Ontario elementary student math scores continue to decline, latest EQAO results show, Toronto Star, August 28/2019.
By Kristin Rushowy Queen's Park Bureau
Wed., Aug. 28, 2019 timer3 min. read
The Ontario government will spend the next year overhauling the math curriculum after another round of provincial testing showed elementary students continue to struggle with the subject.
“Every year, the scores have either stagnated” or dropped, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Wednesday after the Education Quality and Accountability Office released results for the 2018-19 school year that he called “disappointing.”
Provincial test results show that in Grade 3, 58 per cent of students met the provincial standard — which is equivalent to an A or B — which represents a decline in results from the past three years.
In Grade 6, less than half — 48 per cent — met the expectation, a one percentage point drop from the average over the past three years.
In Grade 9, results remained stable with 84 per cent meeting the standard at the academic level, but just 44 per cent of those enrolled in applied math — which the EQAO says “is a persistent achievement gap between students in the applied and academic courses.”
The EQAO also noted that in elementary schools, “Ontario students’ basic knowledge of fundamental math skills is stronger than their ability to apply those skills to a problem or think critically to determine an answer. In attempts to promote engagement and achievement, it is worth considering how we can further support students’ mathematical problem solving and critical thinking. ”
Please see the full article:
Video Games, Virtual Reality & Attention Span: The Battle for our Children’s Attention in the Digital World
Disclaimer: This blog is for entertainment purposes only, the views expressed herein are my own entirely and at no time should this blog be used as a basis to inform personal decision making. Rather the blog is designed for entertainment purposes only.
Copyright: This blog may not be reproduced, reprinted in any form, digital or otherwise; without the express written consent of Dr Jeff Hawkins, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a teacher, I often get asked the following question from students: “Do your children play video games?”
As a PhD holder, I can never leave a good question alone so this rather long blog examines this question in more detail and attempts to shed light on the reasons that our family answers “NO”. We do not play any video games at our house.
In fact, my wife and myself believe strongly that video games disrupt a child’s attention span and eliminates their options for natural play (real world tasks, not digital world). By attention span, I mean the child’s ability to focus, concentrate and learn with enjoyment without distraction or agitation. The blog touches on 4 themes to illustrate the issue further:
In today’s world, Video Games, Virtual Realty games and even Children’s games and the myriad of delivery Devices (Twitch, Tablets, Android, IPhone) are widely accepted everywhere in society and are conspicuously consumed by millions of Adults, Teens and Children in Canada and around the world. Wherever there is the internet and a device, you can connect to a video game and immerse yourself in the digital world.
I may be wrong and often am but it appears to me that when something is widely available in the digital world such as Facebook, Twitter, Video Games, Virtual Reality games; this visual MEDIA grabs the veneer of social acceptance and becomes defacto accepted in society by parents --- by virtue of being widely available in society.
Clearly, just because something is widely available in Society does not mean that children should be allowed to engage in the activity. Addictive substances in Canada are highly regulated and parents are rightly horrified by the idea that their child (ages 1-11) would be allowed to legally access and consume addictive substances such as cigarettes, alcohol or marijuana.
However, parents generally do not ask the same depth of questions or hold the same moral outrage in regard to video games, virtual reality games or social media consumption. Instead, these games are perceived to be harmless and children are allowed to engage in age appropriate Gaming (Video Games and Virtual Reality) without questioning in regard to how these “Games” could damage their child’s psychological well-being; ongoing brain and behavioral development.
10,000 Hours of Video Games
In his Youtube video, The Secret Powers of Time (2010: 5:48), Psychology Professor emeritus Philip Zimbardo argues that the average American teenager: “has at MINIMUM played 10,000 hours of video games ALONE” that does not include other forms of visual media such as pornography, youtube, movies or facebook that these boys watch in addition to playing video games.
Zimbardo’s research shows that video games are not a mild form of entertainment but are in fact dangerous to a child’s social (anti-social personality), emotional (self image: cognitive dissonance with reality) and brain development. According to Zimbardo: “Teenage boys brains have been digitally rewired which means they will never fit into a regular analogue classroom where someone talks at you and gives you instructions” (Zimbardo 2010).
The addictive nature of tobacco, alcohol or drugs is well known. In my view, Video games, Virtual reality games are far more pernicious than traditional addictive substances precisely because they are intangibles; it is difficult for a parent to observe how Video Games and VR affect the child’s brain - day by day, year by year. With new media, parents must ask: is the child consuming the product (Video Games & VR) or is the product consuming the child?
The idea that Video Gaming can be dangerous to brain development is not new. More recent research (2018) on the next generation of gaming – demonstrates the psychological affects that games can have on the brain.
Virtual Reality Gaming: “Lasting Psychological Affects”
The CBC radio program: “The Ethics of Virtual Reality 2018” discussed the impact that Virtual Reality can have on ‘Gamers’ psychological attitudes and recommends a code of ethical conduct should be developed in order to safe guard against “Lasting Psychological Affects”.
The research on VR gaming showed that the study participant’s consciousness (personal attitudes) can be changed after repeated exposures to virtual reality environments. Even more dramatic finding was that even human beings sub-conscious attitudes (unawareness) can be influenced and even programmed by participating in Virtual Reality. In other words, the person is NOT even aware that their behavior has changed after participation in the VR session. Please see the full link to the CBC article below.
Unplug for Learning
In order for a child or any human being to be successful in life, we must have the ability to focus our attention span for lengths of time. In comparison to the visual kaleidoscope of Video Games and VR normal classroom situations can appear boring or uninteresting to overstimulated children.
We parents can do several things to create the environment at home where our child’s Attention Span can flourish. Foremost is turn off the video games and keep turning them off, as much as possible. Parenting is not a popularity contest with our Kids; we often have to make unpopular decisions to show them the right way to succeed to become a relevant adult in the real world.
Students that have experienced Gaming find School terribly boring as they are not the centre of attention and are definitely not in control. Here is where Tutoring, One-One tutoring comes in to stimulate and focus the student’s attention. Intense attention from ones teacher is a motivator for both parties as the student soon realizes:
In the digital age, Video Games, VR and Social Media are waging a war on our children’s attention. Parents that are aware we are in a battle for our children's hearts and minds, can take a proactive stance to influence how digital media are consumed in their home.
We can Unplug to Learn, focus our attention and discover our real dreams and aspirations in the extraordinary world of everyday life.
By Steve Murphy OCT # 677994, K-8 Instructor for Aardvark Learning Academy,
Teachers, parents, and tutors all know it can be difficult to keep the attention of children, especially boys. A lot of young male students have difficulty staying on task, and this can have a substantial affect on their school work, which then affects their grades. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) appear to be more commonly diagnosed, but even boys who don’t have these disorders can have trouble focusing in school. Personally, I have found ways to help boys become more interested in what they are learning, which has improved their focus and cut down on wasted time in a lesson. Here are five ways to improve your teaching to help boys become more engaged in a lesson.
An easy way to get a student’s attention and interest is to make the work more relatable to their life. One way to do this is to use real-life examples that the student understands and is interested in. For example, instead of using the bland basic questions about Susie having 17 apples and David taking away 5 apples, you can change the names and the objects to something the child likes. Most boys like video games so change the name to their name, change the apples to video games, and automatically the question has more appeal. I often create my own word problems or paragraph topics based on the students’ interests and hobbies. You will be surprised how much more engaged they are when they are talking about sports or video games instead of subtracting fruits or writing about generic school topics.
Everyone has a little competitive edge inside of them, but in my experience, boys seem to thrive in competitive atmospheres. I try to use the competitive nature of boys to spark their engagement in learning. Whether it is a game against the tutor or a challenge against themselves, most boys will rise to the occasion. I use competition in one-on-one games against the students such as a simple card games involving math skills. Even though many of these games are based on chance, a little gentle trash-talking about who’s going to win will often perk up the student and sharpen their engagement. If they see that the tutor is into the game and competitive, it becomes more fun for them and ignites their competitive edge. Another form of competition is to use timers to have the student complete challenges in a certain time limit. By simply tracking their scores in challenges such as times tables, each session becomes a new opportunity to break their own record. This gets the competitive juices flowing and gives them a tangible way to see their own progress.
In my experience I have found games to be the determining factor in whether a boy says that being tutored is fun or boring. Just the word game seems to have a positive effect on boys’ engagement in a lesson. As an athlete growing up as a kid, I found practices to be boring, but the excitement of knowing I had a game that night got me through the whole day. It goes the same with learning. Tell a kid they are going to practice their times tables and they lose interest quickly but find a way to turn times tables into a game and they will have so much more fun they will not even realize they are practicing times tables. So, in a short lesson, it is pivotal to use creative ways to implement games, whether you find them online or create them yourself. Also, I always like to finish a lesson with a game as this leaves the student with a positive feeling as they leave the session, which often makes them more excited for the next one.
4. Short Tasks
In the age of technology, it is no secret that kids have short attention spans. So many teachers and tutors like myself know how easily kids’ minds can drift away from a task, and it can be super hard to get them back on track. One solution to this problem is to find shorter tasks with a clear ending. For example, if you hand a student a worksheet with 100 addition problems, their automatic reaction is to worry about how much work is in front of them. Even if you say they only must do the first 20 problems, visually the task seems overwhelming. Therefore, it is more beneficial to find or create a worksheet with fewer problems, so they can clearly see how much is in front of them. Especially for elementary level students, I aim to keep every sheet, task, or game to under 10 minutes. Anything longer than that and you risk losing their attention.
5. Have Fun
This is one tip that seems obvious but believe me it is not always the case. To put it simply, if the teacher or tutor does not look like they are enjoying themselves then how can we expect the students to enjoy themselves. Obviously, you can’t be laughing and joking the entire time or no actual work will get done, but find appropriate time to joke with the students, be a little silly with them, and laugh at yourself if you made a mistake to show them that mistakes are okay. Young boys love to laugh and have fun, so showing them that learning is fun can go a long way towards inspiring them to enjoy learning on their own time.
These five tips may not work with every boy, because there are always going to be outliers that may not like games or competition. However, generally boys are simple. They love talking about their interests, they love playing games, they love the spirit of competition, they want short achievable tasks, and most of all they just want to have fun.
I hope these tips have helped in some way. If you are a parent of a boy with attention difficulties, then here is a video that focuses on what you can do to best set them up to succeed. Whether you are setting up a space for them to complete their homework or preparing them for their tutoring, here are some things that you can do.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you will go.” Dr Seuss
My name is Kayo Hawkins and I am a Japanese Instructor at Aardvark Learning Academy. English is my second language and I achieved IELTS academic 8. In this blog post, I would like to share a few of my key reading strategy and tips with all of you who are trying to improve your English performance or IELTS-ESL exam results.
First of all, what is important to improve your English skill is to read academic contents effectively, and with genuine curiosity using your background knowledge from your experience in your own native language (L1), mother tongue. Background knowledge in your own language is critical, crucial to building new meanings, comprehension of academic words in English (L2).
Activate Prior Knowledge from L1 to navigate L2
Choose a book that you already know well in your language. For example, if you graduated university in your home country with business degree, read a book that discusses the familiar aspect of business you studied. If you were good at math in high school, a book that is targeted for the general audience to understand math concept in our daily routine.
Even non-academic books and magazines from the local Library related to your hobby (computer programming, fishing, cooking, knitting, painting, DIY etc). would be better than reading nothing at all in English. Remember, immersion in the English language through reading every day is what is important to developing speed, vocabulary & fluency in every other aspect of your English skills.
There are two benefits that this kind of Reading offer ESL Adults:
Earn New English
No matter if you are a native speaker of one language or a learner of a new language, it is always essential to read more to be familiar with more vocabulary, grammar use, and of course earn new knowledge. Notice here, I say earn new knowledge, not learn. You have to study hard to earn new knowledge in English as a second language (ESL). So go to the local library and become a member, start searching for the book of your area of study and interest today. It will take you to another level as an English speaker, just as Dr. Seuss recommended in his book: “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you will go.”
Kayo's Tips to be a more effective Reader in English: