At Edutopia, we strive to provide an array of strategies for people to improve education. When I look back over 2012, there are many standout blogs, videos, and social media shares, but Elena Aguilar captured my favorite kind of Edutopia content: a technique that any educator, anywhere, can do. It doesn't cost money. It doesn't require a ton of extra time. It's the human connection that matters in education.
Speaking as a dad, who is sprinting at top speed to keep up with my newly minted teenager's unquenchable thirst for digital media stuff, I loved this guide. There are plenty of good ideas for channeling kids' energy in creative and productive ways, but also the guide gave me great ammo for discussions with my kids about how to stay positive and safe with digital media. One last bouquet to the Guide producers, thanks for the tips about how to fire up our schools on the virtues of 21st-century learning in the classroom -- and the great suggestions for how we parents can stay informed in the future.
I'm part of the video team at Edutopia, and I have to call out this Tech2Learn piece about building career skills in video production. The video program at Visalia High School reminds me so much of the video program at my own high school so many years ago. I love to see how motivated these students are when creating amazing projects, and it makes me smile to see their teacher doing what he loves and sharing that passion with teenagers, some of whom, I am sure, will go on to work in the film industry.
I've tried to instill in my children the notion that life never works out as (pre)planned. That part of learning and growing gives us a sense of purpose, but it also means taking joy in taking chances, making discoveries, and yes, even changing your perspectives. Our own Betty Ray introduced me to the Design Thinking "mindset," and I became eager to learn more through her great facilitation of the five-week Design Thinking for Educators workshop. Wow! What inspiration! Don't impose restrictions on yourself or your students. Say "yes, and..." rather than "yes, but..." What a great way to start the new year, right?
Just when you think you know something, then you have to explain it to someone else, and you realize, "Uh, let me get back to you on that..." That's why I loved seeing these students working together -- they listened to each other's questions and explanations so intently and respectfully, and they described how much more they learned by having to explain things to each other. So while a teacher can never be replaced in the classroom, it's great to see how much students can learn from each other, too.
Teaching is really complicated. Absent rich contexts, kids view learning as shoveling smoke; words and concepts float away. However, when instruction aligns with gaming mechanics, learning zealots are manifested. In this eight-minute video, genius education researcher James Gee is not saying that teachers should bring "Call of Duty" into the classroom. However, they can motivate their students by incorporating principles of gaming: roles, rich contexts, challenges, cooperation, meaningful tools, responsive environments, and problem solving. Gee says that the problem with schools is that they "have handed kids all the manuals, without the games."
Since my early years, I have had an affinity for figuring out how things work. My initial exposure to computers was both a puzzle to solve and a challenge, in part because my knowledge of English was limited at the time, and resources in general were limited. Looking back, I can see how my early exposure to technology allowed me to develop analytical skills that were not only needed to understand computers, but also to understand the world around me. This video reminded me of that initial process, the research that was needed, the translation efforts to make sense of it all, the failures, and the satisfaction when the task was finally completed.
Want to know what engages students? Blogger Heather Wolpert-Gawron did too, so she decided to ask them. This post is jam-packed with great ideas from students about what works to inspire their curiosity and keep them engaged.
I struggled with math as a student, so it was nice to see how this approach -- blended learning using Khan Academy -- is shaping classroom learning and improving outcomes. It's also part of our Tech2Learn series, which did a great job of highlighting inspiring ways technology is helping students and teachers.
This article is a collaboration with Common Sense Media, a wonderful organization that helps parents, teachers, and kids navigate the multimedia world we live in. As a parent of a toddler myself, I really appreciate Common Sense's resources, and this page offers lots of useful tips in one place, with links to more. They help parents (and teachers!) make sense of our increasingly complex and media-saturated society. This article was published as part of our new Parent Engagement resources page, a home at Edutopia for parents who want to be productively involved in education -- also a treasure trove of resources!
Hands-down the best collection of videos on Twitter for education. I especially like @VideoAmy's last pick, "Flutter: The New Twitter" for laughs :) Bonus: All of the Five-Minute Film Festivals are YouTube playlists, so you can listen to them in one fell swoop (bad bird pun).
This is one of the best pro/con pieces about the flipped classroom I've read this year. It doesn't lean one way or the other, but it lets you decide if it's right for you. It also squashes the many misconceptions of what a flipped classroom is -- a "must-read" for anyone curious about the flipped phenomenon.
The quiet transformation of Visitacion Valley through meditation is the most touching story I've had the privilege of editing at Edutopia. Not only was it an amazing and heartening experience to watch the students who live in a troubled neighborhood cope with traumatic experiences through meditation, it inspired me to practice meditation while working on the piece. Stories like Visitacion Valley's are a perfect reason why I love living in the beautiful city of San Francisco and feel so fortunate to be able to share the success of this "little school that could."
We designed this infographic to highlight the amazing financial literacy practices at Ariel Academy, which are bringing meaning to math and opening students' eyes to the economic ties that connect people in everyday contexts. I love this infographic because it helps to show how financial literacy can help students to make more informed decisions and promote their lifelong success.
So many inspiring ideas on a single page! I especially like "Keeping Time: Music Is a Core Subject" by Wynton Marsalis. Having played the trumpet for most of my childhood, I love articles that emphasize the importance of music and art in providing students with a valuable education.
Thinking back on my own education, the moments I remember most all involved the arts. So when the Schools That Work team and I first visited Bates Middle School and saw how arts integration was improving the school and empowering students, I felt a strong connection with arts integration. This video showcases the hardwork of students and educators that we saw there, and it was a pleasure for me to work on this production.
Many urban schools are filled with students who rarely come in contact with children that don't look like them and teachers who don't live in urban neighborhoods or look like their students. Vilson brings up the importance of getting over the discomfort to have real conversations and honest reflections on how race plays a role in our everyday lives and what we can do about it.
Manor New Technology High School in Manor, Texas. Heard of it? They are successfully implementing a schoolwide project-based learning program that is transforming students' lives. On average, 98 percent of their students graduate from high school and 100 percent of those kids are admitted to college. But that's not what's stunning to me. Watch the video and hear the students talk about their projects, about what they are working on at school. They are excited, they are passionate, they are masters. It's the kind of story we LOVE to cover here at Edutopia: proven techniques that can inspire a lifelong love for learning.