Archive for June, 2012

A proponent rethinks cell phones in the classroom

A teacher who argued in favor incorporating cell phones into classroom instruction in a 2010 Education Week essay rethinks that position in a new piece.

Writing in Ed Week about his emerging doubts, Kentucky high school teacher Paul Barnwell says, “While summarizing is a real skill, do we really want students to further fragment their thoughts and attention in this age of incessant digital distraction and stimuli with 140-character blurbs? Do we want students to spend even more time in front of a screen, bypassing opportunities to converse and collaborate face-to-face?”

Here is a short excerpt of Barnwell’s essay “Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools.”

A recent report by the Economic & Social Research Council refutes the notion that today’s youth, the “net generation,” is truly tech savvy. After interviewing and collecting data from 2000 first-year college students in Britain, researchers found that only 21.5 percent of students had blogged, and only 12.1 …

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NAEP science: Students can do experiments and get answers but can’t explain or justify their results

NAEP — known as the Nation’s Report Card — released results today of how American students fared on a new component of its science test that included hands-on, interactive experiments and virtual labs.

The new component was added to the 2009 science assessment. In one example, 12th graders were asked to determine a location for a new town based on an assessment of water quality flowing near that site. Students were asked to test water samples, determine levels of pollutants and then justify the decision where they would locate the new town using the data from the experiment they conducted.

Overall, students could conduct the experiments but were not as skilled in using their data to justify conclusions or writing reports. In one example cited in a webinar this morning on the results, 93 percent of fourth graders got the right answer in a science experiment, but only 32 percent could use the evidence from the experiment to justify their answer.

On the webinar announcing the …

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College: Expensive but worth the cost?

The News York Times has a good story today on the fact that even workers with jobs are struggling because they are underemployed. The story opens with an Atlanta woman at a job fair; she has a job but her hours and her pay has been cut and she can’t make ends meet.

But what is applicable to our discussions are these two points addressed in the news story: College tuition has been rising faster than inflation or salaries and college grads are still faring better in the job market that those without degrees.

According to the story:

Expenses like putting a child through college — where tuition has been rising faster than inflation or wages — can be a daunting task. When Morgan Woodward, 21, began her freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley, three years ago, her parents paid about $9,000 a year in tuition and fees. Now they pay closer to $13,000, and they are bracing for the possibility of another jump next year. With their incomes flat, though, they recently …

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Equalization grants: Are poor systems driving Pintos while Gwinnett cruises in a Lamborghini?

Catlady, a longtime poster to this blog, has been asking the AJC to look at the strange calculus of Georgia school equalization grants through which Gwinnett out earns many poor Georgia counties.

The equalization grant program forces wealthier school districts to share money with lower wealth districts. While similar grants have been controversial in other parts of the country,  the program has not roused widespread opposition here.

I am happy to report that AJC reporters James Salzer and Nancy Badertscher examined this year’s $436 million grant program and found some odd stuff.

Among their points: Somehow, Cobb and DeKalb don’t qualify for equalization grants, but Gwinnett and Henry do.

As Quitman County’s school chief Allen Fort said about the formula:  “What we have is a Ford Pinto. What Fulton and Cobb have are a Cadillac and Ferrari. What Gwinnett has is a Lamborghini. When their Lamborghini has a flat tire, they get an equalization grant. When our Pinto has a flat, …

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Bloody Monday: Layoffs at the financially troubled Georgia Perimeter College

A regular poster sent me a note Friday that layoffs would take place today at Georgia Perimeter Collge.

The poster wrote: “Supposedly senior management and department heads are meeting tomorrow to get instruction from HR on how to drop the axe. In a not so ironic twist, the same people who are making career life and death decisions are mostly the same people who helped {former President Anthony} Tricoli drive us off the cliff.”

The poster was right.

The AJC is reporting this morning that Georgia Perimeter College will lay off 282 people as part of an extensive plan to close what could be a $25 million deficit next year.

According to the news story:

The cuts affect 215 full-time employees and 67 part-time workers, according to a campus-wide email Interim President Rob Watts sent. No tenure or tenure-track professors were laid off. The college employed about 3,110 people, including 390 tenure and tenure-track faculty.

