Great research article on better undergrad teaching in bio

This article is about biology, but the principles within are applicable to all college teaching. Highly recommend.
Wood, Innovations in Teaching Undergraduate Biology (link to PDF)

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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

Why Are IEPs So Expensive and Frustrating for Schools and Special Education Students and Their Parents? – The Atlantic

I think she’s diagnosing the wrong cause for this problem, but the description of the mess is definitely worth reading.

It feels like all of the rules set up to educate exceptional students (who are not severely restricted from a “typical” learning environment) are an attempt to solve problem by throwing rules at it. In my experience, what works in the classroom is the caring relationship of a teacher to the student in his/her care and the family of that student. To do that relationship well, teachers must be trained and they must have a small enough class size to invest the time necessary. And schools need to give those teaching professionals the latitude to structure their classrooms and lessons in the way that best fits the particular students in their care.

 

Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, are one of the greatest pitfalls of the country’s school system.

Source: Why Are IEPs So Expensive and Frustrating for Schools and Special Education Students and Their Parents? – The Atlantic

Wish List: Piecing Together an Ideal School From the Ground Up | MindShift

Wish List: Piecing Together an Ideal School From the Ground Up | MindShift.

Couldn’t have said it better myself! This is a great, short piece at Mind/Shift about inquiry learning, interdisciplinary teaching, trusting students as active participants in their learning process, assessing through multiple means, investing in teachers through professional development, and not locking in too quickly on how to use technology in a classroom.

 

Trust in the classroom

The job of helping young people grow into well-educated and independent adults rests upon the relationship between teachers and students, teachers and their administrators, the community and its school staff. And yet many of the rules governing schools are about control.”

The millennial generation of students is often criticized for being impatient, unfocused, entitled and lazy, but Luhtala said that’s an old-school way of looking at a group of kids who have grown up in a dramatically different world than their teachers. “I don’t think kids are unfocused,” she said. “I think they can be super focused if you give them something to do. And I really mean DO, not listening or watching, but really physically doing something.”

Creating learning opportunities that don’t rely on lectures, textbooks or sitting quietly goes against established educational patterns and can feel foreign to many adults who learned that way themselves. It requires trust, but once given, can often produce incredible projects from students that might never have materialized without giving them the freedom to think and act independently, Luhtala said.

“Passive learning is really not an effective way to teach these kids,” Luhtala said. “The reality is that kids will retain less than ten percent of what we say in a lecture setting. So we need to empower them to become independent learners.”

Excellent read.

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/11/why-trust-is-a-crucial-ingredient-to-shaping-independent-learners/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=202508

 

Teachers Shadowing Students: Doing What Students Do

Teachers Shadowing Students: Doing What Students Do.
via Te@achThought

^^ Yes, this.

Wish I’d thought of doing this myself when I was a young and inexperienced teacher. It would have re-formed my teaching practice and propelled me toward more student-centered learning, more movement, more engagement, less lecture, less of me talking.

In the classroom, we regularly ask students to behave in ways that adults would never put up with.  We demand high levels of engagement that  none of us are ever really willing to offer in meetings or PD sessions.  We expect students to be “always on” though we ourselves would refuse to work under those demands.

Viewing our students as image bearers with all of the responsibilities and privileges that brings ought to shift our view of how students sit in classrooms, how they engage in learning.

Read her post. It’s well worth your time.

Game Design influencing School / Curriculum Design

Enjoyed this perspective on how technological innovation should be changing schools, rather than just digging up fancy toys for students and teachers:

What Happens when School Design looks like Game Design (Mind|Shift)

The thing about tools is that their strength is usually derived from the way they approach a problem rather than in the particularity of the solution they offer….

In the current world, our schools should be focused on teaching both linear and non-linear ways of knowing. We need to remember that the goal of technology is ultimately to help us mentor our youth so that they become familiar with the many ways of knowing that humanity has discovered. It’s not just to develop proficiency with today’s tools while maintaining yesterday’s predominant thinking.”