Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Benedic Carey in the NY Times

Last May Benedic Carey published a very interesting article in the NY Times about how collaboration in the classroom increases testing scores.
"The research comes from a closely watched group led by Carl Wieman, a Nobel laureate in physics at the University of British Columbia who leads a $12 million initiative to improve science instruction using research-backed methods for both testing students’ understanding and improving how science is taught" said Carey. Today Prof. Wieman is at the Univeristy of Colorado.
It looks like programs such as POGIL "Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning" that are helping college educators and to certain degree high school teachers are the way to go.

Friday, August 19, 2011

eBooks at Google Books

Google has started to put some very good book online. The idea is that you can purchase these eBooks at a low price and can read it on any kind of device but some are online for free! One that I read during the summer is Dexter Chapin's Master Teachers can now be found in Google books at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Inner World of the Teacher

In chapter 14 in the anthology On Excellence in Teaching [by Robert Marzano (Ed) written by Robert J. Marzano and Jana S. Marzano] we can find a good discussion on how the inner world of the teacher molds the way that s/he behaves as a teacher. Even though the general consensus is that there is no difference between the way we think and act, ontological reality  shows that frequently there is a big gap between the believe system (based on general assumptions) and the way the teacher act based on his/her experience.
and the book at  

Managing Discipline in the Classroom

Any relationship that involves many people will be complicated. This is of course a redundant statement and in many ways you could say a "no-statement". But I think that not only will it be complicated because each individual in the relationship has its own idiosyncrasy but because personalities change with time and circumstances. Maybe not the basic personality but the way in which personalities interact. So when even one is analyzing some-one's basic personality one must take into account that we are only defining gross, broad, fundamental traits that will help to establish a framework of reference. One this is established we can go to the finer detail of individual behavior in that multiple entity relationship, such a a classroom.
With this in mind we can then look at personalities defined in psychology and use the basic needs for these personalities when addressing discipline in the classroom. Basic needs like "being the center of attention" for some, to the "live me alone-I'm not here" students that want to have complete control of what happens in their life.
One problem frequently encountered with any relationship is the idea of compromise. Not that compromising is a sign of weakness or lack of defined values, more than it is because compromising it self needs a set of rules and accepted principles that in general are not agreed before the situation arises. In the classroom rules must be clear and according to Rosenblum in her book "You have to go to School, you are the teacher: 300+ classroom management strategies" It is better to not have rules than have rules that are broken.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Science Channel

There are today so many good programs that divulge science, one avenue in particular is The Science Channel. The question is how can we best use this documentaries to motivate science students? Through the Wormhole is a series that is worth watching.
They are bringing to public notice, ideas and research that is way out at the frontier of discovery. One idea is to ask students to watch a particular program and then have a class discussion about it and if there are misconceptions either explicit or implicit then these can be addressed by the professor in class and of course can be used to show the students that science is always evolving and new ideas are constantly being advanced. Not always within the consensus of the established scientific community.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dilemmas of Planning Backwards: Rescuing a Good Idea | Coalition of Essential Schools

Good old ideas are here to stay. Dilemmas of Planning Backwards: Rescuing a Good Idea | Coalition of Essential Schools
The question of accountability is difficult to answer as many factors are involved in the process. So the first goal is to find what is the objective of each individual action and what would be the means for assessing if that objective has been met? Traditionally we would be using standards and topics stablished by previous curricula but times change and continuous modifications, adaptations, and reviews have to be done. The accomplishments at the end have to be framed within a context that relates to the students' life and environment.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs - What is Curriculum Mapping

XXI century technology applied to teaching has been changing the way we interact with colleagues within and outside our academic institutions. Curriculum development and assessment can now be done using internet techniques and tools.
The use of YouTube is one example and the configuration of cyber groups with social or professional interests are popping all over the place, including of course international collaborations. This gives us not only an opportunity for professional development but more important an opportunity to solve some of the most pressing problems we face in education today.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Five Principal Practices for the New School Year

As the new academic year begins I found this article very interesting. One idea in particular: "make no excuse" is catching my eye. So now I am thinking what are the main excuses that students in the past have had? How can I understand what is the framework now well into the XXI century?

Friday, August 12, 2011

What the best college teachers do

This is a great book written by Ken Bain, have a look at this video After a very comprehensive study looking at many renowned college teachers Bain gives a great guideline about defining excellent teaching and gives an insight on how to qualify and possible quantify good teaching. All within the framework that the impact produced by learning should should be a sustained influence that transforms student's life and not a temporary accumulation of data or information that will only be used during the final exam. Getting good grades after all do not indicate that the student becomes a useful citizen.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Science Coaches Program

Science Coaches Program ACS is promoting coaching and mentoring of chemical science teachers in high school. 500 dollars are given to support school in the purchase of supplies for this program. Collaboration is the key to success and it is happening at so many levels.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Not blaming the teachers

In today's Oregonian Tracy Groom (Teacher at Wilson High School in Southwest Portland) writes about learning responsibilities and accountability in our schools compared to India where Mr. Groom visited as a Fulbright exchange teacher. The article is a "must read" piece that puts the finger on one the most difficult and sensitive aspects of the situation with the teaching/learning discussion in our country today. This is some of what he has to say: "My Indian students were enrolled in far more advanced classes -- especially in math and science -- and performed far better in school and on exams than their American counterparts. Classes usually exceeded 45 students, the quality of teaching was horrendous, and the books and teaching resources were atrocious. Thin classroom walls were no match for street noise or the nearby Indira Gandhi International Airport, and only the principal's office was cooled during blazing hot summers or heated through bitterly cold winters. Yet students excelled. Why? "