Tuesday, November 5, 2019

  

Oklahoma University Sets Up VR Lab for Social Work Students

 Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Enid’s social work department got a major upgrade with the addition of a brand new virtual reality lab that will allow students to ease into the experiences they’ll come to face. All of the students go do a field practicum for 420 hours, but they can’t go until they have the skills. This is a middle ground to give them some practice before they’re out there in it. There are 11 stations in the lab, each with a set of VR goggles, and a pair of controllers for each hand allowing the user to interact with the world wrapped around their eyes. Large, wall-mounted monitors display to the room what the user is seeing and doing. With the $40,000 grant funded lab shows different perspectives to visitors with a variety of experiences. Roller coaster rides, a safari jaunt, and plenty of others for entertainment. Some got to experience a real-life street tour of San Francisco, led by one of the city’s homeless residents. Another puts the wearer behind the eyes of an autistic child at a birthday party, their internal dialog narrated to explain how all the varied action and commotion in the room might effect someone with the condition. Virtual reality is still relatively unproven as a teaching tool, and many schools have yet to invest heavily in it. Though she feels it’s gaining popularity, it’s not yet standard in education. (GovTech

Man born with 9 toes on left foot gets surgery, hopes for first love

A  21-year-old man born with nine toes on his left foot finally had the  four extra digits surgically removed after a lifetime of living with the  deformity. The man said his parents were reluctant to do the surgery when  he was a baby — since a fortune teller claimed the extra toes were “a gift from the heavens.” The  deformity, Polydactyly, is a rare birth defect more common among males.  Though he was able to walk, the native of Lufeng City in South China’s  Guangdong Province, spent his life ashamed to wear sandals. It impacted  his social life and mental health. He said his parents were  superstitious, so they didn’t deal with it. They thought if it really  looked too bad, he could just cover it with my shoes. He sought medical  help at the Shunde Heping Surgical Hospital in the city of Foshan. The  surgery took nine hours and involved heavy reconstruction. He’ll recover  in the hospital for a few more weeks. (New York Post)

A drunk man pleads guilty after he’s caught trying to ‘have sex’ with a pile of leaves

A 26-year-old  was allegedly drunk while high on cannabis and cocaine when he “tried to have sex with a pile of leaves” in a UK hotel parking lot. Premier Inn workers noticed the “acting suspiciously”  in the hotel lot even before he got frisky with the fallen fall  foliage. Workers at the Stockport, England, hotel soon discovered he was  merely “thrusting” into a mound of autumn leaves with his  pants around his ankles — in full view of family diners at a nearby  restaurant. One of the workers shouted “What are you doing, you dirty bastard?”  and he then leapt up, pulled his trousers up and sat in the bushes,  according to one witness statement. Cops were called as the workers  continued yelling at the man, who emerged from the shrubs after about 10  minutes. He gave no explanation for what he was doing, but the workers  was concerned for the hotel guests, including the children staying at  the hotel. The man’s Defense lawyer told the court his client was “mortified”  with no recollection of the unsavory incident. The man pleaded guilty  to pot possession and public indecency. He paid a $158 fine, and has  served eight weeks in jail. (Manchester Evening News)

We could all use some alone time

Solitude  suffers from a bad reputation, particularly in the West. But unlike  loneliness, which is associated with conditions like anxiety and  depression, alone time offers all kinds of benefits, according to a new  report. Carving out time for ourselves can help us with emotional  regulation, reduce burnout, boost our creativity and improve our  relationships with others. The key to healthy alone time? Choosing when  and how we’d like to be on our own. When we opt into solitude, doing  activities we enjoy, we can relax and recharge. (The New York Times)

Effective managers won’t be liked by all, and certainly not all of the time

Some  recent research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests  such positive sentiment can go a long way. The researchers found that a  manager’s likability had a marked effect on how employees ranked them  on other qualities, like authentic, ethical and transformational  leadership. The findings suggest that, while likability isn’t  everything, it would be unwise for leaders to ignore it altogether. (Harvard Business Review)

Despite Common Core and more testing, reading and math scores haven’t budged in a decade

American  students are struggling with reading and the country’s education system  hasn’t found a way to make it better. In fact, fourth and eighth grade  reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress  essentially haven’t budged in 10 years. That’s causing some alarm,  considering the number of reforms aimed at American schools over the  past decade: stronger academic standards, more tests, stricter teacher  evaluations and laws that discourage schools from promoting third  graders if they can’t read proficiently, to name a few. “Reading has just been more or less plateauing, stagnating,”  according to the leader of the assessments division for the National  Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP to a  representative sample of students across the country every two years.  How bad are the new reading scores? Results of the 2019 NAEP, also known  as the Nation’s Report Card, showed elementary and middle school  students:

  • scored worse in reading than they did two years ago,
  • 35%  of fourth graders were proficient in reading in 2019, slightly down  from 37% in 2017 and barely up from 33% of such students considered  proficient a decade ago, in 2009
  • About  34% of eighth graders were proficient in reading this year, a drop from  36% in 2017 and only a tiny bit better than 32% in 2009. 

To  be clear, the national exams set a high bar for proficiency – higher  than most state achievement tests. But they’re the only consistent  measure of how students nationwide are doing in core subjects over time.  Are national math scores any better? In the short term, not really, but over 27 years, they’ve improved more than reading scores:

  • About  41% of fourth graders and 34% of eighth graders scored proficient in  math in 2019. That’s not significantly different from 2017.
  • Math scores are also about the same as a decade ago.
  • Since  1990, students at both grade levels have improved in math: Fourth  graders this year scored 27 points higher on the 300-point exam compared  with their peers in 1990. Eighth grade students posted an average score  that was 19 points higher than in 1990.

Some good news out of the testing:

  • Washington,  D.C., students showed big gains in fourth grade reading and eighth  grade math. In fact, D.C. Public Schools was the only large district to  show test-score gains in three of the four assessments since 2017,
  • Mississippi was the only other state to improve in fourth grade reading since 2017,
  • Detroit’s public schools pulled out a big win in fourth grade math: Students scored 6 points higher there than in 2017,
  • Boys, Hispanic students and English language learners also improved in fourth grade math over the past two years.

(USA Today)

A Florida teen has been arrested and accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill a staff member at his high school

Authorities  said the 18-year-old student at Fivay High School in Hudson, Florida,  was charged with solicitation to commit murder, according to the Pasco  County Sheriff’s Office. “No joke, I need him eliminated as soon as possible,”  he was accused of saying. Investigators obtained a search warrant for  the Instagram account and traced the IP address to his home. When  interviewed by detectives, he admitted to sending the messages as a joke  and handed over the phone he used. A sheriff spokesman said “It  doesn’t matter if someone says I was joking, it doesn’t matter what  their intent is. When you do it, when you post it out there on social  media, you’ve committed that crime” Pasco County Schools Superintendent said the district takes such threats seriously. “This young man has quite honestly ruined his life by a simple threat on social media,” he continued. The student was arrested for solicitation of murder.  (Fox 13)

Two’fer Tuesday Keeps Things Shakin’ With:

  • Firewood Day
  • National Medical Cannabis Day
  • National Love Your Red Hair Day
  • Play Monopoly Day
  • World Tsunami Awareness Day
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