Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Starting the Year Right with Music

On a brisk Saturday, friends of Tomoko and music, gather at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in anticipation of a unique concert experience. Families, students, long-time friends all walk into the bas-relief auditorium, chatting quietly and checking their phones. Flower bouquets set in the front side seats, ready to be bestowed. As the lights dim, the audience holds their breath in anticipation. They stow away any distractions. The performance begins!

For the first piece, Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A Major (Opus 114, D. 607) Tomoko has gathered four experienced musicians who have never played all together. They have rehearsed together only three times, but the audience would never know. The quintet (violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano instruments) are simultaneously alert and relaxed. Their personalities shine as they use the entire bow length for a legato measure or sharply tap staccato notes. Especially when a section plays two musicians off each other, the feeling of a connected conversation is apparent.

No wonder intermission is a time for thanks, congratulations, joy. And it is a time to set up the logistics, the myriad details, to ensure a successful second half and parter thereafter. The time goes too fast.

Three sets of piano duets grace the audience after intermission: Chabrier’s Trois Valses Romantiques, Debussy’s En Blanc et Noir, and Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 2, Opus 17. These pieces are generally romantic, but have depth and complexity  that showcase the piantists’mastery and sensitivity. Even though the duos are seated across from each other across the two grand pianos, they listen closely to synchronize their efforts seamlessly. Sometimes it sounds more like one very complex piano than two piano voices. The performances reflected the joy of Tomoko’s friendship with her pianist partners.

Joanne Ahn and her committee prepare a tasty reception to honor the performers, and to give them a chance to mingle with the appreciative audience. The food is varied in flavor as the conversation. Many of the audience are musicians themselves, certainly music lovers, and the camaraderie between them and the performers underscores the feeling of community and shared values.

More now than ever we need these times to focus on beauty, to have a shared esthetic experience. And this experience will linger in each person’s mind and heart. We have Tomoko to thank for creating and orchestrating this special time to start the new year.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Research on girl coding

Middle school is a good time for girls to learn how to code because that's when they are more susceptible to its appeal, according to recent research. The coding appeal then dips in high school and spikes again in college when girls become inspired by teachers and other role models. The study offers insight into factors that create either positive and negative associations with computer science for girls at the middle school, high school and college levels, as well as strategies for educators to make computer science more appealing to girls.
Accenture and Girls Who Code. (2016). Cracking the gender code. Lansing, MI: Accenture.

Tech use almot universal for US children under 6: survey

A new national survey of technology use by children under 6 indicates that 85 percent of parents allow their young children to use technology in the home. More than three quarters of parents surveyed said they use tech along with their children on a daily basis for up to two hours, with television, tablets, smartphones and computers the most frequently used. Parents are the most influential media role models for children, and should focus on content quality more than quantity.
Erikson Institute. (2016).  Technology and young children in the digital age. Chicago, IL: Erikson Institute.

Study on narrowing the gender gap in spatial reasoning

Research shows that while young women excel in social perspective-taking, there may be a gender gap in spatial perspective-taking. In a study about closing gender gaps in spatial ability, researchers found that making changes to tasks, such as changing perspective, helped narrow the gap.
Tarampi, M., Heydari, N., & Hegarty, M. (2016).  A tale of two types of perspective taking; Sex differences in spatial ability.   Psychological Science, 27(11). 1507-1516.

Parents' perception about school tech use survey

K-12 public school parents around the United States are not overly impressed on the use of education technology in their students' schools. While 87 percent of parents buy into the possibilities of technology to positively influence student learning, just 35 percent among those respondents whose children use devices in school say their children have learned more because of tech. However, parents see a link between smart implementation of technology and personalized education.
YouGov. (2016). Learning Assembly public school parent poll.

Reading promotion strategies study

A study was conducted to identify the different strategies elementary and middle school librarians in Puerto Rico are currently using to promote reading appreciation. Some of the conclusions indicate that school librarians consider Library Week a key activity for the promotion of reading appreciation, and the Internet as a key resource for the implementation of the different activities they design. The conclusions also acknowledge that school librarians face different challenges, the most difficult being collaboration and support from the students’ parents. The school librarian as motivational agent and strategist for reading appreciation.
Dominguez, N. et al. (2016). The school librarian as motivational agent and strategist for reading appreciation. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 48(3), 236-246.

Where Teachers Get Tech Help Study

By a margin of about five to one, teachers prefer to solve their own tech problems without the help of the IT department.Educators' top choice for solving their tech troubles is online searches, with 37 percent citing that as their preferred source for help with technology. Coming in second was peers, at 23 percent. The help desk/IT department ranked third at 17 percent, followed by the instructional technologist at 11 percent. Students rounded out the top 5 preferred sources of tech help at 4 percent. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed indicated they have adequate support and training for the use of technology in the classroom. For their part, most teachers said they see themselves as at least competent in their tech abilities. The top hardware used include: desktop computers, laptops, cameras, interactive whiteboard, projectors. Top software include: presentation, word processing, gradebook, online video service, classroom management software.
Nagel, D., & Schaffhauser, D. (2016). Where do teachers turn for tech help? THE Journal.