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Gareth Jones

Looking in the Wrong Places | Edge.org - 5 views

  • We should be very careful in thinking about whether we’re working on the right problems. If we don’t, that ties into the problem that we don’t have experimental evidence that could move us forward. We're trying to develop theories that we use to find out which are good experiments to make, and these are the experiments that we build.   We build particle detectors and try to find dark matter; we build larger colliders in the hope of producing new particles; we shoot satellites into orbit and try to look back into the early universe, and we do that because we hope there’s something new to find there. We think there is because we have some idea from the theories that we’ve been working on that this would be something good to probe. If we are working with the wrong theories, we are making the wrong extrapolations, we have the wrong expectations, we make the wrong experiments, and then we don’t get any new data. We have no guidance to develop these theories. So, it’s a chicken and egg problem. We have to break the cycle. I don’t have a miracle cure to these problems. These are hard problems. It’s not clear what a good theory is to develop. I’m not any wiser than all the other 20,000 people in the field.
  • I’m still asking myself the same question that I asked myself ten years ago: "What is going on in my community?" I work in the foundations of physics, and I see a lot of strange things happening there. When I look at the papers that are being published, many of them seem to be produced simply because papers have to be produced. They don’t move us forward in any significant way. I get the impression that people are working on them not so much because it’s what they’re interested in but because they have to produce outcomes in a short amount of time. They sit on short-term positions and have short-term contracts, and papers must be produced.
  • The field that I mostly work in is the foundations of physics, which is, roughly speaking, composed of cosmology, the foundations of quantum mechanics, high-energy particle physics, and quantum gravity. It’s a peculiar field because there hasn’t been new data for almost four decades, since we established the Standard Model of particle physics. There has been, of course, the Higgs particle that was discovered at the LHC in 2012, and there have been some additions to the Standard Model, but there has not been a great new paradigm change, as Kuhn would have put it. We’re still using the same techniques, and we’re still working with the same theories as we did in the 1970s.
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  • That makes this field of science rather peculiar and probably explains why there hasn’t been much progress. But it’s not like we don’t have any questions that need to be answered. There are a lot of questions that have been around for decades. For example, what is dark energy? What is dark matter? What are the masses of the Standard Model particles? And what’s up with the foundation of quantum mechanics? Is a theory that's fundamentally not deterministic, where we cannot predict outcomes, the last word that we have, or is there something more to it? Is there maybe another underlying structure to reality?
  • but we haven't reached the fundamental level. Maybe we will never reach it. Certainly, the theories that we have right now are not all there is. The question is, of course, if we don’t have any guidance by experiment, how do we make progress? And are we doing the right thing?
  • We’ve reached this point where we have to carefully rethink if the criteria that we’re using to select our theories are promising at all. If one looks at the history of this field in the foundations of physics, progress has usually been made by looking at questions that, at least in hindsight, were well posed, where there was an actual mathematical contradiction. For example, special relativity is incompatible with Newtonian gravity. If you try to resolve this incompatibility, you get general relativity.
  • There are various similar examples where such breakthroughs have happened because there was a real problem. There was an inconsistency and people had to resolve it. It had nothing to do with beauty. Maybe beauty was, in some cases, the personal motivation of the people to work on it. There’s certainly some truth to this, but I don’t think it’s good to turn this story around and say that if we only pay attention to this motivation that comes from ideals of beauty it will lead to progress.
  • If we are working with the wrong theories, we are making the wrong extrapolations, we have the wrong expectations, we make the wrong experiments, and then we don’t get any new data. We have no guidance to develop these theories. So, it’s a chicken and egg problem. We have to break the cycle. I don’t have a miracle cure to these problems. These are hard problems. It’s not clear what a good theory is to develop. I’m not any wiser than all the other 20,000 people in the field.
  • The way that research is funded in foundations of physics and in many other fields just puts a lot of things at a disadvantage that are not pursued anymore. Typically, everything that takes longer than three years to complete, no one will start it because they can’t afford it. They can literally not afford it.
  • Who makes the decisions about the funding? Superficially, people say that it's a funding agency, so it’s the university who get to hire people. But that puts the blame on the wrong party. In the end it’s the community itself who makes the decisions. What do the funding agencies do if they get a proposal? They send it to reviewers. And who are the reviewers? They're people from the same community. If you look at how hiring decisions are being made, there’s some committee and they are people from the same community. They have some advisory boards or something, which contains people from the same community.
  • Even if that wasn’t so, what the people in these committees would be doing is looking at easy measures for scientific success. Presently, the most popular of these measures are the number of publications and the number of citations. And maybe also whether the person has published in high-impact journals. So, these are the typical measures that are presently being used. But what do they measure? They primarily measure popularity. They indicate whether somebody’s research is well received by a lot of people in the same community. And that’s why once a research area grows beyond a certain critical mass, you have sufficiently many people who tell each other that what they’re doing is the good thing to do. They review each other’s papers and say that that’s great and it's what we should continue to do. It’s a problem in all communities that grow beyond a certain size.
  • I later came to the United States and then Canada, and that gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about quantum gravity. I also figured out that much of what goes on in quantum gravity is very detached from reality. It’s pretty much only mathematics. Yes, the mathematics is there, but I still don’t know if it’s the mathematics that describes reality.
  • That’s the very reason why we don’t normally think of gravity as a weak force. It’s the only force that is left over on long distances, and the reason for this is that it adds up. It gets stronger the more mass you pile up. More precisely, we should say that the reason we find it so hard to measure quantum gravitational effects is that we either have a particle that has very pronounced quantum properties, like, say, a single electron or something like that, but then it’s so light that we cannot measure the gravitational field. Or we have some object that is so heavy that we can measure the gravitational field, but then it doesn’t have quantum properties. Okay, so that’s the actual problem.
Martin Burrett

Real Life Maths: Potions Lesson by @PrimaryLessons - 41 views

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    "This is a really good way of testing out practical measuring skills in Maths lessons. I always teach 'measuring' by incorporating a Harry Potter themed Potions lesson. Pupils follow potion recipes to create potions from the Harry Potter universe, e.g. Polyjuice Potion or Skele-gro. I have a mixture of powders (cornflour), plants (herbs) and potions (water with food colouring). I then have pipettes, a range of different containers with different scales for measuring liquids, scales for measuring the plants and powders, in addition to gloves for handling the 'poisonous' plants, a pestle and mortar for the plants and stopwatches for timing."
Roland Gesthuizen

Bill Gates and the Cult of Measurement | Diane Ravitch's blog - 44 views

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    "This year, my letter focuses on the catalytic role that measurement can play in reducing hunger, poverty, and disease. Setting goals and measuring progress are obviously not new ideas. But over the last year, I've really been struck by the impact this can have improving the lives of the poorest."
Kyle Kauffman

Current Bills in Congress | Votetocracy - 64 views

  • Votetocracy was created by regular citizens who decided it was time for Americans to have a better, actionable and measurable way to interact with Congress. This is not just a blog with commenting forums. We are about action. By providing Americans the ability to vote on bills in Congress we create a measurable repository of citizens sentiment towards each bill. That's good for all Americans and good for Congress. Truth is - Congress wants to hear from you.
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    Votetocracy was created by regular citizens who decided it was time for Americans to have a better, actionable and measurable way to interact with Congress. This is not just a blog with commenting forums. We are about action. By providing Americans the ability to vote on bills in Congress we create a measurable repository of citizens sentiment towards each bill. That's good for all Americans and good for Congress. Truth is - Congress wants to hear from you.
Carol Ansel

The Daring Librarian: Wikipedia is not wicked! - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post - 70 views

