As you may know, I spent the day at the New York Times Schools for Tomorrow Conference, in Times Square. Gorgeous building, very well organized event.
Let me tell you two stories from my day today.
I sat out the panel session on the question, What’s the new era business model for higher education. But I listened in on most of it from an adjacent room. Tony Florence began one of his turns on the panel by asking us to, “Imagine a household that doesn’t have a DVR—unacceptable; that’s not TV right now.”
I do not need to imagine that house. I live in that house. Large numbers of students in America’s public schools live in that house. (And can we please follow up on the “house” assumption?)
But that was just a prelude to his next point, which had to do with education.
“Tivo for the classroom. It records the lecture, syncs up with content—PowerPoint or whatever—and is available for the student to pause, rewind and play as many times as necessary.”
Delaware governor Jack Martell was speaking about how data is being used in Delaware schools.
Evidently, data is collected about student performance (I do not have in my notes the details of how this occurs). Teachers have one hour each week that they are to meet in teams in their schools to pore over this data, to make sense of it and to inform instruction.
He offered the example of a group of teachers (at, say, fourth or fifth grade) who see in their data that their students are struggling with adding fractions*. But they notice (because data is shared within the district) that the students at the school down the street are doing better.
So the teachers in the first school go to the teachers in the second school and ask, “What worksheets are you using?”
For me, these two stories encapsulate the kind of instructional creativity that was on display today. That lectures, PowerPoints and worksheets are the media and formats we are working with is taken for granted. The question is how these will be delivered.
This is our revolution.
Follow up from the comments
Max Ray writes in response to Delaware’s data initiative. Max works at Drexel’s Math Forum, and so resides in Gov. Markell’s neighborhood.
I’m hearing more and more math coaches and teachers and curriculum supervisors asking, “What do these kids already know?” and “What’s the reasoning behind that mistake?” and “What if we asked the *kids* to analyze and discuss these errors that some of them are making?” and other data-driven questions that they can ask because the whole state seems to be pretty committed to making problem solving and communication a core part of STEM education.
* About which…how much data does the average fifth grade teacher really need to collect to draw this conclusion?