Roundup IV

 

Want smarter kids? Space them at least two years apart. … In a new study, a University of Notre Dame economist found that siblings spaced more than two years apart have higher reading and math scores than children born closer together. The positive effects were seen only in older siblings, not in younger ones. At least part of the difference to older children is attributed to getting more of their parents’ time during the first formative years of their lives before a younger sibling comes along (Journal of Human Resources)

• • •

“There’s no question that a great teacher can make a huge difference in a student’s achievement, and we need to recruit, train and reward more such teachers. But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.” – so says author Thomas Friedman in an op-ed in The New York Times.

• • •

As students get down to the crunch of finalizing their college list and/or choosing from among the schools to which they are accepted, I urge them to take a moment to visit www.studentsreview.com. The site has more than 100,000 brutally honest reviews from students currently attending 3,000 different schools. It is also fun for alums of a specific school to read what current students are enjoying and complaining about today.

• • •

The idea of students, even motivated students, spending their spare time enjoying math workbooks seems a bit quaint these days. There are, however, some fantastic math apps that your kids might enjoy while killing time in the car, at a siblings soccer game, etc. Top 11, courtesy of www.gettingsmart.com are (most are free):

  • 1. Visual Math: KickBox and KickBox Lite. This is an addictive multistep thinking game from MIND Research Institute featuring JiJi the penguin
  • 2. Numbers: Elevated Math, great for grades four to eight. According to the site, this app can be used for SAT and ACT studying
  • 3. Numbers: Motion Math Zoon is, a free app for elementary students, helps kids learn numbers and decimals.
  • 4. Geometry: iCross helps students dive into geometry concepts with 3D drawings and descriptions of shapes
  • 5. Algebra: HMH Fuse brings an Algebra 1 textbook to life with interactive graphs, tools and equations.
  • 6. Algebra: Algebra Pro features an interactive workbook with 100 practice questions and support videos.
  • 7. Calculus: Video Calculus. More than two hours worth of free calculus instruction through visual videos.
  • 8. Probability & Statistics: Statistics 1 for iPad – interactive tutorials, lessons and quizzes to learn statistics.
  • 9. Applying Math: Rocket Math. Students complete math problems in order to build their own rockets and explore space with 56 math missions. All ages.
  • 10. Applying Math: SpaceTime for iPad or MathStudio. Creating 2D and 3D diagrams using a graphic calculator.
  • 11. Math Game: MathBlaster HyperBlast – for ages 6 and over, three arcade game levels and 30 math lessons.

• • •

When I was graduating from college, most students found themselves happily employable with even a history, philosophy or French degree. In this economy, that is frequently a sure path to unemployment. The book “Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy,” by Andrew Rosen, was handed out to journalists at the higher ed seminar I recently attended at UCLA. Rosen says colleges must rethink what they offer their students, why and how, with an eye toward the needs of the workplace … for the good of students and the economy.

• • •

One hot topic right now is how families can compare the price of attending various colleges, after need-based and merit aid is factored in. Frequently, for needy families, the cost of a private college can be lower than that of a state college, but most are scared off by the $50K-plus price tag. I’ve spent hours playing around with the net-cost calculators that all colleges are require to offer on their web sites.  Some are very complicated, some are quick and easy. You enter your data and it estimates what you can expect to pay. Search for the calculator on every college’s website.  Here is the one offered by USC, just as a sample.

• • •

For almost seven years now, The Young Writers Program has helped countless teachers bring noveling to the classroom. The program provides free curricula and student workbooks for all grade levels, as well as classroom kits. Kids and teens also participate independently through their website. National Novel Writing Month challenges students to complete an entire novel in 30 days. Last year, 200,000 adults and 41,000 young writers participated. www.ywp.nanowrimo.org.  There is even a contest for young writers called Write Across America, which he hopes will spread as more authors get involved. www.writeacrossamerica.com.

• • •

Have you ever heard of Cogswell College? Well, I hadn’t either but it is a private, accredited four-year college in Sunnyvale focused on digital animation and video game design majors and entrepreneurial coursework. With technology and gaming companies struggling to find qualified employees, many schools have introduced digital arts programs. DreamWorks employs lots of alums. The college has 300 students now, with room for 800. A rep said, “This is not a place for the conventional kid who loves school … We’re looking for that kid who was daydreaming at school and didn’t quite fit in. They’re the ones we want to help make the next great film or video games.” http://www.cogswell.edu.

• • •

Know someone who is worried they won’t be accepted into any colleges? US News & World Report keeps a list of the colleges with the highest acceptance rates. The colleges in our neck of the woods accepting more than 90 percent of applicants include: Academy of Art University (SF), Cogswell College, American Jewish University (LA), Southern Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology and Evergreen College (Washington).

• • •

The investigative website, http://www.californiawatch.org recently reported that only 12 percent of Hispanic fourth-graders in California were proficient in reading on the Nation’s Report Card, which places California behind every state in the nation except for Utah and Minnesota. The report continued, “Research has shown that students who miss this goal are at a much higher risk of dropping out of high school. That means California is on track to see millions of students drop out in the coming years. The trend could spell economic disaster for a state that’s already deep in financial crisis, at a time when California is about a million college graduates short of meeting workforce needs, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.”

• • •

I spent hours on this site the first time I visited it. The Chronicle of High Ed has a site where you can search 1,600 colleges to find out the home states of their freshman class. Useful if you love a college and wonder if you might help them achieve greater geographic diversity. Very interesting to look at state colleges to see where their non-residents hail from.

• • •

If you are on Facebook, you likely know about http://www.donorschoose.org which for 10 years has been enabling teachers across the country to solicit funds for pet programs. They have helped 300,000 classroom projects from 165,000 teachers receive more than $80 million in donations. If you go to the site and search for your town, you will see a number of projects in local classrooms that seek donations of various sorts. http://www.donorschoose.

• • •

The website Edudemic.com ran a great story recently called, “65+ iPad Apps Perfect for Elementary School,” (most available for the iPhone as well). Some of my favorites: Keynote (for presentations), Pages (create, edit and view documents), Discover Education (educational videos), CK12.org (free online textbooks), Reading Trainer (speed reading), Mathboard (teaching math), Geo Play 2 and Geomaster (geography) and dozens more to try.

• • •

Is your child an aspiring musician? http://www.smartmusic.com provides unlimited access to the world’s largest accompaniment library for all ages and skill levels. A friend of mine says her kids finally love practicing. As music appears on the screen, they play or sing along with accompaniment and get an immediate assessment, displaying the notes that students performed correctly (green) and incorrectly (red). Students record and listen to each performance to hear how they really sound and how their part fits within the whole. They can send a recording to their teacher who can assess, score and track progress over time. How cool is that? Not free, but at $36/year, less than the cost of a single private lesson.

• • •

Students (and grown-ups) can use free online college courses to supplement their education and learn more about fields of interest. Perhaps the most comprehensive site to explore is www.ocwconsortium.org/courses.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: