November 2014

Thanksgiving Perspective

I’m not one to worry overly much about properly targeting my posts or tweets, or appropriate scheduling of posts, etc. I have nothing to sell, and am content to post sporadically about whatever happens to seem of potential interest or amusement to myself and my Eleven Faithful Followers (#11FF) – who I love and appreciate.

I lack the pressures of a huge following. Normal weeks a few hundred people visit some part of this blog or the associated goodies, and of those a few dozen stay for any real length of time. My Twitter and Facebook accounts have similar numbers – I’m there, but I’m not, you know… a thing. Still...

Tragedy of the Commons

Tragedy of You're A Dick

The Tragedy of the Commons is a situation in which reasonable people, acting in their own best interest, use or otherwise exploit resources shared by the whole – leading to negative results for everyone, including themselves. The term was first coined in 1968 by ecologist Garrett Hardin, but the idea can be documented much earlier – all the way back to the Greeks, I’m told, if one looks hard enough.

Condemnation Bias

Correlation Not Causation Correlation does not imply causation. We all know this. Most of us can identify it academically, in abstract situations. In ‘real life’, however, it all too often combines with another fascinating bit of human fallibility: ‘confirmation bias’.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to screen out or forget facts or situations which don’t support our existing beliefs, while remembering with emphasis those which do. The thing where it seems to rain every time you wash your car (or do a ceremonial dance)? Celebrities dying in threes? The way people from certain racial groups or religious faiths seem to always X, Y, or Z? Yeah, that’s largely confirmation bias.

It’s normal. It’s human. But we could be a little more self-aware while doing it.

10 Lessons Learned from Common Core Testing

Students Testing The Journal recently posted a fascinating list: "10 Lessons Learned from the Assessment Field Tests - Schools and districts that took part in the PARCC and Smarter Balanced trial runs share their experiences to help you prepare for online testing this spring."

If you're one of my Eleven Faithful Followers, you know I'm not particularly anti-Common Core. Oklahoma’s not even a Common Core state this month. Still, I work enough in surrounding states which ARE that I thought it would be worth perusing. And… oh my god. The list… it’s… well, irony is dead to say the least. All ten are the same lesson, repeated without irony or complaint - “Spend More Time and Resources Hyper-Focused on Computer-Based Testing.”

Roster Villification

This week two First Grade teachers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, took a principled stand against subjecting their students to any more abuse in the name of standardized testing. Their story and the letter they sent home to parents made waves, and they are likely to be fired for doing what’s best for their students.

I couldn’t help but remember a few months ago when I did the opposite, and caved in the face of almost no pressure. I’m reposting this as a confession in contrast to their courage and their conviction. My other rebuilt posts retain their original posting dates for logistical reasons; this one will not. It was originally posted April 16th, 2014.

Oh, Were You Gone?

Just before Halloween (probably no connection), bad people (by which I of course mean the Russians) exploited a security hole in –

Actually, it doesn’t matter. The point is my websites died at their dirty little virtual hands. This one, my class website, my wife’s site, etc. Fast forward to the rebuild, and a few lessons learned during those two weeks.

I'm A Cow

Twitter PeepsI have a class Twitter account I use to remind students of various stuff, link to appropriate educational or amusing things, etc. They follow me there, I follow them back to facilitate the occasional question about grades or other non-public issues (you can only direct message if you follow one another).