Let the craziness begin! We have arrived at that frantic stretch between Thanksgiving break and the winter break when the days begin to blur and the number of “extra” appointments/meetings/special holiday events and causes for disruption increase exponentially. Just enough time to complete a unit’s worth of material if we are lucky and having a good day and the weather gods smile down upon us and do not deliver any of that fluffy white stuff from the sky. Sounds like a perfect time to add one more thing to your plate…a December edition of the Friday 4!
Consider this week’s items an early holiday gift from me to you! Unwrap and enjoy. P.S. Please feel free to regift any of the items with a family member who does not regularly get the Friday 4!
- Those who know me, know that I am a big fan and user of twitter for my own professional development. Recently, I happened to run across a creative way for newbies to get their toes wet with twitter. The #12daysoftwitter challenge. The challenge started on December 1, but you can easily join in now and benefit from this introduction to the use of twitter as a self-directed professional development tool. Even power users of twitter can benefit from participating in the challenge and inject a little freshness into their twitter feed. It only takes a couple of minutes a day!
- Apply Yourself is a piece from the Harvard GSE website that offers up some good advice for seniors who are deep in the throws of the college process as well as for advisors of such students.
- Are you a coach looking for ways to leverage what has been learned about cognitive science with your athletes? Here is A ‘COGNITIVE SCIENCE READING LIST’ FOR COACHES
from Doug Lemov that will get you started.
- For my English teacher friends, here is a piece that I stumbled on that you may either hate or love. I am eager to hear which camp you fall into after you read Teaching Grammar Through Rhythm.
- My bonus item this week is a shameless plug for a blog post that I wrote for the Learning and the Brain website. I have been asked to join the team of regular contributors for the blog and had my first piece CLICK HERE: THE TECHNOLOGY OF RETRIEVAL PRACTICE IN THE CLASSROOM posted this week.
Enjoy and hang in there…vacation is only a few weeks away!
With Halloween only a few days away, I was tempted to provide a few “tricks” in this week’s post but decided that I would resist that temptation and only hand out “treats” for your enjoyment.
- The first item was passed along to me by a colleague and adds to the growing list of articles addressing the topic of multi-tasking and technology. Don’t Look Now! How Your Devices Hurt Your Productivity.
- The Faculty Focus website had two nice articles this week that look at topics that are common in discussions of teaching these days. The first one Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Practical Points looks at a skill that we all talk about but most of us have a difficult time actually teaching.
- Finding Signs of Progress When Learning is Slow looks at one of my favorite topics, namely, effortful learning and how difficult it can be for students.
- The last “treat” this week is a longer piece that is a good primer on the topic of Design Thinking (DT). DT has become very popular in education circles of late and provides a framework and way of thinking that can be used in every discipline. This primer is quite thorough and includes a bunch of excellent links for those who find the topic intriguing. Well worth the time!
I spent the day today attending and presenting at the Virginia Association of Independent Schools Leading Learning Conference (#VAIS2016) and had a blast! The day started with a thought-provoking keynote presentation from Jessica Lahey (@jesslahey), the author of the book The Gift of Failure. If you have not read her book, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy and share it with every parent and teacher that you know. I have given copies of the book to the parents of my advisees and will be facilitating a book club discussion on the book with our parents’ association this winter. My presentation on the neuroscience of learning followed Jessica and was well received by the crowd of approximately 350 Virginia educators who had assembled. After a couple of concurrent sessions that included a wide range of interesting and engaging topics, the day was over and I was exhausted. Exhausted but energized at the same time by the plethora of ideas that I came away with after engaging with fellow educators for an entire day of professional development. Kudos to the VAIS staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put together and pull off a fantastic day of sharing and learning!
Now on to the Friday 4 items for the week.
- Should School Be More Confusing? is a piece written by John Spencer (@spencerideas) that I serendipitously ran across this week that dovetails nicely with one of the themes of my talk, namely, desirable difficulties.
- Are We Afraid to Let Students Make Mistakes? appeared on the Faculty Focus website this week. I bet Jessica Lahey would have a few things to say about the ideas in the piece! 😉
- I found a new blog that I truly love this week after reading a piece shared by a member of my PLN. Here is one of my favorite posts from the site, Farnam Street, that really resonated with me. How To Think.
- Here is a nice short piece from the teachthought website that is pretty self-explanatory: 20 Observable Characteristics Of Effective Teaching. How many of these characteristics are observable in your classroom?
As any independent school teacher will attest, the middle of May is one of the busiest times of the year. AP exams are winding down, prom season is winding up and the seniors are counting the days until graduation. Special schedules are the “norm” and any sense of routine has gone out the window. In an attempt to inject some normalcy and predictability into this crazy stretch, I offer up this week’s Friday 4…even posted on Friday this week!
The first two pieces I ran across this week come from the same website…an interesting URL to be certain. Some good advice for all teachers as they work with students to improve their communication skills.
Enjoy the craziness that is the month of May!
