Monday, January 30, 2012

Common Core Implmentation Webinar

Very proud of the LTF training team and the program they put together to help more teachers impelment Common Core State Standards!  For more - you can see the press release that is flying around

National Teacher Training Program Presents Webinar Series on Common Core Implementation

The Best Physics Simulations

"What causes a balloon to stick to a sweater? How do microwaves heat coffee? How is electricity generated from a bar magnet?

The physical world poses a number of questions. The PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder helps students discover the answers and go beyond, while improving their scientific literacy.

The PhET project, founded by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and others, provides free, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena for elementary through university students. NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) provides primary support through its Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program (and its predecessor the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program) and the Discovery Research K-12 program."

That is from the National Science Foundation article on PhET Simulations provide Interactive Learning Tools.

The LTF Science Team is working with the PhET team to develop inquiry based lessons that go along with their simulations.  These simulations are pretty amazing and can really help students understand physics - and very soon, mathematics.

More to come when these lessons are ready!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Math & Science Teacher Shortage Solution

There is a solution for recruiting and training the absolute best math and science teachers for America's schools - the UTeach program is now in 25 different universities with over 5,000 math and science experts going into teaching. These are well trained math and science experts who are committed to staying in the classroom! (not just two years).

The solution is there - let's get our best in the classroom and expand UTeach in more universities!

Why UTeach? 2011 UTeach Institute - NMSI Conference from The UTeach Institute on Vimeo.

Common Core? Not without great implementation

It takes teachers to know what teachers need and the LTF academic team understands that Common Core State Standards will not make a difference without great implementation. To help our LTF teachers, and those thinking of becoming LTF teachers, we have created a series of webinars listed on the Common Core State Standards implementation section of the LTF website.

More to come on this webinar series - but it already looks AMAZING!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Authoring in iBooks - Textbooks made easy

Great post on our LTF Training blog by our newest author Jared Brueckner "Publishing in iBooks Author: The LTF Story" 

It is very cool - really is game changing for all things education!!  More to come from Laying Foundation on how to get more professional in Professional Development.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Common Core iBook!!!

Yep - the new iBook app is pretty amazing and allows anyone to quickly create books.  We took our common core stuff and created the first, free, Common Core iBook  SO COOL!!

This is a total game changer for all books and publishing.

The direct link is here:

Real Impact on College Success!

College success starts in middle and high school and now there is proof.  Dr. Kirabo Jackson here in Dallas just published a paper where he wrote:

"I find that affected students of all ethnicities attend college in greater numbers, have improved college GPAs, and are more likely to remain in college beyond their freshman year. Moreover, the program improves college outcomes even for those students who would have enrolled in college without the program."

Problem solved - if you want to positively impact the chance for college success you use the one two punch of LTF training and the AP Training and Incentive Program!

For more information and a link to the study - go to the NMSI Blog

Monday, January 23, 2012

Next Gen Science Standars plus AP Bio Changes = HUGE SHIFT

A science teaching revolution must occur if students are to succeed on the new AP Biology exam and/or the Next Generation Science Standards.  Teachers must shift from pronouncing content at the front of the classroom to focus on inquiry based learning.

Read more about this dramatic shift at the LTF Training Blog!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why Science Majors Bail

Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just SoDarn Hard)

·         Science is fun in MS and HS because more interactive, but STEM subjects in college is “math-science death march”

·         Roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree.

o   Increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to data from UCLA

o   That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

·         Why Students Switch Majors

o   Some students still lack math preparation or “aren’t willing to work hard enough”

o   Proliferation of grade inflation in the humanities and social sciences, which provides another incentive for students to leave STEM majors.

o   Bright students may have breezed through high school without developing disciplined habits. By contrast, students in China and India focus relentlessly on math and science from an early age.

§  “We’re in a worldwide competition, and we’ve got to retain as many of our students as we can,” Dean Kilpatrick says. “But we’re not doing kids a favor if we’re not teaching them good life and study skills.”

