About two dozen seniors at Hamilton Southeastern High School in the affluent northern suburbs of Indianapolis have been caught plagiarizing in a dual-enrollment college course, thanks to turnitin.com. Full story with video here, and there’s an official statement from the HSE superintendent on this issue here (.DOC, 20KB).
This would be an ordinary, though disappointing, story about students getting caught cheating if it weren’t for some head-scratchers here. First, this bit from the superintendent’s statement:
We took immediate action because the end of the school year was rapidly approaching. Several students were in danger of not graduating on time. We found a teacher who was willing to step up and administer a complete but highly accelerated online version of a class that would replace the credit that was lost due to cheating. Each student who wishes to graduate…
The sweeping set of teacher licensing changes for Indiana, which I first blogged about here last July, has officially been signed into law. Frankly, I’m surprised, on two levels.
First, although this proposal flew mainly under the radar in Indiana, it was quite polarizing. The public, especially parents of school-aged kids, seemed mainly to be in favor of the bill; while teachers, teacher unions, and university education professors were quite vocally against it. Usually something this divisive doesn’t make it to being signed into law, or else it gets gutted and compromised first. But I can’t find any changes that were made between the bill and the law. It looks like what we saw is what we will get.
Second, it was pretty clear if you scratched the surface of this bill that one of its reasons for being was to put Indiana in a position to get Race to the Top money from the Federal…
Here’s something of an epiphany I had at the ICTCM while listening to Dave Pritchard‘s keynote, which had a lot to do with the differences between novice and expert behaviors in problem-solving.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, puts forth a now-famous theory that it takes at least 10,000 hours to become a true expert in a particular area, at the top of one’s game in a particular pursuit. That’s 10,000 hours of concentrated work in studying, practicing, and performing in some particular area. When we talk about “expert behavior”, we mean the kinds of behaviors that people who have put in their 10,000 hours exercise as second nature.
Clearly high school or college students who are in an introductory course — even Dave Pritchard’s physics students at MIT, who are likely…
Salman Khan is a former financial analyst who quit his day job so that he could form Khan Academy — a venture in which he makes instructional videos on mathematics topics and puts them on YouTube. And he has certainly done a prolific job of it — to the tune of over a thousand short videos on topics ranging from basic addition to differential equations and also physics, biology, and finance. Amazingly, he does this all on his own time, in a remodeled closet in his house, for free:
I can attest to the quality of his linear algebra videos, some of which I’ve embedded on the Moodle site for my linear algebra course. They are simple without being dumbed down, and what he says about the 10-minute time span in the PBS story is exactly right — it’s just the right length for a single topic.
What do you think about this? What role do well-produced, short, simple, free video…
Can a 128-, 256-, etc. foot long Dorito Sierpinski triangle be far behind? I bet the parent company for Doritos would seriously consider some corporate sponsorship.
Thanks to Cory Poole, math and physics teacher at U-Prep, who sent this in. That’s a great, creative way to get students interested in math. (And you can eat it when it’s done.) There’s more on the video here.
My 6-year old is in kindergarten and fascinated by school and schoolteachers. Last week she asked me: “Daddy, are you a teacher?” I told her I was. “What’s your school?” I told her I teach at a college. “What’s a college?” I told her: “A college is a school for grown-ups.” And in that off-the-cuff answer, we have an economical way of describing the difference between college and pre-college education, and of encapsulating the hopes and goals of higher education.
College students, even the wide-eyed freshmen who show up every fall, are not kids. They are emerging adults, having worked 12 years for a high school education and who now enter a 4-5 year buffer zone before entering into the world with nothing more than the things they know, the experiences they’ve had, and the people around them. Therefore we college professors aren’t serving students if we treat them like kids, refer to …
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett is announcing today a plan to overhaul the state’s system for teacher licensure. The announcement is here, and there are three PDF’s linked at the bottom of that page that go into more depth. [Update: There's now a 7-minute video of the press conference at this site as well.] And here’s an Indianapolis Star article (written prior to the announcement, so it’s a bit short on detail) that gives a thumbnail overview and some reactions from local education people. Those reactions seem pretty heated, and when you read the details of the program, you can begin to understand why.
The first point listed in the plan, and the one that seems to have the most impact, is that requirements for content knowledge for pre-service teachers are going to be ratcheted up several notches. Secondary education teachers will now be required to earn a…
Arthur Benjamin thinks that the current model of the mathematics curriculum — leading from arithmetic to algebra and ultimately to calculus — is flawed and needs to be changed. Watch this 3-minute TED talk for what he thinks ought to be the real summit of the mathematics curriculum:
I am in a great deal of agreement with Prof. Benjamin here. The secondary school math curriculum does indeed seem poised to point students towards calculus. While that is appropriate for some, it is not appropriate for all; while on the other hand, a better knowledge of discrete math, especially probability and statistics, would be appropriate for everybody.
Moreover, Prof. Benjamin did not stress one of the most important selling points for refocusing on discrete math: The mathematical background requirements are a lot lower than they are for calculus. Students currently have to take two…
I got an email from a fellow edu-blogger a couple of days ago asking for my input on the subject of academic rigor. Specifically this person asked:
Is the quest for more rigor an issue for you? Is it good, bad, meaningless? What does rigorous teaching look like in your classroom?
I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing the answer, because after writing it I thought it’d make a good blog post. I said:
For me, “rigor” in the context of intellectual work refers to thoroughness, carefulness, and right understanding of the material being learned. Rigor is to academic work what careful practice and nuanced performance is to musical performance, and what intense and committed play is to athletic performance. When we talk about a “rigorous course” in something, it’s a course that examines details, insists on diligent and scrupulous study and performance, and doesn’t settle for a mild or informal…
Peter Wood has a tour de force editorial today in the Chronicle, titled “How Culture Keeps Our Students Out of Science”. Snippet:
Students respond more profoundly to cultural imperatives than to market forces. In the United States, students are insulated from the commercial market’s demand for their knowledge and skills. That market lies a long way off — often too far to see. But they are not insulated one bit from the worldview promoted by their teachers, textbooks, and entertainment. From those sources, students pick up attitudes, motivations, and a lively sense of what life is about. School has always been as much about learning the ropes as it is about learning the rotes. We do, however, have some new ropes, and they aren’t very science-friendly. Rather, they lead students who look upon the difficulties of pursuing science to ask, “Why bother?”
I am a mathematician and educator with interests in cryptology, computer science, and STEM education. I am affiliated with the Mathematics Department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. The views here are my own and are not necessarily shared by GVSU.
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