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!
Friday 4: Another year to get better
I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions since I am not good at keeping them. I do, however, take time at the beginning of a new year to reflect on the year past and set some personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. I like the word “goals” rather than “resolutions” because, in my mind, goals can evolve and change as the circumstances change as opposed to resolutions that seem so rigid and unforgiving. Goals are also a desirable destination unlike many resolutions which are simply a laundry list of bad habits that one resolves to not do during the new year…too negative for me. I certainly hope that you have taken some time in these first few weeks of 2015 and thought about some personal professional goals that you are working towards. As teachers, we should all have things that we are working to improve or add to our educator toolbox. If you have not yet committed to some goals for 2015, perhaps this week’s Friday 4 will give you a few ideas to consider. Enjoy.
- Using video to improve practice is a piece that appeared recently on the Teaching Channel website that makes a good case for why you should routinely videotape yourself in class. I am a huge believer of the power of videotaping and would encourage everyone to try it at least once in the coming year.
- Top 10 Evidence Based Teaching Strategies is a piece from the Pinnacle Education website that I ran across that is spot on when it comes to impactful teaching strategies.
- Why Understanding Obstacles is Essential to Achieving Goals is a piece from the Mind/Shift website that may be helpful when working with students or advisees who are in need of some motivation.
- The Power of a Teacher is a piece from the Center for Teaching Quality that is a good reminder of the incredible responsibility we have as teachers, coaches and dorm folks in the lives of adolescents.
Phew! As I sit down at 9:20 PM to craft this week’s Friday 4, I can finally put my feet up and breathe a heavy sigh of relief…I made it through the “gauntlet” that is known as the post Thanksgiving/pre winter break stretch of the academic calendar. The students have all scattered to the corners of the state and globe for vacation and the faculty holiday party is in the books. A perfect time to share some of this week’s finds with colleagues!
This time of year is replete with “Top 10” lists and “Best of 2014” posts and articles that afford me a chance to “find” some reads that I might have missed during the year. I actually look forward to these recap articles since during these next few weeks I actually have some time to get lost in reading without feeling that I am avoiding more pressing work. This week’s Friday 4 includes two such lists.
Enjoy the break!