04/30/2009

NEXT POST
Educational Technology Myth Recently I participated in a Webinar titled "Opportunities and Challenges for Web 2.0 in Schools" given by Tech & Learning Magazine. One of the hosts was Alan November. He brought up a very intriguing myth about educational technology that really made me think. The myth is that educational technology broadens the perspectives of students by giving them greater access to a wide range of thoughts, ideas, and opinions online. Until recently, I believed in this myth. But after hearing Alan's explanation, I realized I could be wrong. Essentially, he said that the myriad of choices on the internet make it possible for people to pigeonhole themselves into narrower and narrower points of view. While choices abound, students are selecting sources (blogs, social networks, list services, & news sites) that match their current outlook on the world. Rarely are they experiencing different points of view and incongruent perspectives. In the old days of three major news networks and town news papers, people were forced to see and hear about information that was foreign to their way of thinking and world view. Now, if you are so inclined, you can easily ignore most information other than the views you want to hear. As Alan November put it, some people are fans of the Huffington Post and some are fans of Fox News, rarely do they experience each others ideas. Coincidentally, the next day I read about a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center called "Sharp Growth in Suburban Minority Enrollment Yields...
PREVIOUS POST
The Tie Between Mixed-age Ability Grouping and Standards-based Grading When McREL delivers professional development on cooperative learning, we often talk about the tangent topic of ability grouping. The discussion is often fraught with misconceptions and strong opinions. Needless to say, it’s a controversial subject. Lately an old form of mixed-age ability grouping has been given a closer look by schools and districts that are moving toward standards-based grading. This old form of ability grouping began in four elementary schools in Joplin, Missouri in 1954 and is known as the “Joplin Plan” (Cushenbery, 1967). Essentially, forms of the Joplin Plan include careful diagnosis of each student’s proficiency level in a given subject (reading level, math level, etc.), placement in a mixed age group at similar proficiency levels, and structural changes to the school’s schedule to accommodate teaching multiple levels/groups of different aged students. The big difference between this type of grouping and what most educators think of as ability grouping is that Joplin Plans are not based on homogeneous aptitudes in a given subject at a uniform age or grade. In other words, it does not group all of the 4th grade students “good at math” in one group. It groups students ages 9-11 that are performing at the 4th grade level together. Now consider the mixing in of standards-based grading. It uses a form of assessment that mixes summative and formative data based on proficiency criterion for standards of what every student is expected to know, and a score is set compared to these benchmarks rather than a ranking...

Recent Comments