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Showing posts from November, 2009

"Learning Styles" & "Differentiation": Buzzwords Debunked!

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I like this video. It confirms a theory I have had for a while. Most of the job interviews in education that I have been a part of, either as an interviewer or interviewee, have involved at least one question about learning styles and differentiated instruction. I have always been a bit critical. In one of my former districts there was relentless training on learning these topics. They paid top dollar for experts and consultants to run workshops. Quite often, I seemed to find that I was already doing some version of the teaching strategies they preached. Sure, I may have added some enhancers from the workshops, but nothing I would really consider ground-breaking. I've taught both heterogeneous and homogeneous classes. I've had classes with special education aids and one-on-ones, while a self-reliant future valedictorian sat two rows over. In the end, isn't it just about delivering a message effectively to all students? Shouldn't teacher find several ways to explain inf…

A Conversation With a Friend

I was over a college girlfriend's house today so our little ones (her's is 17 months and mine will be a year old in a week) could have a playdate.... and so we could catch up over a glass of wine.

We asked each other about our families, about our marriages, we laughed about the milestones our babies are meeting... and then the conversation turned to work. I asked her and she, as a nurse, talked about the demands that have come with the latest flu season. In turn, I talked about the new demands that come with 21st Century Skills in education. Her mom was a teacher in a private Catholic school before she retired a few years ago. So, she thought she had a good understanding of the workload and philosophy behind teaching in K-12 education.

Well, needless to say, I re-educated her.

I explained how research is not what it used to be. I explained how my 9th graders are designing websites, not merely writing papers. They are creating web-based presentations with embedded video clips and …

Bloom's Taxonomy for Web 2.0

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Another great discovery from my PLN on Twitter! Thanks to Eric Sheninger (NHMS_Principal)

Check out this link! It is an article that adapts Bloom's Taxonomy to Web 2.0. the author, Andrew Churches, has an award winning wiki called Educational Origami. His work is impressive. About halfway down the page, there is a great flowchart that applies higher order thinking to web 2.0 projects and activities.



The rest of the article breaks down what the verbs in the chart mean and how they work with these higher (or lower) order thinking skills. In each lesson and project I design for my students, I try to make sure that I hit at least one of the top three categories. It's hard to do every day in every lesson, but this chart is inspiring!

A few stand-outs:
Tagging and Searching = Even though Churches classifies these under Remembering, which is a lower order thinking skill, I like how tagging forces students to choose one-word key ideas to identify their images, podcasts, and blogs. Simi…

Is Cheating Bad Anymore?

That was a silly student-created video on cheating, but the rest of this blog is serious.

One of the assistant principals at the high school sent around this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a long article, but worth reading if you are interested. There were a few statements that really stood out to me, though.

Drugs for Studying
Pope says use of stimulants is on the rise in high school, and more and more kids are using them to take the SAT. As in the debate over the use of steroids in sports, some students don't feel it's morally wrong - because it's still your brain at work - and are ignoring the health risks of taking a drug not meant for them, with no monitoring of dosage or side effects by a doctor. Pope says when she wrote "Doing School" (published in 2001), "it was No-Doz and caffeine. Now, especially in the past five years, it has switched to Adderall, Ritalin and illegal stimulants."

I knew plenty of classmates in college who used…