Preschool Math Activities

It is possible to nurture young minds by making them to go through mathematical activities at a very young age. By exposing the little minds to various activities like counting, number sequencing and patterns, it is possible to train up their minds. There are various kinds of activities and they should be chosen as per the age groups. If you go through online, you can access free as well as premium sites which offer preschool math activities.

Preschool Math Activitie

How to make the most from the activities?

It is possible to make the most from preschool math activities by exposing the little minds in a systematic way. They should not be overburdened by dumping too many exercises and making them to go through lessons which are beyond their capacity. All the activities should create interest in them. They should have fun with and every activity. If you include everyday aspects in these activities, it is very easy to grasp the concept. The child will be immersed in these activities automatically when you give proper direction and encouragement.

Examples

Some of the everyday examples are ‘counting of stairs’ at home or school. The ingredients that are used in the cooking process can be counted. You can ask the child to prepare groups of various kinds of items of play. Children can remember various kinds of shapes like circles, rectangles, squares and triangles and they will also be able to form a shape by joining various items together.

Methodologies

It is true that the ways math are taught today are completely different from yesteryears. There are drastic changes and children have ample opportunities to explore the real world in the way it is present. Instead of teaching only one way to solve mathematical puzzles, children are encouraged to explore new ways in an open way.

The role of teacher or trainer in delivering the right kind of education is very high. If the teacher is aware of the multiple ways through which a mathematical problem can be resolved, he will encourage students to come with various solutions. The teacher should be resourceful and willing to learn and implement new strategies so that the learning process will be more intuitive. If you ask a child about the way he got the answer to a particular mathematical issue, you will understand his or her way of thinking. Instead of teaching solutions, it is required to show the way to reach those solutions. When a proper platform is created to bring out the best present in children, it is possible to teach complex math in simple ways.

When the child’s mind is molded in a proper way, the child will be able to learn the basics in an appropriate way. The child should have lots of mathematical materials such as beads and blocks. They should be encouraged to use their fingers and the body to begin the counting journey. The physical surroundings should be treated in such a way so that an interesting atmosphere is created to learn mathematics subconsciously.

Enriching and Entertaining Preschool Math Activities

Mathematics make a sense of the physical world the children live in and hence preschool math activities make a strong case for their future learning abilities and reasoning. In all normal children, there is strong desire to calculate in their crude ways as well as reason out with objects and odd tools. These children even try to make their calculations while ascertaining distances, sizes and amount of a particular item or things. Many children count the number of stairs they have to climb while at home or school. Besides, they create their own shapes of things by selecting similar objects and place them next to the other. Even in their childhood fancies and little aspirations, they bring out numbers or their additions and subtractions with totally different ideas and their own unique out of the box techniques.

Preschool Math Activities

This is the time to explore their individual creativity and little guidance can go a long way in getting them to make headway into exploring the more entertaining and complex arrangement of numbers and the sizes and amount of different boxes and toys. In the modern world, there has been a paradigm shift in the presentation and evaluation of mathematical inclinations among children and this has brought in a new perspective into the preschool math activities of the children.

Benefitting from a strong start

Children nowadays have more attractive things and wider range of items to explore than was available in ancient days and it is here preschool math activities can benefit them. Teachers and parents can make the best out of the circumstances and encourage them to do their own calculations and arithmetic so as to bring out the best potential from them. Once they get this base they would undoubtedly generate more interest and start learning more of the formal math in the future.

Again, the new ways of learning math have become even more varied with possibilities of solution in several different ways and methods. For children this would be better as they would be explore these new ways and teachers can on their part make them more receptive to ideas and problem solving methods. Sometimes, even asking a few gentle questions like ‘how did you get that answer’ or ‘how did you manage it’ can make their learning even more challenging and enriching.

There are toys and tools that experience the cognitive abilities of children by giving them a run with their imagination as well meaningfully convey an understanding that would enable them to make out solutions on their own. It is usually seen that children start to wonder and grasp math in the age period of 1 & 2. Again, studies have revealed that children of 3 years start to enjoy and explore patterns and shapes as well as matching them while by 4 years they learn the early stages of geometry and counting during their preschool math activities.

