More on Race to the Top: In this piece in today’s Washington Post, a “Maryland legislative committee voted Monday to reject a new regulation requiring that half of teachers’ evaluations be based on student progress, calling into question the future of” the state’s $250 million Race to the Top money. I wonder if this might begin to happen in other states.
If you have not already, when do you plan to get your kid a laptop to take to school? Do you share my outrage – well, as outraged as mild-mannered me can get – that many elementary school students still have clunky binders and notebooks, that keyboarding’s not a regular part of the week, that more is not done in elementary schools with technology, from Skype chats with other schools to blogging to wikis to the use of tools like Prezi and Poll Everywhere? I don’t share the commonly held belief that the Internet is the Big Bad Wolf; yes, we hear about Internet ugliness weekly, but I believe that if we train our kids well and then oversee what they do on the web, as we might oversee their television viewing, they can be safe – and can live in the 21st century like the rest of us, with all the rich tools and potential for learning that comes with those tools.
And I’m certainly not arguing for tech for tech’s sake. It’s got to be connected to or a tool for learning, not some bell or whistle. For example, Harvard’s Chris Dede has done powerful work around middle school kids and gaming. See his project River City, “an interactive computer simulation for middle grades science students to learn scientific inquiry and 21st century skills.” For those that fear games as a part of school, the kind of game that immerses you in a virtual world, dig into the River City site. It represents a revolutionary idea about teaching and learning.
Hat tip to my friend Sylvia Martinez at the Generation YES blog, for news from the ConnectSafely site. This site “is for parents, teens, educators, advocates – everyone engaged in and interested in the impact of the social Web. The user-driven, all-media, multi-platform, fixed and mobile social Web is a big part of young people’s lives, and this is the central space – linked to from social networks across the Web – for learning about safe, civil use of Web 2.0 together.” In fact download ConnectSafely’s new Parents’ Guide to Facebook.
And do you know MIT’s Scratch? It’s a kid-friendly “programming language that makes it easy to create…interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art” and share these creations on the web.
Lastly, your student having trouble with algebra? Well, you can watch this scintillating webcast on the topic by yours truly, or you can read one of the new books out on the topic, just for students: Hot X: Algebra Exposed by Danica McKellar, formerly of The Wonder Years, or Algebra Word Problems from The Complete Idiot’s Guide series.