7 08, 2019

Productive Struggle: An Approach that Fosters Critical Thinking

2019-08-07T09:45:22-04:00 August 7th, 2019|Critical thinking, STEM, Supporting Students, Teaching|0 Comments

This guest post was written by Kristin Owens, Assistant Director of STEM area. Why is math class not the setting for most made-for-TV movies? Frankly, it is often lacking many of the elements we find most entertaining: suspense, drama, edge-of-your-seat action. TV audiences are not particularly engaged by lectures, note-taking, and example problems. And neither are students. An approach called productive struggle could change that! What is productive struggle? Imagine a group of students hunched around a worksheet containing a set of block figures. Each figure has the same shape, but the number of blocks in each increases consistently from the first figure to the last. The students must formulate an equation to calculate the number of blocks in each figure. And that is the extent of their instructions. While you may not be on the edge of your seat, the opening scene has set the stage for an exercise in productive struggle. Watch what happens next! The process of productive struggle Now that the teacher has assigned the worksheet, this is how the process of productive struggle [...]

6 02, 2019

AP Test Prep Assessment Items: A Quick How-To

2019-02-06T11:04:21-04:00 February 6th, 2019|assessment, Supporting Students|0 Comments

AP exams can be daunting for students—and just as daunting for the teachers entrusted to effectively prep those students to succeed. However, these anxieties can be reduced by providing well-constructed test prep assessment items. Not only will students reap the benefits, but teachers will feel better when preparing their classes for the AP exams. So how does one write these effective assessment items?  Start with this simple checklist: Use application over recall Focus on analysis Use visuals: cartoons, photos, maps, or artifacts Compare and contrast The Importance of Application The AP Government exam will not ask students to recall specific names or dates.  Instead, students will be tested in their ability to apply their knowledge to specific scenarios.  The assessment items used to prepare students should mimic that level of application. Don’t just ask students to know; ask them to show what they know and how it connects to real-life politics. Why Analyze? Students shouldn’t just identify governing documents or Supreme Court decisions; they should also evaluate and interpret the causes and effects.  Think Bloom’s Taxonomy [...]

12 10, 2017

Supporting Students During Natural Disasters

2018-06-24T21:54:52-04:00 October 12th, 2017|Supporting Students|6 Comments

Severe weather events can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially devastating for families. As we’ve seen from recent weather events, storms can cause property damage, food and water scarcity, and, unfortunately, injuries and loss of life. Children may struggle to understand how to cope with the loss and destruction resulting from weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, thunderstorms, floods, and blizzards. To supplement what students are learning at home about severe weather, educators should be ready to teach students about different types of natural disasters, where they occur, and how to prepare for them. Download Our Hurricane Lesson Plan, Mapped to NGSS Standards 1. Types of Natural Disasters Educators should be prepared to teach students about different types of natural disasters including those related to the weather and especially the events that take place most frequently where they live. In teaching the different types, it is important for educators to focus on: What the weather event is and how it is formed What terms are associated with each weather event Where the [...]