Archives for the month of: March, 2014

Facilities Improvement Recommendations – March 13, 2014


I wonder how much he’s spent on flipped classrooms.

Seattle pushes back on Common Core Standards and high stakes testing 

Republican National Committee Resolution concerning Common Core


I know so little about the mechanics of national politics that I don’t know what this portends, if anything. But I don’t see how it can be good for Common Core.

Common Core seems to be losing altitude. The fact that David Coleman, “architect of Common Core standards” and head of the College Board, apparently didn’t mention the Common Core standards during his unveiling of the new SAT tells me the ‘brand’ has been pretty seriously damaged.

Seattle pushes back on Common Core Standards and high-stakes

At HuffPo:

10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12

I haven’t read the literature on handheld devices and exposure to blue light after dark myself, so I don’t have an informed opinion one way or the other.

What concerns me greatly, however, is the fact that our superintendent has not read the literature, either, yet he has established a goal of making technology in the classroom as “ubiquitous” as pencil and paper.

From what I can see, the board of education is not enthusiastic about technology for the sake of technology; to the best of my knowledge, the board has not voted to make technology “ubiquitous.”

Unfortunately, the fact that the board has not established a formal goal of making technology ubiquitous is neither here nor there.

Seeking board approval for a policy change is not a strength of our current superintendent.

Response to administrator technology memo
Buying technology – business v. schools
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

Where technology enthusiasts see schools going:

The proliferation of computer-based instruction and online schooling has many observers excited by the promise of technology to fundamentally reshape education. Terry Moe and John Chubb [1] argue that once students are no longer dependent on brick-and-mortar schooling, the mammoth institutions built to deliver traditional instruction—and the entrenched interest groups (e.g., unions) that benefit from current institutional arrangements—will wither away. Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson argue in Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns that technology will “change how the world learns.” [2] They foresee a digital storehouse of modular online learning activities that can be customized to each student.
The Curriculum Wars Live On: Two Contemporary Flash Points By Tom Loveless 03/05/2014

Irvington is working toward creating a modular curriculum, which will live on Atlas Rubicon software.

Once we have our new modular curriculum typed into Atlas Rubicon, admin says, the district will be able to swap modules in and out any time the state decrees a change.

The infusing of technology into the curriculum proceeds apace.

Atlas Rubicon

Hi Kris –

In the 1/28/2014 BOE meeting, the administration mentioned that more classes involving other grades will be flipped this spring.

Could you let me know which classes, subjects, and grades will be involved?

Thanks so much!


UPDATE 4.11.2014: Flipped classrooms applauded in district newsletter

UPDATE 5.20.2015: Still waiting for an answer.

Math teacher (and member of CC development team) Vern Williams on
flipped classrooms

Email from an NYU student on his experience with a flipped classroom

“We do need to find out whether it works for Irvington and if it works for our curriculum,” he says. “The Board expects and will ask – as we have asked with any effort that the administration [puts forth] – for them to give us the results of the findings of whether it has worked or not.”
Irvington Schools Flipped
Written by David Neilsen
Friday, 21 February 2014

In my experience, there aren’t many school-board presidents who would say this.

For any number of reasons, school boards across the country have lost control of the schools they head. Superintendents manage boards, not the other way around.

A few years back I attended a school-board meeting at which a board member asked the then-superintendent whether she talked to her fellow superintendents about …. curriculum, I think it was.

She said she didn’t. Instead, she spent her time talking to her peers about ‘how to manage our boards.’

How to manage our boards: those are pretty close to her exact words. I was so shocked I thought I must have misunderstood, but a friend of mine who was also present confirmed that our superintendent had indeed just told the board, publicly, that when speaking to her peers her main topic of conversation was board management.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be (to put it mildly), and that’s not the way it used to be somewhere back in the mists of time. I don’t know when things changed.

The legal reality is that public schools are government entities, and school boards are the elected officials we the people choose to head them.

Our elected officials, serving as the board, set the mission; the executive executes the mission. 

The board evaluates the executive’s effectiveness.

In really-existing reality, however, superintendents run circles around school boards. They swamp board members with document dumps in the form of board books, bamboozle them with verbiage that could be taken from the Educational Jargon Generator, and refuse to measure results or even take surveys. Their subordinates are directed to do likewise.

Irvington is, I think, fairly unique — and fortunate — in having a school board that is attempting to restore the proper lines of authority.

Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo Groups
Irvington Parents Forum on Facebook
Irvington Union Free School District
Irvington USFD Board Meetings – YouTube

The vendors are circling, part one

UPDATE 3/2/2014: Come to find out, our vendor is actually a member of the district’s Technology Think Tank. Edu Tek doesn’t have to circle; it’s in the circle.

The Think Tank includes no one who does not have a child currently attending Irvington schools (so I’ve been told by administrators), and membership is closed. If you do not have children in the schools, you can pay for technology, but you cannot have a voice in determining what technology will be bought, when, or why.

