The classroom community matters

Interesting research on brain activity suggests that students’ brains will synchronize when they’re all paying attention together…. and that students will be more “in tune” with one another based on some contributing factors.

Article: How sitting through the same class gets your brains on the same wavelength (Smithsonian Magazine)

One factor noted in the article is student personality – the more you like being part of a group, the more you will think like the group. Double-edged sword, there. (So “groupthink” really is a neurological thing.)

Second factor is face time: students who interacted with another classmate before the learning session began were more in sync during class.

My takeaways: the culture of the learning community is really important. A harmonious classroom encourages joint attention. Allowing students their between-class minutes for socializing without begrudging them that time may pay off in better attention (though with teens, I’ve found that interpersonal stress destroys attention).

A question: As teachers, when and how should we use brain-sync to enhance learning, and when might it become a liability?





What can writers learn from hockey players?

A great article about what writing teachers can learn from street hockey games: that over-engineering lessons takes not only the fun out of students’ learning, it robs students of the freedom and responsibility to own their own learning:

I’m starting to think that my assignments are over-engineered.

Source: The Benefits of Disorganized Learning | Just Visiting by John Warner

The stages of tech integration into education

Fantastic blog post by John Spencer outlining the waypoints along the journey of technological implementation in the classroom.

This helps teachers see where they are in the journey and acknowledge the particular struggles of that stage. Tech integration usually moves teachers from excitement and hope into frustration and disillusionment – no technology is a magic bullet for the classroom.

I always appreciate John’s posts; this is certainly one of his most helpful.

Eight Stages in the Teacher Technology Journey (John Spencer)

Meaningful Work, in the classroom and beyond

Meaningful work is an idea valuable to the classroom as well as to business. It’s getting more attention in the business world as Millennials enter the work force demanding jobs they want to do even at entry level, and as more mature workers realize the paycheck isn’t the bottom line value if the work itself is dull and uninspiring.

In the classroom, teachers are often working under tightly prescribed guidelines for outcomes and goals. Finding a way to make the classroom tasks meaningful in some situations can be a challenge.

For years I taught Latin to middle and high schoolers who were less than thrilled about the course. (Often it was required.) I could stand on my head or do a song-n-dance everyday to make it “fun,” but really, the hard work of learning a language (especially one with as many technical details to master as Latin) requires —you guessed it— hard work.

This good post at Buffer offers a few ways that individuals can take charge of whether their own work is meaningful. Teachers can adapt these strategies for the classroom and also call learners to mindfulness about their work. We can teach kids how to find meaning in the mundane — because even the best, most meaningful careers include quite a bit of the mundane.

Meaningful work for everyone: the 3 conditions that lead to your best work (Buffer)

Idea: Teachers Using Trello: How To Foster Genius In The Classroom | Trello Blog

There are so many great tech tools out there today! Here’s an example of how one 5th grade teacher is using a simple project management tool (Trello) to teach his students how to organize problem-based approaches to student-driven learning.

What I love about this:

  • Trello is free and genuinely easy to use
  • Even today’s highly structured classrooms hounded by CC assessments can carve out an hour a week for student-centered and -directed learning, and it’s worth it to do that
  • Students can and should learn how to develop their own  “pretty hard and tough” questions to drive their own inquiry during the school week – it’s a vital skill.
  • Being able to see what everyone else is working on benefits the entire class and drives students’ motivation

Good ideas here. Check it out.

via Teachers Using Trello: How To Foster Genius In The Classroom | Trello Blog.

Article: This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like | MindShift

This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like | MindShift.

^Amazing example of how student-directed, independent learning can offers students rich opportunities for deep, engaged learning. This high school has found a way to open up this kind of experience for students who want it, without restricting it to “high achievers.”

Recommended read.

via This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like | MindShift.