Insights (blog)

Checking the Next Generation Science Standards Crystal Ball

Nearly three years ago, I presented several blog posts devoted to the potentially transformative nature of the as-of-then-still-under-development Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the possible pitfalls to the approach being taken in developing and promoting them.

Writing Your Way Out of a Box

Writing texts for reading and language arts programs has been described as “writing your way out of a box.” How do you create a text that is just as engaging for students as a trade book or magazine article . . . and also helps them to learn and practice a targeted set of skills? Several of the editors in the Six Red Marbles Humanities Department have written books for children’s trade publishers, and that experience often helps us to get the writers we work with out of that box.

Laura Dress Judges iGEM High School Jamboree

Motivating high school students to conduct research in the emerging field of synthetic biology is no easy feat. Yet, the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Foundation has accomplished just that.

How PLAY can help your WORK

The company I work for, Six Red Marbles, develops technology-based educational materials for use in schools and other settings. Six Red Marbles has six core principles for developing materials for learners. One of these principles is “play is productive.” In a nutshell, the principle states that learning is a creative adventure, and if learners are having fun being creative then they’re more likely to explore, ask questions, and take productive risks.

The “Participation Gap” You Haven’t Heard About

Harvard professor and researcher Robert Putnam—renown for his ’bowling alone’ thesis of American anomie—has turned his attention in recent years to growing levels of inequality between young people. While his extensive research project on this topic continues, you can get a sense of his preliminary findings from his working paper “Growing Class Gaps in Social Connectedness among American Youth” (2012). This paper focuses on the widening gap between the experiences of middle and upper class youth and their less affluent peers since the 1990s, and how these experiences affect everything from future earnings and levels of educational attainment to social capital, civic engagement, and feelings of self-worth. Spoiler alert: lower class students are not faring so well.

Leaving Behind "No Child"?

What is known in polite circles as No Child Left Behind has many roots in Texas. Many recall that this signature accomplishment of George W. Bush's presidency was based on an expansion of the testing regime he'd promoted in Texas while governor there.
But the history and the connections to Texas go back further, and Texas may just be where to look for clues about the future of national education policy.

Hungry for design? . . . A recipe to design a book

Here's how to design a successful book that will engage a countless number of kids for generations to come.

Content and Software: Partners in Education

Everyone at Six Red Marbles understands that you need to consider the whole user experience, including content, software, and many other factors, if you’re going to develop a curriculum that engages students and helps them to achieve mastery.

Put Us to the Test: Testing in the Time of Technology

The new assessments have been surrounded by controversy on several fronts. One has been the support and funding of the Gates foundation. Critics have pointed out that Microsoft stands to gain from the tests' reliance on technology, a view that has angered Bill Gates. In the June 7th Washington Post, Gates has defended his support of the Common Core by saying, "Education can get better. Some people may not believe that. Education can change . . . I believe in the Common Core because of its substance and what it will do to improve education. And that’s the only reason I believe in the Common Core. . . . This is philanthropy. This is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity I had."

STEMtastic! The wonderful, weird, and wild world of science/technology/engineering/math

Celebrities in STEM: Some of the biggest stars of the past few decades have surprising backgrounds in science, math, and engineering! Check out the fascinating STEM credentials of these celebrities.

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