Today In Digital Education (TIDE) — Episode 11: Exponential Excellence

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 23:45
Today In Digital Education (TIDE) A regular podcast from Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw about education, technology, and everything in between. Search for us in your favourite podcast directory, copy/paste the RSS feed, or click here to check us out on iTunes or SoundCloud! Episode 11: Exponential Excellence

This week we discuss - amongst many other things - the power of routines, the UK government’s education and technology strategies, and digital parenting!

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Thought Shrapnel: Art by intended accident

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 23:45
Thought Shrapnel by Doug Belshaw. May 25, 2015

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Art by intended accident

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Re-imagining the Where, When, and How of Educational Practice | DMLcentral

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 23:45
Skip to main content Go to content Go to navigation DMLcentral Main Menu Re-imagining the Where, When, and How of Educational Practice By Doug Belshaw February 3, 2014 - 10:07am Tags Education, Technology, Reimagining Learning, DML Conference, Digital Media Learning

"Well, I guess in all honesty I would have to say that I never knew nor did I ever hear of anybody that money didn't change." (Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men)

Last month, I was at Bett, the annual educational technology and training show. It was a feast for the senses: I saw higher-pixel displays that supposedly 'improve learning,’ multi-touch screens to 'transform educational experiences,’ and (of course!) tablet devices were presented as a panacea for, well, everything.

The irony was that the venue was simultaneously hosting the EAG Amusement and Leisure Show. If it wasn't for the G4S staff scanning my badge to approve or deny entry to certain places, I'm sure there would have been times where I wouldn't have known whether to turn left or right. Shiny, shiny technology was everywhere and it was difficult to find the signal amongst the noise.

As a former director of e-Learning and someone who works for Mozilla, I'm a big fan of technology. I want everything to be faster, better, and cheaper. But, too often, the devices I see at places like Bett are presented as inevitable — that they will march, regardless of context, into our homes, classrooms, and pockets. While I'm well aware of the ways devices can powerfully augment educational practice, I'd want to simultaneously reject the view that whatever comes out of Silicon Valley should be welcomed with open arms by educators. Human relationships and flourishing should come first, with 'shareholder value' not part of the narrative. We need to filter away the noise to focus on the signal.

There is, these days, much talk of 'disruption' — a word that the Oxford English Dictionary defines as "the action of rending or bursting asunder; violent dissolution of continuity; forcible severance." That might be attractive if you're an aggressive startup looking to reconfigure a market for a piece of the action (read: money). However, it's less attractive if you're a student, teacher, or parent with a stake in the success of the educational system. Not everything, after all, is a market.

The priority here in education, formal or informal, should be upon facilitating learning, not finding ways to use the latest technology that comes along. While there's an undoubted thrill in, for example, finding ways to use something like Google Glass, we as educators shouldn't feel pressure to do so merely because it exists. We should focus on creating learning environments that integrate technology use, not throw the baby out with the bathwater in the name of 'disruption.’ Education isn't broken, it's just being systematically defunded in order to let private providers 'save the day.’

Audrey Watters has already done a great job of ripping into the eschatology of 'disruptive innovation':

"People seemingly love to believe in the ‘end of the world as we know it’ stories — for reasons that have to do with both the horrors of the now and the heaven of the future. Many cultures (and Silicon Valley is, despite its embrace of science and technology, no different here) tell a story that predicts some sort of cataclysmic event(s) that will bring about a radical cultural (economic, political) transformation and, eventually, some sort of paradise."

The difficulty is the amount of money involved in mass education now that it has been opened up to 'the market.’ We've become accustomed to the constant drip feed of technology to 'transform learning.. We need to keep our eyes on the prize of progressive pedagogies that, yes, seek to integrate technology into learning — but ensure these experiences aren't driven by the technology itself. It's increasingly difficult to focus on the signal of pedagogy when there's so much 'noise' of shiny, shiny educational technology. However, it's also part of the emerging skillset of the 21st century educator.

If Bett is at one end of the spectrum, then I would put the annual DML Conference at the other. Bett is the place to find out about new educational technologies, while DML is somewhere to talk about them as part of a wider narrative. It's a place to critique technology, to think about their affordances and effects. To discuss who's included and who's excluded from wider conversations. This year, the conference is March 6-8 in Boston with the theme of 'Connecting Practices.’

I've had the privilege of some fantastic conversations at the DML Conference – and not all of them were scheduled. I remember back in 2012 when Cathy Davidson led an impromptu 'Occupy' session in the hallways. It was attended by well over 100 people. I remember presenting to almost 1,000 people on the purpose(s) of education. And, I remember fondly the enthusiasm with which the launch of Open Badges v1.0 was received last year. If you're an educator who's interested in a more holistic vision of what educational technology can do, I'd encourage you to attend (or at least follow) the conference.

Register: http://dml2014.dmlhub.net

Twitter: @dmlconference / #dml2014

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Harlandale ISD teacher investigated for social media posts

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 23:45

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Harlandale ISD is investigating social media posts made by an elementary school teacher, the district confirmed Friday.

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Harlandale ISD teacher investigated for social media posts Sharon Ko, KENS 5 11:19 p.m. CDT May 22, 2015

Columbia Heights Elementary (Photo: KENS 5)


SAN ANTONIO -- Harlandale ISD is investigating social media posts made by an elementary school teacher, the district confirmed Friday.

A parent said her son is about to attend Columbia Heights Elementary school. She said she did a quick search online and found the teacher's Pinterest account.

The parent didn't want to go on camera but said she wants the district to take disciplinary action.

Harlandale ISD investigates teacher's posts

The parent sent KENS 5 several of the posts. She said the teacher posted three e-cards. One e-card said: "Do you want to hear a secret? You're the reason your teachers are alcoholics." In another e-card, the parent said the teacher posted said: "If teachers were honest with report card comments: Jimmy continues to be an (expletive). I would like him to stop being an (expletive)."

Harlandale ISD declined to comment. A spokeswoman said administrators are just starting to look into these posts. She said the district is still in the process of getting in contact with the parent who saw the posts and the teacher involved.

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What happens when the Stax Records-connected charter school has to adopt Common Core?

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 22:01

MEMPHIS—The Soulsville Charter School in South Memphis — the neighborhood whose soul music influenced the world — once required all students to take at least one music class each year. But educators here saw how behind some of their students were in reading and math, so even at a school linked to the iconic Stax […]

The post What happens when the Stax Records-connected charter school has to adopt Common Core? appeared first on The Hechinger Report.

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6 steps to a successful BYOD program | eSchool News | eSchool News

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 19:01
 Register |  Lost Password? 6 steps to a successful BYOD program img.postavatar {height: 45px; width: auto;} By Bridget McCrea
May 20th, 2015 Bring your own device programs are evolving. It’s time to take a fresh look

Bring-your-own-device and one-to-one laptop/tablet implementations on K-12 campuses usually sound simply enough in theory—but they can actually be quite complex. Lenny Schad, chief technology information office at Houston Independent School District (HISD), has spearheaded a number of successful BYOD rollouts, and frequently distills advice to struggling districts. Here, he gives technology teams his top six strategies for ensuring a smooth implementation and long-term success for a K-12 BYOD initiative:

1) Brand your BYOD effort. Much like a large corporation would “brand” a new product rollout or internal management effort, K-12 districts should develop a brand and messaging that clearly identifies and promotes their BYOD initiative. At HISD, for example, BYOD falls under PowerUp, a district-wide initiative aimed at transforming teaching and learning. “PowerUp is about ‘powering up’ all 282 of HISD’s schools to create a personalized learning environment for today’s 21st Century learners and to enable teachers to more effectively facilitate instruction, manage curriculum, collaborate with their peers, and engage today’s digitally-wired students,” according to the district’s website.

“For such an initiative to really grab hold, you have to spend time putting a brand on it,” said Schad. “At HISD, you can go anywhere in the district and mention PowerUp and everyone knows what it is.

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Little Miss Geek: Getting Caught Up

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 18:31
Saturday, May 23, 2015 Getting Caught Up With all of the hard work we have put in to this school year, the weeks leading up to summer are always exhausting. There is so much to get done before the year comes to a close. The students start acting a little squirrely as the weather gets warmer. Schedules begin to fill up both for work and with family of all kinds of celebrations and culminating activities. All of these things added together can really wear people down and result in some negativity, and I'll admit it can be easy to fall into that.

The thing that has helped me to survive this end of school craziness has been surrounding myself with positivity. Spending time and talking with people that help build me up, that support me no matter what, and that have an uplifting positive attitude. I'm not sure I'd survive without them, and I am so grateful that I have these people in my life! 

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Is tech helping you work smarter? SmartBlogs

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 18:30
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Voice of the Educator Is tech helping you work smarter?

By Brian Bennett on May 25th, 2015 | 58962Comment on this posthttp%3A%2F%2Fsmartblogs.com%2Feducation%2F2015%2F05%2F25%2Fis-tech-helping-you-work-smarter%2FIs+tech+helping+you+work+smarter%3F2015-05-25+15%3A00%3A38Guest+Bloggerhttp%3A%2F%2Fsmartblogs.com%2F%3Fp%3D58962

SmartBlog on Education is shining a light on education technology innovations during May, exploring the latest products and tools and the hottest trends in ed-tech. 

I want to think smarter.

I don’t want to know more facts or spout more trivia. I don’t want to just work smarter, either. I want to actually think smarter. It’s a much harder goal to accomplish because I’m constantly evaluating not only what I’m doing, but how I’m doing it.

I used to use an app called Any.do to manage a to-do list. Like most productivity apps, it synced across all platforms, and I really thought my productivity was going to jump because I would always have access to that list. I would end up ignoring notifications because I had either completed the task or I was being notified during I time when I couldn’t recommit my energy. I was using technology to try and work smarter, but I was actually working harder. I went back to a mix of pen and paper and strategically sending myself text messages, which has worked much better. Because I can now take the time to target — on my calendar — when to be notified to do something, I’m able to work smarter and more effectively.

Working smarter doesn’t always involve an app doing something for us. What really matters is how we can use an app — or a hacked system of tools — to make it easier to work smarter.

In his book “Smarter Than You Think,” Clive Thompson explores this idea through the development of computer-aided chess. The question is simple: How does chess change when you play with your computer as a resource? The results are interesting, and I’ll let you pick up the book to read the whole story, but the short answer is that people played better. Not because they could research every possible solution or find a computer-suggested move with an algorithm, but because they could play more informed. Ideas and hunches could be tested and iterated quickly which would, in turn, inform their final decision. The ability to test ideas and make an informed play is an example of thinking smarter using technology.

The same should be true in education. Technology is exploding in schools and districts, but often with strings attached. Rather than opening the doors to information and pushing students to make smarter decisions about what they’re learning, we’re canning information and delivering it in the traditional way with non-traditional tools. Technology affords us the opportunity to think smarter, but we’re packaging information and removing the thinking process altogether.

To work smarter, you have to be able to articulate why you do what you do the way you do it. What is the goal you’re trying to achieve? Audrey Watters has a fascinating history of the development of the multiple choice test. It boils down to two main reasons: objectivity (presumably) and scalability. Scoring a test is simple: i\It’s a binary decision — you get each item correct or incorrect. Machines can do the scoring for us, which should help us think smarter because we can free up cognitive processes to analyze results rather than tally. Unfortunately, instruction is rarely informed and the students’ score, rather than a diagnostic, is now a report.

Working smarter means making difficult decisions about the actual practice of teaching and learning. It means gathering information and taking action on that insight. It also means being critical about the technology you’re using to accomplish goals through action. I wanted to be more productive, but the technology I chose to do that wasn’t helpful, so I dropped it for something more effective. Working smarter is working critically and with an open mind, ready to shift if goals aren’t being met.

When you’re working with students, think about the resources available and what goals you would like to achieve. Just because you can use an app to do something in class doesn’t mean you should. Don’t allow the push to “integrate technology” obfuscate the real reason for being in school — learning to think.

Brian Bennett (@bennettscience) is a teacher at Elkhart Community Schools in northern Indiana. Brian also is a SmartBrief Education Editor’s Choice Content Award winner.

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Best Education Podcasts

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 18:02
These seven podcasts are the tip of the iceberg for hearing teachers discuss PLNs, school and teacher leadership, teaching strategies, STEM, PD, and more.
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Connected Learning through Minecraft: An Interview with the Three Co-Founders of Connected Camps (Part One)

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:53
A few weeks ago, I featured a thoughtful post on Minecraft and its relationship to “transmedia learning,” written by Barry Joseph, the Associate Director of Digital Learning at The American Museum of Natural History. Joseph’s analysis generated enormous interest from my readers, and for good reason, since there has been growing educational activity around Minecraft […]
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Many community college grads continue to out-earn B.A. holders a decade after graduation - The Hechinger Report

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:45
Covering Innovation & Inequality in Education Topics About × Close × Menu Column Many community college grads continue to out-earn B.A. holders a decade after graduation The average salary in Texas for a mechanical engineering certificate is $116,000

Education by the Numbers

This story also appeared in U.S. News & World Report

Source: Education Pays in Colorado

Two years ago my colleague Jon Marcus wrote about surprising research showing that many community college grads were out-earning bachelor’s degree holders. It was particularly true for those with vocational two-year degrees, in fields such as air-traffic control, dental hygiene or prison management.

Critics complained it was unfair of researchers to look at outcomes in the first year right after graduation. After all, many liberal arts majors take a while to establish a career path. (And not all students go to college with the goal of gaining a marketable skill.) Some philosophy majors may eventually become high-paid CEOs. Similarly, community college grads with narrow technical skills could quickly become obsolete. Every day, machines eliminate another good factory job. Or a computer programming language goes out of fashion. Perhaps, over time, liberal arts B.A.’s win?

So Mark Schneider, one of the researchers behind these studies, went back to the data in four states, to examine not only immediate post-graduation employment outcomes, but also five and 10 years later.

He found that, over the long term, everyone is making more money. The B.A.’s do catch up; their annual salary increases are larger than those of community college grads. “But even 10 years later, there are many students with certificates and associate’s degrees in fields where they make more money than the B.A.’s,” said Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics.

“If you know how to fix things or fix people, you win,” said Schneider, “It will get you into the middle class.”

