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Engineering Camp Wrap-up

Today wraps up our week-long camp at Chadwick International where I had the pleasure of teaching an Engineering camp to 6-8th graders. Our challenge was to create a bridge to span a 36cm gap between two desks that could hold 20 pounds/9kg of mass. Day 1 We focused on understanding the problem, our materials and how others had approached building bridges. Day 2 We worked on designs and built a design by da Vinci, which involves no fasteners or glue at all! It gave us a different way to think about transfer of tension and compression forces. Students then chose(more…)

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Reflection on Personalized Learning in Education

This post was originally submitted as an assignment for my teaching certification program. Approaches to Personalized Learning Special Education in Finland I found the normalization of Special Education in the Finnish example to be comforting and visionary. Is it any wonder that the Finnish system leads the world? Well-educated, well-compensated teachers in a highly regarded profession produce winning results- there’s no surprise here that the combination works. What is difficult, however, is getting the public support necessary to replicate these results eslewhere. While many students can benefit from mainstream education, there are still many (around 32%) that fall outside one sigma of variation(more…)

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Teaching Collaborative Group Work: Day 1

The Need to Change I’ve noticed that my student project teams don’t always do group work together as well as I think they should, given that they are university students. Haven’t they had lots of opportunity to work in groups before? This shouldn’t be anything new. What I’m learning, however, is that students need explicit instruction on how to work as a group, since productive group work is not the default. I’ve been working with resources from Edutopia, The Buck Institute for Education, the Productive Group Work book from ASCD, and this handy paper by Phipps and Phipps on Group(more…)

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Creating High Performance Learning Environments

Introduction When planning to create a learning environment with high expectations for students, it is important to consider some of the existing and popular teaching methods, and consider whether or not these styles promote the type of environment you are looking to establish for your own classroom. Today we are looking at three different scenarios, an elementary STEM class, a Chinese-language elementary maths class, and a Whole Brain high school class, all of which are, or appear to be, in the United States. We’ll look at both the academic and behavioral expectations set by the teachers in each scenario, and(more…)

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Why Mobile Devices Belong in the Classroom

When mobile devices started to become commonplace, teachers quickly found that they had a high potential to be distracting to students during class time, whether merely through the interruption of incoming call or message alerts, to students taking calls and corresponding with others. Cheating through text message, text files and Internet searches via early mobile browsers raised eyebrows and hackles, and quickly mobile phones were outlawed in the classroom. In truth, mobile phones are disruptive technology. This is even more true in how they have and have yet to affect education than the simple distractions of incoming messages. For several generations(more…)

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Project-Based Learning

What is Project-Based Learning? PBL is a constructivist, inquiry-based learning pedagogy that is often cross-disciplinary and based in “real life.” Gone is the question, “When am I ever going to use this?” and is replaced with “What do I need to learn so I can solve this problem?” With a final presentation that involves the community, students have accountablilty beyond the classroom, as well as acknowledgement and praise from a wider support base. With clear outcomes, the development of projects can be tied to local or national learning standards, including the Common Core. BIE provides professional development, training, and sample(more…)

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Competency-Based Education and Moodle

I had the good fortune these past two weeks to present on Competency-Based Education (CBE) and Moodle. The first was at the Faculty Education Special Lunch Lecture on October 5 at PaiChai University. Dr Park Jong-Dae of the Department of Engineering invited me to reprise the presentation today for the E-Learning Society of Korea. Korea is moving quickly toward competency-based education. The Ministry of Education recently released a new curriculum (2015) for K-12 learners that is transitioning to Competency-Based Education and, according to faculty at PaiChai I have spoken with, is the direction the MOE is pressing post-secondary education. It(more…)

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Schools: Dump Email and Start Slack-ing

The Problem: Too Much Mail Teachers and administrators are familiar with email, which makes it a convenient tool for communicating within and across departments. Maybe a little too convenient. If your inbox is like that of many teachers, there are hundreds of unread messages in your inbox. Things you don’t need to know. Questions you don’t need to answer. Social messages. Mass-mailed jokes. Single-line reply-all messages intended for one person. And, somewhere in the thick of it all, that one email that is actually relevant and important. How on earth does anyone have the time to get through the backlog, let alone(more…)