Questioning the Effect of Home Computers on Student Achievement

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, October 8, 2010 - 2:16pm

and you thought you had computer problems

Do home computers have a negative effect on underperforming students? According to a recent study out of Duke University, the answer is yes. But are we asking the wrong question?

Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy recently published “Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement...


Disruptive Innovation. It’s Coming...

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 12:35pm

Teaching Matters hosted principals from across New York City and other education industry leaders to dialog with Michael Horn, co-author of the bestselling book Disrupting Class, at our Third Annual Forum for Principals on July 13th.

What is interesting about innovations that are disruptive is that, initially, they may appear to be much lower quality, especially in comparison to what is available (for example, the $300 mini-laptop is not as powerful as your old desktop computer), but they offer other appealing advantages – convenience, affordability, simplicity and the ability to serve individuals who previously might have been left behind. The opportunities for disruptive innovation often happen in areas of “non consumption” that is, places where there is a need but little to no service available. Over time, as more people take advantage of the lower quality but innovative product, it continues to improve and eventually leads the market, displacing what came before.

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Students Speak Out!

By: Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 - 5:55pm

by Lauren Morris and John Clemente

In the last several weeks our country has witnessed national events with serious implications for our core democratic institutions. A controversial Arizona immigration law and ban on ethnic studies in public schools have groups organizing on both sides. And the terrorist attack averted in Times Square caused politicians to debate new legislation to revoke the citizenship of potential terrorists inspires those who are passionate about the repercussions for what it means to be American.

Mayor David N. Dinkins



"Young people have always been instrumental in the most important social change in our society."

On May 7th and May 11th, 400 middle school students proved that they are ready and eager to join the discussion as well. These amazing kids worked in groups to...


Middle Schoolers Take Action on Civil Rights

By: admin Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 - 9:28am

Originally posted by Sonny Singh of the Sikh Coalition. Reposted with permission.

Middle Schoolers taking action on (Sikh) civil rights

Last Friday, I was invited by the organization Teaching Matters to participate as an “expert” community activist in their annual Civil Rights Student Summit in downtown Manhattan.  I was looking forward to the opportunity to work with such young students of diverse backgrounds on building effective campaigns for civil rights and social justice, but I had no idea how inspiring the experience would be.

The day began at the City Council Chambers at City Hall, where a few hundred students were welcomed by staff at Teaching Matters and a speech by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who gave the Sikh Coalition a shout out for our organizing...


Advancing Principals' Vision with Innovation Field Trips

By: Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 10:27am

Advancing Principals' Vision of 21st Century Instruction with Innovation Field Trips
By John Clemente and Naomi Cooperman

This past week, the New York City Department of Education announced that it will advance its plan to provide more autonomy to principals. With this exciting change comes the potential downside of principal isolation. In the same way that focusing on student outcomes can sometimes narrow teachers' vision to what is possible in their classrooms, school leaders sharply focused on their own buildings can forget to let good ideas from the outside in. 

There is no doubt that exchanging ideas with peers can inform principals' decision-making. Learning what strategies and models are working and what innovations are on the horizon can be powerful aids in advancing a leader's vision and strategic planning.

School of One

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Is the iPad Coming to Your Classroom?

By: eodonnell Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 11:54am

iPadCall it an iFad if you want, I love my shiny new iPad.  First off, I have to say, the screen is amazing - really high quality, and the on-screen typing is surprisingly good, and relatively easy to deal with.  There are enough technical reviews out there on the device though, so I won't go into the hardware.  Instead I took a quick look at what was possible educationally with the device.

The first problem I have struggled with is how does a K-12 school manage the software (apps) that are on the iPad if everything is reliant on an iTunes account?  So I called Apple and asked.  The response I got, from a very nice Apple expert, was that there isn't anything in place.  The device has to be tied to an iTunes account, which initially has to be tied to a credit card.  Districts can't make large volume purchases with a software package pre-installed.  "It's all about individual customization."  Which I guess makes sense.  Just not for 5th graders.

