Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Myth of Learning Styles- Ani Aharonian

"View of New York City From Hoboken, New Jersey", oil
on paper laid on panel- Thomas W. Whitley, 1865
Looking at how students study, it is obvious that people approach learning in different ways. Some students like to read the textbook once through, some highlight and annotate the textbook extensively, some write and rewrite their notes, others record and play back lectures, others still make and review flashcards, and so on… But what do these differences in study strategies reflect? There are many possibilities. They may reflect variations in the way that people learn, or it may reflect differences in work ethic or learned habits. Researchers have mistakenly interpreted these differences in preference to reflect differences in the way that people learn and learning styles has become a popular and widespread pedagogical approach.
The main claim or hypothesis associated with the learning styles approach is that matching instructional style to individual learning styles will yield superior learning. A 2012 survey of educators in the UK and Netherlands revealed that 94% believed that students perform better when they receive instruction in their preferred learning style. Aspiring educators are being taught that instruction should be tailored to the distinct learning styles of students. Management and business programs are also increasingly propagating this claim in the context of workplace.
Perhaps this idea has taken strong hold because it is an appealing one. It is consistent with our desire to perceive ourselves as individuals, it is a positive and optimistic proposition that each person has equivalent potential to learn if the instruction can be matched to their individual learning style, and it also places the responsibility for students’ achievement (or lack thereof) on the teachers and the educational system rather than the students.
What evidence is there that this approach, around for a few decades now, affects learning outcomes? Hardly any.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Which Grade Should You Actually Teach? - Take this quiz

Find out which grade you should teach based on your personality. Your ability to connect with children, energy level, value system, outlook on life, and personal goals all play an important role in determining which grade is right for you. Find out now!

Click HERE to take the quiz 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hoboken Educator is State’s Teacher of the Year

Children playing at Hudson County Park (1909)
(Columbus Park, Hoboken NJ)
Photo: Hoboken Historical Collection 
A Hoboken special education teacher, who is an ardent supporter of using technology to enhance teaching of autistic students, has been selected the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015.
Teacher Mark Mautone, who teaches preschool autistic children at Wallace Elementary School in Hoboken, was honored by Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe and the state Board of Education at a ceremony in Trenton last week.
Six finalists from around the state were also honored at the ceremony.
An educator for 19 years, Mautone is an advocate of using technology in the classroom. He has given presentations from New York City to San Francisco on topics such as using apps to help children with disabilities.
“Mr. Mautone has a deep enthusiasm for helping his students overcome the challenges they face so that they can receive the best experience possible in the classroom,” Hespe said. “He is an inspiration to teachers, parents and members of the community.”
Mautone is also actively involved in autism support groups, and serves on numerous professional advisory boards and task forces that help disabled children, and that help increase understanding of disabled individuals. He has also organized training for teachers, parents and students on autism and bullying.
“It is my belief that all children, despite the obstacles, deserve the highest quality of education possible so that they can learn to their maximum potential and lead a productive life as independently as possible,” Mautone wrote in his application.
Mautone, who began working as an instructional assistant with disabled children 19 years ago, received his bachelor’s degree from Kean University and a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Caldwell University.
The other six finalists for State Teacher of the Year were Stephanie Cardoso, a fifth-grade teacher from Martin Luther King Elementary School in Edison; Peter Davis, a technology teacher from Belhaven Avenue Middle School in Linwood; Cynthia Leatherwood, an English teacher from Dennis Township Middle School; Salvatore Lima, a science teacher from West Caldwell Tech, within the Essex County Vocational School District; Kathryn Tricarico, a kindergarten teacher from Adamsville Primary School in the Bridgewater-Raritan School District; and Coleen Weiss-Magasic, a science teacher from West Milford Township High School.
The Teacher of the Year program is administered by the New Jersey Department of Education, with winners selected based on their applications and interview sessions with an independent panel of educators. The process begins each year at the local level, where school and district-level winners are selected, and progresses through the county level, and then the state.
The winner receives a six-month sabbatical, sponsored by the Educational Testing Service, during which time the Teacher of the Year works with the state education department on special projects.
The State Teacher of the Year also gives presentations around the state and participates in national activities, including meeting the president of the United States. The winner receives a leased car for a year, courtesy of the New Jersey Education Association, and a package of classroom SMART Technologies from that company.
For more information, please see the NJDOE Teacher of the Year web page.

Where We Donate vs. Diseases That Kill Us

Julia Belluz created the infographic below to compare how much money is donated to fight various disease and how many people in the USA die from those same diseases for an article in Vox

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stevens Institute of Technology: Hoboken, N.J. Among Top 10 Engineering Colleges in the U.S.- USA Today

County Executive Tom DeGise addresses media at the ribbon 
14St. Viaduct. He was joined by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer 
and Freeholder Anthony Romano. Dec 15, 2014
Engineering is one of the highest paid degrees you can get — and it’s a popular choice for students who are interested in building and developing products, as well as for those who have a knack for math and science. The list below breaks down the top 10 places to get an engineering degree in the U.S. The list comes from College Factual and is a ranking of colleges based on their overall quality.

Of special recognition is Stevens Institute of Technology-- Stevens is a highly selective private research university located in Hoboken, NJ, close to New York City. The school has high academic standards, but also has a high price tag to match. It offers degrees up to the Ph.D. level, with the most popular undergraduate majors being Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering. Students with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from this university report average starting salaries of $60,000.

Here are the Top Ten programs:

1. Colorado School of Mines: Golden, Colo.

2. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus: Atlanta

Note: this is not a ranking for a specific engineering major, but an overview of how the school does overall for all the engineering degrees it offers. See this description of the methodology for more information.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers - Ian Altman

Newspaper girl- 4th and Garden Sts. Hoboken, NJ -1912
In this post, Georgia teacher Ian Altman explains what he and his colleagues are really sick of hearing from reformers. Altman is an award-winning high school English teacher in Athens, where he has lived since 1993, as well as an advocate for teachers and students.  He has presented at several national conferences and published in the Journal of Language and Literacy Education. He won the 2014 University of Georgia College of Education Distinguished Alumni Crystal Apple Award as well as the 2012 University of Chicago Outstanding Educator award.
Altman’s list of seven things that reformers should stop saying to teachers comes from conversations he has had with educators across the country and speaks to the fury felt by many teachers who see their expertise being devalued and their profession denigrated.
What are these 7 things reformers should know according to Altman? 
1. Don’t tell us that you know more about good instruction than we do. 
2. Don’t talk to us about the importance and rigor of the standards.
3. Don’t tell us about testing data.
4. Don’t tell us “The research says…” unless you’re willing to talk about what it really says.
5. Stop with the advice about teaching critical thinking skills.   
6. Stop using education reform clich├ęs.
7. Don’t tell us to leave politics out of the classroom. 
You can read the full details of each of these statements by pointing your browser to the original article by clicking HERE. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Detailed Board Agenda- Hoboken Board of Education December 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
7:00 P.M.

Further Analysis of the 2014 Hoboken BOE Election - By Ward Analysis and Additive Value

Initial analysis on the 2014 Hoboken Board of Education election was previously discussed on this blog. Further analysis of data from the Hoboken BOE election was recently completed. This analysis was conducted by ward but not by district within ward. Eight candidates competed for three, three-year spots on the Hoboken Board of Education. The candidates ran under three slates: Parents for Change; Parents for Progress; and Parents for Progress and Education for All Children. 

In order to look at the election results a little closer, a number of variables were created (see spreadsheet below): 

LYNNDiff = The average vote of Murray and Waiters minus the vote of Lynn Danzker  (for example for the First Ward (208+207/2)  minus the vote of Danzker (161) = 46.5
GRAYDiff = The average vote for Angley and Stromwall minus the vote for Gray 
Lynn+Gray = LYNNDiff + GRAYDiff 
PETERDiff = The difference between Peter Biancamano and Francis Rhodes-Kearns 

Danzker and Gray had a total of 495 LESS votes than their slate mates. Biancamano had 468 MORE votes than his slate mate. Clearly, there is not a one to one correspondence and this analysis does not take into account those people who voted for only 1 or 2 candidates but it gives a little sense of Biancamano having an additive difference (picking up votes) rather than any other data driven explanation.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Stanford researcher asks: What is a summer job worth?

