Measuring an Activity Makes it Less Enjoyable

flickr photo by avrene shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

A new study shows us something that many in education have suspected for a while: when you measure it, it can take the fun out of it.  The Atlantic has a quick read on this new research.

“It’s not clear which parts of our measurement moment will prove faddish and which will stick. But in the meantime, new evidence suggests that when we do measure things, we might not enjoy them as much. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research seems to indicate that measuring an activity, whatever it is, decreases people’s motivation to keep up with it.

In other words, it proposes that the more you quantify something that’s rewarding for its own sake, the less likely you are to enjoy it—and the less likely you are, too, to do more of it. Across a series of experiments, Jordan Etkin, a marketing professor at Duke University, found that people’s intrinsic motivation to do something—whether it be coloring, reading, or walking—declined once it was measured.”

Read the entire piece here.



How Harnessing the Positive Side of Stress Can Change Student Mindsets

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This new MindShift piece by Katrina Schwartz outlines the advantages of talking about the positive aspects stress with students.

“Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset and its power to help people view challenges as opportunities to improve has helped many students understand their beliefs about themselves. When empowered with the understanding that intelligence is malleable, students can develop how they approach school and life. But the revelations around mindsets don’t end there — they apply to other areas of education, including how students view and react to stress.

There is a lot of research about how stress negatively impacts health, cognitive functioning and self-control, but less often discussed are how those findings change when people see their stress as a positive motivator. “In a number of situations, accepting and embracing the stress instead of trying to calm down helped students to do better,” said Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University at a Learning and the Brain conference on mindsets.”  Read the rest of the post here.

Bringing Empathy into Your Classroom

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Edutopia recently curated several recent resources on empathy.

  1. Lauren Owen has a piece titled, “Empathy  in the Classroom: Why Should I Care?”

“I vividly remember sitting in my classroom with my teaching coach, ready to begin my second year of teaching. We were strategizing my vision for the classroom and for my students. Over the past year, the school where I worked had grown increasingly obsessed with test scores, but the more I considered my students and their needs, the less test scores motivated me.

“Lauren, what do your students need?” my coach asked me.

I paused. They need . . . empathy, I thought before saying it out loud. Shortly after, I had constructed my entire classroom around the concept.

That year, empathy became a central component of my classroom instruction. Given that I taught history, empathy naturally lent itself to discussions of varying perspectives about and intentions of history’s key players. The deeper our discussions went, though, the more convinced I became that empathy needed to be a central piece in every school setting.

3 Benefits of Empathy in Education quotes Tyler Colasante by defining empathy “as ‘the intrapersonal realization of another’s plight that illuminates the potential consequences of one’s own actions on the lives of others’ (as cited in Hollingsworth, 2003, p.146).” As educators, incorporating empathy into instruction can have positive results for your immediate classroom, as well as for the community outside of the school building.”  Read the rest of the post, including an excellent list of resources, here

2. Another post at Edutopia brings together videos on the importance of empathy, including Brene Brown’s excellent segment:

See the rest of the suggestions here.

3. A final recent resource on empathy in schools from Edutopia is Design Thinking in Education: Empathy, Challenge, Discovery, and Sharing. Check it out here.

Resource for Online Collaboration & Global Projects

Some of the most important things we can do for our students are to help them understand their place in the world and to help them develop a deep appreciation for collaboration. I’ve recently come across this excellent resource from the Chris Stevens Youth Network.

Check out the table of contents from page 5 below:

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The Teacher’s Guide is full if ideas and inspiration. You can check it out here.

If you are looking for teachers or researchers to collaborate with from across the planet, Twitter is an excellent way to find them!  If you need help, just ask!


Providing Lesson Focus with ‘Do Now’ Experiences

flickr photo by hans s shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

One of the most effective ways to ensure a focused start to your lessons is to implement a culture and consistent practice of ‘do now’ experiences.

From the Teach Like a Champion blog:

“The first step in a great lesson is a “Do Now”– a short activity that you have written on the board or that is waiting for students as they enter.  It often starts working before you do.  While you are greeting students at the door, or finding that stack of copies, or erasing the mark-ups you made to your overhead from the last lesson, students should already be busy, via the Do Now with scholarly work that prepares them to succeed. In fact, students entering your room should never have to ask themselves, “What am I supposed to be doing?” That much should go without saying. The habits of a good classroom should answer, “You should be doing the Do Now, because we always start with the Do Now.”

An effective Do Now should conform to four critical criteria to ensure that it remains focused, efficient, and effective:

  1. The Do Now should be in the same place every day so taking it and getting started is the habit of all your students.  The options for where it goes:  1) You can write it on the Board- ideally in the same place everyday or post it on a piece of newsprint having written it in advance.2) You can put it in writing on a sheet of paper or as the first page in a packet for the day’s lesson(see technique #19, Double Plan). You’d then either leave the Do Nows in a stack on a table or desk just inside the door and that students take as soon as they enter or place a Do Now on each student’s desk before they enter.  (I tend to see this one most at the elementary school level)
  2. Students should be able to complete the Do Now without any direction from the teacher, without any discussion with their classmates and in most cases without any other materials save what you provide.  So if the Do Now is to write a sentence interpreting a primary source document that is an 19th century Punch cartoon, that cartoon should be posted somewhere easily visible to all or else copied into the Do Now packet.  This by the way his a significant benefit to paper-based Do Nows and probably explains why over the past four years I’ve seen more and more of them—and fewer DO Nows on the Board—in top teachers’ classrooms. Some teachers misunderstand the purpose of the Do Now and use a version of the technique that requires them to explain to their students what to do and how to do it: “Okay, class, you can see that the Do Now this morning asks you to solve some typical problems using area. Remember that to solve area problems, you have to multiply.” This defeats the purpose of establishing a self-managed habit of productive work. If you have to give directions, it’s not independent enough.”    Read the rest of the post, including samples, here.

For more examples of how to use “Do Now” strategy in your classroom, check out the Teaching Channel. 




Exit Tickets ~ Formative Assessments +++

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flickr photo by alykat shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

One of my favorite classroom assessment and teacher feedback strategies is the exit slip or exit ticket.  This quick activity can be done in a couple of minutes and provides teachers with essential information about what students have learned, what they may misunderstand, and/or how they are feeling about a particular lesson.

The Teaching Channel has a great segment on exit tickets, including a couple of clips.

The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching & Learning at Brown University has an excellent page on exit tickets, including examples.

Edutopia includes a post with ways to use exit tickets to plan for future lessons.

“An exit slip can also be be a great way to set up the next day’s learning. With that in mind, here’s a few uses to consider:

Discover Shared Interests

Before introducing a group project that includes student choice, students can respond to a strategic question via an exit slip, sharing their primary topics of interest and their reasons.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Instead of taking time during class to create a concept/topic map, you can provide students with the concept or topic word at the end of class, activating their prior knowledge, and have them write words and phrases related to it on their half sheet of paper. When they come into the classroom the next day, they will see all their ideas displayed around the main word or phrase. This brainstorm also serves as a diagnostic check for the teacher.”  Read the rest of the piece here.