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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.

Monica BurnsApril 11, 2014

With so many great resources on the web, teachers are realizing that they can learn just as much (if not more!) from their personal learning network (PLN) as they can from traditional professional development (PD). Educators are connecting with like-minded individuals across the globe, reading about best practices and new trends in education, and sharing their experiences with friends and colleagues. Through social media, popular blogs and webinars, teachers are taking ownership of their learning and finding PD opportunities that weren't possible a decade ago.

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Tom WhitbyApril 10, 2014

I believe that most states require teachers to have a certain amount of professional development (PD) each year. I also believe that most states do not directly pay for this to happen, leaving the funding of any PD up to individual districts. At that point it comes down to budgetary priorities. Some schools have the means, but many others do not. Nevertheless, every school must check off a box on some form somewhere indicating that some degree of PD has been delivered. And so was born the idea of the full-day workshop at least once a year. The impact on the budget is minimal, all of the teachers receive a day of PD to carry them through the rest of the year, and most importantly, the box on the form can be checked. Does this sound familiar?

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Heather Wolpert-GawronApril 10, 2014

So many laws and opinions about education seem to stem from memories of teachers who have had a negative impact on our lives. Now, I'm not denying that there are those teachers out there who made us really happy we didn't wake up as them every morning. Let's face it, those folks are in every industry. But when I think back at all of my teachers (and I remember every one of them), I have so many of them to thank for their positive influences on me.

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Dr. Richard CurwinApril 10, 2014

In the responses to several of my previous posts, many comments focused on the debate of whether children need rules, or whether children are better off with free choice and have the ability to make correct decisions when free to do so. Summerhill by A.S. Neill is offered as a shining example of that school of thought. In a 1999 New York Times article "Summerhill Revisited," Alan Riding posited why the results of Summerhill were not as glowing as A.S. Neill described in his landmark book.

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Suzie BossApril 9, 2014

With Earth Day 2014 coming up on April 22, many schools are making plans for one-day celebrations that promote a green message. For deeper learning --and longer-term benefits for people and planet alike -- why not use Earth Day as an opportunity to launch more ambitious projects?

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Ben JohnsonApril 9, 2014

Back in December, on the long drive from Texas to Utah, I had some time to reflect on many things. I considered the reasons why we look forward to the holidays. They are full of celebration, we find out what's going on in the lives of relatives and friends, and we simply enjoy the time together. For some strange reason, that got me thinking about reading Harry Wong's seminal book, The First Days of School, and I remembered being profoundly impressed by his concept of starting school off with a bang by throwing a party on the first day.

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Junaid KhanApril 8, 2014

The creative potential of LittleBigPlanet 2 (LBP2) is evident as soon as the PlayStation console is turned on. The game opens with a colorful video that exposes first-time users to an amazing storyline, a host of characters and -- most importantly for teachers -- an endless variety of spaces in which creativity and collaboration are the theme and focus of the gameplay.

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Terry HeickApril 8, 2014

Once it’s begun, you can’t fully separate the person from the task. When the artist is painting, the painter and the act of painting become a single "thing." The emerging artwork becomes a part of it all, too. As a teacher, your "self" is embedded within your teaching -- which is how it goes from a job to a craft. The learning results are yours. You probably call those young people in the classroom "your" students.

The same goes for students as well. There is a pleasing kind of string between the eight-year-old playing Minecraft and his or her digital creation. This is the magic of doing.

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Krista MoroderApril 7, 2014

My father is a former police officer who took up photography when he retired. A few months ago, I asked him when he was going to try a new hobby. "Aren't you an expert already?" I joked, pointing to his overbooked calendar of professional photography appointments.

"I have enough videos I still need to watch that I could fill up eight hours a day for the next four years," he said incredulously. "I don’t have time to learn a new hobby yet."

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Julie CoiroApril 7, 2014

An essential part of online research is the ability to critically evaluate information. This includes the ability to read and evaluate its level of accuracy, reliability and bias. When we recently assessed 770 seventh graders in two states to study these areas, the results definitely got our attention. Unfortunately, over 70 percent of their responses suggested that:

  • Middle school students are more concerned with content relevance than with credibility.
  • They rarely attend to source features such as author, venue or publication type to evaluate reliability and author perspective.
  • When they do refer to source features in their explanations, their judgments are often vague, superficial and lack reasoned justification.

Other studies highlight similar shortcomings of high school and college students in these areas. From my perspective, the problem is not likely to go away without intervention during regular content area instruction.

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