Closing the Achievement Gap

The Achievement Gap
For decades, educators have struggled to close the “achievement gap,” the persistent differences in test scores, grades and graduation rates among students of different races, ethnicities and, in some subjects, genders.
According to an American Psychological Association article, a group of social and cognitive psychologists have approach this problem not based on the idea that at least some of these disparities are the result of faulty teaching or broken school systems, but instead spring from toxic stereotypes that cause ethnic-minority and other students such as women to question whether they belong in school and whether they can do well there. While such a major problem might seem to require widespread social change to fix, the psychologists are finding evidence that short, simple interventions can make a surprisingly large difference.

Creating Computer Games with Terrance Jakson

I adopted some of these simple interventions in a class called “Creating Computer Games with Terrance Jackson” that I offered at Larchmont Library last October.
At Larchmont Library we conducted five sessions with local 5th – 8th graders on the following Wednesdays: October 15th, 22nd, 29th, November 5th, and 19th. This is the game that they created:
Roll-a-Ball

Roll-a-Ball

Click here to play.

Google Cardboard Unity Sphero

I am updating my computer gaming class to include Google Cardboard. According to a TechCrunch article:
Google is introducing new SDKs for Android and the Unity game engine today that will make it even easier for developers to create new apps.
The class will also include a VR app for Sphero.
The following is some of the other new material that will also be included in class.
In a Scientific American article “Time to Raise the Profile of Women and Minorities in Science” written by Brian Welle and Megan Smith of Google, we learn:

Google recently commissioned a project to identify what makes girls pursue education in computer science. The findings reinforced what we already knew. Encouragement from a parent or teacher is essential for them to appreciate their own abilities. They need to understand the work itself and see its impact and importance. They need exposure to the field by having a chance to give it a shot. And, most important, they need to understand that opportunities await them in the technical industry.

It took some time, but Google realized that it recognized zero women with their Google Doodles, the embellishments of their corporate logo on their home page. Little things like this can have big impacts and to change the situation we need to look beyond the individual. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers which The New York Times printed the first chapter:

[Y]ou couldn’t understand why someone was healthy if all you did was think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You had to look beyond the individual. You had to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town in Italy their family came from. You had to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. The value of an outlier was that it forced you to look a little harder and dig little deeper than you normally would to make sense of the world. And if you did, you could learn something from the outlier than could use to help everyone else.

In Outliers, I want to do for our understanding of success what Stewart Wolf did for our understanding of health.

Otliers

Student will complete the Gender-Science Study at implicit.harvard.edu (takes about 5 minutes)

My (Terrance Jackson’s) results

You have completed the Gender-Science Study

Thank you for participating.

Your result on the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is reported below

Your data suggest a strong association of Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts compared to Female with Science and Male with Liberal Arts.

If your performance is described as ‘(slight, moderate, or strong) association of Science with Male and Liberal Arts with Female’ compared to the alternative pairings, it means you responded faster when Science and Male words were classified with the same key than when Liberal Arts and Male items shared a key. If your association was stronger for ‘Liberal Arts with Male/Science with Female’ you were faster when using the same key for Liberal Arts and Male items.

Just below is a breakdown of the scores generated by others. Most respondents find it easier to associate Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts compared to the reverse.

Researchers are just beginning to learn how implicit gender-science and gender-math associations develop and relate to behavior. We have found that women who identify themselves with math-science domains tend to have weaker stereotypical associations than women who are not math-science-identified, while men show the opposite pattern. A recent study of college women enrolled in calculus found that those with stronger implicit associations of math-as-male at the beginning of the semester, coupled with a relatively strong female gender identification, achieved lower final grades, even after taking into account their previous achievement.

  • There are currently only 15 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies this is less than 4%.
  • Women make up only 3% of clout executives of media, telecom and e-companies.
  • Women hold 17% of the seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Only 34 women have ever served as governors compared to 2319 men.
  • In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
  • Source: http://www.missrepresentation.org/about-us/resources/miss-representation-sources/

The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech

ENIAC

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. (Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania)

If your image of a computer programmer is a young man, there’s a good reason: It’s true. Recently, many big tech companies revealed how few of their female employees worked in programming and technical jobs. Google had some of the highest rates: 17 percent of its technical staff is female.

It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago, it was women who pioneered computer programming — but too often, that’s a part of history that even the smartest people don’t know.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/06/345799830/the-forgotten-female-programmers-who-created-modern-tech

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. A pioneer in the field, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages.

We have to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are.

The Marshmallow Challenge

Imagine a room filled with 30 people, divided into six teams. Each team gets 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of string, strips of scotch tape, and a single marshmallow. They have 18 minutes to build a free-standing structure that will enable the marshmallow to rest on top. This is marshmallow challenge.

Marshmallow Challenge
https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/kindergartners-are-smarter/

School is boring …and since childish people are the easiest customers to convince, the manufacture of childishness, extended into adulthood, had to be the first priority of factory schools. Naturally, teachers and administrators weren’t let in on this plan; they didn’t need to be. If they didn’t conform to instructions passed down from increasingly centralized school offices, they didn’t last long.

David vs Goliath

We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser.

~ David and Goliath
Malcom Gladwell
Everyone can create.
Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule, and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful. There are no tricks, shortcuts, or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not.
Creating is not magic but work.
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
ENIAC

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. (Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania)

Women pioneered computer programming — but too often, that’s a part of history that even the smartest people don’t know.
Genes do have a huge influence on everything we are, but that influence is constantly subject to interaction with our environment. Intelligence *is*, very simply, a set of skills that a person acquires or does not acquire in his or her life. IQ is a snapshot of where that person’s skills are in that particular moment.

Carol Dweck More: https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/david-shenk-chess/

Geena Davis

Geena Davis

“The more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.” ~ Geena Davis

More: https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/woman-control-body/

How did America—a country dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal—become one of the most unequal countries on the planet? Why do the nation’s leaders now spend so much of their time feeding at the trough and getting ever more for themselves? Why has public-mindedness in our leaders given way in so many instances to limitless greed?

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