|Occupation:||Educator, Measurement Statistician|
|Languages:||English (sadly, only this one)|
|Country:||United States of America|
I live in the USA, near Trenton, New Jersey and work at Princeton Learning Cooperative, a personalized learning community for teens. At our center on the north side of Princeton, there are about 30 teens attending and I am one of 3 staff teachers, although not the usual kind of teacher who instructs classes of students in learning a particular subject matter. I do teach classes, biology, statistics, nature, book club and a class we call "do something", but at PLC we approach learning from a different perspective. First and foremost, each teen is empowered to self-determine their own learning, with the help and support of the PLC teachers and their families. Each of the PLC teachers meets individually each week with about 10 teens, helping them to make the day-to-day decisions about how they will spend their time, and to document how these choices contribute to their education (for use later in college applications and the like). We offer various learning opportunities at the center: classes, one-one-one tutoring, trips, and youth-led activities, and we also help teens find volunteer and work opportunities in the community. One thing to note is that PLC is not a school and has no ability to confer grades or a diploma. When teens leaves traditional school to join PLC, they legally become a homeschooler, and with PLC's help the teens and their parents determine the educational path.
PLC is one of a number of centers in North America which uses an educational model based on the groundbreaking work of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens which has been in existence since 1996. A group of us recently created a non-profit, Liberated Learners, to support and promote the creation of centers like PLC and North Star. It's exciting work.
I came to PLC from the homeschooling community. I am trained in educational measurement, and worked at Educational Testing Service (ETS, the makers of the famed SAT, TOEFL, GRE....) from 1986 to 2000. But when my oldest child became discontent in public school, we decided to go it alone, to "homeschool," without any particular specified curriculum. And so, I gave up my job at ETS, happily because I disagree with yearly standardised testing in elementary and secondary schools as the primary measure of accountability, which was just coming into fashion.
In 2004, a fellow homeschooling parent and I founded a local group for teens to have the opportunity to study and collaborate together: E-cubed: Experience, Explore, Educate. Our once per week sessions are designed around teen-led activities. The group has grown over the years, such that we now maintain a waiting list.
I completed homeschooling my children in 2011 (the oldest is an electrical engineer working in Chicago; the younger will graduate in 2015 from the United States Merchant Marine Academy). The timing couldn't have been better. Just as I was finishing up with homeschooling my children, PLC was engaged in their pilot program. I find it quite rewarding to use the skills and ideas I developed homeschooling my own children to help other young people who, for many different reasons, have decided to direct their own education.
In 2009-2010, I taught a hybrid course in Introductory Statistics to 5 secondary students who homeschool. The online portion of the course is provided by Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative. We met once per week to do collaborative activities. The goal of the course is to encourage students to think statistically, to communicate accurately and comprehensively about data, and to use a critical framework to evaluate studies.
For one semester a year from 2010-2013, I taught Statistical Methods I or II for the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. These intro courses are required for students seeking a Master's in Education in the Educational Psychology department, and for various other programs in the School of Education. Rather than the usual computational, grade-focused approach to teaching statistics, I endeavored to create an environment for students to try out, learn about and apply basic statistical concepts..."let the software do the calculations and focus on learning how to interpret the results".
I feel like a theme runs through all of the work that I do: advocating for an educational system that better recognizes and values the rich potential of individual variation among human beings. Why do we think that all children should be force-fed a curriculum based on a narrow set of common standards, devised, largely, at the beginning of the last century? Every child (and certainly every teenager) deserves the option to self-determine his/her own education with the help of caring adults.
- freedom in education (is personal choice in education any different than personal choice in religion?)
- self-directed, student centric learning for secondary school students
Dana Bennis of The Institute for Democratic Education in America suggests that our goal should be
"...to change the national culture and practice of education to one that values a broad definition of learning and success and that provides all young people with meaningful involvement in their learning." 
- statistics, visual display of data, unintended consequences, misuse of data
- fostering seeing eye puppies until they're old enough to go into guide dog training
My WE projects
- Digital skills for collaborative OER development - helping with content editing (winter 2014)
- Art Appreciation and Techniques - helping staff at Thompson Rivers University to adapt and wikify this course from Saylor.org (summer 2012)
- WE mathematics community - if you are reading this page and are interested in math, please check out our fledgling community. Let's find ways to work together to build open resources.
- Intro biology labs - integrated into study of biology by local high school students who do not attend a traditional high school. The 8 or so labs are experiments and demonstrations which can be done without expensive lab equipment.
- Open Content Licensing project - started out with offering to do the language review of the 4 modules....now I'm helping to facilitate the 2012.01 workshop with 800+ participants.
- GSE Stat Methods II review notes - as part of teaching Statistical Methods II for the Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education, I developed these notes for use in class review sessions.
- Introductory Statistics Course - course offered Sept 2009 - May 2010 to local high school students who do not attend a traditional high school. The course combined delivery of course content via Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiatives (OLI) with once per week in-person meetings. The OLI statistics course exemplifies many wonderful design elements -- clear writing, regular self-assessment, integrated hands-on activities, emphasis on interpretation rather than learning formulas. There are two big drawbacks -- OLI courses are not truly open (use is limited to non-commercial) and their LMS severely limits adaptability of use. The idea behind the Statistics Content project (see next bullet) is to create content as good as the content in OLI's statistics course, but which is open and infinitely adaptable.
- Workgroup:Categories, a project to create a functional category structure for WikiEducator.
- Project to Create Modular Statistics Content
- Open Computing for the development and promotion of learning materials related to using a computer, in particular free computer software.
- Working with Spreadsheets in OpenOffice.org Calc adapts CCNC Module 4 for use with Calc 3, running on Ubuntu 9.04. The Calc 3 tutorial is located as a subpage of OpenOffice. See Learning Design and Content Design for overview of work plans.
- Workgroup:WikiEducator Workgroups, a project to provide guidelines for future workgroups charged with creating policy, guidelines, tools, processes,... that impact the whole WE community.
- UPDATE: decided to leave this project as is.Commonwealth Computer Navigator's Certificate, Module 4: Spreadsheets Using OpenOffice 3.0 - just getting involved with this; would be useful to offer parts of this content for pre-work prior to Introductory Statistics Course (to begin Sep 2009).
Some content that's perhaps better suited to a subpage
Learning- and education-related books, including inspiring direct quotes and any thoughts that occurred to me at the time
- Bennis, Dana. Evolving towards IDEA: Introducing the Institute for Democratic Education in America. Education Revolution, vol 22, no. 2.
Notes from my WikiNeighbours
I love getting messages from neighbours, but my preference is for you to leave a message on my discussion page.a To leave a message for me, click the "discussion" tab above, and then click again on "Start a new discussion".
aThe reason for my preference is that I am using the LQTemail gadget (available on the "Gadgets" tab in "my preferences") to send me an email whenever I have a new message. You can read more about this option at WikiEducator:Liquid Threads.
CONGRATULATIONS on winning the UPE award for July 2014! Your page is admirable --Kalpana Gupte 19:19, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
- Thanks, Kalpana, much appreciated. --Alison Snieckus 10:27, 12 August 2014 (UTC)