Blog 4

When Curious Parents See Math Grades in Real Time

 

Summary

Many schools are switching to systems that allow parents to see their students’ grades online. Many of those systems are updated in real time, so that parents know immediately whether a child has turned in an assignment or passed a test. Some systems also send a text to parents when a student is marked absent or doesn’t turn in their homework. Benefits of these systems include more motivation for students to turn in work on time and the ability to see how a child is doing before it’s too late to fix the problem. Despite the benefits, there are a lot of issues with these systems, state both parents and students. One problem is that teachers don’t always keep the grades updated, or if they haven’t updated an assignment yet, the grade appears as a zero online. Other times teachers make typing errors and 100% easily becomes 10%. Students don’t like the system because they are constantly being monitored and their parents are being updated about it. Sometimes the parents are notified of a missing assignment before the student has even attended the appropriate class in order to turn in the assignment. Overall, there are still a lot of bugs to work out.

 

Q1. What is your opinion of the issue in the article? Agree or disagree? Why?

Both sides of the argument make really good points. I have to say overall, I believe parents should have access to online grades but there is probably a better way to present the information. I don’t believe the grades need to be updated in real time, and notifying parents that an assignment hasn’t been turned in, really only works if it was turned in online. Otherwise, teachers have to take time during class to enter who turned in the assignment. There are a large amount of bugs in the system but I know that it can work because grades in my college classes are entirely online. I have several solutions to the issues I mentioned in the summary.

First issue: Before grades are entered online, the website inserts a zero as a place marker.

Solution: Use something else as a place marker until grades can be entered. Blackboard uses a dash and the values for that assignment aren’t added to the overall grade until the actual grade is entered.

Second issue: Typos.

Solution: Teachers, double check your work before posting it. Parents if you think it might be a mistake, then call. Understand that teachers are human too.

Third issue: Teachers don’t update the grades.

Solution: I can’t fix that. I’ve found that the teachers who don’t update grades online, strongly dislike using the computer and/or internet for their grades and classes. These teachers won’t change unless they can be educated to the benefits and instructed on how to use the system.

 

Blog 3

McGraw-Hill exec: tech will make us rethink age-grouping in schools

Summary

Technology for classrooms has been increasing in the last few years. With sites such as Khan Academy, teachers have been changing the typical classroom setting. Kai Mae Heussner asks the question how much further will the education system change. Students can already take courses at local colleges to expand their education while still in high school. Heussner predicts that school systems will switch from dividing students by age to sorting them by competency. This would allow students to move at their own pace and master the concepts presented in class.

 

Q1. How will the issue help or hinder student learning?

Sorting by students by competency will overall help the students. I have been in so many classrooms where students are left behind because they move at a much slower pace than the rest of the class. There are high school students with gaps in their basic math skills. This is because they were able to get lost in the class and just get by. Elementary and middle school students are rarely held back, even if they technically failed the grade. By blurring the lines for what defines a grade, teachers can make sure students understand the material.

This structure for classrooms will only be a problem as the age differences become greater. Placing a typically fourth grade student in middle school might fit well with his/her intellectual abilities but we must also consider psychological and emotional differences of fourth and eighth graders. The maturity difference between even a few years during childhood and adolescence can be harmful to some students. Certain age groups can be mean, and when a student is a lot younger, or a lot older than the average age, they will more likely be picked on than others in that grade. There is a definite benefit to interaction amongst similar aged peers.

 

Q2. How will the issue affect your relationship with your students, parents, colleagues, and/or principals?

By sorting students based on competency, my relationship with students should become better. A lot of students dislike their teachers because teachers expect more than a student is prepared for. The teacher assumes that the student has kept up with everyone else in the class when that simply isn’t the case. Students then become frustrated in class, because they don’t understand the material and the class isn’t slowing down so that they can catch up. When a classroom is set up to meet individual needs, a student will be less apt to feel frustrated and can learn to enjoy the subject and the teacher (me) can become more of a mentor, instead of a prison guard.

Blog #2

Should Kids Learn to Code in Grade School?

Summary

There is no question that students should learn code. They live in a computer age and should learn to speak the language. Sheena Vaidyanathan states that the true question is at what age should students first learn to code. As of right now, most people do not learn to code in school and those who do are predominately male, as indicated by a new program called “Girls Who Code”. Some schools have begun teaching students as young as fourth grade how to code and have found that girls at that age have no qualms against coding. It seems that in elementary school and early middle school, girls have not been influenced by the stereotypes that prevent them from trying computer programming later in life. School programs have found that, at young ages, family income, gender and other stereotypes do not influence student’s abilities or interest in programming.

 

Q1: What is your opinion on the issue in this article?

I agree that more kids should learn how to code and that it’s going to become more and more crucial as we move further into the digital age. Even if these students only use it to program excel spreadsheets, a basic knowledge is still required. There are a few problems that get in the way of students coding in elementary school. First, math courses have not reached a level where students are truly learning logic and problem solving skills required for code. I am currently working with a programming teacher at a high school to make a video to show to students about programming class. This teacher believes that students need to have taken algebra and he doesn’t even suggest the class to lower level math students. In contrast, earlier starts in programming might help more students understand math and it’s uses. Earlier starts in learning to code could benefit student’s education as a whole.

The biggest issue I see with teaching elementary school children how to code is one of supply and demand. As far as I know, not a lot of teachers know how to code well enough to teach it. Math and computer science may go hand in hand but one must study each to really be able to teach it. There simply aren’t a lot of teachers who have studied computer science. It will be difficult to change that because there is so little money in teaching compared to most jobs in the computer science sectors.

Blog #1

Tom Sciacca: Technology can cut school costs

 

Summary

Tom Sciacca writes about a new teaching style that has been growing in the United States. The concept is called “flipping the classroom” and the basic premise is that what usually happens in a classroom becomes homework and homework is done in class. In other words, students take lectures home, or access lectures online, and watch them outside of class. In class the students do homework assignments and projects, while a teacher can either aid groups or work one on one with a student.

Teachers record lectures ahead of time and place them online. This allows teachers to lecture once and teach multiple classes. Students are also able to then pause a lecture at any point to catch up on notes or go back and watch a part a second time that they may have zoned out or not understood the first time. Some versions of software allow the teachers to place questions in the middle of the lecture to test how much the students understand. The teacher can monitor who struggled with which parts of the lecture and what parts need to be covered in class.

Q1: What is your opinion of the issue in the article? Agree or disagree? Why?

I agree that this a good use of technology in the classroom. It works for any kid no matter his/her home life. I’ve talked with a teacher at my church who flips his classroom. Classroom flipping was developed to help schools in poorer neighborhoods, where the parents work or don’t have a high enough education to help their kids with homework. When the classroom is flipped, parents only have to plop their child in front of the television or computer and let them watch a video. I’ve also heard that students are much more willing to watch several videos than do homework, so teachers will get a lot more student participation. This shift in teaching style benefits both teachers and students.

Q2: How will the issue help or hinder your teaching practice? Why?

This will greatly help my teaching practice because it will ease reaching more kids during classroom time. I don’t have to “teach” in the traditional sense, so, like the example in the article, I can sit one on one with a student who is struggling while the other students are still learning. This new teaching style will also allow science classes to do more hands on labs, so students can truly see the application of the lessons.