Archive for the ‘Reforms in Education’ Category
I’ve mentioned TED here before, but not ever like this. Not-inventor Johnny Lee explains his innovation better than I could, but in case you don’t have YouTube where you’re accessing your Internet — where could that be? — here’s the gist:
As of September 2007, Nintendo has sold over 13 million Wii game consoles. This significantly exceeds the number of Tablet PCs in use today according to even the most generous estimates of Tablet PC sales. This makes the Wii controller one of the most common computer input devices in the world. It also happens to be one of the most sophisticated. …
Since the Wiimote can track sources of infrared light, you can track pens that have an infrared LED in the tip. By pointing a Wiimote at a projection screen or LCD display, you can create very low-cost interactive whiteboards or tablet displays. Since the Wiimote can track up to 4 points, up to 4 pens can be used. It also works great with rear-projected displays.
You can make off-brand SmartBoards with 80 percent of the name-brand functionality with 1 percent of the name-brand cost, Lee said. He estimates his system costs between $40 and $50, depending on the project. Less than a decent textbook.
In the end, all that matters to us: Will this technology add anything to the classroom?
Let’s use an example. Does CNN’s infra-tracker-screenie-thingie add anything to their broadcasts? The New York Times article that describes it uses the headline: “CNN’s Election Night Interpreter Revels in a High-Tech Toy.” Operative word: toy.
Now the debate becomes: Why the hell would you want a SmartBoard in a classroom? What ways could you use a SmartBoard in ways that don’t make it an expensive distraction?
Answer me this and I’ll make myself Lee’s SmartBoard knockoff. But not before.
Thanks to a commenter here for the link.
Local newspapers aren’t always well-written or put together well. Our local paper’s two-page Opinion section fills is half-syndicated. Naturally, all of its weaknesses are compensated by one fact: it does local news better than anyone else.
I was pleased to read this story, which is well-organized and has plenty of flavor. The pertinent summary: One of our three major local school districts has a superintendent with the fortitude to take the spot of a real student, if only to promote revenue-preserving attendance.
Eighth-grader Makel Martinez picked a bad day to miss school.
Makel and her family found themselves unexpectedly in the spotlight Wednesday as part of an ongoing crackdown on truancy in the Central Unified School District.
To make the point that coming to school every day is critical, Superintendent Marilou Ryder took Makel’s place in all of her classes at Rio Vista Middle School in northwest Fresno. She even ran the required mile in P.E., beating Makel’s previous time of 15 minutes by 60 seconds.
Having a superintendent in the classroom had fewer disruptions than you’d think:
Students were nonchalant about Ryder taking Makel’s seat among them, although throughout the day, she occasionally asked questions of her “classmates.” In the intervention class, she correctly named a general noun — dog — when teacher Mike Kimzey asked the class for an example.
She knows nouns. Impressive. I’d guess that another one of these nouns she knows is “incentive.”
Students with good attendance are rewarded with certificates and prizes, such as free food at the snack bar.
As a rural district, you might expect that Central Unified’s attendance would be hurt by its large land area and generally sparse collection of students throughout the countryside, or the high poverty throughout. Instead, the district has an average of 95 percent of its kids show up each day, beating my district by a full percent.
Ryder wants to improve the attendance rate a full 2 percent. Her “student-for-a-day” attack is only the first, flashy blow, as it will be followed up by her gigantic carrot. To wit:
Schools compete with one another for fewest absences, and get to keep half of the money from improved attendance.
That’s what I call an accountant’s headache. Good thing we’re not accountants.
We are teachers, though, so our question for contemplation: Will this work?