August 31, 2005
Want Enhanced Spatial Memory? Eat Oatmeal
From the Washington Post:
In this month's edition of the journal Physiology and Behavior, Tufts University psychologists report on two experiments they conducted on 60 schoolchildren. For breakfast one day, the researchers fixed the youngsters oatmeal made with milk and then had them take a battery of classroom tests. A week later, the students ate Cap'n Crunch cereal with milk and then were tested. During a third week, they skipped breakfast one morning and just took the tests.
Simply eating breakfast produced better test results than missing the morning meal -- findings that echo results of numerous other studies. But the researchers also discovered that boys and girls performed better on the tests when they ate oatmeal than when they had Cap'n Crunch. (The research was funded by Quaker Oats, maker of both products used in the study.)
After eating a bowl of oatmeal, boys and girls aged 9 to 11 showed enhanced spatial memory, a skill that helps with drawing and doing puzzles. Spatial memory can help not only with art, but also with geography as well as some technical skills used in math and science. Girls, but not boys, also displayed better short-term memory after eating oatmeal. [Emphasis is mine.]
Meanwhile, if you or one of your students want to skip breakfast (oatmeal or otherwise) with the reasoning that it's part of the new super low calorie diet that'll have you living to age 125, well, consider this:
Starving -- officially known as caloric restriction -- may make worms and mice live up to 50 percent longer but it will not help humans live super-long lives, two biologists argued on Sunday.
They said their mathematical model showed that a lifetime of low-calorie dieting would only extend human life span by about 7 percent, unlike smaller animals, whose life spans are affected more by the effects of starvation (Yahoo News).
OK. Now I just need to find a way to make oatmeal more palatable, so I can start eating it for breakfast. I find it rather bland. Any suggestions?
August 30, 2005
Science Literacy Lags
Sobering news regarding the state of "scientific literacy" in the United States:
Dr. Miller, 63, a political scientist who directs the Center for Biomedical Communications at the medical school, studies how much Americans know about science and what they think about it. His findings are not encouraging.
While scientific literacy has doubled over the past two decades, only 20 to 25 percent of Americans are "scientifically savvy and alert," he said in an interview. Most of the rest "don't have a clue." At a time when science permeates debates on everything from global warming to stem cell research, he said, people's inability to understand basic scientific concepts undermines their ability to take part in the democratic process (The New York Times).
How true. If you don't know what a cell is, you won't have much to work with as far as the stem cell debate goes.
Now if that isn't sobering enough, how about this? A Tufts University School of Medicine report suggests that most published research findings may be false.
The Nation's Report Card — The Future Looks Bright
During the summer, when many of you were taking a well deserved teacher vacation, you may have missed the release of the Nation's Report Card by the National Center for Education Studies (NCES).
The report card has been tracking student achievement in reading and math since 1971, focusing on three age groups (9, 13, and 17) and three major demographic groups (White, Black, and Hispanic). So how do the students of 2005 compare to the late boomers of 1971? With one exception, every single long term trend is positive. All the age groups are better at math, and both the 9-year-olds and the 13-year-olds are better readers than the students of 1971.
The one exception to the positive trend seemingly occurs with the 17-year-olds, but even that might be misleading, because Black and Hispanic 17-year-olds did see dramatic increases in reading skills since 1971, while the White 17-year-olds remained relatively constant. The overall statistic in this case does not reflect the gains made by 2 out of 3 demographic groups because the percentages of the students in each group have changed (see Simpson's Paradox).
Combine this new study with the evidence that 1) IQ scores are significantly higher than they were 30 years ago, 2) SAT math scores are at an all-time high, and 3) today's students are likely more skilled at things like multitasking and mastering new technologies that are increasingly important in the workplace but are probably underrepresented on today's standardized tests. Add all that together and you start to get a sense that the students of 2005 are doing quite well when compared to the students of 1971.
So if you're a teacher or a student, give yourself a pat on the back. You're doing well.
August 17, 2005
Math: A Love-Hate Relationship
A recent article on CNN discussed the results of a poll that showed 40% of adults hated math during school (particularly women). However, about 25% said they loved the subject.
One person who hated math said, "It was cold and calculating. There was no gray, it was black and white."
I know I fit in to the 25% category, since I loved math and science as a student (and still do). I hope the Gizmos that we create will bring some color to the black and white view of math that so many seem to have!
Earlier this month an article popped up in the Kansas City Star (registration may be required) which discussed using Gizmos to keep your mind in shape for the school year. "Just because you’re on summer vacation doesn’t mean your brain has to rot. Take advantage of the extended break to sharpen your math and science skills with the lessons at the ExploreLearning Web site."
We have recently been informed that ExploreLearning Gizmos have met the review criteria of the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) and are considered a supplemental electronic learning resource that both meet local instructional needs and embody the implementation of California curriculum frameworks and standards.
The review criteria established by CLRN are rigorous, so we are quite pleased to learn we are in compliance.
August 08, 2005
FIRST ANNUAL SUMMERSCHOOL WORKSHOP A SUCCESS
During the last week In July, ExploreLearning hosted its first Summer School Teacher Workshop. Educators from all over the country gathered in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia for 2 days of hands-on learning, sharing and interacting. About 3 dozen middle and high school teachers (both math and science) braved the summer heat to enjoy thought provoking sessions, delicious meals, and a nighttime visit to President James Monroe's scenic home Ashlawn Highland (just after a terrific thunderstorm which brought welcome relief from the heat). The teachers arrived either as long-time Gizmo fans or novices -- but they all left as BIG FANS of ExploreLearning Gizmos! They also enjoyed the chance to interact with ExploreLearning's product development and professional development teams. The group was especially convivial, and new friendships were formed.
Based on its resounding success, Summer School is sure to be an annual event.
For your enjoyment, we've created a "photo album" of some of the best pictures we took during the two days in Charlottesville.
August 05, 2005
2 Great Days in Dekalb, GA
During our two-day training session held at the High School the teachers got a chance to really unpack Gizmos and begin to weave them into their daily lessons. With the school year about to start, the teachers came away from the training with some Gizmos and lessons that they will be able to use almost within the first week of school.
Our first day was a standard ExploreLearning training day where we walked the teachers through the whole web site and got them familiar with how to log in, find Gizmos, add Gizmos to the teacher classes, and enroll their students. At the end of this first day the teachers were told to bring their curriculum guides, state standards and teachers editions to the next training.
Our second day was spent going over lessons that the teachers knew they were
going to teach and adding the appropriate Gizmos to those lessons. Once that
was done we started looking at how to deliver this instruction. Since the teachers
were familiar with PowerPoint, we looked at linking Gizmos to their presentations,
the screen capture tools that are built into the Gizmos to make their presentations
more exciting. Once the teachers had created their presentation, we shared their
work and had a great time listening to the ideas, and seeing the unique creativity
that each teacher brought to their subject.
August 01, 2005
"Gizmos Uncover Big Ideas"
Here's what an Arlington (VA) Public School teacher says about our Gizmos:
Just wanted to share another thought with you. I teach the UbD (Understanding by Design) class and a major premise of this process is the need for students to uncover big ideas and essential questions. Using Gizmos allowed my students to do just this. I'm hooked.
— MaryAnn Peterson
Thanks for saying so, MaryAnn.
We heard similar sentiments during our recent Summer Schoool for Teachers. More details and pictures about that soon …
ProQuest Company Reports 25 Percent Revenue Growth
ProQuest, our parent company since March 1, 2005, reported 25 % revenue growth for the second quarter of 2005. (Press release.)