"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Showing Initiative Used to be a Good Thing - Maybe Not So Much Anymore

Initiatives -another name for newly formed, soon to be mandatory, programs that you are probably not going to like.

On C-Span this week Hillary Clinton and S.M. Krishna, Indian External Affairs Minister, gave a joint press conference on the issue of U.S.-India Relations.  In the press conference, Hillary mentioned Obama's "Knowledge Initiative".   For those unfamiliar, you can find more about it on the White House website.

Once there you will find a link to "The Power of Open Education Data" described as: 
"Technology, data, and entrepreneurs can help with college affordability—as well as help address our national priorities in K-12 education.
(more from the website) 

That’s why we are excited about the Education Data Initiative, an Administration-wide effort to “liberate” government data and voluntarily-contributed non-government data as fuel to spur entrepreneurship, create value, and create jobs while improving educational outcomes for students. The Education Data Initiative is part of a recently announced series of Open Data Initiatives in energy, health care, public safety, and education to spark new private-sector consumer-facing and business-oriented tools, products, and services – such as mobile apps and websites– all while rigorously protecting personal, proprietary, and national security information."
What are these "Open Data Initiatives"?
The Presidential Innovation Fellows will pair top innovators from the private sector, non-profits, or academia with top innovators in government to collaborate on game-changing solutions that aim to deliver significant results in six months. 
Stimulate a rising tide of innovation and entrepreneurship that utilizes government data to create tools that help Americans in numerous ways – e.g., apps and services that help people find the right health care provider, identify the college that provides the best value for their money, save money on electricity bills through smarter shopping, or keep their families safe by knowing which products have been recalled.
The Open Data Initiatives program aims to “liberate” government data and voluntarily-contributed corporate data to fuel entrepreneurship, improve the lives of Americans in many tangible ways, and create jobs.
One more initiative that is related, the "Knowledge Trade Initiative" started under Clinton and expanded under Bush.
The KTI is a bilateral forum between India and the U.S. to discuss key issues affecting the trade of knowledge-based products and services between the two countries. The KTI aims to solidify Indo-US leadership in the knowledge economy by harmonizing bilateral positions on key issues affecting knowledge trade.
The end result is actually India draining our country of knowledge jobs and becoming the leader of the new economy.

Government and industry hand in hand, sharing private data about you to improve everyone's life.  I wish someone would have taken the initiative to ask us first if we want all these initiatives.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Fight Against High Stakes Testing Will Not Be Easy

The state of Florida remains at the forefront of education issues so it is useful to keep an eye on how things are going there. In a nutshell, they are not going well.

At a recent meeting of the Florida School Boards Association, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson gave a lunchtime speech in which he essentially told the local school boards, comply or else when it comes to the state's main assessment the FCAT.  The Association of 67 school boards across the state is working on a resolution opposing high stakes testing as the main tool for student and teacher evaluation. Robinson said of the local school boards, "They can express their opinion, but let’s also remember the local school board’s obligation is to implement the laws approved by the Florida Legislature; to implement the regulations approved by the state board.”

Got that everyone? You have only as much local control as your state legislature gives you. In Florida the legislature and State Board of Education are together in their support of the FCAT.  It is top down control and that line of command was just emphasized by their Commissioner. If anyone is going to be successful in getting things changed, they are going to have to focus their efforts on the legislature and the BoE. Talking to your teacher, principal, school board member or even superintendent will do you no good. They have no authority to affect change.

The FL BoE is hanging tight to the FCAT because they believe it has produced results.

“If you take a look at where students have performed in math, reading, writing as well and other subjects, we’ve been moving in the right direction for over a decade,” Robinson said. “That didn’t happen overnight. That happened because we set accountability and assessments are in place.”

That is a complete disconnect from the experience of the teachers and parents at the point of implementation.  One school board member characterized it this way, "for our Florida Department of Education not to be willing to listen to the concerns from parents, and students and school board members all across the state of Florida? We have a problem. We have a communication problem, we have a messaging problem."

They have more than a messaging problem.  They have an ego and an economic problem. Jeb Bush has a lot of his personal political worth on the line with education reform in FL. BobsIdleMusings noted, "He cannot remain education reforms voice if he is being challenged by the state’s local school boards – many of them filled with republicans."

