Is Multitasking Killing Your Brain?

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By Featured Blogger: Craig Gastauer

I glance at the people around me. She has her email up on the computer screen in order to get through the abundance of emails loaded in her inbox. He has a window open to write that test he hasn’t gotten around to creating. The guy at the end of the table has student work out as he feverishly writes feedback to the students while also texting his wife about funny stories that happened to her today. Me? I am texting a person to discuss how to help third grade teachers think about what it means to have students truly engage in critical and creative thinking, reviewing my plan to help students co-create their learning about genetic engineering, and writing a to do list to ensure that I get my son to his weekend soccer tournament with everything he needs.

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Helping All Students Prepare for Their Future

thinking capSince the beginning of the standards movement, coverage of those standards has been the first priority in a vast majority of the classrooms across the nation.  Teachers cite their desire for students to perform well on external exams as why they speed through the curriculum rather than focus on student learning and preparation for their future.  With the adoption of the Common Core, there was supposed to be a shift to prepare students for College and Career Readiness.

Duke University researchers studying a program known as Fast Track found that learning academic skills in the early grades were not as powerful as helping students learn “soft” skills like self-control and social skills.   In this article from NPR, researchers found that specifically helping students learn to collabora...

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A Small Group of Students CAN Make A Difference (And What Does This Inspire You To Achieve?)

KeotaIn the small town of Keota, Iowa, the local community of approximately 1000 people operates a high school with a student body of 80 students. Since school funding generally operates on a per student basis, rural schools like Keota High struggle to get the money they need in order to provide students with the courses and materials they need. In fact, their situation is so dire, the school may be shut down.

Recognizing the problem, sociology teacer Schuyler Snakenberg challenged his students to find a way to improve the community, the state, and the nation...

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Successfully Working Through the Disruption of Change

J CurveChange.  Few words conjure such charged feelings from all stakeholders as “change.” There’s the excitement of implementing something new with the potential to positively impact student learning.  Expectations are high, goals are set, and strategies of implementation are discussed.  Others feel stress and anxiety at moving out of their comfort zone.  Even with support, teachers feel unsure at the thought of moving forward without concrete and proven plans of action.  And as implementation begins struggles ensue with an initial drop off in results.  This drop in success is often called the “J Curve.”

An explanation for the gap between expectations and the initial results of change is described in Four Strategies for Navigating the J Curve of Change...

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Sparking Creativity in Education

SparkingCreativityWe currently live in a time in which numerous complex challenges and questions are being asked in education. In this week’s highlight, Sparking Creativity in Education, Dr. Ron Berger interviews Molly McMahon, a Program Director at IDEO and a leader at The Teachers Guild. McMahon asks what it means to be a teacher in this day and age when there is always more being loaded onto their plates.

Teachers are natural designers who develop ideas to improve education for students. She points out that teachers actively focus on their class but can still be empowered to influence education outside their classroom walls. What may benefit teachers the most is the space to learn from one another regardless of where they teach throughout the country.

Describe your thoughts or related experiences in th...

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Growing Healthy Food at an Inner-City LA High School

hs gardeningIn an urban neighborhood described as “filled with auto shops and fast food restaurants,” students are signing up for an afterschool gardening program to learn how to grow and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.  This article by Cameron Keady describes the high school experience as U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy visits the high school.

In response to the obesity struggles students deal with, the school, in partnership with community organizations, found a space on campus and started their garden.  Students involved in the afterschool gardening program are eating better and experiencing improved grades.  Designs to copy this program are also in the works for a nearby high school.

What challenges does your school or community face?  What can you do to help solve your challenge?  S...

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What Is Innovation? (And how do we teach it?)

einsteinWhat is innovation? As educators, we know it is a 21st Century Skill that we are tasked to teach students. School vision and mission statements often include the term as the ultimate goal. But without a clear idea of what it means to innovate, how would we ever know what success in student efforts looks like?

In the article, The Innovator’s Mindset: Envisioning the Future, author James Canton describes his thoughts on how to define innovation and what strategies an individual with an innovator’s mindset would embrace. Teaching these strategies may be the way educators could help students build the innovator’s mindset in school.

What are your impressions of the definition of innovation and the identified strategies? Are there any you would remove? What strategies would you add to the ...

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Being Bullied

stop bullyingStudents bullying other students continues to occur throughout the world.  In the article from CNN, Kids get violent: China’s school bullying epidemic, the authors relate the story of Huang Tanghong, a 15 year old student who was bullied for years at his school in China’s Fujian Province.  For Huang and others who are bullied, the feelings of shame, fear, depression and loneliness can be overwhelming.  Whether or not the bullying becomes physical, as it did for Huang, student lives are changed forever.  Unfortunately, for the victims of bullying, the consequences of their trauma persist for decades as detailed in this article from the Los Angeles Times.

If you are a student being bullied, where can you go to get the help you need?  If you are a student, parent, educator or communit...

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Future of Teaching: A Fork in the Road

forkintheroadBy: Allison Zmuda

What is the future of the teaching profession in our brave new world of personalization? Personalized learning can go down one of two paths — one that marginalizes and one that embraces the role and expertise of the teacher.

The first path is an efficiency-based model where teachers increasingly rely on expertly designed lessons, assessments, videos, platforms in service to the broader topic or skill being taught. This first path is an industrialized model on hyper-drive; a customized “one-size-fits-all” model. The assignments are standardized, but the student can choose the pace, order, and format for learning...

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Student POV: Power of Coding

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Featured Blogger: Cuda Zmuda

Today all of the buzz is about the latest insta-post, vine, snapchat story, or the newest videogame. Everyone likes these amazing things that we witness. But, not many have actual knowledge on how to develop this creative tech that we have. I don’t know about you but I have always wanted to learn how to code. The best place to learn something new is when you are young. But even though not all of us are at the age where we can learn things easily, the next generation could very much use it. Especially saying that it doesn’t appear that apps and websites are going away anytime soon. Wouldn’t it be so incredibly interesting if we taught our kids how to code when they were in grade school? Well that could change.

Some school districts are starting to add...

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