Saturday, March 21, 2009

Research-based....bah hambug

I received an email inquiry from a bright-eyed new teacher which somehow triggered this response from me....

Inquiry: I am trying to find out if is research-based. I am an undergraduate student. I am not working on research so much as finding the best resources to help a student that I am working with. I need the resources that I use to be research-based. As a prospective teacher, I am keeping track of good resources to use in my classroom someday.

My rant of an answer:

Here's my two cents on research-based. It is very expensive to get something properly researched. Consequently, the reseach-based concept is badly undermined. For instance, I might go through the effort refining and documenting as research-based. Frankly, I'm considering it. I could then promote it as research-based. People would look at the article on research-based and be comforted and be able to use it.

Research-based might actually mean that I hire a professor to write a report citing references that support this approach. And, perhaps, we take three groups of 3rd grade students, teach with SpellingCity versus some other approach, and document that their spelling improved.

So, how does that tell a tutor of a student, in a one-on-one situation, perhaps a child with APD or ADD or gifted or mainstream, whether this is a good list to use or not for that particular student's needs?

How does that guide a teacher who already has a superior approach to teaching spelling?

What about 1st graders? Fifth graders?

In short, I've generally seen research-based labels used to promote all sorts of things in all sorts of places when in fact, the research had next to nothing to do with the questions being asked.

Here's an intereting point: By restricting spending government money on research-proven initiatives, teachers risk losing confidence in their own judgement and common sense. And students in public schools are inevitably denied use of any new services or anything from a company that does not have extravagent funding. This is probably why charter schools, private schools, and homeschoolers have much better educational experiences than those students in public schools.

Keep thinking on your own to evaluate what's useful and what's not.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Math Facts

The math facts start with addition and continue through addition. In addition to getting a firm conceptual understanding of what they mean, the kids need to memorize them. What are the best online tools for this?

Of note,
Time4Learning's Math Facts

Do you know how deaf you are?

I've often thought an online hearing test could be a great service. Also a great business. Here's someone doing some work in this direction. They have an unscientific list of tones that go from 8Hz all the way up to 22,000Hz. It’s fairly common for people who are over 25 years of age to not be able to hear above 15Hz, so this will help you find out where your high frequency hearing cuts off.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hottest Trends in Educational Choice

I tried the other day on the back of a napkin with a friend who is also involved in education to try to summarize the current K12 educational choices and trends.

We have each read many reports on many pieces of the puzzle but at the end of the day, these are our impressions of what the nationwide statistics look like at the start of 2009. Would anyone care to share their data or opinions?

The red hot growth trend in K12 education is the public virtual schools which are approaching 1% of the K12 population. It is growing at a rate of about 40% annually.

Three growth trends that had their moment as the hot growth trends but which are just simmering at this point:

Charter schools - 1% of the K12 population growing 20% annually
Homeschooling - 2% of the K12 population growing 20% annually
Magnet schools - 1% of the K12 population growing 20% annually