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Showing posts from July, 2016

Motivation and Student Engagement

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We always say that there is no "silver bullet" to getting kids to learn and be successful in school.  There's no secret or magic that helps all students.  Teaching is an art and some people have a way of reaching students better than other people.

       But the truth is that there really is a secret.  Every student can learn and good teachers can get to every student: the quiet student, the reluctant student, the distracted student, the poor student, the sad student, and even the emotionally-challenged student.  There is a way to help all students to learn how to learn.  This secret isn't always taught in teacher preparation classes.  Some teachers know about the secret but refuse to employ it; or struggle to use it every day.  Other teachers seem to use this secret with relative ease; masking the hours of effort and preparation they have put into it prior to class time.  The secret is motivation and student engagement.

       For most students who struggle i…

Everyone Can "Do" Math

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I've got great news...Everyone can do math!

       The bad news is that everyone doesn't believe this.  In fact, lots of people don't believe this.  How many times have you or someone you know said, "I'm not good at math." or "I'm not a 'math person'." or "I don't have a math brain."?  You never hear people say this about Science or Social Studies; it's only about math.  And the reason people say this is (probably) because of the way they learned math in school.

       Math has always been taught as a bunch of rules to follow, a lot to senseless things to memorize, and a whole lot of procedures to do.  Nobody ever taught you why these procedures make sense or why these rules are in place.  They just said something like "You have to know it."  (This is akin to the parent who says to his or her child, "Because I say so.")  Not a very good reason and certainly not a compelling reason for learnin…

Learning About Learning

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The goal of school is learning.  The challenge for our schools is to help all students to learn when students are so different.  Some prefer to work by themselves.  Others need to bounce ideas off of their peers.  Some need only to hear the information while others need to actively "do" something to help them to learn.

       The mystery of how students learn has baffled educators for a long time.  The puzzle of "some-kids-get-it" and "some-kids-don't-get-it" has been difficult to understand.  I think that--for a long time--teachers referred to their own ability to learn (and perhaps that of their peers) and felt that all students probably learned the same way they did.  In fact, I wonder sometimes if some present day teachers use the same technique.  And while there are still many unknowns in the field of learning, it is fair to say that we know more today about how students learn than at any time in our history.

       For starters, brain res…

Deeper Learning

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What - Deeper learning is simply what highly effective educators have always provided: the delivery of rich core content to students in innovative ways that allow them to learn and then apply what they have learned. 
More - Rigorous core content is at the heart of the learning process; true deeper learning is developing competencies that enable graduating high school students to be college and career ready and then make maximum use of their knowledge in life and work. The basic concepts of deeper learning are not new to education; indeed, they are routine educational practice for many accomplished individual teachers and educators and some high-performing schools. These successful practices are now being confirmed by increasing bodies of evidence underscoring the necessity for deeper learning as an integral part of the education process. Deeper learning prepares students to know and master core academic content;think critically and solve complex problems;work collaboratively;communicat…

Creating a Better High School - Part 3

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This is the third in a three-part series that will look at the structures in place in our current high schools that don't make sense or are not needed anymore.  I want to think about the best way that students learn and create a high school that will serve these learners.  I also want to think about the true purpose of high schools in our time.  My goal isn't to imagine a "High School of the Future", but instead to consider what can realistically be done today.  As always, I encourage my readers to add their thoughts and ideas.  Together we can create the high school that our students want and need today.

Create a Better High School Part 1 - Current school structures that aren't necessary anymore. Part 2 - How students learn and how schools can react to these learners. Part 3 - The purpose of high school
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The Purpose of High School        This c…

Creating a Better High School - Part 2

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This is the second in a three-part series that will look at the structures in place in our current high schools that don't make sense or are not needed anymore.  I want to think about the best way that students learn and create a high school that will serve these learners.  I also want to think about the true purpose of high schools in our time.  My goal isn't to imagine a "High School of the Future", but instead to consider what can realistically be done today.  As always, I encourage my readers to add their thoughts and ideas.  Together we can create the high school that our students want and need today.

Create a Better High School Part 1 - Current school structures that aren't necessary anymore. Part 2 - How students learn and how schools can react to these learners. Part 3 - The purpose of high school
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How students learn and how scho…

Creating a Better High School - Part 1

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This is the first in a three-part series that will look at the structures in place in our current high schools that don't make sense or are not needed anymore.  I want to think about the best way that students learn and create a high school that will serve these learners.  I also want to think about the true purpose of high schools in our time.  My goal isn't to imagine a "High School of the Future", but instead to consider what can realistically be done today.  As always, I encourage my readers to add their thoughts and ideas.  Together we can create the high school that our students want and need today.

Create a Better High School Part 1 - Current school structures that aren't necessary anymore. Part 2 - How students learn and how schools can react to these learners. Part 3 - The purpose of high school
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Current School Structures that Aren'…