Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simply Puzzling

National Geographics has an Altas Puzzle page. There are 23 Atlas puzzles of various maps showing countries and continents. The pieces snap into place when you find a match and you don't have to rotate pieces to make them fit. I did the North America puzzle and it took 6 minutes and 52 seconds. Can you beat that? The neat part is that you don't have to worry about missing pieces. If you want to make your own puzzles, you can upload a picture to jigsaw planet. Here is one I made of my daughter and me at Plymouth this summer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to put Quinhagak, Alaska on the map

As I fifth grade teacher, I wish I had thought up something as wonderful as this. I think people around the world are going to be asking, "Where is Quinhagak, Alaska?" All that was needed was a creative teacher, some enthusiastic students, a willing village, the Hallelujah Chorus, and the spirit of Bob Dylan. Enjoy the video and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms

This animated video talk was adapted from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award. There is a lot to think about here. You can listen and watch the creative drawings to further engage your mind. Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools' dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD. Schools should not be "putting kids to sleep, instead we should be waking them up." 


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Diana Laufenberg: How to learn? From mistakes

From Ted Talks: Diana Laufenberg: How to learn? From mistakes
"....learning has to include an amount of failure, because failure is instructional in the process."

Monday, December 13, 2010

What makes a good teacher?

 It took $45 million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to figure out what makes a successful teacher, according to last week's New York Times article What Works in the Classroom?  Ask the Students by Sam Dillon. What did they do? They took the innovative approach of asking students.

What did this boatload of money find out about good teachers?
Teachers whose students described them as skillful at maintaining classroom order, at focusing their instruction and at helping their charges learn from their mistakes are often the same teachers whose students learn the most in the course of a year, as measured by gains on standardized test scores, according to a progress report on the research.
What did they find out about poor teachers?
One notable early finding, Ms. Phillips said, is that teachers who incessantly drill their students to prepare for standardized tests tend to have lower value-added learning gains than those who simply work their way methodically through the key concepts of literacy and mathematics.
I am amazed at the amount of money and effort that has been spent  trying to get teachers to drill their students in order to increase test scores and pass state tests. Now they are spending more money and finding out this isn't such a great policy after all. Maybe one day they will even pay a bunch more millions for another study and decide to ask teachers about good teaching! I am sure teachers would tell you for free what works and what doesn't work.