Publish Books Instantly From Evernote

For many authors, Evernote is the place where ideas are assembled into words and manufactured into stories. Now, with an integration by FastPencil, authors have a full-fledged tool to create and distribute a book in Evernote, from start to publish.

Source: blog.evernote.com

11 Amazing Evernote Features for Teachers

“Evernote is a powerful note taking web tool and mobile app. It is definitely an elemental component of teachers workflow. I have been using it for a few years now and I just can’t live without it now.Evernote enables you to take notes in both text and audio format. Your notes can also include images,videos and even files. Evernote is available across different devices so that everything you do with Evernote on your computer can be automatically synced to your Evernote account on your phone or tablet.”

Source: www.educatorstechnology.com

8 Ways Technology Makes You Stupid: Has your brain been ‘googled’?

People assume that iPhones, laptops and Netflix are evidence of progress. In some ways, that’s true. A moderate amount of Googling, for instance, can be good for your brain, and there are apps that can boost brain function and activity.

Yet tech a…

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Pay attention to #4

  1. Background knowledge is a key to learning.
  2. The idea that students no longer need to know information when they can “google it” is a myth.
  3. The more you know about a particular subject, the faster you acquire new knowledge about that subject. 
  4. The more vocabulary words possessed by a student, the faster and better that student reads, comprehends and applies new knowledge.

12th Graders to take TIMSS Advanced Global Exam on High-Level Math and Physics

The Education Department is planning for U.S. participation next year in the TIMSS Advanced global exam on high-level math and physics, according to a notice published today in the Federal Register.

The U.S. does participate regularly in the basic TIMSS test, the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study. That exam is given every four years to fourth and eighth graders around the world. U.S. students in both grades topped the international average in both math and science on the most recent test, in 2011, with fourth graders performing especially well.

Source: www.gpo.gov

Because of the over-testing of students in the U.S., testing seniors is a really bad idea. By the time our students reach 12th grade, they have been tested repeatedly throughout the grades and have never received any feedback and no consequences. As a result, they consistently engage in what teachers refer to as “Christmas-treeing” tests. They simply fill in the dots and go through the motions. I would not want my career riding on the performance of a 12th grader on yet another meaningless test.

Be Careful How You Imitate

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By Stuart A. Singer, author of The Algebra Miracle and a forty-year veteran math teacher.

We are a culture of copycats. If a new offensive scheme works in the National Football League, one year later ten other teams are using it with wildly varying degrees of success. When ridiculously low-slung pants became fashionable, too many folks with the entirely wrong physical silhouette grabbed a pair. Madonna gave us Lady Gaga who lead to Molly Cyrus. No further explanation is necessary.

A tale of two double-blocks

Such blind imitation in math education can be equally perilous.

Mel Riddile recently sent me two articles discussing the success and failure of double-block math programs. The first told of research which demonstrated the profoundly positive effects of having ninth graders utilize two periods for the study of Algebra 1. This is, of course, no surprise to me since I have written a book documenting a decade of improved student academic performance based on the utilization of that course.

The second post was considerably more disturbing. It chronicled a school district’s implementation of a double-block sixth grade math program. The thrust of the article was that such a plan was a waste of a student’s valuable class time.

“Doubling up on math classes for a year may help middle school students in the short term, but the benefits of doing so depreciate over time—and are likely not worth the price of missing out on instruction in other subjects, according to a new study published by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis.

“At the end of the year, students with double math scored substantially higher than their peers who took just one math class. However, a year after returning to the traditional schedule with one math class, those gains were about half as large. Two years into a regular schedule, that difference was down to about one-third of the original gain.

“And when those students reached high school, the gains all but diminished completely.”

The problem with this program (and the Stanford analysis) is that it is predicated on the notion that a single inoculation of a double-block course can fix all of a student’s difficulties in mathematics. If only it were that simple.

Some problems require long-term fixes

The mistake inherent in this sixth-grade approach is not in the formulation of the double-block class. As demonstrated by the Stanford research, the problem was in the subsequent classes. These previously low performing students were demonstrating significant gains for one year and moderately good improvement for two. But after three years back in the regular program these gains had been lost. Such a regression should not have been surprising. And sadly, it was avoidable.

A one-year double-block “Band-Aid” can be highly effective for some students but definitely not for all. Successful math achievement for at-risk students requires constant monitoring and adjustments.

Our program consisted of far more than a single ninth-grade course. It was based on careful study of statistics and teacher input. As a result of those factors a portion of the double-block Algebra 1 students did move comfortably into regular Geometry and Algebra 2 classes. However, many did not. For those individuals more time was required and a double-block Algebra 2 class was created. Several years of data collection clearly indicated the wisdom of this adjustment. In an interesting twist, a two-year Geometry program was determined to be of little value and was quickly eliminated.

The bottom line in such a discussion is this: the development of a math program requires careful consideration of adjustments at all levels. An isolated year of remediation is often inadequate for many students.

Learning to Read Does Not End in Fourth Grade

Word-processing skills develop even past fifth grade

A new study published in the journal Developmental Science questions that assumption, showing that children are still learning to read past fourth and even fifth grade.

The shift to automatic word-processing, in which the brain recognizes whether a group of symbols constitutes a word within milliseconds, allowing fluid reading that helps the reader focus on the content of the text rather than on the words, may occur later than previously thought.

