Beta Version of Free ‘Find a Book’ Mobile App Now Available

Today MetaMetrics launched “Find a Book” Mobile Beta.  Available in the Android marketplace, we wish to subject our app to a round of testing by the users we designed it for….you! You can download “Find a Book” Mobile Beta at: http://bit.ly/Qk9Yqi.

The mobile app has the same popular features as the “Find a Book” website. Upon downloading the app, Android users can:

  • Match yourself, your child, or student to the books of best fit based on reading ability (Lexile measure) and personal interests
  • Allow a user without a Lexile measure to search for books by estimating his or her Lexile measure based on comfort with grade-level materials
  • Search for books using a quick keyword search
  • Browse through the entire Lexile titles database
  • View a book detail page containing bibliographical and summary information for every title
  • Check the availability of books in your local, public library by accessing OCLC’s database of more than 125,000 titles in WorldCat
  • Map directions to the closet library with your book selection(s)
  • Buy your book selection(s) with a Barnes & Noble® quick link
  • Log in with your Lexile account
  • Store books for offline viewing

The power of “Find a Book” connects readers with texts based on their personal interests and their reading ability (Lexile measure) to improve reading skills. “Find a Book” enables students, teachers, librarians and parents to find books within a reader’s recommended Lexile range: 100L below to 50L above his or her Lexile measure. Reading books within this optimal Lexile range will challenge the individual’s reading ability, while still maintaining interest and learning. Now available on-the-go, readers of all ages can connect with the books of best fit by downloading “Find a Book” Mobile Beta!

One Box at a Time

Because many states have less tax revenue to distribute, many school system budgets have been drastically cut.  This is distressing news for anyone who cares deeply about education. However there are a few projects that have been successfully raising large amounts of money for schools dealing with declining budgets. One of those projects is “Box Tops for Education”

Box Tops for Education is a project that encourages consumers to cut the box tops from different General Mills products and collect them for local schools.  This easy system has helped make Box Top for Education the most successful school fundraiser. This year it took in over 700 million box tops and generated 74 million dollars for schools. This 74 million dollar payment is an increase from 33 million dollars in the past 5 years. While this fundraising scheme has its critics – those that fear corporate marketing being intertwined with education – they are few and far between.  And most schools are happy for the infusion of revenue.

Clearly the Box Tops for Education program is beneficial to states dealing with budget shortfalls.   It can provide the necessary resources so students can have the proper materials to learn. Organizations, companies, and charities need to look at Box Tops for Education as a model to be duplicated and learned from to create other ways to generate school funding.

Math Differentiation in a Common Core World

Just last week, I was invited to speak at the CCSSO Rural Chiefs Conference in Kansas City on the topic of “Supporting Math Differentiation in a Common Core World”.  While there is much written and discussed on the idea of differentiated instruction, in practice there are limited tools and resources to support math differentiation, a deficiency well-documented in this recent Ed Week article, ‘’Educators in Search of Common Core Resources”.

A theme permeating much of my presentation was the seemingly benign but pernicious neglect of math in our country.  By almost any measure, e.g. instructional time, professional development, number of assessments ,instructional programs, etc… math runs a distant second to reading in the amount of instructional attention given.  At least part of the challenge we face in addressing our math crisis in k-12 education will require that we remedy this neglect.

In my suggestions for addressing this imbalance I focused on four critical strategies. While the adoption of the CCSS is a huge first step in the right direction, its real success will rest upon how effectively we implement these standards.  Along with the implementation of these standards, it is critical that we recognize that math – like any other skill – can be learned.  Too often we subscribe, consciously and unconsciously, to the notion that math achievement is an inherent ability, as if math achievement was based on a “math gene”.  If we take more of a Carolyn Dwek growth perspective, as opposed to a fixed mind set, we will go a long way toward promoting the idea that math achievement is possible for all of our students.

Secondly, we need to build math tools and resources that support differentiated instruction.  Once, when leading a math workshop for a school district, the head of the math department informed me, tongue in cheek, that all math teachers know how to differentiate instruction:  “We say it louder and we repeat it”. This RV (repetition and volume) model is likely to only work if the student is hearing impaired.  Yet I suspect we have all seen variations of this model, this when we continue to drill a student on a math problem or concept to no avail.  Meaningful differentiated instruction is really only possible when we are able to measure a student’s math level and the difficulty of the math concepts and skills on a common scale.  This possibility is now a reality with the Quantile Framework for Mathematics.  Once you know a student’s Quantile measure you know what math skills they are ready to learn.  And just as importantly, one can make sure that the learner has acquired the necessary pre-requisite skills.  Unfortunately, we often continue to employ the “RV” model and fail to drill down and provide differentiated content and instruction to meet the unique needs of the learner. (more…)

Chief’s Summer Reading Challenge

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our state participants who have joined us for the 2012 Chief’s Summer Reading Challenge. The Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with MetaMetrics®, created this national, state-led summer reading initiative to bolster student reading achievement during summer break. The “Chief’s Summer Reading Challenge” raises national awareness of the summer loss epidemic, shares compelling research on the importance of personalized reading activities to counteract summer loss and provides access to variety of free online resources to support targeted reading.

We are joined by many of last year’s state participants, including: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina. We’ve also brought on board several new states, including: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.

This year’s participants have done a tremendous job planning and implementing summer reading campaigns and also hosting related events. Recently, we had the opportunity to work with both Florida and Kentucky’s First Ladies. Florida’s First Lady, Ann Scott recently kicked off the Florida Department of Education’s 2012 Summer Literacy Adventure. First Lady of Kentucky, Jane Beshear, joined the Kentucky Department of Education in supporting summer reading and encouraged children to use the “Find a Book” tool.

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois were instrumental in promoting their respected state summer reading initiatives. Last month, MetaMetrics President and Co-founder, Dr. Malbert Smith joined Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to kick off the “Read Kansas Read” statewide summer reading program. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn joined Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch in urging educators and parents to ensure students commit to reading during summer vacation.

With your efforts we continue to combat the effects of “Summer Reading Loss,” while enabling students to grow in their reading ability and love for reading. These efforts will help to ultimately prepare students for the reading demands of college and their future careers.

Please join us – pledge to read this summer at www.lexile.com/fab!

TedEd: Lessons Worth Sharing

Khan Academy has caught the attention of policy-makers, innovators, educators and students around the world.  Khan’s ability to take complex academic material and break it down into small, accessible, video-chunks of information have turned the industrialized, cohort model of education – where each student proceeds at the same pace – on its head.  Because Khan Academy lessons are offered through video, each student can proceed at their own pace, accessing information on-demand and reviewing lessons or difficult concepts as needed.  Khan Academy offers a much more individualized model of education, one where the student determines the pace and proceeds as their understanding progresses.

Now TED – the video and conference group that has long offered interesting lectures on a variety of topics – has taken a cue from Khan Academy is offering TedEd – an online forum where educators can share lessons:

TED-Ed is launching a suite of tools that allow teachers to design their own web-assisted curricula, complete with videos, comprehension-testing questions, and conversational tools. TED-Ed provides a template — think Power Point slides, with populate-able fields — that teachers can fill in with customized content: lesson titles, lesson links, student names, embedded video, test questions, and the like. Once saved, a lesson generates a unique URL, which allows teachers to track which students have watched assigned videos, how they’ve responded to follow-up questions, and, in general, how they’ve interacted with the lesson itself.

TED’s efforts are worth noting because they move the teacher from the center of the education experience and make the student the center of the learning experience.  But the content – the learning material itself – is provided by teachers through a variety of formats.  As we move from a traditional, industrialized conception of education toward an individualized model where students can proceed at different paces and in their own style, TedEd offers a compelling vision of what might be possible.

Click here to give it a try.

BiblioNasium: Social Media for Young Readers

Just in time for Summer, BiblioNasium has launched a virtual reading village for kids ages 6-12.  Using BiblioNasium, young readers can connect with peers, teachers and parents.  BiblioNasium functions as a sort of social networking platform for children, a platform where readers can exchange information about books they’ve read, offer reviews, and explore other titles that interest them.  Students can explore books based on their interests, an author, a title or series, and their Lexile reading level.  Best of all, BiblioNasium offers students a chance to interact with other readers in a safe online space.

If you haven’t yet taken a look, be sure to visit BiblioNasium and get your kids reading today.

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.