Recently found … 09/30/2013

  • Pinpoint a location, add notes, and choose a custom link. Create an addy for anywhere on Earth.

    Addies are beautifully formatted and accessible on any web-enabled device. View address details, directions, and notes with a single click.

    Sharing addies is effortless. Whether via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter, you can be sure that friends and businesses will be able to find you with ease.

    tags: tools geography

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Post-it and Evernote together? Mind-blowing …

Wow. I’m a post-it AND evernote addict … so now they’ve joined forces:

Evernote Gives Iconic Post-it® Notes a Digital Life.

Some products are so perfect, so essential and so important that they become part of the fabric of our daily experience. There are few examples more iconic than the Post-it® Note. They’re so easy to understand that the objects themselves have become symbolic of simplicity. While Post-it® Notes do not need a manual, there seem to be an almost infinite number of applications and uses that span industries, ages and cultures.


Recently found … 09/24/2013

  • tags: homework Educational reform

    • It turns out that there is no correlation between homework and achievement. According to a 2005 study by the Penn State professors Gerald K. LeTendre and David P. Baker, some of the countries that score higher than the U.S. on testing in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—Japan and Denmark, for example—give less homework, while some of those scoring lower, including Thailand and Greece, assign more. Why pile on the homework if it doesn’t make even a testable difference, and in fact may be harmful?


      “It’s a response to this whole globalized, competitive process,” says Richard Walker, a co-author of the book Reforming Homework. “You get parents demanding their children get more homework because their children are competing against the whole world.”


      The irony is that some countries where the school systems are held up as models for our schools have been going in the opposite direction of the U.S., giving less homework and implementing narrower curricula built to encourage deeper understanding rather than broader coverage.

    • Attitudes toward homework swing in cycles of roughly 30 years, according to Harris Cooper, a professor of education at Duke University and the author of The Battle Over Homework. We went from piling on the homework because of fears of a science gap brought on by Sputnik in the late 1950s, to backing off in the Woodstock generation of the ’70s amid worries about overstressing kids, to the ’90s fears of falling behind East Asian students. The current backlash against homework has been under way so long—expressed in books like 2006’s The Case Against Homework, by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, and in the 2009 documentary film Race to Nowhere—that we may now be living through a backlash against the backlash, at least in elite schools. “We’re in a heavy-homework part of the cycle,” Cooper says. “The increasing competition for elite high schools and colleges has parents demanding more homework.”
    • are these many hours of homework the only way to achieve this metamorphosis of child into virtuous citizen?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 09/22/2013

  • tags: engagement

    • What is the point of reading logs, anyway?  Teachers want kids to read – I get that.  But a reading log says, “I don’t trust you to read, so you must prove to me that you actually read for the prescribed number of minutes by writing down what you read and for how long you read.  And even then, I won’t take your word for it, so have your mom or dad sign the reading log as a witness that you actually did said reading, because you cannot be trusted.”
    • Here’s what reading logs actually do: they turn reading into a chore.  They teach kids that time spent matters more than content or understanding of content.  Reading logs tell kids that they are untrustworthy and must continually prove themselves. 
    • This is not learning – it’s obedience.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 09/16/2013

  • tags: Educational reform

    • Starting in the late 19th century, the philosopher John Dewey argued against the development of purely vocational elementary schools, insisting that the true purpose of schooling was not simply to teach children a trade but to train them in deeper habits of mind, including “plasticity” (the ability to take in new information and be changed by it) and interdependence (the ability to work with others)
    • Social-emotional learning takes Dewey’s theory further, suggesting that all emotions — not just the right ones — are adaptive if properly managed. Studies have shown that people in a slightly sad mood are better at analyzing or editing a written document (they focus better on details), while people who are slightly angry are better able to discriminate between weak and strong arguments. The purpose of a social-emotional learning program, then, isn’t to elide emotion but to channel it: to surf the rapids rather than to be swamped by them
  • tags: educational reform technology

