"Because I’ve worked as an aerospace engineer and later as a teacher through Teach for America—this is my second year of teaching 11th grade math and robotics at Sierra High School in Colorado Springs—I find the public perception of both careers to be fascinating. When I tell people that I worked on the design of a NASA spacecraft, their mouths drop and their eyes pop, and their minds are no doubt filled with images of men in white lab coats running between rocket engines and blackboards filled with equations of untold complexity. Most people will give aerospace engineers tremendous respect, without having any idea what they actually do.
"But no one can fully understand how difficult teaching in America’s highest-need communities is until he or she personally experiences it. When I solved engineering problems, I had to use my brain. When I solve teaching problems, I use my entire being—everything I have. A typical engineering task involves sending an email to a colleague about a potential design solution. A typical teacher task involves explaining for the fourth time how to get the variable out of the exponent while two students put their heads down, three students start texting, two girls in the back start talking, and one student provokes another from across the classroom."
"Checking for understanding is the foundation of teaching.Whether you’re using formative assessment for data to personalize learning within a unit, or more summative data to refine a curriculum map, the ability to quickly and easily check for understanding is a critical part of what you do. (Which was the idea behind our post last March, “10 Assessments You Can Perform In 90 Seconds Or Less.”)
"The following infographic Mia MacMeekin offers up 27 additional ways to check for understanding. Some aren’t necessarily quick–”Test what you learned in a new situation”–but there are a dozen or more other ideas that are worth adding to your teacher toolbox, many of which aren’t content-related, but rather cognitively-related (Locate 3 people who agree with your point of view.)"
There's plenty of hand-wringing over how technology is affecting communication, but an illuminating article by Clive Thompson argues that technology may be doing more to increase literacy and encourage reading since the rise of the novel.
How are emerging technologies and innovations in digital media, from the web to 3D to mobile and social media, changing the way we tell stories -- stories that are not confined to a single narrative medium but told across a variety of platforms?
Intrigued by the idea of using mobile devices for instructional purposes in the classroom? This playlist from VideoAmy will give you some tips and insights into the challenges and the promise of mobile learning.
Since 2011 I've been posting occasionally on our experiment in Years 9 and 10 and my school to see if we could apply the fabled Google 20% Rule - students spend 20% of their time on a blank slate passion project.
"Now that you have understood the basics of Digital Citizenship http://bit.ly/126roRn and have read the digital footprint guide http://bit.ly/14M8MDA , you night be in need of a handy graphic to share with your students to wrap it up all. Well, I have one for you.
The graphic below features some wonderful tips and pieces of advice on how to develop good manners online. Look at it as a code of online ethics to recommend not only to your students but to your kids as well. You can also print it and hang it on your classroom wall to constantly remind students of what is expected from them while using the world wide web. Enjoy."
"For the Burlington, MA Public Schools (BPS), the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative isn’t so much about the devices as it is about changing the classroom environment and creating more hands on learning opportunities. The focus behind the technology is the same as it’s always been: good teaching practices. The only change is the workflow."
"A while back, I was asked, "What engages students?" Sure, I could respond, sharing anecdotes about what I believed to be engaging, but I thought it would be so much better to lob that question to my own eighth graders. The responses I received from all 220 of them seemed to fall under 10 categories, representing reoccurring themes that appeared again and again. So, from the mouths of babes, here are my students' answers to the question: "What engages students?""
"Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the result of creativity. What makes us different from apes—our language, values, artistic expression, scientific understanding, and technology—is the result of individual ingenuity that was recognized, rewarded, and transmitted through learning.
"When we're creative, we feel we are living more fully than during the rest of life. The excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab comes close to the ideal fulfillment we all hope to get from life, and so rarely do. Perhaps only sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy—even when these experiences remain fleeting and leave no trace—provide a profound sense of being part of an entity greater than ourselves. But creativity also leaves an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of the future.
"I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it's complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an "individual," each of them is a "multitude."
Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect...