Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thank you Helen Gym for writing "Reformers, please listen to what parents want for schools"

Helen Gym wrote a beautiful article today about school reforms from a parents point of view!  We love seeing passionate parents find a voice and the energy to engage with schools and administrations and teachers to make the quality of education great!!  And in our hometown of Philadelphia!!  Go Helen go!

Here is a link to the article: CNN Article

CNN Editor's note: Helen Gym is a Philadelphia public school parent and writer and founder of Parents United for Public Education, which seeks classroom-centered investments in education budgets. She is a board member of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, where she contributes online commentary. She helped found the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School in Philadelphia Chinatown and was named the Philadelphia Inquirer Citizen of the Year for 2007 for education activism.

Here's what I can tell you about my daughter's education.

I can tell you the name of the history teacher who inspired her this year, the book that she loved and couldn't stop talking about and the topic of the reflective essay she labored to write and rewrite.

I can tell you which teachers gave homework assignments that made some of our family evenings perfectly miserable and the community service projects that had our whole family out cleaning the streets or readying a garden.
I can tell you what it felt like when the principal of a school shrugged her shoulders after I complained my daughter had been pushed down the stairs (we left that school) and what it felt like when the new principal stood outside greeting children by name as they entered every morning.
I can tell you that my mother cried when my youngest daughter's school choir sang "Arirang," a traditional Korean song, and that I loved every squeak and clank of the school orchestra.
I can tell you all of these things because as a parent, the true meaning of a quality school lies in a strong child- and family-centered educational mission that recognizes education as a "process of living" and school life as "real and vital" to our children and families, as American philosopher John Dewey wrote more than half a century ago.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What is the circumference???? Today is National Doughnut Day!

National Doughnut Day is on the first Friday of June each year, succeeding the Donut Day event created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. The holiday celebrates the doughnut (a.k.a "donut") — an edible, torus-shaped piece of dough which is deep-fried and sweetened. Many American doughnut stores offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day.

How about you take your kids and measure the circumference of the Donut?  Both the inner and outer rings?  Can they guess which ones weigh more?  Are more dense?

Architect helps kids connect shapes, math

See this article about architecture and teaching math in the Desmoines Register!  Thanks to our fans for alerting us to this!

Above: Students at Oak Park Elementary School got to learn a little about geometry and architecture last week when architect Mel Shivvers, top, brought his program to them. Left: Third-grader Ariel Owens, 9, shows off the structure she made.Above at right: Teontae Dock, 8, displays how he will attach two wood parts. Right: Kyleigh Smith, 8, and Andrew Makey, 9, sit with their finished projects.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Math Anxiety...brain research is telling!

Check out this article in the Washington Post today...
Math problems make more than a few students — and even teachers — sweat, but new brain research is providing insights into the earliest causes of the anxiety so often associated with mathematics.

Anxiety can literally cut off the working memory needed to learn and to solve problems, according to Judy Willis, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based neurologist, former middle school teacher and author

Eugene A. Geist, an associate professor at Ohio University and the author of “Children Are Born Mathematicians,” works with math teachers to create “anxiety-free classrooms” for students. He advises teachers to have students focus on learning mathematics processes, rather than relying on the answer keys in a textbook, which can undermine both their own and the teacher’s confidence in their math skills.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Excerpt from Teach for America: Letting the cream rise

By George Will (Washington Post, Feb. 27, 2011)

Until recently - until, among other things, TFA - it seemed that we simply did not know how to teach children handicapped by poverty and its accompaniments - family disintegration and destructive community cultures. Now we know exactly what to do....Kopp, whose new book ("A Chance to Make History") ... has learned, among much else, this: Of the 15 million children growing up in poverty, 50 percent will not graduate from high school, and the half that do will have eighth-grade skill levels compared to those from higher-income families and neighborhoods.

In government, the axiom is: Personnel is policy. In education, Kopp believes, "people are everything" - good ones are (in military parlance) "force multipliers." Creating "islands of excellence" depends entirely on finding "transformational leaders deeply committed to changing the trajectories" of children's lives.

We do not, she insists, have to fix society or even families in order to fix education. It works the other way around. The movie "Waiting for Superman" dramatizes what TFA has demonstrated - that low-income parents leap at educational opportunities that can break the cycle of poverty. Teaching successfully in challenging schools is, Kopp says, "totally an act of leadership" by people passionately invested in the project.

Speaking of leadership, someone in Congress should invest some on TFA's behalf. Government funding - federal, state, local - is just 30 percent of TFA's budget. Last year's federal allocation, $21 million, would be a rounding error in the General Motors bailout. And Kopp says that every federal dollar leverages six non-federal dollars. All that money might, however, be lost because even when Washington does something right, it does it wrong.

It has obtusely defined "earmark" to include "any named program," so TFA has been declared an earmark and sentenced to death. If Congress cannot understand how nonsensical this is, it should be sent back to school for remedial instruction from some of TFA's exemplary young people.

About the Author:

Wendy Kopp is the chief executive officer and founder of Teach For America, whose mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting the nations most promising future leaders in the effort. She is also chief executive officer and co-founder of Teach For All, which is working to accelerate and increase the impact of this model around the world.?

Wendy proposed the creation of Teach For America in her undergraduate senior thesis in 1989. Today more than 8,000 Teach For America corps members are in the midst of two year teaching commitments in 39 regions across the country, reaching over 500,000 students, and 20,000 alumni are working inside and outside the field of education to continue the effort to ensure educational excellence and equity.?Since 2007, Wendy has led the development of Teach For All to be responsive to requests for support from social entrepreneurs around the world who are passionate about adapting the model to their contexts. Teach For All is a growing global network of independent organizations pursuing this mission in 18 countries, from India and China to Brazil and Lebanon.?Wendy resides in New York City with her husband Richard Barth and their four children.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mathmagic-Happy Birthday Harry Houdini!!

Today is the birthday of Harry Houdini (1874-1926).  He was a famous escape artist who used his mathematical prowess, as well as his skill and bravery in many of his tricks.

Let's celebrate with a little math magic!

In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? Unlike Houdini, he’ll tell you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building Connections is to Build Understanding!

We could not have said it better ourselves...please check out the post on (link below)

"To understand is to make connection. The stronger the connection the most powerful the understanding. One of the ways to help students to make connections among concepts is to give them problem solving tasks that have many correct solutions or answers. Another way is to make sure that the solutions to the problems involve many previously learned concepts. This is what makes a piece of knowledge powerful. Most important of all, the tasks must give the groundwork for future and more complex concepts and problems the students will be learning. These kinds of task need not be difficult."