[IAEP] Data vs Critical Thinking - Can Sugar give schools both?
caroline at solutiongrove.com
Thu Apr 22 10:03:25 EDT 2010
I break this down into two parts.
1. Software that assess students, track and displays results, quickly and
efficiently without using up a lot of instructional time.
2. Software and a content library that analyzes these results and gives
students the right learning objects/experiences for their current level and
#1 is straightforward programming.
#2 is a grand challenge!
Both 1 and 2 already happen without technology, just substitute "teacher"
for "software" and adjust the grammer.
What is interesting is that for a teacher #1 is the difficult, time
consuming, boring piece that is challenging to do well, especially in large
classes and #2 is one of the interesting, creative parts of their job.
On Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 10:54 PM, Yamandu Ploskonka <yamaplos at gmail.com>wrote:
> On 04/21/2010 05:06 PM, Caryl Bigenho wrote:
> In essence, every child deserves an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) which
> are expensive and time consuming to develop and thus are reserved for an
> elite group: the special needs children. Every child has special needs.
> Every child needs an IEP. But where will the funds, personnel, and
> curriculum come from to provide it?
> Haha! that was to be point number 2, that I somehow forgot and the message
> went into drafts and I sent it later without checking.... Thanks Caryl,
> good catch, that was missing
> 2) As per 1) (now below somewhere in the earlier messages), each child and
> educator is unique. Just like Caryl mentions it, to do an IEP is
> complicated, expensive, etc, but in essence it is about gathering data and
> reactions to stimuli from an individual and following certain protocols to
> interpret them and then act certain interventions that correspond to the
> said individual.
> You know what? Computers are grrrreat! at handling data, interpreting it
> by following algorithms, and then giving an output that corresponds to the
> inputs entered. In slightly better English, a computer could present
> certain activities to a child, and from the way the kid responds, determine
> the course of action to help said kid to learn. And computers don't mind at
> all to help Johnnie one way, and then help Sally a very different way,
> keeping strict track of each one, and not just adapting the way things are
> presented to each child's style of learning (uh, I believe the current
> buzzword is neural cognition something). Of course this might have a chance
> if the programmers are not one-size-fits-all lusrs.
> example: 310 - 220
> Right answer is 90, OK, next.
> but, among the "wrong" answers some do tell us some things. Like someone
> answered 110. That is not a random error, but something that needs a *
> specific* intervention, not just telling the kid he needs to "do more math
> problems". Another telling error would be 190. Also, some exercises would
> be presented in audio, others involving putting things in places, etc,
> trying to figure out what style a kid is best at - then using that style as
> a good road for learning new stuff, but also a chance to catch up some other
> styles he is less strong in.
> Yes yes yes, this involves some AI, something sort of dead after the
> dot.com bubble. But it could be done - some such computer-based
> interactive tools already exist for some diagnoses, and also for some
> therapies, interestingly enough some of the software in use is the same
> version released in the late 90s...
> Now for the very best thing:
> Computers can be immensely patient.
> They can be immensely customisable. A computer doesn't care if it needs to
> work slowly-like with Matt, doing good reinforcing with little pink dinosaur
> dances to keep him interested, and they still are just the same old pile of
> gray metal, just as good, even if they sit in front of Josh, who might just
> beat Doogie Howser by graduating UCLA at 8. It just feeds him more stuff
> faster, thus not just helping him learn, but keeping him out of boredom
> trouble, and best of all, out of Mrs. Crabby's hair, does she *hate*show-offs.
> Is this just a gedankenexperiment<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment>
> It obviously hurts any chance of getting this to work that my people skills
> and my grant-application skills are both extra low, because this would need
> some money to put together a prototype. Unless this hits some wave of viral
> networking, and this message gets passed on to someone who could fund it...
> An IEP *and* made-to-size interventions, for every one, for every single
> one of those very special, very uniquely created kids, whatever abilities,
> skills, giftings, interests they have. And also, very important, to help
> the teacher - not replacing him by any means, but taking away the routine,
> the drudgery, the need to be a specific fit to every child, letting the
> teacher focus in human relationship, behavior, communication, while the
> detail and step by step work is helped by the machine.
> From: caroline at solutiongrove.com
> Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2010 17:00:22 -0400
> To: yamaplos at gmail.com
> CC: subbukk at gmail.com; iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org
> Subject: Re: [IAEP] Data vs Critical Thinking - Can Sugar give schools
> On Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 3:16 PM, Yamandu Ploskonka <yamaplos at gmail.com>wrote:
> 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 thoughts.
> Thank you for your kind words :)
> 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,
> 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,
> The interesting thing is that RTI is actually being implemented as a cost
> savings measure in the US. In the US schools often identify up to 15% of
> their students as needing "special education". They are then
> generally segregated into separate classrooms or pulled out of class into
> resource rooms where they receive instruction with highly qualified teachers
> in small class sizes. Lots of money is spent on this but the outcomes for
> the students are generally extremely poor. In addition, many students with
> reading problems are not referred until they start failing, often around 3rd
> or 4th grade. The referal process itself is expensive, involves tests and
> lots of meetings.
> With RTI policy makers are hoping to teach more students in their normal
> classroom and remediate learning problems early, reducing identification of
> special ed students and reducing costs. Although the results of the studies
> show that improves performance for all students, cost savings by reducing
> special ed is a major driver in adoption.
> 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...
> Again an interesting cultural difference. In the
> US differentiated instruction, when its being used to refer to a single
> classroom, seems to usually mean more attention to the lower performing
> We do definitely also have tracking where students who test high enough
> go to separate classes and receive more of everything. But that is not what
> the people here in the US usually call differentiated instruction.
> 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 failure.
> 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.
> Nod, I agree. I think there is a fundamental dilemma that society and
> indeed every teacher faces around who gets instructional attention. My hope
> working with technology is to raise the general level and the amount of
> resources, I don't imagine that we will ever really eliminate this dilemma.
> Interestingly I worry about it on the other side in this case. In the
> kindergarten class I observed the struggling students had an hour of small
> group phonics lessons. The other students had shorter reading groups and in
> the rest of the time they played with blocks, math games, used computer
> software and read. I worry about the struggling students having enough time
> for exploration and play.
> To me our goal needs to create technology that provide the best possible
> experiences for students receiving the intensive instruction and those who
> are left with more time for individual activities and I think Sugar can
> absolutely support both.
> Personally I'm more impressed with the data collection and analysis part
> of RTI. I the goal I'd like to see us work towards is to sue the data used
> to give every student instruction right in their zone of proximal
> development and to make it easy for teachers to find alternative teaching
> approaches for students who don't respond to the first way something is
> I do think there is power in learning from research
> backed pedagogical methods like RTI, especially when
> they emphasize something like Data which is a good match for technology.
> However, this is a good conversation because part of RTI is very based in
> the US public school culture of spending more resources on special ed
> students. So we need to dissect it and take the pieces that create better
> learning for all students.
> 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. :)*
> On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 9:36 AM, K. K. Subramaniam <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
> 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
> of them as phones, cameras, voice recorders, mp3/mp4 players etc.
> >Problem solvers, groundbreaking pioneers and visionary leaders need to
> >their phonics and their basic math skills. We have the capability to
> >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
> Just a few weeks back, I had a discussion with village school teachers
> using smart machines to enliven language lessons. The discussion veered
> using mini-speakers with mp3 player in classrooms. The players, about 4"
> 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
> four-five years of language lessons. Neither teachers nor 6-9 year olds
> 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]
> 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.orghttp://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep
> 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.orghttp://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep
Caroline at SolutionGrove.com
617-500-3488 - Office
505-213-3268 - Fax
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