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  • Mysterious Learners: What's Going On with Them?

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | May 03, 2017
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    A colleague and I have been looking at progress and outcome measures for a number of students using different interventions. We are doing this the old-fashioned way, not through data analytics (all the rage these days), but by reviewing every single detail we can find. These data are being plotted visually to see if some patterns emerge that might allow us to draw some general conclusions. After much plotting and discussion, we came to a remarkably insightful conclusion that I would like to share with you. (Slight drumroll, please.) We had no idea what was going on.

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  • Teach Your Teachers Well

    Posted By Michelle George | Apr 12, 2017
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    A few weekends ago, I was playing music with some friends and we tried out the old standard, “Teach the Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Singing the lyrics reminded me that the teaching mandate goes two ways; the parents need a little guidance along the way as well as the children. The same applies, I believe, to education. Teachers need good teaching, and the basic principles of educational practice are essential for effective professional development (PD).

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  • Versatile Comprehension Strategies: Using Extended Metaphor Across Disciplines

    Posted By Gretchen Wing | Apr 05, 2017
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    "Teaching poetry to kids of any age is a blast. Simile? Think of your least favorite subject and your least favorite chore and combine them with “like.” Personification? Give that chocolate-chip cookie a tone of voice as it calls you to eat it. Metaphor? If your sister were a dog, what kind would she be? During my 20 years of teaching high school English and Social Studies, however, I found the power of metaphor stretched far beyond poetry. When extended, a metaphor is more than a descriptive tool; it becomes a system for comprehending and articulating complex concepts.

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  • Curiouser and Curiouser: The Importance of Intellectual Curiosity

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Mar 08, 2017
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    The reason for this blog’s title will become clear in the next two paragraphs. It is, as you undoubtedly remember, a phrase uttered by Alice during her adventures in Wonderland. This fantastic work of Charles Dodgson—pen name Lewis Carroll—is well worth reading, if you haven't done so, or re-reading, if you have. The first two paragraphs alone are so short and elegant as to warrant memorization, and they include the thoughtful observation, “...and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’” When we think of the growth mindset, the two characteristics most often mentioned are intelligence and effort. What is just as relevant, but often overlooked, is intellectual curiosity. Sophie von Stumm and her colleagues have described it as “the hungry mind” and “the third pillar of academic success,” which are perfectly appropriate. You might want to take the time to read their scholarly work, or considerably less time to read a commentary on their study.

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  • Reframing Our Focus in Education with Digital Learning: Cultivating the Brilliance in Every Child

    Posted By Sandi Everlove | Feb 22, 2017
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    When most of us hear the word brilliant, we think of rare individuals who are exceptional in ways that set them apart. But what if that kind of thinking has held us and our children back? What if we reframed our focus in education to discovering, cultivating, and nurturing the brilliance in every child?

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  • Optimizing The Learning Ecosystem at Scale

    Posted By Zoran Popović | Feb 15, 2017
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    Technology-enhanced learning has delivered successful “pockets of advancement” in schools, but there has been very little success at scale that has made a profound difference. So we need to ask ourselves what needs to change in order identify and replicate success on a national level? Is the data gathered from educational science helping us scale success? And if not, what needs to be changed in our approach to actionable research that will finally move the needle for all students? In order to fully answer the question of how to positively affect learning through technology-enhanced innovations, we have to, as scientists, start by accepting the most fundamentally challenging and interesting problem—analyzing student learning. The key underlying condition is that learning is, in every case for every child everywhere in the world, 100% contextual, while our resulting “research-based” recommendations and solutions are not.

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  • Teachers Really Matter! Always!​

    Posted By Janet R. Macpherson, Ph.D. | Feb 08, 2017
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    I will start with full disclosure, I started my after-college life as a teacher, teaching students with special needs for six years. I have known many teachers throughout the years. My spouse is a teacher. My current work allows me to work with district administrators and teachers. Teaching is one of the most complex and challenging professions. For the most part, individuals who can’t stand the heat will leave the profession pretty quickly, ensuring that those who make a career of teaching do so because they believe teaching is a calling. I am one who couldn't stand the heat, and partly due to that experience, I believe teachers are the best thing since sliced bread, in an educational sense.

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  • The Kids Do Care: The Importance of Student Input on Testing

    Posted By Michelle George | Feb 01, 2017
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    We are barely into the second semester, and at my school, we are well into planning our state-mandated testing. We have a leadership team that works collaboratively to plan our academic goals, and testing is inevitably on the short list of priorities. It’s been a journey getting to the place where we have an administrator who sees the value in working with all of the staff to problem-solve. I must say it’s been worth the trip. A common complaint about standardized assessments in this time of high-stakes testing is that while teachers and administrators are held accountable, students are not. Of course, teachers must be responsible, but by leaving learners out of the conversation, students often are not vested in the process.

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  • How Can We Teach if We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves First?

    Posted By Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D. | Jan 18, 2017
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    The modern challenges of public school teaching are diverse and deep. While it is clear that academic achievement is “job one” for schools, we now are faced with a dizzying array of risks and challenges from our students, parents, and society. Some might say it’s “depressing” and it’s not a joke. Recent years have seen an explosion of, and discussion about, schools traditional use of “exclusionary discipline.” Typically, teachers have sent students to the office to see an administrator (or another person) to respond to most forms of disruption in the classroom. But a contemporary view of exclusion is that it’s harmful to students and doesn’t work in the long run. We hear about the “school to prison pipeline,” and “trauma informed care” at a time when budgets are declining, and perhaps the students we receive at school are more challenging than we remember. Most teachers and administrators I work with agree with this, and yet we are all left wondering, “What are alternatives that work?” Others (maybe you), wonder if we are in an era where there are no “consequences” and challenging students will ruin schooling for everyone. We know what we are doing is not the right thing, and yet it’s stressful to feel ineffective without understanding what else to do.

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  • Typical and Maximal: Both Types of Performance are Important

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Jan 11, 2017
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    Please bear with me through the first few sentences. They are necessary to establish a bit of background. The good stuff will follow shortly. And don't eye-roll me about transporting (think Star Trek) a construct from sports or personnel management to education. It works well. In the field of psychological testing, a difference exists between typical and maximal performance. When personality is measured, we hope to identify typical characteristics. When abilities are measured, we try to get subjects to do their best so we can understand what their maximal performance is. I'm not going to dwell on this, but keep in mind that both measures take place at a single point in time, and humans change. So, you got it? There is a difference between typical and maximal performance.

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