How to find scholarships

Decent article on Mashable this morning on how to find scholarships. While it doesnt go into much detail its a great starting point for those looking for money to attend college (who isnt?).

Article: “You’ve worked hard to make it into college, and now comes another challenge — getting funding. Of course you can — and should — call your campus’ financial aid office to find out what scholarship, loan and grant information they can provide you with. It’s also wise to do a little searching of your own. And don’t count yourself out if you don’t have excellent grades, some sites award scholarships based on luck.

There are only a few free web tools that are actually useful in the search for college scholarships. Fastweb, is the first stop for online scholarships and a household name with families who’ve been Výsledek obrázku pro scholarshipthrough the college process in the past 10 years. The site has 50 million registered users, of whom 9 million are active users of the site. Fastweb has 1.5 million scholarships worth about $3.5 billion.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and an expert in financial aid, tells Mashable less than 0.3 percent of students enrolled in four-year institutions were able to get a free ride due to grants and scholarships. 

“Your chances of winning a scholarship if you’re going to a four-year institution are about 1 in 8,” he said, adding the amount for that one winner averages about $2,800 per year. Yet, it’s important to lessen your college debt since it will most likely stay with you for years after graduation.”………..

Link to the rest of the article

Importance of grants in K-12 education

Most college faculty can tell you how important grants are but in K-12 teachers are not pushed enough to get them. I believe this stems from the fact that they have not been trained to write grants (it is hard), they do not know where to get them, and it is not part of their annual reviews for salary increase. So why are grants important in k-12? Where does one get them? What kinds of grants are out there?

Grants are important in K-12 because they can bring extra money into the classroom and district. Depending on the grant, this could be money for technology, materials, support staff and much more. Why else is this important? Well when you write a grant, your school gets a % of the money. So if you are in a district that is hurting for money (pretty much all K-12) you are seen as an asset who has brought in extra money which might help to keep your (and others) job. I mean who are they going to fire, the teacher that brought in 2 million dollars or the one who hasnt? Bringing in that kind of money pretty much guarantees your job.

Where does one get grants? You can get them from government agencies such as the NSF and NIH and private businesses. There are tons out there. Sometimes you can search google. Sometimes you need to go to a companies website to find it. But they are out there.

What kinds of grants are out there? Every subject has them. However, there are more for the STEM subjects. So if you are not a STEM teacher I encourage you to look into incorporating technology into your classroom then you can apply for the tech grants. That can help the art or social studies teacher get big $$$ that is offered to the science, math, and tech teachers.

Look, its hard to write a grant. Some can be very long (but remember there are also small grants too). Usually it takes more than one person so you may need several teachers and your superiors to help you. But its worth it. Its worth it to try. Once you write one, even if its rejected, you can use that as a template and eventually you will get one. So good luck!

Cyberbullying of teachers? Not in North Carolina

At least not anymore. A new law ‘School Violence Protection Law of 2012’ will prosecute those who cyberbully teachers. I found this really interesting:

“One in six educators report experiencing cyberbaiting, according to a Norton survey of 2,279 teachers in 24 countries. In some instances, students attempt to provoke school employees to near-breakdown. It’s a growing phenomenon inside and outside the classroom.”

So it sounds as if something like this was needed. This is a very interesting topic that I talk about with my students who will be teachers. We usually speak of facebook/social network privacy and how to make sure people searching you on google only find what you intentionally want them to find and not pictures of that crazy night you were out drinking:)

Source: http://mashable.com/2012/09/21/cyberbullying-of-teachers/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29

Are digital e-books and tablets a cheaper option than standard textbooks?

This is a question I have been pondering: Has a cost benefit analysis been done on this? Here is what I have found in my limited research on this topic..if anyone has more research please let me know and keep in mind I am focusing on cost, not learning here. Apparently it might cost as much or more to go digital. There might also be accessibility issues. However, there are trends changing this that could make it significantly cheaper. So it seems that the answer to my question, what is the cost benefit? Well I guess it can go either way but if its more expensive now, it will probably be significantly cheaper in the future. Here is the section from an article that discusses this (http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB1002.pdf). If anyone has any other research about this cost please post as I am interested in this question:

“Many believe that digital textbooks are the solution to textbook affordability and accessibility on college campuses. Research by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) suggests that many digital textbooks do not currently provide lower-cost alternatives to traditional print books when total cost of ownership is calculated.19 Digital editions can be as costly and sometimes more costly to produce than traditional print editions, particularly as the content moves toward more interactive or “born digital” editions, since making digital documents is easier now a days with programs as sodapdf and others. As digital editions become more interactive, the learning value might increase, but accessibility to individuals with various disabilities can be affected. Accessibility issues can create legal and educational challenges for institutions.20 For many institutions, there is a financial return that comes from course materials sales. That revenue most often goes to financial aid and tuition sustainability, student activities, or capital projects. The loss of revenue in a time of shrinking budgets, particularly revenue to support financial aid, could result in improved textbook affordability at the cost of overall educational affordability.

There are interesting opportunities on the horizon to help reduce textbook costs with digital solutions. Several institutions have found print-on-demand to be an effective way to improve affordability. Some of the open access textbook initiatives also show great promise for improving affordability, and this is an area getting much attention at state and federal levels, as well as among private investors. Most students still prefer print, however, and will often choose to pay for a print edition rather than take a digital version for free. While we expect this trend to change, universities could combine these two areas of opportunity, adding value for students while reducing textbook costs and maintaining campus financial returns.”

