Archive for October, 2010


Brief Review of Pubit! New ePublishing Service by B&N

Monday, October 4th, 2010


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Barnes and Noble launched its new pubit! service today, where authors can upload their manuscripts and have them automatically converted to ebooks.

While I’m not crazy about the name (as I had my concerns about the iPad name initially), it looked like it might be easier to use than the Amazon Kindle service. I published my printed books using CreateSpace, but making them into Kindle ebooks looked pretty convoluted. So I gave this service a try.

I went through the process as far as uploading my book file and previewing it with their Nook previewer. It’s a nifty service, and it showed me how terrible the results would be. Going from my beautifully typeset, illustrated book that had been laid out in Pages, exporting it to Word (.doc), and then importing it into their format made a hash of the layout. PDF is not supported, which is probably good, because reading a PDF on these readers can be very tough – the text does not usually flow well.

The next step would be to edit the original file and/or to edit the changed file. Since I know HTML pretty well, I’ll probably have faster results with the latter than the former.

I also made a stop by the Kindle publisher. It is a little more difficult to do the initial publishing steps, but it also looks like there may be more flexibility. Without much time, though, I would probably find the pubit service easier to use.

NY Times on Singapore Math

Monday, October 4th, 2010


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Last Friday, this New York times article about Singapore Math appeared. The premise of the beginning of the article is that by studying one number at a time slowly, students learn more thoroughly and therefore build a better mathematical foundation. This is true, even if it is an oversimplification of the curriculum.

Here is a quote from the article:

Principals and teachers say that slowing down the learning process gives students a solid math foundation upon which to build increasingly complex skills, and makes it less likely that they will forget and have to be retaught the same thing in later years.And with Singapore math, the pace can accelerate by fourth and fifth grades, putting children as much as a year ahead of students in other math programs as they grasp complex problems more quickly.


This is true, from what I have seen and heard from different teachers. Not only that, but the mental flexibility for problem solving can be much greater with Singapore Math, if it is taught correctly.

And here is one of the main reasons I recommend this program:

Singapore math’s added appeal is that it has largely skirted the math wars of recent decades over whether to teach traditional math or reform math. Indeed, Singapore math has often been described by educators and parents as a more balanced approach between the two, melding old-fashioned algorithms with visual representations and critical thinking.

So you don’t have to sacrifice any of the important aspects of teaching math if you adopt this method. It does require some training and/or learning in order to implement it well, though, because the curriculum books on their own don’t offer a thorough grounding in the theory and practice.

What are your thoughts about the article?

How Far Can Singapore Math Take You?

Friday, October 1st, 2010


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An article appeared in the Lowell Sun yesterday, and this article triggered more questions than answers in my mind.

Among other things, the North Middlesex Regional School District found spotty improvements in math test scores. The article said:

Brady and Muir discussed how the district’s use of so-called Singapore math is problematic. “We think Singapore math has taken us as far as it can,” Brady said.

Muir added that Singapore math does not align with MCAS frameworks but that the district is looking at other textbook publishers.

This raised some red flags for me. Singapore Math took them as far as it can? I don’t think so, because the curriculum can take students very far indeed – if it’s implemented correctly. I’ve had third grade students tackling sixth grade problems with ease and confidence after using the program. I’ve also seen how far above the level of the math students in even high-performing school districts my Singapore Math students have been.

Not only that, but one of my earlier posts links to a longitudinal study in Massachusetts, the same state as this article covers, showing that Singapore Math does indeed raise test scores – the same test as the students in the Lowell Sun article took.

So my questions are: how much, if any, help did the teachers receive in implementing Singapore Math? What levels of textbook did they use, and were they the right levels for their student population? Was it a rolling adoption or done all at once, so that the students at the highest grade levels were left with the least foundation? What struggles did the teachers have, and what types of support were they given?

Appropriate professional development is necessary to implement any new curriculum well. If this district wants to switch to yet another curriculum, will they provide the training required to equip the teachers for student success? If not, they will just be setting the stage for another failure.

Video: Adding and Subtracting Algebraic Fractions

Friday, October 1st, 2010


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I came across this video from a Singapore tutor in my browsing today. It explains how to simplify an algebraic fraction problem. Interestingly, I solved a similar problem with my one of my algebra students last week. I like how this blogger breaks the steps down, but I would like her to explain more why the students made the mistake they made in the beginning. Quick quiz: do you know why? What is their misconception?

        
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