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NY school goes all-in on digital textbooks

(Photo: Jim Fitzgerald / AP)

At Archbishop Stepinac High School, the backpacks got a whole lot lighter this year because nearly every book — from freshman biology to senior calculus — is now digital, accessible on students’ laptops and tablets.

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It has come to no surprise at all that digital has become a norm in society. As technology advances, so will the education be farther to expand and widen to pull ideas, problems, and learning from anywhere.

thinkmexican:

Paloma Noyola: The Face of Mexico’s Unleashed Potential

When a report emerged in September 2012 that a girl from one of Matamoros’ poorest neighborhoods had attained the highest math score in Mexico, some doubted its veracity. It must be fake, they said.

But it wasn’t fake. Her name is Paloma Noyola, and what most reports failed to mention is that almost all of her classmates also scored very high on the national math test. 10 scored in the 99.99% percentile.

Paloma and her classmates also scored in the top percentile in language. Something special was happening at José Urbina López primary school in Matamoros, and Wired went to take a look.

The high test scores turned out to be the work of a young teacher who also came from humble beginnings. Sergio Juárez Correa was tired of the monotony of teaching out of a book and wanted to try something new to help engage his students when he came across the work of Sugata Mitra, a UK university professor who had innovated a new pedagogy he called SOLE, or self organized learning environments. The new approach paid off.

Although SOLE usually relies on unfettered Internet access for research, Juárez and his students had very limited access. Somehow, he still found a way to apply Mitra’s teachings and unleash their potential.

From the beginning, Paloma’s exceptional abilities were evident:

One day Juárez Correa went to his whiteboard and wrote “1 = 1.00.” Normally, at this point, he would start explaining the concept of fractions and decimals. Instead he just wrote “½ = ?” and “¼ = ?”

“Think about that for a second,” he said, and walked out of the room.

While the kids murmured, Juárez went to the school cafeteria, where children could buy breakfast and lunch for small change. He borrowed about 10 pesos in coins, worth about 75 cents, and walked back to his classroom, where he distributed a peso’s worth of coins to each table. He noticed that Paloma had already written .50 and .25 on a piece of paper.

As Mr. Juárez implemented more of Mitra’s teachings in his classroom, Paloma continued to stand out as an exceptionally gifted student:

Juárez Correa was impressed. But he was even more intrigued by Paloma. During these experiments, he noticed that she almost always came up with the answer immediately. Sometimes she explained things to her tablemates, other times she kept the answer to herself. Nobody had told him that she had an unusual gift. Yet even when he gave the class difficult questions, she quickly jotted down the answers. To test her limits, he challenged the class with a problem he was sure would stump her. He told the story of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famous German mathematician, who was born in 1777.

When Gauss was a schoolboy, one of his teachers asked the class to add up every number between 1 and 100. It was supposed to take an hour, but Gauss had the answer almost instantly.

“Does anyone know how he did this?” Juárez Correa asked.

A few students started trying to add up the numbers and soon realized it would take a long time. Paloma, working with her group, carefully wrote out a few sequences and looked at them for a moment. Then she raised her hand.

“The answer is 5,050,” she said. “There are 50 pairs of 101.”

Juárez Correa felt a chill. He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it.

“Because no one made it this interesting,” she said.

Although this Wired piece focuses mostly on Sugata Mitra, it does once again highlight the story of Paloma Noyola. Unfortunately, after a brief spurt of media attention, little on Paloma was ever mentioned and, as was pointed out by Wired, nothing was ever said of Mr. Juárez.

As with most stories in the Mexican press — and those popular with the middle-class — things suddenly become very important once it’s featured in a gringo publication. Which is a very sad commentary. We hope, however, that this story pushes those in the press, state and federal government to look not to the United States for validation but to Mexicans like Sergio Juárez doing good work in places like Matamoros.

The clear message in this story is that there are thousands of Paloma Noyolas going to school in Mexico who, just like her at one time, are not being challenged and therefore aren’t very interested in school. This story can, if we want it to, raise enough awareness to shift the discussion from poverty to opportunity.

Paloma truly personifies both Mexico’s challenges and unleashed potential.

Read the entire Wired story here: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

Editor’s note: As an addendum, Wired provided information on helping support Sugata Mitra and his School in the Clouds project, and although they donated school supplies and equipment to José Urbina López School, we’re interested in seeing if we can help set up a similar fund for Sergio Juárez, the teacher featured in this story.

Also, $9,300 was raised to help fund Paloma’s education last year. We’re going to follow up with the economist who led the fundraising campaign to see how she’s doing. Stay tuned for the updates.

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This is quite inspiring and amazing, perhaps we can produce smarter and brighter youth to apply more into the future. “SOLE” is indeed an work in the making but has made a good first impression in Mexico…

Journalism: Who’s Hands Should It Be In?

   Journalism is a dying craft, I’ve viewed too many documentaries and read too many articles that have finally opened my eyes to a new view of newsworthy change. Online journalism and citizen journalism has surpassed the outline of a costly way to hear and read about the news. I recently watched a infamous documentary of the dying newspaper, which has remained woven in American history since the 18th century. Page One: Inside The New York Times, I know this is an outdated and, perhaps, unfashionable documentary nowadays however, it has only continued to display and amplify the inevitable plunge in newspapers and journalism itself.

   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, it states a job outlook stating, “Employment of broadcast news analysts is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of reporters and correspondents is expected to decline moderately by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020. Declines are expected because of the consolidation of news organizations, a decrease in readership of newspapers, and a decline in viewership for many news television shows." I strongly believe in preserving the newspaper, TV news broadcasts, and many journalists who are willing to write and find the truth for all.

   Citizen Journalism has expanded it’s national news-worth and provided a fresh and distinct style of pushing outward stories and media. I believe it has its ups and downs as the newspaper had. Bringing unique views from the peoples’ eyes and providing free, SOMETIMES true, stories. nonetheless, I believe journalism should be left to the professionals and not the citizens who have had no experience or training in  such fields. Journalism is an ever-changing knowledge, and I hope for the best for the newspaper and journalists that feed this news-starved country. Save a Journalist, Buy a Newspaper!!!

Rudolfo Anaya and Chicano Literature

In America, a King can be crowned for his might and his grace. But, an Aztec King is chosen for his blood and what he can do for his people. Once, this country was reckoned to the judgment of race and color. Mexican-American culture was hidden and disgraced. Chicanos, as they are properly called, hid beneath the shadows of many great authors. So many words never said or wrote. Up till one man, was brave and proud enough to let his words speak louder than his voice. Rudolfo Anaya, a Chicano author, was the flame that ignited a movement across the nation.

Rudolfo Anaya was a quiet man, raised in the “llanos”, or plains, in a small town of Pastura, New Mexico. Brought up in a poor farming community, he was taught to work at an early age. The community was filled with many farmers, cattle workers, and sheepherders. With all the work that had to be done and time taken from his life, Rudolfo still managed to find time to listen to his family tell a story or catch a view of plains. The fables and stories told to him, gave him a sense of culture and identity which he would later put into his works; as well as, the views of his childhood he would put the atmosphere in his stories. As he grew, the need for education was growing closer. So, he and his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the sake of his education. It was there, the reality of society impacted him. The 1930’s encouraged racism and discrimination to Latinos and other non-white races. Rudolfo was lucky to find friends that were Chicanos that shared his samepride and priorities. With friends he had,

Rudolfo had a very normal and good teenage life for a young Chicano. He played sports  and avoided the gang and drug life, which he lost some friends to. In time, Rudolfo was a senior in high school when he had a fatal diving accident. He broke his neck and was able to live to tell the story. The accident only struck him to be more grateful and modest about life. Then, His love for writing was born, after this tragic accident. After senior year, he graduated and attended the University of New Mexico. He wrote daily and never gave up on the love of his works. He still deemed himself different because of his race and culture. He felt alone, isolated. He didn’t encounter any Chicanos or Hispanics. None of his people were there. He knew many of them didn’t attend or make it to college. Most never left, and suffered the life of drugs and gangs. He saw himself different, for his culture and his race, and I drove him to be wanted, to be accepted. He wanted to fit in a culture that was not even his own. Writing was his only brink of reality he had, which he found himself.   In addition with the problems, he was struggling with English in college since his first language was Spanish. His terminology and speech patterns would later give him problems. With all this, he still wrote. He refused to give up on writing and in life.

In 1963, Rudolfo graduated with a Bachelor in Arts in English. He, then, took a teaching job in a small town outside of Albuquerque, where he taught English. He, still, wrote daily; trying to find himself and his ethic identity. He would teach during the day and type away through the evening in the deep night. After a couple years and book contracts later, his work was founded and blown up; to which he grew to be an idol. He inspired Chicano writers everywhere that were afraid to stand up. They were voiceless and had their rights stolen yet one man brought them together as one. His work not only inspired young Chicanos, but also drove him to treasure who he was. His pride and culture put into words that, even now, are being read all over the nation. He became known as “the founder of Chicano Literature,” states the University of New Mexico website. As the faces of the young, ethicized Chicano writers look up to Rudolfo, He speaks for himself and his people, “What I’ve wanted to do is compose the Chicano worldview – the synthesis that shows our true mestizo identity – and clarify it for my community and myself. Writing for me is a way of knowledge, and what I find illuminates my life.”

In all essence, Rudolfo’s life was a perfect story of Chicano Literature; Chicano culture adapting to society and real-world problems form then to now. It explains the sense of Chicano culture and its adaptability through cultural situations and ever-changing society and the struggle of being Mexican-American, in which, are not accepted my Mexicans or Anglo-Americans. It gives the reality of, basically, trying to be accepted by society while keeping our cultural identities and distinctiveness. It’s never the same, always changing. Its words and stories that are together to tell our struggles. Coming from an inspired writer, Rudolfo and Chicano Literature have made the biggest impact on Chicanos everywhere. Chicanos, now, want to stay in school and read; to grow bigger in life; to not be afraid…of who they are.

Works Cited

Bio. True Story. “Rudolfo Anaya.” 6 Jan, 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/rudolfo-a-anaya-    39694> March 18, 2013.

Gale Cengage Learning. “Rudolfo Anaya.” 19 Dec. 2003.                <http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/chh/bio/anaya_r.htm> March 18, 2013.

Raymund Paredes. University of California at Los Angeles. “Teaching Chicano Literature: An Historical    Approach.”  <http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/tamlit/essays/chicano.html> March        18, 2013.

University of New Mexico. “Rudolfo Anaya.”  <http://www.unm.edu/~wrtgsw/anaya.html> March 18, 

RIP Michael Hastings. Here’s His Advice to Young Journalists.

See on Scoop.it - Wonderful Words: A Journey To Journalism.

Hastings, a young reporter for Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed who broke numerous stories, died in a car crash this week.

Charlie Lares Rocha's insight:

For any young journalists like myself, but I often wondered if you can actually make a great living off of journalism? Since newspapers seem to be declining quickly, and the Internet has become the source of much news….


See on motherjones.com

How Social Networks Are Redefining Journalism

See on Scoop.it - Wonderful Words: A Journey To Journalism.

“… community manager Meghan Peters discussed how social networks are evolving their content strategies, with Jessica Bennett, editorial director at Tumblr, and Daniel Roth, executive editor at LinkedIn.


“Both editors come from traditional journalism backgrounds. Bennett was formerly an editor at Newsweek, and Roth worked at Fortune. Bennett said that Tumblr’s traffic is three times that of The New York Times and CNN. There are more than 80 million blogs and 170 million users, more than 50% of whom are under 30.”

(Published Dec. 4, 2012.)


Charlie Lares Rocha's insight:

Very insightful article…


See on mashable.com
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