History + Women = Accuracy

voting rights
As you celebrate Women’s History Month, consider the prescient advice Abigail Adams gave to her husband John. She could have saved us all that time getting the 19th Amendment passed.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.”
                                                                       Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams (March 31, 1776)

Fast forward almost two-and-a-half centuries to the March celebration of voices like Adams’, and note that generosity is not the focus of Women’s History Month. It’s about accuracy; expanding our historical perspectives by celebrating the ideas and accomplishments of women.

Consider Anne Hutchinson, an astonishingly courageous voice from the early colonial period.

Ann Hutchinson preaching in her house in Boston c. 1630s

Anne Hutchinson preaching in her house in Boston c.1630s

Puritan ministers preached a strictly enforced code of religious standards based on the idea that salvation could be earned by good behavior. Hutchinson believed that forgiveness by God’s grace alone led to salvation. She had the tenacity to discuss these conflicting ideas in a small group meeting in her home.

In 1637, Puritan leaders convicted Hutchinson of violating the laws of family, church, and colony and forced her to flee the Massachusetts Bay Colony: banishment. Using The Trial of  Anne Hutchinson resource, students can review primary-source excerpts from her compelling self-defense and decide for themselves if her banishment was warranted.

We have used this same case-study approach in several other women's history questions.

In Comparing Powerful Medieval Women students investigate a trifecta of medieval female leaders to answer the question: Was Empress Theodora more powerful than Eleanor of Aquitaine or Joan of Arc?

In Peronism in Argentina, 1946-55, students explore post-colonial Argentina, the rule of Juan Perón and his wife Eva—Evita!—to answer this question: Was Perón good for Argentina? Eva Perón's manipulation of the masses and self-aggrandizement in the context of social welfare made her the subject of both romantic idolatry and scornful criticism.

The 19th Amendment features prominently in several SAS Curriculum Pathways resources. In Voting Rights for Women, students explore a historical narrative that presents key people, events, and issues related to this focus question: Why did it take so long for women to get the right to vote? Throughout the resource, documents and interactive activities highlight the ideas of pioneers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Carrie Chapman Catt.

The long road to voting rights is also examined in Woman Suffrage: Pre-19th Amendment Voting. In this activity students explore significant events in the woman suffrage struggle,  identify states that adopted voting rights for women prior to the 19th Amendment, and create a map to illustrate the pattern of voting rights adoption for women.

So celebrate Women's History Month—with accuracy!

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Transitions Make Your Sentences Spring to Life

spring (2)

It’s late March, and I can see signs of spring everywhere I look. The dingy snow piles that lined our streets and highways in February have finally melted away. If I look closely, I can make out the first traces of tree pollen that will gradually coat our cars and outdoor furniture in a bright yellow film.

When I think about these signs of seasonal transition, I am reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ode to the West Wind” and its famous last line: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Of course, we all know that transitions are a vital part of life and can take place in various ways. For example, the movement of one season to the next, like the flow of days and years, happens in time.  Other transitions involve the movement through time and space. Think about your journey from home to school or work each day, or your movement from one room to another as you make your way through your house.

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Our inContext resource shows six types of transitions.

Transitions are critical in writing as well. Well-chosen words and phrases help you logically connect ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. And like the transitions we all notice in the natural world or in our daily lives, transitions in writing clarify matters of time, space, rank, or relationship (comparison, cause and effect).

Several resources in SAS Curriculum Pathways help students understand the importance of using effective transitions in their essays. In the writing section of inContext, for example, students can explore six different categories of transitions.

For each category, students review sentences that show how transitions make logical connections. They can then demonstrate their learning by creating their own model sentences.

Writing Drafter targets areas where transitions might be needed.

Writing Drafter targets areas where transitions might be needed.

Writing Navigator, our suite of writing tools, targets places in students’ writing where transitions might be useful. In Writing Drafter, these locations are highlighted. Students make judgments about whether transitions are needed and, if so, what categories can be applied to make logical connections.

A poorly written paragraph can be like a new car covered in a cloud of pine pollen. You know there’s a beautiful car parked there in your driveway, but you’ll need a bucket of soapy water and some elbow grease to make it sparkle again. And if you want to make your cloudy sentences sparkle, try soaping them up with some great transitions and watch them begin to glow.

To learn more about using transitions, check out Connectives: Using Prepositions and Conjunctions.

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Reading & Writing Tools for Your Chromebook

We've shared at length our resources for your iPad, but we're happy to announce our new Chromebook apps!

SAS Reading Records

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SAS Reading Records is a flexible tool designed to support many methods for conducting running records. By utilizing the numerous features of Reading Records, educators can do the following:

  • Select passages from our built-in library, which offers more than 75 fiction and nonfiction reading passages at various reading levels. All passages have multiple-choice and open-ended comprehension assessments. Students can also work on their own devices.
  • Grade assignments at their own pace and without necessarily being one-on-one with a student. The Reading Records system actually records students as they read aloud, allowing instructors to pause and replay portions of the audio to ensure all reading behaviors are captured.
  • Analyze performance using the data-visualization tools that update in real time. Graphs and charts update automatically whenever you grade an assignment or modify students’ reading levels.
  • Use the data as a centerpiece for student instruction and parent conferences. The interface not only provides an organized portfolio of the student's work, but also recordings of the student reading aloud.

With the student interface, young readers can do the following:

  • Complete assignments using the student-friendly, streamlined design. In fact, the assignment-creation interface lets teachers provide up to three passages from which students can choose a passage that aligns with their individual interests.
  • View their results complete with dynamic charts and graphs, a recording of their session, and the marked-up passage.
  • Listen to previously read passages to reflect on performance, hear reading behaviors, and perceive changes.
  • Monitor and share progress with teachers and parents from anywhere.

SAS Writing Navigator

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SAS Writing Navigator is a suite of four tools, one for each step in the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. Each tool offers numerous instructional features that help students create an effective plan, draft well-constructed sentences and paragraphs, revise their work in thoughtful ways, and prepare their written work for sharing with an audience. The flexibility of Writing Navigator makes it the perfect fit for any classroom: primary grades, secondary, and Advanced Placement courses. We also provide a number of English Language Arts lessons that utilize Writing Navigator for grades 3-12.

 

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From Virtual Experience to the Natural World

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Like Henry David Thoreau or E.O. Wilson, students and teachers love to step outside the classroom for hands-on experiences in the natural world. Science teachers generally expect that a fun outdoor activity will guarantee student engagement.  Fulfilling that noble intention, however, demands that you answer these two questions:

  1. How do you focus student learning in this new setting?
  2. How do you assess and document what students learn?

In the Classroom

Before you leave the classroom, prepare students to understand what they will see. Make sure they are familiar with any new terms and concepts they’ll encounter beyond the school walls. Technology can be extremely helpful in this regard.

Let’s say you are working on a water quality lesson. Ultimately, you’d like students to identify bio-indicators to determine the health of a lake, stream, or pond. But how will they know what to look for? How does the presence or absence of certain organisms give us information about water quality? How, in other words, will you establish the prior knowledge that is crucial to learning and that shapes both what we perceive and how we perceive it.

Ideally, you’d want students to complete an in-class lesson that covers the same material they’ll encounter in the field.

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In VLab: Stream Ecology, students use this data sheet to record their observations.

SAS Curriculum Pathways has a wide range of virtual labs to do just that.

For the water-quality example, you’d have students complete the Stream Ecology virtual lab in SAS Curriculum Pathways. Using this simulation, students explore the effect of various pollutants on stream health, collect data, and draw conclusions based on that data.

At a time when many people imagine a sharp divide—or even an antagonism—between technology and nature, here we see precisely the opposite:  the virtual experience prepares students to more fully appreciate and understand the natural world.

In the Field

To assess and document learning in the field, teachers often create an artifact, such as a worksheet, for students to collect data. Again, technology can make the process more efficient—and more fun.

If your students have iPads, you might consider using an app like SAS® Data Notebook, which lets students take control of their learning and monitor their progress. Students and teachers will benefit from built-in templates for field-trip goals, checklists, plus/deltas, spelling lists, and histograms. Data Notebook even includes a scratch paper template where students can load pictures, create drawings, and more. A new text page enables students to take notes, keep a journal, or perform any other writing tasks organized in their notebook.

Students can also add sections in order to set, monitor, and reflect on individual goals by subject. Notebooks can now be emailed to teachers, parents, or friends—who may recognize in the pages the work of a budding Thoreau or Wilson.

Consider some of our other virtual labs that help bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.

VLab: Free Fall
VLab: Tides
VLab: Seasons
VLab: Eclipses

 

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Hey Pre-service Teachers! We're Here to Help

Dear Pre-Service Teachers,

Congratulations on deciding to become a teacher. Yours is a noble calling, "not the filling of a pail," as the Irish poet W.B. Yeats said, "but the lighting of a fire" in the minds and hearts of your students.

