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Comment: Re:Waste of money (Score 1) 341

by psnyder (#48754379) Attached to: Intel Pledges $300 Million To Improve Diversity In Tech

There's a large body of evidence correlating economics & culture to educational outcomes.

Genetics correlate also, but this is mostly genetic differences between individual families, not "race".

Gender difference in mathematics is only apparent in individual countries and fairly nonexistent when looking at the world as a whole (implying that gender differences in mathematics is due to culture).

This evidence is a good place to start understanding the problem and search for improvements. Therefore scholarships may be helpful (deals with the economics side). But focusing on "race" is misguided, when focusing on the problem of culture can give tangible improvements (ex: community centers in rough inner city areas), regardless of "race".

Anyone can search Google Scholar to look into these in more detail.

Comment: Re:The real issue (Score 1) 161

by psnyder (#48682511) Attached to: Boston Elementary, Middle Schools To Get a Longer Day

By "weak area" I meant (for example) the 5% a student gets wrong when they score 95% on a test, not a "subject" they're weak in. This weak area could be in a subject they are very good at and enjoy. And when you talk about tests not being an effective form of motivation, that's exactly what I meant too. Unfortunately, the argument that students wouldn't be motivated to learn without upcoming tests is one I've heard numerous times, and it's just wrong. In fact, I agree with everything you say. If there was a misunderstanding, it may be due to the fact that language was a weak subject of mine as well.

Our school specifically gives choice to students so they are able to follow their interests. We expose them to everything, but where it leads is up to them. Unfortunately, there's not much good information online about our elementary programs, but at least here's a quick comparison vs. mainstream education.

Comment: The real issue (Score 2) 161

by psnyder (#48679763) Attached to: Boston Elementary, Middle Schools To Get a Longer Day

I'm certified to teach K-5 in one of the US states but currently teach in another country. I've looked into this idea quite a bit.

There is evidence to show that extra school time benefits children in families that don't give much academic support at home (especially prevalent in poor, inner-city neighborhoods). For example, standardized test scores in reading often rise after summer vacations in affluent areas, but not so much in poor areas. The assumption is that many affluent parents tend to read and encourage their children to read during the summer. It's simply a disparity of time reading. To combat this, some experimental, inner-city schools have had success raising scores with very long days. However, I haven't seen anything showing that longer days help elsewhere. Homework (no matter how many hours) has been shown to have no significant effect raising scores for elementary students. (Up to 2 hours helps high school students, but over that seems to give no additional benefit.)

Honestly, I would first look at reducing time giving children tests. In many schools, children are given about an hour of tests a day, on average (amount varying from day to day, class to class, school to school). Tests are specifically to help adults (administrators, teachers, parents). Children are not allowed to practice their weak areas (the main thing that helps them learn) during a test. Although tests give children goals to strive for, motivational goals can be given many other, more effective ways. That's often 180 hours of test time a year (36 days of school, considering 5 hours a day of "in-class" time).

In my school we give 1 standardized test a year, and no testing outside that. Our scores are usually average or better than average on the standardized test (despite having many special-needs students). The teachers have more time to work with the students (and therefore know exactly where each child is). We also have more time to plan (instead of correcting tests during prep time).

Common questions we get are about how we communicate a child's level, without grades (given from tests). Simply put, we give more in-depth reports to parents & other schools. It works, but this is the part that scares most administrators and parents. Frankly, this part is more work for the adults. But if the main focus is on what's best for the children, frequent testing should be abolished. From the perspective of a child's education (practicing difficulties and learning new things), testing is one of the least efficient uses of time. And if we truly want more class time, that's where educators should start.

Comment: Newsroom? (Score 1) 109

by psnyder (#47431141) Attached to: Google's Experimental Newsroom Avoids Negative Headlines

They seem to be talking about Google Trends, where they are currently making cutesy graphs of what people are searching for about the World Cup.

Calling this a "newsroom" seems to be a bit of a stretch. This is NOT "Google News" where I see "humiliation", "shame" and "misery" in the top stories when searching for "Brazil World Cup".

This had me really confused (and it seems like many of the readers here as well), but the article and summary are misleading.

Comment: Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 5, Informative) 158

by psnyder (#47429115) Attached to: Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

Uh, they most certainly have extremely crisp boundaries. Species are classified by the ability of two organisms to breed with one another.

The "Species problem" shows this not to be the case. The specific issue you mention is in the introduction:

"Another common problem is how to define reproductive isolation, because some separately evolving groups may continue to interbreed to some extent, and it can be a difficult matter to discover whether this hybridization affects the long-term genetic make-up of the groups."

