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

Tomeu Vizoso tomeu at tomeuvizoso.net
Fri Apr 23 05:18:14 EDT 2010

On Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 02:08, Gonzalo Odiard <godiard at gmail.com> wrote:
> In the context of Sugar we need a simple way to students to send their work
> to the teacher and a simple way to the teacher to group these works, and
> follow the progress.
> Can we start with it?

You mean something that works without a server such as Moodle?

If so, I think we should start by thinking who is going to review and
stabilize that work, as we are getting very short of maintainers.



> Gonzalo Odiard
> On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:03 AM, Caroline Meeks
> <caroline at solutiongrove.com> wrote:
>> Yama,
>> Great vision!
>> 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
>> learning style.
>> #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?
>>> Caryl
>>> 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
>>> so,
>>> 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?
>>> 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.
>>> There.
>>> ________________________________
>>> 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
>>> both?
>>> 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, 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,
>>> 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
>>> students.
>>> 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
>>> taught.
>>> 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.
>>> Thanks!
>>> Caroline
>>> 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>
>>> 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
>>> --
>>> 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
>> --
>> 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
> --
> Gonzalo Odiard
> Responsable de Desarrollo
> Sistemas Australes
> _______________________________________________
> 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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