New Langwitches Post: 3 Things I Wish Educators Knew About Their Own Learning


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Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano has a new post on her Langwitches blog where she outlines what she wishes educators knew about their own learning:

“I meet many educators around the world, virtually and in person… Many times, I am still amazed at the resistance to new ideas, change and willingness to apply the learning they expect of students to their own learning.

Here are the 3 things, above all, that I wish educators knew about their own learning.

  1. The understanding that we don’t know, what we don’t know!

How can we be resistant to pedagogy, tools and strategies that we have never experienced for learning ourselves? How can we try out new forms of teaching and learning, if we are not even aware they exist and play a vital role in the lives around us?

Read the rest of the post here.


New MindShift Piece on Visible Thinking

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Mindshift has a new and insightful post by Katrina Schwartz on the ways in which routines and structures for thinking can assist learners in making sense of and integrating new learning.

When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges

“Amidst the discussions about content standards, curriculum and teaching strategies, it’s easy to lose sight of the big goals behind education, like giving students tools to deepen their quantitative and qualitative understanding of the world. Teaching for understanding has always been a challenge, which is why Harvard’s Project Zero has been trying to figure out how great teachers do it.

Some teachers discuss metacognition with students, but they often simplify the concept by describing only one of its parts — thinking about thinking. Teachers are trying to get students to slow down and take note of how and why they are thinking and to see thinking as an action they are taking. But two other core components of metacognition often get left out of these discussions — monitoring thinking and directing thinking. When a student is reading and stops to realize he’s not really understanding the meaning behind the words, that’s monitoring. And most powerfully, directing thinking happens when students can call upon specific thinking strategies to redirect or challenge their own thinking.”

Read the rest of the piece here.

Upcoming Free On-Line Courses

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If you haven’t tried a MOOC yet (a Massive, Open, Online Course), it’s time! These free courses vary in quality, but many are taught by experts like Dan Ariely and Dylan Wiliam and can be exceptional.

Here’s what’s on offer at FutureLearn (my personal favorite go-to for MOOCs; I love the way they are organized and they are easy to jump in and out of.)

Blended Learning — A free course for the Vocational Education and Training sector to promote effective practice and pedagogy in blended learning.

Innovation: the World’s Greatest — Understand what innovation means and consider the history and developments of innovations that are important in our daily lives.

Learning Online: Searching and Researching — Improve your online research skills and your ability to critically analyse sources of information.

Babies in Mind: Why the Parent’s Mind Matters  — Find out how parents and caregivers influence children’s minds, from conception through infancy, with this free online course.

Check out all the FutureLearn courses here.

Another great place for free online learning is Edx.

Astrophysics — Learn Contemporary Astrophysics From Leaders in the Field.

Dog Behavior and Cognition — Learn How Dogs Evolved from Wolves to our Best Friends.

The Psychology of Political Activism: Women Changing the World. 

Behavioral Economics in Action — Learn how to use behavioral economics to design experiments and develop tools to help people make better decisions.

Check out all the edX courses here.

Getting Started with NGSS

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There are many resources out there to help you learn about and implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our science specialist recently found an excellent article that we’ve found particularly helpful in framing how to get started with NGSS.

Authors Mary and Russ Colson write with experience and in a voice that makes you want to keep reading.  Here’s a bit from Mary’s perspective on the need to allow students to ask their own questions to generate curiosity and persistence:

“I’m learning to let students pursue their own questions more often. The result is almost always greater engagement.

Two years ago, as we looked at patterns of rock ages on a national geologic map, a student asked: “Can we use the scale of this map to measure how wide the United States is?” I said yes, and the students dove in with the special urgency born of ownership.

Scale, spatial-thinking, and problem-solving started right away. I overheard a student say: “I got 13 miles wide for the U.S., but that can’t be right. I drive 75 miles to my grandmother’s house.” After the first day, a student asked: “Can it just be our class that does this?” I realized that if the other classes did it, too, the activity would become just another teacher-initiated lesson.

Give yourself—and your students—permission to pursue ideas that students find interesting. Let driving questions originate from the students even if they don’t exactly track your goals for the lesson. Then, seize the opportunity to join your students in making sense of their measurements, observations, and tentative explanations.

In 2011, my students and I watched a video of a tsunami rolling over the east coast of Japan. As the water pushed houses, ships, and cars inland like bits of driftwood, questions tumbled from my students like flotsam. One student asked: “Are we having more and bigger earthquakes than we used to?”

What an interesting question. Maybe your students can answer it. Earthquake data is available online. Join them in the journey.”

Read the entire piece here.

You can find many more resource and articles about NGSS at the NGSS Hub.



Helping Our Students Develop Global Competence

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More than ever, our students need to be developing global competence and appreciation. Here are three great resources to support your classroom journey.

  1. The Global Digital Citizen Foundation has a great post titled, Global Digital Citizenship–in 15 Minutes! that provides an overview and links to resources. 
    The Global Digital Citizen: A Common Hero for the Digital Age

    “There’s no one quite like the Global Digital Citizen. This citizen is conscientious, respectful, and compassionate. It’s an individual who strives to establish a sense of global community. They practice this in all online and offline relationships, duties, and endeavours. The Global Digital Citizen is defined by 5 unique tenets. They are Personal Responsibility,Global Citizenship, Digital Citizenship, Altruistic Service, and Environmental Stewardship.

    Read the rest of the post here.


  2. New Zealand Educator Craig Kemp shares additional ideas on his blog post: Top 5 ways for engaging students in a global conversation. Suggestions include giving students a voice, connecting with students around the globe, and helping students connect directly with experts from around the planet. Read his entire post here.

  3. Check out FutureLearn‘s Upcoming Free Course (starting April 4) on Intercultural Communication. Learn more here.

The NYTimes Magazine Work Issue is Out

Just in time for your weekend reading: The New York Times Magazine Work Issue is Out. It’s got good reads on what makes effective teams, meetings, and work-life balance.

Here’s a snippet of What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team by Charles Duhigg.

“When Rozovsky arrived on campus, she was assigned to a study group carefully engineered by the school to foster tight bonds. Study groups have become a rite of passage at M.B.A. programs, a way for students to practice working in teams and a reflection of the increasing demand for employees who can adroitly navigate group dynamics… To prepare students for that complex world, business schools around the country have revised their curriculums to emphasize team-focused learning.

Every day, between classes or after dinner, Rozovsky and her four teammates gathered to discuss homework assignments, compare spreadsheets and strategize for exams. Everyone was smart and curious, and they had a lot in common: They had gone to similar colleges and had worked at analogous firms. These shared experiences, Rozovsky hoped, would make it easy for them to work well together. But it didn’t turn out that way. ‘‘There are lots of people who say some of their best business-school friends come from their study groups,’’ Rozovsky told me. ‘‘It wasn’t like that for me.’ 

Instead, Rozovsky’s study group was a source of stress. ‘‘I always felt like I had to prove myself,’’ she said. The team’s dynamics could put her on edge. When the group met, teammates sometimes jockeyed for the leadership …”  Read the entire piece here.