That being said, I was taught the same way as you and only learned differently when I started teaching it myself. Now when I explain classification, I try to intersperse phrases like "usually classified as..." or "One good way to classify it is...". I usually try to reinforce that there are many ways to classify, show them the most common way(s), and encourage them to make their own classifications if those ways fail. This is especially prevalent in biology where phylogenetics (usually based on RNA, dividing groups into clades) is currently intermixing with more traditional taxonomy (usually based on morphological traits, dividing groups into Linnaean classification)[1].

Comment: Re:Answer (Score 1) 88

Betteridge's law of headlines fits perfectly:

This story is a great demonstration of my maxim that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no". The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.

Comment: Advertising? (Score 1) 219

by psnyder (#47348931) Attached to: Facebook's Emotion Experiment: Too Far, Or Social Network Norm?

Advertising frequently uses psychological pressure (for example, appealing to feelings of inadequacy) on the intended consumer, which may be harmful.

Criticism of advertising

...was my 1st thought when reading...

"If you are exposing people to something that causes changes in psychological status, that's experimentation," says James Grimmelmann, a professor of technology and the law at the University of Maryland. "This is the kind of thing that would require informed consent."

One could argue that advertising is not always done with informed consent.

Comment: Re:Ohhh... they just invented MultiMUD (Score 1) 75

by psnyder (#46614193) Attached to: <em>Ultima Online</em> Devs Building Player-Run MMORPG

you go to shard A, get weapon A1, go to shard B and get armor B1 because the monster that carries said armor is very susceptible to A1 [...] , then go to shard C where every monster [...] is really hard to kill... unless you have weapon A1 which deals a damage these mobs don't have any resistance to [...]

Megaman?

Comment: Financial Information (Score 4, Informative) 50

by psnyder (#45795343) Attached to: Video Games Charity Raises Over $10 Million
Here is financial info for Save the Children if anyone is interested. 2012 operating revenue was $597mil.

Congratulations to everyone involved. The few Athene videos I saw when he started were lowest common denominator attempts at shock value, but I'm glad something good is coming out of it.

Comment: Re:Multi-Modal Education (Score 4, Informative) 187

by psnyder (#45536451) Attached to: Art Makes Students Smart
As an early education teacher, I am convinced that the quest for knowledge is innate, and is repressed by classrooms that ask preadolescent children to barely move or speak for 4 to 6 hours every day. I believe the "trigger" you mention could be areas of a stifled, developing brain finally getting what it desires, like a cold glass of water in hell.

I work in a school where most lessons are planned with sensory motor function in mind, where art, language, math, etc are shown to be intertwined, and where students often preform higher on standardized tests, despite me never giving them a single, formally graded test the rest of the year.

For more than half of the children that transfer into my school after spending 3 or 4 years in a public school (factory structured, lecture based model), I have to spend the initial months detoxifying the child, showing them that it's okay to be creative, unsuppressed, and use their interests to learn.

The developing brains of young children are extremely sensitive to visual, tactile experiences that the various arts provide. Their psychology is very different from an adult's, yet many adults often project their own learning styles onto them. This leads to continuously keeping subjects separate (such as art & math). While key concepts should initially be presented in isolation to avoid confusion, the follow up activities should combine multiple areas. In other words, expose the children to everything possible, show them how it all interconnects, and use what the child's mind is sensitive to, practicing multiple areas in conjunction and forming deep understanding.

I find it highly likely that the statistically significant increase in critical thinking, social tolerance, and historical empathy that this study found not only comes from the initial exposure, but also from teachers integrating the experience into follow-up lessons / activities.

Comment: Re:Common Core or a crappy test? (Score 1) 663

by psnyder (#45315767) Attached to: A Math Test That's Rotten To the Common Core
The above "Insightful" comments didn't seem to RTA. It makes the case that the Core is badly designed FOR EARLY EDUCATION, and this test is merely a reflection of that.

Are the standards reasonable, appropriate and developmentally sound—especially for our youngest learners? In order to answer that question, it is important to understand how the early primary standards were determined. If you read Commissioner John King’s Powerpoint slide 18, which can be found here, you see that the Common Core standards were “backmapped” from a description of 12th grade college-ready skills. There is no evidence that early childhood experts were consulted to ensure that the standards were appropriate for young learners. Every parent knows that their kids do not develop according to a “back map”—young children develop through a complex interaction of biology and experience that is unique to the child and which cannot be rushed.

It goes on to compare the US Core with the standards from other countries such as Finland and Singapore.

It then shows the very real and large problem that it was "Pearson Education" that made this poorly written test.

This Pearson first-grade unit test is the realization of the New York Common Core math standards. Pearson knows how the questions will be asked on the New York State tests, because they, of course, create them.

Children and schools are evaluated based on State tests. Do you want your job being evaluated by something like this?

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe

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