"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, January 29, 2016

Corruption and Basic Education

One can make comparisons between countries. With such exercise, one may find correlations. Here is one. Corruption and basic education seem to be strongly correlated. Countries where corruption is perceived to be low tend to have better educational systems.

Transparency International provides on an annual basis a Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a measure of the perceived level of public sector corruption for each country. The 2015 numbers are now available and the following lists the 40 least corrupt countries in the world.

Rank CPI2015 Country
1 91 Denmark
2 90 Finland
3 89 Sweden
4 88 New Zealand
5 87 Netherlands
5 87 Norway
7 86 Switzerland
8 85 Singapore
9 83 Canada
10 81 Germany
10 81 Luxembourg
10 81 United Kingdom
13 79 Australia
13 79 Iceland
15 77 Belgium
16 76 Austria
16 76 The United States Of America
18 75 Hong Kong
18 75 Ireland
18 75 Japan
21 74 Uruguay
22 71 Qatar
23 70 Chile
23 70 Estonia
23 70 France
23 70 United Arab Emirates
27 65 Bhutan
28 63 Botswana
28 63 Portugal
30 62 Poland
30 62 Taiwan
32 61 Cyprus
32 61 Israel
32 61 Lithuania
35 60 Slovenia
36 58 Spain
37 56 Czech Republic
37 56 Korea (South)
37 56 Malta
40 55 Cape Verde
40 55 Costa Rica
40 55 Latvia
40 55 Seychelles
Above data from Transparency International

In the above table, there are countries listed in red, while a few are in black. Countries in red are those found in the top 40 in another ranking scheme. This other ranking comes from the World Economic Forum - Human Capital Report - 2015. The Human Capital Index measures both learning and employment outcomes. This index is therefore quite useful in gauging educational systems. The countries listed in red in the above table are those that rank high likewise in the Human Capital Index. This therefore shows a strong correlation between corruption and human capital. Less corrupt countries perform better in both learning and employment outcomes.

Using results from international standardized exams also provides a route for gauging educational systems around the globe. Scores from exams like PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS can be used with literacy and graduation rates. Countries shown in red in the following map rank high in terms of cognitive skills and educational attainment. One should be able to see that countries that are colored red in this map are likewise those countries that are perceived to be less corrupt. 

Above copied from The Learning Curve

Seeing this correlation makes one wonder if measures of educational outcomes can in fact serve as a measure for corruption since poor learning seems to be strongly associated with corrupt governments.  The Philippines stands poorly when it comes to international standardized exams. Does it follow that the Philippine government is more corrupt than other governments? In the latest CPI, the Philippines does not compare favorably with some of its closest neighbors in Southeast Asia:

30 62 Taiwan
54 50 Malaysia
76 38 Thailand
88 36 Indonesia
95 35 Philippines

The correlation between corruption and a poor educational system should not be a surprise for one reason. Education requires resources. And when the government is corrupt, these much needed resources do not reach the schools. These do not reach the students and teachers who are in greater need. In the Philippines, where pork abounds, legislators seem to dictate their whims on when and where classrooms are going to be built. There appears to be no mechanism by which needs are taken into account so that resources can be channeled to where these are most needed. Decisions therefore appear to be made solely on political patronage. There is likewise corruption that is simply stealing public funds. Of course, this practice reduces how much is available to support public education.

With such a strong correlation between corruption and basic education, one can actually gauge how good a government is by simply looking at how classrooms are performing.




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Impact of Technology on Learning

Last night, my nine-year old son was using my smartphone. I thought he was checking on his current collection of football cards in the Topps Kick app. Then, I heard him talked on the phone, "Okay, Google, how old is Neymar, Junior? The phone answered, "Neymar is 23 years old." My son was using Google's Voice Search app on my phone. So I took the phone and asked, "Okay, Google, What is a hygrometer", since my son's fourth grade class was currently studying weather in their science class. The phone answered, "Hygrometer, an instrument for measuring the humidity of the air or a gas". To say the least, I made the excitement disappear.

It is truly amazing what digital devices can do. I can check on my smartphone on how my students are doing in their homework. The flipside is students can check on something else while they are listening to my lecture. I do walk around the classroom while I give the lecture so that probably discourages students from opening an app on their digital devices, but nationwide, the amount of time spent by students on digital devices inside the classroom doing unrelated tasks has been on the rise. A recent survey involving more than 600 students across 26 states made by Bernard McCoy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows that students inside classrooms are using a smartphone or another digital device 20 percent of the time on distractions.

Above copied from the Journal of Media Education
By comparing classes, one can see that the younger students are using digital devices more for non-classroom related activities. It is clearly getting worse.

Above copied from the Journal of Media Education
The main reason why students are doing these apparently is boredom. Listening or paying attention to a lecture is indeed taxing. It requires, as noted by McCoy, self-control. McCoy writes in his discussion:
Respondents said fighting boredom (63%) in the classroom was a leading reason they used digital devices for non-class activities. This suggests a need for students to learn more effective self-control techniques to keep them focused on the learning at hand in classroom settings. It also suggests instructors might benefit from learning and experimenting with new ways to engage college students in classroom activities that might reduce boredom and minimize disruptions caused by non-class uses of digital devices. 
I did not push my son to use my smartphone to help him review science. I was in fact amazed that he found out on his own how to do Voice Search. But I am hoping that we, teachers and parents, are soon able to catch up with technology.




Monday, January 25, 2016

When Storms Interrupt Learning in Classrooms

A post on this blog more than a year ago talked about Instructional Continuity. The article was in response to flooding brought by heavy rains in the capital region of Manila in the Philippines. This time, a blizzard just left a thick blanket of snow in our area in Virginia. Elementary, middle and high schools are all closed and so is Georgetown University. As a faculty, I am encouraged to take measures so as to minimize the interruption in instruction. So I have posted my slides with the transcribed lecture my students would miss. Here is one of the slides.


Last Friday, before the snow storm hit, I reminded my students of the importance of solving problems at the end of each chapter as well as distributed practice, as supported by evidence from cognitive and educational psychology. This, of course, likewise applies to basic education. Mason Crest Elementary School tries to address instructional continuity with the following video:

February 26, 2015 Snow Day Story Time!
Posted by Mason Crest Elementary on Thursday, February 26, 2015
The principal, Brian Butler, writes "Kids what to do during a snow day off from school? Ask your parents can you build a snow structure and listen to a snow day story from a friend! Take a look!"

In the previous post of this blog, I likewise noted the following:
Of course, the tools and strategies provided above may not at all be possible in the Philippines. Much of the examples require a dependable and accessible internet, which is not necessarily present in all of the households in the country. But there are strategies that can be implemented without the world wide web. This simply requires planning ahead of time and designing homework which students can then do in case schools are suspended. These activities could be as simple as reading and writing assignments, or answering worksheets in mathematics. Learning does not have to stop if schools are closed.
Actually, full reliance on the internet is likewise unnecessary even in the United States. I also reminded my students last Friday that even without access to the internet or even a computer, learning could still continue. They still had their textbook and list of problems they could use for practice. And again, the same applies to basic education. The following are examples taken directly from what my own children are doing.

My son, who is in fourth grade, is reviewing the science of weather (how timely!) and here is part of his work:


And here is my daughter's (who is in first grade):



Being trapped inside one's house due to a massive snow storm is not really a reason to interrupt learning completely.



Saturday, January 23, 2016

We Can Learn from a Child

Over ten years ago, when elementary schools in Paete were given the opportunity to explore what the internet had to offer, students had the chance to see the four seasons through photographs from the United States. Today, of course, is an excellent opportunity to share with pupils in the Philippines how a blizzard looks like. More than a foot of snow has fallen in the Washington DC area and there is more to come.


We are quite eager to share our knowledge and experiences with young minds. Facebook reminds us of how much we like to share information with others. As teachers, however, we also need to be open to what our children maybe telling us. This morning, while I was browsing through Facebook, I came across this post shared by Troy Colmenares:


The post did not come with any information regarding the student who answered this exercise. It was a bit difficult to comprehend what the student wrote because of spelling and the use of more than one language. I had a brief conversation with Troy about this post and he made me realize that I could actually learn quite a bit from this child.

I was guessing that the child was probably in either third or fourth grade since science is not taught in Philippine public schools in the early years. In addition, English is not the medium of instruction in the early years. Troy thought that this was a reasonable guess judging also from the child's handwriting. Based on these, the above probably came from a nine- or ten-year old child. What did I learn from this child?

