Blogs on Learning Environments

Blogs on Learning EnvironmentsRSS
Patrick Cook DeeganApril 15, 2014

All of us are reliant upon the sun for energy, the earth for food, trees for air, and water for drinking. But when we go about our busy lives, it is easy to take the water, air and plants around us for granted. The practice of mindfulness takes us off autopilot, allows us to pause, experience the present moment and give gratitude for all the elements of the natural world that support our daily lives.

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Mark WallaceMarch 25, 2014

Busy, distracted, sleepless, anxious, stressed . . . overwhelmed. Sound familiar? Over the past few decades, we have moved from the industrial age of linear work to the dynamic multifaceted age of knowledge work -- with more information and stimuli than ever before. Feeling lost and pressured is a unique knowledge work phenomenon, but one that can be relieved.

In 2008, I was introduced to David Allen's book Getting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity, and found my life changing for the positive -- increased stability and control, higher engagement in the present, and an increased desire to take creative risks in my teaching practices.

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Ben JohnsonFebruary 26, 2014

Have I let "instructional weeds" infest my classroom?

I went out into my backyard today and was astounded about its condition. The hibernating Bermuda grass was yellow-brown as it should have been, but salt-and-peppered throughout the yard were bright green dandelions with the "I dare you to stop me" fluffy white seed flowers that had not been there in the fall.

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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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Donna Wilson, Ph.D.January 22, 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.

During the school year, students are expected to listen to and absorb vast amounts of content. But how much time has been devoted to equipping students with ways to disconnect from their own internal dialogue (self-talk) and to focus their attention fully on academic content that is being presented? Listening is hard work even for adults. When students are unable to listen effectively, classroom management issues arise.

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Jennifer SayreJanuary 8, 2014

Online education programs are growing at a startling rate. In 2009, there were 4.5 million college students enrolled in online courses. This year, that number will hit 19 million. So it is no surprise that school districts are tackling the daunting task of building their own online programs. In The One World Schoolhouse, Salman Khan writes, "It is time -- past time -- for education to evolve again." It is no longer an option but a necessity for high schools to offer courses online -- not only to retain students but to ensure that they are college‐ready.

It is time to embrace the moment, because online education is here to stay.

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Matt DavisOctober 4, 2013

Restorative justice empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own, and it's growing in practice at schools around the country. Essentially, the idea is to bring students together in peer-mediated small groups to talk, ask questions and air their grievances. (This overview from Fix School Discipline is a wonderful primer.)

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Jennifer CooperSeptember 30, 2013

Makerspaces, STEAM labs and fab labs are popping up in schools across the country. Makerspaces provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering and tinkering.

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Paloma Garcia-LopezSeptember 5, 2013

The Maker movement continues to gain momentum. At this year's White House Science Fair, President Obama invited Super-Awesome Sylvia from Auburn, California to exhibit her water color robot as a representative of the Maker community. At the same event, the Corporation for National Service announced its commitment to place Americorps VISTAs in Maker movement organizations across the country. Maker Ed is placing those Maker VISTAs in makerspaces to help build their capacity for engaging low-income students as makers. In this spirit, we are starting to see more and more makerspaces springing up in schools across the country. If you are a teacher experimenting with making projects in your classroom, here are some successful fundraising strategies we've seen educators use to fund a makerspace for their school community.

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Matt DavisAugust 29, 2013

How can teachers effectively engage with students from diverse backgrounds? It's a question many teachers face at the beginning of the school year, and of course there isn't one prescribed solution.

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