They have an economic problem because of all the ties in to Pearson who produces the FCAT and has the company's  future viability challenged if they do not have a lock on the standardized testing protocol in the state. Osceola County School Board member Jay Wheeler said the FCAT, started “with the best intentions,” has turned into a successful “business model for Pearson” — which earns millions from Florida — but not something meant “to help kids.” Where business and politics cross is dangerous territory.

In Missouri, the line of command goes from DESE, through the legislature to the local districts. Many times the legislature has deferred to the decisions of DESE, even when such decisions were not pre-approved by the legislature and end up costing the state money that was not budgeted for by the legislature. Still, it is top down authority. Since our legislators have taken a somewhat hands off approach when it comes to things like Common Core Standards, high stakes testing and longitudinal database creation which were all brought into the state single handedly by DESE, the only way to change things is through DESE whose leadership is appointed by the governor.  Starting to look at the governor's race any differently?

And for those districts crazy enough to apply directly for the new RTTT funding, the line of command will bypass the state all together and come directly from Washington. You think DESE doesn't listen to you or plays hardball? Wait til you try to get an answer, some help or relief from DC.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gates Foundation A Little Red In The Face Over GSR Bracelet Study

Ok We Can, But Should We?

On Monday the mainstream press picked up a report put out by Valerie Strauss of The Answer Sheet. Strauss revealed what Susan Ohanian and  Diane Ravitch had learned about a study being funded by the Gates Foundation to measure student and teacher engagement through the use of Galvanic Skin Response bracelets.  Clemson University was awarded a research grant of almost a half million dollars to
work with members of the Measuring Effective Teachers (MET) team to measure engagement physiologically with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets which will determine the feasibility and utility of using such devices regularly in schools with students and teachers.
This is part of the Gates Foundation  Measuring Effective Teachers project, which is experimenting with teacher evaluation systems in seven school districts nationwide.

The Answer Sheet reported that "Millions of dollars have gone into these evaluation experiments, which, among other things, have involved the use of standardized test scores to assess teacher effectiveness (a bad idea), as well as the questionable videotaping of teachers. And now, bracelets." This is all part of the new craze of neuromarketing, which looks at physiologic responses to determine which stimuli are most effective. Companies can then target their marketing based on these responses. Since we are moving education into the "free" market, I suppose using marketing concepts in education is allowable.

Or maybe it isn't. Apparently people didn't like the idea of collecting subconscious physiologic information from kids. The Gates Foundation was quick to correct The Answer Sheet noting that the study description on their own website was wrong and supplying the corrected text.  The description, they said, should have been,
Purpose: to conduct a pilot study to measure student engagement physiologically with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, which will determine the feasibility and utility of using such devices more broadly to help students and teachers. 
Well, that is SO much better.  It was the part about using it regularly that was the big problem. This solves everything.

It is important to note that there was a separate study funded by Gates, to be carried out by the National Center for Time and Learning "to measure engagement physiologically with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Galvanic Skin Response to determine correlations between each measure and develop a scale that differentiates different degrees or levels of engagement."

These two studies are clearly linked, and part of a larger plan to use technology to solve problems (and make money).

The Plan

Step One: Using basic biologic science research funded by the government, identify science that could be developed into a commercial application. (check)

Step Two: Incentivize human pilot projects to collect data to support overall product package. Pay people if necessary to be monitored to supply data and tie it to a good sounding cause, like education.  (check)

Step Three: Quantify the results into what appears to be an objective measurement scale. (check)

Step Four: Using the cause as leverage, get the technology and measurement system implemented into policy.

Step Five: Monetize the system and begin collecting revenue.

All of this is readily possible and could move some balls down the field. People who have bought into the idea that our education system is complete junk will grasp at anything that promises to fix it, especially a product that seems based in science which looks like it can't be fooled. How do you control your galvanic skin responses to fool the test? Teaching styles will be tweaked to maximize the GSR which should yield improved learning.

But as Valerie Strauss pointed out, the study faces many design challenges, like determining exactly which stimuli produced the response. Maybe it was something out the window that the child liked, not the teacher's discussion of the Pythagorean theorem, that caused his skin to glow. With ready money from the Gates Foundation hanging out there for school districts who want to adopt this system on a "regular basis," will such niggling problems be overlooked in the pursuit of a quick and supposedly quantifiable solution?