His latest statewide report, “Education Pays in Colorado,” published on April 29, 2015, echoes the findings he’s seeing in Texas, Tennessee and Florida. He’s in the process of crunching long-term numbers for Minnesota and Virginia. (Schneider’s College Measures’ studies, where he matches students’ degrees to wage data, documented by each state’s unemployment insurance system, are supported by the Lumina Foundation, which is also among the funders of The Hechinger Report.)

To be clear, people with four-year degrees are making more, on average, than the typical community college graduate or certificate holder. In Colorado, the median income for a 2002 college graduate was roughly $55,000 in 2012, a decade after completing the degree. That’s almost $13,000 more than the median annual income for a community college graduate after the same 10 years.

But these averages mask big differences in salaries depending on what people studied. For example,  two-year associate’s degree holders in an applied science were making more than $54,000, on average*, 10 years later — almost the same amount as their B.A.-holding counterparts. Those who studied fire protection were earning almost $73,000. There were even unexpectedly large salaries for people whose highest degree was a short-term certificate that took less than a year to complete, if the certificate was in a hot field. A short-term certificate in healthcare diagnostics, such as learning to become a mammography technician, yielded an annual salary of more than $54,000, on average, 10 years out.

By contrast, people with sub-baccalaureate degrees and certifications in cosmetology or early childhood education were making under $35,000. And the average salary for someone with a B.A. in history, English or psychology was still below $50,000 after 10 years.

Schneider saw some of the highest sub-baccalaureate salaries in Texas, where a someone with a mechanical engineering certificate was earning more than $116,000, on average, after 10 years. That could be a job fixing high-tech machine tools on the factory floor or repairing petroleum equipment.

“It’s not the degree that matters, but what you got the degree in and, to some extent, where you got it,” concludes Schneider. On his website, you can see the actual salary data for each specialty and for each college.

The goal of these studies is for this information to trickle down to high school students, not to discourage the pursuit of liberal arts B.A.’s, but to let them know that there are many paths to a middle class life. An expensive four-year bachelor’s degree isn’t the only option. Schneider’s dream would be for more community college students to enroll in vocational programs for which there is high employer demand, rather than racking up student debts in a general studies program, hoping to to transfer to a four-year college some day.

But Schneider concedes that most of the highest-paying vocational credentials are rigorous programs, which require hard work and self-discipline. Many require advanced math skills that many high-school graduates don’t have. You can’t simply switch students, who aren’t academically prepared enough for a four-year degree, into them.

* All the “average” salary figures are medians, a way of describing an average salary that isn’t as skewed by extremely high salaries at the top. If you were to line up all the A.A.S. graduates in order by their salaries, the middle person would be making roughly $54,000.

Related stories: Add Comment Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. comments powered by Disqus In this story Jill Barshay

Jill Barshay, a contributing editor, writes a weekly column, Education By The Numbers, about education data and research. She taught algebra to ninth graders for… See Archive

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NYC DOE : PSPFebruary2015, Public School Press, News, About Us

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:30

Print version


n New York City public schools, election season is in full swing.

In the five boroughs, parents are "Raising their Hand" and applying to run for a seat on a Community Education Council or Citywide Education Council.

Public school parents are eager to serve, for good reason: Council seats give them a real opportunity to advocate on behalf of their communities, students, and schools, and have a say in the Department of Education's policies. Elections are held only every two years, and with the March 11 application deadline less than two weeks away, now is the time to raise your hand and make a difference.

Up for election this year are seats on each of the 32 Community Education Councils, local advisory bodies that guide policy for elementary and middle schools for their district. Parent-candidates can also apply to one of the four Citywide Education Councils on High Schools, English Language Learners, Special Education, and District 75 programs.

"Every parent should take advantage of this opportunity to have an enormous impact on students," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said. "And I mean every parent—there is absolutely no experience or language requirement, and parents' immigration status is never considered."

Community Education Councils are rooted in their community, and work with local parents, school leaders, organizations, and elected officials to make policy recommendations and respond to the needs of students in the district. While specific duties vary from district to district, Community Education Councils have a host of responsibilities, including approving school zoning lines, holding hearings on proposals for new or upgraded school facilities, working with schools' parent and parent-teacher associations, providing input on local school safety and transportation, and much more. 

While the Community Education Councils have an immense impact at the neighborhood level, the four Citywide Education Councils focus more closely on issues and types of student learners in schools around the City. These Councils evaluate and give advice on policies affecting the students they advocate for, produce annual reports on how well these students are being served, and make recommendations for improvements.

Applying for a seat on any Council is easy. Interested parents should visit NYCparentleaders.org, or call (718) 935-2495 for more information. To run for a local Community Education Council, parents must have a child enrolled in an elementary or middle school within the district. To run for the Citywide Council on High Schools, parents must have a student in grades 9-12. Candidates for the other three Citywide Councils must have a child who is in the relevant type of program or who is receiving the relevant type of service. Online applications are preferred, but paper applications are accepted too. All parents must apply by March 11.

Candidates who apply for a Community or Citywide Education Council seat will be invited to a forum in March or April to answer questions and discuss their positions. Parent and parent-teacher association officers will vote for candidates, and elections results will be published in May.

Your voice matters. Apply today!

Last month, you announced a complete overhaul of the school support system. What will the new structure look like, and how will it operate?

The existing network structure, which gives schools instructional and operational support, has been in place for 12 years now. But it hasn't brought satisfactory results to our kids. We needed to shift to a structure that would better support our students.

Under the current system, a network can include schools from anywhere in the City. This is confusing to schools and families. The network a school belongs to might be in another borough. Also, networks get the same amount of resources, regardless of how many schools they serve. One network might have 25 schools with 7,000 students while another might have 25 schools with 40,000 students, yet both receive the same amount of funding. This is unfair.

Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, the 55 networks will be replaced by stronger superintendents supported by seven Borough Field Support Centers. Together, the superintendents and support centers will ensure that principals and schools get the tools they need to succeed. This structure will be clearer, simpler, and most importantly, more responsive to schools' needs. For the first time, schools will get the supervision and support from

one place, and families will have one place to call if they cannot solve problems at the school: the superintendent.

When will the parent and student surveys be distributed this year? Are they different in any way from years' past? 

The NYC School Survey is the second largest survey in the entire country, behind only the U.S. Census. Schools may begin handing out parent surveys, either through children's backpacks or at school events, as early as next week. You and every family across the City can complete the survey by hard copy or online at  NYCschoolsurvey.org. The survey deadline is April 2.  

I can't encourage you enough to submit a survey this year. It's now more important than ever. While the surveys have always given us important insight into how your school is doing, this year, the survey has been improved with questions aligned to the Framework for Great Schools, a set of six core values that should guide every New York City public school. These values are rigorous instruction, supportive environment, collaborative teachers, effective school leadership, strong family and community ties, and trust. The survey results that you submit are also part of the new School Quality Snapshot, which replaced Progress Reports as a tool for measuring school performance.

This year, questions are more direct, focused, and effective. For example, students are asked how well guidance staff prepares them for high school or college. Parents are now asked more openly about family involvement. 

Students and parents, who are at the heart of a school, provide very unique perspectives. Submit your surveys beginning next week at NYCschoolsurvey.org.

You recently announced major reforms to the discipline code. How do these changes affect my child and other students? 

