Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Three Ways to Create Innovators

What is the purpose of school? What is the goal, the desired outcome? There are probably a million different answers to this question, one for each person who has any kind of investment in students and schools. Tony Wagner, in his recent book, proposes that really successful teachers and schools produce innovators--people who have passion, purpose, and the motivation to make a difference in their chosen field.

I went to the bookstore last Saturday to look for some books on education that I'd seen featured on Steve Hargadon's interview series (see the interview archive here). Unfortunately, I didn't find any of the books on my list (I'm going to have to get them through Amazon or something). Wagner's book interested me, so I decided to sit down and read through it. It turns out he also had an interview on the Future of Education regarding this book that I just hadn't seen, so I later went back and listened to that as well.

To process through this book here on my blog, I'm going to boil Wagner's book down to three essential ideas--the three that I found the most interesting and helpful. There are dozens of great ideas and anecdotes in this book--many more that could be spotlighted. I also compiled a collection of quotes from the book for you to look through.

Three Ways to Create Innovators

1. Enforce "Free Reading Time"

Friday, September 6, 2013

Learning on the Internet: Four Facts

Earlier today I wrote a blog post which I titled (despite my later abandoning my original idea) "Online Learning Tools For English," with the intent to look for what I termed English/Literature "learning tools" and to review them based on their ability to do the following things:

1. Enable learning
2. Motivate the student to learn
3. Track the student's progress in learning concepts
4. Evaluate what the student has learned

I was looking for something Kahn-Academy-esque, but for English. Do you, dear reader, know of anything of this sort to exist? The only conclusion I was able to come to is that either (1) there are no online "learning tools" of this sort for English and Literature (besides K-6 spelling/grammar type games), or (2) I must have been looking in all the wrong places. Because I did not find any. I did review John Green's "Crash Course" series on literature, in its ability to accomplish the above four outcomes, and discovered that Crash Course didn't really fit into the category of a "learning tool" as I was defining it, and therefore couldn't be fairly evaluated using my four criteria. (*Personal plug: If you have not checked out Crash Course or the VlogBrothers, you should do so.*)

Online Learning Tools for English

*Author's note: In the process of writing this blog post, all my thoughts shifted and because I was unable to actually find "learning tools" along the lines of what I was thinking, I abandoned my original intentions for writing this blog post. You can read my resulting thoughts here. I decided to post this anyway, for what it is worth. Enjoy. 

I wandered my way to this blog post for a random assignment in BYU's IP&T program, and it gave me some thoughts in my brain. What "learning tools" are available out there on the internet, and how effective are they?
There are a bajillion learning resources out there. Two learning sites that come immediately to mind are Salman Kahn's "Kahn Academy" and the VlogBrothers' "Crash Course." Of course, the exact definition of "learning tool" is worth discussing. I mean, the internet itself can be used as the ultimate means of learning stuff, yet most people don't use the internet in an overly educational manner. An online educational article might certainly be considered a tool for learning, but not a very effective tool for motivating learning, tracking progress, or evaluating what exactly has been learned. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ken Robinson: Time for a Revolution

I just listened to this recent TED talk from Ken Robinson. The ideas he presents about education reform (in this as well as his other talks) are great. When he presents his ideas, and all the people in his audiences are cheering and clapping, I think, "Look--people agree with these ideas!" These seemingly plain, intuitive ideas are applauded--and not just when Ken Robinson presents them; you see it in a lot of other places in the internet conversation on education. So why isn't America's education system revolutionized already?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why I Love the Creative Commons

A photo I recently used for Hope4Utah - photo by miamism on Flickr
Happy May, my friends. It is the two-month anniversary of my last blog post, and when I looked at my blog today and saw that, I thought to myself, "Wow! I had better celebrate." So here's a blog post to commemorate the occasion.

I have been working week in and week out to complete several different projects for the Hope4Utah organization. The first project was a suicide prevention manual, which I have mentioned here before. My other projects for Hope4Utah have included advertisement designs and an online course for suicide prevention. And in the past few months working on all of these projects, I have really come to rely on using Creative Commons licensed photos. Why? I will tell you.

Why I love using Creative Commons licensed photos:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why I Admire Jennifer Lawrence

Moment of truth here. Ever since Jennifer Lawrence took her spill at the Academy Awards on her way up to give her speech, I have been watching interviews with her. I watched an interview or two to find out more about her, mostly because I first wanted to hear about her fall (silly, I know). After finding out how funny and down-to-earth she is, I have been watching interviews here and there. I love how quick she is to admit that she is nervous or weak in some area. Because she is very confident, but also not afraid to break face and prove that she is human.

I also love how passionate she is about the work (in a not too-obsessed way), and the way that she talks about the work of making a film as something she loves and wants to be involved in for the sake of making great work. In other interviews I've watched, where she talks about working with director David O. Russell, she talks about him not giving up in his purpose for the work (Silver Linings Playbook is meant to raise awareness of mental illness), and you can tell that she is also purpose-driven, not just there for the money or the recognition. I haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, but I have been really eating up these interviews. Weird, I know.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learning from Montessori: Using This "Timeless" Method in Traditional Teaching

See The Absorbent Mind on Goodreads
Two Saturdays ago I stopped by Barnes & Noble to browse through the Education section. After flipping through a couple of books, I sat down with Maria Montessori's The Absorbent Mind, since I have been wanting to learn more about her method for a while. After an hour of reading and a call from my husband telling me to take my time, I decided "What the heck?" and just read the entire book.

I've had trouble finding the time to write this post, but since two Saturdays ago, I've read one other book and several important articles on education, and the stuff to blog about just keeps stacking up! I certainly can't leave Montessori lying forever in the dust heap of my half-written blog posts, so I need to talk about what I feel is so important about her philosophy.

Now, I'm not a Montessori teacher, and although after reading The Absorbent Mind I would certainly consider becoming one, my goal in reading Montessori's book was mainly to find out what her theory was about and to see what other schools and teachers might have to learn from it. I was really impressed by what I found, to say the least. I'll dedicate this post to just a few essential points from the book (and the method) that I found could be particularly helpful. If you're interested in catching a better glimpse of the book for yourself, you can also look through this document of quotes that I pulled out as I was reading.