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Posted by on in Professional Development

In Drive, Daniel Pink argues that mastery, autonomy, and purpose motivate people in their careers. A study by The Economist and Google for Education found that giving teachers autonomy makes them better teachers. For more information on the study:

Giving teachers autonomy with edtech spurs mastery and purpose while empowering them to innovate.

Do your district's professional development and edtech practices honor mastery, autonomy, and purpose? Are teachers trusted to use edtech? Is access to apps, websites, and new releases restricted? When leaders see new tools, do they have a sense of urgency to get them into the hands of teachers and students to create new possibilities?

Exploring the answers to those questions can only improve technology integration. Here are some approaches to technology integration and PD that empower teachers. 

Let teachers play. No perfect choreography necessary.

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Posted by on in Curriculum & Unit Design

I often find myself demonstrating this-or-that edtech tool to rooms of educators using content I taught in the classroom. Thanks to the The Great War YouTube channel spurring my interest, I often use World War I content. As I demo a tool or strategy,  I will ask the audience a World War I-related question. This is often met with blank stares. When I casually mention the Schlieffen Plan, I might as well be speaking Latin. 

What a teachable moment. A room of educators. All with advanced degrees. All so good at their jobs that they took the initiative to attend a conference to improve their practice. And these successful adults forgot everything they learned in high school about World War I.

This raises an important question in an age where technology liberates students from learning exclusively from school-provided materials: How does curriculum fit with personalization, technology, and empowerment?

I recently had this conversation some teachers at a conference. Like this blog post, we had more questions than answers.  We talked about how schools teach students both content and skills. A great argument about the value of skills in education is The Skills to Pay the Bills by Chris Aviles. In it, Aviles argues that focusing on skills is more important than memorizing facts. 

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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 General

I taught in the classroom for eleven years before I put a finger to keyboard to blog. So why did I decide to blog? And why should you? There are two compelling reasons for you to start your own blog.

Reason 1 - Your Profession Needs You

If you have the intellectual curiosity about education to read BamRadio Network EdWords, then you're doing something awesome in your classroom that other teachers would benefit from reading about. Think about teachers in the United States today - underpaid, underappreciated, isolated, scapegoated. You have the ability to help them by blogging about the awesome things you do. How can you pass up that opportunity?

Here is a quick exercise. Think of three or four awesome things you do in the classroom. Print up this blog post and jot them in the space below.

 

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Engaging students in vocabulary review is challenging. Here is a strategy for using digital breakouts to make vocabulary review fun and challenging. 

Step One: Build a Quizlet deck.

Quizlet is a great tool for making vocabulary flash cards. The Quizlet Live feature is another fun way to review vocabulary with students. 

Step Two: Click on "Test."

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