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  • The Problem with Word Problems Might Be the Way They Are Taught

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | Mar 22, 2017
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    Traditional algebra word problems have a bad rap and for good reason. Students are hardly enamored with content of the typical word problem, and its relevance to the real world is questionable at best. Amdahl and Loats (1995) captured this sentiment in their amusing tour of beginning algebra: “Folks who write math books live very different lives from you and me. They seem to spend a lot of time on trains, for example, which leave cities you and I rarely visit, in hopes of meeting their buddies on trains at destinations in-between….They launch rockets across rivers, build bridges, and agonize over how tall various trees are. After a couple of years of math classes, you’ll be uncomfortable hiking through the woods without your calculator handy.” (p. 104)

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  • The Deep-Reading Brain and the Good Life

    Posted By Maryanne Wolf, Ed.D. | Mar 15, 2017
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    What is "Deep Reading"?

    Consider a simple insight with large implications: Human beings were never born to read. Reading or written language is a cultural invention that necessitated totally new connections among structures in the human brain underlying language, perception, cognition, and, in time, our emotions. The reading brain circuit emerged, which became a vehicle like no other for ever more elaborate connections, which gave literate humans an evolving platform for the development of new thought. Reading represents one of the most important epigenetic breakthroughs in the history of the species; our very history was made possible by it.

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  • Curiouser and Curiouser: The Importance of Intellectual Curiosity

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Mar 08, 2017
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    The reason for this blog’s title will become clear in the next two paragraphs. It is, as you undoubtedly remember, a phrase uttered by Alice during her adventures in Wonderland. This fantastic work of Charles Dodgson—pen name Lewis Carroll—is well worth reading, if you haven't done so, or re-reading, if you have. The first two paragraphs alone are so short and elegant as to warrant memorization, and they include the thoughtful observation, “...and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’” When we think of the growth mindset, the two characteristics most often mentioned are intelligence and effort. What is just as relevant, but often overlooked, is intellectual curiosity. Sophie von Stumm and her colleagues have described it as “the hungry mind” and “the third pillar of academic success,” which are perfectly appropriate. You might want to take the time to read their scholarly work, or considerably less time to read a commentary on their study.

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  • The Future of Work: Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and What They Mean for Math Education Today

    Posted By John Woodward, Ph.D. | Mar 01, 2017
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    Much has been said about the state of American manufacturing in the last year, and a series of recent reports present an intricate picture that takes us beyond some of the confusion and common misconceptions. Except for the understandable decline in manufacturing during the recent recession, manufacturing productivity since 2000 has been surprisingly robust. Ball State University’s report even suggests that growth in manufacturing going forward is steady and on an upward path. With all of the news of outsourcing in areas such as textiles, furniture, and apparel, how can this be?

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  • Reframing Our Focus in Education with Digital Learning: Cultivating the Brilliance in Every Child

    Posted By Sandi Everlove | Feb 22, 2017
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    When most of us hear the word brilliant, we think of rare individuals who are exceptional in ways that set them apart. But what if that kind of thinking has held us and our children back? What if we reframed our focus in education to discovering, cultivating, and nurturing the brilliance in every child?

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  • Optimizing The Learning Ecosystem at Scale

    Posted By Zoran Popović | Feb 15, 2017
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    Technology-enhanced learning has delivered successful “pockets of advancement” in schools, but there has been very little success at scale that has made a profound difference. So we need to ask ourselves what needs to change in order identify and replicate success on a national level? Is the data gathered from educational science helping us scale success? And if not, what needs to be changed in our approach to actionable research that will finally move the needle for all students? In order to fully answer the question of how to positively affect learning through technology-enhanced innovations, we have to, as scientists, start by accepting the most fundamentally challenging and interesting problem—analyzing student learning. The key underlying condition is that learning is, in every case for every child everywhere in the world, 100% contextual, while our resulting “research-based” recommendations and solutions are not.

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  • Teachers Really Matter! Always!​

    Posted By Janet R. Macpherson, Ph.D. | Feb 08, 2017
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    I will start with full disclosure, I started my after-college life as a teacher, teaching students with special needs for six years. I have known many teachers throughout the years. My spouse is a teacher. My current work allows me to work with district administrators and teachers. Teaching is one of the most complex and challenging professions. For the most part, individuals who can’t stand the heat will leave the profession pretty quickly, ensuring that those who make a career of teaching do so because they believe teaching is a calling. I am one who couldn't stand the heat, and partly due to that experience, I believe teachers are the best thing since sliced bread, in an educational sense.

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  • The Kids Do Care: The Importance of Student Input on Testing

    Posted By Michelle George | Feb 01, 2017
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    We are barely into the second semester, and at my school, we are well into planning our state-mandated testing. We have a leadership team that works collaboratively to plan our academic goals, and testing is inevitably on the short list of priorities. It’s been a journey getting to the place where we have an administrator who sees the value in working with all of the staff to problem-solve. I must say it’s been worth the trip. A common complaint about standardized assessments in this time of high-stakes testing is that while teachers and administrators are held accountable, students are not. Of course, teachers must be responsible, but by leaving learners out of the conversation, students often are not vested in the process.

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  • Motivating Struggling Adolescent Readers: Try Relevance & Success

    Posted By Louisa Moats, Ed.D. | Jan 25, 2017
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    Motivation, according to a recent textbook on adolescent literacy*, is “a feeling of interest or enthusiasm that makes a student want to complete a task or improve his or her skills.” Teachers of adolescent poor readers, however, often find that their students are willing to do anything BUT read and write. Getting students to believe that they can make meaningful progress—when all prior experience suggests they will not—and to work at something that has never been rewarding is a major challenge.

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  • How Can We Teach if We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves First?

    Posted By Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D. | Jan 18, 2017
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    The modern challenges of public school teaching are diverse and deep. While it is clear that academic achievement is “job one” for schools, we now are faced with a dizzying array of risks and challenges from our students, parents, and society. Some might say it’s “depressing” and it’s not a joke. Recent years have seen an explosion of, and discussion about, schools traditional use of “exclusionary discipline.” Typically, teachers have sent students to the office to see an administrator (or another person) to respond to most forms of disruption in the classroom. But a contemporary view of exclusion is that it’s harmful to students and doesn’t work in the long run. We hear about the “school to prison pipeline,” and “trauma informed care” at a time when budgets are declining, and perhaps the students we receive at school are more challenging than we remember. Most teachers and administrators I work with agree with this, and yet we are all left wondering, “What are alternatives that work?” Others (maybe you), wonder if we are in an era where there are no “consequences” and challenging students will ruin schooling for everyone. We know what we are doing is not the right thing, and yet it’s stressful to feel ineffective without understanding what else to do.

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