Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Babble on...

An easy and informative read on language development.  Of note:

Babies have to hear real language from real people to learn these skills. Television doesn’t do it, and neither do educational videos: recent research suggests that this learning is in part shaped by the quality and context of adult response.

I know it's somewhat dangerous to extrapolate findings from one research domain to another - but isn't it likely that all learning is mediated by the quality and context of the teacher's response?  I also like the author's bit at the end about how his exam room is his laboratory - I'd love to see more educators approach the classroom in the same light.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Don't forget step 2...

Getting from Here to There: The Roles of Policy Makers and Principals in Increasing Science Teacher Quality

Nothing says Sunday afternoon (for an education geek) like trolling through the Journal of Science Teacher Education for open-access articles to read. While I'm happy that this one is open, it's frustrating to read that the researchers note that a challenge leaders experience in improving STEM education is accessing formal science education research data. I'm assuming that the access issues are related to cost -- at $30 or so per article, this is no surprise. How great would it be (for educators, perhaps not for publishing companies) if research that was funded with public money had to be published openly on the web?

There are lots of good ideas in this article - it's worth a full read, but here are a few quips if you don't have time at the moment:

Potential collaboration opportunities include Web sites or blogs that promote information sharing between schools and policy makers, rotating positions for principals as state and federal policy consultants, short-term “internships” for policy makers in schools and principals in federal and state legislative offices, and professional development workshops involving policy makers at different levels in evidence-based debates regarding what is required to effectively teach science.

Policy makers in school, and school leaders making policy? That sounds so ... logical!

With access to more information than federal and state policy makers or principals in isolation in terms of pedagogical approaches and incentives for high quality instruction, principals can work together to generate effective policy strategies to improve science teaching in their unique school environments.

Sounds like a nice grant opportunity. In the mean-time, I'm using Twitter to build my own network of principals and teachers - as are many others.

Principal communities, and the use of technology to create communication channels among principals, policy makers, and science education researchers are promising mechanisms for generating effective policy at the federal, state, and school level.

The pieces and players are here -- step 2 = open access & knock down barriers. Go!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, though...

The canary in the education reform movement's coal mine - Connecticut Post

Ricciotti seems almost giddy at the thought of Rhee's termination, a stance I see as it's own canary. The infighting within and politicization of education is, I worry, just as dangerous as flawed efforts like Rhee's (and others') to implement MBA-style education reform. Sure, measuring teacher quality with - and only with - a standardized test is a sure-fire way to stifle innovative teaching. However, it'd also be dangerous to have a knee-jerk reaction to this and lose sight of the research base that shows the strong causal relationship between teacher qualities and student learning. Measuring teacher qualities and student learning is important, and just because the current regime's methods are blunt and ill-used doesn't mean we should put a halt to our efforts to arrive at a better understanding of how education works.