Japanese Internment

This hyperdoc is being developed and piloted by my summer school class.

Discuss how these two events influenced each other.



Use your background knowledge from Farewell to Manzanar, Days of Waiting, & The Ralph Lazo Story to describe when and how a government should be allowed to detain people suspected of Sedition. How much latitude should we give our government to restrict individual freedoms during wartime?

Competency Based Education

The purpose of this post is to clarify some opinions I expressed during a Twitter conversation with @PhilOnEdTech, @harmonygritz, and @WGU about Competency Based Education. I have followed Phil for almost a year now and I am impressed with the depth of his knowledge on Ed Tech issues. In a blogosphere of evangelists, he can be a voice of reason and caution, for that, I greatly admire his work. I am a classroom teacher. I have been for the last 12 years. Prior to working in the classroom, I worked for an entertainment industry, technology R&D lab. I have great enthusiasm and zeal for incorporating technology into my classroom practices. My experience in running a 1:1 classroom was that my course failure rate dropped by fifty percent. I do not believe that other teachers would have the same experience. In fact, I might not even have the same experience with a different sample of students. Thus, my main point in responding to Phil is that education policymakers should proceed cautiously before rolling out CBE on a large scale. Of course, this will not happen because most education policymakers are politicians who want to be seen as innovators, working hard to solve problems in our nation’s schools.


Students who develop strong, positive relationships with their teachers are more likely to engage in rigorous academic work. Further, students who experience their high school curriculum in a coherent, aligned, and interdisciplinary manner (i.e., work-based, or competency-based education models) have shown increased engagement and higher graduation rates. Bob Bain has articulated the dangers a fragmented curriculum poses to student engagement. It was with these factors in mind that I joined a group of educators in starting up an entertainment industry-themed pilot school (LAUSD’s in-house answer to charters) a little more than five years ago.

What we experienced was that many of our students did not “choose” our program for its work-based program merits. Students came into the program with varying levels of enthusiasm for entertainment industry careers. When I interviewed many of my chronically absent and failing students, I found they wanted careers in social work, psychology, and law enforcement. Many of them had been rejected by the larger career academies in the district and had come to us as their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th choice. Further, a rigorous, career-based, competency model can be even more difficult for low-income students to complete. Some researchers have theorized that urban, low-income students are exposed to greater levels of violence in their neighborhoods and grow up with symptoms of PTSD. I concur with this line of reasoning. Dealing with teenagers is always a balancing act. On the first day of state testing, the body of one of our female students was discovered, naked, shoved into a box, and dumped on the side of the freeway. She was 15 years old. The police held a news conference at 7 am in front of our school. Do you think our students found those tests relevant to their lives?


My point is that we should follow Phil’s advice when it comes to Ed Tech. There are no silver bullets. I think Mark Twain said something about lies, damn lies, and education statistics. Often, I see schools and districts making million-dollar decisions based on hope rather than validated outcomes. I’d like to see CBE tested rigorously and in a variety of school settings before it is anointed as the Holy Grail, be all, end all replacement to the Carnegie unit. I am in favor of experimentation in K12 education. I think, as a country, we do far too little of it. I am concerned that ed pols rush headfirst, full of optimism and good intentions, into areas where there is a dearth of empirical evidence, then are surprised when things don’t work out.  Many K12 students lack the work experience and subject matter knowledge to benefit from a competency-based ed program. Let’s take a breath and see how deep the water really is before we all jump in.

SITE 2015 – Research Panel on Professional Development and Teacher Preparation for K-12 Online and Blended Settings

Thanks for summarizing my presentation, Michael.

Virtual School Meanderings

The twenty-second session, and the final one for day three of blogging, at the 2015 annual conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education related to K-12 online learning that I am blogging is:

Research Panel on Professional Development and Teacher Preparation for K-12 Online and Blended Settings

  1. Scott Petri, Los Angeles Unified School District, United States
  2. Keryn Pratt, University of Otago, New Zealand
  3. Susan Poyo, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
  4. Kathy McVey, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
  5. Mary Lucille Smith, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States

Thursday, March 5 4:15-5:15 PM in Amazon HView on map

<Presentation: Paper #44226>
Amazon H Thursday, Mar 05 2015 04:15PM-05:15PM

This panel will bring together leading experts to explore the research related to teaching roles in K-12 online and blended classrooms. Scott Petri will discuss how MOOCs can be used as a mechanism for providing professional development…

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Online Teacher PD

Title II funding has resulted in the allocation of more than three billion dollars to professional development (Darling-Hammond et al, 2009). More than 40 states have adopted standards calling for effective professional development. Yet, as a nation, we have failed to leverage these examples to ensure that every educator and every student benefits from highly effective professional learning.

PD in Learning

Blank & Alas (2009) reported that standards-based educational improvement requires teachers to have deep knowledge of their subject and the pedagogy that is most effective for teaching the subject. School districts spend the equivalent of $200/pupil on professional development (Killeen, Monk, & Plecki, 2002). Unfortunately, teachers often view professional development as ineffectual or a waste of their time. Many programs offer “fragmented, intellectually superficial” seminars (Borko, 2004, p 3). Worse, these PDs do not provide ongoing support for implementing new strategies or tools (Barnett, 2002). This makes it difficult for teachers to implement new practices in environments resistant to change.

Dede et al (2005) reviewed 400 articles about online, face-to-face, and hybrid teacher PD programs and found 40 that represented high-quality empirical research. They developed five areas for examining best practices (a) Design, (b) Effectiveness, (c) Technology, (d) Communication, and (e) Methods. These focus areas may provide a framework for evaluating MOOCs as Blended/Online Teacher Professional Development assets.


If you are in Las Vegas, Nevada, please join me at the 2015 SITE Conference at the Rio Hotel. I will be discussing the benefits of leveraging and scaling MOOCs as teacher professional development assets at a research panel on Professional Development and Teacher Preparation for K-12 Online and Blended Settings on Thursday, March 5th, from 4:15-5:15 pm, in room #11.

Also joining me will be:

• Keryn Pratt, University of Otago, New Zealand
• Susan Poyo, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
• Kathy McVey, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
• Mary Lucille Smith, Franciscan University of Steubenville, United States
• Margie Johnson, University of Phoenix, United States
See you in Vegas, baby…

Conducting Classroom Research

I always enjoy experimenting in my classroom. My students understand they are guinea pigs in my education laboratory and they look forward to hearing the results. Earlier this year we looked at the value of note-taking. Specifically, does the act of taking notes on a lecture increase student content knowledge as measured by a standardized test? I thought there would be an increase, but I didn’t know how measurable it would be.

I randomly spilt the class into four groups. Each group listened to a 15-minute audio lecture about Early Christianity and then they each took the same multiple-choice test. There were limits placed on each group. Group A was not allowed to take notes of any kind, they were only allowed to listen to the lecture. Group B was allowed to take notes, but they were not allowed to use the notes on the test. Group C was allowed to take notes and use their notes on the test. Group D was allowed to take notes, use them on the test, and they were also given a transcript of the lecture.


With this population of students (N=184), the average score on the test was 71%, which was 10.7 questions correct out of 15 questions. Group A, not surprisingly had the lowest scores, with an average of 4.5 correct questions. Group B had an average of 9.8 correct questions. The results for Group C were surprising in that the students who were allowed to use their notes only scored an average of 10.5 questions correct. Finally, Group D scored an average of 12.1 questions correct. All groups had the same amount of time to complete the test.

This experiment allowed me to show my students that taking notes during an audio lecture results in an additional five correct questions on the test. It was interesting to note that there was not a large difference in scores when comparing the students who were not allowed to use their notes on the test to the students who were allowed to use their notes. It appears that the act of taking notes is enough to activate the brain in remembering content and referring to those notes may not have as significant advantages as previously assumed.

This semester, I am conducting an experiment that examines the effects of increasing the amount of student-led classroom discussion. Students receive content instruction via online lectures that they view for homework. This frees up class time for Socratic circles. The goal of these discussions is for students to arrive at a greater understanding of the material, not to assess who has viewed or understood the lectures.


Unfortuantely, my 9th grade classes are very large.  An average of 39.6 students in my five classes result in a (N=198) sample. I arrange the class into two large circles, an inner circle and an outer circle. Each circle is given eight concepts to copy off the board. These are the primary points in the lectures. Students are allowed to use the notes they have taken at home and encouraged to add information during the discussion.

A student is chosen to “host” the discussion. They pose open-ended questions to the inner circle for 15 minutes and the outer circle for 15 minutes. At the conclusion of both sessions, students need to free write for ten minutes about what they learned from the discussion. During the conversations, I am charting the flow and noting how many contributions each student makes. I code positive comments with a plus (+) and negative or low value comments with a minus (-). After three days of observations, I categorized students into two groups “High Talkers” and “Low Talkers”. The research questions for this experiment are: (a) Do class discussions increase student content knowledge? (b) What are the effects of class discussions on (high talkers) students who actively participate in the discussions? (c) What are the effects of class discussions on (low talkers) students who minimally participate in the discussions?

I have a series of multiple-choice, short answer, and essay tests that I will be delivering to my students. I look forward to sharing the results.

Online Consortia: Course Sharing (Part of a Series)

High quality insights from Dr. Keith Hampson on the conflicts unfolding while Universities debate how to increase capacity in online education. It is interesting to note that while UC seems to be reducing the number of online courses they offer, Forbes recently estimated the market for online education at $1.07B per year. Publicly-funded organizations cannot afford to sit by while private companies build superior positions. and crowd out innovation. Thanks to @PhilonEdTech for bringing this post to my attention.

Higher Ed Management


We heard a couple of months back about Unizin launching a consortium of large state universities to share course content, content systems, and analytics. More recently we learnt about UC Online Education‘s decision to slow down its already tepid push into a system-wide collaboration to offer online courses. These initiatives join a long list of efforts to expand online education by sharing resources across institutions.

The logic of building collaborations is infallible: joining forces can potentially bring down costs, reduce risk, access to better resources, stimulate innovation, ward off competition, and more. But there are more a few failed efforts to ward off any naive assumptions that academic collaborations — particularly those that concern shared courses — are fool proof. There are more than 50 consortia in North America and almost as many types of consortia. There are right ways to do it, and wrong ways.

Having had a…

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Jewish Journal Remembers Joel Rothblatt

I have been going back to school with a heavy heart since the loss of my UCLA classmate and colleague, Joel Rothblatt. Joel’s smile and optimism are sorely missed as our district has launched a multi-million dollar student information system that doesn’t work. Instead of kvetching, Joel would be shaking hands with each student, building strong relationships, and getting the school year off to a great start. You are sorely missed, buddy. Sorry for the bad photo, I hope to upload a better scan later in the week.

Rothblatt Jewish Journal

Honoring Joel Rothblatt

Joel Rothblatt, a UCLA colleague and close friend, suffered an inter-cranial brain hemorrhage and passed away on July 21, 2014. Joel was a popular, award-winning Social Studies teacher in LAUSD middle and high schools. He had worked for LAUSD since 2003 at Emerson Middle School, RFK’s High School for the Visual Arts and Humanities, and most recently at the Orville Wright STEAM Magnet.


Mr. Rothblatt held a BA in Political Science from UCLA, a MA in International Finance from Tufts University, and a MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Joel was bilingual in Spanish and became a National Board Certified teacher in Social Studies. Joel had written curriculum for the World History For Us All program at San Diego State University and served as a mentor to student teachers in USC-CALIS.

Joel served as President of the Southern California Social Science Association (SCSSA), was a highly respected Board member of the California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS), and was active in the instructional community for the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) as well. Under his leadership, the SCSSA developed a professional development model called iCircles, where small groups of teachers could share lessons and technology tips. Joel was very social and collegial. He was a teacher’s teacher who was very popular and praised by students. He loved sharing ideas and presented Best Practices seminars at numerous Social Studies conferences.

When his family learned that he would not recover, they elected to donate Joel’s organs to transplant patients. The only other positive from this tragic event was that it was so sudden there was no pain and suffering. Joel is survived by his three children, Dasha, Wyndam, and Max Rothblatt, his brother Steven, and his parents Don and Ann Rothblatt of Palo Alto, California.


The SCSSA is collecting memories of Joel to present to his family in a remembrance book. If you have any thoughts to share with his family and friends, please email it to scottmpetri@gmail.com. A collection of Joel’s classroom materials will be auctioned with proceeds to go into a scholarship fund to benefit Joel’s children.