Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Game School
"Soon New York City will be home to a new 6-12th grade public school that will use game design and game-inspired methods to teach critical 21st century skills and literacies. Opening in fall 2009, the school is being created by the Gamelab Institute of Play,

"Gamelab Institute of Play promotes GAMING LITERACY--the play, analysis, and creation of games--as a foundation for learning, innovation, and change in the 21st century. Through a variety of programs centered on game design, the Institute of Play engages audiences of all ages, exploring new ways to think, act, and speak through gaming in a social world. Participants call themselves writers, designers, readers, performers, teachers, and students. We just call them gamers."

Hmmm. Hmm.

If you'd like to be pricipal there, here's the position announcement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NCLB 2, Take 2
Meanwhile, the wail against testing has pervaded the land. Last night the President mentioned extending NCLB, and I swear I heard 3/4 of the nation boo. It's tempting to write this off as the ignorance of the general population in re quality measurement and the abysmal performance of our worst schools and classrooms - unacceptable performance which was obvious yet unproven until NCLB came along to shine the analytical light on it.

Yet, the people, as always, are pretty smart. Testing as its done now smacks of 1950's industrialization. There's nothing sophisticated or in-line about how we measure learning accomplishment. Are the replacement utilities here yet? No. For any number of organizational reasons, we're just behind at this. Yet the writing is on the wall. We'd better catch up; testing as it is is going to be tolerated only briefly. Going back to the 1990 status quo is unacceptable; so do lets all dig in and move forward.
Civic Literacy Report - 2007-2008 College Test Scores and Rankings
Apparently I neglected to go ahead and post this last November. The annual version of the American Civic Literacy report came out, and the results were, well,...not that great.

I actually took the entire quiz. Missed a few, but not too shabby. OK, I'll say it, the ones I missed were not well written and should be taken off! Well, except for the one where I though "400 years ago" and picked "the 1400's" or somesuch.

Finding 1:
College Seniors Failed a Basic Test on America’s History and Institutions.

The average college senior knows astoundingly little about America’s history, government, international relations and market economy, earning an “F” on the American civic literacy exam with a score of 54.2%. Harvard seniors did best, but their overall average was 69.6%, a disappointing D+.
Finding 2:
Colleges Stall Student Learning about America.

From kindergarten through 12th grade, the average student gains 2.3 points per year in civic knowledge, almost twice the annual gain of the average college student. Students at some colleges did learn more per year than students in grade school, demonstrating that it is possible.

* Eastern Connecticut State, one of 25 colleges randomly selected for this year’s survey, was the best performer, increasing civic knowledge by 9.65 points. Rhodes College, which increased civic knowledge by 7.42 points, was the best performer among 18 elite colleges surveyed both this year and last. Rhodes was also the best overall performer last year.

Finding 3:
America’s Most Prestigious Universities Performed the Worst.

Colleges that do well in popular rankings typically do not do well in advancing civic knowledge.

* Generally, the higher U.S. News & World Report ranks a college, the lower it ranks here in civic learning. At four colleges U.S. News ranked in its top 12 (Cornell, Yale, Duke, and Princeton), seniors scored lower than freshmen. These colleges are elite centers of “negative learning.” Cornell was the third-worst performer last year and the worst this year.
* Surveyed colleges ranked by Barron’s imparted only about one-third the civic learning of colleges overlooked by Barron’s.

Finding 4:
Inadequate College Curriculum Contributes to Failure.

The number of history, political science, and economics courses a student takes helps determine, together with the quality of these courses, whether he acquires knowledge about America during college. Students generally gain one point of civic knowledge for each civics course taken. The average senior, however, has taken only four such courses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Parody
I had to think rather hard about puttting this here. In the end, the color and novelty is the real reason; black and white videos of the sixties tend to rule the day today. But also because,... I sure wouldn't mind if some students would get a little traction out of parodying George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Cleisthenes, Charlemagne, Saul. Better parodied than forgotten.

And a little bit because a 25 year old white teacher this fall told me that I and many like me aren't Black enough to be in the conversation about fixing urban education. ...Because I'm highly concerned about 50% graduation rates; yet grateful for the progress of late; and optimistic about the future. And because Bill Cosby is a pretty good hero.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Please Hang a Spammer
Should you wander over to the wiki this week, you'll find that most pages have been protected against editing. Our friends the spammers have been irritating enough over the past two years, but its just become to constant to manage. In the past month, nearly every page has been spammed with rather vile links, many four, five, and more times over. Most are attempts to get you do download a fake media viewer, and most sport rather un-family labels.

So, we had to protect the pages. If you want to edit, just email, and likety-split, you'll be good to go. For the longer term, we're looking at several options. A wiki was never really what we wanted anyway, and there may be a better way to do this. Or, a new platform, or maybe just some mods to the current one. Ideas? Let us know!