    • First and most important was the power of “customizing.” Plenty of research does indeed show that an individual student will learn more if you can tailor the curriculum to match her learning style, pace and interests; the tablet, he said, will help teachers do that. Second, educators have not taken full advantage of students’ enthusiasm for the gadgetry that constitutes “an important part of their experience.” Lastly, teachers feel overwhelmed; they “need tools,” Klein said, to meet ever-increasing demands to show that their students are making progress
    • the success of his tablet depends above all on how teachers exploit it
    • . “If it’s not transformative,” Klein told me, “it’s not worth it
    • before” picture was the typical 19th-century classroom, the original template for our schools. He likened it to industrial shop floors designed for mass production: “People sitting in rows, all doing the same thing at the same time, not really connected to each other.” He contrasted that with a postindustrial workplace where temporary groupings of co-workers collaborate on tasks requiring intellectual, not physical capabilities. “We need a schoolhouse that prepares students to do that kind of work
    • the “after” classroom Britt envisioned, some students might be working together on an assignment appropriate to their shared level of competence. Others would be ranging ahead on their own, catching up, exploring a special interest. A small group might be gathered around the teacher, who, having instantly scanned the responses to a short-answer exercise just given to the whole class on the tablet, decides to spend some extra time with those students still hazy about the lesson. Britt repeatedly made a fluid gathering-and-pushing gesture with both hands, as if demonstrating a basketball chest pass, as he said: “Then you move that group out, they’re off practicing to reinforce what you just taught them, and you pull together another group, or you go to an individual, then you flow them out to the next task. Gather and flow.
      • Not unlike the thinking behind online instruction.
      • Not unlike the best practice thinking behind online instructional design …
    • It’s like I design the flow chart,” she said, “and the kids follow their own path through it
      • It’s easy to forget the foundational principle that the power is not in the tool but in the use of the tool … And that instructional decision must be made by a teacher.
    • Despite all the research showing that the educational benefits of new technology depend on good teaching, it can be easier to find money for cool new gadgets than for teachers. The Los Angeles school district, for instance, cut costs in recent years by laying off thousands of teachers yet is now using bonds to finance the spending of $500 million on iPads
      • It’s easy to ignore the foundational principle that the power is not in the tool but in the teaching.
      • Therefore, the first priority is to focus on improving instruction. The technology then amplifies it.
    • Where technology makes a difference, it tends to do so in places with a strong organization dedicated to improving teaching and where students closely engage with teachers and one another.
    • “It’s the teacher, not the technology.”
    • You don’t need a technological solution for everything,” Britt said. “All that stuff you already know about teaching still works, and you need it more than ever.”
    • To get the most out of educational technology, teachers must combine those traditional classroom skills with new ones. And their repertoires will have to expand as the tablet’s powers grow.
    • Once you develop familiarity with this kind of teaching and your students catch on to the routines, you find you can actually give each student a lot more of yourself,” Britt said. “Instead of talking at a group where one-third are bored and one-third are lost, I can have everybody working at their level, and I have time to give the love to you and then you and you.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

School is over. Learning begins.

Off to Morocco

Off to Morocco with the same red backpack since Kindergarten.

So, in one of the most wonderful/awful parenting moves ever, I recently put my daughter on Royal Air Maroc flight to Casablanca so that she can live in Morocco for 2-1/2 months. She’s doing a gap year between high school and college. Because she has some significant goals (learn to speak Arabic and understand Arab culture), we concluded that the best way to do that was to go live there for a while. Of course that was six months ago and the whole thing felt safely far away (both geographically and chronologically).

However, September 1st eventually rolled around and the next thing we know, we’re at JFK waving goodbye as she walks through security. Sending your 18-year-old off for several months in Rabat is not the same as moving them into a college dorm, believe me.

But we didn’t do this foolishly … we used Projects Abroad to provide a connection to a family, Arabic teacher, and volunteer project placement. They gave her lots of preparation advice before she left, met her at the airport, and have provided a support group to help her learn her way around and understand how to be an American living in a different culture.

And sure, it’s been a hard first week. But Cory’s blog is really funny – and she promises to write longer, more thoughtful posts when she can get her computer to the internet café this weekend. In the meanwhile, check it out.

So as an educator, this confirms my belief that schools and curriculum are missing some major opportunities. We only really learn when we take risks, embrace challenges, and consider all that the world has to offer. It is imperative that we create these kinds of opportunities for our students, our children. Not everyone has to fly off to Morocco, of course. But we have to push kids out of their comfort zones in whatever way we can.

Back to School Advice

First day of school, 1967 in Brussels, Belgium.

First day of school, Brussels 1967.

cross posted at Education Is My Life

I was recently asked to provide back-to-school advice for teachers. I could go on at some length … indeed, I did just that last week when I provided a 2-hour keynote address at nearby district’s in-service.

However, my teaching philosophy can really be summarized by four key points – which is a good thing, because what teachers really want right now is to get back into their classrooms and get ready for their students.

  1. Find a way to make kids feel as if they belong in your community of learners.
  2. Encourage them to do challenging things and support them when they struggle.
  3. Always think about what you could possibly do a little better next time (no matter how good it was the first time).
  4. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Have a great year.

Recently found … 09/03/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.