As a pre-service teacher, "lighting a fire" begins with devoting time to one of the most important elements of the profession: planning and creating lessons and units. SAS Curriculum Pathways is here to help you with these crucial activities!

Although lesson plans take a variety of formats, most contain common elements that highlight:

  1. What to teach (lesson title)
  2. How to teach (lesson objectives and procedures)
  3. What and how to evaluate (assessment)
what to teach

Each resource in SAS Curriculum Pathways contains a detailed Lesson Guide.

Let's take a look at how SAS Curriculum Pathways can help you plan at each step of this process.

What to Teach

To start lesson planning, identify the instructional goals and the content students need to master. The best place to begin is standards. State and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) – are used by districts and schools to outline learning goals (i.e., what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade). Other resources, such as pacing guides or district- and school-level documentation, might also be available.

PRuleswithstds

Each resource is directly aligned to individual state standards and Common Core State Standards.

SAS Curriculum Pathways provides standards alignment in two helpful ways. First, you can search all of your standards, whether state or Common Core, to find specific resources. Second,  the Lesson Guide of each individual resource provides specific standards alignment.

Put simply, you can find SAS Curriculum Pathways resources by searching standards and within each resource see specific standards alignment. No longer do you need to cross-reference state or district websites to identify standards for a lesson. We've done the work for you!

How to Teach

Every plan needs lesson objectives that provide the best instruction. Objectives often take the form of action statements that imply a certain level of thinking and understanding. Perhaps the most popular reference for writing objectives is Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. The taxonomy assigns levels of understanding and cognitive processing implied by certain verbs. Other useful guides have applied Bloom's taxonomy to instructional scenarios such as teaching with technology.

The Lesson Guide, an integral feature of each resource in SAS Curriculum Pathways, provides specific objectives for that lesson. For example, the Lesson Guide for Punctuation Rules! suggests the following objectives:

Students will:

  • Identify the most common punctuation marks and their uses
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic rules of punctuation
  • Demonstrate the connection between punctuation and meaning
  • Provide specific words, phrases, and clauses to create sentences and apply punctuation
  • Use assessment information to check understanding

Just as with standards identification and alignment, our resources provide the specific information necessary to support good lesson planning.

In preparation for a new theme, topic, or chapter, you need to identify what students will do over the course of a unit. For example, students might take notes on introductory information, participate in class discussions, write essays, work through problems, conduct hands-on investigations, read and analyze pertinent information, and demonstrate learning through various assessments.

The SAS Curriculum Pathways Plan Books provide a model for effective resource integration. Each is animated and offers a glimpse of a week’s instructional plans that reflect best practices while satisfying a variety of learning styles.

We offer sample plan books for each of the disciplines.

ps1

Plan Books detail a week of instruction that includes SAS Curriculum Pathways resource

What and How to Evaluate

Too often we hear assessment and we think test or exam, but effective assessment involves much more than that. Throughout the lesson, you'll want to monitor student progress (formative assessment), and at the end of the lesson, you'll evaluate students' overall understanding (summative assessment).

SAS Curriculum Pathways provides a variety of materials to help with both forms of assessment. In particular, check out the Lesson Guides in each resource for worksheets, scoring guides, online quizzes, and other materials.

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This Lesson Guide from Punctuation Rules! provides these rules and examples along with a scoring guide.

In addition to the resources described, SAS Curriculum Pathways has a wealth of other materials to help with lesson and unit planning. At A Glance documents list subject categories and resource titles. The Information for Preservice Teachers document from our Tips & Tricks page walks you through the process of identifying a standard, selecting a resource, differentiating instruction, and integrating a resource. It also offers links to discipline- and technology-focused organizations for teachers.

Good luck future teachers, and remember, we're here for you!

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Flash Cards Redesigned for iPad and iPhone

One of our most popular apps, SAS Flash Cards, launched today with a brand new look-and-feel. This release responds to many helpful recommendations, suggestions, and questions we've received from users. We hope you like it, and we hope you let us know your thoughts as we begin planning the next version. In addition to the face lift, you'll notice that we've added the following:

accountsAccounts

One of the most requested features was to sync flash cards across devices. To do this, log-in using your SAS Curriculum Pathways account or create your FREE account today. Learn more about signing up for Curriculum Pathways in this post.

PrintMixed Decks

Another popular request was the ability to mix card and question types in a single deck. Decks can now include any combination of text, images, sound, or math cards with true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, or plain question types.

