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by Stephen Downes
Jun 08, 2015

7 reasons why kids right to have went apeshit over this GCSE maths question
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, 2015/06/08


I mentioned this item last week. Now, Donald Clark lists seven reasons why the question is unfair. "It sets you up with a probability question, they bait you with probability, then switch to algebra," he says. "it lays a trap for students. The appearance of an equation in the question n2 – n – 90 = 0 suggests that this needs to be solved." Well, yeah. All of these are good points. Again, though, let me emphasize that the point of a question like this is to test whether you think like a mathematician. When you look at the world, what frame do you see it through? The entrepreneur will 'see' spreadsheets of sweets and profit margins. The chemist will 'see' chemical processes and reactions. The explorer will 'see' possibilities and discoveries. And the mathematician sill 'see' everything in equations (yes, even probabilities). The core question is: do we need to 'see' the world this way? Well, some of us (especially physicists) need to. But by no means all of us. And therein lies the problem with standardized tests.

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I have 227 browser tabs open, and my computer runs fine. Here’s my secret.
David Roberts, Vox, 2015/06/08


Via Doug Belshaw's weekly newsletter comes this tip: vertical tabs. "Almost all computer monitors these days are widescreen. Vertical space is at a premium, while there are wide areas off to the side of your browser that go unused. So why not move the tabs over there?" It's something I've also recommended as a feature for personal learning environments.

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Test Preppers, Take Note: Free SAT Study Tools Could Signal Sea Change
Eric Westervelt, NPR Ed, 2015/06/08


The SAT has taken a lot of criticism over the years. This appears to be a response. One side-effect, suggests NPR, is that ti may make the test-prep industry slightly less lucrative. There are two major strands. The first is the introduction of a set of free study tools to level the playing field for less-affluent students." SAT and Khan Academy will partner to produce the online materials, and the Boys & Girls Club of America will focus on in-house tutoring and support. This is an instance of the Triad Model. The second addresses the test itself, which will be revamped. "The essay section will now be optional, and students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers. And obscure SAT words that are little used in everyday conversation will be dropped. The emphasis now will be on relevant, useful vocabulary in context."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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