Forests contain much, much more than meets the eye, writes Peter Wohlleben in his groundbreaking book The Hidden Life of Trees. Within the roots of trees are active brain-like processes, and trees are capable of communication and learning. A forester himself, Peter Wohlleben tells host Steve Curwood about the unseen and unsung connections between trees, and how humans can better care for them.
Every school day since 2009 we’ve asked students a question based on an article in The New York Times. Now, five years later, we’ve collected 500 of them that invite narrative and personal writing and pulled them all together in one place. Consider it a companion to the list of 200 argumentative writing prompts we posted earlier this year.
The categorized list below touches on everything from sports to travel, education, gender roles, video games, fashion, family, pop culture, social media and more, and, like all our Student Opinion questions, each links to a related Times article and includes a series of follow-up questions. What’s more, all these questions are still open for comment by any student 13 or older.
So dive into this admittedly overwhelming list and pick the questions that most inspire you to tell an interesting story, describe a memorable event, observe the details in your world, imagine a possibility, or reflect on who you are and what you believe.
This week an online article grabbed my attention. Its title read “94 Percent of High School Students Using Cellphones in Class.” I immediately scoped out the heading and thought to myself, “Finally, teachers are beginning to embrace the powerful little gadgets.” However, it did not take me long to realize the researched article took quite a different slant.
One quotation in particular caused serious professional introspection on my behalf. The article quotes the researchers as stating, “‘The potential damage stemming from heightened cell phone use during class casts a pall on the entire educational system, on the school atmosphere, on the educational achievements of the class, on the pupil’s own learning experience and on the teacher’s burnout having to cope with discipline problems in class.’”
I understand the tougher task of using regular cell phones in class versus internet ready smartphones, however , I could not disagree more with the above quotation. Although there is no doubt the very same scenarios mentioned in the above article are occurring in various classrooms around the globe, I now encourage all students to bring their cellphones or smartphones to class. Just a few years prior, my colleagues and I were struggling mightily with how to integrate the crafty handheld tools.
A blessed trip to the ISTE 2011 conference in Philadelphia helped me devise a BYOD classroom management plan and opened my eyes to the infinite educational potential of smartphones in the classroom.
It has been a hot topic among teachers for many years – should mobile technology be used in the classroom? It used to be a rule that mobile phones must be switched off to avoid distractions, however increasingly mobile technology is being embraced by schools as part of the learning process. To an extent the student is in charge of their own learning, gathering information from many different sources, not just traditional teaching methods. And there are many ways teaching professionals are now using mobile technology to inspire learners:
These days, nearly everyone has a mobile phone or smartphone device. As a society, we have become dependant on these gadgets, to the point where it can be challenging to function without having access to a world of information – from transit schedules, to news, to weather or stock market updates – literally at our fingertips. However, as technology like slideshows and multimedia presentations become common fixtures in the classrooms, there remains a reluctance to embrace “social” media in the learning space. Instead, many instructors view mobile devices as potential distractions in the classroom that can serve to disengage students from the material at hand (Froese, Carpenter et al., 2012). In this article, I seek to challenge this paradigm concerning cellphone use in the classroom setting by proposing ways in which students can use their mobile devices to enhance the learning process by engaging with course material through innovative mediums. Through a review of the literature and research into emerging technologies, I will explain how smartphones can be used as an innovative tool to promote collaboration, enhance creativity, and improve communication in the classroom.
Ken Halla knows a thing or two about using technology in the classroom.
For the past 5 years, the 22-year teaching veteran has worked to transition his ninth-grade World History and AP Government classrooms into a mobile device-friendly environment where students can incorporate the latest technology into the learning process. Along the way, Halla created three of the most used education blogs in the country—“World History Teachers Blog,” “US Government Teachers Blog,” and “US History Teachers Blog”—to help fellow humanities teachers incorporate more technology and more device-based learning into their own classrooms.
Americans did not always come out of college with crushing debt. Now, many do. Student loan borrowers have doubled in the last 10 years to 42 million people. And student loan debt has exploded from $240 billion to $1.3 trillion. Borrowers talk about “debt slavery.” But a lot of money has been made on that debt. A new investigative report asks: “Who got rich off the student debt crisis?” This hour On Point, the story behind America’s ocean of student debt. — Tom Ashbrook
If anything ever published on The Learning Network could be said to have “gone viral,” it is last February’s “200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing,” which we created to help teachers and students participate in our inaugural Student Editorial Contest.
We’ve now updated last year’s list with new questions and what we hope is more useful categorization.
So scroll through the 301 prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from politics to sports, culture, education and technology — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily Student Opinion feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information.
What issues do you care about most? Find something to write about here, or post a comment if you think we’ve missed a topic you would like to see us cover.
And if these 301 questions aren’t enough, the Room for Debate blog provides many, many more.
We were exploring how to make metacognitive thinking more visible for our students, keeping it aligned with our mandate to keep thinking and learning visible, transparent, tangible, critiqueable and accountable within learning spaces.
"Politiken has taken the extraordinary step of asking 28 leading newspapers from the (still) 28 EU countries to let one of their cartoonists solve this task: Give us your interpretation of the European Community at this moment — and in the light of Brexit. • Politiken has launched this pan-European media initiative in order to demonstrate the kind of community, solidarity and cooperation that EU leaders find it difficult to maintain and develop at the moment. Politiken’s design editor, Søren Nyeland, has encouraged cartoonists across the continent to contribute to this collective work, which is now being published all over Europe. • A special print edition will be distributed in Brussels and at the summit in Bratislava where EU leaders are set to discuss the future of the union on September 16th."
Over the next three years, Visitacion Valley’s suspensions dropped by 79 percent, attendance rose to 98 percent, and students’ grade point averages rose each year. Of even greater interest, the increase in G.P.A. for the lowest performing demographic was double that for the overall student group.
Anecdotally, favorable feedback poured in from both students and staff members. One seventh grader at Visitacion Valley said, “I used to be really fidgety, couldn’t stay in my seat for very long. Now, after meditating, I can sit down for a whole class without standing up.” Barry O’Driscoll, the school’s director of physical education for the past 14 years, said, “In the first seven years of my tenure, the school was dominated by stress and fighting.” But in the last few years, he said, “we have had very few fights.”
One other middle school and two high schools in the Bay Area adopted the program. And a 2015 review of the program, issued by the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District research department, had more good news.
The results of 17 studies conducted to date in the Bay Area, varying in duration from three months to one year, showed benefits across parameters including reduced stress, increased emotional intelligence, reduced suspensions, increased attendance and increased academic performance.
In continuation of last week’s article, Part 1: 44 Smart Ways to Use Smartphones in Class, here is a new list of thirty-six additional ideas to help leverage the power of these tech gadgets in the learning environment. In this blog post, I have attempted to avoid any redundancies, and I sincerely hope my endeavors were successful. Please join me in helping educators everywhere creatively use smartphones by contributing any overlooked uses and supportive responses via this survey. The shared comments can easily be assessed by clicking this link.
Are your students more interested in checking Facebook or playing Candy Crush than the material you’re covering? While mobile devices have long been verboten in the college classroom, if students are prioritizing time killers over learning, the problem may not really be the phone. After all, if students aren’t interested, they don’t need a phone to be distracted (yesterday’s students certainly found ways to escape, too, whether through pencil and paper, a window with a view, or communicating with classmates). Ultimately, distraction itself is nothing new, mobile devices are just the latest way students use to escape a course they don’t find interesting.
Your enemy as an instructor isn’t mobile phones: it’s distraction itself. Instead of taking an oppositional view to any and all cell phone use in the classroom, there are many ways to embrace technology that can get distracted students engaged and teach them how to transform their mobile devices into tools they can use in the classroom and later on in the workplace, an approach that can have the dual benefit of helping students learn to manage distractions while also covering the material required by your course.
Cell phones have had a checkered past in schools. When students first started bringing them to class, educators were fairly united in their opposition to the devices on grounds that they were a distraction and a means for easy cheating.
But thanks to an exponential increase in ubiquity and computing capacity, today’s smartphones make BYOD a feasible answer to many of the challenges that 1:1 programs face. They offer endless possibilities for higher engagement, enhancement of student understanding and extension of learning beyond the classroom, particularly if a student doesn’t have internet at home or attends a school where 1:1 is not an option. Smartphones also provide an easy way for teachers to “facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity” while increasing motivation, as espoused by the ISTE Standards for Teachers.
Best of all, research shows that when students are engaged in their learning — and they’re almost always engaged with their phones when given a choice — they are less likely to succumb to distractions. The goal is to give students ways to use this beloved technology to learn, collaborate, share and create in meaningful ways.
Here are six ways to use students’ smartphones that are sure to engage and inspire:
Moving From Lecture to Learning remains at the top for another week. This post is essential for innovative educators looking forward to #backtoschool strategies that go beyond the lecture. Also at the top is a topic on every teacher’s mind as they prepare for #backtoschool. Classroom set up and design. This post looks at what various classroom designs are inviting students to do.
Moving up this week is a post that looks beyond students getting the right answers and onto how they can ask better questions.
Making it's way to the top for the first time is an ethical response guide for educators whose students request their friendship on Facebook.
Also at the top is a post that asks teachers to consider if the professional development they provide or attend contains the five qualities that are necessary for success. Check out that post to see what those qualities are.
Rounding out the top is a post that provides strategies to get to the thinking faster with alternatives to note taking.
If any of these posts are of interest, check em out and share with others using the buttons below on Twitter, Facebook, email or whichever platform you like best.
"The brain looks like a featureless expanse of folds and bulges, but it’s actually carved up into invisible territories. Each is specialized: Some groups of neurons become active when we recognize faces, others when we read, others when we raise our hands. • On Wednesday, in what many experts are calling a milestone in neuroscience, researchers published a spectacular new map of the brain, detailing nearly 100 previously unknown regions — an unprecedented glimpse into the machinery of the human mind. • Scientists will rely on this guide as they attempt to understand virtually every aspect of the brain, from how it develops in children and ages over decades, to how it can be corrupted by diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. • 'It’s a step towards understanding why we’re we,' said David Kleinfeld, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research."
Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig makes the case that our democracy has become corrupt with money, leading to inequality that means only 0.02% of the United States population actually determines who's in power. Lessig says that this fundamental breakdown of the democratic system must be fixed before we will ever be able to address major challenges like climate change, social security, and student debt. This is not the most important problem, it's just the first problem.
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress—and a Plan to Stop It, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Free Culture, and Remix.
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