Tag Archives: OER

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.

Recess in Kansas – Too Short?

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

According to an article this week from the Associated Press, elementary students in public schools in the State of Kansas have only 20 minutes or less for their daily recess.

The Kansas State Department of Education and the state’s Association for Physical Education, Recreation and Dance presented their research findings this month to the Kansas State Board of Education.

The Kansas Health Foundation supported the study. Jeff Willett, the vice president for programs and advocacy at the foundation noted that “Far from taking time from learning, these healthy habits (physical activity) actually help kids succeed in school”. Physical activity supports mental activity and improved learning.

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Children at recess in Hanoi, Vietnam

There are concerns nationwide in the U.S. about childhood obesity and the level of fitness of children. According to the National Youth Fitness Survey in 2012, only one quarter of preteens and young teens are getting an hour or more of physical activity per day.

Teachers and parents should be encouraging sufficient recess periods during the school day.

Lessons plans around fitness, exercise and nutrition can be found here on Curriki:

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_CurrikiMonthlyThematicCollections/KidsgovExerciseFitnessandNutrition

and also here:

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_kathyf/FitnessforLife

Math People

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

What makes a “math person”? What is it that causes people to pursue majors and careers in math and other STEM disciplines where mathematics is crucial to success?

The National Science Foundation has recently supported a study by Professor Zahra Hazari at Florida International University’s STEM Transformation Institute. Professor Hazari worked with colleagues at Harvard University and Western Kentucky University to interview over 9000 college students taking calculus.

Love_math_1What they found was that it’s not simply about math competence and confidence. Students reported that they developed interest and positive attitudes toward math, and had received recognition from family, teachers and other students. So they responded positively when asked if they saw themselves as a “math person”.

According to Professor Haazari, “We really have to engage students in more meaningful ways through their own interests and help them overcome challenges and recognize them for doing so. If we want to empower students and provide access to STEM careers, it can’t just be about confidence and performance. Attitudes and personal motivation matters immensely.”

Some recommendations for teachers:

  • Have high standards
  • Be generous with praise
  • Look for ways to connect math to the real world

These are good recommendations for all students in math courses, not just those who end up as “math people”. The point here is that both weaker students and the stronger students benefit from encouragement and engagement.

A blog about the study, including a link to the full report “Establishing an Explanatory Model for Mathematics Identity”, can be found at the NEA Today web site:

http://neatoday.org/2015/06/23/in-praise-of-the-math-person

Curriki has developed courses in Algebra, Geometry and Calculus for high school students with support from AT&T for the first two and Huawei, for the Calculus course. These adhere to standards, and are project-based, to help make the subjects more relevant to the outside world. You can find those courses here:

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> Algebra 

> Geometry 

> Calculus 

Check them out!

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.

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/

Coming Soon! New, Fully Redesigned Curriki Website

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

It won’t be long now, before the new Curriki website is live. Currently it is in late stage development. There will be many changes that we are confident you will appreciate. The site will be significantly more mobile device friendly and much easier to use and navigate.

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There will be direct access to all resources in your own library from a personalized dashboard. This will also provide direct access to your contacts and groups and provide you with current information on the latest activity at Curriki and within your community. And the functionality around groups is being redesigned for enhanced discussion and collaboration.

Accessing and uploading resources will be much faster and easier. Creating collections and aligning resources to standards will be significantly easier than at present. The review system will be enhanced to align with Achieve OER rubrics. The not-for-profit organization Achieve was a key developer of the Common Core State Standards. (You can learn more about the eight rubrics at: http://www.achieve.org/oer-rubrics).

We can’t tell you everything just yet, but we hope you are starting to get excited! We at Curriki are very thrilled that we will be able to deliver this enhanced functionality and ease-of-use to all of our users soon.

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 

AComplexFormula

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.