The idea of stuyding human physiology in search of a market application has the potential to be huge for Gates. He just happens to be applying it to education in these two grants. But he is not stopping there.

GeekWire reported recently "on a newly-surfaced Microsoft patent application for 'Targeting Advertisements Based on Emotion', which describes how information gleaned from Kinects, webcams, online games, IMs, email, searches, webpage content, and browsers could be used to build an 'Emotional State Database' of individuals' emotions over time for advertisers to tap into. From the patent application: 'Weight-loss product advertisers may not want their advertisement to appear to users that are very happy. Because, a person that is really happy, is less likely to purchase a self-investment product that leverages on his or her shortcomings. But a really happy person may purchase electronic products or vacation packages. No club or party advertisers want to appear when the user is sad or crying. When the user is emotionally sad, advertisements about club parties would not be appropriate and may seem annoying or negative to the user. Online help or technical support advertisers want their advertisements to appear when the user is demonstrating a confused or frustrated emotional state.'"

Technology is advancing exponentially. We can already manipulate kids into doing all sorts of things, because they lack the life experience to know when they are being manipulated. But when we use what we know about the human body, its autonomic functions (stimulus/response), its physical limitations (neurotransmitting speed), to start manipulating adults into doing things, without being upfront about the fact that we are manipulating them, have we crossed a moral line? The temptation is great because such a scheme will be very efficient and effective. In some ways it will make things so much easier. However, before we reach that point, shouldn't we start asking if we SHOULD develop and use this technology? When we are reduced to an analysis of our various biologic systems which can then be manipulated at will to produce someone else's desired outcome, what becomes of our soul? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What you will NEVER Read in an Arne Duncan Department of Education Press Release.

Should THESE be the buzzwords of education reform?

Andreas Schleicher, the developer of the PISA test surmises why Chinese students outperform other students:

"In China, more than nine out of 10 children tell you: 'It depends on the effort I invest and I can succeed if I study hard.'

I would wager you will never hear Arne Duncan state the preceding quote about American students or use the following (Schleicher speaking about the Chinese students) as a talking point and goal for American education:

"They (students) take on responsibility. They can overcome obstacles and say 'I'm the owner of my own success', rather than blaming it on the system."

I haven't see the mainstream educational media publish this self-sufficient and individual responsibility belief either.  Rather we are inundated (even in high income suburban districts) that "educational inequity" is the reason American students can't/won't learn.  Common core standards, charter schools, open enrollment, and the redistribution of teachers/finances are all contained in Race to the Top to "fix" these educational inequities.

What are Schleicher's findings about educational inequity in China?

"Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance."

In particular, he said the test results showed the "resilience" of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds - and the "high levels of equity" between rich and poor pupils.

"Shanghai is an exceptional case - and the results there are close to what I expected. But what surprised me more were the results from poor provinces that came out really well. The levels of resilience are just incredible.

"In China, the idea is so deeply rooted that education is the key to mobility and success."

Are you surprised these findings were published in a non-American publication and not on the Department of Education website?  Here's a sample of what Duncan's messaging is for American education in a Department of Education press release:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced he would form a bipartisan commission to examine educational equity and promised to pursue federal policies that would advance equity in the nation's K-12 schools.

In a speech at the conference marking the 100th anniversary of the National Urban League, Duncan told civil rights leaders that the Obama administration's school reform agenda is benefiting students of color and those growing up in poverty through the Race to the Top program, the Promise Neighborhoods program, and other competitive programs, as well as maintaining formula programs focused on low-income children.

"In so many ways, our reform agenda is all about equity," he said. "Competition isn't about winners and losers. It's about getting better."

He said he was open to discussing criticisms of the administration's education agenda and promised to remain "deeply engaged" with civil rights leaders to address their concerns about school reform.
"You are partners and allies in the cause of public education," Duncan said. "This is a movement. This is the civil rights issue of our time."

To address fiscal inequities in K-12 schools, Duncan said the Department of Education is establishing the Equity and Excellence Commission. The 15-member panel will obtain broad public input about inequities in K-12 education and examine how those inequities contribute to the achievement gap. The panel will submit recommendations to Duncan on how to address those inequities.

