Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Those "aha!" Moments.

Here is a very simple application of GeoGebra that I created this morning in about half an hour.
Simply created, yet totally impossible when I was a student, and largely impossible and generally improbable when I was a teacher. It depends on the correct technology and a teacher who can make it or at least use it.

Little technological things like this have the potential for creating those "aha!" moments, the presence of which are mileposts in the life of the mathematician, the absence of which create the dead ends of the math phobic.

We need to go out of our way to enable these "aha!" moments.
Improving the mathematical skills and knowledge of our country requires it.
If you wish to download the file itself and make your own modifications, you can get it here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Correlation coefficient of linear fit?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative has, in its High School Statistics and Probability section, the statement 
Compute (using technology) and interpret the correlation coefficient of a linear fit.
You can find it here.

I suppose I can accept the utilitarian notion of being able to computer something on a calculator while having no idea where it comes from, as long as the result can be interpreted correctly.

I do have a problem with question 11 from the New York State Algebra I (Common Core) exam. 

I see nothing in here involving interpretation or understanding. All I see is a question asking whether or not the student could remember a cook-book recipe from their calculator's user manual. Pity the poor teacher whose students have the gamut of calculators. (After all, school cannot be a mandate for using a certain company's products.)  I must assume that this question is not testing the students ability to state the coordinate names for the points, as the question requires a number of steps beyond that.

What I do see here is a lousy test question. 

As for the relevance of the topic itself, well, that is debatable. If Algebra I is considered as an introductory high school course, I say absolutely not. Comprehension of correlation coefficient requires a skills base and a time commitment better suited to a later course. If Algebra I is considered an exit exam, perhaps the situation changes. Since New York now considers Algebra I regents exam as both an introductory course (anything below it is considered remedial) and an exit course, in a one-size-fits-all scenario, things are very confusing.

By the way, I looked at NYSED's page regarding this test. It is here, and as of today, all its links are password-protected. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Fee? Charging potential teachers for double-checking a grade?

If you believe that a score (not a condition code) on one or more rubrics was reported in error, you may submit a request for a score confirmation in writing. The fee is $200. Information about the score confirmation service is available on edtpa.com.
The above statement I found on the edtpa web site. Find the full page here.

This is an example of Pearson creating a process that both discourages complaints and creates cash flow all at the same time.  Whether or not you believe that evaluating new teachers should be contracted out to a foreign-based company, the job of that company is to get things correct. If and when they make mistakes, which they will, they should make financial amends to the affected individuals by refunding money already paid. They should not create a cash cow for themselves.

Speaking of edtpa, The Huffington Post has a must read written by Alan Singer of Hofstra University. His column The "Big Lie" Behind the High-Stakes Testing of Student Teachers describes many of the other issues surrounding the involvement of Pearson in the certification of New York State teachers.

The best thing that can happen in New York right now is for Pearson's involvement in anything be ended.