Recent Blog Posts

RSS

You'll find practical classroom strategies and tips from real educators, as well as lesson ideas, personal stories, and innovative approaches to improving your teaching practice. If you have any thoughts or comments about these blogs, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Beth HollandApril 23, 2014

Despite what Apple and Microsoft would like for us to believe, there isn't always "an app for that." Sometimes, it takes multiple tools to complete a process, and this idea becomes abundantly clear when working with mobile devices. As Greg Kulowiec says in his blog:

While many apps slightly overlap in terms of functionality, there tends to be a few black holes in each app that require the use of another app to complete the process. This leads us to App Smashing. . . the process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project.
Read More
Andrew MillerApril 23, 2014

Both project-based learning and STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art and math) are growing rapidly in our schools. Some schools are doing STEAM, some are doing PBL, and some are leveraging the strengths of both to do STEAM PBL. With a push for deeper learning, teaching and assessment of 21st-century skills, both PBL and STEAM help schools target rigorous learning and problem solving. They are not exactly the same, but teachers can easily connect to them to teach not only STEAM content and design challenges, but also authentic learning and public, high-quality work. In fact, many know that STEAM education isn't just the content, but the process of being scientists, mathematicians, engineers, artists and technological entrepreneurs. Here are some ways that PBL and STEAM can complement each other as you deliver instruction.

Read More
Nicholas ProvenzanoApril 22, 2014

Spring is here and teachers, like their students, are feeling the itch of summer. As educators prepare for the final stretch of the school year, it's often too easy to just keep their heads down and race for the finish line. Not so fast -- it's important to say thank you to those around you who've made the school year possible. This is not just a post for administrators to show the love to their staff, but for the staff to show the love to the administrators, secretaries, custodians, counselors -- and of course the students. Here are some simple things you can do to say "Thank you!" for all of the hard work everyone has put in this year.

Read More
Ben JohnsonApril 22, 2014

"Why did I want to be a teacher?" We all face burnout, sometimes on a daily basis, and in my case, especially after fourth period. Most of the time, we can pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and go back to the drawing board to try another strategy to find success with student learning. I have to admit that it is getting more and more difficult to make that transition back to a willingness to try again. I can't help to think students are more difficult than they used to be a few years ago, and pressures from accountability are becoming more oppressive. And of course, the pay for teachers is inadequate. With all of this we may ask, is it worth it?

Read More
Ainissa RamirezApril 21, 2014

What do rubber, penicillin, Teflon and Velcro have in common? They were all found by accident. This happens in science all the time -- accidents play a significant role in scientific discoveries. Some believe that nearly a third to half of all inventions were found by serendipity.

Read More
Dominic O'BrienApril 21, 2014

As a student, I had great difficulty concentrating during lesson time and consequently didn't retain much knowledge. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and had the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. Academic information just didn't get through to me. Here are samples of reports that my teachers sent home when I was ten:

  • "He tends to dream in the middle of a calculation which leads him to lose track of the thought."
  • "Has not paid much attention. Appears to know more of the Universe than the Earth." (This was a veiled reference to daydreaming from my Geography teacher.)
  • "Terribly slow. Often cannot repeat the question. Must concentrate."
  • "Unless Dominic really shakes himself up and gets down to work, he is not going to achieve any success . . . he is painfully slow."
Read More
Monica BurnsApril 18, 2014

When children are told to "go home and study," many aren't quite sure what this means. "Do I stare at the pages of a textbook? Should I redo old homework problems? Will I remember this new list of vocabulary words if I read them over and over?" Giving students the tools to develop study skills is one step in the right direction.

Read More
Stacey GoodmanApril 18, 2014

"The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious." -- John Scully

"Looking up gives light, although at first it makes you dizzy." -- Rumi

Can you teach students to be visionary? Can visionary thinking even be taught? Most of us might believe that being able to imagine possibility in the way that moves and inspires people is a mystical or unknowable human quality. Yet, by helping our students see themselves as agents of imagination and members of communities larger than themselves, teachers can create a foundation for a visionary curriculum.

Read More
Judy Willis MDApril 18, 2014

Recently I evaluated three nonprofit sites that provide evaluations of online game-based skill or fact practice.

All three are on the right track, but only one offered the specific educator-directed professional evaluation needed to guide teachers in choosing the best of these resources. The other two had limitations, such as inadequate documentation from specialists with expertise in child development or education, no clear rubrics used for evaluation of websites, and/or murky details of applications and suitability for individual students and topics.

Read More
Brian SztabnikApril 17, 2014

Clarity. It is what we long for when we travel through a student's essay. Yet our struggling writers make us wander through a cluttered maze of thoughts, leading to dead ends.

We want an awareness of purpose. We want ideas to progress in logical order. We want sentences to be fluid and confident, not stuffed with words desperate to impress. We want so much because good writing is multidimensional. So how to encourage this? Rubrics are uninspiring and often contain too much information for students to digest. The question remains: how do we give students guidelines without glutting their minds with a 50-item checklist?

Read More