Maybe the educational reformers in America have it wrong.  It's not so much about educational inequity and bad teachers.  Maybe a large part of the solution is teaching resiliency to students, as well as personal responsibility. 

These goals aren't listed anywhere in this federal program.  Is it perhaps because this education reform really isn't about reforming education? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Twinkle Teachers Demand Personal Happiness as Nuclear Power Goal in Classroom. Welcome to Whole Brain Teaching.

Hand gestures and the "ten-fingered whoohoo" imperative in Whole Brain Teaching.
Is the goal of education to make your "dear teacher happy"?

This is a "nuclear" goal if your school district using "Whole Brain Teaching".  Several Missouri districts are using this method focusing on making students more engaged in the learning process:

I was ready to quit teaching for good. The stress and apathy of the students and parents had worn me down, robbed me of my love for teaching, and left me completely disillusioned with the career I loved. It was almost too much. 

The thing that saved me is Whole Brain Teaching. This is an approach that began about ten years ago in Southern California.
Chris Biffle, a philosophy professor at Crafton Hills College, engaged the support of two former students, Jay Vanderfin, and Chris Reksted, both former students, who are now elementary teachers.

The three of them realized that a they all had the common problem of flagging student engagement, and worse, it was becoming epidemic. Everywhere they looked, everyone they talked to, the story was the same. Something had to be done.

They decided a radical change in approach was warranted. They set out to learn more about how students should learn as opposed to the traditional ways teachers typically use. Research into whole brain learning, and applying what they learned was the answer
Whole Brain Teaching was the result. Whole Brain Teaching is a method that integrates an effective classroom management system with learning approaches that tap the way your brain learns best. This approach is amazingly effective, and fun for both you the teacher, and the students.

Let's look at an "effective classroom management system" with the goal of making the "dear teacher happy".  From wholebrainteaching.com:


The following are five classroom rules that will make your life amazingly easier. One of them is nuclear power in your hands!

If rules are only posted on your board they are not really a part of your class. You must have the rules running around in your students’ heads for them to be effective. It will also help you quiet extra talking in the class. Look for that as you read.
Teach them as follows:

Rule One: Follow directions quickly! (the gesture: make your hand shoot forward like a fish)

Rule Two: Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture: raise your hand, then pull it down next to your head and make a talking motion. This rule will be the most commonly violated. See below for how you stop this without criticism or negativity.)

Rule Three: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (the gesture: raise your hand, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)

Rule Four: Make smart choices! (the gesture: tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.

Rule Five: Keep your dear teacher happy! (the gesture: hold up each thumb and index finger out like an “L” framing your face; bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)
In elementary school, rehearse the rules first thing in the morning, after lunch and after each recess. When you call out the rule number, your students respond with the rule itself and the correct gesture. Make the rehearsals as entertaining as possible; use a variety of voices (happy, robot, froggy) and tempos, fast, slow, super fast. For additional fun, ask of your liveliest students to lead the rules rehearsal.
Rule Two will be the most commonly violated, duh. You do not have to call anyone down; you do not have to mention names. If you are addressing the class and some kids are talking, you stop, hold up two fingers and loudly say “RULE TWO!”
Every kid in your class should repeat rule two energetically with gestures. This signals the violators to stop talking ... without you needing to scold them.
Rule Five is nuclear power. Think about it- keep your dear teacher happy. THERE IS NO LOOPHOLE! No student can convince you that they are making you happy. You are the world's greatest authority on what makes you happy. If they try to convince you they are making you happy, immediately inform them that does not make you happy.
If a student complains that they don’t know how to make you happy, tell them that following the first four rules will be just dandy.
Rule Five has no loophole.  (MEW note: Does this smack of emotional blackmail?)
If parents ask why their child should worry about making you happy, respond that you have the responsibility to teach their child and every other child in that class. The happier you are, the better you can do your job. (MEW note: Since when is it the student's responsibility to create and maintain teacher happiness?  Why should teacher happiness be a prerequisite to perform his/her job?)

Now, let's think briefly, about how these five classroom rules relate to brain structure.  The brain learns in five ways, by seeing, saying, hearing, doing and feeling.  When you teach the rules with the Whole Brain signs, your students' brains are maximally operative.  They see the signs, hear the rules, say the rules and make the gestures.  If you are upbeat and entertaining in your presentation, and of course you are!, your students will also have the lovely feeling of having fun.  Also note that for all five modes of brain learning to take place for your students, you have to engage in all five modes yourself.  Whole Brain Teaching is as great for the instructor's brain as the students'!