It's time we built trust among students and the school staff who lead them. For too long, we've had a discipline code that is too reliant on suspensions, keeping students out of the classroom and away from learning. In practice, the code has also not been fair to all students, suspending minority and special education students at a much greater rate than others. It's just not a constructive way of handling misbehavior, and too often, causes more harm than good.

The new code and the initiatives that were announced to support it are designed to address many current issues. These changes will reduce suspensions and calls to 911, increase oversight and accountability, and severely limit the use of handcuffs or restraints for handling unruly students. A new School Climate Leadership Team will play an important advisory role in schools' disciplinary approach. The team will be made up of principals, parents, students, and union representatives, as well as staff from the DOE, NYPD, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, City Council, and community groups.

Suspensions have been detrimental to students' progress and have eroded trust. Instead, we'll follow restorative approaches to discipline to create an environment in each of our schools that helps further every child's social development.

You can learn more on our website here.

The Invisible String
(DeVorss & Company, 2014)
Written by Patrice Karst,
illustrated by Geoff Stevenson

Dear Readers,

Awakened one night by the roar of thunder, twins Liza and Jeremy rush to their mother's side, too frightened to return to bed. To comfort them, mother tells her children about the "Invisible String" that keeps us all connected to the ones we love.

This tender story reminds us that no matter where we are or what we are doing, we are never alone, but instead, intimately linked through our thoughts, feelings, and memories.  Our most cherished relationships transcend time and space: they can reach the ocean floor, a mountain top,

deep in the jungle and, in our case, across our vast public school system. The intangible strings that bind us together cannot be broken: "Love is stronger than anger, and as long as love is in your heart, the String will always be there," the story explains .

This message resonates with children and adults alike, and is particularly relevant now as we reorganize our system for supporting schools, Strong Schools, Strong Communities, and align those supports to our Framework for Great Schools. I know you are working to strengthen your relationships with your child's teachers, school principal, and all of the staff who give your child a safe and caring environment throughout the school day.

The two ends of the treasured Invisible String are families and schools. This String, reinforced on each side, buoys students with love, guidance, direction. But when one end weakens, the entire String falters. 

You and your school must be intricately connected to support your child's learning.

Remind your child (and remember yourself) that when we need support, reassurance, or simply a kindred spirit, just give the String a tug and someone will tug back. This is powerful, and will keep your child on track through the remainder of his or her education journey.



Dear Parents, 

The Community and Citywide Education Council election process has really started moving. In every borough, parents have submitted their applications to be a Council candidate, and I see this momentum building further through the March 11 deadline. These Councils are one of the biggest ways for you to enact real change, and advocate for our public schools, students, and your own child.

I speak from very personal experience when I say that this advocacy work is not only powerful, but meaningful. The birth of my son Adam is one of the happiest moments I will ever have. Early on, Adam was hitting all his developmental milestones, even saying a few words. Then, slowly, my wife Ana and I noticed something wrong: Adam stopped speaking. He spent time gazing around. We knew he had to be evaluated.

Hearing the word "autism" for the first time was terrifying. My wife and I felt so helpless. But it was my wife who made the decision first: "We've got to learn everything there is about the education system. We're helping our son no matter what."

So I attended my first Town Hall. People came forward to speak, and my wife practically pushed me to the microphone, encouraging me to share our story. Like many of you, I felt passionate about my child's needs, but unsure how I could get involved and improve the bigger system. But speaking aloud that day, telling my story, was life changing.

I raised my voice, and I became involved. Because of this, I was later appointed as the Panel for Education Policy Bronx Borough President representative, and eventually, I became the borough's education policy director. I met and learned from so many other parents like my wife and me. I listened to them, heard their stories, shared their concerns. And then I realized: my work began because of my passion for helping my own child, but in the end, it extended far beyond that. It was about helping every other New York City public school family.

I am here now to encourage you to step forward, and to take this opportunity to advocate for your passion and lend your voice. I want to hear the voices of parents who care about their community, who want to make a difference, and who want to improve their local schools. I want to hear the voices of parents of children with autism, the voices of parents of children with disabilities, the voices of parents of children learning to speak English.

There are no special qualifications to run for a seat: not experience, not language, not immigration status. Chancellor Farina and I encourage you to "Raise Your Hand" for our kids, and run for a Council seat. We are very excited to bring new voices, voices like yours, to the table.


Jesse Mojica 

Executive Director, Division of Family and Community Engagement

The NYC School Survey, handed out to every teacher, every family, and every child in grades 6-12, is one of the largest surveys in the country. Nearly 1 million people complete the survey, making it second in size behind the U.S. Census.

Every year, parents give valuable feedback and input about their school, including its instruction, safety, class size, principals, and administrators. This feedback gives school leaders information to target areas of improvement and respond to needs. The surveys, combined with the new School Quality Snapshot, are an important part of measuring how schools are performing.

Citywide, about 54 percent of parents respond to the annual School Survey. But at P.S. 164 in Brooklyn, Parent Coordinator Brenda Soto has had a remarkable run: for the past seven years, she has achieved a 100 percent response rate.

To get here, it took a full court press. "We wanted to look at data from our families to get a good picture of what is going well, and not going well," she says. This required everyone to be on board. "Teachers needed time to collect surveys, parents needed to volunteer, students needed to get involved, and administrators needed to offer support," she says.

This all came together during the school's March parent-teacher conference, which now doubles as Survey Day. The community envelopes the school in green, from balloons on banisters and posters on exit doors, to banners on walls and tablecloths by entrances. Parent volunteers who have been trained on survey protocol wear green t-shirts and provide surveys to parents as they wait for their conference. Language specialists are also on hand to clarify instructions.

Students get involved too. On Survey Day, they sweep the hallways, reminding families to complete the survey. And there's an incentive: the first classes to complete and return 100 percent of their parent surveys win a pizza party.

The effort has been a resounding success: roughly 97 percent of parents fill out the survey on Survey Day alone.

Ms. Soto says the feedback has helped the school improve its communication and believes that, with a supportive community, any school can replicate her results.

Here's to another seven years!

Fill out your school survey at NYCschoolsurvey.org.

Six hours a day, five days a week, nine months out of the year, children are under the roofs of our schools and in the care of our teachers, administrators, and staff. 

During this time, our students must feel safe, respected, and appreciated if learning is to take place; they must be trusting and comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. On school grounds, en route to and from school, and outside of the hallways and classrooms, NYPD School Safety Agents play a pivotal role in students' well-being.

Following recent events and protests in New York City and across the country,

several of our public schools have hosted events with their local precinct to further community relationships.

These schools have built community bonds and provided students with a forum for their concerns. In particular, I.S. 68 in Brooklyn invited the local 69th Precinct to discuss sensitive topics with students. The exchange helped students understand the role of the School Safety Agents and how to interact positively.

Students were brimming with questions, and the officers learned just as much from the students as the students did from them. Other schools have hosted friendly athletic competitions between officers and students, and other

precincts have given presentations to parent and parent-teacher association meetings around criminal justice, law, and other important topics. These types of events build trust, mutual understanding, and student growth, academically and personally.

While Chancellor Farina encouraged principals last month to think of ways to build community relations, parents can play a pivotal role as well. Speak with your principal, parent coordinator, or members of your parent/parent-teacher association.

Only when our students trust the adults they interact with every day can real learning take place.


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Categories: Miscellaneous

No pay, no play! Poor kids banned from school carnival | New York Post

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:30
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Modal Trigger PS 120 in Queens held its carnival for students whose families could shell out $10 -- but banished those of modest means to the auditorium. Photo: J.C.Rice

No party for the poor.

PS 120 in Flushing held a carnival for its students Thursday, but kids whose parents did not pay $10 were forced to sit in the auditorium while their classmates had a blast.

Close to 900 kids went to the Queens schoolyard affair, with pre-K to fifth-grade classes taking turns, each spending 45 minutes outside. The kids enjoyed inflatable slides, a bouncing room and a twirly teacup ride. They devoured popcorn and flavored ices. DJs blasted party tunes.

But more than 100 disappointed kids were herded into the darkened auditorium to just sit or watch an old Disney movie while aides supervised — the music, shouts and laughter outside still audible.

Kids whose parents weren’t able to pay the $10 admission fee sit out the carnival in the school’s auditorium.

The must-pay rule excluded some of the poorest kids at the elementary, where most parents are Chinese immigrant families crammed into apartments and “struggling to keep their heads above water,” staffers said.

“It’s breaking my heart that there are kids inside,” one teacher said.

The teacher hugged a 7-year-old girl who was “crying hysterically.”

“She was the only one from her class who couldn’t go, so she was very upset,” the teacher said.

The girl told others, “My mom doesn’t care about me.” But the teacher said parents possibly did not see or understand the flier that went home or didn’t have $10 to spare.

“Are we being punished?” one child asked an aide in the auditorium as kids sat there with no movie playing, a staffer said.

Principal Joan Monroe tacked up a list of the number of students per class: “How many attending, Paid,” and “How many not attending, Not paid.”

Principal Joan Monroe insisted on accurate tallies of who paid and who didn’t — and refused to bend her policy because it wouldn’t be “fair” to those who had anted up the $10.

On Thursday morning, Monroe used the school loudspeaker to remind teachers to send in a list of kids who did not pay.

While teachers were handed a bag of little stuffed animals to give kids who paid for the carnival, one withheld them until she could add her own gifts for the half-dozen or so kids in her class who didn’t go.

“I think everybody should have gotten a prize, regardless,” she said. “They’re still part of our school community.”

Principal Joan Monroe

The teacher hushed excited kids when they returned to class — some with bags of popcorn — after the carnival.

She had them put it away and do a quiet activity, so those who took part in the fun couldn’t talk about it and hurt those left out.

Another teacher was sickened by the inequity.

“If you are doing a carnival during school hours, it should be free,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one kid or 200 sitting in the auditorium. They all should have been out there.”

Frank Chow, president of the parents association that sponsored the carnival, said Monroe insisted that kids whose parents didn’t pay could not partake.

“She was saying it’s not fair to the parents who paid,” Chow said. “You can’t argue much, I guess. The school is under her.”

The carnival cost about $6,200, including fees to a carnival company, Send In the Clowns, and reaped a $2,000 to $3,000 profit, he added.

“I wish we just charged parents the cost, not to make extra,” Chow said.

The profit is earmarked for the pre-K, kindergarten and fifth-grade moving-up parties, he said.

PS 120 families also have paid annual PA dues of $15 per family. That money will be spent on window air-conditioning units, Chow said.

Monroe did not return calls and an email from The Post.

Modal Trigger No pay, no play! Poor kids banned from school carnival Posted: May 24, 2015 View Thumbnails Previous Advertisement

Rick Homan

Rick Homan

Rick Homan

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Hive Learning Networks

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We are a growing constellation of communities around the globe that are championing digital skills and web literacy through connected learning.

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Join our mailing list to learn about Hive and find opportunities to get involved.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

10 Simple Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:00
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10 Simple Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning

05/24/2015, , Leave a comment

10 Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning

by Andrea Leyden

Learning is about reaching your full potential and can help you achieve self-actualization, the highest need identified by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. However, traditional education generally has a beginning and an end which culminates in taking tests.

Lifelong learning preserves an individual’s desire to obtain new knowledge outside of the formal education system. Developing an attitude where you constantly learn is the only way to succeed in the dynamic environment which we live in today. There is so much technology at your fingertips which you can take advantage of to help you learn throughout your life. This means you can follow your passion for languages, improve your craft skills and even develop a mobile app using resources you can find online.

10 Simple Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning

There are countless ways you can follow your goal of becoming an eternal learner. Watch this video to discover some ways you can get the motivation to get started. Here’s how you can apply the ideas in the video:

1. Read widely and often

Buy newspapers, search for things online you want to know more about, ask your friends for books they found helpful; above all else, be curious. If you want to find research on a topic, use Google Scholar to find academic research. Delve into a topic and don’t stop until you have exhausted it!

2. Keep smart company

Reach out to contacts that you admire. Get talking to some influencers on Twitter and organise to meet up to explore some ideas and learning topics. Make sure to keep in touch with people you have come into contact with who have inspired you to learn on your journey.

3. Teach others

You don’t need to join the teaching profession to help people learn. Teaching others what you know will also help ensure that you really understand something; it’s a real test of your knowledge.

4. Keep a list of things you want to explore

This is a good way to help you get started. Before you jump right into an area, spend some time researching topics and keeping notes. Once you have developed a list then you can decide what the best option to follow for you is.

5. Start your own project

If you’re a teacher, encourage students to plan out their own projects starting with goals and objectives. This will help them to cultivate an idea of how they would be able to follow this process in the future which could be applied to various scenarios.

6. Use a personal learning environment

Understanding how to learn is an invaluable skill. Using personal learning environments such as GoConqr.com can help you adopt proven learning techniques which students can use throughout their journey to discovering new knowledge.   

7. Experiment with new ways to learn

Trying a variety of ways to learn will help you to find the way that sticks. Drawing diagrams, watching documentaries, creating mind maps and using music to study are some alternative ways students can approach learning.

8. Join a study group

Find virtual study groups online where you can collaborate and learn from people with varying experiences. Take insight on board from a variety of sources and apply it to your own knowledge search.

9. Find a job that encourages learning and collaboration

Most professional roles include some degree of learning whether it’s on the job training, workshops or other educational encouragement. Pursuing a career in an evolving area will ensure that you are constantly learning and developing your skillset.

10. Make it a priority!

Don’t just keep saying ‘one day’. Make today that day. Whether you’re a teacher, student, professional or other – make learning a priority in your life. If you wait for it to find you, you will limit the amount of information you know plus your ability to attain this knowledge over the long-term.

It may even help to understand the characteristics of a lifelong learning, including curiosity, skepticism, creativity, initiative, perseverance, and “perfectionism,” among other habits. Still curious? Take this quick test to see if you have these qualities.

<iframe width=’100%’ height=’600px’ scrolling=’yes’ src=’https://www.goconqr.com/en-US/p/2677970-Are-you-a-Lifelong-Learner–quizzes?frame=true’ style=’border: 1px solid #ccc’ allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe><a href=’https://www.goconqr.com/quiz-maker/’>Quiz created by andrea.leyden with GoConqr</a>

10 Simple Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning; image attribution flickr user vancouverfilmschool

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Teaching Art, Or Teaching To Think Like An Artist?

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:00
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Teaching Art, Or Teaching To Think Like An Artist?

03/10/2015, , Leave a comment

Teaching Art, Or Teaching To Think Like An Artist?

by TeachThought Staff

Be creative. Curious. Seek questions. Develop ideas. Play.

These ideas are familiar to modern educators, as they represent a kind of polar opposite to the standardized and industrialized form learning has taken on–or is at least perceived to have taken on in the current era of accountability. It was an interesting then to see these questions lead into a broader one: Should we teach art, or teach students to think like an artist? Should we teach history, or teach students to think like an historian?

While this implies that you can’t do one without the other, if we assume for a moment that can’t do both and have to choose, where would our priority be? We’ve asked a similar question before: Are You Teaching Content, Or Teaching Thought? The video below from Cindy Foley frames that idea through the “content area” of art, asking the question, “Should we be teaching art, or teaching students to think like artists?”

In our estimation, this is one of the key questions facing education–a connected learning endeavor–in the 21st century as we shift from teaching content to teaching habits, process, and thinking. Foley identifies three habits artists consistently demonstrate.

3 Habits Artists Demonstrate

1. Comfort with Ambiguity

2. Idea Generation

3. Transdisciplinary Research

You can hear Foley explain the concept more fully in the TED Talk below. The idea extends way beyond art, right to the core of education as an icon, process, and tool of social improvement and wisdom.

“What is the purpose and value of Art education in the 21st Century? Foley makes the case the Art’s critical value is to develop learners that think like Artists which means learners who are creative, curious, that seek questions, develop ideas, and play. For that to happen society will need to stop the pervasive, problematic and cliché messaging that implies that creativity is somehow defined as artistic skill. This shift in perception will give educators the courage to teach for creativity, by focusing on three critical habits that artist employ, 1. Comfort with Ambiguity, 2. Idea Generation, and 3. Transdisciplinary Research. This change can make way for Center’s for Creativity in our schools and museums where ideas are king and curiosity reigns.

Cindy Meyers Foley is the Executive Assistant Director and Director of Learning and Experience at the Columbus Museum of Art. Foley worked to reimagine the CMA as a 21st century institution that is transformative, active, and participatory. An institution that impacts the health and growth of the community by cultivating, celebrating and championing creativity. Foley envisioned and led the charge to open the 18,000 sq. ft. Center for Creativity in 2011. In 2013, the museum received the National Medal for Museums in recognition of this work. Foley guest edited and wrote chapters for Intentionality and the Twenty-First-Century Museum, for the summer 2014 Journal of Museum Education.

In 2012, Foley received the Greater Columbus Arts Council Community Arts Partnership award for Arts Educator. She was a keynote speaker for the OAEA (Ohio Art Education Association) 2012 Conference. She is on the Faculty of Harvard University’s Future of Learning Summer Institute.

Foley is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Museum, she was with the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.”

Teaching Art, Or Teaching To Think Like An Artist?

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Embiggen Books - Keeping Women in Science

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:00
Search recent posts X Cracking the Code by Leah Kaminsky with Stephen and Sally Damiani May 24, 2015 0 comments Keeping Women in Science May 04, 2015 0 comments A compact general library for the post apocalyptic society May 04, 2015 0 comments BOOK LAUNCH: Christine Keneally in conversation with Dr Krystal Evans from 3RRR October 22, 2014 0 comments tags Home  /  News & Events at Embiggen Books  /  Keeping Women in Science

May 04, 2015


Keeping Women in Science 6.30pm Thursday 28th of May. RSVP to this email or call 9662 2062. Venue: Embiggen Books 197-203 Little Lonsdale St.

Despite robust efforts to increase the number of women in science, it's largely still the domain of men, particularly in the areas of 'hard' sciences such as physics. Women scientists leave the profession in greater proportions than men and are under-represented in leadership roles. Gender researcher Kate White's has found a huge generational change between the Baby Boomers, the current science leaders, and Gen Xs and Gen Ys. Younger women and men reject the traditional model of a successful scientist—a single male for whom science is like a religious vocation. Instead, they support new professional models that support work-life balance. In this talk Kate will explore a few of the areas detailed in her book, Keeping Women in Science.


About the author

Kate White is an internationally recognised researcher on gender and higher education. She is Adjunct Associate Professor at Federation University Australia and Co-director of the nine-country research consortium, the Women in Higher Education Management Network. Her research focuses on gender and higher education, women's academic careers and women in science.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Parenting in a World of Social and Technological Transformation

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 15:43

As educators, policy makers and community activists look to build more equitable futures, a considerable amount of attention remains focused on families, especially parents. Families represent an important node in the learning ecologies of children and teens. When parents are able to connect their children to resources, material and immaterial, they provide substantive support in the pursuit of academic (i.e., higher grades) and non-academic (i.e., character building) outcomes. Moreover, when the home can serve as a rich and vibrant space for learning through inquiry, curiosity and play, the social and educational payoffs can be immeasurable. But, not all homes are equal when it comes to their capacity to secure the kinds of provisions that promote the social and educational development of young people.

Much of the research literature suggest that more affluent families are able to make substantial investments in their children’s lives — especially in terms of the money and time that they spend. Perspectives like these, however, tend to overlook the important ways that parents tied to lower-income occupations and social immobility tend to invest in their children’s lives.

In the research conducted by the Digital Edge team of the Connected Learning Research Network, we spent a considerable amount of time working with students from resource-constrained families. We learned a lot about the lives of students in school, at home and with their peers. We met all kinds of families — college educated, immigrant, lower-income, English dominant and Spanish dominant. Social and economic inequality is growing in the U.S. and the implications for education and social mobility are quite serious.  How are parents navigating the rapidly evolving worlds of education, learning, technology, and social change? And, what does it mean for how we think about the role of parents and the family in the development of young people?

Here are three initial takeaways from our preliminary analysis of the data.

1. Lower-income Families Invest in the Educational Development of Their Children

Much of the literature on schools and families focuses on the differences between higher-income families and lower-income families. Often, there is an assumption that the former are more invested in their children's educational development. This is usually measured in the form of enrichment activities and other supports (i.e., the use of tutors, coaches) that more affluent parents are able to invest in. Some studies suggest that college-educated parents also spend more time with their children, especially mothers who may opt out of the labor force for the expressed purpose of child rearing and educational development. But, in our study we began to cultivate a different perspective, one that we think counters some of the conventional wisdom about families, parenting, class and the academic trajectories of students.

For instance, we found that parents in immigrant and lower-wage employment were just as invested in their children's educational development as their more affluent counterparts.  Many immigrant parents consistently emphasized the importance of education as a path to greater career choices and opportunities. Most of the immigrant parents in our study came to the U.S. as children or young teens and were unable to continue their education because they needed to work to help support their family. These parents work hard to make sure that their children have access to decent schools and educational opportunities. Families in our study moved on multiple occasions and often to secure access to what parents perceived to be richer educational opportunities for their children in the form of better schools, safer environments, and access to technology. In his study examining why the African American population in Austin is decreasing as the overall population enjoys robust growth, University of Texas at Austin Professor Eric Tang suggests that African American families may be moving to neighboring suburbs, in part, to enroll their children in schools that offer better educational opportunities.