Source: time.com

So if fourth-graders aren’t quite reading to learn, then when does the shift toward more complete automatic word-processing occur? According to Coch, that probably happens some time between fifth grade and college—a period she says that hasn’t been studied.

For now, the results strongly suggest that reading skills need to continue to be nurtured during that period. “

This certainly does suggest that teachers beyond fourth grade are still teachers of reading,” says Coch.

How the Brain Learns—A Super Simple Explanation

“In his book, The Art of Changing the Brain, Dr. James Zull , notably suggested how David Kolb’s famous four-phase model of the learning cycle can be mapped into four major brain processes. He believed that better understanding the learning processes that occurs in the brain encourages a more flexible approach to learning. It does, by extension, help us become better eLearning developers and learners. After all, it’s what’s going on in the learners’ brains that matters the most.”

Source: info.shiftelearning.com

Bonuses paid to top teachers keeps them in low-performing schools

A teacher-retention bonus helped keep top teachers in Tennessee’s low-performing schools, a new study finds.

Source: blogs.edweek.org

Tennessee Teacher-Retention Bonus Paid Dividends, Study Finds

A teacher-retention bonus helped keep top teachers in Tennessee’s low-performing schools, a new study finds.

Source: blogs.edweek.org

School leaders, math anxiety is negatively impacting the math achievement of your students!

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford

With the adoption of new, more rigorous college and career ready math standards principals and math teachers across the country are putting in a lot of time and effort to not only understand the new standards, but to change the way we teach mathematics.

The primary implication of these new standards is that the current predominant practice of didactic-only instruction, with some guided practice of rote procedures, must give way to more well-rounded approaches to instruction that give students the opportunity to make deep sense of the content they are to learn and the practices in which they are expected to engage.

In other words, instead of simply working problems, students are expected to apply math concepts to unique situations and to explain their thinking—in writing—using higher-order thinking skills. According to veteran math teachers, the emphasis on application to real-world problem solving “will completely change the way math is taught.”

However, new evidence suggests that the monumental effort required to change math instruction may pale in comparison to what will be needed to change another invisible yet formidable barrier to improved student math achievement—an irrational, culturally induced fear of mathematics that is further complicated by our “number naming system” (Gladwell, 2008, p. 229) and the widespread overreliance on the use of calculators for simple mathematical computations that students should know how to do mentally.

Notice to school leaders: Math anxiety among students has been found to be widespread and tied to poor math skills. “Math anxiety means, unsurprisingly, that one feels tension and apprehension in situations involving math.”

While we have always known that some students had doubts about their ability to do math, I had no idea to what extent those attitudes permeated our schools. Here is what researcher and author Dan Willingham has discovered:

  • “Half of all first and second graders feel moderate to severe math anxiety.”
  • “Many children do not outgrow math anxiety.” Note: In other words, math anxiety does not go away, and, from my experience as a principal, may actually get worse and infect more students as they advance through the grades.
  • “25 percent of students attending a four-year college suffer from math anxiety.”
  • “Among community college students, the figure is 80 percent.”

After thinking about this research from the perspective of a high school principal, I would assume that at least half of my students were experiencing at least some level of math anxiety that was significantly diminishing their math performance. Most if not all of these students have the ability to do much better, but their mental and emotional state is detracting from their capacity to learn.

Distressingly, we could successfully change math instruction over the next five years and still not see significant improvements in student achievement. Overlooking student math anxiety may guarantee that all our hard work would go for naught.

stuObviously, this is a huge obstacle for students, teachers and schools. However, I know from experience that this can be changed. As Math Department Chair and author, Stu Singer, describes in The Algebra Miracle, our school completely turned around our math achievement. However, we did it the hard way—through trial and error learning. But if you are willing to learn from other peoples’ experience, our arduous, decade-long trial-and-error learning experience can pave the way for a much less strenuous pathway to success for your students.

Stu and I did not have benefits of researchers like Dan Willingham, Alan Schoenfeld, or Carol Dweck. We had to use logic, trust our intuition, and sometime rely on good old-fashioned blind faith. We made mistakes.

Today, I can confidently say that if I were starting all over again knowing what I now know, I would do things the same way—collaboratively and collectively with one exception. I would now be much more intentional in my focus on changing the expectations of our teachers and students.

By chance, Stu and I had a similar set of beliefs when it came to students and learning. We believed that work and effort determined ability. We were also willing to take risks and try new things. We treated our school like a math laboratory, we believed that given time and support, all students could learn at high levels, and our students proved that they could.

“School leaders and teachers need to create schools and classroom environments in which error is welcome as a learning opportunity, in which discarding incorrect knowledge and understandings is welcomed, and in which teachers can feel safe to learn, re-learn, and explore knowledge and understanding.” (Hattie, 2012)

Raising math achievement required a lot more than believing in the benefits of hard work and effort. We had to change our attitudes and expectations. We had to change the way we approached math instruction. Finally, we had to change the expectations of our students.

We had a plan and we were willing to work that plan over the span of a decade. Every decision we made was based on whether or not what we were considering would help our students learn, and we said “no” as often as we said “yes.”

We had a comprehensive short and long-term plan to improve student math achievement. What is your plan?

Next: A plan to relieve math anxiety and raise student math achievement.

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