When I first started teaching 4th grade, I inherited a social studies unit on Ancient Egypt, a topic that is universally adored by students at this age level. Over the years of teaching this unit, the 4th grade teachers had developed a document - what we'd now call a knowledge organizer - of all of … Continue reading The Sad, Sad Story of the Hollow Curriculum
There is a widely-held theory that by learning an instrument, playing chess, or even swinging a Wii remote around in P.E, students' cognitive abilities and academic skills will increase, which will help them be better thinkers across the subjects. This isn't a new theory; people used to think taking Latin unlocked something inside you so … Continue reading Transferable Skills Are Cool. But Do They Transfer?
Since moving into the role of PYP design teacher I have been playing with ideas about how to provide students access to their design space, which at my school we affectionately call The Pit. The students come to me two or three times every 8 day cycle for 45 minutes at a time and whenever … Continue reading How to Make the PYP Design Space Accessible, Flexible, Responsive?
I get the sense from some in the creative subjects that the simple practice of putting something down in the form of a written curriculum is too restrictive or too cold and methodical to be worth doing. While schools tend to provide math and reading teachers things like off-the-shelf resources, scope and sequences, and pacing … Continue reading Does Design/MakerED/STEM even need a curriculum?
I recently finished reading Dan Willingham’s book, Raising Kids who Read: What Parents and Teachers can do. Of particular interest to me (Zach) was the chapter in which Willingham described the infamous “Reading Wars”. Having just facilitated design thinking around literacy at my school, during which we started a discourse (Described in this recent post) … Continue reading What constitutes “Balanced Literacy” depends on who you’re talking to.
In 1975, a couple of phycologists confirmed an interesting hypothesis: If you send a learner underwater in a scuba suit to memorize a list of words, they will remember those words better when tested underwater than when tested on land. But if the learner learns the words on land, they will remember them better on … Continue reading Learning Lists Underwater: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Design
In this post, I would like to focus once again on learner-centered experiences. When I'm browsing Twitter, I often come across exciting visuals that end up having an impact on my practice. One such infographic that I came across recently was "10 Characteristics of Learner-Centered Experiences" by Katie Martin. Be sure to check it out … Continue reading Learner-Centered Experiences Through the Lens of Technology
Action can come in many forms, and, depending on the group of kids you're given, students' attitude towards action ranges from the enthusiastic to the idealistic to the unsustainable to the irresponsible. While taking action is a major component of the IB PYP, it can be tricky for teachers to get it right. https://youtu.be/WN0yCYVBD5U In … Continue reading Empowering Students to Take Creative Action
This post is now quite old! Check out my newer posts, my workshops, and my podcast. After a recent mindfulness training by the amazing Robyn Harwood (@rsharwood1) at the AEC Conference 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, I started beginning the day with structured and intentional mindful breathing exercises to help my students find some inner peace … Continue reading 5 Reflection Activities to Help Students Glow and Grow
This week, my students will be presenting their inventions to an audience of parents and community members. Instead of doing a traditional exhibition, where students stand for an hour and answer questions next to their display, we are doing something different: A Year 5 Shark Tank. Many of us already know the reality show, "Shark … Continue reading Student Inventions Face Evaluation in the Shark Tank