Educational Standards & Quality

My Short Critique of the Common Core Math Standards

I have not wanted to post too much about the Common Core until I had some time to learn more about it, think about it, etc.  So I’ve been sharing tidbits so far.  But I think it is time to share some of my critiques about the math standards, which I hope may filter into the next set of standards.

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A Letter to my 4th Grade Daughter’s School about their Implementation of the Common Core Math Standards

I continue to be frustrated with how Common Core is being implemented, and a school like H. Clarke Powers, which is usually excellent, is doing many of the dumb things that other schools are.  Thus, when I saw a handout tonight that my daughter was doing, that made very little sense, I wrote the following to her teacher:

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Thought of the Day: Discrimination against Career Technical Education Teachers

In California, and probably in most other states, there is a clear discrimination that occurs against Career Technical Education, where CTE instructors and students are looked at as second class citizens.  While I will share more in the future about this broader problem, today I am going to focus on how the California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing and School Districts discriminate against Career Technical Education teachers, and how with the loss of ROP, this has meant a huge number of layoffs to these teachers, and could mean a lot more losing their jobs, if this illegal discrimination doesn’t stop.

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Thought of the Day: Does “I’m going to give you until the count of three!” contribute to Innumeracy?

When I was a child, my mom decided not to use the traditional “I’m going to count to 3” with me for discipline, because she was concerned that it might lead me to having a negative view towards numbers.  Instead she used “White, Yellow, Red”. And while it is quite circumstantial evidence with only a sample size of one, I grew up to love math, and not especially be into colors (despite being artistic).  Now as an educator who has studied a little bit about how the brain works, I think there is something to what my mom was thinking, and in fact this could literally be contributing to our nations problems with innumeracy and falling behind in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) from other nations.

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Five Fundamental Principles about Learning & Teaching Spreadsheets (Excel)

A 3-D Icon for ExcelAs an instructor who has been teaching Microsoft Excel to students for over a decade, I have found key problems of learning to often occur with students due to the structure of curriculum.  The following five fundamental principles are those that I have found to be true for how students can best learn spreadsheets.

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Thought of the Day: “Being challenged, but not punished if incorrect.”

One of my students was sharing at the end of their Excel course that learning was best when they were “Being challenged but not punished if incorrect.”  I think there is a lot of value in this feeling, and it shows a problem with how traditional assessment/evaluation/grading systems work.  In this quarter, I had several students tell me how great of a teacher I was, but I also know I had far more students fail my course than pass it, and I wonder how I could have helped those students more.  I believe part of the answer lies in having assignments that are challenging, and then having an assessment & evaluation system or work that doesn’t punish students, but has built-in methods of encouraging students to try again so they can succeed.  This is what video games do very well, and it is amazing to me that we haven’t gamified higher education (or even primary and secondary education) to a greater degree.

Thought of the Day: “I ask you to consider the principle of Subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level… Subsidiarity is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is taught and how it is to be measured.”

This year, as you consider new education laws, I ask you to consider the principle of Subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level. In other words, higher or more remote levels of government, like the state, should render assistance to local school districts, but always respect their primary jurisdiction and the dignity and freedom of teachers and students.

Subsidiarity is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is
taught and how it is to be measured. I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each
day, doing the real work–lighting fires in young minds

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Thought of the Day: “As teachers, we must continue to re-engineer our curriculum, experiment with new and different methods of delivering course content, and bring emerging technologies into our classrooms.”

As teachers, we must continue to re-engineer our curriculum, experiment with new and different methods of delivering course content, and bring emerging technologies into our classrooms.

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