  • Teaching Wikipedia in 5 Easy Steps: *Use it as background information *Use it for technology terms *Use it for current pop cultural literacy *Use it for the Keywords *Use it for the REFERENCES at the bottom of the page!
  • 4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it) Teachers: Please stop prohibiting the use of Wikipedia 20 Little Known Ways to Use Wikipedia Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica Schiff, Stacy. “Know it all: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?” The New Yorker, February 26, 2006 And: Yes students, there’s a world beyond Wikipedia **Several years ago, Nature magazine did a comparison of material available on Wikipedia and Brittanica and concluded that Brittanica was somewhat, but not overwhelmingly, more accurate than Wikipedia. Brittanica lodged a complaint, and here, you can see what it complained about as well as Nature’s response. Nature compared articles from both organizations on various topics and sent them to experts to review. Per article, the averages were: 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia. -0- Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page. Bookmark it! var entrycat = ' ' By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 09/07/2011 .connect_widget .connect_widget_text .connect_widget_connected_text a {display:block;} #center {overflow:visible;} /*.override-width iframe {width:274px !important;}*/ Tumblr Reddit Stumbleupon Digg Delicious LinkedIn http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.html#_=1315504289567&count=horizontal&counturl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fblogs%2Fanswer-sheet%2Fpost%2F
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    Excellent perspective on "The 'W' Word" - use it wisely for what it is - high school and college kids shouldn't be citing any general knowledge encyclopedias for serious research - but that doesn't mean there aren't some excellent uses for it.
Martin Burrett

Measuring Angles - 99 views

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    A basic looking but useful angle measuring activity. Measure with a virtual protractor and choose the correct answer from a choice of three. http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/Maths
Randolph Hollingsworth

Ideas Trump Resources When it Comes to City Growth - Richard Florida - The Atlantic Cities - 0 views

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    important for all us educators to remember: knowledge and extractive industries do not mix. "Across all U.S. metros, the share of workers in resource and extractive industries had no correlation whatsoever to four key measures of regional development: economic output per capita, average wages per capita, income, or median household income (the correlations range from -.08 to .09, none being statistically significant). Conversely, the share of workers employed in idea-based knowledge and creative industries was strongly associated with all four regional development measures (with correlations ranging from .53 to .74). In line with the resource curse hypothesis, the share of employment in resource and extractive industries was negatively associated with share of employment in knowledge industries and also with the share of adults with college degrees, a key measure of skill and human capital which economists uniformly find to be a key driver of short and long-run economic prosperity."
Kathy Fiedler

Lexile® at School - 5 views

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    "Lexile measures are powerful, versatile tools that educators can use to help their students grow as readers. When you use both Lexile reader measures and Lexile text measures, you can treat each student as an individual learner, rather than as below-grade, on-grade or above-grade. Site includes a "find a book" feature which allows you to search a book by title or author and find out the lexile level. There is a conversion chart on the site which will give you a guide to the approximate grade level equivalents as well. Here are some classroom ideas and applications to help you differentiate instruction for all readers in various situations."
Nigel Coutts

Aligning assessments with the purposes of our teaching - The Learner's Way - 12 views

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    We rely on an assessment measure without taking a close look at what it is measuring and we obfuscate the information we need to evaluate the utility of these measures by reducing the results to numerical values.
Roland Gesthuizen

Why Rubrics Fail as a Means of Measuring Documentation Quality | I'd Rather Be Writing - 3 views

  • Almost nothing can be broken down into a list of parts that, when properly assembled and in the right balance, create a perfect whole.
  • if we want to measure effectiveness of something, it should be measured against its goal
  • that’s the direction any rubric should go — toward the user’s perspective, not evaluated from an internal perspective
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    "One of my issues with using rubrics to assess anything - documentation, essays, support sites - is that, at least for me, judgment is not so mechanical. Almost nothing can be broken down into a list of parts that, when properly assembled and in the right balance, create a perfect whole. "
Martha Hickson

