New School: Twitter Style

August 10, 2010

Name of School: Alta Vista

Created By: Abdur Chowdhury, scientist at Twitter

For: Chowdhury’s daughter, who likes science

School’s Twitter Account: twitter.com/altavistaschool

Focus: Math, science and art

Location: San Francisco

Size: 2 classrooms, K and 1st grade, of 10-12 students

Opening Date: September 7, 2010

Price Tag: $20,000 a year


The School of One: Education of the Future

June 11, 2010

From The New York Times

The Problem

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American model of education is “fundamentally the same as it was a 100 years ago,” according to Joel I. Klein, New York’s chancellor of public schools.

High student-teacher ratio of about 25:1 makes effective teaching difficult.

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The Solution

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Supported by Cisco Systems, Google and Michael Dell, the New York City Department of Education is running a pilot program called School of One focuses on middle school math (due to the variety of computer programs available). The program allows teachers to effectively measure mastery of content, skill and achievement and individualize learning plans for each student.

The program features:

Playlists

In the morning every student receives an individualized schedule (or “playlist”) with lessons for the day. Overhead monitors display these playlists much like flight schedules in airports.

“Multiple Instructional Modalities”

Students benefit from several teaching styles including:

  • Teacher led instruction (traditional instruction with one teacher to several students),
  • One on one tutoring (with an adult),
  • Independent learning (which may take place on a computer or in small groups), and
  • Virtual tutors.

Daily Quiz

Students take a quiz at the end of the day, allowing a computer program to measure “mastery” and whether the child will move onto a new subject the next day.

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The Future

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Students who participated in a trial run last year scored 42% to 70% higher on math tests.

While the program is still in pilot mode, if it continues to be successful in educating students effectively, the model can be easily expanded as “all the analytics can be done centrally with cloud computing,” says Joel Rose, who runs the experiment


Preparing for the First Day of School in a New Country

April 29, 2009

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The first day of school can be daunting for new students and even more so in a new country. But there are some steps parents can take to help prepare for the first day and to make it a little less stressful.

• Openly listen to your child’s fears so you can discuss them and if possible solve them in advance.
• Remind your child that everyone is new at some point and that it is OK to ask questions if he or she is unsure of something.
• Help eliminate the fear of the unknown by touring the school and locate key classrooms with your child before the school year begins.
• If possible, arrange a meeting for your child to meet her new teacher. If it is not possible to meet the teacher in person, ask the school administration if your child can send the teacher an email to introduce herself as well as ask any questions.
• Ask the school what kind of programs they have in place to ease the transition of new students. Many international schools have a buddy system where a more seassoned student is assigned to show the new student around.
• Find out if there is a parent-student orientation meeting. Here many of the questions that you and your child have will be answered and your child will be able to meet some of the key players like the principal and teachers
• Try to find out what school supply ‘must haves’ will be necessary before you leave your home country. For example, in some schools students need a swimming or bathing suit for gym class, which can be difficult to find in the winter seasons in certain countries
• If the school teaches in a language that is not a language the child knows, make sure he knows the point person he can go to with questions like, where is the bathroom?
• Although nerves might be high the night before school, try to make sure that your child gets a full night of sleep and a hearty breakfast to start the day.