Low school attendance rates and school dropout in many urban high schools present serious hurdles for policy efforts to close the academic achievement gap that exists along socio-economic and racial lines.  At the same time, policymakers and researchers are paying increased attention to how students’ experiences when school is out of session, especially during the summer, influence educational success. 
Recent work by Jacob Leos-Urbel (link is external), associate director the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities (link is external) at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, provides new evidence regarding the impact of large-scale summer youth employment programs on high school students’ school attendance and academic achievement in the following school year. 
Many cities across the country, including throughout California, offer publicly-funded summer youth employment programs.  Although not explicitly focused on bolstering school attendance or academic success, summer youth employment may lead to improvements in school attendance and other educational outcomes.
Beyond increasing financial well-being, employment may foster non-cognitive skills such as responsibility, positive work habits, motivation, time management, determination, and self-confidence. Summer employment may also benefit youth by keeping them engaged in positive supervised activities when school is out of session, and is considerably less likely to detract time from educational pursuits compared to work during the school year.     
Little prior research has examined the impact of work during the summer on students’ educational outcomes.  Leos-Urbel estimates the impact of summer work experiences on high school students’ attendance and educational outcomes in the following school year using data from New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). 
Due to high demand for jobs through SYEP, the city uses a lottery system in an effort to equitably allocate program slots.  This lottery system effectively assigns the offer to participate or not participate in SYEP at random, creating a control group of youth who apply to SYEP but are not chosen, which allows for causal estimates of the relationship between summer jobs and academic success. 
The study uses SYEP data for 36,550 program applicants in 2007 matched to education files from the New York City Department of Education.  The primary outcome of interest is school attendance in the school year following application to SYEP.  Additional analyses examine statewide high school math and English exams attempted and passed, and scores on these exams. 
The author finds that overall SYEP has a positive impact on school attendance of 1 to 2 percent on average, or roughly 2-3 days.  Increases are larger for students who may be at greater educational risk; those age 16 or older who did not attend school at high rates in the prior school year.  For these students, the average increase in attendance is approximately 3 percent, or 4-5 additional school days attended.  In addition, for this group SYEP increases the probability of attempting and passing English and math statewide (Regents) exams, although there is no significant effect on test scores. The increased probability of passing appears to be due to the increased probability of attempting the exams rather than improved test performance.
Research on summer jobs programs is especially salient in the current economic climate, in which the availability of summer employment for teens has decreased considerably and public funding for summer jobs has waxed and waned.  For example, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided an influx of funding for summer jobs for low-income youth but was only temporary. 
This study is one of the first to provide causal estimates of the effect of a large-scale summer youth employment program on students’ academic outcomes.  The findings suggest that, although not explicitly focused on improving educational outcomes, summer youth employment programs may be an important tool amid policy efforts to address the problem of low school attendance.   
This article was originally posted on the PACE blog: (link is external)  (link is external)

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is an independent, non-partisan research center based at Stanford University, the University of California – Berkeley, the University of Southern California, and the University of California – Davis.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Improving Math Performance- Assistant Professor Theodore Chao’s research making gains in teacher identity, student learning

The following is a wonderful recent article about Dr. Theodore Chao who is a new Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at The Ohio State University. Before accepting his position at OSU, "Teddy" completed a two year post doctoral stint at Harvard University working with Dr. Jon R. Star on a research project entitled "Helping Teachers to Use and Students to Learn From Contrasting Examples: A Scale-Up Study in Algebra I (2008-2013)" by the National Science Foundation. Before heading to Harvard, Dr. Chao was a graduate student in the STEM Education Program at The University of Texas at Austin and was a TA for me for many of my UTeach classes. Wonderful to see former students making contributions to the field as well as to their home institutions. Cheers Teddy! -Dr. Petrosino 
Mathematics doesn’t have to be taught the same way to all people.
In fact, if children are left to explore the subject on their own, parents and teachers may be surprised at the results.
“Children are natural mathematicians,” said Theodore Chao, assistant professor of mathematics education in the Department of Teaching and Learning. “But over time, we tell our kids to learn in certain ways and they stop listening to their own intuition.”
"Math teachers are diverse and math matters differently to different people."
- Assistant Professor Theodore Chao
Chao and his co-investigators are exploring this theory with the help of technology. Using his background in computer science and film and video studies, Chao developed a smartphone app that helps elementary-aged children share and discuss their math strategies with teachers. Students use the app to record short videos to explain how they solve various math problems. Teachers are then able to watch, and rewatch, how the student arrived at the answer.
Early results of the study show students are gaining better understanding of their mathematical skills; and teacher performance is improving too.
“Teachers are becoming better listeners and students are able to explain their work more clearly,” Chao said.
It’s a combination that models one of Chao’s teaching philosophies. “Good teaching is listening deeply to students and then being able to respond,” he said.
Chao and his research colleagues have already completed a preliminary study using their new learning app, Thought Bubble, but plan on additional research to test additional theories.

From programmer to professor

Chao is one of the Department of Teaching and Learning’s newest faculty members. Before becoming professor at Ohio State, he was a seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher at I.S. 318 in Brooklyn, New York – the same school where the documentary Brooklyn Castle was filmed. The film takes a look inside the middle school and the challenges and triumphs facing members of the school’s championship chess team.
His start in education began with tutoring his landlord’s son. It turned out that tutoring math was a lot more fun than computer programming for Chao. That led him to apply and be accepted to the New York City Teaching Fellows, which trains talented teachers who serve in low-income communities in New York City.
Name: Theodore Chao
Title: Assistant Professor
Program Areas: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Research Interests: Photo-elicitation and photo-voice; critical pedagogy and equity in mathematics; technology for teacher education; elementary mathematics; teacher mathematics
After being in the classroom and seeing how teachers were expected to teach and students expected to learn, Chao saw the opportunity to be a change leader.
“I really wanted to make a difference in educational policy,” he said.
To do that, he was encouraged to earn a doctorate degree so his voice, and research, could be heard.

Mixing personal, professional in the classroom

Joining the faculty at the start of the 2014-15 school year, Chao came to Ohio State after a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.
It was at Harvard where he continued to explore his dissertation research on mathematics teacher identity he started at The University of Texas. Chao’s curiosity in the topic was fueled by his own personal experiences as a math teacher.
“I always felt my identity as a math teacher was being defined for me,” he said.
As he began exploring math teacher identity more and more, it was apparent teachers were having their professional identities shaped through policies, politics and stereotypes. To get to the root of the issue, Chao looked away from traditional research methods in favor of a concept called photo-voice.
Photo-voice uses personal photographs important to an interviewee to explore different aspects of his or her life. The method allows Chao to develop narratives with mathematics teachers to understand the personal and professional sides of their identities and gain insight into emotional moments.
“It shows that math teachers are people and they are not one size fits all,” Chao said. “Math teachers are diverse and math matters differently to different people.”
Chao has already applied this research approach to the importance of identity with Latino/a teachers and now is exploring how gender, race and the “minority myth” affects how Asian American math teachers approach teaching.

The OSU opportunity

Being a student, a researcher or a professor at Ohio State comes with all kinds of opportunities to explore the topics you want to research, Chao said. The university has many connections that are a tremendous help.
“There’s a good mix of schools, teachers and administrators who do what they can to help Ohio State and the field of education,” Chao said. “And there is a definite push to interact in other disciplines across the university.”
To learn more about the mathematics education program in the College of Education and Human Ecology, explore the degree options in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematicsprogram.