Internet Ephemera – Sociology Edition

Statistics Reducing a player’s worth to a single number can be contemptible, says John Thorn, a seminal sabermetric writer and the author of the 1984 book The Hidden Game of Baseball. That book introduced the Linear Weights System, which attaches a value in runs to every offensive event. (For instance, a single when the book was released was worth 0.47 of a run.) Linear Weights System provides the mathematical basis for WAR’s offensive components. Thorn, while supportive of WAR, criticizes the way it is often deployed to end an argument. “The current lowest common denominator of statistical writing is the fixation on comparing Player A with Player B, which seems to me not only worthless but serves to obscure the larger story of baseball,” Thorn says. “Enjoyment of baseball is like enjoyment of art. If you decide it has to have a utilitarian function & you make it seem like work. It’s supposed to be play.” –ESPN Given there aren’t many baseball players, they are already filmed and analyzed from virtually every angle1 in a game that’s relatively simple compared to something like, say, teaching, I don’t have a lot of hope for the assessment of teacher quality working out well. Roger Shank doesn’t make me feel any better. We’re trivializing the idea of evaluating teachers in part because culturally […]

Random Thoughts and Examples of Student Dashboards

This collection of dashboards1 was brought on by a tweet2 from Dan Meyer but precipitated by the fact that I am struggling to figure out what matters in terms of a future LMS and how the data we present (or don’t present) to students and teachers impacts education as a whole.3 While we4 often say we5 want a balance between multiple choice assessment and other types of assessment, if the only data that teachers see and talk about is related to multiple choice we probably shouldn’t bother talking about other types of assessment. There’s also the idea that assessment data may just be the tip of the iceberg. I’m not sure what exactly would make a difference but there are lots of other things that ought to be looked at. In the end I see the data displayed to students and teachers as being pretty important but it means nothing if it’s not set within the right context and used in the right way by both parties. All that aside, let’s see what’s going on right now. Delaware Insight Dashboards Fairly traditional, I’m not sure these dashboards are even meant for student view but many of the systems I’ve seen lately just give students access to their own data with the same views they give teachers and call it a […]

Performance Based 21st Century Assessment

We’re looking to put some more muscle behind the idea of preparing students to do more than take multiple choice assessments. We looked at a variety of products and were not happy with the options so we decided to make our own. Working with, John Ross1 we got together a team of core content teachers from four different schools. We all attended a CLA workshop on how to create performance based assessments. The model is essentially based around providing a limited source of materials with varying degrees of reliability and in need of varying levels of analysis. Marc Chun2 was the presenter and he did a good job outlining the process and providing time for us to begin building our assessment over the two day workshop. I like the CWRA model as a whole but the pre-made route was expensive for the scale we’re interested in and we wanted the assessment to allow more freedom in terms of the final product. The CWRA assessment only allows text and we were hoping to encourage students to select from a variety of technologies as part of determining how to present their final product. So our goal was to create a scenario that both interested and engaged 8th grade students. It needed to have interdisciplinary elements that required using higher order thinking skills […]

Snow Days Don’t Stop Assessment

This wouldn’t be worth of mocking except for the fact that it was retweeted time and time again by the Blackboard Twitter fanboy crowd and when I finally read it I couldn’t get the taste of bile out of my mouth. This is the garbage they celebrate as a success. So the following post is an attempt at purging my system. Original article here. Italics and footnotes, as always, are mine. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ The snow led to more than 300 local closings and delays today — but if a district uses too many snow days, there’s less time to test. No one wants that. One local school figured out a way to have the best of both worlds -students at home *and*1 a full day of testing. Joe Webb says it works through technology -insert dramatic music here. The kids at Taft Elementary will lose a day of class because they’re at home. McAuley High School has figured out a way to reach out to its students and have them in class at home. At Beechwood Elementary, Miss Burns’ fourth grade class beat the elements and had a school not a snow day. But in 2010 this is truly old school.2 McAuley sophomore Sam Rack kicked it new school3 today at home but taking all her regular classes online. It counts […]

Rome Built in a Day (Serious Fun)

The Machine Project, a gallery in LA, hosted the “24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project” last month. The group had a ton of cardboard and “building supplies”, did some research to figure out the layout of the city and pulled together all the images they could for modeling the buildings, put together a building schedule, and went to town. The results are inspiring. Imagine your class reconstructing a great city of civilization past, a series of chemical compounds, or some other seemingly insurmountable task that requires little skill, a good chunk of knowledge, and a great amount of energy and enthusiasm. BoingBoingTV Video Project Description monkyatomc’s flickr set (photo credit) selfconstruct’s flickr set

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Technology Mistakes

This question on the MACUL Ning space got me thinking (you may be wondering why I’m part of a Michigan edtech group when I live in VA- answer Ben Rimes). As a School Board Trustee in Lapeer Community Schools(6500 students) I am very excited about passing our first Bond in 34 years!!! With the passage were looking at $6,000,000 for technology. The big question now is…where do we spend the money and how do we get the biggest bang for our taxpayers hard earned dollars. Certainly we are involving the teachers, administration, students,etc…but I dont want to just dump computers and white boards in every class only to see them sitting in the corner not being used. Has anyone observed mistakes when purchasing technology, or have any success stories about implementing teachnology in their schools? So here’s my two cents based on my experience in Henrico county with our 1 to 1. It’s not exactly coherent or ordered but I think there’s some truth in there. Am I missing things? Too paranoid? Plain wrong? I think these concepts seem to get left behind or only partially implemented far too often. 1. Staff development– this isn’t just how to use the computer/white board etc. (although that is important) the focus should be on why you’d want to use it, ways to […]

Assessment: The Remix

A couple posts caught my eye recently, and I suddenly found a surprising connection. Both deal with remixes. The Last Supper–The Leftovers Remix We all know the iconic Last Supper. We probably know more about it because of Dan Brown, and it is very recognizable–especially in Western Culture. There was a rush of interesting recasting of da Vinci’s painting a couple weeks ago around the web-culture blogs I read. (via Neatorama) (via BoingBoing) (via Neatorama) I thought this might make an interesting art project. The students take an iconic picture or symbol and recast it somewhere else. You would want to have a rubric for the project that asked the students to consider the icon and it’s features and note or create subtle connection to the original in their own remix. The students are not simply spiting up terminology. They are emulating or playing with the original. Sugar Bear–The Fuzzy Remix (via BoingBoing) How does Sugar Bear go from sweet sugar fiend to environmentalist? That is the question you would pose to your students. For the more analytical students, this assessment piece is a dream come true. Students would exam a series of remixes of a single icon. Their task is to research the culture each new version is introduced to. Students would dig for clues from culture that shape […]