Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Science In the Know Now 11/25/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not "gonna" Turn It Down!

"Company officials say they have no qualms about taking all the tax breaks legally available to them. To do otherwise would be like a consumer “insisting on paying full price during a store sale,” wrote Jeff Brown, a company spokesman. Even E.A.’s competitors acknowledge that its tax strategies aren’t particularly aggressive compared with others in the industry."

POINT TAKEN! Time for Congress to get to work.

Self-Sabotage? or Self-Preservation?

Self-sabotage is an ongoing concern. I appreciate your take on the subject, as it provides another perspective in my ongoing efforts to use it to my benefit. I’ve read some of this research about the fixed and incremental theories of ability, yet this take is interesting. So, I’m wondering if the point is “Never give up! Never surrender!”?

Amplify’d from
One of my students reached out to me after lecture the other day. He noticed that I was low on energy, even a bit down.  I had been trying to hide it, but was truly disappointed that attendance in the class was so low that day. We were covering one of the central topics of the course–
the importance of focusing on adopting an incremental rather than a fixed view of ability and intelligence. To summarize: believing that your ability is fixed is great when the course material is easy (“I’m brilliant!”), but puts students at risk for disengagement when the material is hard and when one doesn’t do well (“I suck; why come to class anyway?”). By contrast, if you believe your ability is something to nurture and grow, those same academic challenges become indicators of growth and development.

As I thought about the poorly attended lecture on the ride home, I realized something. I have been expecting that the incremental message should be enough to motivate my students to do the little, doable things, like coming to class or section, that slowly build up to success. And it dawned on me that it the issue here may not be that the students haven’t been listening to the message about incremental learning, but rather, that they’ve been listening closely.

A recent study by Niiya, Brook, and Crocker, published in 2010
identified study participants whose self-esteem was tied to getting good grades — in other words, people who were invested in doing well academically. Within this group, some people believed that ability is fixed (the entity theorists) and others believed that ability is nurtured through effort (the incremental theorists).

These findings show us that even when we believe that our abilities are the result of our effort- a mindset I have urged my students to adopt– we are not out of the woods when it comes to academic motivation. The knowledge that our effort (as opposed to our genetics) is tied to our abilities can be threatening precisely because it’s in our hands, and incredibly, puts us at risk for self-sabotaging our own success to protect ourselves– just in case our efforts are not enough.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Science In the Know Now 09/04/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Science In the Know Now 08/29/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Science In the Know Now 07/23/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Amplify Android Now

If you haven't amplified your Android phone, I would like to recommend it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Science In the Know Now 03/22/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NCLB: Ravitch message to Obama

I'm glad that Diane Ravitch has seen what damage is done when punitive federal government programs interfere in cash strapped schools. When will President Obama recognize the damage he and Arne Duncan are doing?

Amplify’d from

Obama’s War on Schools

The No Child Left Behind Act has been deadly to public education. So why has the president embraced it?

Over the past year, I have traveled the nation speaking to nearly 100,000 educators, parents, and school-board members. No matter the city, state, or region, those who know schools best are frightened for the future of public education. They see no one in a position of leadership who understands the damage being done to their schools by federal policies.

They feel keenly betrayed by President Obama. Most voted for him, hoping he would reverse the ruinous No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation of George W. Bush. But Obama has not sought to turn back NCLB. His own approach, called Race to the Top, is even more punitive than NCLB. And though over the past week the president has repeatedly called on Congress to amend the law, his proposed reforms are largely cosmetic and would leave the worst aspects of NCLB intact.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Science In the Know Now 03/20/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stunning Android Phone Concept

"That is one lovely triangle." Check this out.

When teaching restrains discovery

When the children finally got their hands on the toy, they were more likely to explore its other features if they had seen Bonawitz showing it to adults or playing with it herself. If she had talked to them directly or to another child, they focused more strongly on the squeaker at the expense of exploring the toy for themselves.

