I know firsthand how tough math can be to learn. I took a summer session of algebra in high school and struggled to complete calculus during the summer, just weeks before graduating.
The hardest part of calculus, for me, was doing the algebra correctly that underpins most everything else you do. And calculus is the dreaded gateway to most bachelor of science degrees.
As is the case with all math, the building-block approach is particularly crucial with algebra; miss something early on and you’ve got a hard-to-fill gap later.
So, as anyone who has read my stories or this blog in the last few months can tell, math instruction is a reporting interest of mine. More accurately, how to improve math instruction is a reporting interest of mine.
When I read about a new online algebra module from the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board, I was intrigued.
The SREB Digital Algebra Content Module was developed by the state education departments of Maryland, Georgia and Louisiana. The module is available to all state “virtual” schools in the SREB’s 16-state area. Unlike full online algebra courses, according to SREB, the module gives students a strong foundation in linear functions — one of the hardest concepts to teach in an already tough subject.
For more information, contact SREB at (404) 875-9211.
If you have any suggestions as to how to improve math — and particularly algebra — instruction, please share them with me. I’d like to get a conversation going.
The National Merit Scholarship Corp. has announced more college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners.
The group joins more than 2,200 others nationwide who were announced in May.
Officials from each sponsor college select winners from among finalists who will attend their institution.
College-sponsored awards provide $500 to $2,000 a year for up to four years of undergraduate study.
This year 194 colleges and universities are sponsoring some 4,600 Merit Scholarship awards. Sponsor colleges are located in 44 states and Washington, D.C., and include 115 private schools and 79 public schools.
This group of winners brings the total number of recipients of Merit Scholarships to approximately 8,200. The college-sponsored awards they receive are worth $34 million.
Over the past 52 years, more than 250,000 students have won awards worth more than $865 million.
To see the latest list of Oklahoma recipients, click here.
Eight Oklahoma County teachers recently attended the 18th annual PACE (Programs Advancing Citizenship Education) Institute put on by the Oklahoma Bar Association at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City.
Participating teachers were Julia Cook, Central Middle School of Edmond; Beth Evans, Edmond Memorial High School; Michael Harris, Southeast High School; Kyla Kaufman, Telstar Elementary; Cindy Persons, Oklahoma City Adult Learning Center; Amber O’Brien, Westmoore High School; Briget Powell, Ruth Dropkins Headstart; and Candace West, Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The teachers received full scholarships to attend the institute.
“The goal of the PACE Institute is to help Oklahoma students become better informed and more active citizens,” OBA Law-related Education Coordinator Jane McConnell said in a press release. “We expose teachers to various topics in citizenship education and help them develop more creative methods for presenting the material to their students. We also encourage them to develop and share their own strategies in teaching law-related education.”
During the week, participants examined the various aspects of the Oklahoma judicial system, tribal courts, citizenship education and public policy. Court visits, workshops and speakers also were part of the week.
The teachers were teamed with mentors experienced in civic education.
More than 1,000 Central Oklahoma students — 1,570, to be exact — have made the 2006-07 National Honor Roll, the Lynbrook, N.Y-based group announced this week.
The honor roll recognizes high-achieving middle school and high school students.
Honor roll induction can include benefits beyond recognition: Twenty-five inductees will share $25,000, to be awarded in December. Also, the honor roll notifies colleges of students’ induction to the honor roll. A copy of each student’s biography also is sent.
The honor roll contacts potentially qualifying students to submit information about their GPAs, interests, activities and goals. Only students with a “B” average or better are eligible for inclusion on the list. Two-thirds of 2006-07 inductees had an “A-” average or better. Almost one-quarter were seniors.
Obviously there are too many names for us to publish, even on a blog. To see the list, click here.
Members of the A+ Alliance say they are pleased to hear last night’s remarks from Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent John Q. Porter and his plans for the new John Marshall High School. The group formed in response to the need for a public school that served their neighborhoods on the far northwest side of town, and the problems that kept the school in the public eye.
Porter spoke at Thursday’s John Marshall: Steps for Success committee meeting before the committee voted to disband after Aug. 30.
“Dr. Porter is a breath of fresh air for this district and the New John Marshall. He recognizes and acknowledges that problems do exist and he is determined to remedy them, to do what is best for the children and to the satisfaction of the Oklahoma City taxpayers. We will strongly support and hold him accountable as he proceeds and makes what are sure to be difficult, yet necessary decisions,” A+ Alliance spokeswoman Lesli Massad said in a press release.
A large number of parents and community members have attended and been actively involved with the efforts of the Steps for Success committee from its inception. However, many have been reluctant to get involved out of fear that this would simply be an effort in futility and that nothing would change — that the status quo would remain, according to the release.
