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.

Stacey GoodmanMarch 18, 2014

Recently, I showed a group of students in my high school art class a film called Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink), about a seven-year-old boy named Ludovic who identifies as female. Ludovic has an active imagination, but is bullied by both adults and other kids who are unnerved by his desire to wear dresses and play with dolls. The film challenged my students to broaden their understanding of gender and identity and led to a discussion about ways in which our imaginations are limited when we are forced to be who we are not. It also reminded me of other examples in which character is forced to choose an identity, such as the movie Divergent, based on the popular trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth.

Read More
Ben JohnsonMarch 17, 2014

Like magic, the fish turn into birds and then back into fish. M.C. Escher's tessellations have a way of grabbing your attention and forcing your mind to make sense of the impossible figures on the paper. The Merriam dictionary describes tessellations as, "a covering of an infinite geometric plane without gaps or overlaps by congruent plane figures of one type or a few types." A geometry book I have on hand describes tessellations as geometric forms that make use of all available foreground and background space in two dimensions by repeating one or more different shapes in predictable patterns.

Read More
Ainissa RamirezMarch 17, 2014

Marshmallows can predict your future.

In the 1960s, there was an experiment with marshmallows. Children at the nursery school on Stanford’s campus were placed at a table and had the option of having one marshmallow now -- or getting two marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes while the researcher left the room. Children used many tactics to distract themselves while waiting, like kicking the floor, pulling their braids, and covering their eyes. Only about 30 percent of the children could hold out long enough to get the reward. But more importantly, it was found that those who could resist the marshmallows as preschoolers performed better in school later in life. Researchers found that self-regulation was a better predictor to success than IQ.

Read More
Judy Willis MDMarch 17, 2014

If we hope to construct enduring understanding in our students, it's critical that, now more than ever, we know their strengths and interests. By incorporating students' strengths and weakness into authentic learning experiences from the beginning of each unit, while at the same time including opportunities for feedback, metacognition and revision, we promote a variety of cognitive and emotional benefits that can lead to academic success.

Read More
Matt DavisMarch 14, 2014

Along with Women's History Month, March is also National Nutrition Month. If you're planning on incorporating nutrition, we've compiled a few of our favorite resources here. You'll find lesson plans that cover the science of cooking and digestion, as well as links to a variety of helpful source materials on the Web.

Of course, we just touched on a few, but we'd love to hear if you have plans for incorporating National Nutrition Month into your lesson plans. What resources are you planning to use?

Read More

Everyone is abuzz about a new short film called The Science of Character, which explores the research behind character development and encourages us to focus on our character strengths for greater personal and community well-being. I've featured a trailer for the film below, and then chosen one video for each of the seven highly predictive character strengths distilled by KIPP schools, in partnership with grit researcher Angela Duckworth, and psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson (authors of the groundbreaking book Character Strengths and Virtues). I hope these videos will inspire you to celebrate #CharacterDay on March 20th, and to think about the importance of character every day!

Read More
Ben JohnsonMarch 14, 2014

I was reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley and couldn't help wondering what our schools would be like today if we were forced to teach without the technology (including copy machines). She describes three school settings in South Korea, Finland and Poland as being devoid of the technology U.S. teachers take for granted, and how, especially in math and science, their best students outperform our best students by a wide margin. I agree with the premise of her book: good teaching and high expectations make the difference, and technology is icing on the cake. My concern is that we are at a point where our students spend more time using technology and less time actually learning.

Read More
Tom WhitbyMarch 13, 2014

Editor's note: This post draws from World's Simplest Online Safety Policy, coauthored with Lisa Nielsen in April 2011 and appearing on Tom Whitby's bog.

Where are we today with banning the Internet in schools? It was all the rage about three years ago. It would seem that technology has taken us farther away from the dark ages of the scary Internet. Mobile devices have underscored the fact that people have access to the Internet almost anywhere and at any time. Social media has gained a much larger acceptance with the public. Learning through social media has achieved a legitimate place among educators. Even the airlines have revisited their policies on in-flight Internet access. It is becoming more and more apparent to educators and parents that kids can gain access to the Internet without the help and guidance from schools.

Read More
Nicholas ProvenzanoMarch 13, 2014

Forgive the pun in the title of this post, but I couldn't help myself. The temperatures are starting to rise, and teachers need to shake off the winter weariness to make it through to the end of the school year. I've got some great tips on how you can inject some much-needed energy into your teaching and end each day with a smile on your face.

Read More
José VilsonMarch 13, 2014

A few years ago, Indira Gil, friend and math educator in Miami, Forida, asked me the following:

"Why do we call pi irrational when it's clearly the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter?"

Of course, I agreed. Such a pithy thought has swum around my ear for as long as it has because we've come to no resolution on it. For decades, we were always told to truncate pi to 3.14 or 22/7. The geeks might get a few digits deeper (3.1415926535. . .), but generally, this was a given fact and, like many things math, we didn't have to wonder because all the wondering had been done for us.

Years later, I rebuke all of this.

Read More