EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Reflection - Hands-on, Inquiry-based Approach to STEM

    As part of my Summer learning I have been asked to view Frank Noschese's TEDxNYED talk from April 28, 2012 as he discusses the effectiveness of a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to STEM. The video can be seen by following this LINK.  The reflection prompt for this video is: Explain the processes of Model development, deployment, and failure.  The idea of using models to facilitate learning is nothing new in the lower levels. Most kids learn to count by using physical ...

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    by Dennis Dill
    Thursday, 30 July 2015
  • Reflection - Future of STEM Education

    As part of my Summer reading activities I was tasked with viewing The Future of STEM Education, presented by Dr. Roni Ellington at the 2013 Baltimore TEDx, and writing a reflection based on the four parts of inclusive framework.   1. Empower students to pursue hard subjects even as such subjects become more difficult over time. (Or: addition is easy, but calculus is hard.) Acknowledging that all students have the ability to reach lofty goals, even if their academic standing may sta ...

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    by Dennis Dill
    Thursday, 30 July 2015
  • If These Walls Could Talk: 5 Keys To Classroom Decoration

    simple truth: Learning is more powerful when those involved have ownership. research tells us: As the sun begins to set on the summer, and a new school year approaches, teachers can be found working hard in schools to prepare their classrooms to welcome a new group of students.  Deliberate preparation and excellent educators go hand-in-hand. Effective teachers are always trying to use best practice and educational research to inform their many decisions throughout the day.  This includes the cre ...

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    by Tony Kline, Ph.D.
    Thursday, 30 July 2015
  • Wonder

    The Lesson It was 10:30, and way past bedtime. But, it was Friday evening, and they just finished watching one of their favorite Pixar movies, Brave. I told them that it was time to go to bed, but their dad had a different idea. “Boys, come here. I have something to show you first.” Intrigued, we all gathered around him at the bottom of the stairs. “All of you need your iPads.” What was this all about? The boys rushed to the charging station, grabbed their iPads, and ran back to their dad ...

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    by Amy Heavin
    Saturday, 25 July 2015
  • 24/7 Learning: What students need from us

    Learning is not only limited to the time the student spends in our classrooms. The bell rings and the student can continue their work from anywhere. Technology is allowing students to access class content, work on assignments, help one another, contact the teacher, at any time of the day. What does that mean for us as teachers?   21st century learners need from their teachers: 24/7 access to course content: Provide course content online with an LMS, Google Classroom, Edm ...

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    by Barbara Sweet
    Friday, 24 July 2015
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Posted by on in Education And Training

As part of my Summer learning I have been asked to view Frank Noschese's TEDxNYED talk from April 28, 2012 as he discusses the effectiveness of a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to STEM.

The video can be seen by following this LINK

The reflection prompt for this video is: Explain the processes of Model development, deployment, and failure. 

The idea of using models to facilitate learning is nothing new in the lower levels. Most kids learn to count by using physical objects. Count the blocks. The kids learns by doing. This is the premise of creating and using models in classroom instruction. By using a model kids can experience the learning instead of just reading about the learning. 

Through using models the classroom instruction that was based on lecture, textbook reading, and formula memorization is replaced by a set of problems, which create the model. There is instruction, but it has been redesigned to provide necessary background information from which the kids can draw to complete the task. While deploying this idea teachers must remember that kids do not automatically know how to apply what they know to solving actual problems. Kids need to be walked through the process and learn how it works before being left to fend for themselves.

The great part about using models is that it fairly easy to know if it is working, which means you get to adjust on the fly. Please note I did not say failure because when you are using models or you get the chance to work through things. You start with a plan or idea and you work the plan and adjust the plan to move through the obstacles that may appear in front of you. This is the way real people work everyday. They work and when something is not working the way it is supposed to work they adjust. They do not just sit down and say it is wrong, which oddly, is the way education seems to be with all of its multiple choice assessments.

Using models is helpful in STEM as it gets the students doing rather than memorizing. Whereas, I am a Social Studies teacher I try to apply these concepts into my world by getting the kids doing. If students are learning about government than students should be doing government. It is easy to get a test centered mentality and focus on the facts that will be seen on test, but does that foster the learning that will prepare them to be innovative and creative problem solvers. The skill of problem solving is learned by actually solving problems not by memorizing vocabulary words and dates. I hope to apply more model based learning this year. 

Would love to hear what you think ... please share your ideas.

 
 

 

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Posted by on in Education And Training

As part of my Summer reading activities I was tasked with viewing The Future of STEM Education, presented by Dr. Roni Ellington at the 2013 Baltimore TEDx, and writing a reflection based on the four parts of inclusive framework.  


1. Empower students to pursue hard subjects even as such subjects become more difficult over time. (Or: addition is easy, but calculus is hard.)

Acknowledging that all students have the ability to reach lofty goals, even if their academic standing may state otherwise. Many times kids are slammed into the class their test score dictates even if it means they may be passionate and intelligent in something unrelated. In the process of doing what is "right" by trying to lift them up sometimes school eliminates opportunities for students. I had a similar experience as Dr. Ellington growing up. As a student who struggled with wanting to diagram sentences learning grammar I was always placed in the low English classes, which always prevented me from taking the more complex Social Studies classes. Ninth grade I was labeled as "low" and the game was over ... I think I became the king of "Not Working to Ability" Kids deserve to be challenged ... they want to be challenged.

2. Teachers must see themselves as “vehicles for students’ lives to change.” Ellington, who grew up in Washington, D.C., didn’t take an interest in math until teachers pushed her to take more rigorous courses.

Teachers are more than content deliverers. It is easy for teachers to just focus on what the data states and in the process not inspire the kids to be more than a test score ... more than what they have been labeled. Many times all kids need is a push or something that at least interests them to motivate them to do better. As a Social Studies teacher and former AP US History teacher I have seen many kids disqualified from taking the APUSH class because they had low reading test scores, but yet they still wanted to be challenged by the AP class. I am proud that I fought for them to be included in the class some passed the AP test, but the passing of the AP test was not the most important thing ... challenging the kids on a higher level than they were accustomed was and it made all the difference in the world. 

3. Look for the “social and cultural capital” that already exists in impoverished communities.
Just because you are poor does not mean you do not have value. 
 
Too often we buy into the hype we see in the media about "those" kids. Kids from the "bad" neighborhood who come from "that" type of lifestyle ... the ones we have to spend extra time with because the data states we must bring up their test scores so our score grade will go up. These kids are smart. However, many have not had the opportunity to find their passion and sadly, many of them may never find it as they have been slammed into their least favorite classes because test scores have dictated they be there. We have to look for the leaders ... the kids who are just looking for a spark to set them on fire. Look beyond their test score ... their street address because every kid has the potential to be great ... we just have to release it from the confines of the box in which they have been placed.

4. Think outside the book: how could robotics, for instance, be an avenue through which students can gain interest in STEM subjects?

Books are a guide NOT necessarily a set of directions. I am not sure why education does this, but we can take the greatest most exciting thing and ruin it for the kids by over standardizing the subject. We kill the creativity in Art classes by grading kids creativity and artistic skill and we do the same thing in Robotics classes. I have always been at a school with a "Robotics" class ... i put that in parenthesis because it should be called "Reading Directions" class because that is all they did. The kids read directions to use the parts they were given to build the robot that was in the picture. How is this innovative? How does this give the kids the ability to think outside the box? I stopped asking the kids long ago when the battle bot competition was going to be held or when their robot would deliver a soda to me. Kids are not passionate about following directions ... they are passionate about building and creating something bigger than what is in the text book. They see something or they learn something and they try to connect it to something bigger, but yet we do do not allow them to take the next step because it is not in the book. We MUST learn X and Y before you can get to Z, but what if I do not need Y or Z to get to discovering something that has not been labeled yet?

The Future of STEM education as presented by Dr. Ellington creates a great path in which to follow, but I think it will take some daring schools to take a stand for what needs to be done. STEM is supposed to expand the mind and have the kids innovating and creating as they build upon the skills learned in class. They should be using their knowledge NOT just following the instructions n a piece of paper and receiving a grade based on how well they followed the instructions. I like to think that the kids can think ... "If I can do this and this then I should be able to make it do this." The kids need to have the opportunity to take learning to the next level without being restricted by test scores, teacher expectations, or standards ... sometimes teachers need to get out of the way.

 

 

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Posted by on in What If?

simple truth:

Learning is more powerful when those involved have ownership.

research tells us:

As the sun begins to set on the summer, and a new school year approaches, teachers can be found working hard in schools to prepare their classrooms to welcome a new group of students.  Deliberate preparation and excellent educators go hand-in-hand.

Effective teachers are always trying to use best practice and educational research to inform their many decisions throughout the day.  This includes the creative lessons we teach, the standards that we include, and from the engaging questions we pose, to the authentic assessments we choose. Yet do we spend this same careful consideration when deciding how to decorate our classrooms?  And if not, is there a cost to student learning?  There may be research that says yes.

And it only makes sense, as our students spend so much of their school day within classroom walls.  We should be aware of this research so it can inform how we decorate our learning environments to best support our students.

Let’s first think about student ownership.  When’s the last time that we moved into a new home and have kept all of the decorations put up by the previous owner?  Not often.  And why not?  A new living space becomes more of our own when we decorate it as just that, as our own.  This same sentiment is true for a student's new learning space, our classroom.  Student ownership in their learning can increase when their learning environment includes materials created by them or with their input.  

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

The Lesson

It was 10:30, and way past bedtime. But, it was Friday evening, and they just finished watching one of their favorite Pixar movies, Brave. I told them that it was time to go to bed, but their dad had a different idea. “Boys, come here. I have something to show you first.” Intrigued, we all gathered around him at the bottom of the stairs.


“All of you need your iPads.” What was this all about? The boys rushed to the charging station, grabbed their iPads, and ran back to their dad, eager to see what was in store. He proceeded to show them a new app, Skyview, that he put on all of their iPads without them knowing it. “A long time ago, people used the stars to find their way to get places. Through this app, we can learn about the constellations they used. Let’s go outside to see them!”


Out they went, iPads in hand, dark night sky, the stars above. Each little guy pointed their iPad to the sky, and the constellations illuminated on their iPads. The next 30 minutes were filled with awe and excitement, the faces of discovery lighting the night. There are no words to describe the faces of wonder as they discovered planets, the patterns of the stars, and how space was all around us. Countless moments of “Look at this!” and “What is this thing?” were shared. Mom and Dad moved among the boys, answering questions, pointing to objects, describing what they were seeing on their screens.

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Posted by on in What If?

touch

When we think of learning, the two senses that typically come to mind are sight and sound. Students look and they listen. But what about the sense of touch? Should it play a role in your classroom? If so, how much of a role?

As it turns out, touch can have a vital role in teaching and learning and as someone who’s forever promoting the use of multiple senses, I’m delighted that we’re acquiring more and more information on the topic. The research on the importance of touch – whether it’s feeling and manipulating objects or the value of human touch in the teaching and learning process – is very exciting.

About the latter, teacher Joan Young says:

Touch is the way we connect to each other, show compassion, and create community. One of the most important ways that I have built a safe and lively learning space is through rituals to celebrate hard work and successes as well as failures. Fist bumps, high fives, handshakes at the door are small actions that join us and convey we are all working together, trying to bring out each other’s best.

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