Watts wrote that his first priority “was protecting …

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College internships: Servitude or stepping stone?

When Lauren Berger was a college freshman, her mother, a math teacher, saw a news segment on the importance of internships. So, she called her 18-year-old daughter and told her, “Get an internship.”

That turned out to be the best advice Berger ever got, igniting a passion that led to 15 internships, a full-time career as a speaker and author, and a royal title of sorts.

Berger is the self-crowned “Intern Queen,” so stated in her peppy website of that same name and in her recent book, “All Work, No Pay,” which chronicles her career as an intern extraordinaire.

“I was pushed into it by my mother,” she said. “But in that first internship, a light bulb went off, and I realized the importance of networking and professional experiences and of creating goals and taking the necessary steps of going after them.”

A communications major with an interest in the entertainment field, Berger won her first internship by calling a local public relations agency. She used that …

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Condition of public high schools: More math, science. More kids going to college. And, in the South, more kids.

There is a wealth of detail about public high schools in the Condition of Education 2012 report issued a few weeks ago by the National Center for Education Statistics.

This year’s report looked at high school trends over the last 20 years. Among the interesting statistics: There has been a doubling of students taking math and science courses.

Of local interest, the statistical snapshot found that public high school enrollment increased by 35 percent in the South between 1989 and 2010, from 4 million students to 5.4 million.

Other striking stats: The number of high school students 16 and older holding jobs dropped from 32 percent to 16 percent between 1990 and 2010. Distance/online education is growing, from 222,000 students in 2002-03 to more than 1.3 million in 2009-10.

High school grads are more likely to go directly to college. In 1975,  51 percent of teens went off to a two- or four-year college in the fall after their high school graduation. In 2009-2010,  70 percent …

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Cobb teacher: Leading the Culture Committee

Cobb teacher Ryan Lund Neumann sent me this wonderful essay. Enjoy.

By Ryan Lund Neumann

If I only knew then what I know now.

Sometimes the old adages are true. Even if they are fragments. Six years ago, I was a brand new teacher. Fresh out of graduate school, juiced up on rhetoric and radical ideas, not only was I convinced I would change a student’s life for the better, I was going to change the whole darn teaching profession for the better.

I would, no matter how arduous the journey, no matter how ridiculous the interruption, find a way. Somehow. Someway.

I would, no matter how arduous the journey, no matter how ridiculous the interruption, find a way. Somehow. Someway. It was going to happen.

So, I decided I needed to challenge myself.

“You’ve gotta put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, Ryan. If you really want to find out what kind of person you are, you have to venture into uncharted territory. You have to put yourself out there in ways you never have …

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Closer to reality now: Obama action today enacts much of the DREAM Act

While Congress failed to act on the DREAM Act, much of its goals were realized today with the new immigration policy approved by the President. (AP Photo)

While Congress failed to enact the DREAM Act, much of the bill's goals were realized today with the new immigration policy approved by the President. (AP Photo)

Someone mentioned the improved civility on the blog, in part because I am moderating and banning now with greater alacrity, and, in part, because we haven’t had many hot button issues that bring out the worst in posters.

Well, here comes one.

As reported in the AJC:

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, announced Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress and partially achieves …

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Finalist named for presidency of Georgia College & State University

Georgia College & State University has a likely new president, Steve Michael Dorman from the University of Florida. The Regents must approve his selection at its next meeting, but it is safe to assume that, as sole finalist, he has the job.

A few years ago, Erroll Davis, then chancellor of the University System of Georgia, told me that his goal was to turn Georgia College into a liberal arts “jewel.”

Has that happened? I know several metro students who attend Georgia College, and their lament is the same: Too many classmates go home on weekends. While the weekend social scene should not be a major factor in choosing a college, many students are very concerned about it.

It is important to elevate the status of Georgia College as there should be a strong liberal arts alternative for students who  find UGA, GSU or Georgia Southern too large. Milledgeville has a lot of charm, but not sure it has a lot of the amenities that 20-year-olds want.

Anyone have a child at Georgia College? …

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