Category Archives: OER News

No Child Left Behind being replaced by Every Child Achieves

janetpic_preferred_croppedJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

The “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA) has passed the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Approval of similar legislation is expected in the House (which has called their bill the Student Success Act). The original ESEA act from 1965 was focused on addressing equity, at a time when civil rights and desegregation were in focus.

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Every Child Achieves Act of 2015
This bill reauthorizes and amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). The bill addresses issues such as accountability and testing requirements, distribution and requirements for grants, fiscal accountability requirements, and the evaluation of teachers. The bill provides states with increased flexibility and responsibility for developing accountability systems, deciding how federally required tests should be weighed, selecting additional measures of student and school performance, and implementing teacher evaluation systems.

ECAA is designed to replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act for elementary and secondary education which has been in force since 2002. You can find a summary of the bill here.

There has been much criticism of the extensive – many would say onerous – testing regimes enforced by NCLB, from educators and parents across the U.S. It was felt that the testing requirements were excessive, and took away from time that should be spent in teaching and learning in the classroom, and that the penalties were counter-productive. The American Federation of Teachers has called NCLB a “test-and-punish” system, due to federal sanctions against low-performing schools.

ECAA would relax these testing requirements, and provide more flexibility for schools to allow parents to opt their kids out of tests. Federal sanctions would no longer apply; any such rewards or sanctions would be handled by individual states.
The President of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, says about the ECAA, “This bill reflects a paradigm shift away from the one-size-fits-all assessments that educators know hurt students, diminish learning, narrow the curriculum and that they fought to change.”

The well-known education activist Diane Ravitch supports the Senate bill because “it draws a close to the punitive methods of NCLB….(and) is an important step forward for children, teachers, and public education. The battle over ‘reform’ now shifts to the states.”

One concern is that the bill would weaken provisions meant to track the progress of students with disabilities, which may account for one in eight of America’s school children.

We’d like to hear your view, what do you think about the new legislation?

Curriki is all in favor of flexible learning models and curricula that adapt to the needs of individual students. This is why we make available to the public for free over 62,000 educational resources, in open source format. These include full courses, lessons and many supplemental materials. With our new website coming on line early next month, it will be even easier to search these materials, and also to contribute materials so that other educators can make use of them.

How to Improve Essay Writing Skills with 10 EdTech Online Tools

By Curriki Guest Blogger Julie Petersen JuliePetersen2

Who thought that your education wouldn’t be based solely upon studying and exams? When you decided to pursue a degree, you didn’t expect to spend much of your time on essays, research papers, case studies, and other types of academic papers. Nevertheless, every student is expected to improve his writing skills throughout the educational journey.

Why do professors consider these projects to be so important? Believe it or not, they don’t assign several tasks with the mere intention to torture you. The academic writing practice develops your ability to express your mind, analyze academic and scientific materials, and provide your own arguments supported by facts. These skills are essential for any career you are focused on.

However, you are hardly relieved by the realization that essays are important. You need practical advice that will help you move forward and complete the assignments with success. In the continuation, you will find EdTech tools that will help you do that!

  1. Writing.com

When you need someone to support you throughout the writing process with the right tips and constructive feedback, then this is the website you should turn to. Writing.com is a community for writers, but you don’t have to be a professional author to create your online writing portfolio and become part of the platform. In addition to the numerous writing tools, you will get access to great contests that will inspire you to discover your creative voice.

  1. NovelGuide.com

Are you stuck with a project for your literature class? You’ll probably find the needed resources at this website. NovelGuide offers plot summaries on most novels that are part of the curriculum in high schools and colleges. You will also benefit from the Discussion & Question section available for each book featured at the website.

  1. TeenInk.com

What could be more motivational than an actual paper written by a student? Inspiration can come from anywhere: life occurrences, books, websites, school environment, famous personalities, and much more. The essays featured at this website can serve as an example of creative writing in its best light.

  1. Essaymama.com

This is the online tool that will get you out of the most difficult situations. When you have a close deadline to meet, but you are nowhere near a finished paper, you can rely on the assistance by the writers and tutors at this website. You can get help with virtually any type of paper, regardless of its topic. The team of writers includes experts from several areas of study. Thus, EssayMama can provide you with a piece of advice that will help to complete any academic project, but you’ll also get a valuable lesson on essay writing along the way. The blog section of the website is worthy of attention; check for regular updates with news, infographics and tips regarding academic writing.

  1. Essay Map

When you have a successful plan, even the most complex project will be simple to complete. This online tool will help you stay on track throughout the development of the content. You can use the online version of the tool to create the map, but you can also print the blank map and fill in the blanks if that works for you.

  1. Persuasive Essay Thesis Builder & Online Outliner

Let’s simplify the name of this tool; we’ll call it Thesis Builder because that’s its main function. If you don’t have a solid thesis statement for your essay, you cannot proceed with the process until you develop one. This automated tool instructs you to provide the topic of the paper, your main opinions and supporting arguments. Then, it will produce a thesis statement that you can edit or simply paste in your document.

  1. EasyPunch.com

You have troubles organizing your ideas and expressing them in clear academic writing style? Essay Punch will take you through each step of the writing process. You can use pre-set prompts for descriptive, persuasive, and informative essays. Then, you can proceed with online interactive exercises that will help you become a better writer through regular practice.

  1. TheEasyEssay.com

This is an instant organization program that brings the writing process down to its foundation. The system works for students at any age. It enables you to organize a basic 5-paragraph paper, but you can also expand that structure to a more complex essay of 17 paragraphs. Once you start using this tool, you will boost your communication skills without even noticing.

  1. HemingwayApp.com

When you present a paper with complex structure and lengthy arguments, you expect to impress your professor. That strategy backfires in most cases. Street language is not acceptable in an academic paper, but that doesn’t mean you should write unreadable content that wouldn’t convey a clear message. Hemingway App is a tool that will help you make your paper bold and clear by simplifying the words and sentences. In addition to dense and complicated sentences, the tool will also highlight adverbs, passive voice, and words or phrases that could use some editing.

  1. Read-Able.com

This tool offers a quick and easy way to test how readable your paper is. You don’t want to confuse your teacher with a paper that would consume a lot of his time. With this flexible readability software, you will make sure that the essay you are about to submit is appropriate for your grade level.

Academic writing is not as scary as it seems. Even the most intriguing assignments can be made simpler when you have the right educational tools on your side. Start exploring the above-listed tools and you’ll notice how your writing skills are improving by the day.

Julie Petersen is a tutor and a blogger, who features the latest career and educational trends in her articles. At present time she is working on her first ebook dedicated to online learning. You may see Julie’s latest publications and contact her via Linkedin or Google+ page.

5 Great STEM Websites

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Here are 5 excellent sites for free STEM resources.

1. NASA’s TeachStation

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The site TeachStation has resources about the International Space Station and STEM activities on the ISS. Included are student projects and a series of videos demonstrating STEM concepts for students in the middle grades and high school. Concepts covered include Newton’s laws, microgravity, and surface tension. TeachStation is at this link:

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/expeditions/index.html#.VVRd0XBXerU

2. National Repository of Open Educational Resources, India

nroerlogoIndia’s Ministry of Human Resource Development has established a National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER). It has a range of resources across grade levels and subjects, and available in multiple languages.

You can access the site at http://nroer.in/home/ and it includes videos, audio, images, documents and interactive modules. It has a useful concept map to facilitate browsing.

The NROER site has this to say about their resources: “Categorised and made into collections, the resources are mapped to concepts that will span the entire school and teacher education curricula of the country.”

3. MIT Highlights for High School

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MIT OpenCourseWare provides resources primarily at the university level, but they also have a significant number of STEM resources for high school students. They have specifically curated resources, including selections from college-level courses, for use by high school teachers andd students. You can learn more at:  http://ocw.mit.edu/high-school/index.htm

4. Karen Fasimpaur’s Collection

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This collection from  Karen Fasimpaur is at http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/117659#anchor

Quoting from the site:

“This is a collection of some of the best open-licensed educational resources that can be used in K-12, as well as other useful related information.”

5. Curriki – Free Learning Resources for the World

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We save the best for last, naturally. Curriki now has over 62,000 open source resources in total, and the majority of these are STEM-related. For example a search on mathematics results in over 13,000 resource listings. You will likely find many materials that you can put to use in the classroom, up to including full courses such as Curriki Algebra and Curriki Geometry. Try our search function today.

http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/

Girls and Women in STEM in Asia: UNESCO Report

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

Curriki was very pleased to be in attendance on March 9th when UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education unveiled their report on girls and women in STEM fields, at the Bangkok Science Center for Education in Thailand.

Titled “A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia”, the report examines the status of girls studying math, science and engineering subjects in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education, and the current state of employment for women in STEM fields. The report was based on in-depth country studies from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam, in conjunction with other statistics from the region. The full 122-page report is freely available here on the UNESCO Bangkok web site.

Key Findings 

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The highest level message of the report is that “early and targeted intervention through education can greatly facilitate girls’ and women’s increased participation in STEM fields”.

While there are a number of interesting variations among the 7 countries studied, substantial consistency was found across a number of key findings.

  • Overall there is a shortage of talent on STEM fields in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Globally, fewer than 30% of STEM researchers are women.
  • Gender differences in STEM topics become especially apparent around age 15, during secondary school education.
  • The gender gap at the secondary level correlates with under-representation of women in STEM during higher education and in the workforce.
  • Within the STEM fields, both in higher education and in the workforce, women tend to be found primarily in biology, chemistry and medicine.
  • Women are very lightly represented in physics, engineering and computer science/IT.
  • These latter fields are more math-intensive, and in school girls report more anxiety around, and lower interest levels in, mathematics.
  • There are fewer female teachers in STEM, implying fewer role models for girls.
  • Gender stereotypes are widespread in teaching and learning materials for STEM subjects.

