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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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  • Starting Over: When to Push the Reset Button on Your Classroom Management Strategy

    Posted By Josie Pack | Dec 14, 2016
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    This first-year teacher sauntered into the school year with grand plans for community building, establishing norms, and a seamless implementation of a fool-proof classroom management strategy. Well, can you guess what happened? It didn’t stick. Okay, some of it worked, but the major foundation of a successful classroom began to crumble under my feet in early October. The good news is, I quickly recognized what was happening and, with the blessing of my very supportive administrators, I enacted a plan to regain control of my classroom.

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  • Making Sense of Close Reading in the Intermediate Grades

    Posted By Nancy Boyles, Ph.D. | Nov 30, 2016
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    When close reading gained prominence a few years ago, I was a little insulted that as a professional developer in the area of literacy, anyone could think the instructional strategies I shared with teachers did not help students to read “closely.” Then, I learned more about close reading and saw that it truly did push teachers and students to a whole new level of rigor. In time, I’ve also learned there are a few principles and practices that when applied well will make teaching the process of close reading achievable for teachers and the outcomes of close reading meaningful for students.

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  • Online Resources for Mastery Learning

    Posted By Michelle George | Nov 16, 2016
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    Mastery learning is one of those buzzword phrases in education that pedagogists often toss about in an effort to define and refine good teaching practices. The term goes back to a true icon in the field of education, Benjamin S. Bloom, who suggested that all students can learn and achieve at high levels; they might just require different strategies and time in order to achieve mastery.

    Mastery is generally defined as “command or grasp of something”. In an educational sense, mastery learning is achieved by an intentional strategy in which teachers decide on specific learning goals, make formative assessments to determine where teaching and learning needs to occur, provide directed instruction, and continue formative assessments and correctives until all students have achieved a preset level of mastery for the learning goals1. The concept of learning mastery is simple and nearly any educator would agree is desirable. The rub comes in the implementation. Mastery learning is hard work. Fortunately, today’s Internet resources provide a plethora of resources to help make the goal more attainable.

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