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Friday, April 27, 2012

SBAC released new technology hardware specifications

This week, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) issued guidance designed to inform schools and districts as they make annual instructional technology purchases. The guidelines include hardware and operating system specifications covering the vast majority of commercially available computers and tablets. 

You'll notice a new addition to the list of acceptable hardware: iPads. Both consortia are working with Apple and Google to ensure that, by 2014-15, iPads and other tablets will have a "lock down" feature. This will enable students to use tablets on the SBAC and PARRC assessments.

“Schools and districts make decisions each year about what types of hardware and software to purchase for instructional use, and they want to know that any devices acquired over the next two years will be compatible with the new assessments,” said Tony Alpert, chief operating officer of Smarter Balanced. “We are confident that new computers and tablets meeting these specifications will be Smarter Balanced-ready in 2014-15.”

The guidelines are meant to inform current and future purchasing decisions. As part of their plans to support instruction, districts and schools may select computer systems that meet or exceed these guidelines and be confident that those systems will work with the assessments in the 2014-15 school year. Support for operating systems not specified, predating those specified, or with processor capacities lower than recommended, will be described in future updates to these guidelines.

The specifications do not constitute the full list of technical requirements that will be necessary to administer Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments 2014-2015. The member states in both consortia will collaborate to use the technology readiness surveys and assessment design processes currently underway to shape the full and final list of requirements including guidance on bandwidth, test system security, and alternate input devices.

Friday, April 20, 2012

FREE PD from Key Curriculum Press

Key Curriculum Press, developers of Sketchpad, Tinkerplots, and Fathom, offers regular COMPLIMENTARY WEBINARS for math educators
  • April 24: Get to the Core: 6th Grade Statistics and Probability Standards with TinkerPlots (Beginner)
  • May 1: Building Equations with Sketchpad (Beginner)
  • May 8: Using TinkerPlots to Foster Understanding of Charts and Graphs (Beginner)
  • May 15: Programming Demonstrations in Sketchpad (Intermediate/Advanced)
Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Register early! Space is limited.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Inside the Flipped Classroom

With the increased focus on problem solving in mathematics (as mandated by the Common Core), many secondary teachers have begun to look toward 'flipping' their classroom. In the flipped classroom, students spend daily homework time watching videos of their teacher's daily lecture - at home, outside of class time. Then, they spend class time doing exercises to practice their emerging skills and, most importantly, on problem solving. Because students spend class time working on exercises and solving problems, the teacher is able to help students trouble-shoot and guide them in developing the skill and the concepts behind the mathematics. Something they would normally have to work through on their own, or with a parent, at home.

Byron High School is one school in which the entire math department has made the switch - with some pretty impressive results in student achievement.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Upcoming 14th Annual George Kitchen Memorial Lecture

Celebration of Mind: Connecting Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery
Featuring guest speaker Cr. Colm Mulcahy

Thursday, May 3, 2012
8:00 pm
Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College

The George Kitchen Memorial Lectureship was established at Kalamazoo College to honor the
life of George Kitchen, a mathematician who had been an inspiration to students and fellow
mathematics educators throughout his teaching career at Portage Northern High School.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

FREE ACT Online Test Prep

All Michigan schools with students in 9th grade and higher will receive two years of ACT’s online prep free of charge. This will include all public, private and charter schools. It is anticipated that ACT will be sending all building Principals and MME test supervisors an email sometime this month with the password that will allow electronic monitoring of usage of the program along with the ability to monitor student progress and test information.

The ACT Online Prep Service includes:

  • Two full practice tests with real ACT test items.
  • Practice essays for the ACT writing test with real-time scoring (100 writing units per school).
  • Comprehensive content review for each of the ACT’s four required tests: English, Math, Reading and Science.
  • Diagnostic tests and personalized study paths for individual students.
  • Anywhere, anytime access via the Internet.

The site license for this product normally has an annual cost of $1,060.

Keep your eyes peeled for the email from ACT for more information.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

!! Smarter Balanced Technology Readiness Tool !!

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), anticipates replacing the MEAP and MME for ELA and Mathematics with online assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). It is important that Michigan schools make significant progress toward technology readiness to take advantage of this next-generation assessment system.

To assist local districts in preparing for this exciting change, SBAC has developed a Technology Readiness Assessment tool. This online tool will help local school districts and MDE determine current readiness levels and develop implementation plans for ensuring all schools are technologically ready for online assessments. The first Technology Readiness Assessment collection will take place between April 15, 2012 and May 15, 2012. To learn about the tool, check out the demonstration video.

Your district's MEAP Coordinator will serve as the primary contact for this process; however, we expect that completion of the Technology Readiness Assessment will be a joint effort between the district’s information technology staff, building administrators, and district assessment coordinator. The District MEAP Coordinator will receive an email notification with a user name and directions for creating a password.

In an effort to assist districts in completing this technology readiness assessment, webinars have been scheduled at the following days/times:

  • April 12, 2012 from 9:00 AM until 10:30 AM
  • April 13, 2012 from 2:00 PM until 3:30 PM
  • April 19, 2012 from 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM
  • April 20, 2012 from 1:00 PM until 2:30 PM

You can connect to these webinars at

Monday, April 9, 2012

General questions about the CCSS-Mathematics standards

Bill McCallum, one of the lead authors of the CCSS-M, has recently started and Questions & Answer post for the content standards at his blog, Tools for the Common Core Standards. He describes the post as follows "If you have general questions about the standards, ask them in a comment on this post. I can’t guarantee being able to answer all of them quickly, but by now there is a fairly large community of readers of this blog, some of whom might be able to answer questions, and I’ll be sure to keep an eye on it."
So, if you're curious about a particular standard and you'd like to receive an answer from a person with authority, this is the place for you!
Check it out now; there are currently 27 posts with replies.

Upcoming T3 Math and webinars - Sign up now!

T³ webinars are presented by experienced educators with math and science teaching backgrounds. Sign up now for the webinars listed below. A Certificate of Attendance is available to participants.

All T³ webinars are approximately 60 minutes in length and start at: 8 PM EST

Ten80 Race to the Chase Lesson Series: How to Win Races and Influence Championships
Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Presenters: Michelle Bonds, Beverly Simmons, Jeff Thompson
Host: Eric Butterbaugh

Learn about STEM subjects in NASCAR through TI’s alliance with Ten80 Education. The “Race to the Chase” lesson series offers math and science resources based on real-world data from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Learn how to use classroom-ready math and science lessons that explore three key parameters that constantly change during a race: car balance due to fuel consumption, tire wear, and track temperature and contour. Students will learn why the race teams with the best engineers win. The more you know, the faster you go!
Register now

TI-84 Plus Basic Skills: Problem-Solving in the Real World... and Beyond!
Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Presenters: Judy Hicks, John LaMaster
Host: Eric Butterbaugh

Explore actual data and problem-solving situations with lessons developed in cooperation with NASA, USA Today and the Numb3rs television series. Analyze the ascent of a space shuttle with a scatter plot and linear regression, and model the Weightless Wonder’s reduced-gravity flight with a quadratic function. Locate and use algebra and geometry lessons that incorporate data from USA Today articles. Use algebraic and geometric techniques to investigate crime scenes from episodes of the Numb3rs television series.
Register now

View archived webinars