Pedagogy

  • This Idea Must Die – Education Edition

    In March 2015, the highly entertaining and thought-provoking guys at the Freakonomics podcast aired an episode titled This Idea Must Die. In it, they interviewed scientists about which commonly held ideas, previously supported by research, they felt should “die”. In many cases, these myths and misconceptions were keeping people from investigating other avenues; in others people were misinterpreting a finding that held them back from truly understanding the purpose of the study. Freakonomics is one of the podcasts on my favourites list that I never miss, even if it might take me a few weeks to catch up… As usual,…

  • How is a SMART Board Like a Mosquito Net?

    Residents of Zambia, provided with mosquito nets to help reduce the number of cases of malaria, have been wreaking havoc on the nation’s beleaguered wetlands. The thing is, they have no intention of using the nets over their beds, which make handy – and freely provided by well-wishing developed nations – fishing nets. It’s not that the mosquito nets aren’t needed, it’s just that hungry now is a more powerful motivator than malaria someday. The worries do not end with the misuse of the nets. Laced with a pesticide that is carcinogenic to humans and also especially poisonous to fish,…

  • Physical Activity and Learning

    Not too long ago, Yoni Freedhoff, a doctor and blogger on the ills of sugar (http://www.weightymatters.ca/), published a post with a video on the benefits of physical exercise at school, especially right before learning or writing a test. You can see the video for yourself below, but, in short, the Naperville Central, Illinois school had selected a number of students with learning needs and mandated 20 minutes of exercise, first thing in the morning. This was not just stretching or walking – the students were required to get their heart rates up to “the zone”, 145-185 BPM, after which they completed…

  • Do You Have What it Takes to Teach?

    Things to note from this infographic (via Knewton) 1) 40% of what we do is teaching and 40% is prep-work (marking and planning etc.). Which, I think is a clear indicator that there should be less (in-class) time for students to allow for more prep time for teachers. AND/OR 2) We need to look at ways to reduce the time prepping and marking etc. Technology can help us with this (and already has) through the use of computer based teaching tools and online sharing of teacher resources and lesson plans; however, if education has any hope in the 21st century…

  • What kids in a New Delhi slum can show us about pedagogy

    There is a movement in many schools to try to achieve a 1:1 ratio of computers to students, essentially giving each student a personal computer. In the 21st century, technology is going to be vital and learning how to use these tools is paramount. Therefore, the question is not if we should be using computers in schools but how. The notion of having a computer for every student seems appealing, but I would contend that it reinforces old, 20th century models of education. First, let’s start with a little bit of a history lesson. The model of education that we…

  • 20 Strategies for How to Engage Students | An interview with Marcia Tate

    “My son is certainly capable…” she paused for a moment, considering what she was about to say next, “he’s just lazy!” When my friend said that to me, I was immediately transported back to my childhood. For I too, struggled in school, and I remember how my mom would say the same thing about me, that I was lazy. It took me a second before I responded to my friends comment, “It’s probably not so much that he’s lazy, but rather that he’s not being engaged.” Engagement is one of the big things we struggle with as teachers; how do…

  • How to Engage the Teenage Brain | Gary Anaka

    I kinda felt like an idiot with my elbow in the air, moving it around, hopelessly trying to spell out words with it; but then I looked around the room and realized that there were 500 other idiots with elbows for pens and I laughed. “It’s all about movement!” That was the take home message of Gary Anaka’s riveting speech at last year’s Palliser District Teachers’ convention. In his speech he outlined 5 brain states which help to invigorate the teenage brain: 1) Movement 2) Ask questions (ask “What if?” questions: Makes brain light up like an xmas tree) 3) Curiosity…

  • What Makes a Person a Teacher?

    What Makes a Person a Teacher? A Brief Exploration Into the Future of the Job of the Teacher Last night I had a dream that Ringo Starr came to sub at my school. He taught Cam (one of our Elbow Patch bloggers) to make a finger piano out of disposable spoons, but I didn’t get a chance to see him with students; I was too busy trying to get coverage for a class whose guest teacher hadn’t shown up. I have nothing against Mr. Starr – I’m a bigger Beatles fan than the average person – but I don’t think…

  • When it makes more sense to play baseball inside…

    While I was doing my practicum we had to write journal responses. This is an excerpt from my first month as a student teacher in a classroom: September 29th 2007 “So, AK that’s a very interesting pattern. What is it a pattern of?” Mr. May asked of the student’s title page for the upcoming math unit, patterns. “Well, it’s a bird and then a nest and then an egg and then…” his voice trailed as he began to look up and to the left. “An egg that’s beginning to crack…” Mr. May offered. “And then another bird, so that the…

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