First, as Troy pointed out, this child was definitely determined. The table was completed. This student was obviously making the effort. The work showed great potential. Second, the child's answers provided a snapshot of where the child currently stood. The child was giving us the opportunity to know more about his or her experiences.

The first four animals the child listed are not really "common". Lions, tigers, elephants and bears are not as common as grasshoppers. These are only common in children's books and zoos. Most are in fact endangered. The foods listed were obviously all human food and these perhaps are his or her favorites. Spaghetti, barbeque and hotdogs are most probably not what this child usually eats on a daily basis, but these are basically what a child often expects when attending parties. The child's effort and background tell us a lot. For starters, it shows why we need to teach science in the early years.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kindergarten Has Changed in the US

With the realization of the importance of the early years in education, changes have occurred in the kindergarten curriculum in the United States. To gauge whether these changes are for better or worse, it is necessary to identify the changes first. Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham, and Anna Rorem from the University of Virginia have recently provided a systematic comparison between the state of kindergarten during the years 1998 and 2011, considering the following dimensions: (1) what teachers consider as important for school, (2) time spent on each subject, (3) how teachers manage their classroom, (4) teaching practices, and (5) how teachers measure learning outcomes. Their findings are published in the journal AERA Open.

By examining data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K:1998 and ECLS-K:2011), which includes thousands of kindergarten students and teachers, major changes in Kindergarten have been found across all dimensions. Especially worth noting is the difference seen in the amount of time allocated for each subject. Kindergarten pupils in the US are now spending more time in math and reading, and less time in arts and music.

Only 11 percent of kindergarten teachers spend time on art on a daily basis while close to 100 percent tackle reading everyday. More than 10 percent do not even provide an art class at least once a week. Science does not seem to have suffered a reduction in time, but the authors point out that exposure to science content has decreased substantially.

Exposure to dinosaurs has been cut into half. These differences are in fact much bigger if one considers the fact that kindergarten over the past decade has been increasingly becoming full day:

Above copied from ChildTrends DataBank
With these changes properly documented, one can then address the next question: Are these changes for better or worse?



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Socio-Economic Status and Education

Paul Kiel in the New York Times writes: "The most recent federal survey in 2013 put the difference in net worth between the typical white and black family at $131,000. That’s a big number, but here’s an even more troubling statistic: About one-quarter of African-American families had less than $5 in reserve. Low-income whites had about $375."

There is race and there is income. Some even look at gender differences, but data on socio-economic status and education are clear: There is a widening gap between poor and rich children when it comes to education outcomes. Sean F. Reardon summarizes the findings on the "Income Achievement Gap" in an article published more than two years ago in Educational Leadership. Here are the important points:

1. The difference in academic achievement based on standardized test scores between poor and rich children has been increasing.

Above copied from Educational Leadership


While differences in test scores between a black child and a white child have been decreasing during the past four decades, differences based on income have been rising.

2. This difference is seen in other measures such as enrollment in college.



The graph above makes it clear that enrollment in selective colleges is vastly different between the wealthiest and the poorest.

3. This difference is seen as early as school-readiness in kindergarten (K).
Above copied from Educational Leadership

In another study, the differences in school-readiness measured at kindergarten based on race have been shown to disappear substantially when socio-economic status (SES) is taken into account.
Above copied from the Economic Policy Institute

The good news is that the gap does not seem to be increasing substantially with schooling. The bad news is that the gap remains throughout years of schooling.









Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK on Education



Above copied from Barack Obama's Facebook page

“... For most of the past decade the field of education has been a battleground in the freedom struggle. It was not fortuitous that education became embroiled in this conflict. Education is one of the vital tools the Negro needs in order to advance. And yet it has been denied him by devises of segregation and manipulations with quality. 

Historically, to keep Negroes in oppression they were deprived an education. In slave days it was illegal to teach a slave to read or write. With the ending of slavery and the emergence of quasi freedom, Negroes were only partially educated — sufficient to make their work efficient but insufficient to raise them to equality. 

The walling off of Negroes from equal education is part of the historical design to submerge him in second-class status. Therefore as Negroes have struggled to be free they have had to fight for the opportunity for a decent education.... 