·         Research confirmed in the 1990s that students learn more by grappling with open-ended problems, like creating a computer game or designing an alternative energy system, than listening to lectures.

o   But, lecture classes are far cheaper to produce, and top professors are focused on bringing in research grants, not teaching undergraduates.

·         Association of American Universities, which represents 61 of the largest research institutions, announced five-year initiative to encourage faculty members in STEM fields to use more interactive teaching techniques.

MATTHEW MONIZ bailed out of engineering at Notre Dame in the fall of his sophomore year. He had been the kind of recruit most engineering departments dream about. He had scored an 800 in math on the SAT and in the 700s in both reading and writing. He also had taken Calculus BC and five other Advanced Placement courses at a prep school in Washington, D.C., and had long planned to major in engineering.

But as Mr. Moniz sat in his mechanics class in 2009, he realized he had already had enough. “I was trying to memorize equations, and engineering’s all about the application, which they really didn’t teach too well,” he says. “It was just like, ‘Do these practice problems, then you’re on your own.’ ” And as he looked ahead at the curriculum, he did not see much relief on the horizon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Generation Science Standards

College Board hosted an amazing group of people to discuss the dramatic shift in science education that will occur due to changes in the AP science exams and the New Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  I had the pleasure of sitting next to Governor Roy Romer - former governor of Colorado and former superintendent of education for Los Angeles Unified School District.  His quote below pretty much summarizes the challenge before us:

"Irrational politics in DC will get worse.  But the understanding that we need increased productivity through technology and science will drive change.  The average American family cannot get out of the state they are in with the jobs in front of them.  Economy improvement comes from productivity gains and we cannot achieve improved productivity without improved science education."

The new AP science exams and NGSS both drive science education from massive rote memorization into deeper understanding of how to use science knowledge. Teachers must adapt their practice from pronouncing content at the front of the classroom to a real focus on inquiry based learning. The labs in the new AP Biology nicknamed the Great 8 are absolutely mandatory if students are going to pass AP Bio - you can no longer get away with memorizing the outcomes.

This is a dramatic shift in teaching and learning for science.  It will push students to a deeper understanding of the big concepts critical to master the discipline and a greater ability to use that knowledge.  LTF Training is all about inquiry based instruction to create a deeper understanding of math, science and English.  This shift in focus will create a huge opportunity for LTF.

When we succeed, it will have a profound impact on our economy.

Apple - game changer again

Great summary over at LTF training on the game changing announcment from Apple.  Textbook companies should consult with the music industry on how this will turn out for them.’s-Education-Announcement-LTF-Thoughts--Notes.aspx

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Investing in STEM

St. Pete Times has an article about the cost of STEM - it should be more about the brilliant investment in STEM to ensure our leadership in the global economy. 

The interesting thing to me is a new bill that would give schools more points in the Florida state school rating system for schools that perform better in math and science:

From the article about a bill by Senator Don Gaetz:
"Gaetz has proposed giving high schools bonus points in the state grading system, based on the percentage of students who earn credits in math and science courses that are more advanced than those mandated for a diploma."

WOOHOO - we are going to have to reach out to Senator Gaetz and let him know we are ready to help.  Giving points is a great way to get schools to focus but then teachers need the training and resources to bring STEM to life, to prepare students in grades 6-10 so they are actually ready for those classes - and LTF training is already planning to help in Florida next year.

Looking forward to helping!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why Can't Employers Find Workers

More than half of all US employers had trouble filling job openings because they couldn't find skilled workers - a 38% jump and difficult to understand when 13 million are still unemployed and looking for work.

So we have a huge disconnect in employment according to an article about the Manpower survey entitled Role reversal: Employers say they can't find workers.

Some of this is a legitimate issue since we are not preparing workers for the workforce of today but Manpower claims that some it is that employers have been spoiled and got lazy and don't seem to remember they have to recruit the right people.  Employers don't want to move people because of the high cost and are not offering the salary and benefits to get people excited.

We should see an interesting shift in the upcoming months on hiring but the bottom line is that we need a better STEM focus to ensure that more high school graduates have the option to move into the workforce or college and have the skills to succeed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why No STEM Majors?

1.  Students are not math proficient
2.  Just not interested in STEM

This according to a Business Higher Education Forum brief entitled: "Meeting the STEM Workforce Demand: Accelerating Math Learning Among Students Interested in STEM" (note the title is almost as long as the 2 page brief).

More fun facts:
  1. Less than half of 12th graders meet college readiness math benchmark
  2. Only 17% of 12th graders who are proficient have an interest in STEM careers (which aligns with the 16% who graduate in STEM)
  3. 14% of 12th graders are interested in STEM but are not math proficient! (low hanging fruit)
  4. 69% are not interested in STEM
  5. They didn't split out the math proficient not STEM interested but if 43% are math proficient, and 14% are interested in STEM it would make that number 29%
Not earth shattering - we know we need to get students more excited about STEM careers AND make sure they are ready to tackle those careers which is why LTF Training was created!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flipping the Classroom!

Flipping the Classroom , a blog hosted by Laying the Foundation (LTF), a teacher professional development program, went live this week on the LTF website. This new blog recaps the experiences of two high school teachers and LTF Trainers, Melissa Parma and Robert Gonzales, as they implement the flipped classroom model of teaching.

This rising educational trend reverses the traditional pattern of classroom instruction followed by homework activities. With the flipped classroom model, students gain insight into material—and control the pace of their learning—through viewing introductory information at home. Students then come to the classroom prepared to tackle an activity related to what they learned the night before. In the classroom, students have more time for hands-on activities, and they are able to get immediate assistance from the instructor and their peers when they face challenges in solving complex problems.

Middle school and high school teachers across the United States can benefit from the strategies that Parma and Gonzales use in their classrooms and present in the Flipping the Classroom Blog. For example, in her first post, Parma gives the details about the specific technology and equipment that she uses in her flipped classroom approach. Gonzales, in his first post, shares how he was introduced to the model, and outlines what blog readers can expect from his future posts.

Parma has taught in public high schools in Texas and California for 28 years. A native Texan, she graduated from Rice University and did her graduate work in education at Cal State, Los Angeles. With rare exceptions, her teaching assignments have always been either mathematics or physics or both. She is an LTF Math Trainer and manages the online LTF Math Forum, and she currently teaches at an Early College High School in New Braunfels, Texas.

Gonzales is a graduate of the UTeach Program at UT Austin. He has worked in Austin ISD for nine years, taking two years out of the chemistry classroom to be a department chair and instructional coach. He currently teaches chemistry in the Academy for Global Studies, a small learning community within Austin High School affiliated with the Asia Society as part of the International Studies School Network. Gonzales is an LTF Chemistry Trainer.

To learn more about LTF, its training program, and its blended learning initiatives and resources, visit

About Laying the Foundation
Laying the Foundation, a division of the National Math and ScienceInitiative, is dedicated to providing the best content-based, pedagogy-driven, teacher-to-teacher training, supported by rigorous classroom-ready lessons and web-based resources to improve the quality of math, science, and English instruction. LTF has trained over 36,000 teachers to date and has demonstrated dramatic increases in Advanced Placement exam participation and success in STEM subjects. LTF believes that training, mentoring, and empowering the teacher corps will lead to high standards of academic excellence for all students.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Useful degree, job then hobby - in that order!

Props to Joanne Jacobs for highlighting htis great post from Barry Rubin - The Graduate: Why Should Everyone Else Pay for Other People's Dumb (and Hedonistic) Career Choices.  I have been saying this for a while but occasionally get flack from people that claim that anyone can get a job as long as they have a college degree.

