Friday, August 9, 2013

Example of math and other test "exercises" that are challenging and easy to reproduce on a sheet of paper for later gluing into a daily journal

Here are some exercises

August 9: Abraham Fischler says that "The Student is the Class."

Please visit the FIRST blog post on

The Problem

At the present time, teachers are working hard but we are still not fulfilling the demands of our students or our society. Why not? The schools are set up with an agrarian calendar and teachers are responsible for teaching to a class as a unit. Time is fixed and the only variable is performance – some pass and others fail. And, if the persons who fail do not make up and achieve the proficiency that the test is measuring, they drift further and further behind. The consequences are numerous and punishing. How does this instill a love of learning? This approach does not take into account a truism: ‘all students can learn but they learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles’.

Instead of asking the student to fit the administrative structure (i.e., the class and arbitrary time periods for learning subjects and achieving competencies), we must provide each student with the time and means to succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class.

We must find a way of doing this. Other industries have made similar changes* and it is now time for education to do the same.

*Take FedEx, who can tell you where any package is at any time. Look at banking, which is now available 24 hours a day through ATMs and you can go to almost any ATM to withdraw or deposit funds. Both industries invested in information and delivery systems to meet the needs of their clients rather than asking their clients to accommodate to a fixed structure. Now the automobile industry is enabling customers to order on demand rather than requiring them to accept whatever is available in the dealer’s lot. In the business world, however, there is competition that requires companies to adapt – education has not had this catalyst.

What is my vision and strategy for educational change?

I believe that we in education must make the investment to do the same for our clients, i.e., each student. What investment is needed?

There are three modes of instruction: 1) self-paced or CAI, 2) project or problem-solving and 3) discussion. Self-paced or CAI requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area.

For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the 1st grade (and continue thereafter). The reason English and Math are chosen is that these are the two cultural imperative languages. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn. And, one of the goals of education is to create self-learners.

For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student. Once the problem is defined, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to the problem. If complex, each of the groups may study an aspect of the problem. With these subjects, the student uses the computer as a research tool (after having learned to read). Students are taught to use search engines such as Google or Yahoo as well as the intranet made available by teachers gathering information relevant for the students.

Students working in a group learn cooperation, shared responsibility and communication (face-to-face as well as e-mail). Having produced a written solution to the problem utilizing the computer (power point) as a tool, they can then present to the class for discussion. They can also use email or a written report to other students as well as the teacher.

Arbitrary learning within fixed time periods would be eliminated, i.e., no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. grades. Instead, students would be grouped chronologically with materials appropriate to their learning level and style using the CAI approach for English and Math, and the project/problem/discussion modes for other subjects. The projects given to the students match the level of English and Math competencies and are related to the students (their interests and their lives). For example, in 3rd grade, how would you study the amount of water that a plant needs to grow? I would utilize the students’ Math knowledge (learned through CAI) for science learning. Likewise, rather than studying history through memorization and chronology, it can be studied through problems based on the immediate environment for younger children and more abstract concepts in later grades.

Dr. Fischler uses the phrase, "The Student Is the Class" to capture our attention.  

how can we change the procedures in the classroom to serve students?
What procedures are in place to make things easier for us as teachers?
Can we make time flexible for the student?
Can we make the working environment in the class similar to working in an office?

Here are posters to assist in this "variable time" environment.

Part of the challenge is to build in the students the awareness of this opportunity for them to take the initiative.

You can read Dr. Fischler's commentaries at and you can download his free ebook HERE

Fischler's posters            List of Quotations
Propellor to the moon (poster)
Time is a variable (posters)

Summary of Fischler's 7 points

Mottos plus "Rosenshine 17 points" sheet 

BONUS:  A poster adapted form an editorial in the Economist, recommended by Gordon Dryden, the entrepreneur-turned-education advocate

August 8: Richard Clark's poster with four points.

What procedures will make the experience for the student flexible?

How does Neiman Marcus make the experience of shopping personal for the shopper?

How can we improve the experience in the classroom (and still serve many students)?

See the post called "The student is the class."


The main point of the following email exchange is highlighted in RED below (about Richard Clark's posters)

1)  Record when you can.   Give me the videos and I'll keep a collection
2)  Put posters on your classroom walls (reproduced below)
3)   Think about your mindset as a teacher.  Do you want to be included in the "visitor's tour"?  Is it okay for visitors to drop in unannounced to observe your classroom?  If so, please tell me so I can let my mentors (Dr. Fischler, Matt Blazek, Dennis Yuzeans, Mario Llorente) know.

I'm particularly interested in encouraging the principal of my school (wherever I work) to make time for visiting other schools and to make it possible for others to visit our school.

I will be willing to do that to whatever extent I can. Building two new schools to open next year. I will be very busy this year. I'll certainly try.

IB Schools have an interesting mantra:   "share the IB experience."

a)  the school is encouraged to give time to teachers to go out into the community and visit other schools to learn from other schools (and take time to proselytize about the 

Might difficult to do this in a regular basis due to student oversight and teacher coverage. But we can certainly do some visiting. Good idea.

b)  the school encourages visits by outsiders  ("please, come visit our school.   Drop in without notice and see what we do every day" -- there is an ethic of "catch us doing what we do best")

This is always great

c)  the school posts examples of their key concepts.   For example, Stonefields has interviews with students.   I disagree that the student's faces are put on the open internet, but i like the idea of having the students explain their key concepts.

We can do this. I'll teach you how to get around our website. I like a neat concise feel to web pages. Clarity is important.
You can find this video here:
Here is a link to one of the stonefield's videos

The purpose of this memo is to 
1.  ask you to consider the benefits of posting your themes on Youtube.    Lee Iacocca in the 1980s was the face of Chrysler.   The corporation became part of America when Iacocca went on TV.   "America, you lent us $2 billion and we have paid it back."    Your face does not have to be on the youtube, but your voice, your themes can be captured.

This is something I certainly want to do. But I want to keep a uniform look and feel to the website. We'll discuss more.

2.  spread the message via audio CD and youtube.   I've heard that you are spreading the schools, making more schools.   Having your voice on an audio cd is one way to spread the message.   The schools are like soap... they can be sold and we have to fight for the attention of the consumer.   

Agreed. Yes, there are more MACs in the works. I like the idea. Again, I'd probably be a bit of a perfectionist regarding the organization and presentation of the content. But I agree with your point regarding voice audio, etc. I'll need to set myself up (and other teachers as well) to be able to record on the fly professionally, clearly, sequentially and quickly. One of our new teachers this year will work as a language arts teacher and simultaneously develop a film program as an arts area for next year. She can probably help with that stuff. Also, my assistant orchestra director has a recording studio as well. I have recording experience as well but need to get some updated equipment.

You can find this video here:

3.  capture your essence on audio.  As the Flip the Classroom guy (Dr. Cammeron, in North Carolina) puts it, "Stop repeating yourself."  hand prospects an audio CD or a DVD and let them experience the best presentation you ever gave.   

Very good idea. I like this a lot. Over time, I will have an inventory of audio recordings; a library or repertoire of my work.

4.   get permission from students and parents to spread the work of students who have graudated.   "You will know us by the fruits of the student's labors."   Dr. Fischler

We just purchased "Naviance". An excellent college counseling program that the finest schools use for college preparation and data mining. We can purchase and include an alumni tracking feature that does this. See our counselor, Luis Deschapelles; he is familiar with the program. I can include you in the training that comes along with the purchase package. 

I'm also following up with you to encourage you to make time to meet with Dr. Fischler next week.   I think Erika Twani

Let's review the calendar on Friday. I'll be happy to schedule something. One concern I have regarding true believers of the time-variable model (or even Fontan) is that they don't realize it is impossible for us to do away with state testing requirements. Erika is terrific but does not understand enough about what the current system is in Florida. My goal is to implement a sort of hybrid program that allows the time-variable model and still allows me into comply with stage law. 

In accepting the position of math teacher (and TD) at Miami Arts, I have reduced the time I invest in Dr. Fischler's work.  I consider the work here at MAC as an extension of the work of Dr. Fischler.  The classroom work is "Fischler in application."   I'd like to have your permission to video my presentations in class so that teachers who don't do projects can see how to embed "TIME IS A VARIABLE" into their procedures

Absolutely. We should discuss further in person on a regular basis. I like and agree with most of what you send me and all of what I have learned. Presentation is an area I think I might to assist you with to make sure the time-variable is properly understood and well received; above all: effective and evident through results including buy not limited to standardized testing scores. 

-- what does the teacher say
-- what posters are on the wall
-- how are the posters integrated in the flow of the day
-- how are procedures changed by the "flexible time" mantra
-- how are grades influenced
-- how is the student's work captured and reviewed
-- how is the student's work reflected on
-- how does the teacher make time to give the instant feedback that Richard Clark advocates  

This would be very helpful to share with teachers.