Using Design Thinking for Project Based Learning
education Using Design Thinking for Project Based Learning On my first day as a long-term sub, I instigated a project with inner city middle schoolers that when I look back on it now, I wish someone had talked me out of even attempting. Yes, it went off unbelievably well because I didn’t know that stringing wires across the playground on the first day of school and having kids break up into bands of silent “hunters” to catch wild pinata animals was probably a bit ambitious. But, after teaching for fifteen years, I don’t know if I would have had the ability or courage to pull that off again. continue reading November 19, 2019
education Drawkcab Planning Early on in my teaching career, I started a class with the final exam. The stupefied students looked at me like I was crazy. But the test, which didn’t count, wasn’t really a test as much as a road map. continue reading July 4, 2019
Drawkcab Planning
Dog School
best practices Dog School It’s a well-known fact that we don’t deserve dogs. As a species, they are far in advance of human beings in all the values we most prize and seldom achieve: courage, loyalty, unconditional love, patience, resilience, perseverance, I don’t know where to stop. But we are fortunate in that by some quirk of evolution, our two species, human and canine, have been linked together for thousands of years (no offense to cats, but it’s as well known a fact that felines barely tolerate us). Maybe what we’ve been leaning away from since the dawn of civilization is what makes us most human, animals. continue reading June 30, 2019
education Teaching the Unthinkable When David Lee Miller and I set out to write the children’s picture book, The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank, we strongly believed that a new generation of young people needed to learn more about the events of World War II and the Holocaust. What better way than to tell a true story from the point of view of a cat who was really present at one of the most dramatic stories that came out of the war. Yes, a cat really lived in an Amsterdam attic with Anne Frank, Peter Van Pels, and six other Jews. continue reading June 21, 2019
Teaching the Unthinkable
Jordan O.'s Guest Student Blog
education Jordan O.'s Guest Student Blog Last year in my Humanities class, I had Stuart as my teacher. His methods for teaching were both unusual and fantastic. He used a collection of books he wrote to convey what he was teaching in a unique and interesting way. These books deliver history in very fascinating and distinct way that gives a sense of the times and culture for the subject period. continue reading June 8, 2019
education Spiral Gyral My great-grandfather had a library in the back of his railroad flat in Brooklyn. The walls were made entirely of books—except for one window where the cat stood watch over my great-grandmother in her tomato garden. To my six-year-old eyes the books were like vertical bricks. I was afraid of them. I felt like that poor man in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” buried alive behind a wall of bricks. Until my great-grandfather pulled one of those books down and started reading to me—maybe about Sandokan, the great Malaysian pirate in Emilio Salgari’s The Tigers of Mompracem, or maybe anything at all from our favorites Jules Verne and H.G. Wells—and the bricks would open up and become passages to other worlds. continue reading May 24, 2019
Spiral Gyral
Three Ways to Assess Without Test Stress
best practices Three Ways to Assess Without Test Stress Quizzes, games, and short tests to measure comprehension can be helpful to the teacher and fun for the students. But, when it comes to a summative evaluation of student work we often feel stuck with a long test about facts and/or a five-paragraph essay. Long tests do nothing but measure how many facts students can jam into their heads for a day or so before everything is forgotten. Essays are better—if the student is a verbal learner. If not, they just create stress and mental pabulum dripped onto the page or screen. There are other ways to assess how well students are incorporating information and demonstrating understanding. continue reading May 16, 2019
best practices What's the Question? What if I told you that asking questions is the single most important skill we can teach students? Aren’t questions the key to developing critical thinking skills and to writing with depth and complexity? What is all inquiry-based learning based on if not asking questions? continue reading May 10, 2019
What's the Question?
The Middle School Brain
best practices The Middle School Brain It’s a mess. A young child’s brain is like a tree growing tall and filled with beautifully colored leaves. Then at 11 or 12, a storm hits, shaking the tree, stripping the leaves, cracking the branches, and twisting the trunk. That’s the middle school brain. continue reading May 4, 2019
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