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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Category: Math and science
July 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

5-minute recap: Video chat on what’s working in math education

Last Thursday, the Education Lab team hosted a Google+ Hangout about elementary math education and the successful strategies used at Lakeridge Elementary in the Renton School District. The discussion stemmed from our July 15 story about how the school’s use of cognitively guided instruction and ongoing teacher training has led to a turnaround in student math scores.

Miss the live video chat? The five-minute recap below shows some of the highlights. What you’ll see:

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Comments | More in Math and science, Video, Your voices | Topics: Google Hangout, instruction, Lakeridge

July 14, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Videos: Watch Lakeridge teachers in action

The Teaching Channel, a nonprofit organization that highlights different approaches to education, has featured several Lakeridge Elementary teachers on its website. Below is a sampling of a few of the teachers in action. (Go here for the full story on Lakeridge’s approach to math instruction.)

From top to bottom, Lynn Simpson teaches a lesson about division; Teresa Tse shares strategies for counting; and Drew Crandall helps students reason through the relationship between multiplication and division.

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Comments | More in Math and science, Video

July 14, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Guest: Getting students to talk out ideas works in science, too

Jessica Thompson

Jessica Thompson

As educational researchers at the University of Washington, myself and many other colleagues in the College of Education are excited to re-define the role of research in improving systems of K-12 instruction. We have built partnerships with schools and believe that improvement comes from working in classrooms, elbow-to-elbow with students, teachers, coaches, principals and district leadership.

Along with successful efforts in improving math instruction at Lakeridge Elementary, UW researchers have also seen impressive results from a similar approach in science education.

These collaborations mean that we think differently about our role as professors at a university and about the purposes of data in educational reform. We see our new role as sharing research about how students and teachers learn best, building teacher development models that support learning, and generating evidence that can be used for continuous improvement. At Lakeridge, for example, researcher Elham Kazemi and the school’s teachers, coaches and leaders work in teams to collect and analyze data about how students are learning.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Math and science, Opinion | Topics: Jessica Thompson, Lakeridge, science instruction

July 14, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Video: Making math make sense at Lakeridge Elementary

Our most recent Education Lab story examines how a focus on ensuring students understand math concepts has helped raise students’ math skills at Lakeridge Elementary in the Renton School District.

With assistance from UW researcher Elham Kazemi and some of her colleagues, Lakeridge educators have design many math lessons as carefully guided conversations in which students talk through their reasoning and critique each other’s ideas. The results? In two years, the school’s performance on state math tests jumped from the bottom 5 percent to somewhere near average.

Check out the video below, and go here to read the full story.

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Comments | More in Math and science, News, Video | Topics: Lakeridge, math

July 14, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Computer scientist hopes to customize teaching and learning

Educators have been struggling for decades to resolve a fundamental problem: Students who are in the same grade because of age often vary greatly in skills, abilities and experiences, even on the first day of kindergarten.

Teachers are told to differentiate their instruction so that each student gets what she needs ­ a good idea in theory, but hard to pull off in a real classroom because teachers also vary in skills and abilities.

That’s the big puzzle that University of Washington computer science professor Zoran Popović hopes to solve with insights gained over the last five years of developing computer learning games that adapt to the skills of individual players so they progress more efficiently toward mastery.

Popović directs the university’s Center for Game Science.

He also is the founder and chief scientist at Enlearn, a not-for-profit organization started with money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which partnered with the center in May. Enlearn is developing a commercial application for the interactive technology aimed at the global K-12 market.

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Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: math instruction, Seattle Public Schools, technology

July 2, 2014 at 5:00 AM

It ain’t rocket science: Early experiments key to school success

Nancy Ohanian / Op Art

Nancy Ohanian / Op Art

We’ve heard plenty about the lousy performance of U.S. students in math and science, with accompanying alarm bells about future economic implications. A recent Education Lab story provides a case in point.

Now comes a raft of research suggesting that better science education could reap rewards even greater than creating an army of chemists.

The Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan policy center, has years of data showing that early education in science and math may be even more important to — and predictive of — future academic success than reading skills.

Here’s why: Science, even at the most basic level, requires reflection and explanation (providing a boost to vocabulary). It also involves identifying patterns, combining measurements and problem-solving — all key for math.

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Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: early learning, science

June 5, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Need help in an emergency? Students have an app for that

youthapps

Screen shot of student-designed app called My Homework

Need help in an emergency? Want an easy way to keep track of homework assignments or turn a cell phone into a hearing aid?

Thanks to a students from Timbercrest Junior High in Woodinville, Tesla STEM High in Redmond, and Lakeside Middle in Seattle, there are — or soon may be — mobile or computer applications to help.

Those teams are among 11 from Western Washington that won prizes Wednesday in the state’s first Youth Apps Challenge.

The hearing enhancement app is already available for sale at the Apple App store, said Karen Manuel of the Technology Alliance, the contest’s organizer. Seattle Public Schools intends to use another of the award-winners, she said, an app for student government elections, designed by students at Garfield High.

The emergency app, developed by ninth-graders at Timbercrest Junior High, isn’t available yet, but students are working toward that, said their teacher, Josh Caldwell. How it works: When you open their app on your cell phone, a big red button appears. If you push it, it sends a text “help” message with your coordinates to a predetermined set of phone numbers.

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Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: STEM, Technology Alliance, Youth Apps Challenge

April 9, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Like to code or want to learn? Events offer help for students

Attention high-school and middle-school students who like to code or want to learn how: Two upcoming events are designed for you.

For coding-newbies as well as those with some experience: On Friday, May 23, Rainier Beach High will host an all-day app session where students can learn how to create applications and games on cell phones, iPads, laptops — whatever devices they bring. Workshops and assistance will be provided by Rainier Beach teachers, University of Washington computer science students and engineers from the UW and Microsoft.

Even students who have never programmed before can end up with an app at the end of the day, and many did so last year. Geekwire called last year’s event a “geeky field trip that helped expose kids to the world of computer programming.”

The event also will feature a DJ, dance competition and raffle giveaways. At the end of the day, participants will be invited to show off their new apps.

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Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: coding, computer programming, Puget Sound App Day

March 28, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Guest: High-school internships offer strong path to STEM careers

julieburr

Julie Burr

If you’re raised in a family with a mom who’s a computer programmer and dad who’s an aerospace engineer, chances are you’ll take the right high school classes and consider pursuing a bright future in a STEM career.

If you come from a different background, the fields of science, technology, engineering and math — collectively known as STEM — might seem uninviting. Upon graduation from high school, you won’t suddenly develop an interest in a STEM career. If you do, you likely won’t be admitted or succeed as a STEM major in college if you have a lack of high school preparation. With the huge shortage of skilled workers in STEM fields, this seems a travesty.

Highline Public Schools’ new Raisbeck Aviation High School serves as a model for how schools can help fill the local skills gap and give hope to students with limited opportunities. The school’s internship program, in particular, enables students to start exploring STEM careers early on in their high-school careers while gaining important real-world experience.

Raisbeck students are surrounded by caring professionals from aerospace careers on a daily basis. A scaffold approach to STEM career exploration begins with the freshman-level Career Choices class, where a constant stream of STEM professionals come to inform and inspire. Students become comfortable networking with professionals, and many doors are opened, such as tours to commercial space flight company Blue Origin or Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Math and science, Opinion | Topics: Highline School District, Raisbeck Aviation High School, STEM

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