The thermometer is expected to crack 30 this afternoon and I am ecstatic! (That would be 30 degrees Celsius and not Fahrenheit for those of you who have not yet converted to the metric system.) Warm weather is a mixed blessing as most teachers will attest….nice to be able to shed the winter clothing for spring duds; but if it gets too hot, students and teachers alike can struggle to remain focused in toasty classrooms. I can think of no better way to beat the May heat than a new edition of the Friday 4, so here you go…
While it may only be 41 degrees Fahrenheit outside today, the end of winter is definitely within sight; I can see more grass than snow on my JV Baseball field, and we are in full-fledged mud mode around campus. After a long, long winter, it is time to recharge the batteries and forge ahead with a sense optimism that only the spring term can evoke. In this week’s Friday 4, I have a couple of articles, a couple of resources for new lesson plans or ideas, 12 Google search tricks and a final thought provoking piece that should generate some discussion around the water cooler. I have not posted a Friday 4 in a few weeks so I took the liberty of going beyond four items.
- The all-school read for the Loomis Chaffee community next year is actually a listen to the “Serial” podcast. There just happened to be a nice piece on the Mind/Shift website earlier this month about how teachers are incorporating the podcast into their lessons. Perfect timing if you ask me! What Teens are Learning From ‘Serial’ and Other Podcasts
- Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn appeared on the Mind/Shift website this week and includes some good reminders about the connection between the body and the brain in learning.
- Looking for some short but pithy audio clips to spice up your classes? “Listen Current makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time.” Signing up for a free account will also give you access to additional resources for using the clips in your classroom. Worth a look and listen!
- Looking for a new way to introduce or teach a topic that is getting a little stale? Check out Activate Instruction, a free website that contains a wide range of resources from all of the core disciplines.
- 12 Google Search Tricks You Probably Didn’t Know is a recent post from the Google Guru website. You will certainly impress your peers and your students if you add a few of these arrows to your search quiver.
- The thought provoking piece is from the recent Atlantic Magazine and is titled The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher. The questions raised in the article are ones that all serious schools and teachers should be discussing if we are to remain relevant in today’s educational landscape.
As any teacher will tell you, February can be one of the most difficult months of the school year, especially if you teach in New England and have to deal with the never-ending possibility of having your well-planned syllabus blown to smithereens by a snow day or 1-hour delay. As a result, I have found that February can be a great month to take some time to be more reflective about my teaching. I ran across several blog posts in the past week or so that allowed me to stop and ponder some of my practices and seriously reflect on my teaching that I thought you might find interesting as well.
I hope that you find one or more of these pieces as thought provoking as I did. Enjoy!
Want to add a little “mind food” into your pre-Super Bowl snack lineup? Try a few of the delectable items on this week’s Friday 4 menu before hunkering down for your marathon session of watching TV commercials and an occasional pass of a partially deflated pigskin by local hero, Tom Brady.
- Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains is a nice review from the Mind/Shift website of a recent interview that appeared on NPR. I would encourage you to listen to the entire interview with Dr. Frances Jensen that can be found on the NPR site, but if kickoff is less than 38 minutes away, you may just have to settle for the recap at the Mind/Shift site.
- If you are looking for more learning and the brain stuff, here is another piece from the Mind/Shift website titled: What’s Going on Inside the Brain Of A Curious Child?
- On the pragmatic side, here is a piece that I found on the Faculty Focus website about How to Help Students Improve Their Note-Taking Skills. Some good advice not just for college students but for our students as well. How many of the activities do you employ?
- The final item this week is actually a series of pieces that all crossed my screen within a day or so that all speak to some of the issues I think a great deal about these days. If you would like to have a conversation about any or all of them, stop by the KCET and bring a friend!
Enjoy your weekend!
The snow has just about stopped, at least for now, which means that I will soon have to pull on my boots and go out and shovel the driveway. I actually truly enjoy days like this, ones during which I balance a little aerobic exercise clearing the snow with time reading in front of a toasty fire in the fireplace. Sounds pretty good, huh?
If you are looking for something to read between shovelling sessions, I present this week’s Friday 4 for your consideration. I know it is not Friday, but it is close enough! 😉
- I found this opinion piece Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others from last weekend’s NYT interesting as I thought about how I create collaborative groups in my classroom and contemplated ways in which I could better teach effective collaboration. My wife was certainly not surprised by the third characteristic of the smartest teams!
- On a somewhat related note, the following piece crossed my Twitter stream this past week and caught my eye so I clicked on the link and actually read it. Student Success Better Predicted By Personalities Than Intelligence; Why Being Smart Isn’t Enough
- Smartphones Don’t Make Us Dumb is a piece that appeared in the NYT recently that was written by one of my favorite authors and cognitive psychologists, Daniel Willingham. The piece addresses some common misconceptions about attention spans and electronic devices. The bottom line for me as a teacher is that I need to keep stepping up my game if I am going to capture and keep my students’ attention in class.
- After reading the Willingham piece in the NYT, I realized that I had not checked out his blog recently and decided to stroll over and see what I may have missed of late. Daniel’s latest post was a perfect piece for this week’s Friday 4: Five mini book reviews. Of the 5 books he reviewed, I had already read 2 of them but was intrigued by the last one on the list, so I ordered it from Amazon using my school-provided professional development debit card. Too easy! I may not be able to read the book today, but in 2 days thanks to Amazon Prime, I will have another book to add to between-shovelling sessions in front of the fireplace.