“We are so pleased that finally our voices have been heard. Dr. Porter knows that changes are necessary if this school and this district are going to be competitive. He also knows that there are a lot of disenfranchised customers out here and he needs to develop a quality product to increase demand. I look forward to what Dr. Porter will do and will assist him in any way I can,” Lyn Watson another A+ Alliance spokeswoman, said in the release.
“As a result of last night’s meeting, the A+ Alliance is already working to encourage all of its members to offer their support to Dr. Porter, as well as to the school’s new principal and its entire administration. It indeed takes a village, but it also takes a leader and in Dr. Porter we finally have a strong leader,” according to the release.
I can’t claim to be a huge Harry Potter fan — I don’t have anything against the franchise but have only seen one movie and haven’t read any of the books — but this looks really fun.
Omniplex Science Museum will celebrate the release of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” with an all-night event this evening.
Activities focused on revealing the science behind Harry Potter will be offered throughout the evening, with participants traveling to Cinemark Tinseltown for a showing of the movie.
After the film, participants return to Omniplex to spend the night in the museum. Previous Harry Potter films will be shown all night.
The event is designed for students in kindergarten through middle school and their parents or sponsors. Adults must accompany all children and groups.
Staff and some participants will be dressed in Harry Potter costumes.
Participants may play giant games of chess or Quidditch -– the popular Harry Potter game.
Surprisingly, at least to me, no Oklahoma school districts were included in The Rural School and Community Trust’s “Rural 400″ poorest districts list as detailed in the Virginia-based organization’s June “Rural Policy Matters” newsletter.
Texas has the most districts on the list, with seven; Arizona has 38; Kentucky has 20; New Mexico has 19; Mississippi has 26; California has 40; Louisiana has seven; Alabama has nine and West Virginia has seven.
In other words, 80 percent of “Rural 400″ students are in the above nine states.
The organization identified the 7,604 districts nationwide with at least 50 percent of students attending schools in rural communities. The group then identified the 400 districts with the highest Title I eligibility rate.
The poorest 400 rural districts are spread among 29 states and educate about 478,000 children a year, the organization reported.
The 400 districts constitute about 5 percent of all rural districts but educate about 13 percent of all rural Title I students. The districts range from two to 16,958 students.
Also interesting: The organization reported that enrollment in public schools in rural communities with fewer than 2,500 people from 2002-05 increased by 15 percent nationwide.
Any thoughts on this?
The president of the American Federation of Teachers on Thursday called for extending the school year.
Edward J. McElroy proposed pushing the year into the summer to provide intensive instruction and enriching out-of-classroom activities for at-risk kindergartners through third-graders. McElroy was speaking before more than 2,000 educators and paraprofessionals at the AFT’s national professional issues conference, according to a union press release.
“We are simply losing too many children during the long summer months, when they forget much of what they learned during the school year. Struggling students need additional instruction, enrichment and more time,” McElroy said, according to the release.
The proposal is designed to keep students from losing what they’ve learned while off for the summer. McElroy proposed that the summer extension last a minimum of 20 days.
“The summer extension would offer struggling students instructional methods proven to be effective, as well as enriching experiences such as museum visits, educational field trips and other summer activities,” according to the release.
State Superintendent Sandy Garrett on Tuesday called for increasing the school day by one hour and increasing the school year by five days, saying the changes would help make Oklahoma students competitive with their regional and international peers.
I attended a session this afternoon at Sandy Garrett’s leadership conference, an annual gathering of educators, that dealt with how the anti-illegal immigration law that passed this session will affect schools.
To educators’ relief, the answer appears to be: not much. So says Teresa Rose, an attorney with the Center for Education Law in Oklahoma City.
Rose said it was her understanding that legislators mitigated the bill’s effects on schools. It does apply to school districts as it does to other employers by requiring them to verify the immigration status of employees; that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Regarding students, however, things are different. Schools can’t ask about immigration status and must offer education regardless. This has been around for some time and stems from court decisions.
Rose said schools that issued ID cards or other documents could continue to do so, and didn’t have to verify immigration status, but had to ensure language was clearly printed on the front of cards that specified they were to be used only for that campus, district, building, etc., and not as a legal form of ID.
A section of the law that deals with bus and other forms of transportation is contravened because schools can’t check immigration status. If a school can’t check status, there’s no way it can know whether an illegal immigrant is riding the bus, the reasoning goes.
“The way (the law) impacts you as school districts is pretty limited,” Rose said.
People have responded to Tulsa Public Schools is asking for donations to help flood-stricken residents.
Today, volunteers with Mary Martha Outreach of Bartlesville will load a truck at the TPS Education Service Center and will deliver the cargo to Washington County. The outreach will continue through Friday at noon. Afterward, TPS will deliver a load of supplies to Miami.
TPS is still collecting donations. If you’re interested in giving something, call the service center at (918) 746-6800.