One camp believes that children learn mostly through teaching and direct instruction. The other says that children learn mostly by exploring and figuring things out for themselves. To them, formal instruction is too passive, and makes for children that receive knowledge without engaging with it. On the other hand, people who favour more direct teaching argue that children need more guidance. Leaving them to explore on their own, through so-called “discovery learning”, is inefficient and ineffective. These are, of course, extreme positions and the debate is more subtle. Both approaches have their merits and good teachers face the challenge of finding a happy medium.

That’s never been clearer than in a new study by Elizabeth Bonawitz from University of California, Berkeley. Through two experiments with pre-schoolers, Bonawitz has found that teaching can be a “double-edge sword”. When teachers provided specific instructions about a new toy, children learned how to play with it more efficiently. But the lessons also curtailed their exploratory streak. They were less likely to play with the toy in new ways. Ultimately, they failed to find all of its secrets.

Bonawitz used brightly coloured PVC tubes to create her own toy, with four interactive features. Children could pull a yellow “squeaker” tube out of a large purple one to make a funny noise. With other tubes, they could turn on a light, play music or see an upside-down image of their own face.

Eighty-five children, aged 4-6, got the chance to play with the toy, one at a time. For some of them, Bonawitz simply unveiled the contraption and said, “Wow, see this toy? Look at this!’’, before leaving them to play. For others, she provided more instruction. “Look at my toy! I’m going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!’’  she said, before pulling on the squeaker.

When the children got their hands on the toy, those who had seen how the squeaker works focused on that feature at the expense of exploration (even though all of them were encouraged to explore for themselves). Compared to the other group, they played with the toy for less time, they tried doing fewer things with it, and they discovered fewer features.

This isn’t to say that teaching is an automatic anathema to discovery. Bonawitz found that it all boils down to style. In some cases, she showed the children how the speaker works before suddenly leaving to take care of something she forgot. Sometimes, she pretended that she had just discovered the toy and acted with surprise when she pulled the squeaker. In both scenarios, the children explored the toy more thoroughly than the ones who experienced an uninterrupted and more obvious lesson.

Context clearly matters. When the apparently knowledgeable teachers in the experiments provide a seemingly complete lesson about the toy, the children deduce that there is a no more to learn. If the lesson is interrupted, or if the instructor seems like a novice, the child deduces that there is more to discover. Bonawitz thinks that these abilities start from a very early age, when children are still in pre-school or kindergarten.

Children can also make these inferences when they watch their peers. In a second experiment, Bonawitz worked with the same toy and 64 new preschoolers. She showed every child how the squeaker works but in one of subtly different ways. She spoke to one group of children directly. The second group watched while she demonstrated the toy to another child. The third watched her show the toy to their parents. And the fourth watched as she played with the squeaker on her own, while talking to herself.

When the children finally got their hands on the toy, they were more likely to explore its other features if they had seen Bonawitz showing it to adults or playing with it herself. If she had talked to them directly or to another child, they focused more strongly on the squeaker at the expense of exploring the toy for themselves.

These results couldn’t be more important for science, where there is always more to discover. Bonawitz quotes the famous child researchers Jean Piaget, who said that the “principal goal of education” was to create people “who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done”. If we’re going to do that ,we’ll need to find ways of encouraging that natural instinct to investigate, play and explore, rather than suppressing it (as in this wonderful example).

Reference: Bonawitz, Shafto, Gweon, Goodman, Spelke & Schulz. 2011. The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Instruction limits spontaneous exploration and discovery. Cognition


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Have They No Shame?

Devious criminals who prey on the poor have stolen the concept of microcredit and twisted it into a way to wring money out of the poor, while leaving them destitute. Dr. Yunus has defined the current problem, now it's time for us to urge our leaders to help end this misuse of micro-lending through careful regulation.