The vendor gets a say, the people writing the checks do not.

Buying technology – business v. schools
Response to administrator technology memo
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom

This graphic from Knewton, which writer David Neilsen links to, explains the rationale behind ‘flipping’ the classroom. The goal isn’t to “engage” students (Powerpoint movies are boring) or to increase achievement (achievement won’t be measured), but to eliminate the teacher as “sage on the stage.” Or, because the teacher-sage can’t be eliminated altogether–not if you want students to pass Regents examinations–to banish the act of explicit instruction out of sight, in the student’s home. Explicit instruction is rejected by education schools. In their ed-school classes, aspiring teachers and administrators are told that students must teach themselves via “inquiry,” “discovery,” “problem-solving,” “collaboration,” and the occasional “struggle.” The correct role for the teacher, they learn, is as “guide on the side,” not “sage on the stage.” Guide-on-the-sidery is the core belief, the core message, and the core teaching of the education programs all public-school teachers and administrators are required to attend. It is also the core teaching of  the “professional development” provided by education schools and their graduates. In all likelihood this group of teachers singing about becoming guides on the side thanks to Common Core wrote their song at a professional development workshop. The dream of the flipped classroom is the dream of finally removing the teacher from the front of the classroom forever.


Flipped classroom - complete - Knewton

Source: Knewton Infographics

UPDATE: Mathematics teacher Vern Williams responds: One of our local high schools started the flipped classroom strategy and both students and parents pretty much rebelled. I was asked to tutor former students taking Algebra 2 who had been outstanding “real” Algebra 1 students. I actually encourage my students to hang out on Khan’s site but only because many of his lessons are interesting and can serve as an excellent supplement. An important part of teaching and learning math is the interaction among students with their peers and teacher WHILE learning is occurring, not a day after the fact. And that even assumes that quality learning occurred while watching videos with no opportunity for questions. The guide on the side folks have been trying to separate me from my students for the past forty years. They accuse you of being the sage on the stage because you dare attempt to teach. If flipped classrooms are being pushed by educrats and colleges of education, beware.

Vern Williams is something of a legend in ‘instructivist’ circles. He teaches algebra to gifted 8th grade students, served on President Bush’s National Mathematics Advisory Board, and was I believe the sole classroom teacher involved in writing the Common Core math standards. Two of his articles in the Times:

Steve Nesbitt · Top Commenter commenting on Flipped Classroom Post

I have two apprehensions concerning the flipped classroom. As a skilled instructor presents material, he does not merely recite information in an identical format to each of his classes nor do so in an exclusively one-way communication. He is constantly observing his students – the glazed stares of some, their facial expressions and their body language – and he allows his students the opportunity to interject pertinent questions. He is not merely a purveyor of knowledge, but a receptor of stimuli, all of which he allows to guide and modify his presentation in real time to facilitate understanding, adapting this presentation to the students’ responses to it and from class to class. The flipped classroom would seem to rob the instructor of this ability while simultaneously robbing the students of time beyond the school walls during which they could be enriching their lives and refreshing their spirits with non-academic experiences. I appreciate the five to seven-minute video limitation mentioned above, but fear that such brevity will not be the rule for many instructors.

November 3, 2013 at 11:51pm

Why educationists want to flip the classroom

Why Minimally Guided Teaching Techniques Do Not Work:
A Reply to Commentaries

Chloe McCune (no direct link)

I am an AP student who is living through this “experiment” and I have yet to encounter one of my peers who actually likes this system. While they may tout wonderful ideas like doing “learning activities” in reality its just busywork. Few times are we ever given lecture videos and when they are given they rarely help us understand the information. Students cant ask the teacher questions and we never have chat rooms with our peers or teachers for help. We are left reading everything from outdated and poorly written textbooks, teachimg ourselves the material and finding that when the test comes around we know nothing about the topic. Watch out Bergman and Sams… you made thousands of teengagers rather unhappy.

October 7, 2013 at 1:11am

Sharon Curran Preston · Manager, Service Delivery at Facebook (no direct link)

As a parent of a 16 year old boy who has a flipped math class I can tell you first hand that the flipped classroom is horrible. Why actually teach when you can record a video once and then sit at your desk for the rest of the year and blame the kids who aren’t asking you enough questions during the “classwork” time in class? Or better yet, tell them to ask their equally lost peers. My very social son sits in class and talks to his buddies for the entire period while the teacher helps one, yes one, of his classmates. How the hell is this teaching? Yes it is my son’s fault for not “applying” himself but come on people. What do you expect of high school kids?! If you leave them in an unstructured environment all year they aren’t going to learn anything. The flipped classroom is a joke.

February 20 at 12:19pm

Email from an NYU student on his experience with a flipped classroom
The digital natives are restless (Tweets from the front)
Tweets from high school students in flipped classrooms
“Our goal”
Wrong track
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD