eSchool News

eSchool News
eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
  • 7 digital resources for students learning English or any other language
    language-duolingoIn classrooms all across the country, old-fashioned textbooks and stodgy lesson plans are sucking the life out of language learning. These classes leave so many learners apathetic or frustrated as they recite scripted dialog or memorize an endless litany of verb conjugations. Who said that language learning had to be so boring? These days, thanks
  • Can simple games make kids better at math?
    math jhuKindergartners participating in a Johns Hopkins study demonstrated increased math performance after exercising their intuitive number sense with a computer game. “Math ability is not static—it’s not the case that if you’re bad at math, you’re bad at it the rest of your life. It’s not only changeable, it can be changeable in a very short period of time,” said Jinjing “Jenny” Wang, a graduate student in the Krieger School of Arts and Science’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “We used a five-minute game to change kids’ math performance.” Humans and animals are born with an intuitive sense of quantities and can demonstrate this knowledge as infants, researchers said. For instance, when presented with a choice between a plate with a few crackers and another with more of them, even a baby will gravitate to the option with more. This intuition about number is called the “approximate number system.” Watch a video of the math research in action. Although this primitive sense of number is imprecise, and therefore quite different than the numerical exactitude of mathematics, studies have shown the two abilities are linked. For instance, researchers from this same research group have demonstrated that a strong gut sense of approximate number can predict school math ability. But until now, no one has shown that grooming that gut sense could make a child better at math. Next page: Can improved intuitive number ability lead to improved math ability? “That’s the big question,” Wang said. “If we can improve people’s intuitive number ability, can we also improve their math ability?” The findings, due to appear in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, are now available online. The researchers created a five-minute computer game to train the intuitive number sense of 40 five-year-olds. Blue dots and yellow dots flashed on a laptop screen and the children were asked to indicate whether there were more blue ones or more yellow ones quickly, without counting. Children received feedback after each trial. After correct responses, a pre-recorded voice told them, “That’s right.” After wrong answers, they heard, “Oh, that’s not right.” Some of the kids started with easier questions that gradually became harder. Other kids started with the hard questions, and a third group worked through a mix of hard and easy problems.
  • Cyber security course for teachers includes lessons on hacking
    cyber securityA new cyber security course teaches educators to hack code, encrypt, and more. The goal? Learning what to look out for.
  • The latest in K-12 learning trends
    news picEvery Friday, I’ll recap some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week. I can’t fit all of this week's news stories here, though, so feel free to visit and read up on other news you may have missed. This week, we're taking you on a virtual tour of some of the latest developments and trends in K-12 learning, including flipped and blended learning, marketplace updates, and flexible learning spaces and their influence on active learning. Read on for more: How flexible learning spaces improve active learning Within flexible learning spaces, students work in teams to design and build parts for forestry machines, market a college radio station, or even launch their own start-up company. To complete these activities, they use the same technologies that professionals in those fields would use to do their jobs. This district’s blended learning program is putting struggling readers back on track A blended approach is helping reading intervention students transition to grade-level classes in a semester or less Marketplace trend update: 6 new products, teaching strategies, and learning initiatives What does it take to improve learning for all student populations, support positive school environments, and ensure school leaders at all levels are equipped with the skills and tools they need to maintain successful learning environments? The short answer: It takes a lot, but companies and researchers are up to the challenge. We’ve gathered some of the latest and most relevant marketplace news to keep you up-to-date on product developments, teaching and learning initiatives, and new trends in education. This new tool makes the flipped classroom more social Flipping your class by having students watch lecture videos for their homework can lead to richer discussions about the content, but only if students come to class prepared. And having them watch a video lecture at home “simply takes a technique that didn’t work in person and puts in online,” said Harvard University physics professor Eric Mazur.
  • 4 policies driving student performance in Finland and Japan
    student performanceTeacher preparation in Finland, Japan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong builds deep understanding of the content being taught in elementary schools, as well as of how young students learn and understand that content—two essential components of highly effective teaching--and this is a key element of high student performance, according to a new report. The National Center on Education and the Economy’s (NCEE) Center on International Education Benchmarking's (CIEB) new report, Not So Elementary: Primary School Teacher Quality in Top-Performing Systems, gives new insights into this critical driver of the success of the world's top-performing education systems—developing elementary teachers with deep content knowledge. High-performing education systems recognize that a strong foundation in the core subjects in the early grades increases the chances that all students will achieve at higher levels throughout their schooling, according to the report, which also gives guidance on what the United States can learn from these systems to strengthen teaching in elementary schools. "Not So Elementary underscores the reality for teaching in today's world: the best education systems have identified deep content knowledge as a critical component of highly effective instructional systems, starting with elementary teachers," said NCEE President and CEO Marc Tucker. "Countries whose high school graduates are among the world’s best-educated can recruit their teachers from the middle of the range of their graduating seniors, but countries like the United States whose high school graduates are not among the world’s best educated are asking for real trouble by recruiting their teachers from the lower ranges of high school graduates. We now face an enormous challenge: raising the segment of high school graduates from which we recruit our elementary school teachers, demanding much deeper grounding of prospective teachers in the subjects they will teach, and, at the same time, raising the game of the teachers already in our schools." "The countries with the best-performing education systems are recruiting very able students from their high schools, and investing heavily in the initial training and continuous development of their teachers to ensure that they have a deep understanding of the subject they will teach and the most effective ways to teach that subject to their students. Without a deep understanding of the subjects being taught in elementary school, a teacher will not be able to identify the specific misunderstandings of the underlying concepts that defeat students and cannot help them grasp the concepts that constitute the essential foundation for more advanced work in middle and high school." In the report, leading Australian researcher Ben Jensen describes how high-performing countries ensure that their elementary teachers have strong content knowledge. They have done so by focusing on the selection of teachers, content specialization, initial teacher education, and professional learning systems in their schools. These four policy levers, combined with a well-integrated and highly effective education system as a whole, serve as a powerful means of improving student learning.
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