[IAEP] Data vs Critical Thinking - Can Sugar give schools both?

Yamandu Ploskonka yamaplos at gmail.com
Wed Apr 21 15:16:37 EDT 2010

I highly respect you initiatives, Caroline, not just because they start 
as a basically good idea, but then you do great follow-through that I 
wish I will learn more from.  And this is a great initiative, your email 
waiting a long time in my inbox because it was so good I wasn't figuring 
out how to contribute, though I felt I needed to at least share a couple 

Something sort of along these lines I have been pursuing pretty much 
since forever, but in my case it has not passed from being a 
gedankenexperiment, alas.

My reflection goes along these ways

1) each child (and each teacher!) is unique in abilities, giftings, 
potential and actual skills, learning styles...

from this we can infer that "one-size-fits-all" education is not as good 
- for the child - as education that fits each child's way.

one-size-fits-all education is cheaper, seems to work, is the way it is 
done everywhere... arguments hard to beat, though for generations it was 
SOP, for those who could afford it, to have tutors to work with their 
kids one-on-one, something obviously impractical and impossible to 
scale-up to the needs and the rights we recognize now.

enter differentiated instruction, which sadly has meant often some kind 
of apartheit, where the "A" tier gets attention, funding, the best 
teachers...  It is now SOP that there are "better" schools parents fight 
to get their kids in.  Contrariwise, many classrooms are by design 
mixed-things and some sort of forced integration has been a fashion for 
a while, and for a while failing schools got more funding, a trend that 
took a while to turn around since it was discovered that it encouraged 

Your proposal indicates "more intensive instruction" for the "students 
that are struggling", which is nice, no doubt for those, but maybe 
unfair to the others.  It appears many more "scholar athletes" lately 
are getting diagnosed for disorders that allow them to use chemicals 
that otherwise are banned...  I am concerned that if the way to get 
better schooling is to be lower tier, there might be a rush for it.

On 04/20/2010 09:29 AM, Caroline Meeks wrote:
> Hi Subbu,
> Not off topic in my opinion.
> RTI consists of:
> 1. *Scientific, Research-Based Instruction- Delivered in Tiers, with 
> students who are struggling getting more intensive instruction.*
> *2. Screening of all students.*
> *3. Progress monitoring (about every 2 weeks) for the students getting 
> the more intensive instruction (the 'intervention').*
> *
> *
> *US based discussions of RTI focus on how it effects the pipeline to 
> special education.  But in many OLPC contexts I don't think there is a 
> special education to be referred to. I think if kids can't make it in 
> the general classroom they drop out.  Thus a system that keeps more 
> kids on track is valuable.*
> *
> *
> *Discussions of how to improve instruction is very on topic for RTI. 
>  In RTI terms you could think about it in two ways.  Are the materials 
> part of a Tier I (all students) instruction or are they for Tier II, 
> for struggling students.  The great thing about technology, be it a 
> laptop or a mp4 player, is that it could be used in both ways.  The 
> whole class could use it, and we could help teachers match up specific 
> weakness in students with specific learning objects for a Tier II like 
> intervention.*
> *
> *
> *I'm focusing a lot on the screening and progress monitoring pieces of 
> RTI because, thanks to huge, long, high stakes tests that teachers 
> don't see results back from for months, assessment has gotten a bad 
> name.   RTI assessment is quick and results are immediate, specific 
> and actionable. *
> *
> *
> *Yes, on the cell phones/hand helds for doing the assessments.  In the 
> US palm pilots are used. I do think setting it up on a cell phone 
> would be far more economical.*
> *
> *
> *Thanks for responding. :)*
> *
> *
> *Caroline*
> On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 9:36 AM, K. K. Subramaniam <subbukk at gmail.com 
> <mailto:subbukk at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     On Tuesday 20 April 2010 06:01:33 am Caroline Meeks wrote:
>     > Why can't computers for children both give them the means for
>     creation,
>     > independent learning, collaboration etc etc. and give their teacher
>     > detailed, nuanced, actionable data on what skills they have
>     mastered and
>     > what they are still struggling with?
>     Computer-centric vocabulary is becoming obsolete today. Talking about
>     computers today is a bit-like talking about DC/Induction motors in
>     our homes.
>     We don't think of mixers, juicers, grinders, washing machines etc
>     as motor
>     machines, do we?  Kids don't think of mobile phones as computers.
>     They think
>     of them as phones, cameras, voice recorders, mp3/mp4 players etc.
>     >Problem solvers, groundbreaking pioneers and visionary leaders
>     need to know
>     >their phonics and their basic math skills.  We have the
>     capability to build
>     >tools that help teachers know and track which students are
>     struggling with
>     >what skills, and provide the collaborative framework for them to
>     collect
>     >data and share it to determine what works to teach those skills
>     to all
>     >students.
>     Just a few weeks back, I had a discussion with village school
>     teachers about
>     using smart machines to enliven language lessons. The discussion
>     veered around
>     using mini-speakers with mp3 player in classrooms. The players,
>     about 4" cube
>     take in 2GB USB flash, SD card or micro-SD cards and play for 5
>     hours on a
>     single charge. They cost about $8-$10 here and 2GB card can easily
>     hold about
>     four-five years of language lessons. Neither teachers nor 6-9 year
>     olds think
>     of them as computers.
>     We could also think of using portable mp4 players (for visual
>     lessons) or
>     smartphones (for data collection). These machines don't exclude
>     the use of
>     laptops for authoring lessons and give more options for children
>     to learn
>     languages, math and science.
>     [Apologies if this is OT on a RTI thread]
>     Subbu
> -- 
> Caroline Meeks
> Solution Grove
> Caroline at SolutionGrove.com
> 617-500-3488 - Office
> 505-213-3268 - Fax
> _______________________________________________
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep
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