Amplify’d from
Sacrificing Microcredit for Megaprofits

Published: January 14, 2011

Dhaka, Bangladesh

IN the 1970s, when I began working here on what would eventually be called “microcredit,” one of my goals was to eliminate the presence of loan sharks who grow rich by preying on the poor. In 1983, I founded Grameen Bank to provide small loans that people, especially poor women, could use to bring themselves out of poverty. At that time, I never imagined that one day microcredit would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks.

But it has. And as a result, many borrowers in India have been defaulting on their microloans, which could then result in lenders being driven out of business. India’s crisis points to a clear need to get microcredit back on track.

There are always people eager to take advantage of the vulnerable. But credit programs that seek to profit from the suffering of the poor should not be described as “microcredit,” and investors who own such programs should not be allowed to benefit from the trust and respect that microcredit banks have rightly earned.

Governments are responsible for preventing such abuse. In 1997, then First Lady Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh met with other world leaders to commit to providing 100 million poor people with microloans and other financial services by 2005. At the time, it looked like an utterly impossible task, but by 2006 we had achieved it. World leaders should come together again to provide the powerful and visionary leadership to help steer microcredit back on course.

Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

AppMakr Works for Amateur and Pro Mobile App Designers, Available for Android SOON

This is great. Amateurs, please remember not to suck up tons of data...or people won't use your app.

Behold! Announced at CES 2011! That ever-so-simple app creation service will soon be adding not only support for Windows Phone 7, but for Android as well. This service has been active for iOS for some time now (3,500 apps made on it so far,) and allows everyone from the well-versed to the complete newb designers to create pro-apps that they can then release on their own for FREE! Sounds too good to be true? It’s really sort of not!

Until now, you’ve only been able to sign up as an Apple Developer. This costs $99, and is paid to Apple. You’d have to do this no matter what system you were using to develop apps if you planned on sending them to Apple. We assume that the $25 regular fee for signing up as an Android developer will end up having to be payed down the road as well. One of the biggest reasons, let me tell you, that this whole system is exciting, is that this is reportedly the ONLY DIY application creation platform that requires NO CODING to develop mobile apps. It’s been wildly popular for developing for Apple, now it’s going to be on Android and WP7 – that’s big.


Restrain Yourself!

In my opinion, this is the best essay that David Brooks has ever written. Everyone could benefit from reading the complete text.

Amplify’d from
Op-Ed Columnist
Tree of Failure

Published: January 13, 2011
President Obama gave a wonderful speech in Tucson on Wednesday night. He didn’t try to explain the rampage that occurred there. Instead, he used the occasion as a national Sabbath — as a chance to step out of the torrent of events and reflect
resident Obama gave a wonderful speech in Tucson on Wednesday night. He didn’t try to explain the rampage that occurred there. Instead, he used the occasion as a national Sabbath — as a chance to step out of the torrent of events and reflect.

Of course, even a great speech won’t usher in a period of civility.
Speeches about civility will be taken to heart most by those people whose good character renders them unnecessary. Meanwhile, those who are inclined to intellectual thuggery and partisan one-sidedness will temporarily resolve to do better but then slip back to old habits the next time their pride feels threatened.

Civility is a tree with deep roots, and without the roots, it can’t last

The problem is that over the past 40 years or so we have gone from a culture that reminds people of their own limitations to a culture that encourages people to think highly of themselves.
The nation’s founders had a modest but realistic opinion of themselves and of the voters. They erected all sorts of institutional and social restraints to protect Americans from themselves. They admired George Washington because of the way he kept himself in check.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Science In the Know Now 01/10/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Yummy Smorrebrod

These open-faced sandwiches look scrumptious. The flavor is quite light and bright.

Amplify’d from

The Art Of The Danish Open-Face Sandwich

by Lynda Balslev

An assortment of Danish open-face sandwiches, or smorrebrod, on a white platter
Homemade Remoulade

Makes 1 1/4 cup

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

2 tablespoons finely diced cornichons

1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.