Encouragement

Children if helped in their preschool math activities develop better mathematical skills than those who do not. Make sure you too engage your child in preschool math activities daily.

What do you say to a friend who has just lost a child? | Hadley Freeman

I used to think of babies dying as something the Victorians had to endure, not us. If only

What do you say to a friend who has just lost a child? I should know by now

I used to think of babies dying as something the Victorians had to endure, not us. If only

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/feb/17/bereaved-friends-hadley-freeman

Why Early Childhood Educators are Underpaid

There’s not a strong understanding among both the public and policymakers that working with young children is highly skilled work. A lot of people unfortunately still view it as babysitting and don’t understand that it takes a specialized education and sk

Parkland Students to President Trump: Stay Far Away From Us

PARKLAND, FloridaTwo days after enduring a horrific school shooting, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and parents of the victims have one request for President Donald Trump: stay away.

"In my opinion I do not want Trump here at all," Ameer Hussain, a 15-year-old freshman at the school told The Daily Beast.

Trump is scheduled to be at his resort in Mar-a-Lago this weekend. And reports on Friday said that he would be paying a visit to Parkland, Floridathe site of the shooting that claimed 17 lives on Wednesday while wounding 15 othersto, in his words, "meet with some of the bravest people on earth."

Its common for presidents to visit the sites of national tragedies and, while there, meet with the affected. But Trump is neither a conventional president nor one whom many people here particularly want to see.

Hussain imagined that Trump would use this event to make himself look better politically.

"It's not meaningful, he added. He's the president and he should be speaking on what he's going to do to make it better for next time. My friend group, Hispanic kids, black kids, they're not caring for this at all. My dad is of the same idea."

Another student who participated in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) with Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, but asked that he not be named, said most kids and people in town agree that Trump should not swing through.

"One big reason people don't want him here was his speech yesterday and tweet of his," the student said. "Apparently [the president] said it was the kid's responsibility to report Nikolas Cruz so in a way it was our fault. A lot of people aren't happy about his visit."

Emotions remain raw among students in Parkland, especially after President Trump tweeted on Thursday that Neighbors and classmates knew [Cruz] was a big problem" and that, in such cases, people Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!

The missive left several students at the school livid, with some angirly responding to the president with tweets of their own.

"How is this our fault?" one student said on Twitter on Friday. "We cant even vote and when we say something its usually pushed aside. Dont you dare say that it is our fault, unless you were there, unless you tried your best you have no right to tell anyone what to believe."

The FBI did receive a tip about Cruz in January, but failed to transmit the warning to its Miami field office.

On Thursday, Trump made his first public statement on the shooting, saying that his administration was committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.

It is unclear how far Trumps outreach to the Parkland community has or will progress beyond that. No parent or students who spoke to The Daily Beast said they had heard about Trump reaching out to bereaved families. The Trump White House, meanwhile, has yet to confirm any details related to a potential trip or meetings with survivors and their families.

Were still working on that, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told The Daily Beast Friday afternoon when asked if Trump is meeting with mass shooting survivors or their family members in Florida. The White House also would not confirm to The Daily Beast if the president had already called any of them, yet.

I cant believe that pig is coming down here," said Kylan Reynolds, 23, a graduate of Florida Atlantic University in South Florida. The man is a coward.

Not everyone is demanding that Trump stay away, however. Some, like Nikhita Nookala, a 17-year-old senior at the school, are eager for him to come to Parkland so that he can, in her words, "learn a lesson."

"If Trump comes down I think it's important that he shows us he's with us," Nookala said to The Daily Beast. "I think the death of 17 people should encourage the president to consider [gun] restrictions There's been too many school shootings and we don't need kids to die before they go to college. "

She said that for the president to come down and not take any direct action to limit guns in the country would be "hypocritical."