 

PrintImproved Editing

We improved editing, so it's now easier to make changes or fix a typo. You can change the title of decks you create at any time. You can also fix any card in your deck and add or remove cards at your leisure.

 

sharingInstant Sharing

You can now easily share decks of flash cards with friends without waiting for deck approval. And you can make decks public, unlisted, or private. Public decks can be accessed by any SAS Flash Cards user. Unlisted decks can be shared using a link provided by the app and therefore are visible only to users who have received the link. Private decks can be accessed with your account only.

 

 

 

To complement the use of SAS Flash Cards on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, we've also launched a web version in our IdeaLab. This is a pre-release of the web version that will come out later this spring. Your flash cards are synced across mobile devices and the web with this update. You can take the web version of Flash Cards for a test drive here. Let us know what you think of the web version as we continue to fine-tune the final details.

 

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Celebrating Pi Day!

piDay2x

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Although it is a non-terminating, non-repeating number, the decimal approximation 3.14 and the fraction 22/7 are typically used to represent the irrational mathematical constant. The Greek letter π, was first used as the symbol for pi in 1706 by William Jones, but only became popular after it was adopted by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737. Since then, pi has been used in numerous formulas, such A = πr2 (area of a circle), V = πr2h (volume of a cylinder), and SA = 4πr2 (surface area of a sphere); pi has also been used to convert degrees to radians. For example, a 30° angle is equivalent to π/6.

Pi Day has been celebrated for 27 years. In 1988, physicist Larry Shaw organized a party in honor of pi at the San Francisco

Here at SAS we love Pi so much we have this!

Here at SAS we love Pi so much we have this!

Exploratorium where participants walked around one of the building’s circular areas eating pies, and thus began the unofficial celebration of pi. Twenty-one years later, the US House of Representatives resolved that March 14th would be National Pi Day.

But this year’s celebration will be one of the best of all time! That’s because 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m., will display the first 10 digits of pi (truncated, of course)! How exciting!

So how can you celebrate? Many, like me, will wear apparel displaying pi, some will eat pie, and others may attempt to memorize as many digits of pi as they can. A group of friends may create the pi symbol using their bodies. Some may sing songs or write poems in honor of pi. Maybe I'll even honor pi by walking 3.14 miles.

Additionally, there are many instructional ways to celebrate pi. Although students may be familiar with pi, nothing brings mathematics to life more than exploration.

  • Using  In Search of Pi, students measure circumferences and diameters of several different circular objects, and then using the gathered data, students discover pi.
  • In Finding the Area of a Sector, students research three websites to learn about the circumference of a circle and how to find the arc length of a sector.
  • For a more direct approach, Area and Circumference of a Circle can be used to explain pi and how to use it to find the area and circumference of circular objects. Once students view the tutorial, they can then complete a short quiz to test their knowledge.
picircle

Using QL#1349 students apply the formulas for circumference and area of a circle.

How will you celebrate Pi Day?

Be sure to check out these additional resources:

Math Stretch https://www.sascurriculumpathways.com/portal/Launch?id=8004

Approximating π with Inverse Trigonometric Functions https://www.sascurriculumpathways.com/portal/Launch?id=313

 

 

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Themes from SXSWedu: Mobile, Privacy, Special Populations, the Science of Learning, & More!

At SXSWedu 2015, we are pleased to hear echoes of several themes from our new book, Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators, and Learners.

Privacy

Privacy is a hot topic in education: we found at least 13 sessions on student data privacy. The two sessions we attended focused on the need to standardize language, badging, or endorsement of privacy to easily communicate how data is used, stored, and accessed. We were pleased to hear so many people thinking about classroom implications and trying to enable school districts to pre-approve edtech based on standardized privacy implementations so teachers can move forward; these efforts will minimize classroom inconveniences that interfere with learning.

Special Populations

Liani Yirka, from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, presented a Future15 talk, Not Your Parents Science Museum Audio Tour App, about the app we created in conjunction with the museum.

 

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Science of Learning

SXSWEdu has done a great job bringing in experts on the science of learning. Several sessions focused on the importance of grounding pedagogy, app development, and tech-integration strategies in proven, research-based solutions that align with the cognitive processes responsible for learning.

 

Collaboration Between Educators and Developers

Year after year, one of our favorite themes is the synergy between developers and educators. Our relationship with and feedback from teachers is something we value at SAS Curriculum Pathways. Why? Because they are at the heart of our mission: building what educators need the most in emerging technology.

