Monday, March 11, 2013

PBS Kids Lab

New, high-quality resources for math education keep popping up.

Paula Kerger, of PBS, recently published a press release on the Huffington Post about some new things on the PBS Kids website. " we looked at our work with a critical eye, we realized that we needed to step up our efforts in helping kids learn math literacy. That's why this week we're launching "It All Adds Up," which aims to boost math learning at home -- and everywhere -- by providing resources for parents. With these free resources, which were developed in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) through the Department of Education's Ready To Learn Initiative, parents can use their mobile phones or computers, or do hands-on activities, to help their children learn basic math skills."

PBS Kids has found what other education researchers already knew: "...nearly 30 percent of parents have anxiety about teaching their child math. In part, this issue stems from the fact that 25 percent of parents find it hard to incorporate math into conversations and activities at home. Math may seem harder to weave into natural discussions and activities in the home, leaving time- and resource-strapped parents unsure where to begin."

I visited the new PBIS Kids Lab and was impressed. There are resources there for parents and teachers. I liked Math Activity of the Day and the context-specific Ideas to Go. There are tons of online activities and mobile apps. I tried a bunch, and one I would recommend is Freddy’s Carnival Games (Ages 6-8, counting). I think it is best to test these first and give specific ones to kids, rather than turning them loose with the entire menu of options.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sugata Mitra: School in the Cloud

Sugata Mitra recently won the TED Prize for 2013. His wish is to build a virtual school where children learn from each other.

Well, I bumped into this whole thing completely by accident. I used to teach people how to write computer programs in New Delhi, 14 years ago. And right next to where I used to work, there was a slum. And I used to think, how on Earth are those kids ever going to learn to write computer programs? Or should they not? At the same time, we also had lots of parents, rich people, who had computers, and who used to tell me, "You know, my son, I think he's gifted, because he does wonderful things with computers. And my daughter -- oh, surely she is extra-intelligent." And so on. So I suddenly figured that, how come all the rich people are having these extraordinarily gifted children? (Laughter) What did the poor do wrong? I made a hole in the boundary wall of the slum next to my office, and stuck a computer inside it just to see what would happen if I gave a computer to children who never would have one, didn't know any English, didn't know what the Internet was. - Sugata Mitra

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

Salt + Fat

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss, Published Feb. 20, 2013 in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

I enjoyed this article in last weekend’s New York Times. In it, you will find important information about the workings of the food industry and will have a better understanding of the obesity epidemic. Also, I couldn’t help but notice how mathematics is such an important part of the story. When you get to the part about the food guru Howard Moskowitz, (“I’ve optimized soups, I’ve optimized pizzas. I’ve optimized salad dressings and pickles. In this field, I’m a game changer.”) notice his ability to use statistical analysis to take bucketfuls of taste test data and turn it into usable information. This is why he has become a legend in his field.

Learning to code

Watch this video. I completely agree that learning to code is learning to think. I think it is getting easier to teach, too, because there are lots of resources like Scratch and the Lego Mindstorms, plus tons of other links on the We are running out of time and excuses when it comes to our kids.