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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.

Matt LevinsonJanuary 23, 2014

It's hard work to parent a teen. In a recent New York Magazine article, Jennifer Senior writes, "It's dicey business, being someone's prefrontal cortex by proxy. Yet modern culture tells us that that's one of the primary responsibilities of being a parent of a teen."

Of course, it's no surprise that the last thing teens want is to have a parent looking too closely into their lives. It's a constant push-pull phenomenon for parents and for teens. One minute, a teenager can descend into grumpiness, isolation and solitude, and in the same breath, that teen wants a hug, affection and a laugh.

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Ben JohnsonJanuary 23, 2014

Eighty percent of what we do as learning engineers is ask questions. Because this is such a big part of what we do to inspire learning, we should do it really well! I began thinking about the research I have done that says that we have a long way to go before we can say that we ask questions really well, and then I thought of the wild hogs in Texas. There are millions of them. They are definitely not endangered and are frankly on the nuisance list. What if the way we ask questions was as tenacious, energetic and prolific as the wild hogs?

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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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Joshua BlockJanuary 22, 2014

Blogger's note: This post focuses on the importance of integrating collaboration into classroom practice. In my next post, I'll talk about strategies for successful facilitation of collaborative work.

A Learned Skill

Sharing my rough writing with others is a miserable experience. I know that outside input is a crucial part of revision, yet I squirm uncomfortably as those I trust make comments and probe with questions. Inevitably, I begin to feel resentment grow as I am forced to reevaluate passages that I thought were clear.

If collaboration feels this challenging for me with those whom I trust and respect, it must feel even harder for my students because:

  • I often make a point of dividing them into heterogeneous groups that include students with different skill levels.
  • The projects I assign require agreement and coordination between all the members of a group.
  • I expect the final products to be polished and ready for a wider audience.
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Lisa Flook, PhDJanuary 22, 2014

Editor's note: Simon Goldberg, Lisa Flook's colleague at UW-Madison's Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, contributed to this post.

It's 6:00 AM on a frigid Monday in mid-January. You know the feeling -- the darkness outside, as if you're moving through molasses, slogging through just to get out of bed. Through your morning ritual, you're finally at school. And it's just the beginning of a long, grueling day, in a seemingly endless week, and a never-ending year. You find that you don't have much patience for your students, frustrated with what feels like their commitment to making your life difficult. You feel isolated and alone, unsupported and up against something much bigger than you can handle -- in a phrase, burned out.

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Nicholas ProvenzanoJanuary 21, 2014

We have entered the second half of the school year, and many of you are probably surprised that you've made it this far without killing someone. Those are very natural feelings, but you might not be able to last the rest of the school year if that's where your mind is at the moment. After ten years in the classroom, I've put together what I think are some excellent tips for making it through the second half of the school year in one piece -- and not in jail. See which of these strategies can make the next six months a piece of cake in your classroom.

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Elena AguilarJanuary 21, 2014

Since my last Edutopia blog post, How Slowing Down Can Lead to Great Change was published, I've received dozens of messages asking for suggestions for how to slow things down in schools. The premise behind the following suggestions is that if we slow down, we'll have more opportunities for reflection -- to think about what we've done and how it went, to consider next steps, and also to listen to each other and therefore, strengthen our connections. Here are some steps that anyone working in schools can take to slow down:

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Andrew MillerJanuary 21, 2014

I am of course a huge project-based learning (PBL) nerd and advocate. I am also an advocate for the flipped classroom, yet at the same time I also have my concerns about flipping a classroom. This model still hinges upon great teachers, and engaging curriculum and instruction. So why not combine PBL and the flipped classroom? It can be an excellent match when you consider some of the following tips. Even Salman Khan believes that the flipped classroom can create the space for PBL.

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Shira LoewensteinJanuary 20, 2014

I recently read an article (posted on Facebook by a colleague of mine) about love in the workplace. The article spoke about how employees who felt companionate love at work performed better. It sparked my interest in teacher communities.

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David CutlerJanuary 20, 2014

I'm 23, almost fresh out of graduate school when I move to Miami to teach American history at Palmer Trinity, an independent school in Palmetto Bay. I have no friends or family nearby, and I'm completely unfamiliar with my surroundings. I'm also feverishly trying to get a firmer handle on my curriculum, and on making my lessons more relevant and engaging.

Today, my success as a teacher -- not to mention the lives of all the students I hope I have inspired and changed in my seven years in the classroom -- is directly related to the caring, high-quality mentorship I received during my first year of teaching. Without it, I would have become another statistic, quitting after my first few years on the job.

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