If you have a child in the Union, Sullivan, Silex or Joplin School Districts you might want to sit in on a class and watch the techniques.  Contrived hand signals are to be done with certain movements.  Did you watch any of the encounters in the OWS movement?  Do you think "uptwinkles" and "downtwinkles" are effective means of communication or are you concerned about the "groupthink" mentality present in this movement?  Is this a version of "groupthink" mentality in both of these movements?

Watch this youtube presentation of whole brain teaching taught in a kindergarten class.  Make note of the "ten-fingered whoohoo" (around 3:20):

If a teacher's main goal is to control the classroom and receive rote answers, this is an example of how to accomplish these goals.  If a teacher's goal is to create learning that is creative and allowing the child to learn intrinsic self-discipline, this is not the program to use.  

If you as a parent disagree about this type of learning going on in your school district, take a deep breath and understand you might incur the wrath of the "dear teacher".  But, unlike your 5 year old who doesn't have any idea what makes "the dear teacher happy", you are an adult and understand the teacher has a professional job to perform, regardless of his/her emotional state.  His/her happiness is not the most important goal in your child's education.

Comments from the video:

I can't stand this method of teaching...the kids are acting like robots and are they really learning or just doing what the teacher says. this sucks :(

WOAH! Rule number 5! If students are taught to "please" their teacher they are not developing intrinsic self control. I wonder how they act when the dear teacher is not present? I guess this is the difference between teacher centered, and student centered education.

Where is the relationship with your individual and unique students? This is depressing and makes me sick.

I have omitted the comments from the teachers wanting to try it in their classrooms.  They believe the students are engaged via "sing song" speech and uptwinkles.   Welcome to Whole Brain Teaching.

For your viewing pleasure, here are OWS hand signals explained:

We'll have more on Whole Brain Teaching methods to older students in a subsequent post.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Education Venture Capitalists Want Government Money but not Government Mandates....

...however, if you dance with the Devil, you pay the Devil his due.

Venture capitalists are in the business of making money and one area to funnel capital is into charter schools.  Charter start ups are partially funded by federal government money (aka known as taxpayer funding) so there is no true entrepreneurial risk.  They primarily operate as traditional public schools because of the Race to the Top mandates, so true innovation in education content can't occur.  However, teacher unions will be reduced and (according to them and school choice proponents) public education will be saved.

Apparently the venture capitalists aren't liking the Race to the Top "competition" open to individual school districts because of the additional mandates set by Arne Duncan.  They are fighting for that power to create "innovation" as opposed to the mandates from the DOEd. From Education News:

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opened the Race to the Top competition to individual school districts two weeks ago, he said he wanted to spur innovation “at the classroom level and the all-important relationship among teachers and students.” Now, a coalition of 16 education startups and policy organizations, herded by the nonprofit NewSchools Venture Fund, are saying the competition gets innovation wrong. They’re planning to send Duncan a letter Friday.

“We … enthusiastically offer our support for the latest Race to the Top-District Competition that prioritizes personalized learning,” the letter begins. “We worry that the competition as currently conceived may not maximize return on our $400 million federal investment.”
...but what's ironic is the expansion of their ventures into education wouldn't be possible without the Race to the Top mandates.  Now that they have entered into the education realm (with taxpayer funding), they now want to dictate how schools and teachers teach and are assessed.

The coalition wants to modify the Race to the Top competition by creating a “toolbox” that would allow schools to try out various technological tools, provided by educational developers, to reach student performance goals. The toolbox would be made available on an open data platform to schools and teachers.

 After the project period ended, the developers of the most effective tools would receive more money.

The coalition suggests this round could lead to more useful classroom improvements if it gave extra points to districts that partner with teacher training programs and that work with nonprofit organizations “to implement and scale personalized learning solutions.”

