## Friday, August 27, 2010

### Fraction Resources and Games

I have stumbled upon some really cool Fraction resources and I wanted to share them

Visual Fractions -- Very cool fraction visualizer that lets create visual models of fractions as pizzas, bars and other objects. It also lets you save your model as an image to your desktop

Simplify Fraction Calculator -- Another very cool free tool from Math Warehouse. This one simplifies any fraction (including improper ones). Produces visual models of original and simplified fraction and it lets you save the entire thing as an image to your desktop.

Free Pintable Fraction Worksheets -- Several high quality fraction worksheets that have answer keys and also an associate powerpoint lesson.

Fraction Games Online -Several well done fraction games including

1. Fraction Frenzy--a Fun game on identifying Fractions

2. Equivalent Fractions Frenzy-- This one is on identifying equivalent fractions

There are some other really cool resources here

## Tuesday, July 20, 2010

### New York Standardized Tests to Become Harder

It's no secret to public school teachers in New York: The state tests have become a joke. I can't speak to all subjects, but the prior statement is unequivocally true about Math especially at the high school level where some of the tests are laughable. In the mathematics curriculum, the laughable ease of the tests were most obvious in the Math A exams and, now, in the Integrated Algebra (IA) exam--both of which can be passed almost solely by doing OK on the multiple choice exams. The reason that the Math A and now the IA are so easy especially in comparison to other Math Regents exams (Math B /Algebra 2 Trig ) to pass has always been obvious to public school teachers. The easy one has always been the one that students must pass to get a diploma--No Child Left Behind rewards schools and states passed on High School pass rates...and not surprisingly our state responded -- by making it very easy to reach the minimum graduation requirement and proffering a very easy test to the students!

Well apparently, our state went a bit too far in its quest to ease up on the tests. According to a New York Times article, our students were doing better and better on state tests but our students were not doing any better on national tests. In other words, they were doing better in our state but when measured against students in other states...our kids were not showing any improvement.

So...expect the Integrated Algebra I exam to get a harder next year!

## Friday, May 14, 2010

### New York Teacher Evaluations--revisited

anyone who who is a teacher and who has worked at schools knows how inherently subjective teacher evaluations are. Although I personally have always lucked out and had supportive supervisors, your evaluations by supervisors are inherently subjective and personal . In the end, I guess that it's the same in any industry, people are just subjective, will tend to help those that they like.

I raise this point because the proposed changes in teacher evaluations in New York will make, as far as I can tell, make it easier to terminate tenured teachers based on the apperance of 'objective' data. For instance, teachers will get a poor evaluation rating if their students' scores don't improve ...hmmm, that sounds great at first. But there are several flaws that are probably obvious to any teacher. Consider teaching high school math in New York. The first test that students must pass is the Integrated Algebra I exam--which is a joke and is ridiculously easy to pass. So if you teach Geometry, you are stuck in the unfortunate situation of teaching a class with a much more difficulty test with a lower pass rate-- What formula, if any, should be used to measure you 'improvement', given that the test your students must take is substantially harder than the one they took the prior year?

Of course, there are other problems with measuring improvement on tests...what about teachers who do not teach regents classes? Are they just luckier than the others.

The new rules are in the process of being created so let's see what their final shape will be.

### Fun new Kids Education Game

Just stumbled upon a cool looking new kids math game-- RJ The Robot- http://www.rjtherobot.com . A game in the works from the creators of my favorite maths games site--will post a full review when the game is finally launched.

## Tuesday, November 24, 2009

### Increasing student interest in science, math

Read an interesting article in the times about Obama's attempt to spurt students to purse science..

As a teacher of Math and Computer Science, I completely agree with the fact that not enough students are pursuing these fields. While I doubt that having movie stars or athletes promoting science will do anything, some of the other initiatives might make a difference. Read the article to learn more.

## Saturday, November 14, 2009

### Sleeping During Testimony

I spent 2 years in the New York city public school system at a rough inner manhattan school and, during that time, knew of 3 different teachers who received enough unsatisfactories to be 'tried' to see if they should retain their licenses. Now, I myself was never in their classrooms so I'm not writing to judge them or my school--but I couldn't help but be amazed by a recent article in the New York Times education . Apparently, 1 artibtrator who was in charge of deciding the fate of a new york city teacher's job and (I think license) actually feel asleep during testimony. Here's a direct quote from the times's article:
Arbitrator Goldberg’s sleep ‘episodes’ were witnessed by three department attorneys, as well as two hearing witnesses.”