But there are way too many college graduates and the jobs have become too specialized.  If I need a marketer, I am hiring someone with a marketing degree - not an Art History major.  The Art History major will have to go open an art history store somewhere I guess.

From the article - a 28 year old can't make a living and gets frustrated because.......
"Here’s the secret: He cannot make a living because the market for people with degrees in linguistics and in Oriental philosophy is limited. He should have known that. Someone should have told him that. The calculation of practicality should have been made. It wasn’t."

Rubin proposes three things:

  1. Young people should be taught that the world doesn't owe them a living
  2. It is a mistake for everyone to go to college and believe that they will get money when the graduate regardless of what they study
  3. Studying social sciences and humanities, not to mention all of the phony degrees that have been created to meet "student needs" does not make one employable "NOR does a degree have written on it "hire this person at a high salary"
Thus the advice from Mr. Rubin - "Get a useful education, a job and a hobby in that order. And don't expect the hardworking people who have had to make compromises in their own lives, to pay you to do whatever you want."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Laying the Foundation

Our friends at AAE - the Association of American Educators has a nice article in their recent newsletter entitled:  "Laying the Foundation" (found on page 4). The article provides a  great resource to teachers who are wondering how to improve college readiness in their students and get ready for common core state standards (CCSS). AAE has always been about working together to improve education and has done amazing things in the last few years to help teachers.

Teaching is a difficult profession but is absolutely the key to improving education. As our founder is fond of saying:
  1. The Teacher is Key
  2. Students need more time on task
  3. And incentives work

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

STEM Update from NGA

Nice update on the state of STEM in the states from NGA entitled: "Building a Science Technology Engineering and Math Agenda"

STEM Facts:

A t all levels of educational attainment, STEM job holders earn 11 percent higher wages compared with their same-degree counterparts in other jobs.
The top 10 bachelor-degree majors with the highest median earnings are all in STEM fields.
The average annual wage for all STEM occupations was $77,880 in May 2009, significantly above the U.S. average of $43,460 for non-STEM occupations.
Over the past 10 years, STEM jobs grew three times faster than non-STEM jobs. STEM jobs are expected to grow by 17 percent during the 2008–2018 period versus 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM jobs.
I n 2010, the unemployment rate for STEM workers was 5.3 percent; for all other occupations, it was 10 percent.

It is worth a read since they first identify the problem all of which NMSI is working on:
  1. Inconsistent state standards in math and science (guess they like Common Core)
  2. Shortfall of qualified math and science classroom teachers (UTeach does this well)
  3. Lack of preparation for postsecondary STEM education (APTIP and LTF)
  4. Failure to motivate student interest in math and sciences (LTF training)
  5. Failure of postsecondary system to meet STEM job needs
Their STEM agenda to meet the challenges:
  1. Adopt rigorous standards
  2. Recruit STEM teachers
  3. Provide more rigorous STEM preparation for students
  4. Use more informal learning to expand math and science beyond the classroom
  5. Enhance the quality and supply of STEM teachers
  6. Establish goals for postsecondary institutions to meet STEM job needs
Looks like a job for the National Math and Science Initiative since that is what we do!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Return the American Dream!

Dr. Mary Ann Rankin has an excellent column on the Huffington Post on How We Can Get the American Dream Back for our Kids.  I am biased because her solution does focus on Laying the Foundation and our merger with the National Math and Science Initiative.

You see, back in my father's time engineering was the way into the middle class.  Somehow we have lost that as a country and it is because our education system is failing to prepare students to get there.

From her post:
"college depends on preparation that begins in middle school or earlier, especially in the critical areas of math and science. Students who fail to learn the basics in these fields have little hope of catching up in time to succeed in college. The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) merged this month with the teacher-training organization Laying the Foundation (LTF) precisely so that we can do more to prepare students for success from the sixth grade onward"

We know what needs to be done - in 2012 our goal is to find more school districts who are ready to take on the challenge of better preparing their students so that more of them will find their way into the middle class through STEM careers.