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classroom practices

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

Twenty ways to use video in your classroom

Here are 20 ways you can use video creation with your students in your classroom. 

1. Have students video tape themselves playing sports and use the video to analyze their performance.

Differentiating in Math Class Using Online Videos

I told my colleagues about the Khan Academy last week. They thought the idea of being able to access all these resources was incredibly cool.

Quizzes Should Mark Themselves

Quizzes should be used as part of formative assessment if you use them at all. They are a fast and simple way to get some feedback about what lower level skills your students know. However, my recommendation is that if you are going to use a quiz, use one that marks itself.

What Does Brain Research Have to Say About Our Teaching?

My head of school started the beginning of the year by talking about brain based research.  He was told in a session he participated in during the summer that the use of sarcasm in a classroom can hamper learning. The reason for this issue with sarcasm is that, according to the presenter, negative emotional responses shut down the higher level functions of the brain and force the brain into "fight or flight" mode, during which very little learning can take place.

According to Diane Connell, there are 11 principles of brain-based learning:

Reflection on using back-channel chat in class

Today we had a joint project in Science and English where students pitched a product they had "invented" which would help solve the global water crisis.  Their product had to be greed inducing and their pitch had to include some of the scientific background required to understand how their product works.

Does testing students harm their learning?

So I had an interesting thought today.  I think that testing students, just to see what they know, can actually harm their learning.  Here's my argument.

Let's start by assuming that we would like students to be responsible able adults. This is not an unreasonable assumption, I'm sure that all parents want this to be true for their children, although we may disagree about the methods to achieve this end.  

Radically reform schools

Personally I believe schools are in need of deeper reforms than simply changing the pedagogy a bit can resolve.  Here are some suggestions I've been exposed to over the past few weeks, which could be considered radical, but might really improve schools.  I'd like to provide references for where I learned about this information, but to be honest I'm not really sure who exactly suggested what, I've been processing a lot of information recently.

Teaching compassion to our students

How do we teach our students to be compassionate? I'm thinking about this idea this morning because of something that happened to me that I want to share.

Making school feel more like the real world

Here's my observation.  What we have students do during school does not at all resemble what they will do when they finish university.  In fact there is literally no relationship at all, and our students can see that and of course, they rebel.  I've talked about an alternate school structure before, this post is really an extension of that post.

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