow rapidly during 2013. We have surpassed a third of a million in membership (educators, students and parents) and are on track to exceed half a million members during 2014. The recent growth rate in membership is fully 28% per year.

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We have had over 9 million unique page views, which is triple the number from 3 years ago. And recently, usage of Curriki from mobile platforms has been growing rapidly. And during 2013, the number of free online resources at Curriki has grown to more than 53,000.

Usage of Curriki is growing very rapidly internationally. The top countries for Curriki are in North America, South Asia, Southeast Asia (the 10 ASEAN nations) and in Africa. The most rapid growth today is occurring in the ASEAN countries of Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia. Open educational resources (OER) can play a special role in developing nations with limited budgets for the latest curricular materials.

While the large majority of our materials are in the English language, we encourage content contributions in all languages.

The top 8 countries accessing Curriki resources at present are:

  1. U.S.
  2. India
  3. Philippines
  4. Malaysia
  5. Sri Lanka
  6. South Africa
  7. Canada
  8. Indonesia

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We have recently introduced a full high school course in Curriki Geometry to accompany our previously released Curriki Algebra 1 course. Curriki Algebra 1 was evaluated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Washington in the U.S. This was a rigorous evaluation process of half a dozen OER algebra courses. Curriki Algebra 1 scored highly, including a strong rating for promoting deeper learning. Both of these courses, like all Curriki materials, are absolutely free to educators and students around the world.

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Thanks to you, we expect continued rapid growth for Curriki during the next few years. We encourage you to contribute resources, or contribute financially if you are able. And we encourage everyone to continue to look to Curriki for new, free, open educational resources that can be used in your classrooms and schools. Encourage your friends to join, or if not a member already, please join at welcome.curriki.org!

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Curriki Project-Based Geometry Course Now Available Free Worldwide

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

We are very pleased to report that the Curriki project-based high school Geometry course is now available here. Students are going to love geometry after taking this course! So many students hate math because it’s difficult to make a real-life connection between math and their everyday lives. By adopting a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach, we show students that geometry is not only theoretical, but practical and necessary. Students will move beyond a basic understanding of concepts to an enjoyment of discovery.

This free Geometry course not only leverages the popular PBL “active” approach but is also aligned to Common Core State Standards. Available online at the Curriki site, it is designed to meet the needs of students raised in a global, interactive, digitally-connected world through the use of real-world examples, engaging projects, interactive technologies, videos and targeted feedback. Developed with funding from AT&T, the Curriki Geometry course is modular, so can be used as the foundation for students’ Geometry 1 curriculum, as a supplementary resource, in an after-school program, or in a homeschool environment.

geometry2The course units have been designed with carefully selected Curriki instructional materials, interactive content, videos and other materials that students can explore and use as they solve the series of challenges in each unit. The course structure is based on the six Common Core High School Geometry topics, organized in six units covering: (1) Congruence (2) Similarity, Right Triangles and Trigonometry (3) Circles (4) Expressing Geometric Properties with Equations (5) Geometric Measurement and Dimension, and (6) Modeling with Geometry. The Common Core Math Practice Standards are woven through each unit, with projects and explorations designed to develop students’ mathematical “habits of mind”, problem-solving and reasoning skills, and abilities to use mathematical models and technology tools strategically.

Thom Markham, Ph.D., President of PBL International, is the designer of the course. He notes that Project-Based Learning points us toward the future of education. “It’s a proven method for integrating the 21st century skills of communication and teamwork into the delivery of core subjects. Taking it online is the next step in offering this student-friendly approach to learning to a wider teacher audience.”

“When was the last time you had to force a kid to put down a text book?” asks Scott McNealy, Curriki board member and chairman of Wayin. “Never! On the other hand, give them a computer and a dynamic learning platform, and they never want to stop. We have to support future generations in the best ways possible given the challenges they will face.”

We thank AT&T for a $250,000 contribution to support the Curriki Geometry course as part of AT&T Aspire, AT&T’s $350 million commitment to education. Launched in 2008, AT&T Aspire is one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to address high school success and workforce readiness.

We encourage you to take a look at the Curriki Geometry course today, and to consider how it can be utilized in your classroom or school.

Getting the Most out of Technology

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

A recent article from the NY Times discussed the use of computer technology in schools. The question posed is: are we really making the most of the technology already deployed? A survey found that, in many cases, computers were being used in mathematics simply to drill questions and answers. The article is here. It notes that “the nonprofit Center for American Progress found that middle school math students more commonly used computers for basic drills and practice than to develop sophisticated skills.”

At Curriki we all come from the IT industry, and we know that the potential of technology is much greater than usage of computers in a fashion that is twenty five years behind the times. This is why we provide a wide variety of free, open source, K-12 focused educational resources, that often make significant use of technology. For example, there are over 1300 mathematics related videos at www.curriki.org.

As another important example, we have been developing complete subject curricula that are project-oriented and adhere to Common Core State Standards.

We have already released the free Curriki Algebra 1 course, which you can find on the Curriki site here. It consists of 5 units aligned to the Common Core. Each of these units culminates in a project that utilizes mastery of conceptual understanding taught in the individual lessons.

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And we have announced a free, online, project-based Curriki Geometry course. This is under development with support from AT&T and will be released in the autumn of this year. Here is the announcement. The course will be structured based on the six Common Core High School Geometry topics, organized in six units including: (1) Congruence; (2) Similarity, Right Triangles, & Trigonometry; (3) Circles; (4) Expressing Geometric Properties with Equations; (5) Geometric Measurement & Dimension; and (6) Modeling with Geometry.

Please take a look at the Curriki Algebra 1 course, and stay tuned for the Curriki Geometry course release this autumn.