Professional Development

Although SXSEdu focuses on innovation in the education space, we continue to hear the conversation point back to the importance of professional development. The success of any tech integration is especially contingent on the quality of PD that supports the initiative.

 

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The Future of Mobile Learning

This week we’ve mentioned a variety of things that make mobile learning a special and unique endeavor. But mobile learning is still in its infancy. The technologies and the world are changing at a rapid pace, and it’s hard to predict what the future will hold. So what do we foresee in the coming years?1.1

Improved Integration. In daily life, mobile technologies are becoming increasingly integrated into everything we do. Almost everything we need to know about our life – from the weather, daily appointments, contacts, etc. – is encased in a single device. New wearable technologies and “smart home” systems mean that even our bodies and our houses can be monitored and controlled through our mobile devices. We see this trend continuing in education as well. Students will be able to access everything about their education on the same device where they check about upcoming sports practices and play the latest games. Teachers will have everything they need to manage classrooms and prepare lessons at their fingertips whether they’re at school, home, or the grocery store.

More Data. As data becomes easier to collect and store, more of our daily decisions can be informed by a true understanding of our world. Mobile apps are common for tracking every aspect of our lives and presenting to us the data we need to continue to improve. In an educational setting, we see students tracking more and more of their own data related to their learning on their own devices and using it to set and monitor goals. We see teachers and administrators using data on their devices to make real-time informed decisions both in the classroom and in policy meetings. We see edtech companies using data to drive innovation and improve the products they put out to the public.

New Research. Researchers have been formally working to understand how students learn best since the turn of the 20th century and have shaped how we educate children today. It’s taken a long time and a lot of work to gain these insights and identify true research-backed best practices. Mobile learning best practices can certainly piggy-back off this history of findings, but research is needed to understand the ways in which mobile devices impact how learning takes place. We hypothesize that these devices have unique opportunities to offer education; more research is needed to identify how we can capitalize on all they have to offer. We expect research on mobile learning to continue to grow and contribute to our understanding of student learning.

pioneersBetter Implementations. When the first districts started rolling out mobile device programs, there were a lot of fears and concerns. Would students actually pay attention in class? How do we keep them safe on the Internet? What if they lose or break this expensive technology? The list goes on… But as mobile learning programs have grown and shown success, parents, educators, and administrators are less hesitant and showing more excitement about the opportunities mobile learning brings. The lessons learned by the early pioneers are informing current programs, and a variety of resources now help guide adopters in many aspects of implementing a mobile learning program, from developing policies to selecting resources to fostering buy-in from parents.

Increased Access. Just as TVs once transitioned from novelty items to must-haves in every American home, we see mobile devices taking on this status and being increasingly represented in households, both in America and around the world. Though these devices are currently cheaper than the home computers they often replace, there is still some economic barrier to adoption. However, as with most technologies, we see prices continue to drop so that individuals of all socioeconomic statuses can have access to these devices and all they have to offer. Already, many initiatives seek to bring mobile devices to impoverished countries, recognizing that the cost of a single device is far less than the cost of all the tools it can replace (e.g. a library of books) to enrich people's lives.  The high-speed Internet access that drives the power of these devices is also becoming ubiquitous world-wide and will continue to break down barriers of access.

Mobile learning is here and is going to continue to have a dramatic impact on the way people learn and use their knowledge. We can only guess at what the future will hold. Five years ago there was no iPad, and now they have taken over education. We are excited to see what incredible innovative educational tools we will be writing about in another 5 years. To read more on this topic, check out our latest book, Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators, and Learners.

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Pi Day 2015 – Yummier Than Ever!

piDay

Ever since the ancient Egyptians, teachers have celebrated March 14th with a combination of pastry and math. The 18th century addition of the Greek symbol π to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter gave the number 3.14 a unique gravitas all its own.

This month, we get to add our own flourish to this historical math juggernaut–in the form of a unique sequential time event. Twice that day, just before 10:00 o’clock both a.m. and p.m., the unique month/date/time alignment of Pi Day 2015 will yield this amazing computation of Pi out to 10 places: 3/14/15 9:26:53. That’s just about as far as you can go, and a sequence that only happens once every 100 years.

So start planning your Pi Day festivities! To get you in the mood, here’s a great little video from our free SAS Math Stretch app. You can use the app to list Pi out as far as you can imagine!


Learn more about our mobile resources for math, reading, and writing!

 

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