"By action I mean urging legislators to stop listening to interest groups like the NRA and stop considering the rights of people to keep guns as a hobby over the lives of kids who just want to go to college and get a job and be Americans," she said.

Amos Fernandes, whose daughter is a junior who survived the shooting, also feared that Trump would exploit the tragedy with a visit. But he also imagined that a such a trip could provide piece of mind.

"I think right now, people really really don't want to see him here. But we need to show him that everybody is angry. It's crazy," Fernandes said. "I am so angry and a lot of parents are angry like myself. The whole city is angry."

Fernandes, who lived in Connecticut during the Sandy Hook school shooting, said he was outraged that Congress had done nothing to restrict gun ownership.

"These politicians like Trump are getting paid, and while they're getting paid people are getting killed," he said.

Fernandes' daughter, 16-year-old Kathlyn, said that if Trump does make the trip to Parkland, she hopes it will change his mind about gun control.

"What happened at my school could have been prevented if he had supported gun control," she said. "It makes me feel bad he hasn't done anything. At the end of the day, if you're 18 you shouldn't be able to buy a gun."

One of my former students, shes a junior at the high school went to therapy today, she told me I dont think I will get the memory of gunshots and people screaming out of my head, said Catherine Kuhns, who was standing with fellow protesters calling for common sense gun reform two days after the shooting.

I dont understand why in the State of Florida, you can get an assault rifle at 18 but have to be at least 21 to purchase a handgun. Its just absurd," said Kuhns, who has been teaching since 1975 and at Country Hills Elementary since 1992. In 1998, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from President Bill Clinton.

She added: "We will be back on this corner protestingtomorrowstarting at9 amhoping to gather a crowd and hoping President Donald Trump travels past our pathtomorrow.

White House officials have undoubtedly become aware of how fraught a potential swing through Parkland would be. Trump has had mixed results in similar situations before. He did pay a visit to Las Vegas following the massacre of 58 people in October and called the shooting an act of pure evil," but that event was far less politicized. Earlier last year in August, the president botched his response to Charlottesville when he failed to condemn white supremacist James Fields, who drove a car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer.

Several senior Trump aides expressed concern to The Daily Beast that Trump could potentially find himself in a situation in Parkland where he is trapped with grieving parents or students who harangue him about his administrations position on guns, creating horrible optics and more negative press for the president. The same officials also voiced worry that the presidents response to such a situation could potentially make the situation on the ground worse, unintentionally. Asked for an explanation, one White House official referenced the incident when President Trump ended up making a widow cry when he meant to comfort her.

The fact that Cruz wore a pro-Trump "Make America Great Again" hat while making racist remarks to his fellow classmates makes a visit all the more complicated.

Still, some allies of the president publicly maintain that he could indeed rise to the occasion.

Weve had many presidents in the past who have gotten into emotional exchanges with distraught parents and siblings and others in times of, for example, returning the remains of someone who died in warThis challenge is not something unique to the Trump presidency, Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign adviser, told The Daily Beast. I know President Trump well enough to know that in a situation where hes met with an emotional response, he canrespond appropriately.

Hes a compassionate person, Caputo added.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/parkland-students-to-president-trump-stay-far-away-from-us

4 Sensory Snow Activities to Try

Nature’s unlimited school supply!

MITs new chip could bring neural nets to battery-powered gadgets

MIT researchers have developed a chip designed to speed up the hard work of running neural networks, while also reducing the power consumed when doing so dramatically – by up to 95 percent, in fact. The basic concept involves simplifying the chip design so that shuttling of data between different processors on the same chip is taken out of the equation.

The big advantage of this new method, developed by a team led by MIT graduate student Avishek Biswas, is that it could potentially be used to run neural networks on smartphones, household devices and other portable gadgets, rather than requiring servers drawing constant power from the grid.

Why is that important? Because it means that phones of the future using this chip could do things like advanced speech and face recognition using neural nets and deep learning locally, rather than requiring more crude, rule-based algorithms, or routing information to the cloud and back to interpret results.

Computing ‘at the edge,’ as its called, or at the site of sensors actually gathering the data, is increasingly something companies are pursuing and implementing, so this new chip design method could have a big impact on that growing opportunity should it become commercialized.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/14/mits-new-chip-could-bring-neural-nets-to-battery-powered-gadgets/

Petition Asks Marvel To Give 25 Percent Of ‘Black Panther’ Profits To Black Communities

A Change.org petition is calling on Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company to invest 25 percent of the profits for the hot new film “Black Panther” into the black community.

Created by a user named Chaz Gormley, the petition’s description said that Marvel and Walt Disney Co. have “targeted the black community with their advertisements” for the film.

“Through a clever, well-manufactured marketing campaign Marvel Studios and their parent company The Walt Disney Company have targeted the Black community with their advertisements for the upcoming ‘Black Panther’ film, due to release on February 16, 2018. As marginalized groups have become more vocal, corporations and their savvy public relations departments have turned to catering to these groups – to turn a profit – and this film by Marvel Studios is no different,” the petition reads. 

Changeorg

Gormley goes on to say that while it is a “symbolic victory” to see a major studio film with a majority black cast, black director and art direction helmed by black artists, this achievement doesn’t gain anything for the black community. He cites that Marvel’s marketing campaign has targeted black customers specifically by releasing the film during Black History Month and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”playing in the background of the film’s initial trailer.

Dave J Hogan via Getty Images
The cast of the “Black Panther” movie.

The petition asks that the studios stop simply asking for money from black customers with a film like this, but rather put their money where their mouth is and agree to set aside 25 percent of their worldwide profit “to be allocated for investment in black communities, and in programs within these communities that focus on S.T.E.M.”

“We cannot continue to recklessly support these conglomerates, allowing them to profit off of us without demanding something more than just their products in return,” Gormley writes. “We have the ability to change the conditions our communities and us as a people face, by leveraging the strongest resources we have: our strength in numbers, and our combined ‘spending power.’”

Additionally, the petition states that those who sign are “taking a stand” and refuse to see the film unless Marvel and Walt Disney Co. agree to these demands.

“You have the ability to not only be entertained, but to leave the theater in February knowing that a portion of your money will be coming back into your community,” Gormley wrote.

“To not only go see a film about a fictitious country in Africa with advanced technology, but the opportunity to invest in programs which focus on the fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – that make such advancements possible, in real life.”

The petition currently has over 600 signatures and many have remarked on what it’s asking for on Twitter and YouTube: 

Marvel and Walt Disney Co. did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the petition, which is asking supporters to use the #BreakBreadMarvel/#BreakBreadDisney hashtags.

Gormley also writes at the end of his petition description that while you could go to the theater and make “wealthy companies even wealthier,” it’s crucial to understand this:

“The revolution will not be televised, because the revolution is here – the revolution is in the people.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/petition-asks-marvel-to-give-25-of-black-panther-profits-to-black-communities_us_5a7db622e4b044b3821ca5fb

Worldwide Threats Briefing: 5 Takeaways, From Russia to China

On Tuesday, the heads of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and ODNI—America's intelligence community brain trust—gathered before members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss various worldwide threats. And while most of the topics were familiar, the hearing also included a few revelatory moments, insights into fears that were either detailed or confirmed.

The following doesn't comprise every single morsel shared by NSA chief Mike Rogers, CIA head Mike Pompeo, FBI director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday. But it does take a closer look at what keeps US intelligence agencies up at night—and what they're doing about it.

Russia's Not Done Meddling in the US

Coats made clear from the beginning of the hearing that the chaos Russia created during the 2016 election was only the beginning. “Persistent and disruptive cyber operations will continue against the United States and our European allies, using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, sew discord, and undermine our values,” DNI Coats said during his opening remarks.

"There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful, and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."

'There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful.'

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence

His intelligence community colleagues, and members of Congress, clearly agreed with that assessment. It's less clear, though, what the country has actually done to mitigate those threats. Asked by senator Kamala Harris whether the intelligence community has any written policy laying out whose responsibility it is to handle the abuse of social media by foreign adversaries, Coats said he was unsure, and would need to get back to her.

