Sure, that sounds good… but what about math?

 “When you start talking about authentic instruction and assessment, the math teachers in the room stop listening.” Not true for all math teachers, I know. But one math teacher pulled me aside after a recent workshop to share this observation. Math teachers — especially those teaching higher level courses like trigonometry and calculus — know their…

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Teamwork: Annoying AND essential

Should high school students work in teams — or solo? When I was a student, we did about 90 percent of our work alone. With the exception of lab work in science and the occasional English group project, we were expected to learn independently, so we would be prepared for individual success later. Back then,…

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What can they do besides ‘school’?

One of my favorite lines in Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity? is when he points out that schools are really really good at preparing students to become professors. And, I would add, teachers. Academia is nothing if not self-perpetuating. We teach students to write papers and lab reports in styles that…

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Do SMART goals limit teachers’ vision?

Writing SMART goals — “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound” — is now a fall rite of passage for public school teachers, right up there with crafting a syllabus, assigning seats and putting up bulletin boards. This process always strikes me as perfunctory. Do SMART goals really get us anywhere? Or is this just another…

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‘Flush with funds’ sounds nice

My school district spends about $13,000/student each year. President Trump’s children went to private schools that cost $30,000-$50,000. Baron’s elementary school in New York charges $47,000 per student this year. So I wonder what our president means when he says our public schools are “flush with funds”? I wonder what it would be like to…

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Advice students don’t want to hear

“If a student got 100% in your class by delegating all his tasks/homework and papers to a virtual assistant and spent under $20 for the entire semester, is that bad? … Because in the real world, you are the most efficient employee of all time.” Will Tjernlund, a former student, posed this question to me…

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Invite us to the party

What are the best new ideas in education? Who has the solutions that will motivate and inspire today’s students? This week, several of my Penn classmates attended the ASU GSV education technology summit in San Diego. According to the summit’s promotional materials, the program included  “the top minds in talent and education from around the…

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Flip that sub plan

5-6 class periods, 25-35 students per class, 2-3 different preps, 5 days a week. That’s the typical schedule for an American high school teacher, and as I have noted before, it doesn’t allow much time for professional development, reflection, or even creative preparation, let alone absence. Just staying on the treadmill – keeping up with…

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Too exhausted for creativity?

I don’t know anyone who became a teacher so that they could lecture from a script or PowerPoint, grade multiple-choice tests or subject themselves and their students to a series of rote lessons. And yet, we too often default to these boredom-inducing strategies under the pressure of our daily workload. (Worse yet, that is exactly…

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One change – What would you do?

If you could make just one change to K-12 education that would have the biggest (and most cost-effective) impact on student learning, what would it be? Would you expand charter schools? Privatize everything? Change teacher education? Make college free? Make pre-school free? Reduce class sizes? Implement merit-based pay? End standardized testing? There are so many…

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