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Comment 2 things from a 20-year teacher (Score 1) 110

1) Based on teachers I know and have discussed this with (yes, yes, not a valid sample, blah blah blah...) I can't imagine that the 99% stat quoted is anywhere near accurate. Many teachers have problems with posting student data, especially in elementary school where I teach.

2) I can't think of one instance during my career where comparing "achievement levels" or anything like them have motivated the lower performing kids, the ones that the NCLP, RTTT, and other government programs say we are supposed to be helping by "analyzing and sharing data with kids". What I have seen happen over and over is jealousy and hatred formed for higher kids in the class, and the lowering of self-image and tendency to give up for the lower kids (not the ones scoring poorly because they are not really trying, but the ones who truly need help).

This practice is certainly the rage among administrators who don't actually have to deal with kids though.

Comment Re:only from a short sighted perspective (Score 2) 308

I was fortunate enough to listen to an hour long debate about ten years ago between Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye on this subject at the National Science Teachers Association Conference. Tyson was on President G.W. Bush's manned spaceflight council and made the same basic argument you did, while Nye made an argument very similar to TFA - science now, humans later. At the end of the debate there was no clear "winner." I think most of the 300+ of us in attendance just walked away wishing that we put more money into both types of programs as they both have great value.

It always just comes down to money, and this is part of a much larger issue IMHO. Our government is not funding basic science at anywhere near the level they should. Everything is left to business, and as a result the vast majority of research being done is focused on immediate return (and profit), not on long-term gains.

Comment Re:Tenant? (Score 1) 68

I'm a public school teacher. The crap Dells my district buys last maybe 4 years before something major dies in them, and the warrantee only lasts 3. Keyboards and monitors generally last much longer (not so for the mice they way they are used by my elementary school kids, but they are pretty cheap to replace). The result is I have lots of extra monitors and keyboards, so the Pi, a vga or dvi adaptor, and maybe a mouse come out to $60, plus the plastic for our 3d printer to print cases. This was part of the plan from the profs in England who designed the thing to get it in the hands of school kids.

As for the Google tools, I just downloaded them and will play with them this weekend to see if they might be useful for my engineering club to work with. From TFA they look promising. If any of you want to volunteer to teach my 4th and 5th graders assembler, let me know. I haven't messed with it since I had an Atari 800. My goal is to allow them to begin learning to control their technology instead of just being passive users of it, and hopefully set them up for deeper learning later. HTML, CSS, Python, and Arduino's IDE have all been useful tools for me to do this the last few years, and I'm hoping to ad RPi to the lineup.

Comment I don't think that the audience for this is kids.. (Score 1) 384

I think that it is more parents, school administrators, and teachers. Just today a fellow teacher who had her 5th graders using Scratch to program solutions to math problems as a programming exercise was visited by our principal. The principal walked around and observed, asking the kids questions like "How will this help you in the future?" because that is apparently one way to assess teachers now. She had no clue what the kids were doing, or how it may help them understand math, logic, problem solving, or that they may find they have a talent, like, or even passion for it. We sent her a link to with the hope that Gates and Zuckerburg endorsing something not in our standard curriculum may hold more weight than two rebellious teachers.

If coding is going to be more than a small elective in some middle and high schools, politicians and the educational bureaucracy need to believe that there is some value in it. They are the target.

Comment Re:Information to reflect on during this strike (Score 1) 404

Here's some data from Florida to back up your point. You have to conclude that either a) most teachers who teach in lower-socioeconomic schools are bad, or b) standardized tests assess student socioeconomic status better than teacher quality. I've worked in several Title 1 schools and from my experiences, teachers there work hard, put in more time, and work smarter than teachers at upper socioeconomic schools just because they have to.

I know that the politicians and testing and charter companies have done everything they can over the last few decades to convince you otherwise, but nothing pisses most teachers off more than when one of their students isn't learning and we do everything possible to help them.


Submission + - Asteroid the 'Size of a Minivan' Exploded over California (

astroengine writes: "The source of loud "booms" accompanied by a bright object traveling through the skies of Nevada and California on Sunday morning has been confirmed: it was a meteor. A big one. It is thought to have been a small asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere at a speed of 15 kilometers per second (33,500 mph), turning into a fireball, delivering an energy of 3.8 kilotons of TNT as it broke up over California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, classified it as a "big event." "I am not saying there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California," Cooke told "I am saying that the meteor possessed this amount of energy before it broke apart in the atmosphere. (The map) shows the location of the atmospheric breakup, not impact with the ground." Interestingly, this event was bigger than asteroid 2008 TC3 that exploded over the skies of Sudan in 2008 after being detected before it hit."

Submission + - Strange cloud formations on Mars, a mystery ( 1

techfun89 writes: "Mars has returned to our evening skies as it does every two years. This time it is getting even more attention and buzz than it normally would. Amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke of West Chester Pennsylvania noticed an unusual protrusion in the planet's southern hemisphere, preceding the sunrise terminator.

Several things may have contributed to this strange "cloud formation". One possibility is a meteoric impact event, where dust was spewed up into the atmosphere. Another could be a major dust storm, which are typical on Mars. While the other possibility is the more mundane, that these observations were caused by a mere optical illusion via a type of glint that occurred due to having just the right combination of lighting and atmospheric conditions. Some suggest volcanic activity, though this is unlikely given it has been 20 to 200 million years since lava has flowed on Mars."


Submission + - Learners earn Open Badges from Mozilla (

mikejuk writes: Mozilla better known for open source projects such as Firefox and Thunderbird has gone into the education market — sort of. It has announced "Open Badge" an API for earning and displaying badges that indicate just what you have learned. Think of it as earning merit badges but without having to join the scouts... More seriously badges allow micro rewards for small achievements which could motivate the learner to do even more. This could be the future of educational accreditation — no more Degrees, Masters or PhDs just a backpack of badges.

Comment Scratch, also check out CT (Score 1) 430

I'm an elementary school teacher, and we have 2nd graders using Scratch at my school with great success. Having them create interactive multimedia may be a better way for you to start - create some characters, program them to do or say things in sequence and interact when they touch each other. Be sure to check out the in-program help section and print out the "Scratch Cards" as an easy way to get kids started. Also, check out for lesson plans and ideas from teachers around the world.

Another idea - I just downloaded and started reading some documents on "CT" - Computational Thinking from ISTE and CSTA ( - free registration required to download). Haven't read it all or used it with kids yet, but it looks interesting. There are suggested activities that don't involve computers, similar to a few mentioned in previous posts to get kids to think about processes, algorithms, etc... including stuff for younger kids.

Submission + - The end of shutdown. (

rwiggers writes: Samsung got some new tech on resistive memory that is quite impressive. This article points to very fast non-volatile memory with incredible endurance. Will we succeed in exchanging our volatile memories for persistent ones?

Submission + - SPAM: Netflix Customers do not Like new Plans

i4u writes: Netflix announced yesterday a new pricing for their offerings. This announcement did not go over well with Netflix customers. The announcement triggered over 27,000 comments on the Netflix Facebook page. I could not find a positive comment in this stream of anger and announcements of service cancellations. So what did Netflix do?
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