Blogs on All Grades

Blogs on All GradesRSS
Donna Wilson, Ph.D.February 11, 2014

Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice.

Enhancing Student Commitment

Explicitly teaching students about neuroplasticity can have a transformative impact in the classroom. A central facet of our work as teacher educators is teaching about how the brain changes during learning. Many teachers have told us that these findings have had a positive effect on their expectations for their students and on students' perceptions of their own abilities.

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Suzie BossFebruary 7, 2014

International educator Scot Hoffman is a big believer in the power of curiosity to drive learning. After nearly two decades of teaching around the globe, he also realizes that school isn't always so hospitable to inquiring minds. (As Einstein said, "It's a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.") That's why Hoffman has developed The Curiosity Project, a self-directed learning experience that engages students, parents, and teachers as collaborators in inquiry.

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Lori DesautelsFebruary 6, 2014

In the mid-1950s, humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow created a theory of basic, psychological and self-fulfillment needs that motivate individuals to move consciously or subconsciously through levels or tiers based on our inner and outer satisfaction of those met or unmet needs. As a parent and educator, I find this theory eternally relevant for students and adults, especially in our classrooms. After studying it over the past couple of years, my graduate and undergraduate students have decided that every classroom should display a wall-sized diagram of the pyramid, as students and teachers alike place pins and post-its on the varying tiers based on their own feelings, behaviors and needs. What do actual brain-compatible strategies look like on this pyramid?

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Joe HirschFebruary 6, 2014

Worried about the shrinking presence of empathy in our schools? I know how you feel.

With classrooms operating more like grade factories, it's hard to make the case for school-driven empathy. Faced with an endless cycle of memorize, drill, spit back and test, teachers have become the wardens of a new educational reality that pits the head against the heart. Even if educators manage to skate past the dizzying array of standards and value-added evaluations, they must still contend with this fundamental divide: academic rigor, with its unflinching emphasis on measurable success, seems strangely at odds with emotional intelligence, a soufflé of moods and feelings. Which leaves many to wonder -- can empathy feel its way back into the classroom?

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Tacy TrowbridgeFebruary 5, 2014

What will the classroom of 2020 look like? As I look ahead, many of the trends we're seeing today will continue to expand learning beyond the classroom walls to connect educators, students and real-world experiences. These trends are being driven by pioneering teachers and their students, and are fueled by technology -- especially the Internet and the cloud. With more than 40 states adopting Common Core and with increased focus on deeper learning and developing creativity, I see exciting movement to a more personalized and collaborative education. Together with the proliferation of devices such as smartphones and tablets, teachers and students will have unprecedented access to tools for creative expression, and will find it even easier to share, to co-create and to experiment with new ideas.

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Elena AguilarFebruary 5, 2014

"Nearly a quarter of American adults did not read a single book in the past year." I was eating an apple when I read this this and I gasped and the apple piece got stuck and I ran around trying to find someone who Heimlich me and dislodge it. Although it came out, I'm still symbolically choking on this fact. It terrifies me.

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Dr. Richard CurwinFebruary 4, 2014

All of us have had major classroom disruptions that try our patience and push our limits. These incidents can threaten our sense of control and generate fear of looking weak to other students. We fear that other students might do the same thing if we don't take a strong stance. Couple these feelings with the possibility of taking the disruption personally, and we have a recipe for disaster. It's important that we divide our response into two parts:

  1. Immediate stabilization
  2. Intervention to resolve these issues
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It's no secret that I am a passionate advocate for using video in the classroom. When used well, videos can help students make connections to people and ideas beyond their usual frame of reference. That's why I've been really excited to see a wave of new (and mostly free or low-cost!) tech tools recently that enable teachers to take favorite clips and make them more valuable for educational use. Whether you use videos to flip your classroom or you just appreciate the power of video to engage kids, maybe one of the tools in my playlist below will help you go deeper in 2014.

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Suzie BossJanuary 31, 2014

Sixth-grade teacher Diane Gilbert was curious about introducing Shakespeare to her gifted and talented class at Kelly Mill Middle School in Blythewood, South Carolina. Many of her students read well above grade level, but would they be able to understand the Bard's plays? "Most hadn't had much exposure to Shakespeare," Gilbert says, beyond the sonnets they had read in class.

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Andrew MarcinekJanuary 30, 2014

"OK, Glass . . . reform education." (If only it were that easy.)

I've been lucky to be a member of the Google Glass Explorer Program for the past month, and this device has my attention. I was skeptical of Glass upon first hearing about the new technology, but as it developed, I began to see the potential not only in education, but also for the contemporary consumer. At this juncture, Glass is limited and very expensive. However, it has potential in what we do as educators.

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