Friday, July 27, 2018

Creativity's role in education / digital education / students choice / personalized education / and modern flexible classrooms ..

Education Readings

Time for creative thinking
By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

10 Characteristics of an Innovative Classroom
‘If your goal is to engage and educate students to the greatest extent possible, you need to consider the benefits of an innovative classroom. An innovative classroom will possess several key traits, including:’

Flexible Classrooms: Research Is Scarce, But Promising
‘An ambitious study of 153 classrooms in the United Kingdom provides the best evidence that flexible spaces can boost academic performance.

Te Akau ki Papamoa School Cultural Inclusiveness
‘Te Akau ki Papamoa School is a mainstream contributing school in Tauranga. It has a thriving sustainable eLearning programme and has been recognised as NZ’s first Apple Distinguished Primary School. Culture, identity, and te reo Māori are reinforced everyday to 680 students through the innovative use of ICTs, expertise, and collaboration.
Principal Bruce Jepson shares his kura’s vision and journey in becoming one of New Zealand's leading mainstream schools in normalising the delivery of te reo Māori and cultural competencies and the positive impacts on student achievement, school, and community culture.’

Real world maths

7 Real-World Math Strategies
‘Math used to be all rote memorization and pencil-to-paper equations disconnected from the real world, but more and more teachers are realizing the importance of making practical, relevant connections in math. We asked our audience of educators: How do you use the real world to teach math? We’ve collected some of the most interesting answers, ways teachers are connecting math to the everyday lives of their students.’

Five Ways to Succeed with Personalized Learning
Thanks to Tony Gurr for bringing this to our attention.
‘Educational leaders want their staff to embrace and routinely practice personalized learning. But what’s the best way to make that happen?'

Pearson Education: Should this big global company be part of a billion-dollar NZ research fund?
No! No! No! No!
‘The central concern for both of these issues is to do with Pearson Education’s profit motive. In countries with public education systems, Pearson’s success has involved privatising components of the sector. A reporter for the New York Times once wrote that an “American child could go to a public school run by Pearson, studying from books produced by Pearson, while his or her progress is evaluated by Pearson standardized tests. The only public participant in the show would be the taxpayer.”’

Habitually barefoot kids have better motor skills
NZ kids should have a big advantage then!
‘A new study, published in the journal, Frontiers in Pediatrics, discovered that being barefoot as a child positively impacts motor movements. Children that always wear shoes (are shod) displayed worse jumping and balancing skills compared to those who are perpetually barefoot.’

Student Choice
‘During the last three weeks of Term 2, I was given the opportunity to spend an hour and a half each
week engaged in professional development around a topic of my choosing. In my application for this internal release time I stated that the focus of my work would be to: “Understand  the concept of Student choice and identify ways to practically apply it in an early years classroom.”

Consequences Of The New Digital Childhood
‘The 21st century childhood is different. A 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study found that the average
elementary school aged child spent 7.5 hours daily using entertainment technology, and 75 percent of these children had a television in their bedrooms. Of course, the widespread use of technology is only increasing, and new forms of digital entertainment are introduced regularly.
So how does the new digital childhood impact our kids? Let’s take a look.’

Are you teaching ‘zombie’ lessons?
‘How many times have you been gathered together with your fellow teachers, exhausted after five
hours of teaching, only to have someone excitedly reveal the next "big thing" that you all need to start doing the next day?
Now take another moment. How many of those things have you ever directly been told to stop doing? How many times has the person come back to say “Sorry, we got that wrong…Please stop”? I’m willing to bet that this list is a lot shorter than the first one.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Observations of an imaginary creative classroom
‘Imagine a learning environment dedicated to ensuring that the diverse creativity that lies within every learner is realised. One of my overriding thoughts has aways been what if we were to capture the innovative ideas that I have seen that are spread across school and, from them, developed a really creative school?’

Creativity – its place in education - Wayne Morris
‘The sheer volume of facts to be digested by the students of today leaves little time for a deeper interrogation of their moral worth. The result has been a generation of technicians rather than visionaries, each one taking a career
rather than an idea seriously. The answer must be reform in our educational methods so that students are encouraged to ask about “know-why” as well as “know-how”. Once the arts are restored to a more central role in educational institutions, there could be a tremendous unleashing of creative energy in other disciplines too.”’

