Tag Archives: math

Common Core Adoption: A Tale of Two Districts

janetpintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Curriki is following the rollout of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with great interest, and you will see us report on this regularly in this blog.

Since we have a broad international audience, here is a quick description of the Common Core initiative in the United States. K-12 education in the U.S. is primarily the responsibility of individual states and localities. The CCSS is an initiative whose origins date back to the 1990s. It is sponsored by the state Governors and state education authorities, and currently 44 states (out of 50) are fully participating. CCSS addresses Mathematics and English Language Arts only at present (Science and Humanities subjects are not covered).

According to Wikipedia, “the nation’s governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bipartisan organization to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states…Standards were released for mathematics and English language arts on June 2, 2010, with a majority of states adopting the standards in the subsequent months.”

Curriki is supportive of the objectives of CCSS and we believe that we can contribute significantly, whether in the role of supplementary curricular materials or indeed, in a more central role.

Photo by ninhale via Flickr Creative Commons

The upcoming academic year 2014/2015 represents a key year in the CCSS rollout. While CCSS outlines standards and requirements, it does not provide curricula. It is up to each state and each district to determine what materials to use. Publishers of textbooks and other learning materials are naturally working toward adhering to CCSS standards. But this is a very large change and some updated textbooks are being criticized as just representing a rehash of older material rather than a fully top-down restructuring and redesign in order to fully adhere to the spirit and guidelines of CCSS.

Here’s an article comparing the experiences of two different districts -

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29cc-curriculum.h33.html

One district is in the state of California (Long Beach) and the other is in Florida (Orlando). According to the Edweek article:

“They solved that problem in very different ways. The Florida group scoured the market and chose a suite of materials from a major publisher. Their colleagues across the country, dissatisfied with that same marketplace’s offerings—and limited by their thin pocketbook—wrote their own curriculum.”

The article notes that many districts across the country have delayed updating textbooks and curricular materials as they waited to see what publishers would produce. The district in Florida picked materials primarily from one publisher based on perceived “reflection of the common core and for having a better digital component and better interventions for students with weak skills”.

However the Long Beach district in California took a different path. Given their budget realities, and the slow schedule for CCSS rollout at their state level, they chose to retain their existing mathematics and English language arts texts, but to build new curricula and materials around those.

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One way to do this – enhance or develop curricula to align to CCSS – is to make use of Curriki! There are over 50,000 open educational resources on Curriki. These are available for free to build new curricula and supplement existing curricula. For example, Curriki Geometry is a complete geometry course, free at currikigeometry.org. Curriki’s Project-Based Learning and Common Core Aligned Geometry course will help your students build the skills and confidence that will help them conquer mathematical problems and develop 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and teamwork.

We will continue to report to you on CCSS adoption experiences and issues across the U.S. 

Encouraging Girls in STEM subjects

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

While girls show a lot of interest in science during elementary school, the interest often fades in the later grades. Around 2/3 of girls in the U.S. at the fourth grade level express an interest in science and/or math subjects.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that about 24% of the jobs in STEM (science, technology and math) fields are currently occupied by women. The gender imbalance is particularly notable in the physical sciences and in engineering fields, while women are better represented in the life sciences.

In computer science there is a very large imbalance, and yet this is a field where many jobs go begging today – there are hundreds of thousands of software development jobs in the U.S. in this field which are unfilled at present.

Verizon has developed a wonderful “Inspire Her Mind” commercial -

The message of the commercial is – don’t discourage girls from “getting their hands dirty” with science or engineering projects. Rather, encourage their curiosity and their interest in these fields.

Curriki contains a wealth of resources in STEM subjects, even full courses in math including algebra and geometry. And of course developing math strengths is key to pursuing majors and careers in science and technology fields.

Here’s information on one project to address the gender gap in software development – it is a global effort to teach 1 million girls to write computer code and develop applications.

http://www.cnet.com/news/girl-geek-academy-wants-to-teach-one-million-girls-to-code/

As CNET reports: “A new initiative aims to teach women how to create apps and launch their own startups, with the aim to reach one million people by 2025″. There has been progress in certain areas. For example, the number of women involved in the gaming industry, one of the largest for new software development opportunities, has increased from 11% to 22% in recent years.

Here’s an article about Women Who Code UK founder and software engineer Sheree Atcheson, who is just 23 years old.

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Sheree Atcheson, Software Engineer and @WomenWhoCode UK Founder

Curriki also has resources to help girls, and boys, learn to code, including the Oracle Academy courses for Java, one of today’s most important programming languages.

Curriki’s purpose is to broaden educational opportunity in K-12 for students in all countries, including supporting greater participation by girls in the various STEM fields. These fields are so critical to future job opportunities for students and to the progress of humanity around the world, whether through the life sciences, physical sciences, or engineering.

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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