Measuring Worth - User Guide - 13 views

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    The principle of the MeasuringWorth is that there is no one standard measure for comparing what a monetary value in the past is worth today. The best measure depends on the question asked. At present, we have comparators that give you seven answers for the United States (from 1774 on), five for the United Kingdom (from 1270 on), five for Australia (from 1828 on). These dates are determined by the limits of available data.
Martin Burrett

Reading scales - 1 views

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    A great resource to practise reading scales, dials and measures. http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/Maths
Martin Burrett

Inchy Picnic - 80 views

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    A picnic themed measuring game. Move your ant around the course by inputting the inches to travel. Play full screen at http://www.fuelthebrain.com/Game/swfs/antWalk.swf http://j.mp/xNy0My http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/Maths
Margaret FalerSweany

Colorado Senate Advances Strict Gun Control Measures - NYTimes.com - 1 views

  • After more than 12 hours of emotional and bitterly divided debate, the Democratic-controlled State Senate gave preliminary approval to a package of gun bills. At its heart are measures that would require universal background checks for private gun sales and limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. Other measures would create a fee for background checks; require those convicted of domestic abuse to surrender their firearms; and require residents applying for permits to carry concealed weapons to take in-person training classes, outlawing the handful of online-only courses now offered in the state.
smilex3md

Who is Bigger? - 45 views

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    We have developed computational methods to measure historical significance through analysis of Wikipedia and other data sources. We rank historical figures just as Google ranks webpages, by integrating a diverse set of measurements about their reputation (including PageRank, article length, and readership) into estimates of their fame, explained by a combination of achievement (gravitas) and celebrity. We correct for the passage of time in a principled way, so we can fairly compare the significance of historical figures of different eras. - See more at: http://www.whoisbigger.com/#sthash.6tN6cebp.dpuf
Steven Szalaj

Raise the bar with national exam for teachers - chicagotribune.com - 53 views

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    Editorial about a recommendation by the AFT Pres to develop a professional certification for teachers.  It's about time...
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    About time for what? For standardized tests to ruin the teaching profession like it has ruined our kids? For the government to control, from the top down, what education departments teach their students? Looks like a HUGE power grab and a very bad way for a Union, who professes to stand against standardized tests to act! Shame on them! Go to Fairtest.org to find out more about the scam of standardized testing. If you think a standardized test can improve education, you must also think you can fatten a calf by weighing it!
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    Michelle is right. More standardized testing is not the answer for anything, least of all teacher certification. Come on, Steven .. use your critical thinking skills. Don't encourage the bean counters and bureaucrats who are so enamored of things that can be measured and filed into neat categories. The most valuable things cannot be measured in any "objective" way. To focus on what's measurable is to focus on what's shallow.
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    Mark & Michelle, thank you for your comments. When I posted this I knew the words "standardized test" would be a flashpoint. It is for me too. With nearly 40 years in the classroom, teaching a creative art (music) to all different levels (kindergarten through college and well beyond), I have often railed against reducing any education, any student, to a number. Very little in what I have taught can be measured with a pencil-and-paper test. What I see here is different than this. It is the union that she is saying should be the "gate-keeper" to our profession, rather than some generic government standard test. Yes, tests would be a part of the certification, but from what I read, so would much more, including actual classroom work. The certification would be similar to the AMA for physicians or the Bar for attorneys. These are certifications designed and administered by the profession - not the government - and validate a candidate's readiness to practice. Yes, I too am strongly against the government, or any organization outside of our profession, to certify, to validate, a teacher's ability to do the job. But we have to admit there is a problem with teacher certification and validation. There are people who simply should not be in the classroom (haven't we all seen them?). It is very difficult to remove folks who are dragging the respect for our profession down. Yes, there is remediation. Yes, it should be a difficult process to remove someone in order to protect against administrative abuses. But what is talked about here is the profession policing itself - something that the teacher's unions, in general, have steadfastly refused to do. What the AFT Pres is suggesting is that the best thing we can do to raise the status of teaching as a profession is to take action ourselves to make it happen. Really, if we in the profession do not do this, then it will be imposed from those outside who do not know what we do, how we do it and why we do it.
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    You are still talking about a standardized test. Let's face it--doctors have to have specific knowledge to do their job. Whether or not they are creative or engaging is not as important as their knowledge base. The same with lawyers--knowledge of the law is essential, and everything else is secondary. However, in teaching, although educational theory and knowledge of their subject area is important (and already tested, by the way) the most essential aspect of teaching is how you can creatively engage students, interact with parents and peers, and stay organized and motivated. These things CAN'T BE TESTED. Right now, teachers already go through extensive training, evaluation, and continuing education. Do you REALLY think that a standardized test will really improve teaching? I know a lot of university professors who can easily pass a test, but few of them can teach worth beans.
Roland Gesthuizen

What measures the best teacher? More than scores, study shows - 1450 WHTC Holland's Hometown Station - 138 views

  • researchers found they could pick out the best teachers in a school and even predict roughly how much their students would learn if they rated the educators through a formula that put equal weight on student input, test scores and detailed classroom observations by principals and peers
  • Judging teachers primarily by student performance on state tests, for instance, turned out to be highly unreliable, with little consistency from year to year. Judging them chiefly by a principal's observations failed to identify those teachers who could be counted on to boost student proficiency on state math and reading tests.
  • This should be a very big red flag to all those policy makers who think they can have test-based accountability be half or more of a teacher's evaluation
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    "(Reuters) - Effective teachers can be identified by observing them at work, measuring their students' progress on standardized tests - and asking those students directly what goes on in the classroom, according to a comprehensive study released Tuesday."
Don Doehla

Addressing Chronic Absenteeism | Edutopia - 29 views

  • It is now late October. Have any of your students already missed more than a month of school? Are any on track to? Can you even know? Educators understand the importance of school attendance -- as we often say, "You can't teach an empty desk." And schools have mechanisms in place to track it, including average daily attendance (ADA) and truancy. But neither of those measures addresses chronic absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism is typically defined as missing 10 percent or more of a school year -- approximately 18 days a year, or just two days every month. And across the nation, 5 to 7.5 million students are chronically absent.
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    It is now late October. Have any of your students already missed more than a month of school? Are any on track to? Can you even know? Educators understand the importance of school attendance -- as we often say, "You can't teach an empty desk." And schools have mechanisms in place to track it, including average daily attendance (ADA) and truancy. But neither of those measures addresses chronic absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism is typically defined as missing 10 percent or more of a school year -- approximately 18 days a year, or just two days every month. And across the nation, 5 to 7.5 million students are chronically absent.
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    It is now late October. Have any of your students already missed more than a month of school? Are any on track to? Can you even know? Educators understand the importance of school attendance -- as we often say, "You can't teach an empty desk." And schools have mechanisms in place to track it, including average daily attendance (ADA) and truancy. But neither of those measures addresses chronic absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism is typically defined as missing 10 percent or more of a school year -- approximately 18 days a year, or just two days every month. And across the nation, 5 to 7.5 million students are chronically absent.
Chris Sloan

Measuring Classroom Progress: 21st Century Assessment Project Wants Your Input » Spotlight - 51 views

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    Guest authors Daniel Hickey and Brian Nelson argue that the opportunity to institute true reform in assessment practices is now, and the Race to the Top Assessment Initiative should think more broadly about how we measure progress in the classroom. They welcome comments on findings from the MacArthur 21st Century Assessment Project.
Holly Barlaam

Measuring Hell - 25 views

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    An interesting article about Galileo measuring hell (Galileo's lectures on the Inferno). Could be some ideas gleaned here for cross-curricular project of some sort? Thinking specifically about English and Physics.
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