Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Month: October 2010 (page 1 of 3)

The relationship between K to 12 and all education spending in the United States

Here is a graph of the spending on education in public K to 12 schools in the US compared to the spending on education outside of K to 12 schools from 1950 to 2007. The data is from this site thanks to @jasonflom. Please comment below if you see an error in my math.

Graph of k - 12 vs non-k - 12 education spending

So what this graph shows is that there is an incredibly strong relationship between the money spent from all sources on public K to 12 education in the United States and the money spent from all sources on all other education in the US. Since the funding for sources outside of public K to 12 education have very different funding sources we know that this funding situation is not a function of federal or state policy.

In other words, since funding for education has been increasing regardless of the policy behind the funding, it must be that the education just costs more today than it did years ago. Some obvious reasons for this are that the technology in schools has changed over the years and costs more and land costs have risen above the cost of inflation.


I don’t want my kid in that math class

Clarence Fisher ( @glassbeed ) had a great quote in an Elluminate session I listened to yesterday.

For our parents that complain about their students learning how to become global citizens and learning digital literacy because of privacy issues, ask them "would you take your child out of math class?"  (summarized)

Such a good point to bring up. It sounds ridiculous to take students out of math class because we see that as a core skill. However, global citizenship & digital literacy are exceptional important skills, ones that I would argue are as important as learning mathematics. Once you turn the conversation about technology into a discussion of the other skills that students learn through the technology you can change the tone of a conversation about privacy. We can teach kids how to be "safe" online and how to manage their own digital footprint more easily if they are establishing their presence through a safe environment.


My new Google reader subscriptions

Here’s a new version of my subscriptions to different blogs through Google Reader in OPML format. Please feel free to download this and edit as you see fit. 99% of these blogs are related either to technology or educational technology and all of them are relevant to teachers. You should be able to import this file into your own feed reader without difficulty.

Download file here

An email to our new Education Minister

Here is the email I’ve just send to George Abbott, our new education minister in British Columbia. Let’s see if he responds.

Dear Mr. Abbott,

I’m an educator in British Columbia, in a small private school called Stratford Hall. I’m pleased to hear that you have been appointed to your new role. I have a suggestion for you, among many you will receive over the next few days.
I’d like to extend an invitation for you to observe a new form of professional development for teachers which is occurring through the use of social media. A collection of a few thousand teachers use the social media tool Twitter for collaboration and sharing of ideas and resources. I’d like to show you how this works, and how this could be a powerful initiative for British Columbia educators to take the lead.
The learning that has occurred for me through this tool has been amongst the most powerful and deep training I’ve ever done. I can easily say that I learn more through an hour of interaction through Twitter than 10 hours of typical professional development. I can talk to the greatest minds in education directly, or spend an hour discussing the best way to teach polynomials.
If you are interested, check out #edchat on Twitter by following this link:
I’m happy to give a more complete explanation when you have the time.
Thank you,
David Wees


Connecting your Classroom

Here’s a presentation I’m giving this Wednesday to the teachers at my school on Connecting your Classroom. After viewing William Eaton‘s presentation last Friday at the CUEBC conference I decided to present on a similar topic to my own staff, using a couple of his ideas (which I’ve referred in the presentation). The idea is that every classroom can be connected in various ways, and I’m showing 5 of the ways we can connect based on the domains of curriculum, community (in this case experts), student work, and the world. Check out my presentation below.

Two possible futures

The way I see it, there are two possible futures. In one possible future we will always have computers and electronic devices and students should learn how to use these devices. With the exception of certain skills we want to be automatic for students, they really should learn nothing that can be done by a computer faster and cheaper. No more graphing, algebra, differentiation, integration, etc… as these can all be done easily with a computer. There are other ways to teach students algorithms and logical thinking.

In the other possible future our world economy or environment collapses and we no longer have computers. In this future, none of what I’m teaching in school is going to help students anyway, so I might as well prepare for the first future where computers are always ubiquitous.

Book Recommendations for Teachers

I’m just using this page to store book recommendations I’ve been getting through Twitter. Feel free to comment and add your own suggestions if you don’t see them in my list.

When I really realized other people had feelings

I remember the moment that I learned empathy. I suppose not all people are lucky (or unlucky) enough to be able to look back at this moment in time, and honestly I wish it happened to more people than it does. I am lucky enough to have had the chance to apologize to the person in this story, and if you get the opportunity I recommend you also apologize. (This article is inspired by David Truss’s article, Confession from a bully, which I recommend you read.)

When I was in high school, I remember sitting down in math class and while we were waiting for the teacher to start the class, we were chatting. Someone said something about the school newspaper and I said something I regret, "The school newspaper? Nah that paper is junk, none of the articles are interesting." Boy did I put my foot in my mouth because who should be sitting in front of me but the editor of the newspaper. She turned around and looked at me and said, "Really David? Is that really how you feel."

I remember her expression. She was really hurt by my comment. I mean, she was devastated. In fact I wish I could remember more about her than this image because she was one of the people in high school that I always thought was so cool, and not in the "cool crowd" kind of way. All I can remember is this one image, burned into my brain. I remember thinking, "Oh crap, I really hurt her feelings." That was the moment I learned empathy.

Fortunately I got to see her many years later in college and I apologized for my thoughtlessness in high school. She had forgotten it of course, and my apology didn’t seem to help me much. I really wish I could take back my actions, but you know, you can’t.

Part of the point of having empathy is having a little bit of thought about what you say and do, and recognizing that the other people in the world aren’t just cardboard cut-outs that talk. I didn’t really get that until this moment, and I’m not sure why because I feel like learning the lesson of empathy in 12th grade is a bit late. I know from experience now though that some people really never learn empathy so I feel very lucky to have learnt this lesson.

25 Myths About Homework

Last night I asked people for help with my presentation on Myths about Homework which I am presenting today at Skeptic Camp in Vancouver. Within 15 minutes, we had 20 Myths, within another 15 minutes we had a total of 26 myths about homework with one duplication. Thanks for your help, I’ve turned these myths into a presentation you can view below. I think that homework may still be something which has value, but which probably needs to take a much different form than what it looks like now. Here’s the pretty plain version using Google Docs.

What was really neat about this experience was watching the ideas pour onto the page. I liked working with people, some of whom had other suggestions and ideas about how homework should be done. If your slide or work or idea didn’t make it into this presentation it is because this presentation was about the myths of homework rather than the benefits. I’m sure if I had started a similar project on the benefits of homework I could have had as much participation and good ideas about how to best implement homework.


I’ve created a Prezi version which is the one I actually ended up using. It’s missing some of the myths from above but would probably look a bit nicer when it’s actually being used.