I am the Director of Educational Technology at an independent school, which in normal times means I do a lot of coaching and strategizing around technology-enhanced instruction. I chair a department and a committee of pedagogically savvy EdTech coordinators and teachers, and we work on ways to improve the academic program. However, due to some … Continue reading Solving Problems is an Inefficient Way to Learn How to Solve Problems
More choice is good, right? We’d all rather have more items in the Taco Bell menu than fewer. People prefer to be, or at least feel like they are, in control of their destiny (just ask the anti-maskers of the pandemic!) and it seems likely that our students are no different. Theoretically, when students perceive … Continue reading When Student Choice Backfires
I have a 9-month-old daughter who still cannot crawl. I've tried having her build up her strength through various leg and abdominal exercises. I've shown her interactive diagrams and YouTube videos of babies crawling, and I've read her the definition of crawling from the dictionary. I've modeled the correct way to crawl so many times … Continue reading Help! I’m Trying to Teach My 9-Month-Old How to Crawl and it isn’t Working.
I recently gave a presentation called The Cognitive Science of Creative Subjects at Learning2Asia, a conference which I thought was an incredibly well-run by Nanjing International School. The format of the workshop was really fun: Teachers do mostly hands-on, design-related experiments on themselves to sort of demonstrate how different principles in cognitive science work. I also … Continue reading Lessons from Cognitive Science that I’ve Used to Improve my Teaching
Math and me have had a tumultuous relationship. When I (Zach) was in high school I had a pretty bad math teacher, whose cynicism and poor teaching skills - students were meant to “discover” the solutions to problems before receiving proper instruction - played a role in my decision at the time to never pursue … Continue reading Is Math Anxiety Totally Avoidable?
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.
Lorraine is a newly qualified teacher of middle school math and science at Khartoum International Community School. She was actually a teaching assistant/student teaching intern in my Year 5 classroom for a year while she worked towards her certification. We recently sat down and talked about her thoughts and feelings about the profession as part … Continue reading Why Would Anyone Want to Become a Teacher – My Interview with a Newly Qualified Teacher
It is increasingly common knowledge that homework is modestly effective in the upper grades, but barely effective at all in elementary. While we all have our own thoughts and opinions on how to empower students to engage in learning activities at home, most schools have specific policies in regards to homework, including how many minutes … Continue reading Making Required Homework More Effective: An Experiment in My Class
It seems like most teachers and students have access to a paid-for digital learning program. You know the kind - RAZ kids, IXL, Spelling City, any one of those listed in the featured image of this article - and they all promise to raise achievement while making learning "fun". These CAI (computer assisted instruction) programs … Continue reading That digital program your school bought will never transform learning
Homework is one of those contentious things that divides teachers as well as parents. John Hattie's research leads to the conclusion that homework in primary school has an effect of nearly zero. But the reality is that many schools have policies that require homework to be assigned to students on a daily or weekly basis. This … Continue reading Homework not effective? What about distance learning?