Tag Archives: digital learning

Inspiring Learning: Inspire Self-Inspiration

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

We recently ran a survey of our members asking them “How do you inspire learning?”. We appreciate all of the interesting responses we received.

One of our members, Vincent Churchill, provided a very interesting multi-page response, which I would like to summarize here. His response is actually rather profound. Instead of thinking about you as a teacher inspiring learning, think about it one level higher.

That is, quoting Mr. Churchill: “Lead students to inspire themselves”. Think about it – the best inspiration and motivation comes from within as a continuous process, once the student can get to that place. So help them to get to that place where they don’t just draw occasional inspiration from without, but fuel it more regularly from within. And help them get to the place where they will also seek additional external sources of inspiration for themselves.

Here’s some of what Mr. Churchill wrote in his response:

“And the answer is…

My answer is twofold and in starting the first part of my answer, I would have to qualify that it is about leading students to inspiring themselves, with their own motivations and reasons, not aimed at a’result’, reward or specific goal in mind. In short, that they be inspired at a very personal level and for various different reasons… their own reasons! My thoughts on the matter are geared towards a quite few things;

1. … to want to know more about the subject/issue at hand

2. … to be willing to share his/her thoughts about the subject/issue

3. … to find authentic and original examples for illustrating a particular example

4. … to examine, investigate, question and put forward opinions (sometimes of a personal nature)

5. … to be willing to ‘risk being wrong’ by giving an answer

6. … to debate and discuss (even argue) with their peers

7. … to take the classroom experience/material out into the ‘real world’. “

So help students find their own reasons for motivation and inspiration. It’s not enough to be inspired to just get through an exam, but to love the learning process, and the personal growth associated with that.

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The second part of Mr. Churchill’s answer is about individualized learning. He notes that there is no “silver bullet” solution.

“In concluding, my answer takes cognisance of the fact that students can NEVER be seen as ‘just a class’ and that any motivation, inspiration, action or expectation should be based on careful (yes, sometimes erroneous) observations, assumptions and expected outcomes of INDIVIDUALS in the class. The motivation for learning then follows, from the student’s side, because they have a genuine interest and also a reason for wanting to learn.”

So to get to this place one has to look at who the students are as individuals, what are their likes and dislikes and passion? What skills and experiences do they have, what are their strengths and weaknesses? What is their personality, is it shy, is it aggressive, etc.?

As we said in our last blog, about AltSchool, an experimental school in San Francisco – “Not all children are alike.  Not all children learn the same way. AltSchool’s philosophy is very similar to Curriki’s in that we’re both driving transformation from the ‘assembly line factory model’ of education into a new model where the emphasis is on personalization, understanding and critical thinking skills.”

There are over 62,000 resources at Curriki to help support individualized learning and to help students inspire themselves! Please take advantage of these free, open source resources to inspire self-inspiration.

10 Most Popular Curriki Learning Resources

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

We’re already a quarter into the new calendar year, so we’d like to kick it off with a collection of our most popular learning resources this school year. As always, these high quality resources are free to use, share and customize, so you definitely should take a look at! Counting down from number 10…

10) Tuck Everlasting Novel Study

This resource provides an excellent 25 day unit on the tucknovel Tuck Everlasting. With an emphasis on questioning, particularly question-answer relationships, the novel study materials guide students to develop critical thinking skills. All materials like question cards, game instructions, graphic organizers, rubrics, templates for character development, vocabulary development, etc., are included in this thorough, comprehensive, highly usable resource.

Tuck Everlasting Novel Study

9) Curriki Geometry Teacher View

mathA Collection of various lesson plans including: Selling Geometry, Designing a Winner, What is your angle, Pythagoras?, TED Talk: House of the Future, The Art of Triangles, How random is my life?

All of the lesson plans provide detailed instructions on how to run the lesson making it a great resource for teachers and instructors.

Curriki Geometry Teacher View

8) Differentiating Between Different Types of Conflict Collection

Lange-MigrantMother02This lesson is part of a larger unit on the Great Depression. In this unit, students will be focusing on determining importance; summarizing; making predictions; recognizing plot structure; and identifying flashbacks, foreshadowing and setting. Wherever possible, mini-lesson texts relate to American life in the 1930s, and all students will be reading literature circle novels set during this time period in American history.

In today’s lesson, students will practice differentiating between different kinds of conflict.