...The richest nation on Earth has never allocated enough resources to build sufficient schools, to compensate adequately its teachers, and to surround them with the prestige our work justifies. We squander funds on highways, on the frenetic pursuit of recreation, on the overabundance of overkill armament, but we pauperize education.”

From a speech King delivered on March 14, 1964, 
when he accepted the John Dewey Award from the United Federation of Teachers


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tracking Promotes Inequity in Education

"...In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids. And we have to make college affordable for every American...." The word "every" appears twice in the above two sentences of Obama's last State of the Union address. The word "every" speaks of equity, the most important principle in public education. Of course, equity is very difficult to achieve especially in a world where competition reigns supreme. Inequalities persist. Educational systems all over the world may claim efforts to promote equity yet cling on schemes that not only fail to support but also undermine such efforts.

The relationship between socio-economic status and educational attainment remains strong. Research is clear on one factor that increases the influence of poverty on education: tracking. Citing previous published papers in this area, an international team of researchers reminds us of the following in a paper published in the American Education Research Journal:
Research on the effect of tracking has shown two processes by which this transmission of disadvantage occurs. First, empirical research suggests that the more and earlier the schooling system is stratified, the more young people’s expectations are determined and constrained by their early achievement (Buchmann & Dalton, 2002; Buchmann & Park, 2009). Second, stratification tends to be associated with lower educational expectations among less privileged students (see Brunello & Checchi, 2007; Mateju, Smith, Soukup, & Basl, 2007; Pfeffer, 2008).
The paper then presents new findings using data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Their conclusion:
"The results from this study provide broad support for our hypothesis that socioeconomic status differentials in educational opportunities are larger in countries with ability or curricular stratification."
Tracking exacerbates inequity. Yet, educational systems continue to stratify. The new K to 12 curriculum of the Department of Education in the Philippines is one glaring example:

Above copied from Suspend K to 12 at change.org
It is is timely to reiterate a previous post on this blog:
The last two years of DepEd's K to 12 offer four different tracks. Young students are therefore required to consider what career they want to pursue later in life. The tracks share a set of core courses, but the differences still matter and the question of how pupils can thoughtfully consider which track to choose remains to be addressed. In 2014, a study made by the Department of Labor and Employment in the Philippines recommended the opening of several jobs in the Philippines. One of the occupations listed as suffering from shortage is guidance counseling. With K to 12, this shortage clearly would be felt more strongly... ...It is not straightforward to predict what the future holds especially in terms of careers to choose. This only highlights the importance of a basic education that does not confine students to a limited set of options. The shortage in guidance counselors combined with the high specificity of tracks in senior high school are obvious weaknesses in DepEd's K to 12.




Friday, January 15, 2016

School and Family

"Families are the best anti-poverty measure ever invented. They are a welfare, education and counselling system all wrapped up into one." These are the words of David Cameron, Britain's Prime Minister, during his speech on life chances.



Cameron's speech highlights the importance of the family in addressing the challenges of poverty. When families fail, the prime minister is quick to point out that the next best thing a society could perhaps use is the school, but it is important that schools understand how poverty dramatically impacts education.

It is worth noting that Cameron cites evidence from research in promoting his agenda. The two points relevant to education are the following:
  1. A knowledge-based curriculum is necessary. Citing the work of educational psychologists, Cameron emphasizes the fact that "the more information is stored in our long term memory the better our processing power – our working memory – can be employed."
  2. Character, especially persistence or 'grit', is important. This likewise is supported by research.
The key theme of Cameron's speech, however, is equity, providing all with equal opportunity:
"To give every child the chance to dream big dreams, and the tools – the character, the knowledge and the confidence, that will let their potential shine brightly."


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Grandparents Count Too

Although poverty profoundly makes education more challenging, it is widely believed that providing more opportunities for children of poor families to attend college is a good step in addressing social inequality and mobility. Poverty is often associated with parents of low educational attainment. Thus, in the US, most college admissions take into account if an applicant comes from a family whose parents never entered college. Recognizing the greater challenges faced by these first-generation students is necessary to ensure that they navigate through college with adequate support and guidance. Matthew Lawrence of Reed College, however, shows that one actually has to go beyond the parents, the educational attainment of the grandparents is part of the picture too.

Above copied from Pinterest


In a paper published in the American Educational Research Journal, Lawrence, using longitudinal data involving about 10,000 students, shows that the educational attainment of the grandparents is correlated with the college destination of grandchildren. In the chart below the percent for each type of student (First - a student is a child of parents who did not finish college, Second - a student's parent has finished college but grandparents are not college graduates, and Third - a student's parent and grandparent have finished college) that has entered a selective four year college is provided.

Percent of students entering a selective four year college for each family educational status.

There are obviously far less first-generation students entering a selective college. But second-generations are likewise less likely to be found enrolled in selective colleges. Recognizing the above correlations surely makes the following recent news from the Philippines infuriating.

Above copied from AsiaOne
Students from poor families need all the support and opportunity they could get. Poor students find education more challenging. And as recent research shows, it even goes deeper than one generation. An opportunity wasted is a precious opportunity lost.






Monday, January 11, 2016

A "No Nonsense Classroom" Is Nonsense

"One should not bother saying please. Just tell your students to do it for there are really no options." Imagine a teacher hearing this through a walkie-talkie from a coach standing behind the class. This happens while a teacher is being trained on a "no-nonsense nurturing" from the Center for Transformative Teacher Training. The center takes special note on their website that "Research studies indicate that our unique training methodology enables teachers to increase on task behavior by at least 55%". It is true that one must pay attention to outcomes. However, reaching a goal is not the only thing. In education, how one reaches that goal also matters. With a myriad of factors that can influence learning outcomes, it is possible that children could still learn not because of what we do, but in spite of what we have done.

NPR recently had a piece on "non-nonsense nurturing". It came with a cartoon shown below. While the article talked about some positive points regarding this approach, it was clear from the picture that this method needed a closer look.

Above copied from NPR
The above program stands in great contrast to the following requirement imposed by a karate instructor, Michael K. Dietrich, on his students:


It is in fact ironic to see that a martial arts class does not subscribe to a "no-nonsense nurturing" method. Dietrich does provide structure and discipline in his classes but not in the same way that compliance is emphasized to make up for engagement.

There have been several comments posted on the NPR article. I find one worth sharing here. This is from Tom Birkenstock:
...It's sad to see people cheer on oppressive, conformist teaching methods for "those" children. I also wonder what you are unintentionally teaching all the students, both the well behaved and the difficult. If a teacher is strident and does not say "please" or "thank you," is he or she showing the children that they do not need to empathize or care about others? What sort of interpersonal interactions are being modeled here?
Obviously, structure is important in the classroom so that you may maintain control and to create an environment that children perceive as safe. At the same time, this method appears to suck out all of the exploration and creativity from the classroom.
Another point that karate instructor Dietrich always reminds students is that empowerment is key. In the "non-nonsense nurturing", teachers are actually turned into robots. In fact, everyone seems to be treated as one.




Sunday, January 10, 2016

Students with Special Needs

When a child is blind or deaf, the evidence is clear. In these situations, it is also straightforward to see what the child needs. Students with special needs, however, are not always straightforward to identify. One area concerns learning disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the US defines specific learning disabilities in the following manner:
Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
The identification and choice of interventions for specific learning disability, however, remain challenging. A significant number of approaches currently employed in school districts in the US fall under a cognitive discrepancy identification scheme based on an individual pattern of strengths and weaknesses (PSW).

Above copied from West Virginia Department of Education
It is indeed comforting that there are prescribed methods and standards applied in the identification of students with special needs. In medicine, a correct diagnosis and treatment is crucial. Methods therefore undergo rigorous clinical trials to see if these are effective or not. Unfortunately, with specific learning disability identification and intervention, this is not the case. PSW methods do not have sufficient backing from research based evidence. And a paper scheduled to be published in the Journal of Educational Psychology shows that PSW methods "are at best superfluous, and may be detrimental to the goal of ensuring the availability of high-quality academic instruction for all struggling students."

