07 Nov, 2011
Monday Morning Roundup (Wikipedia, open Internet exams, math instruction)
It’s been a while since I’ve done a roundup – too many other things going on, and really, Twitter has almost made these posts unnecessary or redundant. But, as Twitter doesn’t afford the same opportunities for commentary, I’ll still do an occasional roundup. This one has some great articles, old and new, about student use of Wikipedia, allowing full Internet access during exams, and why we’re (generally) teaching math incorrectly.
The subject of using Wikipedia in school has always sparked intense debate among teachers, students, and even parents. Too often, though, the arguments against using Wikipedia are rooted in ignorance and misinformation. This article talks about a growing trend of teachers assigning their students to write and edit Wikipedia entries, which is a great way to teach important digital literacy skills.
One of Butler’s students, Timothy Hatfield Jr., 17, spent months combing through scientific journals, articles and books to help write and edit a 5,200-word article on the loggerhead sea turtle. He analyzed reference material from several countries and attained permission from photographers to publish their work on the site.
Hatfield made 476 edits to the article, all tracked on the Web site, and the article eventually earned featured status, a designation fewer than 1 percent of all entries receive.
Learning how to research reputable primary sources and properly cite an article are great skills to learn.
As is often the case with online articles, you can find some great additional info in the comments section. In this case, a teacher put together a lesson plan titled “Teach Wikipedia Literacy With The Odyssey“, and shared it online.
While we’re on the subject of Wikipedia, here’s an article from a year ago explaining why banning Wikipedia is doing students a disservice.
Rather, this plea is for those who, instead of teaching students about Internet site credibility, fact checking, verification, and crowdsourcing, choose to simply prohibit the use of Wikipedia.
Students are going to use Wikipedia, if not for a class assignment, then for looking up things that interest them. Do just about any Google search, and the Wikipedia entry for those search terms will be at or near the top of the results.
Yet all that junk that we worry about on Wikipedia also gets used by students who haven’t been taught to correctly verify sources or to understand the reliability of web materials. Without a thorough understanding of its powers, pitfalls, and how to determine both, students won’t be able to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, determining if an online source is credible or based on opinion, is one of the best skills we can teach students.
We don’t need to teach our kids not to use Wikipedia. We need to teach them to make those extra few clicks and decide for themselves if the Wikipedia entry has merit. It’s a skill that is broadly applicable in an age of information overload and Google’s billions of search results.
This article is from a couple years ago, but is still relevant today. The article discusses how Denmark is allowing students full access to the Internet during final exams. The ultimate form of an “open book” test.
Sanne Yde Schmidt, who heads the project at Greve, says: “If we’re going to be a modern school and teach them things that are relevant for them in modern life, we have to teach them how to use the internet.”
Is using the Internet during a test cheating? Depends on how you define cheating. In all walks of life people use the Internet to look up information every day – for work, or for personal reasons. The ability to quickly find information then determine if the information is credible is something everyone should know how to do. Is it cheating for a lawyer to look something up in one of their numerous law books? Is it cheating for a doctor to look up potential drug interactions before writing a prescription? Do we expect professionals from all walks of life to have everything about their chosen profession memorized? No. So why, then, should we memorization over research when it comes to school tests?
The teachers also think the nature of the questions make it harder to cheat in exams. Students are no longer required to regurgitate facts and figures. Instead the emphasis is on their ability to sift through and analyse information.
Another oldie but goodie, discussing why our current methods of math instruction are failing.
Mathematics is a way of thinking about problems and issues in the world. Get the thinking right and the skills come largely for free.
The author believes that focusing on improving basic math skills is the wrong way to go about fixing the problems with math instruction in the U.S.
Numerous studies over the past thirty years have shown that when people of any age and any ability level are faced with mathematical challenges that arise naturally in a real-world context that has meaning for them, and where the outcome directly matters to them, they rapidly achieve a high level of competence. How high? Typically 98 percent, that’s how high.
The author spends about half the article discussing research by Jo Boaler, a math professor at Stanford University and former Marie Curie Chair in Mathematics Education at the University of Sussex in England. Boaler’s research followed seven hundred students through all four years of high school, drawing from three different high schools. One of the schools, in an urban neighborhood, used a very different approach from the traditional methods of teaching math.
The other two schools Boaler studied along with Railside were in more affluent suburban settings, and the students started out with higher mathematics achievements than did those at the urban Railside school. Since those two schools adopted a traditional form of instruction, Boaler was able to compare student outcomes over the entire four years of high school. By the end of the first year, she found that the Railside students were achieving at the same levels as the suburban students on tests of algebra. By the end of the second year, the Railside students were outperforming their counterparts in the two suburban schools in both algebra and geometry tests. By their senior year, 41 percent of Railside students were in advanced classes of precalculus and calculus, compared to only 23 percent of students from the other two schools in more affluent neighborhoods.
- Monday Morning Roundup (08/10/2009)
- Monday Morning Roundup (06/01/2009)
- Monday Morning Roundup (5/4/2009)
- Monday Morning Roundup (8/24/2009)
- Monday Afternoon Roundup (11/9/2009)
- Monday Morning Roundup (10/12/09)
- Monday Morning Roundup (Algebra, English Language Learners, History for Music Lovers)
- Monday Morning Roundup (11/2/2009)
- Monday Morning Roundup (9/14/09)
- Monday Morning Roundup (11/8/2010)