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Posted by on in General

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Does online (distance/web-based) learning work? If so, is it a better academic medium? Does it lead to more learning?

These are some of the questions I want to answer for myself and for all of you wondering about this sometimes-controversial topic. With the proliferation of online “schooling,” beginning with more and more traditional institutions, such as K-12 schools and colleges, offering more and more online courses, and ending with new, exclusively online schools, non-profits, and corporate organizations seemingly popping up every day, it is easy to conclude that if the instruction is delivered via the world wide web it must be better than the brick-and-mortar way of educating.

Does it work?

It can, but it might not.

For a sophisticated learner, online learning may be just what the doctor ordered as it allows more flexibility. For many others, especially the K-12 students, trying to learn while sitting in front of the computer screen ends up disheartening and detrimental to their success, as they find the coursework more difficult and more time-consuming.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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This is the third post in the Universal Truth Series. Please check out Universal Truth: Everyone Has At Least One Superpower and Universal Truth: We All Have The Power To Change The World if you enjoy reflections on simple but powerful existential truths.

Reality is what we make it...

Whether you're a teacher, administrator, student, CEO or a working stiff you can level up and become a superhero at what you do. One crucial step you must take to achieve this is that you must realize and accept that our reactions, all of our reactions, are a result of how our mind processes the information it receives.

We all act on thoughts rather than on things that are actually happening. For example, if someone insults you by saying less than admirable things about you you might get angry about it.

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Posted by on in General

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“What I hear, I forget; What I see, I remember; What I do, I understand.”  - Attributed to Confucius

I’ve seen this quote displayed prominently in classrooms, used in books, mentioned in videos, and repeated by educators at professional development meetings. What is it supposed to convey anyway? Was the ancient thinker’s intention to express that seeing is a better way of absorbing freshly received information, and that doing something with it is even more powerful when it comes to internalizing it? Whatever the intended meaning, I believe that all of these, and other, ways of learning are important. Moreover, educational research suggests that we learn best in a multitude of ways, rather than by any one dominant means; and that different subjects lend themselves to different methods of delivery for maximized learning effectiveness, regardless of how pupils taking the subject prefer to learn.

Life is multimodal and so is learning. No single learning modality can be used effectively on a consistent basis. The ever-popular learning styles inventories and assessments are continually being used in the K-12 and higher education communities, even as they are repeatedly being proven inaccurate. The idea that each person has a preferred learning modality is not supported by evidence and is poorly correlated with achievement.

So why does this myth persist in the educational circles?

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Posted by on in General

 

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Hey Everyone!

I have some exciting news. I was recently invited to appear on Vicky Davis’ podcast “Every Classroom Matters” to talk about flexible seating classroom design and the “Starbucks My Classroom” Project I started.

The project has blown up on social media, and Twitter especially, as many people are sharing resources on #StarbucksMyRoom and providing me and those who committed to “Starbucksing” their room with words of encouragement and inspiration.

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Posted by on in General

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When I started as a brand new teacher in the Chicago Public Schools some 13 years ago I came across a poster on the wall of the attendance office, that explained the “Grade x 10” formula for assigning homework. So, a first grader should have 10 minutes of homework each night (1st grade x 10), while a high school senior ought to spend 120 minutes on his studies every evening following the same formula.

But why do teachers give homework? They believe it can help students be more successful as it allows them to practice what was learned and to remember what was taught. In addition, homework is somewhat of a holy grail in teaching. Teacher preparatory programs push it, textbooks are designed for it, and it is a deep-rooted tradition that allegedly promotes student learning outside of the school walls.

Kids ought to have homework, right?

Wrong!

There is a growing body of research challenging the effectiveness of homework. Alfie Kohn, the author of the 2006 book, Homework Myth, concludes that there is no evidence that homework benefits young children and questions the advantages it brings to older students. Kohn also points out that a 2011 study “fails to find any meaningful benefit even when the study is set up to give homework every benefit of the doubt.” In The Case Against Homework, Bennett and Kalish (2006) explain the negative effects the homework overload has on children’s achievement and development. And there is a plethora of other academic studies that have comparable findings.

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