Inside, you will find a detailed lesson plan, a student worksheet, two overhead transparencies for use with the lesson, and exit slips to asses student mastery of today’s objective.

This resource is part of the Great Depression Unit collection.

Differentiating Between Different Types of Conflict Collection

7) Word Search Games & Other Fun English Language Activities

This web site is for people studying English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL). There are grammar2quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer assisted language learning activities.

Word Search Games & Other Fun English Language Activities

6) Oracle Academy Java Using Alice

This workshop engages students with little or no aliceprogramming experience to learn basic Java programming concepts. Participants use Carnegie Mellon’s Alice* platform to do something fun – create animated stories, movies and games.

Getting Started with Java Using Alice

5) Teaching Fractions Collection

fractionsThis highly-rated collection of resources includes videos and lessons for teaching fractions.

Teaching Fractions Collection

4) Free High School Science Texts Collection

This 154-page document contains Earth Science course curriculum for grades 9 – 10. The collection has been prepared from resources contributed by teachers and partner educational organizations on Curriki, an online community for creating and sharing open source curricula.

Free High School Science Texts Collection

3) Rob Lucas Developing Biology

biologyThis collection contains a wide variety of activities, labs, slide shows and worksheets on the topics of Cells, Cellular Transport, DNA, Photosynthesis & Respiration, Mitosis & Meiosis, Genetics, Evolution, and Classification. Much of the material is suitable for both middle school and high school students, although some of the pieces (such as the Photosynthesis PowerPoint presentation) have complex material better suited for more advanced biology classes.

Rob Lucas Developing Biology

2) Khan Academy Science – Physics

This collection contains about 100 videos, physicscovering all topics in a complete high school or college course in Physics. Many of the videos demonstrate solutions to sample problems. This is excellent primary material for long distance learning, or rich supplementary material for any physics course.

Khan Academy Science – Physics

1) Rob Lucas Grammar Collection

grammarAlways in our top 10 resources, this grammar collection is an extremely rich resource offering a complete unit on teaching grammar in a fun way. The content is correct, thorough and appropriate. Inclusion of a version of Mad Libs and a collaborative group project/presentation offers as much creativity for teaching grammar as possible. A humorous poem in worksheet form makes the lesson engaging and interesting. A scoring guide for the presentation makes the unit meaningful and understandable to students. The unit uses many various strategies to enhance the content.

Rob Lucas Grammar Collection

If you have a favorite Curriki resouce, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you

 

 

 

 

 

Use of Open Educational Resources Growing Rapidly

CCSSO State of the States Report

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

The use of OER (Open Educational Resources) is rapidly gaining momentum in K-12 education. This is evidenced by the newly released report “State of the States: Open Educational Resources in K-12 Education” from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in the U.S. Actually a majority of the states are already using or promoting OER for the classroom.

Quoting from the report:

“The survey revealed a number of insights into the work SEAs [state education agencies] are taking on around OER and the momentum around digital learning. These findings include:

  • Twenty states are currently planning OER initiatives.
  • Sixty percent of SEA respondents recognize the value of OER in school districts in their state and are promoting OER as either a supplement and/or replacement for traditional instructional materials.
  • States with existing OER programs are utilizing a variety of online methods to develop, curate, and access OER materials and integrate them within school programs.
  • Eighty-four percent of respondents would like to collaborate and learn from what other states are doing.”

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CCSSO Survey Findings: By the Numbers

Curriki is proud to be a leader in providing K-12 open educational resources. Visit Curriki today, you’ll be surprised by the breadth and depth of our 58,000+ resources. All are freely available at www.curriki.org/welcome.

The full CCSSO report is available at: 

http://ccsso.org/Resources/Digital_Resources/State_of_the_States_Open_Educational_Resources_in_K-12_Education.html

Student Online Information Privacy

janetpic_preferredBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Student privacy is a growing issue, as more and more data is being gathered on K-12 students. The intent of thIs data acquisition is generally worthwhile. The primary purpose is to obtain more knowledge about student achievement and learning styles, and to support individualized instruction. The goal is to allow students to learn at their own pace.

There are, however, potential risks, since such data is being held in databases distributed on computers owned by school districts, or by state governments, or increasingly, by private companies and organizations. In some cases this data is being loaded into cloud computing resources owned by third parties.