2. Lower-income Parents View Access to Technology as a Pathway to Better Futures

Parents from resource-constrained households work hard to provide access to technologies that they believe are critical to their children’s social and educational development. Most of the students in our sample of case studies owned a mobile device and several had some type of home Internet access. Over the years, research has consistently shown that households with children are much more likely than those without children to own computers and have access to the Internet. Many of the families in our study reflect this trend. Parents made sacrifices to purchase mobile phones, computers, and Internet service. In fact, they consistently expressed perspectives that viewed access to technology as a way up in our tech-driven world and knowledge economy.

However, many of the parents from immigrant households had limited educational attainment and were much less likely than their children to adopt new technologies. Inevitably, this lack of experience with technology influences their attitudes about the role that technology plays in the social and educational development of their children. While they believed access to technology was critical to better educational and economic outcomes they, like many parents, were uncertain about how technology use connected to social, educational and economic mobility.

We found a digital participation gap between immigrant parents and their children. As a 2013 report from the Pew Hispanic Center notes, the varied patterns of tech adoption within the Hispanic community is substantial and shaped by factors such as age (younger Hispanics are much more likely to be technology adopters than their older counterparts), levels of educational attainment (college graduates are far more likely to adopt than those with less than a high school diploma), native or foreign born status, or whether a person is English dominant or Spanish dominant. Immigrant parents in the families we met were much less likely than their children, for example, to adopt social media or smartphones. Though parents were aware of Facebook or devices like the iPhone, they rarely used them. Consequently, their capacity to manage or scaffold their children’s use of technology was significantly limited.

3. Economic and Social Capital

Two things differentiate the parents in our study from what we know about more affluent parents. The financial and social capital each is able to accumulate. While the parents in our study had aspirations for boosting their children's educational progress, they lacked the financial means to reliably command the kinds of resources that more affluent parents can acquire. Affluent parents are investing in things like enrichment activities and the recruitment of tutors and college prep coaches for one primary reason: to gain an added advantage in the hyper-competitive race for admission into select colleges and universities.

And, then, there is the matter of social capital, a reference to the aggregate of benefits and resources, material or immaterial, that is derived from the social relations a person is able to cultivate. The family is a crucial source of social capital. That is, a powerful resource and a bridge to other resources which support young people’s ability to thrive in school and beyond.

It is a mistake to assume that the poor and working classes lack social capital. The families in our study invested in social capital. Generally speaking, lower-income families maintain vital social networks but the architecture of those networks differ from their more affluent counterparts in at least one important way. The social networks among lower-income parents tend to be more kinship based. In contrast, higher-income families tend to benefit from greater network diversity. These networks tend to be made up of professionals and may also include what James Coleman refers to as intergenerational closure or the likelihood that higher-income parents are often forming connections to other parents in their children’s school. When parents are involved in the school through teacher meetings, connections to other parents, and organizations they are able to cultivate productive relationships. These relationships are the stuff of social capital and generally lead to a host of tangible and intangible resources, opportunities, and benefits for young people.

The most critical difference is that affluent parents are better positioned than lower-income parents to convert their social capital into a resource that can be mobilized to realize preferred educational outcomes for their children.

Support Children By Supporting Parents

Any effort to bridge the achievement gaps in our schools and enrichment gaps outside of our schools must address matters related to parents. One certain way to support students from resource-constrained families and communities is to devise ways to support their parents.  When parents have a sense of agency regarding their children’s social and educational development they are much better positioned to catalyze their resources in ways that engineer more desired outcomes. A key question moving forward is how do we empower parents like the ones in our study — non-college educated, immigrant, low-occupational status — to be even greater agents of influence in their children’s social, educational, and technological development? Take, for instance, the increasing presence of technology in the lives of children and teens.

Most parents are looking for answers to a variety of tech-related questions. What should my child be doing with technology? How do we help our children manage the fine line between online risk and online opportunity? What kinds of technology-related skills must my child develop for the new economy?

Though most parents are seeking answers to these kinds of questions, those in resource-constrained households are especially challenged due to their own limited experience with social and mobile media. The limited expertise with technology certainly influences the degree to which a parent can effectively monitor, engage, or scaffold their children’s media practices.

So, as researchers and policy makers look to build more sustainable futures, they would be wise to design creative ways to support parents even as they pour more resources into supporting students. We instinctively understand that our public institutions (i.e., schools), policy initiatives, and the spread of media technologies must be a valuable resource for students. But, how can these institutions, policies and technologies become an asset for parents?

Banner image credit: Brian Talbot

Author:  S. Craig Watkins Blog Tags:  Parenting Connected Learning Equity Digital Literacy Technology
Categories: Miscellaneous

Widening Wealth Gap

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 15:00

Kellie Woodhouse, Inside Higher Ed, May 25, 2015

I come back to this story from time to time because people insist that we (promoters of free and open learning) should be supporting the existing system of higher education. The problem with that premise is that the existing system works mostly to promote itself and to stay true to its real mission: to "reward the inside game, and ensure that the advantages enjoyed in one generation can be passed safely onward to the next." And as we read today, "We expect the trend not to change dramatically until there’ s a significant change in the higher education model," said Pranav Sharma, an analyst with Moody’ s. "The gap will continue to increase and those who are not well endowed will continue to struggle." So let's change the higher education model.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 12:30

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites
The internet catalogue for students, teachers, administrators & parents.

Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.


Educators         Parents        Students       General     Home


How I Organized and Ran My School Library Program

My all-time favorite Library Squad - They all went to college!
East New York - where I taught!


I wanted the students to be able to easily find the different sections of the library.  Luckily I have excellent printing and sign making talents.  I also employed banner programs on the computer to produce easily read signage. 

 Faculty Section

In my library office I organized a section devoted to teaching materials which included curriculum guides and other useful books to help them prepare lessons and activities in their subject areas.

 PTA – Parent Teacher Association

Since our PTA had no place in the school I devoted an area in my office for their materials and also started a collection of materials (pamphlets and books) that parents could take home. 

Monthly Library Newsletter

I used the newsletter as a way to inform the staff and students of the new materials that had been added to our collection. I also highlighted great websites that I had uncovered in different subject areas.  I used Microsoft Publisher for the newsletters.

 Celebrating events and birthdays each month

For each month I made a monthly calendar on a large poster board. For each day I found an important person’s birthday or important event. I saved these posters and used them each year. Without even realizing it I had created a multicultural calendar of famous people and events.

 Every month I changed the decorations in the library to reflect the holidays and important happenings for that time of the year.  I had always done that when I taught because I got tired of seeing the same thing all the time. 

 Honoring Students

At the end of each marking period I made a poster with the names of all of the students who made the honor roll. I used dark magic marker so the names were easy to read. The children loved seeing their names posted in the library!

I also posted any awards that students earned for their academic excellence or good citizenship, arts education recognitions and sports achievement.

When former student Riddick Bowe came back to visit I showed him a sign with his picture on it after he won the silver medal in the Olympics.  Later when he became the Heavyweight Boxing Champ I also posted that.

Map of World with Flags Showing Countries of Origin of Students & Teachers

I put up a map of the world and connected yarn from the countries where students and staff members came from to the flag of that country. The children would get excited when they saw their country's flag.

Multicultural Celebration

Cooperative Learning Projects

I loved doing cooperative learning projects in the library.  The large tables and materials for the students made it the perfect place for such endeavors.  I asked the teachers to divide up their classes into groups before they came to the library.  I just needed to know the name for each group.  When the class came into the library they would find a name card on each table for the different groups.  I gathered materials in cartons for each group.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning in the Library Projects

One way we used the Internet in the Library...(1998)

A math class was in my library doing a cooperative learning lesson on fractions and percentages using M & M packages. The students wanted to know why the packages were not uniform in quantity. Cybrary Man immediately had the students email M&M/Mars. That same day they got the following answer with the average mix of colors in percentages: “Because of the difference in the sizes of the individual candy, the number of pieces per package varies. However, the package should be the indicated weight.”

 Computers in the Library

When I took over there were no computers in the library.  I brought my own computer in and scrounged around for any other computers.

In the infinite wisdom of the NYC Board of Education they had filters that blocked all sports but allowed controversial sites.  This prevented students from doing a report on people like Jackie Robinson.  Students could not access the NBA and Major League Baseball sites.  They used to love to see the statistics on those sites. Needless to say I had to fight that decision. 

A year before I left we won a grant that enabled us to completely renovate the library and I was given ten MAC computers plus two additional ones.  I loved my library computer lab and made full use of it.

Online Catalogue

I fought for years to get an online catalogue for my library.  I literally made up my own databases to keep track of my collection.  The year after I left they finally got around to providing money for an online catalogue which was never done.


Yes, I am fully aware that what I did was a big “no no” but it worked.  I organized the biographies into categories.  When a student came into my library and needed a biography of an explorer they went to the biography section and found a sign indicating where the Explorer Biographies were.  When I did it I found it quite easy to see how many books I had and how many I should order.  I did have a complete database of the biography section to enable the student to narrow down and find for example a famous woman scientist of black mathematician.  Sports, Entertainers, Scientists and Writers were very popular with the students.

EMAIL Around The World Project

How I organized and ran my library program

My principal approached me and asked me to take over the school library when the regularly licensed librarian retired.  I had been teaching for twenty years at this point.  Even though I was a licensed Social Studies teacher I had taught English, Reading, Science, Math and Computers.  I had also written curriculum for my school district, the New York City Public System and Open Doors which was a School-Business Partnership in New York City. 

Aside from those endeavors I was also writing educational materials for a company that prepared publications for the utility industry. I enjoyed showing classes how I wrote one of the educational activity booklets.


The library was in disorder and I used to cringe when we had faculty conferences there.  Very few classes used the library.

My goal was to reorganize the entire library and make sure that it was available for all subject area classes.

When I officially took over I moved all the books and organized the library. To keep books neatly positioned I used to put the tubes pictures or posters came in behind the books.

 I also undertook the process of weeding material which had not been done for years. I wrote letters to book publishers asking for donations.

Student and Faculty Survey of Library Materials - Subject/Grade Level Meetings

I surveyed the students and staff to find out what books and materials that they wanted in the school library.  I also sat in on grade level and subject area meetings and showed the participants ways that I would work with them with their classes.

Library Orientation for New Students

At the beginning of each school year I would first program (through their Language Arts teachers) all of the incoming sixth grade classes for a series of three library orientation lessons. 

 First session was to orient students to all of the services that the library provided, the rules and regulations of the library and the circulation policy as well as when they could use the library.

The second session covered how to find a book (Dewey Decimal System) and the Reference Section.

The third session was a scavenger hunt per library table that the children enjoyed. I also gave them a brief library quiz.

Library Orientation for New Teachers

Since we had a large turnover in staff every year I asked the principal for some time during the first days that staff returned to orientate the new teachers to the services that I provided.

Library Sign-up Sheet

I opened the library to all subject area teachers.  I just required that the fill in the periods that they wanted to come and what they needed in terms of materials.

Teacher Project Sheet

I urged teachers to inform me in advance of projects they were assigning their students.  I wanted to be able to gather appropriate materials and set them aside for distribution.

Library Website

I stumbled on Angelfire which was a free website and was ad free on the main site.  The only ads originally were in the editing section.  Later I had to pay a fee to have an ad free site.  I taught myself html to be able to build the website.  The library website was unveiled April 11, 1999.

I wanted a site that would help the students, staff and parents.  To help students learn about the site I organized a library website scavenger hunt.  Students earned a certificate and had their name posted on a sign in the library when they completed the hunt.

I studied other library sites and found that once they were done they were static.  I wanted a site that changed and reflected the current activities in the school and world as well as information for that specific month.  I also had a page for the PTA.

My other goal was to provide a one-stop educational site.  If a student needed information on Algebra I would have a page devoted to that subject area. 

On each subject area page I included the titles and call numbers of the books that I had in the library on that topic.

Stripped down version of what is left of the original Library Website

Trace the Trajectory of the Bullet Lesson

One morning I came into the library and found a bullet hole in the window.  I also noticed in a wall where the bullet was lodged.  After informing the authorities who said there was nothing they could do I posted a sign on the window to “trace the trajectory” of the bullet.  I then worked with a Science teacher and his class and with string and measuring apparatus we were able to determine the probable location in the school yard where the bullet was fired from.  The students were able to determine the caliber of the bullet when the bullet was removed from the wall.

Early Morning Library Program

The busiest time of my day was my Early Morning Library Program.  It attracted an unbelievable number of students.  During this time they were able to borrow or return books, read books & magazines (another “no no” to many other librarians were the video game and popular entertainment magazines I ordered.  It was hard to keep those magazines in the library.  The children loved reading them!).

I also organized peer help for those students struggling with their homework assignments.

It was a good time for the students to work on school projects and reports.

I even had club time (Chess Club, Comic Book Club).

I had all the computers used during this time.  The children were restricted to the library website.

Excerpts from some letters that I have about my library program:

“The complete renovation of the book shelves and the reference section; the excellent periodical section; the health careers and paperback sections; the author of the month display – all combine to make your library a revitalized resource unit for student-centered learning activities.”  (Head of LA for the School District)

“I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with the fine job you are doing with the library facility.  Your exceptional program was like an oasis in a desert.”(NY State Associate)

“Many positive comments made by both pedagogues, and parents concerning not only the attractive appearance of the library, but also the vast array of books and the materials available to students.” (School District Director of Mathematics)

 “I am really impressed with your creative activities in the library; and the fact that you are really extending yourself to making it conducive for the youngsters to enjoy reading; (even to want to visit the library), and to be made comfortable and welcome.  Your newsletter is very professional and exceptional.” (Director of CA/SS & Libraries)

“Your library is a model for the district.” (District Staff visit)

“It is always such a pleasure to bring guests into your library.  Whether they are the parents of our children coming to see them being honored, or representatives from within the system or the private sector, they all come away with knowing our students are receiving the finest library services possible.” (Principal)

Excerpts from Letters I Received

Sad End

When I retired I wrote a twenty page document that explained everything I did in the library. 

The library went through a succession of librarians after me.  The library was closed eight years after I retired.  It has subsequently been reopened.

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites is the outcome of the original library website

The Career of Cybrary Man

My Library Pages

My Library Page

Categories: Miscellaneous
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