Is Working Memory Fixed or Can it be Trained?

Many teachers allow students to play "brain games" as part of the curriculum. When I say "brain games", I'm referring to short - often fun - activities that are unrelated to the core content, but which are thought to engage the mind or make you smarter. When I was a student, if I finished my … Continue reading Is Working Memory Fixed or Can it be Trained?

5 Meanings of Student-Centered Instruction

There's an interesting essay called "Five Meanings of Direct Instruction" where the author (Rosenshine, 2008) shows how even a term as commonly used as direct instruction can take on different meanings depending on who you talk to. Some people use it in the pejorative to refer to non-stop passive lecturing, while those familiar with the … Continue reading 5 Meanings of Student-Centered Instruction

Does More Learning Happen When Students are in the Driver’s Seat?

Most teachers will be familiar with Khan Academy, or similar learning programs, that offer a mixture of 1) problems to solve and 2) instructional supports that students can use to learn how to solve the problems. Common instructional supports in online learning environments include partial hints (e.g., click here for a hint to get you … Continue reading Does More Learning Happen When Students are in the Driver’s Seat?

5 EdTech Myths We Should Leave Behind

This week I led a reading group session at my school on the article, "Have Technology and Multitasking Rewired How Students Learn?" by Daniel Willingham (here). Having led a lot of these, I'm convinced that reading groups are a more effective and enjoyable form of professional learning than ones that do not focus on a … Continue reading 5 EdTech Myths We Should Leave Behind

Why the Genius Hour Fad Died

When I first started teaching 9 years ago, there was a palpable buzz in the air around a pedagogical approach called "Genius Hour," also known as "20 Percent Time." This is where students choose a project that excites them, such as crocheting or building a rocket, and work on that project, unguided, every week during … Continue reading Why the Genius Hour Fad Died

Reducing the Distance in Distance Learning

Educators continue to ask both the right and wrong questions about distance learning during this online learning period. In a recent post, I argued that instead of squabbling over which technology we use, or whether a synchronous format has advantages over an asynchronous format, we should look at distance learning through a different lens. Specifically, we … Continue reading Reducing the Distance in Distance Learning

Has the Coronavirus Online Period Proven that all Teachers can use Technology?

I love online learning. I love it so much that I decided to get an online degree in it. Working in a physical brick-and-mortar school is a pleasure, for sure, but I've long been interested in bringing the best of online learning into the face-to-face classroom. This is not because I think these tools are … Continue reading Has the Coronavirus Online Period Proven that all Teachers can use Technology?

Is Math Anxiety Totally Avoidable?

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?

How would your students grade you on Rate My Professors?

I recently had the chance to distribute a survey to students in my design classes, one of those school-wide ones that all students have to complete on all of their teachers. I was happy with the results. It included questions such as "My teacher likes me" and "My teacher takes time to speak with me about … Continue reading How would your students grade you on Rate My Professors?

Was The Oregon Trail the Peak of Educational Gaming?

Do you remember the game The Oregon Trail? Did it spark something in you that had you playing it for days on end? Something I share with a lot of nineties kids is the nostalgia for a game that made learning about a relatively brief historical phenomenon fun. On an old Macintosh computer my friends … Continue reading Was The Oregon Trail the Peak of Educational Gaming?