Data privacy

The California state legislature has proposed the most comprehensive law ever to safeguard student information. The proposed law, titled the “Student Online Personal Information Protection Act”, awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. The bill “requires operators of K-12 online sites, services, and applications to keep student personal information private. Under the bill, online operators can only use student personal information for school purposes; including adaptive and personalized student learning. The bill prohibits operators of K-12 online sites, services, and applications from selling student personal information to third parties, like advertisers.”  (This quotation is from SOPIPA Fact Sheet available at:

http://sd06.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd06.senate.ca.gov/files/SB1177_SOPIPA_FACT-SHEET.pdf)

“It’s a landmark bill in that it’s the first of its kind in the country to put the onus on Internet companies to do the right thing,” said Senator Darrell Steinberg, the California state senator who wrote the bill.

“Legislators in the state passed a law last month prohibiting educational sites, apps and cloud services used by schools from selling or disclosing personal information about students from kindergarten through high school; from using the children’s data to market to them; and from compiling dossiers on them. The law is a response to growing parental concern that sensitive information about children — like data about learning disabilities, disciplinary problems or family trauma — might be disseminated and disclosed, potentially hampering college or career prospects. Although other states have enacted limited restrictions on such data, California’s law is the most wide-ranging.” – NY Times blog of September 15th

A majority of states in the U.S. have implemented, or are considering, various forms of student privacy legislation to prevent disclosure and commercial use of student data outside of the school context. The federal legislation currently on the books is now four decades old, and not suited to the modern era of mobile devices, social media, cloud computing, and Big Data (massive databases).

Here is Curriki’s privacy policy with respect to young children:

OUR COMMITMENT TO CHILDREN’S PRIVACY

Protecting the privacy of young children is especially important. For that reason, Curriki does not knowingly collect or maintain personally identifiable information on the Curriki Site from persons under 13 years-of-age. If Curriki learns that personally-identifiable information of persons less than 13-years-of-age has been collected on Curriki without verifiable parental consent, then Curriki will take the appropriate steps to delete this information. If you are a parent or guardian and discover that your child under the age of 13 has obtained a Curriki Site account, then you may alert Curriki at Webmaster@curriki.org and request that Curriki delete that child’s personal information from its systems.

And for the benefit of all of our users, Curriki is not in the business of selling your personal information. You can see our entire privacy policy here: http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/PrivacyPolicy

We’d love to hear your comments. Where do you stand on this student privacy issue? How can we implement Big Data technology in schools so as to gain the benefits of better student learning outcomes, but without compromising personal data?

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/

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!

 

PBL and Robotics

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Project-based learning (PBL) is becoming increasingly well-regarded and important in education. We learn more by doing, by active engagement, than we do through passive memorization. Engagement reinforces learning and long-term memory acquisition. PBL can provide, according to Wikipedia, “greater depth of understanding of concepts, [a] broader knowledge base, improved communication and interpersonal/social skills, enhanced leadership skills, increased creativity, and improved writing skills.” 

Here are two related video resources on Curriki. The first is a four minute overview of PBL and its benefits. And the second is a particular PBL activity for mathematics.

In the real world, whether someone works in private industry or in a government organization, the work often revolves around projects of one sort or another. So PBL is a great way to introduce students to skills they will need in the future. These include:

  • Recruiting team members
  • Teamwork
  • Finding sources for advice
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Decision making
  • Planning
  • Breaking down problems into component tasks
  • Sequencing tasks
  • Researching required information and alternatives
  • Trying, failing, and trying again (persistence!)
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Measuring success
  • Iterating to reach desired quality
  • Presentation of results

One great area to look at for PBL is Robotics. Here’s an article from Science Friday that talks about the benefits high school students experienced working on a robotics challenge, including the teamwork they developed and the friendships that ensued.

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Photo courtesy of The Bot Side

And here is a resource for a high school level robotics project on Curriki. The project involves building a robotic machine to sort M&Ms, Jelly Beans, or Lego Bricks by color. This is a fun, two to three week project that involves engineering, physics, science, math, writing, and programming. Students will acquire a solid grasp of the programming language RobotC. You need familiarity with solving problems with robotic devices designed and built from Lego kits. The resource includes a video providing inspiration and a glimpse at other students’ solutions to the color sorting problem.

There are many resources on Curriki that could be part of PBL activities. We encourage you to search on www.curriki.org/welcome with “PBL” and “project-based learning”.