Why Bill Gates Defends the Common Core & Other Top 2014 Posts

In 2014, there were 100 new posts added to the Art of Teaching Science blog, as shown in the graphic below. I’ve made links to the top five posts for 2014.  As you can see, our examination of the how the Gates Foundation has used its billions to influence the Common Core State Standards was in the most-viewed category.  The reduction in funding also has had a marked influence on the research.  And speaking of research, too many educators, especially at the top (Sec. A. Duncan) believe there is research to support the use of Value Added Models to evaluate teacher performance.  And gaining momentum is the absurdity of following graduates of teacher education institutions to track the test scores of the K-12 students they teach.  The U.S. Department of Education will propose this regulations next year.  You can read about this here on Diane Ravitch’s blog and comment here.

In fifth place was post I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of the theory of plate tectonics and the theory of gravity in response to politicians who want to promote “critical thinking” by imposing their will on teachers and insisting that they critically look at the theory of evolution, origins of life, global warming, and climate change.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 6.24.01 PM
Figure 1. 2014 Distribution of blog posts on the Art of Teaching Science


Why Bill Gates Defends the Common Core.  At a national conference, Gates said he was concerned with people who oppose implementing the Common Core State Standards. We explore why in this post.

Why Are Scientists Abandoning Their Research.  A survey was sent to 67,454 researchers holding grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF). Results and implications are discussed.

Top 20 Organizations Receiving Common Core Grants from the Gates Foundation. In this post, I report on those organizations that were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to make the Common Core State Standards a reality.  The Council of Chief State School Officers leads the pack. But it looks like the Common Core is running into a brick wall.

The Absurdity of Teacher Evaluation Systems.  An article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution got my gander up about teacher evaluation systems. I vent here.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Plate Tectonics Theory & the Theory of Gravity. When politicians enter the arena of education and curriculum, and especially fields such as science, the are on a slippery slope. If, however, they simply want the facts (on climate change or global warming) taught in science class, they might go here.

Thank you for visiting my blog in 2014.

Happy New Year.

Extreme Earth: A new science teaching eBook

The second in a series of science teaching eBooks was published today on the Art of Teaching Science Website.  Entitled Extreme Earth, this eBook explores questions such as:

Are the extremes of weather related phenomena such as flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought and fires, as well as major and great earthquakes in heavily populated areas the new norm, or are these events part of nature’s cycles?

Based on blog posts on climate change, global warming, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes, Extreme Earth highlights the importance of the geosciences in science teaching.

The topics that are explored to our students in that they all relate to students’ lived experiences.  Helping students understand the nature of the Earth’s extreme weather around the planet is important to their science education, and to their life as citizens.  Not knowing the basis for these extremes puts our students and their families at risk.  Recent research in the geosciences suggests that these extremes in the weather—hot summers, drought, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, extreme tornadoes—may be the norm, at least for a while.

Over the past decade, earthquakes and volcanoes have caused havoc for many nations.  The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was caused by a great undersea earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter Scale.  The resulting tsunami killed more than 230,000 people.  The 2010 7.0 Haiti earthquake, the 8.8 Chile earthquake, and great Japan 8.9 earthquake and tsunami devastated these regions of the world.  The tsunami in Northern Japan caused meltdowns to three nuclear power plants on Fukushima Prefecture.  Why did the powerful earthquakes and tsunami’s occur in these locations?  Could these earthquakes have been predicted?  We explore these and other questions to help students understand the nature of plate tectonics theory, and an understanding the dynamic nature of the earth, especially along the edges of tectonic plates.  Although not all earthquakes occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates (recall the Virginia earthquake of August 2011), the theory of plate tectonics is a unifying geological theory, and important in understanding geological phenomena.

Extreme Earth explores these ideas.