Learning styles: Good or Bad? Bad

Before anyone gets all worked about learning styles because they love them, remember, I love to pay devils advocate and question every single thing:) And I like to see hard quantitative data from solid studies that show an improvement in achievement or I get skeptical. I wrote a post on learning styles a while ago about how I felt they really do not make much sense from a teaching or curriculum development perspective as there are much more important things to consider. That post can be read here. I feel this way because they do not make sense when I consider other theories that do have tons and tons of experimental data to back them up. So I do question the importance of learning styles in curriculum design.

Anyway, I was discussing learning styles with my students this week and many of them seem surprised that I am not ‘all about’ learning styles and in fact do not find them very useful in my instruction. So I thought I would provide research that helps back up my point. I will be posting some peer reviewed research, sharing some opinions, and showing some websites that have all come to the same conclusions. Now before I do this, I believe learning preferences are fine and if they help with motivation for a particular kid or group, thats awesome. I also believe that motivation from that preference could improve learner achievement. Having said that, I recommend teachers teach to all learning styles and avoid focusing on just one of them. Instead I recommend that teachers focus on the way people learn through multiple representations (please see my blog post above to hear about this). Also, one thing all of these article discuss is that there is a lot of money in learning styles. The tests make money. So I wonder if that has a part in their popularity? Well look at the research and make your own conclusions. I will admit that I am only posting contradictory research here although the first meta analysis is not intended to be contradictory, it just happens that is what they found.

Here is one of the latest works that analyzed the 13 most popular learning style inventories:

Coffield, F, Moseley, D, Hall, E & Ecclestone, K 2004, Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review, LSRC reference, Learning & Skills Research Centre, London.

The part of this study that I found most interesting in addition to their conclusion that there is not clear research that learning style improve achievement was this table of learning style tests:

Thats pretty scary. How could you create a test without these types of validity evidences? I may be using these tests as an example of what not to do in my assessment class this summer:)

Here is a just a few other studies:

This study found that learners had a learning preference but that the preference did not affect achievement

Here is a blog post from Cathy Moore who is reviewing learning styles. Specifically she is examining:

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., and Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3):105-119.

Who found that:

Studies are weak: “Although the literature on learning styles is enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing the validity of learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those that did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis.” “Meshing” refers to changing your teaching style to match a learning style. (p. 105)
Don’t spend time on something that isn’t proven: “We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base.” (p. 105)

Here is an article from the Chronicle about learning styles. The main point I took from this article is Kolb’s analysis. Kolb is probably the most well known learning styles theorist: “…Mr. Kolb also says that the paper’s bottom line is probably correct: There is no strong evidence that teachers should tailor their instruction to their students’ particular learning styles. (Mr. Kolb has argued for many years that college students are better off if they choose a major that fits their learning style. But his advice to teachers is that they should lead their classes through a full “learning cycle,” without regard to their students’ particular styles.)”

Here is another article from change magazine

And finally I leave you with a video from a cognitive psychologist arguing that learning styles do not exist. And before you see his video I suggest you look at his bio/cv. He is a professor at UVA and here is his bio:

“Daniel Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive psychology to K-12 education. He writes the “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column for American Educator magazine, and is an Associate Editor of Mind, Brain, and Education. He is also the author of Why Don’t Students Like School? (Jossey-Bass) and When Can You Trust the Experts? (Jossey-Bass). His writing on education has been translated into ten languages.” There is more info about him at this website here

Why men are choosing not to be K-12 Teachers

I saw this article posted on USATODAY this morning. Its an opinion piece but it attempts to address a very important issue we are seeing in K-12 education right now: Boys are not doing well in school and have do not have role models in school because there are not men in schools.

Article

As this article notes:

“…boys in particular benefit from the presence of male role models in the classroom. As Stanford University professor Thomas Dee has documented, in a study of more than 20,000 middle-school students, boys perform better when they have a male teacher, and girls perform better when they have a female teacher. If we want to do something about boys’ often sluggish classroom performance, more male teachers could be a useful step.” Source

While this article addresses some other issues as well and not all that I agree with, we do agree that more men are needed in K-12 education. Women are outperforming men in school by leaps and bounds. While this is great and we need to continue to do more to keep our girls performing well, we need to also start doing things to help our boys do well too. One of those is getting more men into schools. I have heard all kinds of stats but in elementary schools it seems like there is 1 male teacher for every 10 female (sometimes even more like 1 to 15). I have seen this first hand. I teach one undergraduate technology for education class and every semester there are 20 girls and maybe 1-3 guys. Some classes have no guys. Guys are not going into teaching. Why?

Well here is the main reason I would not go into K-12 education: low pay (there are others but if this happened I believe the others would be solved or at least we would going in the right direction). If you pay teachers 15k-30k to start, who is going to want to do it? Yes, I see my students getting offers for less than 20k a year to start. Heck my first job out of college was 50k with full benefits+401k in the corporate world. I was making 65k after 1 year out in the corporate world and over the course of a few more years my salary was significantly higher than that. The average teacher makes 46k a year at retirement in the US (source). How are you going to get the best by paying 46k a year? I dont even think I could pay rent on that better yet support a family, and that is the national average in retirement. Sure there are some districts around cities that pay teachers upwards of 100k, but that is not normal and not close to the national average. I often hear, well teachers get summer off. Sure they get 8 weeks of unpaid vacation. Guess what? I got 3-5 weeks of paid vacation at my various jobs. Yep, when I left the corporate world and went into higher education I had 5 weeks of paid vacation a year so that extra 3 weeks that teachers had was nothing special considering it was unpaid. You want men, pay for them. Here is a video that addresses this issue much better than I can: