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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in education reform
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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Learning is like playing the blues.

If you wanna get really good at it and be able to improvise, you must practice playing the blues a lot. You must also understand it. The scales, the chord progressions, the beats, the turnaround, the stories, the mood; the "how to blues."

If you wanna get really good at learning you must practice learning. You must also understand it. The brain, the habits, the strategies, what works, what doesn't; "the how to learn."

If you understand how your brain learns you might be able to hack your learning; to improvise and modify sketchy study strategies that mostly don't work and make them more effective.

Today, I attempt to do that with cramming and if you read my last post What's The Brain Deal With Cramming? you know that I don't recommend it and instead advocate for smart spaced practice. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

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When I first decided to run for Congress, I remember who I went to for input. Surprisingly, it was not my friends and family (besides my wife!); instead, it was the educators that I have worked with over the last ten years. Not just those I have worked with in schools, but those in my personal learning network.  

Their overwhelming reaction to this new journey was positive, encouraging, and supportive.  They were real with me about the difficulties and realities of this endeavor, but they were also excited. They know the need to create change at a higher level, yet also felt confident in my ability and drive to accomplish our shared goals. They encouraged me not just to pursue this path, but to do everything in my power to make it happen.

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That is what we do as teachers. We encourage. We motivate. We push. We influence. We nurture. We believe. We kindle the fire that fuels passion in the face of adversity.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

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I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy. — Marie Curie

Translation: If you want things to change, get your ass off the couch and do the work.

That's what Marie did. In a world full of men unwilling to accept a woman, an atheist, and a person who followed her heart, she had to work her ass off to overcome the sexism and xenophobia of her times.

In 1911, just before receiving her Nobel Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences asked Marie not to come to Stockholm, so King Gustav V would not be subjected to shaking hands with an adulteress.

Of course, she went to accept the award in person. That was her second Nobel. She was the first ever woman to receive one, and the first ever person to receive two. She discovered radium and polonium and coined the term radioactivity. She earned many prestigious awards, honors, and posts for her work.

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Posted by on in Project-Based Learning

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When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way. — Wayne Dyer

I think we got it all wrong in education.

Consider this. We always talk about connecting the classroom (the instruction, the subject area, the concepts etc.) to the real world. But, doesn't it make more sense to take what's happening in the real world and just teach that? The whole idea of having to connect school to the real world came from the fact that most subjects are taught in isolation from it.

Why can't we change that?

Take Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). You can use this very relevant and controversial issue and teach about it from multiple perspectives.

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

fidget spinner

As educators, we have all encountered colleagues bemoaning the rise of fidget spinners, whether in-person, on blogs, or on social media.

For some perspective, consider how people outside education view fidget spinners. Watch The Young Turks enjoy playing with them. Forbes magazine calls them the "must-have office toy for 2017." The sheer delight of staffers playing with fidget spinners at AJ+ bears this out. Most poignantly, YouTuber Bunny Meyer says, "I find...I've been struggling with depression and anxiety...and these things [fidget spinners] calm me down." Quick aside: How awesome would it be if we cultivated creativity in our students that resulted in them having eight million YouTube subscribers like Bunny Meyer does?

These positive takes are not surprising when you consider Nerdist's piece about how physics explains why fidget spinners are so fun. Non-educators think of fidget spinners as fun and comforting, so...

What does our discomfort with Fidget Spinners say about education?

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