Thursday, August 9, 2018

Carmel's Bach Festival


One of Tomoko’s strong memories about music festival performance takes place in California by the sea: the now tourist mecca Carmel.

When she performed there, Carmel was a simpler but popular town. A big event back then was a sandcastle contest, begun in 1961. Nevertheless it was already known as an arts colony, visited by authors such as Jack Long and Upton Sinclair. Carmel’s Arts and Crafts Club was established in 1905, and profited from the San Francisco 1906 earthquake as creative people moved to Carmel’s safety. Shakespeare plays were also a mainstay from 1911.

And the Bach Festival was well established by the time Tomoko experienced it. The festival began in 1935, and even then featured four days of concerts. By the time Tomoko participated, the festival had transformed from an amateur to a professional venue. Now it has grown to two weeks of performances and learning in July, with worldwide participation.

From the beginning the Bach festival at Carmel was strongly supported by the community. Tomoko remembers a 96 year old lady who was a regular concert goer. She opened her home to festival performers, and provide them her personal service as a thank you to the visiting musicians.

Tomoko especially appreciated the mutual appreciation and support of music experienced at the Bach Festival. With his range of compositions and his own role in the community, Bach would have felt comfortable with the Carmel celebration and its venue for universal connections.


Math and Common Core report

This report presents findings from a survey of American Teacher Panel teachers conducted in spring 2016 and follows up on a survey of teachers conducted in spring 2015. It examines responses from U.S. mathematics teachers in regard to their understanding of their standards and standards-aligned practices. The authors also consider how teachers’ instructional materials might support their understanding of their standards and practice. Key findings include:

  • Most of the materials that teachers reported using regularly for their instruction during the 2015–2016 school year were not highly aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
  • A majority of teachers were able to identify Common Core–aligned topics at their grade level.
  • At the same time, many teachers also indicated that many topics not aligned with the Common Core should be addressed at their grade level.
  • Over one-third of teachers reported that their students engaged in various standards-aligned practices to a great extent.
  • Teachers using at least one aligned main material more frequently reported their students engaging to a great extent in standards-aligned practices than teachers not using at least one aligned main material.
  • Teachers with more vulnerable students were less likely to report engaging their students in standards-aligned practices than teachers serving less vulnerable students. 

Opfer, V. et al. (2018). Aligned curricula and implementation of Common Core State Mathematics Standards. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.  https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2487.html?utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=NPA:2022:4938:Aug%209,%202018%208:31:44%20AM%20PDT&utm_campaign=NPA:2022:4938:Aug%209,%202018%208:31:43%20AM%20PDT

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Google search and racism research

Researcher Safiya Noble thinks that prominent commercial internet search engines reinforce racism and sexism—and that there are major implications for K-12 educators and students.
Noble undertook the research behind the book back in 2011, after a Google query for "black girls" yielded a stream of pornographic and offensive search results. Noble says those "hits" weren't an accidental byproduct of neutral algorithms driving Google's search engine. Instead, she argues, they reflect the human biases inherent in the engineers who created the algorithms, structural biases rooted in the underlying classification systems and web architecture upon which commercial search engines are built, and an advertising-based business model that accepts the reality that racist and sexist representations of women and people of color are often still quite profitable.
Noble, S. (2018) Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York, NY: NYU Press. Discussion at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2018/05/google_search_racism_schools.html?cmp=eml-enl-dd-news1-rm&M=58496418&U=1673093

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Teacher librarian decline in positions study

American schools—particularly those serving black and Latino students—have seen a precipitous drop in their school librarians since the Great Recession. The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015, according to an Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data. Many districts lost librarians even as student populations grew by 7 percent nationwide. The most dramatic drop came after the 2008 recession, and the federal data suggests that cash-strapped districts may have shifted from library services to other support staff. Over the same period when school librarians’ ranks dropped, schools nationwide saw an 11 percent increase in counselors, a 19 percent increase in instructional aides, and a 28 percent increase in school administrators.
Separate analyses by National Education Association researchers Andy Coons and Stacey Pelika in 2016 and by Debra Kachel of Antioch University Seattle and Keith Curry Lance of the RSL Research Group, writing in the School Library Journal earlier this year, likewise have found gaps in school library staffing over time.
Sparks, S., & Harwin, A. (2018). Schools see steep drop in librarians. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/05/16/schools-see-steep-drop-in-librarians-new.html
American schools—particularly those serving black and Latino students—have seen a precipitous drop in their school librarians since the Great Recession.The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015. Many districts lost librarians even as student populations grew by 7 percent nationwide. The most dramatic drop came after the 2008 recession, and the federal data suggests that cash-strapped districts may have shifted from library services to other support staff. Over the same period when school librarians’ ranks dropped, schools nationwide saw an 11 percent increase in counselors, a 19 percent increase in instructional aides, and a 28 percent increase in school administrators.
Separate analyses by National Education Association researchers Andy Coons and Stacey Pelika in 2016 and by Debra Kachel and Keith Curry Lance of the RSL Research Group, writing in the School Library Journal earlier this year, likewise have found gaps in school library staffing over time.
Sparks, S., & Harwin, A. (2018). Number of librarians plummets in schools, data find.  Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/07/18/where-are-the-school-librarians.html

Language learning and youth study

Scientists have long posited that there is a "critical period" for language learning, but new research suggests that the time frame stretches on much longer than previously thought. The study suggests that children remain skilled at learning the grammar of English up to the age of 17 or 18. The study also found that it is difficult for people to achieve proficiency in English similar to that of a native speaker unless they start learning a language much earlier, by the age of 10. People who start learning a language between the ages of 10 and 18 will still learn quickly, but since they have a shorter window before their learning ability declines, they're less likely to reach the proficiency of native speakers, the researchers found.
Hartshorne, J. K., Tenenbaum, J. B., & Pinker, S. (2018). A critical period for second language acquisition: evidence from 2/3 million English speakers. Cognition, 177, 263-277. http://l3atbc-public.s3.amazonaws.com/pub_pdfs/JK_Hartshorne_JB_Tenenbaum_S_Pinker_2018.pdf

Teacher hostility and student achievement study

A recent study found that students in a lecture in which the teacher was hostile performed 5 percent lower on average on a test of the content than students in a class with a neutral teacher. Moreover, the students who were naturally oriented to learn to develop their own mastery of the subject, rather than just to get top grades and those who were inclined to put more effort into challenging tasks—in other words, the students mostly likely to be engaged and eager to learn in class—had the scores that were most negatively affected by being exposed to a derisive teacher. The findings also build more evidence of the importance of relationships and respect in student learning. The students in the current study were all undergraduates, so the effects may be different on younger students in K-12. Prior studies have found that students remember put-downs and sarcastic or snide remarks by teachers and consider them a major barrier to learning. 
Goodboy, A., Bolkan, S., & Baker, J.  (2018).  Instructor misbehaviors impede students' cognitive leraning. Communication Education, 67(3), 308-329.
https://doi.org/10.1080/03634523.2018.1465192