A2 Khan Academy Students

I see public education changing with the times. I see programs like Khan Academy working to utilize teacher resources the most effective way while reaching all kids, at their level, using a medium they are comfortable with. NWEA tests are used as a gage of achievement in our schools for reading and math. We should not encourage teaching to the test but we can help each student exceed the NWEA baseline by changing the instruction to reach each child.

Notes for the group:
*Also see: https://www.facebook.com/A2KhanAcademyStudents
*Students and families can work ahead in the Khan curriculum anytime as long as core work is complete. Example: if single digit addition is being taught in class by the instructor the student should not dabble in double digit addition until single digit addition has been mastered.
*As a group, we should immediately work on training for new families entering the Bryant / Pattengill schools. Getting families trained on how to use the services and getting those without technology access the tools they need will be critical to reaching each child.

Here’s the framework of a plan:

November 2012:
Organize parents to use Kahn for supplemental math instruction with their kids at home. I plan to take the same modules with my kids so we can track progress together.

March 2013:
Parents from this group can volunteer to present their child’s NWEA scores before and after starting this Khan Academy supplement, share feedback about the program, share coach data with the PTO exec board. This meeting should include as many teacher as possible.

September 2013:
Pilot in-class supplementation during centers with two classes from each grade in Bryant & Pattengill for entire year. Any number of parents can do this at home as well and make data available to their teacher (even in non pilot schools).

June 2014:
Work on technology grant for computer carts full of http://one.laptop.org/ devices for teachers to check out and kids to take home.

September 2014:
Roll out to all classes in both schools for entire year. Pilot full program in two classes per grade at both schools. This will start to flip instruction to online lecture & practice at home and group projects at school. Which utilizes the teachers talents the best.

September 2015:
All Classes in all schools using the fully integrated program.

A2 Schools look to cut more funds

Ann Arbor schools are looking to cut funds again. It’s interesting to me how you come to pay attention to things only when they directly impact you. I’ve lived in three major cities in my life so far and only half paid attention to education funding in the past. Now my oldest son is finishing Kindergarten and my youngest son is only a year away and I’m very concerned.

First, I had no idea that almost one quarter of kids in my district qualify for reduced lunch. That’s a lot of families and kids with financial and food insecurity. Imagine waking up in the morning with that feeling in your belly each morning. The feeling of possible hunger and then the feeling that you know you have less than the kid sitting next to you in school. Brutal.

Second, we pay a lot of taxes in Washtenaw County. I always see this conversation about schools and funding being approached from the “what can we cut to keep things the way they are” angle. What about approaching it from “how can we reinvent the way we do schools to give the best most practical education for the least amount of money” angle?

There are many organizations in this area working on wonderful innovations and projects that can change the way communities interact and evolve. Why isn’t the school system working with these organizations to help solve our problems? It’s like the school system is in a closed loop. You cannot solve issues without constant input from multiple sources. If you have the same people proposing fixes to evolving problems you’re eventually going to run out of ideas and start gambling with public funds and kids futures along the way.

Electing a board of education is only one step in the process of managing the most important public project. Each family, concerned citizen or taxpayer needs to take an active role. I propose the Ann Arbor public schools actively engage the local community in the following ways:

Use the local food community to provide solutions for providing nutritious food for each child that wants it each day the schools are open.

Use the U of M complex and the amazing community colleges in the area to focus our education system on STEM principals so we may inspire new generations of engineers.

Work with permaculture and sustainability experts to transform our schools grounds and buildings into learning labs. These hyper efficient spaces could serve a dual purpose as learning environment and community incubator. The tools inside these buildings should be accessible to all residents.

The larger question here is, “Do we have the will”? I think we do.