8 things every teacher can do to create an innovative classroom
Innovation can’t be tested or graded, but it can be built up. Here's how.
How to get more girls into high tech
After their first week of coding class, 20 high school girls taught their robots to dance to The Cupid Shuffle. Cupid chanted, “To the right to the right to the right,” and the little red robots turned right. He sang “To the left to the left to the left,” and the robots turned left. But it wasn’t the song the robot was following, it was the instructions the girls wrote out in code to match the song.
During a seven-week summer course put on by the national organization Girls Who Code and hosted by Florida International University, the students conferred with each other as they puzzled out solutions and wrote lines of code at the front of the classroom so the others could follow their logic, then in small groups, tested their results on the robots.
That high school juniors and seniors studying computers wasn’t unusual. What made this class different was that it was aimed at giving girls more confidence in what remains an overwhelmingly male, and sometimes hostile, field — one that trails engineering, medicine and most other sciences in opening career doors for young women.
Less than 20 percent of bachelor degrees in computer science are conferred on women, even though they make up 57 percent of students who earn bachelors degrees and half of the students who earn a degree in the sciences overall. That is reflected in the workforce, where only 26 percent of computer and math jobs are held by women. Educators are only now beginning to address issues that start when kids are very young.
“Have we noticed a gender gap? Absolutely,” said Cristian Carranza, a director in the Office of Academics and Transformation of Miami-Dade schools, which in the fall will begin adding computer science to classroom work for students as early as kindergarten. “We struggle with that ... That has been the battle for everybody.”
Carranza recalled a Miami-Dade schools expo — a science fair — where most of the winners were girls. As he congratulated the winners, he asked what career they were interested in. Many answered law, business or other non-science vocations.
“They have aptitude, they are doing really, really well, but they are choosing career paths that don’t reflect the aptitude they show at the expo,” he said. “If they choose science, it’s usually medical. Why? I don’t know why.”
Educators are finding it’s not the coding that is difficult. It’s the combination of social factors: Girls are less likely than boys to play video and computer games, so are less familiar with computers.
They don’t know the range of things — fun activities now, careers later — that can be done on computers. Boys may tell them computers and robotics and machines “aren’t for girls.”
App of the Week: Great math app for young learners with special needs
Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review. Todo Math What’s It Like? Todo means all in Spanish — and this app is designed for all kids, including those with learning differences such as deficits in auditory [ Read More ]
Rand McNally launches new digital edition classroom atlas
Rand McNally's Classroom Atlas is now available in digital format to help students interact with the world with the touch of an iPad.
This is the latest innovative educational tool that Rand McNally has introduced to help teachers incorporate geography across the curriculum in social studies, history and geography, as well as reading programs and writing lesson plans.
From pull-down wall maps and printed atlases to 21st century digital tools, Rand McNally's products promote global literacy by helping students learn about the world around them.
"Rand McNally has always been a leader in keeping students connected to the world," said Stephen Fletcher, CEO of Rand McNally. "As technology advances in education, Rand McNally's digital tools enable students to learn more effectively--not just in the classroom but at home or anywhere."
Available now in Apple's iBooks Store, this digital book includes more than 100 physical, political, and thematic maps plus vivid photographs and graphs--all accessible without an Internet connection.
Students can flip through the Classroom Atlas, tap images and content to highlight and add notes to reference later. The interactive format also makes it easier for students to magnify a particular region on a map for a closer look.
For teachers, the Classroom Atlas has great learning tools to use as quiz material, including questions to teach students how to think critically, and brain teasers.
Beyond its 100-plus maps, the Classroom Atlas features:
Graphs and charts to illustrate information from the map, and photographs to show students how the features shown on the map look in the real world.
Did you know? questions presenting interesting facts about the world.
What if? questions asking students to use information from the atlas and other sources to think critically to answer a question.
Key geographical terms in an alphabetical glossary.
Chapter on world facts and comparisons.
In addition to the new Classroom Atlas, Rand McNally's World Atlas is available as a digital online educational tool.
A PD model that creates experts, not robots
Why one ELA department dropped sit-and-get seminars in favor of a model of real, ongoing courses that turn out experts.