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  1. The Best Posts On The NY Times-Featured Teacher Effectiveness Study
  2. The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events
  3. “Even Hobbits Support Teachers Making Home Visits!”
  4. “let some of the players with lower batting averages go”
  5. Two Good Online Video Games For English Language Learners
  6. What A Great Rube Goldberg Feature In Today’s NY Times!
  7. More Recent Articles
  8. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...
  9. Prior Mailing Archive

The Best Posts On The NY Times-Featured Teacher Effectiveness Study

Boy oh boy, yesterday was sure a “one-two” punch on teachers with the Gates report and the front page New York Times story on the Chetty, Friedman & Rockoff (CFR) study.

Here are my choices for The Best Posts On The NY Times-Featured Teacher Effectiveness Study:

I think the best commentary on it is at Economists to teachers: We’ve dropped the “Deselection” and moved straight to “Fire ‘em” at Cedar Riener’s blog.

I’ve written two posts about it:

“let some of the players with lower batting averages go”

“The message is to fire people sooner rather than later”

Fire first, ask questions later? Comments on Recent Teacher Effectiveness Studies is from School Finance 101.

Here We Go Again is by David B. Cohen.

Quick impressions on Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff is by Sherman Dorn.

The Anatomy of Education Deform is from The Assailed Teacher.

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 800 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

 


The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events

A number of news sites have regular features called something like “explainer” or “explain it to me” where they provide — in either video or text — short explanations about current events or answers to reader/viewer questions.

Here are my choices for best of these kinds of resources out there — please share suggestions for ones I’m missing:

CNN regularly produces two-to-three minute video clips on current news topics (including ones related to science) called “Explain It To Me.” They’re generally excellent. The best way to find them is to type in “Explain It To Me” in the CNN search box, as I have done here. Then click on “CNN Videos” at the top of the page, and you’ll see titles and thumbnail images of them all. Here’s a recent example:

Slate has had a very popular “Explainer” series in text, and they have just begun create one video version each week. Here’s their first one:

WNYC has an Explainer series in text.

Foreign Policy also has a text feature called “Explainer.”

There are also other sites that provide good and simple explanations/tutorials on other topics, including:

Explania

Common Craft

And you’ll find other examples at:

The Best Online Instructional Video Sites

The Best Places To Learn Computer Basics & How To Fix Tech Problems

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 800 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

 

“Even Hobbits Support Teachers Making Home Visits!”

Even Hobbits Support Teachers Making Home Visits! is the newest post at my other blog, Engaging Parents In School.

It might be worth a look…

 


“let some of the players with lower batting averages go”

Yesterday, I wrote a post (see “The message is to fire people sooner rather than later”) commenting on the big (non peer reviewed) study featured in The New York Times about the long-term impact on students of having “high value added” teachers.

One of the researchers was interviewed on the PBS News Hour last night, and a comment seems to me to point out a huge blind spot in the study. He said:

I think — you know, let me make an analogy here. Suppose you are managing a baseball team, say, the Boston Red Sox, and you’re trying to do as well as you can. You have players with different batting averages. One approach you might take is to bring the hitting coach out and try to raise the batting averages of the players you have.

But I think it also makes a lot of sense — and this will make sense to sports fans — that, on occasion, you might decide to let some of the players with lower batting averages go, and try to get somebody else who might do better.

Of course, no one argues that teachers who don’t improve their craft should stay in the profession. The key, though, is what are the indicators that demonstrate the effectiveness of a teacher. In this passage, he compares the batting average of a baseball player to the test scores of teacher’s students.

He doesn’t consider if the tests are accurate gauges of what students learn, he doesn’t consider the countless other examples of “value” that can be provided to students by a teacher — an appetite for being a life-long learner, skills in enhancing self-control, confidence to try new things.

Since he began the sports comparison, let’s run with it…A New York Times profile of a basketball player with poor statistics, but who every team wants anyway, included this passage:

Battier’s game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly ­reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates — probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways. “I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together. And everything that leads to winning that you can get to through intellect instead of innate ability, Shane excels in. I’ll bet he’s in the hundredth percentile of every category.”

There are other things Morey has noticed too, but declines to discuss as there is right now in pro basketball real value to new information, and the Rockets feel they have some. What he will say, however, is that the big challenge on any basketball court is to measure the right things. The five players on any basketball team are far more than the sum of their parts; the Rockets devote a lot of energy to untangling subtle interactions among the team’s elements. To get at this they need something that basketball hasn’t historically supplied: meaningful statistics. For most of its history basketball has measured not so much what is important as what is easy to measure — points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots — and these measurements have warped perceptions of the game. (“Someone created the box score,” Morey says, “and he should be shot.”) How many points a player scores, for example, is no true indication of how much he has helped his team. Another example: if you want to know a player’s value as a ­rebounder, you need to know not whether he got a rebound but the likelihood of the team getting the rebound when a missed shot enters that player’s zone.

This researcher’s mistake in believing in the primacy of test scores is not limited to him. It’s too bad, though, he chose to use that as the lens he looked through in interpreting his results.

 

Two Good Online Video Games For English Language Learners

I’ve previously written about how I use online video games as a language-development activity for my ELL students. Here are two new games, along with links to their walkthroughs (instructions on how to complete the game), that look good. Be sure to click “English” on both of them:

The Happy Escape (walkthrough)

Escape From The Device-Filled Room (walkthrough)

If you want to get more ideas on how to use these kinds of games with ELLs, be sure to check out the blog, Digital Play, by Graham Stanley and Kyle Mawer and their book of the same name.

 


What A Great Rube Goldberg Feature In Today’s NY Times!

Boy, The New York Times sure gave me a bunch of additions to The Best Resources For Learning About Rube Goldberg Machines today.

They have a feature article on a man who designs them, and interactive feature on one of his creations, and links to several videos, including:

 

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