Challenging students to dig in and achieve their potential during instructional hours confronts a mighty obstacle: the principle of least effort, the idea that people apply nominal effort to achieve a basically acceptable result instead of pushing themselves in pursuit of greatness.
We might be tempted to conflate low effort with laziness, but that misses an important physiological point: To conserve finite attention funds, our brains are designed to avoid tasks that are cognitively demanding. Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, describes two modes of thinking. The efficient and fairly unconscious mode is System 1. Involuntarily reading a Wheaties box, scorning new “athleisure” clothes, and opening a combination lock are all System 1 mental events.
Continue reading “Overcoming the Principle of Least Effort”
Deadline: July 1, 2017
Do you need funding for a physics teacher training program? The Frederick and Florence Bauder Endowment for the Support of Physics Teaching provides grants to educators for a number of unique physics-teaching and learning projects. Grants are available to support teacher training programs, development of teacher training materials, and funds to support physics teaching workshops and other professional development opportunities.
Prize: Many grants are available; local workshop funding is available up to $2,500.
Continue reading “The Big List of Educational Grants and Resources”
Peering up, a teacher asked me, “What are we going to use it for?” as I flew our shiny new drone up between the umbrellas on the quad, past the roof of the gym, and into the low scattered clouds. The camera projected back to my iPhone, and I could see the newly planted trees in our quad, the only green for miles in the Mondrian concrete grid that is our local community.
The students and teachers in the quad all looked up too, shielding their eyes to see the drone fly. Our custodians pulled up in their cart, and my assistant principal whooped like one of the middle schoolers on my campus.
Continue reading “Drones Can Be Fun—and Educational”
I remember how, as a new teacher, I would attend a professional development and feel inundated with new strategies. (I wanted to get back to the classroom and try them all!) After the magic of that day wore off, I reflected on the many strategies and would often think, “Lots of great stuff, but I’m not sure it’s worth the time it would take to implement it all.”
We teachers are always looking to innovate, so, yes, it’s essential that we try new things to add to our pedagogical bag of tricks. But it’s important to focus on purpose
and intentionality — and not on quantity. So what really matters more than “always trying something new” is the reason behind why we do what we do.
Continue reading “5 Highly Effective Teaching Practices”
Year mapping allows students to see what they’ve learned in your class, and it’s a great resource for your incoming class.
Continue reading “A Powerful Way to End the School Year”
The year I started teaching seventh- to twelfth-grade English in Minneapolis, Prince launched his song about urban ruin, “Sign o’ the Times.” That song was an apt musical backdrop for the lives of my students, most of whom lived in poverty and challenged me daily. That year also afforded me the opportunity to be assaulted with a stone, two chairs, a Rambo knife, a seventh-grade girl’s weak jab, and dozens of creative swear words. Fortunately, classroom order improved when I learned that successful classroom management depends on conscientiously executing a few big strategies and a lot of little ones.
Continue reading “19 Big and Small Classroom Management Strategies”
Open educational resources (OER) are found in the public domain and can be used for free for teaching, learning, research, and other educational purposes. These materials can be retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed. These “5R permissions” of OER allow you to not only access the materials and resources free of charge, but also to make them even better. Sounds good, right? But what’s really out there, and why should you use these resources?
There are several examples of OER available, including image and audio resources, books in the public domain, video and audio lectures, interactive simulations, game-based learning programs, lesson plans, textbooks, online course curricula, professional learning programs, and online learning platforms. Continue reading “Free Is Good Open educational resources are free digital materials you can use with your students. Here are some ways to find them. By Bethany Rayl”