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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What can we do?

What can we do?

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Online communities only grow if the members are engaged and actively participate. What can we do to build this community? I have a few ideas... (1) We can start an online "book club." We can select a book, read and discuss over a couple of months. I would be happy to organize & start this...in late January. (2) Live webinars. We could organize live webinars with a brief presentation, followed by Q&A. I could find a scientist (or other expert) on a monthly basis. For example, I have a colleague at UWO that does research in China related to the late Permian mass extinction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2%80%93Triassic_extinction_event). (3) Topic of the week. Members can suggest "high interest" focus questions to guide our discussions. I would say that 2 per month would be a good start... ---> Are you interested in any of these? If so, please leave a comment. If not, give us more suggestions!

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Comments (39)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Kelli Hulslander's picture
Kelli Hulslander
Charter High School Math Teacher & Community Outreach Coordinator, NM

Please let me know how I can get involved in this camp. I am licensed to teach both math and science. I currently only teach math but I've ask (begged) our science teacher to consider joint classes or projects for the near future.

Kelli Hulslander's picture
Kelli Hulslander
Charter High School Math Teacher & Community Outreach Coordinator, NM

Hi Carol,
Wow....I thought that the problem in math skills was only local. I guess I hoped that this was so. Sorry to hear that you are facing the same thing. While my students are mostly at our school because it is their last chance at an education, I have taught at another school and the skill levels are just as low. What is it about fractions that terrifies students?? Any way, I hope that we can swap ideas. Have you watched the video here on Edutopia of Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond?? It was highlighted in a "magazine" just a few weeks ago. She notes the same issues and gives some reasons why.

One of her comments hit home with me. She stated that countries with higher academic achievements spend more time explaining and teaching the fundamentals in math than we do here in the US. We spend far too much time reteaching each year because our students don't learn the concepts the first time.

I think that you are experiencing that phenomena.

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation
Staff

Hi Kelli - If all goes well, we'll be announcing it more formally in the weeks to come. Do you receive our newsletter? It will be there as well as throughout this site. You'll be able to sign up on the site, as well. Glad to hear of your interest!

Cheryl M. Tokarski's picture
Cheryl M. Tokarski
High School Math and Computer Science Teacher

Thanks Betty. I have not used Twitter before, but for this seems like a good reason to do so. I will look at the existing chat to get comfortable and then look forward to the new one (or possibly two). I am also interested in the information on the PBL camp.

Looking forward to getting to know you all better and working with you!

Cheryl M. Tokarski's picture
Cheryl M. Tokarski
High School Math and Computer Science Teacher

I teach standard Algebra at a private school and even here, the base skills at this level are not what they need to be to really master Algebra. As you say Carol, they don't know the basics (are much to dependent on calculators and don't have the number sense that they need!) and forget fractions. I spend too much time correcting basic math mistakes and it takes away time from being able to get the kids to understand the application of Algebra and why they should even care about it. I agree that the issues start well before High School and we should address both how to make it better and how to work with what we have right now and try to bring the kids to the level they need to be at.

I hope we can, through our collaborations, come up with some viable ideas. I struggle with how to get the kids to care why things work and not just want to know the easiest way to do it. To me this is where Project Based Learning can be powerful, so I would love to get better at that.

Thanks!
Cheryl

Carol Hacherl's picture

Hi Kelli and Cheryl,
While I'm sad to learn the lack of fundamentals problem seems so widespread, I feel better already just knowing I'm not alone in figuring out how to work on it. Your comments are right on with what I've experienced here, and I look forward to some shared brainstorming!

I just found the Edutopia site yesterday, so I'm still learning what all is here; Kelli, I appreciate the video recommendation.

Betty, I'm not a Twitter user either, but it's probably high time I learned!

- Carol

Kelli Hulslander's picture
Kelli Hulslander
Charter High School Math Teacher & Community Outreach Coordinator, NM

Hi Carol,
I guess that I follow the stereotypical thinking (which I try not to do) that private schools are filled with students eager to learn and willing to put in extra time and energy.

My "rough around the edges" students also want the quick trick or just to tell them the steps. I struggle with how to get them interested in the "why".

I already do try to have each class complete at least one project each semester, but that is an arduous process also.

I believe that if we could solve the "teaching, understanding and applying fractions" problem you, Cheryl and I could host training all over the USA and never be out of work. : )

I actually don't use any algebra problems that include fractions until the end of the year and then only with my regular ed students. My students will see fractions and stop. Any other one or two step algebra problem they will at least attempt and generally finish, but not if it includes fractions.

Sigh....let's hope we can pool our thoughts and ideas and come up with some ideas.

Rita Oates, PhD's picture
Rita Oates, PhD
Global PBL, student engagement in STEM, language practice

I'd like to volunteer to help with planning for the PBL camp. I can contribute some free resources to share.
Rita Oates
formerly, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
currently, VP, ePals Inc.

Ken Pinkerton's picture
Ken Pinkerton
Teacher, Math Festival Coordinator, Kids Museum designer & builder

Hello, I am delighted to find this group. I teach middle school science in far northern Coastal California - Eureka. I founded and coordinate the Humboldt Math Festival - a grass roots community celebration of mathematics - which may be a way to help foster excitement and hands on activities in math(www.humboldtmathfestival.org) I am also working on STEM related activities in my class and with Humboldt State University. I am interested in STEM related ideas and curriculum.
My latest epiphany is that teachers don't "do" science or science activities due to the time it takes to set up and take down labs. I am trying to develop a system of volunteers or students who will help do just that for interested teachers. I can see this to support their curriculum or to infuse STEM curriculum into class.
I look forward to info on how to Twitter and reading more of others entries.

Ken Pinkerton's picture
Ken Pinkerton
Teacher, Math Festival Coordinator, Kids Museum designer & builder

I just talked with a woman who was raised in Ireland. Due to the use of the metric system, fractions are not emphasized in the lower grades - everything is base 10!
This sent my brain reeling (sp?) as I see the difficulty and the amount of time we spend TRYING to teach fractions to kids. I think it would be fascinating to examine how fractions are taught in other countries and when. Has anyone ever seen this discussed or have experience in another country?

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