So assuming they eventually figure this out, what can an iPad do in a K-12 environment?  Being an open-source advocate (cheap-sake), I hate paying for software - even if it is only a .99 app.  So, I took a look at what you can get on an iPad...


Incorporating Innovation into Strategic Planning that Will Enrich Learning

By: admin Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010 - 9:18am

By Lisa Nielsen - cross-posted from "The Innovative Educator"

Forward ThinkingIt takes more than ensuring educators and students have access to technology when schools begin the work of developing a 21st century strategic school plan. As innovative educators, students, leaders, and families, are well aware, technology is just a tool. In and of itself technology does not equate to either innovation or greater effectiveness. In fact poorly used technology generally results in substandard instruction. In some cases this further results in dropping technology-(rather than learner) driven programs and support. This is important to remember when developing a strategic school learning plan. What's most important is learning always come first.

I've heard one too many educational leader, teacher or parent proudly state that they are part of an innovative school as evidenced by the fact that they have laptops or Smartboards in every classroom. That is not impressive. What is...


MTA Eliminates 19th Century Technology from Students

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, December 18, 2009 - 2:04pm

Angry BoyChancellor Klein has announced a series of initiatives acknowledging that schools need to retool and innovate to prepare students for the 21st century.   So while the school system is now seriously exploring the role of technology to advance education,  (something I care deeply about)  the MTA is effectively eliminating the19th century technology that makes it possible for poor students to get to schools of choice…(the train)       

The MTA has announced budget cuts that will eliminate the free metro-pass for students, requiring families to fork over $80+ dollars per child per month (think $240 dollars for a family of three) to go to school!  Is this a pre- Brown vs Board of Education policy or what?

Choice in schools is a fundamental part of the New York City education deal. Students apply to middle and high schools and travel long distances to get opportunities not available to them locally.  

The MTA’s mission is not education.  Why then do they have control over this mission-critical educational budget item? 

The impact on poor students is devastating.   I, for one, would pay double for a metro card to see this...


Google Wave and Schools

By: eodonnell Posted: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 9:30pm

Google Wave and Schools

There has been a lot of excitement in the technology-world about Google's new beta project, Google Wave - and rightfully so, it is an exciting new way of thinking about communication.  There's also been a lot of confusion about what exactly wave is and what it does; and because people have had a hard time explaining the tool, it has come off as a complicated application. However, after playing with it for a couple days, my opinion is just the opposite.  

So what is Google Wave?

The easiest way to think about Google Wave is to imagine real-time email; or a combination of email and instant messaging.  You can send and recieve messages just like email - but if the person / people you are writing to are online, you can have a real-time conversation with them.  They can even see your key-strokes while you're typing.  On top of this tricked-out email system, they have added gadgets to enrich the whole experience.  These are embeddable tools that allow you to do such things as polling, video conferencing, even sudoku - again all in real-time.  There's even a "playback" feature if you want to visually see how the conversation took place.  

So what does it do for Schools?

Teacher conferencing was the first thing that came to mind when I thought...


Google's New Assessment Tool

By: eodonnell Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 6:21pm

GoogleGoogle's next big thing in education might not be Google Wave or Google Apps for education, but a new data-analysis tool they've been working on, Google Fusion Tables.  Google's long been known for making the hard to do simple, and Fusion Tables is no different.  It makes looking at data simple - if you've ever struggled with a pivot table in excel, you'll appreciate immediately what it does. 

Fusion Tables takes a standard data table either imported from excel, or shared from Google Apps and allows you to visualize the data without any technical complexity.  So, imagine you're a middle school looking to improve your students in ELA. You've bought into the data movement, you get that there will always be standardized tests and measures, but that periodic assessments are also important.  You even have your teachers on board, have setup data teams to meet and look at the data and have worked hard to standardize your rubrics.  But you don't have any money for a fancy system, the ones your district provide you only work with the standardized data, and everything else is either paper-based or on individual spreadsheets / gradebooks.  So how will Google help?  First, setup Google Apps for education, it's free, and allows your teachers to collaborate...