The authors of the study based their conclusion on an empirical investigation that includes over 200 students from three school districts in the Southwestern U.S. Their findings are quite disconcerting. First, the two common methods used for identification; the crossbattery assessment method and the concordance/discordance model, do not identify the same children as having a specific learning disability. Out of the 175 students identified with a specific learning disability by one of these two methods, only 59 are identified by both. This is not even better than tossing a coin. The second finding is that learning outcomes are not dependent on whether a student is identified or not with a specific learning disability. This study does raise serious questions on how schools should manage specific learning disabilities.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

How Can Technology Help in Education

The social aspect of human life cannot be overstated. Thus, even education hinges on relationships. These relationships are between a parent and a child, and between a teacher and a pupil. It is through these connections that one may find technology enhancing basic education. In order to be useful, technology must facilitate, not replace, the engagement between a child and a parent, between a pupil and a teacher.

In a recent editorial published in JAMA Pediatrics, Radesky and Christakis write:
To be sure, it is important to understand that not all electronic toys—or for that matter apps—are the same, and content drives both the experience and the outcomes. For example, a randomized trial of Bedtime Math, an app that is intended to improve mathematical skills, showed benefits in first-grade students. Notably, the app is structured to promote parent-child interaction and provide a narrative with which to discuss simple mathematic problems. In other words, it drives triadic attention between child, device, and caregiver. Such content and formal feature design elements are important to the educational potential of digital play and need to be a new industry standard. Any digital enhancements should serve a clear purpose to engage the child not only with the toy/app, but also transfer that engagement to others and the world around them to make what they learned meaningful and generalizable. Digital features have enormous potential to engage children in play—particularly children with a higher sensory threshold—but it is important the child not get stuck in the toy/app’s closed loop to the exclusion of real-world engagement. Bells and whistles may sell toys, but they also can detract value.
In the above paragraph, Bedtime Math is highlighted.  Bedtime Math is an app that delivers a short math story or problem on a daily basis. The following is an example:

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

WHY DID THE CHEETAH CROSS THE BRIDGE?


December 30, 2015

Fast and slow animals can be any size. A cockroach and a snail are both small, but that zippy roach will leave the snail in the dust. And the two-toed sloth, which moves only a few inches a day, can’t keep up even with the tiny snail! So our friend Troy W. wondered, how long would it take a mouse to cross the super-long bridge near his house, and how long would it take a cheetah? Troy lives right near the Thi Nai Bridge, the longest sea bridge in the whole country of Vietnam. It’s 8,127 feet long (2,477 meters), or about 1 1/2 miles. Well, mice can run up to 8 miles an hour, pretty speedy for their size: that’s faster than we humans walk, but slower than we run. 1 1/2 miles is 3/16 of 8 miles, so the mouse could cross it in 3/16 of 1 hour — about 11 minutes. The cheetah, though, could blast across at a steady 60 miles an hour, which is a mile every minute. So a mile and a half would take him only a minute and a half! That leads to our next question: why did the chicken cross the bridge?…
Wee ones: Who’s faster, you walking at 4 miles an hour, or a mouse moving at 8 miles an hour?
Little kids: If you, the mouse and the cheetah all want to cross, but only 2 of you can go at a time, how many ways can you pair up? (Don’t worry about the order, just who’s with whom.)Bonus: If the cheetah crosses in 2 minutes and the mouse takes 11 minutes, how long does the cheetah have to sit and wait for the mouse?
Big kids: If you run across that 1 1/2-mile bridge and then run back, how far have you run?  Bonus:If you can ride a bike at 30 miles an hour, how long would it take you to ride across and back? (Hints if needed: An hour has 60 minutes…and what fraction of that will you need?)



Answers:
Wee ones: The mouse is faster!
Little kids: 3 ways: you and mouse, you and cheetah, cheetah and mouse.  Bonus: 9 minutes.
Big kids: 3 miles.  Bonus: 6 minutes. 3 miles is 1/10 of the 30 miles you can do in an hour, so you need 1/10 of an hour.
And thank you Troy for the cool fact about your country’s big bridge!



The key here is that the story or problem is sent to a parent or caregiver. Math then becomes an interaction between an adult and a child. Berkowitz and coworkers have examined the effectiveness of this app and their results are published in the journal Science. And their findings are summarized in the following figure.

Above copied from Berkowitz, et al. Science
Berkowitz and coworkers specifically compared results between those who received a math assignment with those who received only a reading assignment. Based on this comparison, it is clear that for an app to be effective in helping children learn math, not only should it promote engagement between a parent and a child, but a specific encounter between three: parent, child and math. Not all technology are bad for basic education. Some can actually help.