Both Coats and Wray agreed social media companies have been increasingly cooperative with intelligence, but senator Warner expressed skepticism that companies like Facebook and Twitter can adequately police themselves. “I think the companies are slow to recognize this threat,” Warner said. “I don’t believe we have a full plan.”

Despite the unanimous agreement by the intelligence officials that Russian interference would continue to be a threat in the 2018 and 2020 elections, senators repeatedly noted that President Trump has made no such acknowledgement. Instead, Trump has often conflated the issues of Russian interference with the investigation into his own campaign’s possible coordination with Russian actors.

“I wish you could persuade the president as a matter of national security to separate these two issues,” said senator Angus King from Maine. “We cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, with a whole of government response when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists.”

Russia's Not Done Attacking Ukraine Either

Although not included in his oral testimony, Coats also provided a written “Global Threat Assessment” to Congress. In it, the intelligence community ticks off expected digital threats from North Korean theft to Chinese hacking of defense contractors to Iranian disruptive attacks against Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The document is clear that Russia has been laying the groundwork for similar attacks on American infrastructure, and isn’t stopping now.

Perhaps most disturbing among those is a warning that Russia will continue to escalate its attacks on Ukraine, where it’s been testing critical infrastructure hacking technique that have included the first-ever hacker-induced blackouts. “We expect that Russia will conduct bolder and more disruptive cyber operations during the next year, most likely using new capabilities against Ukraine,” it reads. “The Russian Government is likely to build on the wide range of operations it is already conducting, including disruption of Ukrainian energy distribution networks, hack-and-leak influence operations, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and false flag operations.”

While that might sound like a faraway Ukrainian problem, the document is clear that Russia has been laying the groundwork for similar attacks on American infrastructure, and isn’t stopping now. “In the next year, Russian intelligence and security services will continue to probe US and allied critical infrastructures,” it reads.

Pompeo Alludes to the CIA's Secret Deterrence Plan

Given repeated testimony that Russia will likely attempt to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections and other upcoming democratic NATO elections around the world, some senators pressed the question of how to deter cyberattacks proactively, and how to respond if and when they occur.

"We've had more than a year to get our act together and address the threat posed by Russia and implement a strategy to deter further attacks," Warner said. "I believe we still don't have a comprehensive plan."

Again, many of the senators noted the disparity between Trump's remarks about the Russian threat and the intelligence community's conclusions.

"Has the president directed you and your agency to take specific actions to confront and blunt Russian influence activities that are ongoing?" asked senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

"We're taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt Russia," Wray answered. But he added when pressed, "Not as specifically directed by the President."

Some senators also expressed frustration that President Trump did not enact sanctions Congress passed against Russia in response to 2016 election meddling. "There are no repercussions," senator King said, noting that the inaction existed during the Obama Administration as well. "We have no doctrine of deterrence. How are we ever going to get them to stop doing this if all we do is patch our software and try to defend ourselves?"

'It's important that the adversary know it; it is not a requirement that the whole world know it.'

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

But Pompeo offered a soft rebuttal, alluding to retaliatory cyberattacks or other clandestine operations. "While I can’t say much in this setting, I would argue that your statement that we have done nothing does not reflect the responses that, frankly, some of us at this table have engaged in and the United States government has engaged in both during and before this administration," Pompeo said. Though observers widely assume that the US participates in "hacking back," it is rare to hear acknowledgement of these campaigns.

Senator King pressed that "deterrence doesn't work unless the other side knows it." To which Pompeo replied, "It's important that the adversary know it; it is not a requirement that the whole world know it."

Chinese Companies—And Students—May Pose a Risk

Senators on both sides of the aisle showed early anxiety over China's role in the world Tuesday. “I’m not sure in the 240-some-odd year history of this nation we’ve ever faced an adversary to have this scale, scope, and capacity,” said senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Both Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Tom Cotton expressed fears over the close relationship between Chinese tech companies like Huawei and the Chinese government. In particular, they expressed concerns that this technology could be used for surveillance purposes. During the hearing, Cotton asked the full panel of intelligence experts to raise their hands if they would recommend consumers use products made by Huawei or ZTE, another Chinese telecom giant. None raised their hands.

This mounting pressure on Capitol Hill is already prompting changes in the private sector. Last month, Verizon reportedly decided it would no longer sell Huawei phones—under pressure from the US government—following AT&T’s decision to also pull out of a deal to sell the Chinese company’s new phone.

In a statement, a Huawei spokesperson said the company is "aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market" and that its technology "poses no greater cybersecurity risk" than any other vendor.1

Rubio’s line of inquiry extended beyond business to the world of academia, asking the FBI director Christopher Wray about the “risk posed to US national security by Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in science and mathematics.” Wray said that the use of “non-traditional collectors” of intelligence is common in academic settings.

“They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment we have, which we all revere, but they’re taking advantage of it,” Wray said. Even if his comments have a kernel of truth, Wray's comments still amount to a sweeping generalization about students from China, one that could complicate an already fraught period in immigration policy in America.

Pompeo Denies Shadow Brokers Negotiations—And Confirms Them

Pompeo also expressed displeasure with a pair of articles last week that described how the US government attempted to negotiate with Russians in an attempt to buy back highly NSA secret documents and hacking tools obtained by an unknown group calling itself the Shadow Brokers. In response to questions from senator Susan Collins, he called media reports from The New York Times and the Intercept “atrocious, ridiculous, totally inaccurate.”

Pompeo flatly denied that the CIA had offered any money to Russian sources, countering the Times and Intercept accounts that those sources were offered $1 million, and received $100,000, in US government funds as an initial payment. “The Central Intelligence Agency did not provide any resources or money to these individuals who proffered government information, directly or indirectly, at any time,” Pompeo said.

But Pompeo’s denial itself contained confirmations of elements of the story. He argued, for instance, that the agency hadn’t sought any of the compromising information, or “kompromat,” about Russian collusion with Donald Trump that the Russian sources had offered unsolicited—exactly as the articles stated. And he reinforced the articles’ central accounts: That the US government had in fact negotiated to achieve the return of the NSA’s secrets. “The information we were working to try to retrieve might well have been stolen from the US government,” Pompeo said. “It was unrelated to to the issue of kompromat that appears in each of those two articles.”

Andy Greenberg, Issie Lapowsky, and Lily Hay Newman contributed to this report.

1Update: 9:12 AM ET 02/14/2017 This story has been updated to include comment from Huawei.

Threat Level

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/worldwide-threats-briefing-russia-election-china/

Times table check trialled ahead of rollout

Image copyright Getty Images

Thousands of eight and nine-year-olds in England’s primary schools will take a new times tables check this spring.

Some 7,250 pupils in 290 primaries, are expected to take part in the trials of the new multiplication check.

The five-minute test, taken by children in Year 4, will then be fully rolled out over the next two years.

Ministers say the test will identify those struggling, but teaching unions have raised concerns about its benefits.

Supporters have argued that it will help to ensure all children know their tables up to 12 off by heart, but opponents say primary school children are already heavily tested.

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said it was “hugely disappointing” that the Department for Education was still determined to bring in a multiplication tables test.

“This test won’t tell teachers and parents anything they don’t already know about their children. Although school results won’t be published, this government test will be scrutinised by Ofsted when they visit and will therefore become even more significant.

“A pupil’s primary school years are already cluttered with tests and checks. We want all children to succeed at school, but the answer isn’t to test them more.”

Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy, said: “While the introduction of this test is underpinned by good intentions, we need to be careful not to knock the joy out of children’s early mathematical experiences or distract schools from building children’s real understanding of numbers.

“Knowing your tables is valuable – we all use them in everyday life – but what is more important is having a real feel for numbers and understanding the patterns behind times tables so children can use the knowledge flexibly in the real world.

“The danger in putting so much emphasis on tables testing – effectively on rote learning – is that it becomes a box-ticking exercise, and hinders the development of practical number sense.”

The former Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has welcomed the times table trial, saying he is sure it will “make a difference”.

“Good head teachers and good teachers never mind youngsters being tested. Nothing is taught unless it’s learnt,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I think there’s a place for rote learning, but any good teacher will say that’s not the beginning and end of it. There has to be a deeper conceptual understanding.”

But the Department for Education said the test would last a maximum of five minutes and would allow teachers to monitor a child’s progress.

Schools can take part in the multiplication check voluntarily in June 2019 and it will be compulsory from 2020.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support.

“This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables off by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential.”

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43046142

My Art Is a Reflection of My Story: National PTA Reflections Student Arts Showcase at ED

Amazon may be developing AI chips for Alexa

The Information has a report this morning that Amazon is working on building AI chips for the Echo, which would allow Alexa to more quickly parse information and get those answers.

Getting those answers much more quickly to the user, even by a few seconds, might seem like a move that’s not wildly important. But for Amazon, a company that relies on capturing a user’s interest in the absolute critical moment to execute on a sale, it seems important enough to drop that response time as close to zero as possible to cultivate the behavior that Amazon can give you the answer you need immediately — especially, in the future, if it’s a product that you’re likely to buy. Amazon, Google and Apple are at the point where users expect technology that works and works quickly, and are probably not as forgiving as they are to other companies relying on problems like image recognition (like, say, Pinterest).

This kind of hardware on the Echo would probably be geared toward inference, taking inbound information (like speech) and executing a ton of calculations really, really quickly to make sense of the incoming information. Some of these problems are often based on a pretty simple problem stemming from a branch of mathematics called linear algebra, but it does require a very large number of calculations, and a good user experience demands they happen very quickly. The promise of making customized chips that work really well for this is that you could make it faster and less power-hungry, though there are a lot of other problems that might come with it. There are a bunch of startups experimenting with ways to do something with this, though what the final product ends up isn’t entirely clear (pretty much everyone is pre-market at this point).

In fact, this makes a lot of sense simply by connecting the dots of what’s already out there. Apple has designed its own customer GPU for the iPhone, and moving those kinds of speech recognition processes directly onto the phone would help it more quickly parse incoming speech, assuming the models are good and they’re sitting on the device. Complex queries — the kinds of long-as-hell sentences you’d say into the Hound app just for kicks — would definitely still require a connection with the cloud to walk through the entire sentence tree to determine what kinds of information the person actually wants. But even then, as the technology improves and becomes more robust, those queries might be even faster and easier.

The Information’s report also suggests that Amazon may be working on AI chips for AWS, which would be geared toward machine training. While this does make sense in theory, I’m not 100 percent sure this is a move that Amazon would throw its full weight behind. My gut says that the wide array of companies working off AWS don’t need some kind of bleeding-edge machine training hardware, and would be fine training models a few times a week or month and get the results that they need. That could probably be done with a cheaper Nvidia card, and wouldn’t have to deal with solving problems that come with hardware like heat dissipation. That being said, it does make sense to dabble in this space a little bit given the interest from other companies, even if nothing comes out of it.

Amazon declined to comment on the story. In the mean time, this seems like something to keep close tabs on as everyone seems to be trying to own the voice interface for smart devices — either in the home or, in the case of the AirPods, maybe even in your ear. Thanks to advances in speech recognition, voice turned out to actually be a real interface for technology in the way that the industry thought it might always be. It just took a while for us to get here.

There’s a pretty big number of startups experimenting in this space (by startup standards) with the promise of creating a new generation of hardware that can handle AI problems faster and more efficiently while potentially consuming less power — or even less space. Companies like Graphcore and Cerebras Systems are based all around the world, with some nearing billion-dollar valuations. A lot of people in the industry refer to this explosion as Compute 2.0, at least if it plays out the way investors are hoping.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/12/amazon-may-be-developing-ai-chips-for-alexa/