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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in education reform
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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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Posted by on in Classroom Management

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This was the week I retook control of all aspects of my life. Things would be different this week. Everything would turn around and become better this week. Instead, I wasn't good enough this week and my students did not hesitate to let me know.

This week I started waking up a half hour earlier (3:45AM!) to start my morning workouts. This week I managed to start going to bed earlier. This week I refocused my eating habits to reflect my fitness goals (Elite Spartan Beast on 4/29) . This week was the start of a journey that required me to conduct 17 formal teacher observations in 8 days (12 days including post-observation conferences). This week the lessons for my 3 daily classes were absolutely on-point. Everything was going so well for me this week, until...

Then my students informed me that I am a grumpy teacher. One of my students coined the term "Grumpy T" (T for Thom) to describe me. This started a class-wide discussion in one period where the class agreed that I had been grumpy and different all week. This shocked me and I felt incredulous when I heard this. My body felt great from the workouts, I was getting more sleep than before, I was eating much healthier, and I was loving all the observations and genuine conversations I was having with teachers. How could I possibly be grumpy?

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Posted by on in Leadership

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Are you a leader? Do you think of yourself as one? Are you a good one?

Or, do you just talk a good game?

Do you use beautiful words? Do you act on them? Do you stand up for what's right?

Or do you just talk a good game?

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

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The picture you see above is of my students and myself after I received a technology grant, which I used to purchase Chromebooks so that my students can learn using 21st century technology.

I already have 21st century technology. Now, I am on a mission to bring a 21st century learning space to my chemistry classroom. Traditional High School classrooms are gray, gloomy, boring, and most strikingly outdated.

About 3 months ago, I started a movement "Starbucks My Classroom," which quickly caught on social media and many educators in the US and abroad are now transforming their classrooms.

I believe that sitting in one place for close to an hour at a time is detrimental to student learning and health. Getting rid of the traditional seating you see in the picture above and creating a flexible seating space will allow for more movement, which research says is not only healthier, but also more conducive to learning. Student attention span peaks around 8-10 minutes, so allowing and promoting movement provides the necessary short brain breaks that lead to better focus and comprehension.

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