Educational Technology: the Good, the Bad, and the Buggy!

A recent article by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation caught my eye.  The article Why We Shouldn’t Fear Technology in the Classroom, didn’t really grab me for the headline but for the “so called” fears they listed. Let me share those with you as well as my thoughts on each:

Time:  Yes, it can take time to learn a new software program and many out there can take far too long time to learn. Good educational technology provides a tremendous time savings that is almost immediate. HINT:  Ask educators who have used the technology program how long it took them to get up and running and if it has saved them time?

Classroom Management:  “When it comes down to class management, the addition of computers can add more stress if handled incorrectly,” or so says the article.  Some technology companies understand better than others how to make the process of setting up the new program seamless. HINT: Ensure that the new technology is engaging and motivating to the students. When students want to use the program classroom management becomes much easier.

Safety Fears:  This simply should not be a fear anymore. All legitimate educational technology companies take great pains to safeguard student information. HINT: Ask to see their privacy policy.

Support and Help:  Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many hard working educators who felt they were left high and dry with a technology program that simply never worked right. HINT: Ask about customer support before bringing in a new technology program. Even better, talk to someone using the program and ask about customer support.

Adequate Training: This goes hand in hand with support.  Yes, all good technology providers offer training.  But how much training is required to become competent at using the program?  This is important for both the educator and the student using the program. This comes right back to the time factor. How complicated does the program seem to be?  HINT: When looking at case histories and results pay attention to the timing. How long did it take the schools to get results?  That’s the best indication of ease of use.

Kevin Briley is CEO of Ascend Education, creators of Ascend Math, intensive math intervention that meets each student at their lowest skill gap and guides each through an individualized study plan, often resulting in 1-2 grade levels of improvement in the first few months.

https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/why-we-shouldnt-fear-technology-in-the-classroom

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Could you be a teacher in the 1880’s?

Could you be a teacher in the 1880’s? The math problem below was used as a test for new teachers at the Quasset school in the 1880’s.

Three boys, A, B, and C went to Putnam (a nearby town) to sell eggs. Boy A had 10 eggs. Boy B had 30 eggs. Boy C had 50 eggs. They each sold their eggs at the same rate and received the same amount of money. How much did they sell their eggs for? The answer is at the end of the article.

PUZZLE SOLUTION Boy A had 10 eggs. Boy B had 30 eggs. Boy C had 50 eggs. To end up with the same amount of money, each boy sold 7 eggs for 5 cents, then sold the remaining individual eggs for 15 cents each — so each boy earned 50 cents. (Multiple solutions to the problem are likely.)

For more about the Quasset school check out: http://www.educationworld.com/a_issues/schools/schools025.shtml#sthash.yipqK8pZ.dpuf

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seventh Graders Achieve Outstanding Results on State Test

crosbyState test results for Crosby Middle School in Crosby, TX rose substantially for seventh grade students using Ascend Math® last year. In fact, they saw a 0% to 38% improvement in the pass rate for students with a history of not passing the STAAR (Texas state assessment). Last year, Crosby Middle School educators set up a pilot program using Ascend Math for their struggling seventh grade math students.

Students who did not meet grade level previously were placed in a tier 3 math class. The first six weeks working with Ascend, 60% achieved one or more grade levels in math. Throughout the year, that percentage continued to improve.  Read more about Crosby’s math intervention results.

“We were seeing kids who were coming into the program that were performing at least in part at a third grade level,” said Todd Hicks, Principal at Crosby Middle School.  “They were growing two, three, and even four grade levels by the end” One of the biggest concerns was how these at-risk students would perform on end-of-the-year testing.

Overall, Crosby’s passing rates for seventh graders improved from 68% to 83%. This included the at-risk students working with Ascend Math and those outside of the program. Statewide, seventh graders improved passing rates from 67% to 72% according to TEA.

“The students that we originally picked for the pilot program had been unsuccessful on the Texas STAAR test for at least the past two years,” reports Principal Hicks. Overall, our Ascend Pilot classes had 38% of the students pass the seventh grade math STAAR this year.  We are very pleased with the scores”

Crosby Middle School is one of three recipients of the 2015 Ascend Math Gold Medal. The Gold Medal Award was established in 2010 to honor the schools or districts that best demonstrate a dedication to ensuring that all students become successful at math. A Gold Medal celebration will be held in Crosby Middle School’s honor at Estância Churrascaria in Austin, TX at 12:00 pm on Monday, October 26. Parties interested in attending should contact Renata Palms at Ascend Education 318-865-8232.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Groundbreaking study released: Which Math Skills Are Students Missing

Ascend Education announced today the release of a new study showing the frequency of math skill gaps found in U.S. students.

Which math skill gaps are most common to students in a particular grade? What percentage of students identified for intervention have skill gaps two grade levels below their current grade? How many at three grade levels or more?   A new report released by Ascend Education attempts to answer these and other pertinent questions regarding students in need of math intervention.

The study, “Which Math Skills are Students Missing?” includes data from more than 18,000 U.S. students nationwide identified for math intervention. All students were given a level recommendation test to assess their functional grade level. Each student was provided a series of pre-assessments on objectives beginning at their functional grade level according to the level placement test. Each student’s individual math skill gaps were identified, captured and compiled along with the others.

“The study shows it is not unusual for 80% or more of students to share a few skill gaps but following that, the distribution of gaps becomes far more dispersed.” said Kevin Briley, CEO of Ascend Education. “Rarely, do students share the same exact set of math skill gaps. Consequently, teachers are hard pressed to teach to the individual skill gaps without the help of technology.”

The study provides a ranking of the most common skill gaps exhibited by intervention students working at a specific grade level. It also lists these skill gaps within the proper scope and sequence.

“This study can be helpful to educators wanting to know which skill gaps can best be taught in small groups,” added Briley. “However, it also strongly supports the need for individualized instruction and study for each student identified for math intervention.”

To learn more, read the white paper:  Which Math Skills Are Students Missing?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Do the Labor Day Math to see that more school pays!

Share these math problems with your math class this Labor Day week. The facts below come by way of the Economic Policy Institute through Forbes.

$28,659: Median annual earning of a U.S. worker at least 25-years of age with a high school degree.

$49,648: Median annual earning of a U.S. worker at least 25-years of age with a bachelor’s degree.

$60,709: Median annual earning of a U.S. worker at least 25-years of age with a master’s degree.

On average, how much more per year are workers 25 years of age or older with bachelor’s degrees receiving than those with just a high school degree? How much more are those with master’s degrees earning than those with just a high school degree?

What is the percent increase in earnings from a high-school degree to a bachelor’s degree and from a high school degree to a master’s degree?

Do you or your students have an idea for a Labor Day Math Problem?  Just add it as a comment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Intensive Intervention Pays Off for ELL Students

Congratulations to the students and educators at Carlin Springs Elementary, a largely Hispanic school with a high ELL population. Their third-grade students had a pass rate on the state’s standardized math test of 95 percent, a gain of 47 percentage points from two years ago.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/poor-hispanic-school-sees-massive-test-score-gains-for-second-year-in-a-row/2015/08/11/f2340f6c-3fa0-11e5-9561-4b3dc93e3b9a_story.html

Their remarkable efforts remind me very much of another school with an 80% Hispanic population in west Texas. Fort Stockton Middle school did not make AYP in math. They had tried several strategies but could not break the pattern of failure. Principal Gil-Rey Madrid had had enough. He started an intensive math intervention program mid-way through the school year. The students responded and test results went up. The following year, he focused even more heavily on what brought them success. The payoff was worth it. Fort Stockton Middle School was recognized for the highest math performance among middle schools and junior high schools in their region. The use of Ascend Math was a focal point in their intensive math strategy.

Watch the video.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Technology that works for Special Ed Students has side benefits

A recent article in Education Dive explores ways in which technology can make invisible the help that special education students receive compared to their general ed counterparts.

“There’s some anecdotal evidence that the technology itself, with its multimedia presentation and interactivity, may also make it easier for students with disabilities like autism to digest material…And increasingly, assistive technology tools that allow students to read larger text if they have a vision impairment or absorb material at a different level is available on the same devices other students would be using: iPads, laptops and phones. Rather than an obvious gadget for a disabled student marking them as different, every student would be using a device. A teacher would be able to provide support invisibly, through a student’s device, without drawing attention to the student’s disability.”

How Tech Driven Learning Can Benefit Students with Disabilities

We see this every day with Ascend Math, our intensive online math intervention program. special ed and gen ed students working side by side both benefitting from the same online interactive technology.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Study Shows Wide Disparity in Student Intervention Needs

Soon, Ascend Education will release a study revealing the math skill gaps most prominent among students in need of intervention. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time this kind of important data will be made available publicly. The study will include data from more than 18,000 students identified for math intervention.  Today, I want to give you a sneak peek at one of the key findings.

All students in the study were given a level recommendation test to assess their functional grade level.

7th grade math skill gapsLook at the findings for those students in grade 7 who were below grade level in math.  Nearly one out of four students had skill gaps two grade levels below their current grade.  Another 26% had skill gaps three grade levels below the seventh, 26% had gaps four grade levels below, and an astounding 19% of students had skill gaps five grade levels below their current grade.

The other grades studied look similar. There is a clear pattern here.  How can a teacher, no matter how dedicated and brilliant, attend to students with needs this widespread?

Please keep watching this blog for updates on this critical study.

Ascend Math is an intensive math intervention program that reaches down to the student’s lowest skill gap and provides a truly individual study plan unique to each student.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

In intervention, the Math “Grind” requires the right reward

In a past article on gamification I’ve written that “Interactive engagement, not entertainment, is at the core of a computer game’s ability to motivate.  Finding ways to make math more interactive and more engaging is the key to making math software better as well.”

Students can and do work hard at games, repeating procedures and tasks until they succeed. This they refer to as “the grind.”  Students using an effective learning program like Ascend Math also do not mind the grind IF there is a substantial reward at the end.

We are all familiar with the intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation argument.  Moving on to the next level is a reward in nearly all games.  And, likewise, success measured by moving up in levels in math is its own strong reward.  However, today’s students have been conditioned by the games they play so often to expect more.

The addition of extrinsic motivation at the time of success can be very effective.  Taking a cue from games, this could be anything from earning items (gold coins) to being granted a special ability or the freedom to move outside the confines of the learning program however briefly.

If it is kept true to the spirit of the program and only offered as reward for “the grind” these extras can help maintain motivation.

More later.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Surprising All Star Math Problem

Since 2003, the winner of the All Star Game (National League or American League) has enjoyed home field advantage in the World Series. Last night, the American League won the All Star Game. So, the American League Championship team will have home field advantage in this year’s World Series. But how much of an advantage is it? Use the table below to determine the percentage of the time that the home field team has won the World Series since 2003. You may be surprised.

Year All Star Winner World Series Winner
2014 American League National League
2013 American League American League
2012 National League National League
2011 National League National League
2010 National League National League
2009 American League American League
2008 American League National League
2007 American League American League
2006 American League National League
2005 American League American League
2004 American League American League
2003 American League National League
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment