Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sacramento News & Review - Teaching to the tech: On Sacramento schools, Common Core and the digital divide - Feature Story - Local Stories - May 8, 2014

Sacramento News & Review - Teaching to the tech: On Sacramento schools, Common Core and the digital divide - Feature Story - Local Stories - May 8, 2014:



Teaching to the tech: On Sacramento schools, Common Core and the digital divide

Will a contentious test and shiny new computers help bridge the technology gap?



It's a rare moment at Leataata Floyd Elementary School: 30 sixth graders are completely silent.

The kids look like they're focused on a test. But maybe they're just mesmerized by the devices that the exam is on: shiny new MacBook Airs. The Sacramento City Unified School District recently deployed more than 6,000 of these laptops to its schools in preparation for a test that the whole country is talking about.

Michelle Blanton is conducting all the exams at Leataata Floyd, and she circles the room slowly. No one seems to have any problems during this practice round. Time is up, and the students take off their headphones, close their MacBooks and file into a separate room for a class meeting. They sit down cross-legged in a big circle and pass around a microphone—which is actually a plastic pink flower taped to a green pen—so everyone has a chance to speak.

Blanton proposes the question of the day: “What did you think of the test?”

“It was better than taking it on paper,” one student says.

“I like that my hands don't hurt,” another offers.

They make it sound so simple.

Students are taking the test now, through June 6, but it’s been a long, complicated road to get here. It’s all because of the new education standards called Common Core. State legislators recently sprung the test on districts, and now teachers are scrambling to figure out how it works.

But Common Core also speaks to a broader digital divide. Will the test only increase bias toward rich kids with iPads and Internet access at home? Or will this new emphasis on digital technology in schools level the playing field?

Leataata Floyd principal Billy Aydlett sure hopes so. His school serves some of the city’s poorest kids, and he spends budget money on technology whenever he can. He’s in firm support of Common Core and the computer-based exams.

But Sacramento schools are not created equal. Some of the district’s “priority schools” like Leataata Floyd swim in new tech toys, while others can barely get their hands on computers, let alone tablets and expensive MacBooks.

This divide also remains very real in children’s homes. In pockets of Sacramento, less than 40 percent of households have broadband Internet. That’s a long ways to go to meet the state’s goal of 80 percent by 2015.

“It’s not a genie you can put back in a bottle. Technology is already part of everyday life,” Aydlett argues. “Sheltering folks from it is crazy.”

Apparently, so is teaching it.

Digital classrooms and guinea pigs

Today's K-12 kids are digital natives. They grew up with the Internet. And when they're grown up and running the world, what will it look like? Probably totally teched out, which is why teachers are starting kids on iPads and expecting them to know how to type before the third grade.Sacramento News & Review - Teaching to the tech: On Sacramento schools, Common Core and the digital divide - Feature Story - Local Stories - May 8, 2014:

 

Specialist Michelle Blanton helps a student learn how to use new MacBook Airs at Leataata Floyd Elementary School. Kids are taking a practice version of a controversial new test—next year, the exam will be for real.


‘Participatory budgeting’ goes to Washington - Bites - Sacramento News & Review -
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Smart Machines | Deborah Meier on Education

Smart Machines | Deborah Meier on Education:



Smart Machines

Dear Readers
Here’s a troubling book title: Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans, written by Simon Head. In a way his argument is hardly new. Most science fiction was based on this fear. But in the last fifty years we have been bombarded with the opposite message: the 2lst century needs better minds, smarter workers, etc. I’ve been a skeptic, but reading the review by Richard Skidelsky in the NY Review of Books (April 3, 2014) brought me up sharply against these conflicting visions of the future.
I have always contended that we would always have been better off if we had used our minds better—and that it was well within our human potential. 2lst century minds were needed in the 18th and 19th century. Maybe we would not have had WW I!. if we had so-called 2lst century skills. Perhaps because I was more focused on democracy than the workplace I have been less enamored with the idea that these are newly needed skills. I figured that a more democratic workplace would also need more thoughtful workers whose experiences were better used in making worldly decisions.
Head and Skidelsky note that 70-80% of the employees in modern economies are in the service sector. But that does not mean, as we thoughtlessly assumed, that such “white collar” work requires more mental acuity than the old “blue collar.” Head “analyzes the methods used by Walmart and Amazon to squeeze ever more production out of their workers”—white or blue—“through pervasive control of the human conveyor belt. Speed-up and all—since the faster the speed the lower the per unit cost.” Head describes “Computer Business Systems”—who “have colonized Smart Machines | Deborah Meier on Education:

Chris talks with Randi Weingarten and Sabrina Joy Stevens about the controversy over Common Core. All In with Chris Hayes on msnbc

All In with Chris Hayes on msnbc:



What’s the case for the common core?

Chris talks with Randi Weingarten and Sabrina Joy Stevens about the controversy over Common Core.











The war on common core
Chris Hayes looks at why millions of Americans are up in arms against the Common Core.
Chris Hayes looks at why millions of Americans are up in arms against the Common Core. 




http://www.msnbc.com/all

Nite Cap 5-8-14 #BATsACT #RealEdTalk #EDCHAT #P2



James Baldwin said it best: 

"For these are all our children, and we will profit by or pay for whatever they become."


A BIG EDUCATION APE NITE CAP



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