Games Playlist for Students

Soon, we could see teachers prepare a learning games playlist for their students. In March, a DC based startup unveiled a free web service called Legends of Learning that would help teachers assign educator-vetted games to the classroom.

Vadim Polikov, the creator of the web service calls it, “Spotify for learning games” after the online music streaming service that provides users with unlimited songs and playlists they can create. Polikov grew up with classic games such as The Oregon Trail and Civilization, but has come to the realization that most games now do not align with academic standards or teach material that is appropriate to students. Educational games can also be too long to be played in the length of time of a class session.

With Legends of Learning, teachers can create a playlist of short five minute games up to longer forty minute games with over 500 titles. Science games can be played now, but titles will be available soon for English and Math (Grades K-12). Gameplay will also be tied to virtually all state academic standards.

Teachers will also have their own online dashboard which will show the progress of each student. “What we’ve focused on is making this for teachers and, really, by teachers,” says Polikov.

From article in ASCD SmartBrief March 28, 2017

See the Quantile Framework in Action at NCTM

Are you attending the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics Annual Meeting and Exposition this week in San Antonio? Take this opportunity to learn more about the benefits of the Quantile Framework for Mathematics. We’ll be visiting the conference and meeting with some of our partners whose products utilize the power of the Quantile Framework.

Quantile partners exhibiting at the conference include: Big Ideas Learning, The College Board, Curriculum Associates, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Imagine Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Mentoring Minds and Origo. We hope to see you there!

New Partnerships Increase Use of Quantile Measures

A series of new partnerships have greatly expanded the reach of the Quantile Framework for Mathematics. In the last year, Quantile measures have been added to Pearson’s aimswebPlus and Istation’s ISIP Math. Quantile measures have also become available through state assessments in Kansas and to the 15 member states of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. These new partnerships are in addition to the numerous state level assessments and assessment products that already report student mathematical ability in Quantile measures, including Kentucky’s K-PREP, North Carolina’s NC READY, Curriculum Associates i-Ready, HMH Math Inventory and Imagine Math. Also this year, new materials and textbooks from Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Origo Publishing and Big Ideas Learning have been calibrated to the Quantile scale, adding to the dozens already featuring Quantile skill or concept measures.

Quantile measures accurately match students with instructional materials by measuring both mathematical capability and the complexity of mathematical skills and concepts on the same developmental scale. There are two types of Quantile measures: a measure for students and a measure for mathematical skills and concepts. The Quantile student measure describes what the student is prepared to learn next. The Quantile skill or concept measure describes the difficulty, or demand, in learning that skill or concept. Both measures are represented as a number followed by the letter Q (e.g., 640Q) on the Quantile scale. Quantile measures can improve mathematics teaching and learning by helping educators target instruction and determine if students are on track to pass year-end assessments and succeed in college and careers. Visit www.Quantiles.com for more information about the Quantile Framework.

Celebrate Pi Day with Rich Math Tasks!

Every year Pi Day is celebrated in classrooms across the nation. This year we are offering examples of rich math tasks on the topic of pi that have been calibrated to the Quantile Framework. Use these tasks in your Pi Day celebrations to help students make meaningful connections to the concept of pi. Visit quantiles.com/pi-day to access our Pi Day resources!

And with the roll-out of this new resource, we’re giving away a pie! What do you need to do to be eligible to win a free pie? Simply “Like” our Quantile Framework Facebook page by April 14th and you’ll be entered to win*.

*Pie giveaway for residents of the United States only. Winner will be contacted via Facebook.

Middle and High School Educators Needed For Reading Research Survey

Are you an educator who works with struggling readers in middle school or high school? Are some of your students reading at levels three years or more below what is typical for students at their grade level? We are interested in hearing from you! Please complete our online survey and participate in our research program.

We are currently conducting research designed to increase our understanding of how educators use reading materials intended to support struggling readers. This survey is just one component of our work. It is intended for educators who work primarily with middle and high school students. We are asking for your responses to these questions for two reasons—to help us understand better what various school systems and programs are doing in this area, and also to identify what appears to be “working well.”

Complete our survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/MetaMetricsSurvey.

Research Grants Offered to Educational Institutions or Researchers that Evaluate and/or Interpret EFL Reading Comprehension

In partnership with the British Council Assessment Research Group, we invite applications for research which will contribute to our understanding of the construct of EFL reading comprehension and reading comprehension assessment.

The aim of the grants is to build insights into the interaction between features of text and reading tasks that impact comprehension and can inform teaching, learning, assessment and evaluation. These grants will support researchers around the world so they can conduct and disseminate the highest quality research. Two areas of interest have been identified for these grants, reading comprehension and growth in reading comprehension over time.

For more information on the grant proposals and how to apply, visit lexile.com/research-and-publications/grant-opportunities/.

Free Lexile Resource: Online Databases

Ever wonder how to access a variety of free text resources that match your child’s or student’s reading ability? In most states across the country access to periodical database services is made available to educators, parents, students and other citizens. Some of these periodical database services provide Lexile measures for millions of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as encyclopedia and reference content. Database providers include EBSCO, Gale, Grolier, ProQuest, and others.

Through these databases, texts are made available to educators, students and parents in each state. For a list of available databases containing Lexile measured texts by state, please see our Guide to Online Periodical Databases Offering Lexile Measures. Talk to your district media services coordinator about accessing these online databases and the Lexile measured texts they contain or visit your state’s database website for more information.

Want to keep up to date on the free Lexile resources available to you? Visit Lexile.com and sign up to receive our email updates.

Literature That Will Enrich Mathematics

Embracing literature to enhance mathematics instruction in the classroom or at home benefits students by providing a richer and more meaningful perspective of mathematics. Connecting children’s literature with mathematics is an effective avenue for promoting problem solving, communicating in mathematics, and make connections between the mathematics needed in multiple disciplines. The paper “Using Children’s Literature to Teach Mathematics” presented on The Quantile® Framework for Mathematics site offers teachers and parents helpful suggestions for identifying literature that will support mathematics instruction and engage students.

An appropriate book to enhance an effective mathematics lesson should have an authentic context that includes real-life experiences, multi-cultural components, and enjoyable plots that unite mathematics and literacy. A report titled “Making Informed Choices: Selecting Children’s Trade Books for Mathematics Instruction” by S. J. Hellwig, Eula E. Monroe, and James S. Jacobs (2000) offers suggestions for identifying books that will support instruction and create meaningful and explicit connections to engage students. The article offers pointers for choosing appropriate children’s literature with mathematics topics. An appropriate book should:

  • represent mathematics and other information accurately and depict mathematics relationships correctly.
  • presents factual information, uses terminology appropriately, and portrays mathematical principles accurately.
  • includes a format and presentation that are visually and verbally appealing.
  • offers interest and pleasure without overpowering the text with mathematical processes and terminology.
  • provides a context for learners to make meaningful connections between mathematics and personal experiences.
  • easily connects the mathematical process or experience to the resolution of the story.
  • presents concepts in a way that appeals to a range of audiences and abilities.
  • appeals to a variety of interests, cultures, and/or experiences.
  • offers layers of richness beyond the predictable or expected and presents exciting new views or ideas.
  • engages students with a story that layers the unexpected with original insights or surprising events.

The study of mathematics is not just about learning mathematical processes and memorizing facts and algorithms. Mathematics becomes more visible in everyday life when students discuss the uses and advantages of applying math in various situations and recognize the necessity of mathematics in careers, personal budgets, traveling, and even games. What better way to promote those discussions when so many children’s books are available to add fun and interest to topics in mathematics?

Who Schooled the Senate?

By Malbert Smith III, Ph.D. and Andrew Ashley

As in all elections, we tend to divide candidates up with binaries, such as Left/Right, Republican/Democrat, Establishment/Outsider. Yet, another binary we could use is Publicly/Privately educated. As we sit mired in an election cycle where the nation’s public schools, the Department of Education, and the cost of college tuition come under scrutiny, we decided to examine how members of the U.S. Senate were educated in high school. We also looked at the education of the candidates for U.S senate races this cycle who hope to unseat the sitting senators.

Despite many reports on the profession, ethnicity, gender, military service, and age of the 114th Congress, a neglected variable has been how many members attended public or private schools during their K–12 education. In order to shed light on this, we decided to research where senators graduated from high school. In the aggregate we found that 74 senators attended public school and 26 attended private school. The number of senators who attended private school is considerably higher than the national average. According to the 2010 census, approximately 1.3 million students went to private high school out of the 16.16 million students attending high school across the nation. This means that about 8% of the country is going to private high schools, considerably lower than the Senate. And thirty years ago it was similar a trend. According to the 1980 census, 9% of high school students were in private schools. Of the 44 Democratic senators, 29 graduated from public high schools while 15 graduated from private ones. Republican senators have a higher concentration of public school graduates, as 43 Republican senators graduated from public high schools. Eleven Republican senators graduated from private schools.

Some senators even attended the same high school. Senator, and Democratic primary presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders (VT-I) and Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D) both attended the James Madison High School, a public high school in Brooklyn, New York. Senator Patrick Toomey (PA-R) and Senator Jack Reed (RI-D) both attended the private La Salle Academy in Providence Rhode Island. Though neither set were in high school at the same time.

Of the 16 members on the Senate subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education we found that 12 attended public schools. Four attended private schools.

Perhaps more striking than whether senators graduated from public or private high school, however, is how many senators choose to send their children to private schools. Members of Congress are considerably more likely to send their children to private schools than the national average. The Heritage Foundation has monitored congressional children’s education for many years. According to the 2009 report (Burke, 2009), 55% of U.S. senators sent all their children to public school. However, 45% sent at least one child to private school. This is relatively similar among Democrats and Republicans as, in the 2009 survey, 43% of Democratic senators sent at least one child to private school while 47% of Republican senators did so. As Catherine Cushinberry states, as quoted in a recent article in the Atlantic, not being a public-school parent still amounts to a detachment from the laws regarding education one hopes to make.

We expanded our search to examine where the candidates for U.S. Senate in 2016 went to school. While we could not find information on every candidate, as many are newer to the public limelight and their high school education has not yet been reported (and some primaries have not finished at the writing of this article), we were able to glean the education of 24 of the 31 candidates (for 26 senate seats). Overwhelmingly, the candidates have public education backgrounds. Of the 24 candidates, only five candidates graduated from private schools. Of these, Evan Bayh (IN-D) graduated from the prestigious St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. while his father served in the senate for Indiana; Chris van Hollen (MD-D) graduated from the Middlesex School, a preparatory school in Massachusetts where his grandfather taught, while his father served as U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and  Katie McGinty (PA-D), Jason Kander (MO-D), and John Caroll (HI-R) all graduated from catholic schools in their hometowns..

During this quest, we discovered finding information on senators schooling can be cumbersome. Finding information on all 100 sitting senators was difficult and for this reason we did not look into the 435 members of the House of Representatives. We believe it shouldn’t be so arduous to track down this information. As members of the 115th Congress convene in January of 2017 and begin to debate and craft educational legislation, we would encourage them to disclose their K-12  educational experience. The public’s confidence in our elected members would only be enhanced by such transparency.

Math Circles Help Develop Students’ Problem Solving Skills

At MetaMetrics, we get excited when we see enthusiastic students and educators in our community! Just down the street from our offices is exactly what you can find on Saturday mornings: students, parents, and educators working together to solve challenging math problems as part of the Chapel Hill Math Circle headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What is a math circle? A math circle is a group of students of any grade level coming together to share their passion for math through exploring challenging math problems or special topics. Math circles benefit students by providing the chance for them to solve unfamiliar problems in unique ways. In traditional math classrooms, students often learn a new skill and then immediately apply that skill to a set of practice problems. This process does not give students the opportunity to determine which mathematical concept or solution strategy should be applied to a given problem. In math circles, students see problems out of context from classroom instruction, which helps them develop the ability to solve problem, make arguments, critique others’ reasoning, and persevere through difficult tasks.

In the Chapel Hill Math Circle’s beginning group, students in first- through third-grade solve problems such as this one:

A male parrot and a female parrot are talking. The one with a yellow tail says, “I’m a boy.” The one with a blue tail says, “I’m a girl.” If at least one of them is lying, who is who? Explain your answer.

This is an example of the type of problems the advanced group of high school students would solve:

A polyhedron is made up of pentagons and hexagons. How many pentagons must there be? Prove that no other number of pentagons is possible.

These problems are designed to solicit deep thinking and require students to try multiple solution strategies, collaborate, propose and test conjectures, and communicate ideas using valid mathematical arguments. At the end of the school year, the math circle concludes with a Julia Robinson Math Festival, a full day of problem solving, games, and prizes, all related to math!

For more information about math circles, including how to find a math circle near you or how to start your own math circle, visit the National Association of Math Circles at https://www.mathcircles.org/. For more information specifically about the Chapel Hill Math Circle and the corresponding Triangle Math Teachers’ Circle that provides professional development for local teachers, visit https://chapelhillmathcircle.org/. For more information on the Julia Robinson Math Festival, visit http://jrmf.org/.

math-circle

Photo Courtesy of the Chapel Hill Math Circle

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.