Articles Posted in Education

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iPad
Nearly 300 Kindergarten students in Alburn, Maine are getting Apple iPad 2s this fall. School superintendent Tom Morrill calls the iPad what I have called it: a revolution in education.

This is just a plain good thing for these kids. But the Washington Post always feels compelled tomanufacture a debate in an effort to be fair. (“Wait, let’s hear the birthers side of the story, too.”)So we hear from one Maine mother who is concerned:

I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year-old is a little too young to understand.

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I have three kids in Pre-K. It is an article of faith to me that it is a good idea – at least for our kids – and I barely remember my wife and I spending a lot of time debating whether to send our kids to Pre-K. Like most of us, I’m always merrily looking for articles and data that support the wisdom of my thinking.

Today I have New Jersey to thank. New Jersey says it is forking out more than $11,000 a year per child in Pre-K and they are glad they are: the number of kids who repeat first grade has been cut in half in poor districts that offer two years of Pre-K.

Would you get the same data in suburbia? I don’t know but I suspect so. What kids really learn is who they are, how they fit in and how they are going to deal with different people and places. We can’t teach that to our kids at home.

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I had my kids working hard on word search puzzles. Why? Because I was terrible at them and I wanted my kids to be better. So we have spent an inordinate amount of time doing word search puzzles.

Last night my son found a “create your own word search” website which was actually pretty cool. Most interesting were the words he selected for his puzzle. When he got up to leave the computer, I put into Google the term I used in the title of this post: “Educational Value of Word Search Puzzles”. The result? A lot of teachers saying word search puzzles have no educational value and are largely useless.

I’m receptive to this argument if for no other reason; I’m terrible at word search puzzles. But I have a more moderate view than most of what I read. I think a part of the problem is that bad teachers favor word search puzzles because they eat time and are a substitute for teaching. So there could be a little confusing the messenger with the message problem. I do think that, like an ISpy game, they help young learners focus on detail. But, there is no doubt, I’m going to be using less word search puzzles in the future.

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According to a new study by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average high school graduate in 2009 earned about three credits more than graduates in 1990. Theoretically, this means that today’s students are spending 420 more hours in class.

Based on my observations of high school students in Anne Arundel County, let me say this: hogwash.

Back in the day, you went to high school your senior year just like everyone else. Sure, that meant you took more classes than you actually had to take, but no one figured out that we all had more high school credits than we needed. (We were a little dumb.)

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A purpose of the Miller & Zois Kids Blog is to talk about harnessing the power of technology to improve our ability to educate our children. A recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank in Antigua & Barbuda underscores that technology alone won’t solve the problem.

In Antigua & Barbuda, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology (sounds like something out of Orwell’s 1984, right?) began a “laptop for every child” initiative. So they went out and… got a lot of laptops. No meaningful benefits were demonstrated. Maybe there were benefits but the study didn’t find them.

What is the take home message? Is it that technology is not helping us educate our children? That is one take. As you might suspect, mine is different. I think we need to learn how to harness technology to better educate our children while at the same time figuring out new ways to limit the harmful effects, from teenage texting while driving right on down.

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acl3-150x150Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, is a radio show for kids and their parents. The show is on 93.9 in Northampton, Mass. (where we live) and 101.5 in Brattleboro, Vermontbut this is the Internet age, you can get the shows on-line and even pick up the station on an iPhone app. (Have I mentioned lately how bitter I am that I was not born 30 years later?)

Here is what I like about Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child:

  • What this blog is about, in part, is the idea of harnessing technology to improve the education of our children. There are so many crosswinds between educating our children and technology. Ultimately, technology is building up and tearing down our children. So we need to maximize the building up part the best that we can Spare the Rock does this. How many radio shows could you access – on demand no less – for kids just 10 years ago?
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shoes
Michele Miller, a school principal in Sacramento, is doing what can only be described as a very cool thing: she is selling her shoe collection to raise money to help bridge the gap for budget cuts that are being made at her school. Miller has created Shoes to the Rescue, a website that offers her 350 pairs of shoes for sale.

We have a lot of bad teachers and school administrators that we really have to get rid of to be successful. It is a big story and one on which we cannot afford to lose our focus. But what sadly gets lost in our educational problems is that the majority of people educating our children are absolutely amazing. Michele Miller is awesome but there are tons of quiet heroes everyday in classrooms in America and all over the world.

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Last week, I wrote about how Maryland was poised to crack down on for profit colleges. I did not realize the extent to which Kaplan Higher Education, which, in addition to the college and grad school prep classes I’m familiar with from back in the day, also has a little empire of for-profit college campuses that grab onto federal money.

Even more interesting is the fact that the real story of Kaplan’s crimes was written on Sunday by the Washington Post who owns Kaplan. It is like breaking the story that your dad is guilty of insider trading.

Most of the Washington Post’s profits come from Kaplan so the Post is definitely proving again that it puts journalistic integrity first.

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Raise your hand if you think something is very wrong here. Yesterday, I wrote about Maryland Superintendent of Schools stepping down after a 20 year run. Yesterday, Cathie Black is leaving her post as New York City chancellor. Her tenure? Three months.

This is an “only in New York” thing a recent public opinion poll this week placed her approval rating at 17 percent. Really? What exactly did she do in three months? Did this get her fired? Or was it just an admission by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he made the wrong call in the first place?

I don’t know. But one this is for sure: there is nothing productive about a 3 month tenure in any leadership position in our schools, much less this one.

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Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick, the longest-serving appointed head of state schools in the country, announced yesterday that she is retiring after 20 years.

Good for her. And she probably did a great job (I’m in no position to access). I don’t like parsing the words of someone I don’t consider a public official. But this line concerns me a little bit: “I just want more flexibility in my life, and I love leaving on top because I think it’s fair to the next person.”

There are three parts to this quote. The first is that she wants more flexibility in her life. She’s earned that for sure. The second part is that she loves leaving on top.