9 10, 2019

Adding Virtue to 21st Century Learning

2019-10-03T10:25:41-04:00 October 9th, 2019|Critical thinking, curriculum, ELA, Empathy|0 Comments

'Decency is what your grandmother taught you!' a beleaguered Morgan Freeman appeals to a frenzied courtroom in the film version of "Bonfire of the Vanities." This scene reveals public figures of authority and private citizens alike on the verge of bankrupting what little moral inventory they still retained after a series of related circumstances and opportunities. Meanwhile, in real life, a celebrated attorney goes on TV to confirm that lying to Congress is a crime, but simultaneously asserts that criminalizing lying itself (to the press, for example) would be an abridgment of our First Amendment rights -- possibly true, but a head-shaking premise, to be sure, in considering how reprehensible lies and dishonesty are commonly held to be .  In the spirit that it does indeed "take a village," here are 5 ways to add virtue to the 21st century learning. 1) Bring Back the Classics  A good story often teaches the best lessons. The epics, poetry, theatre, and other literature of Antiquity through the late Renaissance is generationally revered for its exploration of human nature. [...]

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 [...]

15 08, 2017

The Benefits of Microcredentials

2018-06-28T20:26:28-04:00 August 15th, 2017|classroom, Critical thinking|0 Comments

Take Small Bites and Chew Slowly: The Benefits of Microcredentials Have you heard about microcredentials? It’s a new approach to professional development in a smaller, focused format. ______________________________________________________________ How does microcredentials work? Professionals complete a discrete, competency-based task. The organization offering microcredentials can then issue badges, continuing education credits, or other verification of completion. What might this process look like in practice? Let’s say a K12 school district typically offers face-to-face courses for teachers’ professional development. Teachers sign on and attend a number of hours of training and are then awarded continuing professional development, or CPD, credit for participating in those workshop trainings. If that same K12 school district redesigned the learning using the microcredentialing approach, several components would change, including: ● The time unit would be smaller. It’s easier for busy educators to fit a 15- or 30-minute professional development session into their busy schedules. ● The learning experience is skill based and related to on-the-job tasks. Putting literacy groups into action! ● Teachers participate in a round-robin of 15-minute classroom observations watching a [...]

25 11, 2015

Lesson Plan Ideas for Teaching Thanksgiving

2018-07-25T19:18:44-04:00 November 25th, 2015|Critical thinking, Curriculum Planning, history|0 Comments

The Thanksgiving holiday offers a unique opportunity for teaching students about actual historical events, and also various factors that affect perception of those events in the popular imagination.