David Wees's blog

"Crucial part of our learning"

So today I returned a laptop that a student had forgotten at school to a student during our homeroom. Two of his friends were standing nearby and expressed their shock that he would be so careless with his laptop.

Student 1: "How could you be so careless with your laptop? It's a crucial part of our learning!"

Student 2: "It's our main tool for school!"

The students obviously recognize the value of the laptops for their education. Why don't more educators?

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Remixing Schools

I had an idea tonight for a project that would be cool if we could implement it. The basic idea is, we submit complete information about a bunch of schools which are known to work, and then we break those schools down into their component pieces, such as assessment policy or their science curriculum. We then provide an interface so that people can remix these schools.

The (Nearly) Paperless Classroom

I've been reading about people trying to implement a paperless classroom, and it occurred to me that there are plenty of things you can do to implement this type of classroom, without using a lot of technology. You don't need a 1 to 1 laptop program at your school to make it a (nearly) paperless classroom.

First buy some whiteboard material from your local carpentry supply store. Cut it up and make pieces about this big. 

Student's working on a whiteboard

Story telling in mathematics

I tell a lot of stories when I teach, but not generally stories about my life or past stories of students. I use story-telling as a vehicle for explaining concepts that are difficult to understand when abstracted in symbols. 

For example, when I talk about sums of arithmetic sequences, I start with the story of the legendary mathematical genius Gauss as a kid.

What if we treated grades like leveling up?

So I was responding to comment on this blog about student retention, and the person used the word "level" and it made me think of "leveling up" which is this process by which your fantasy character becomes more powerful as a result of the experience they gained. This video below describes the process of leveling up in World of Warcraft (an online fantasy role-playing game).

Retaining students? Not a good idea.

We had a silly ceremony when I was in first grade. It was called "the first grade graduation ceremony." We all stood around and our families all came out and we celebrated our graduation from first grade. We were even given little certificates to hold onto to remind us of the experience. I have no idea if my mom still has mine, but I doubt it.

Improvement, not Innovation, is the Key to Greater Equity

Here is an excellent presentation by Ben Levin.

Clark Kent or Superman? Why you should blog

Blogging is like becoming a super-hero. It is a costume you wear and while you are in this costume you can say almost anything and speak your thoughts in ways you would never do while at work. You can choose a pseudonym, design the appearance of your costume, and feel like you have a kind of imperviousness if you choose anonymity. Even normally mild-mannered people can have their ferocious opinions shared and scrutinized.

School Teaches Obedience

Our current school system teaches students who to be obedient instead of independent. Almost every time our students show even the slightest deviation from the path schools set, we beat them back into line using our bludgeons made of consequences, grades, and self-esteem. I've been thinking about this a lot since reading John Taylor Gatto's essay, The Six-Lesson School teacher so I'm sure that many of the thoughts below are reflected in his essay.

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How many hours do teachers work?

I just conducted a very unscientific poll. I sent out a link on Twitter only and asked people who happened to be around how many hours they worked. It's not rigorous. However, in the limited sample group I have of 85 (update actually 132) educators on Twitter, here are the results as a CSV file.

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