Category Archives: Teaching & Learning

Myths Matter Mostly at the Margin

Periodically, when somebody tries to confront an educational myth or misconception, they are rebuffed with the claim that they are attacking a straw man and that nobody really holds the false belief in question. So, for example, we are told that nobody really believes that “students don’t need knowledge because they can always Google information if necessary” […]

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Once More, With Feeling: “Student-Centered” Doesn’t Mean Anything

One of my favorite things I’ve ever written was my post at the end of 2012 about “meaningless education phrases”. A strong contender for the top spot on that list was “student-centered”, and this video captures the reasons perfectly: Ostensibly, the point of the video is to answer the question “What is student-centered learning?”, but […]

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My Letter To The State Board of Education Regarding NGSS Adoption And Implementation

Things have been a little hectic for me recently as summer vacation rapidly comes to a close and the new school year rapidly approaches, but I did set aside a little (I’d hoped) time today draft a letter to the California State Board of Education about the Next Generation Science Standards and the proposed middle school […]

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Reform Math vs. Inquiry Science

Ed Real has an interesting post up about “reform math”. It’s a hard piece to excerpt but it has a lot of good bits and you should read the whole thing. I’m not a math teacher, but much of what he says rings true to me. The parallels between reform math (as he describes it) and […]

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How Should Science Content Be Organized Across Grade Levels?

In California middle schools students currently learn “earth science” in 6th grade, “life science” in 7th grade, and “physical science” in 8th grade. California’s proposed adoption plan for the Next Generation Science Standards rearranges that sequence in some peculiar ways. Under the proposal, for example, rather than 8th graders being taught a combination of physics, […]

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Data Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Over at ShankerBlog, Matthew Di Carlo digs into a new study finding that teachers don’t use district-wide online data systems to do much data analysis. As he summarizes: Teachers need time and training, not only to use the system itself, but also to act on the recommendations (e.g. “reteach”). The assessments must be “in sync” […]

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“Student-Centered” Teaching Often Isn’t

I don’t like the phrase “student-centered” and I often prefer instructional approaches that could be described as “teacher-centered”, so this interests me on two levels: In both [math and science], traditional modes of instruction (teacher-centered) were found to be positively and significantly associated with achievement in all countries, while more constructive modes of instruction (student-centered) […]

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Why Do Teachers Call In Sick?

Choice Media is reporting that teachers in Asbury Park, NJ averaged 18 sick days each in 2011-2012. Their data and report are a little ambiguous – it’s hard to tell whether those numbers also include personal days and they might be conflating “costs of substitutes for sick teachers” with “costs of substitutes overall” – but it’s a big […]

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Facts Are Interesting

Katharine Beals is 100% right about this problem with the vagueness of the Next Generation Science Standards: Science is one of those fields that should be inherently interesting to nearly everyone. But what is it that makes someone want to study, say, biology or earth science? Is it so they can learn how to construct arguments […]

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Good Lecturers Can Make You Overconfident

A few days ago I complained that the problem with TED lectures is that they sometimes seem to favor skillful speaking at the expense of quality content. From Christian Jarrett, here’s a description of a research study that gives us one more reason to be suspicious of TED talks. After watching the video, the students rated […]

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