Recommendations

A few of the recommendations from the report are:

“Teacher education and policies on recruitment must ensure a fair representation of both male and female teachers in all subjects, including mathematics and science, at all levels if education.

  • Teacher education… should be transformed to ensure that teachers are trained in gender-responsive teaching strategies.
  • Promoting more female role models in STEM, whether female teachers…female students and faculty members in higher education, and more broadly more women working in STEM fields, is an important strategy.

Curricula and learning materials should undergo further rigorous review from a gender perspective to ensure that they do not perpetuate gender stereotypes.”

Curriki is particularly interested in the last of these recommendations. We have tens of thousands of STEM materials at www.curriki.org, available for free, to support STEM education for girls and boys in Asia and around the world. We encourage you to upload STEM materials onto the Curriki web site, especially those that show equal participation of girls and boys in STEM learning roles, across the various disciplines, and that reflect both men and women as role models, equally. If you have such materials to upload, Curriki and our large, global educator and learner community will be most appreciative.

Open Source Textbook Study: Students Save Substantial Sums

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

A study from Student PIRGS (Student Public Interest Research Groups) across the nation has found that college and university students could save over $1000 per year if all textbooks were provided open source materials.

The report is based on pilot programs at 5 different university campuses, and is available here. It notes that “According to the College Board, the average undergraduate student should budget between $1,200 and $1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year. That’s as much as 40% of tuition at a two-year community college and 13% at a four-year public institution.” The report notes that the college textbook market is artificial, since there is no direct consumer – producer link, as indicated in the figure below. A handful of academic publishers dominate the traditional textbook market.

Textbookmarket

Image from “Open Textbooks: The Billion Dollar Solution”, Ethan Senack, The Student PIRGS, February 2015

Open textbooks are high quality, faculty-written and peer-reviewed materials. They are available online and for electronic distribution in .pdf or other formats. The cost to students for open source materials is minimal.

The findings are based on 21,697 students enrolled in OER courses at Kansas State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), the University of Minnesota, and Tacoma Community College. The aggregate results indicate that students could save on average about $128 per course. Extrapolated to an academic year this is over $1000 per student per year. If all the 11 million full-time undergraduates in the U.S. were using only open textbooks, the aggregate savings would be well over $1 billion per year.

As the growth of open textbooks spreads at the university level, we at Curriki expect increasing activity in the K-12 space as well. State and local authorities could save substantial amounts from their education budgets by moving to open textbooks. Curriki is a repository for a wide variety of open source educational materials, including full courses and textbooks. We’d like to call your attention to several high school level mathematics courses:

Curriki Algebra 1 – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_kathyduhl/Algebra1?bc=&viewer=info

Curriki Geometry – http://www.currikigeometry.org

Curriki Calculus – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_CurrikiCalculusCollection/CurrikiCalculusIntegralCalculus?bc=&viewer=info

There are also many full textbook resources on Curriki. A search for high school math level textbooks alone reveals over 200 resources. We encourage you to search at Curriki for core or supplementary textbook resources that you can use in your classroom!

OECD Report: Education at a Glance 2014

KimJonesimage  By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

 

The OECD report “Education at a Glance 2014″ was released on 9 September 2014.

EducationataGlance2014The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has 34 member countries, and they included data from 10 additional countries in this report. The report looks at educational attainment and impact on economic and employment results in 44 countries across Europe, North and South America, Africa and the Asia / Pacific region.

Key findings include:

  • The economic divide between tertiary-educated (college or university-educated) individuals and those with less education is growing.
  • The level of unemployment is 3 times lower among those with a tertiary education (5% vs. 14%)
  • Those with tertiary-level educations earn twice as much as the average of those with less education.

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“Education can lift people out of poverty and social exclusion, but to do so we need to break the link between social background and educational opportunity,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “The biggest threat to inclusive growth is the risk that social mobility could grind to a halt. Increasing access to education for everyone and continuing to improve people’s skills will be essential to long-term prosperity and a more cohesive society.

A press release from the OECD with a high-level overview of the key findings is at: http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/educational-mobility-starts-to-slow-in-industrialised-world-says-oecd.htm

A 55 slide summary of many of the key results is available at: http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/OECDEDU/education-at-a-glance-2014-key-findings

You can access the full 568 page report at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/education-at-a-glance-2014_eag-2014-en

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Curriki shares the objectives of increased access to education and improving work-related skills for people across the world. Curriki helps to spread educational opportunity to children in all countries by providing over 50,000 free and open K-12 educational resources at www.curriki.org/welcome.

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!