January 3 2014 professional development day
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January 3, 2014 Professional Development Day!. Book Study: “The Smartest Kids in the World and how they got that way.” Author: Amanda Ripley Simon & Schuster, 2013. The Smartest Kids in the World. Our Essential Question is this:

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January 3, 2014 Professional Development Day!

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January 3, 2014 Professional Development Day!

  • Book Study: “The Smartest Kids in the World and how they got that way.”

    • Author: Amanda Ripley

  • Simon & Schuster, 2013

  • The Smartest Kids in the World

    Our Essential Question is this:

    What are some facts, ideas, or experiences that might make a difference in the education of kids in the U.S., Georgia, or Lamar County?

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    3 American High School Students Spent a Year in other Countries.

    • South Korea

    • Finland

    • Poland

      This is a synopsis of their experiences while mixing in research by the author.

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    What is PISA?

    -Program for International Student Assessment

    • Requires application of information

    • Math formulas are given; students must apply them

    • In essence, there are no bubbles, “one must actually think”

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    Sample -- Math

    Check out this graph. A reporter said that it was a huge increase. Do you consider the reporter’s statement to be a reasonable interpretation? Give an explanation to support your answer.

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    Sample -- Reading

    A “Get your flu shot” sign was displayed on the test. Below it were these questions:

    Fiona wanted the style of this information sheet to be friendly and encouraging. Do you think she succeeded? Explain your answer by referring in detail to the layout, style of writing, pictures or other graphs.

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    Results of the Math Question

    Full credit was given for any version of 10 different possible answers, as long as the answer basically was “no”. (The graph didn’t start at 0.) Only about 1/3 of students got this right in U.S.

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    Results of the Reading Question

    The only way to get full credit was to defend your opinion by citing at least one specific feature of the flyer and evaluating it in detail. Using the same words that were on the test or using words that are too vague, like “interesting”, “easy to read”, and “clear” were considered vague. Only 40% of teens got it right.

    South Korea

    - Facilities are rather plain and unadorned

    • The school day begins at about 8:00

    • Uniforms

    • First period in the day, students sleep and talk

    • They even have pillows!

    • Lunch is their free time

    • School ends at 4:10 – BUT….

    South Korea

    • At 4:30 REAL school began – Test Prep

    • 2 hours and then dinner

    • Continue on until 9:00

    • Then begins the Hagwonsor private tutoring academies

    • These last until 11:00

    • The purpose of their education is to pass the College Entrance Exam in the top 2%

    South Korea

    • Most tests are graded on a curve

    • Only 4% could get the top score, no matter how hard they worked

    • All grades are posted or read aloud, including the worst scores

    • The top 28 kids in the grade are the class heroes and martyrs. “Because they have the most to lose, they worked the hardest of all.”

    Smartest Kids in the World

    • Small Group Discussion

      • What are some positive things we can borrow from the South Koreans when it comes to education?

      • Is there anything that should be dropped from their educational system?

      • Where has Korea put the emphasis on educational reform?


    How to become a teacher in Finland

    - There are only 8 universities in Finland that provide teacher-training

    - These are elite colleges

    - To get accepted, one must apply, submit test scores, then sit for a special exam in your subject area

    - Only 20% of applicants are usually accepted


    How to become a teacher in Finland (cont’d)

    • When Finland began its march to educational improvements, teacher training took place at colleges on par with Georgetown or Berkeley

    • Today, they are on par with MIT

    • All Finnish teachers are required to have an MA

    • For 1 full year, they train in a great school with 3 teacher mentors


    How to become a teacher in Finland (cont’d)

    • 6 years of total preparation before entering the work force

    • Every teacher-to-be must do original research on education related to his/her subject

    • Only the top third of a graduating class would be considered as potential teachers

    • The harder it is to become a teacher makes it more attractive


    Other Facts about Education in Finland

    • Students had lots of free time, especially after school

    • School day ends at 3:45

    • Parents are not involved with school much

    • Facilities are not new

    • Finnish exams are often essay, requiring 3 or 4 pages per response


    Other Facts about Education in Finland

    • Exit exam is 50 hours over 3 weeks

    • Over 50% of kids receive Special Education by the time they are 17

    • Random students tested for one hour in third grade to see if students are on target

    • Teaching is a highly paid and highly respected profession

    • Teachers taught to think: All my students are the same

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    • Small Group Discussion

      • What are the differences between Finland’s teacher preparation programs and ours?

      • Where has Finland decided to put the emphasis on educational reform?

      • What do you think of their perspective of Special Education and Differentiated Instruction?

      • What are some positives/negatives from the information presented?


    • Four-pronged approach for improvement

      • First: Core Curriculum with rigor, requiring many teachers to return to school for more education

      • Second: Accountability with tests at the end of elementary, junior high, and high school

        • All students over the entire country

        • Non-punitive

        • All students took college entrance exams – and they are graded by colleges


    • Four-pronged approach (cont’d)

      • Third: Raise the expectations for what kids could accomplish

        • All students stayed on the same track until age 16, or sophomore year of high school

        • Peer effects are incredibly influential


    • Four-pronged approach (cont’d)

      • Fourth: Autonomy for the teachers

        • Allowed to choose their own textbooks

        • Allowed to choose their curriculum

        • Allowed to choose their own Professional Development

        • They earned bonuses based on how much PD they did

        • Principal had full autonomy for hiring and firing

        • Local authorities had full control over $


    Some Facts about Polish Education

    • Fastest growth in PISA scores

    • Way ahead of the U.S.

    • Vocational students lost their drive when tracked to that option – test scores lower

    • Average cost per student is $4,800 – ours is $11,000+

    • People bought in that education was important!

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    • Small Group Discussion

      • All that happened in Poland took place in a very short period of time – a lot in one year! How would a fast-paced change affect us – even if it were 100% correct?

      • Does anything stand out as different or unusual to you based on the Polish educational information?

      • What was the emphasis of the reforms in Poland?

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    A Whirlwind of Facts and Figures from around the World

    - Parents who volunteered in their kids’ extra-curricular activities had children who performed worse in reading than parents who did not volunteer even after controlling for other factors like socioeconomics. Only 2 places in the world where parental volunteering had any impact.

    Facts from around the World

    • Retention is among highest in the U.S. = 11%

    • In most successful countries in the world the poorest systems get more money

    • Kids know that RIGOR is HARD!

    • In Australia, 15-year olds with aspirations were predictably successful in school and out (A great toxin to our schools is low aspirations)

    • In every country – Parents try to get kids in best schools

    Facts from around the World

    • In U.S., Private and Charter Schools = 16% of our population. However, they do not add value to education and certainly no more than their socio-economic status would suggest

    • Andrew Kim from Japan makes over $4 million a year with online Hagwon class in English

      • Parents pay extra and are considered failures if not engaged in the classes with the teachers

      • 10% of teachers fired after first year

      • Students stay until 10 or even midnight!

    Facts from around the World

    • Best predictor of success of 8th graders in U.S. was not IQ – it was self-discipline

    • Character is more malleable than Intellect

    • In other countries, it seemed to take a crisis in them before the right steps in education were taken, especially when it comes to rigor

    • World view of our schools: Sports instills leadership and persistence in a few while draining focus and resources from academics for everyone.

    Facts from around the World

    • In leading countries, people think that learning is so important that only the most educated, high achieving citizens should be allowed to teach

    • There is more technology in U.S. Schools than most of the world

    • 92% of international students and 70% of American students say that our education is easier. 67% of former say ours is “much easier”

    Parenting around the World

    • Parents reading to their kids yields tremendous impact

    • When reading, asking questions helped more

    • As kids get older, parents who discussed movies, books, and current affairs had teens that performed better

    • Parents had conversations with kids about things bigger than themselves

    Parenting around the World

    • Asian parents teach math before reading

    • Modeling reading in the home improves scores

    • Praise that is vague is counterproductive

    • Just asking about a child’s school day can have the same effect on PISA scores as hours of private tutoring

    The Best Style of Parenting = Authoritative

    • A mix of Authoritarian and Permissive

      • Warmand Responsive

      • Close, but as the kids got older, gave more freedom to explore and to fail and make choices

      • Clear, bright limits, and rules they did not negotiate

      • Children with these parents had higher academic achievement levels, fewer symptoms of depression, less aggression, disobedience, anti-social behaviors.

      • They are more resilient

    The Smartest Kids in the World

    Post-Test Answers

    • 1. Finland 2. Canada 3. Belgium 4.Poland (X) 5. Korea

    • 2. c, d, e, & i

    • 3. 4%

    • 4. 50%

    • 5. Finland

    • 6. Education leads to money and money leads to happiness

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