“This is big investment in a very nascent field,” said Benjamin Riley, the group’s policy director, referring to Race to the Top’s funding. “There’s an awful lot being asked from school districts. We want to give every opportunity for partnership.”
They also want to change the application process. According to the letter, the process requires applicants to set forth personalized learning plans, which can be stifling and run “the risk of creating another layer of bureaucracy.” Riley said the current process encourages the designing of personalized learning “from the top down” as opposed to “the way we innovate in Silicon Valley.”

Venture capitalists believe true innovation begins at the bottom level and works its way up.  That is in opposition to the RTTT model and mandates.  

NewSchools Venture Fund, a San Francisco-based group co-founded by venture capitalist John Doerr — and later supported by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings — describes itself as a “nonprofit venture philanthropy firm.” It helps investors find worthy educational entrepreneurs to support, such as charter schools like KIPP. In more recent years, the group has funded technology-based products, such as Khan Academy and ClassDojo, two software applications that help teachers manage classrooms. The organization invested $7.1 million in the spring of 2012 and $2.47 million the previous winter.

The group has close ties to the Education Department: In 2009, Duncan scooped up NewSchools Venture Fund’s chief operating officer, Joanne Weiss, to become a senior adviser for Race to the Top. She’s now his chief of staff.

Venture capitalists like John Doerr (St. Louis born) want to use the mandates to be able to use taxpayer money to start and maintain their ventures but now want the government to back off so they can run like a private school...of course, using the same taxpayer money for the "educational tools provided by educational developers".  They want to be able to use your money to pay for their educational tools they believe would work for students (and channel that money to their educational choice of companies) without governmental dictates on how this should happen.   They want to dictate to Arne Duncan what tools and assessments to use.

They want to operate like a private school with taxpayer money and drive assessment data.  They want their tools (paid for by taxpayer money) to be provided to public schools to assess teachers and student achievement.  They want to control public education, even in the schools they don't manage.   Remember the quote from John Riley (above): “There’s an awful lot being asked from school districts. We want to give every opportunity for partnership.”  Do you think that "opportunity" will be free to public school districts?

Do these venture capitalists understand as many taxpayers do, that Race to the Top is actually a race to the bottom and doomed to fail?  Of course they do.   These venture capitalists are concerned about not "maximizing the return on our $400 million federal investment".  They want to be able to make the money in the venture.  They can't make the amount of private money they want to when the decisions on what tools are used are controlled by the government.

The investors are worried about their return.  Where is the concern about the taxpayer investment into a failed policy? Where is the concern of the politicians that the private individuals and groups making money from the charters (while using our money to do so) are driving what is expected in public education?  Maybe there is no concern from them because privatization of public education is seen as the panacea to educational failure.

These Silicon Vally "entrepreneurs" want it all.  Do you think they'll get a waiver to implement their plans and programs from Duncan?  A word of caution to the Silicon crowd: the waivers are usually worse than the original mandates.  These entrepreneurs are in the governmental bureaucracy dance, whether they like it or not.  Governmental mandates and innovation don't mix well. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bill Gates, Fairy Tales, Technology, High Stakes Testing and the Sunday Education Weekly Reader 06.10.12

The genius-beasts of reform education and their technological "advances"

Welcome to the Sunday Education Reader for 06.10.12.  Tweets of the week include the oft-dismissed learning discipline of memorization, the joys of using social media in the classroom, the harm to the brain using social media, stress reducing behaviors by students because of high stakes testing...and a story coming out of a science fiction novel (or a Bill Gates grant) on how to determine teacher effectiveness.  This last tweet is really unbelievable.  

  • The British system believes fairy tales and memorization of poetry is important in curriculum.  Doesn't sound like American Common Core standards and the emphasis on factual reading....Primary school children to be expected to learn and recite poetry
  •  (The principal) replaced the school's "static, boring" website with what has become a heavily used Facebook page, and his teachers encourage students to research, write, edit, perform and publish their work online.  I hope students' jobs are never boring...it will be quite a shock to the students and expectations of life...Making students literate in the digital age  
  •  Is too much social media a bad thing?....BBC News - Texting at night 'disrupts children's sleep and memory'
  •  “Now I have to worry about this, too? Really? This shouldn’t be what they need to do to get where they want to, ” said Dodi Sklar, after listening to her ninth-grade son, Jonathan, describe how some classmates abuse stimulants....Seeking Academic Edge, Teenagers Abuse Stimulants: At high schools across the United States, pressure over g... nyt
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