Friday, July 20, 2018

100 things to demonstrate mastery / how to improve maths for all / student centred teaching / and John Hattie's 'best practices'..

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

The Difference Between Being Busy and Being Productive
When I was a new teacher, I believed I had to give 110% in everything I did. I thought that the best teachers were the ones who arrived first and left last. I was a busy teacher, taking on all kinds of committee work and saying yes to every project. But then I had a moment when I decided to “break up with busy.”’

In the Classroom: Let Students’ Minds Wander (But Not Too Far)
‘How long can you stay focused? According to researchers, nobody is immune to the occasional
daydream. In fact, many of us know all too well how difficult it can be to rein in our imaginations and pay attention to the task at hand. It may come as a surprise that these moments of “zoning out” actually help us think and work more efficiently. Although daydreaming may feel like a break or even a waste of time, it really plays an important function in our cognition and problem-solving.'  

100 Things Students Can Create To Demonstrate What They Know
‘Below is a diverse list adapted from resources found at of potential student products or activities learners can use to demonstrate their mastery of lesson content. The list also offers several digital tools for students to consider using in a technology-enriched learning environment.’

The Teacher-Powered Schools Movement: Transforming Teachers From Industrial Workers To Professionals
‘In contrast, educators at teacher-powered schools take on truly professional roles, controlling the decisions that directly affect school operations and student learning. These schools are modeled after the partnerships common among most white-collar professions—where a group of professionals own and operate a firm or practice and are accountable for its success or failure.’

E-learning will not revolutionise the education sector
‘It is becoming increasingly obvious that online education is not likely to revolutionise the
education sector and pose any imminent or future threat to mainstream conventional education. The possibility of it emerging as a substitute to formal education appears bleak, even though the revolution in the information communication technology presented a potent tool for promoting access, equity and quality in education, with ease and at affordable cost.’

When math teachers change mindset, student grades go up
‘Student achievement increased when teachers changed their mindset from believing only some
Jo Boaler
students could learn math well to believing that all students could succeed
, says coauthor Jo Boaler, a professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. The increase was particularly significant for girls, English language learners, and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.'

Four Inquiry Qualities At The Heart of Student-Centered Teaching
‘Whether it be project-based learning, design thinking or genius hour, it's easy to get confused by the many education buzzwords floating about. But at their heart these pedagogies are all student-centered and there are commonalities across them that are the key to their success and far more critical than keeping the jargon straight.’

Even When Research Supports Changing Traditional Teaching, Parents Make It Hard
A familiar story…
Ghana  teacher
And at first the experimental training program was remarkably effective. But then the effort ran into a wall. The very people who are most desperate for Ghana's kids to succeed — the moms and the dads — started getting in the way.’

The Tech Industry’s War on Kids: How psychology is being used as a weapon against children
A bit of a long read but a speed read through is enough to get the scary message.
‘These parents have no idea that lurking behind their kids’ screens and phones are a multitude of psychologists, neuroscientists, and social science experts who use their knowledge of psychological vulnerabilities to devise products that capture kids’ attention for the sake of industry profit. What these parents and most of the world have yet to grasp is that psychology — a discipline that we associate with healing — is now being used as a weapon against children.

How Social Studies Can Help Young Kids Make Sense of the World
‘Experts say that requires regular and high-quality social studies lessons, starting in kindergarten, to teach kids to be critical thinkers and communicators who know how to take meaningful action. Yet, as teachers scramble to meet math and reading standards, social studies lessons have been pushed far back on the list of academic priorities, especially in the early grades.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Five Minds for the Future- Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner
‘Based on the premise that students are entering an accelerating world of change in every area of life Gardner believes that such changes call for new ways of learning and thinking in schools if students are to thrive in the world during the eras to come. The directions our society is taking and the future of our planet demands such 'new minds' able to explore creative alternatives for problems that cannot be anticipated.’

The killing of creativity by the technocrats - Kelvin Smythe reflects on John Hattie
“As I visit classrooms I have become increasingly concerned about the use
John Hattie
of a number of strategies as defined by John Hattie and promulgated by the contracted advisers spreading the word about his 'best practices’
. Somehow, just because Hattie has amalgamated every piece of 'school effectiveness' research available ( mainly it seems from the USA) his findings, it seems, ought to be taken for read. The opposite ought to be the case - we need to be very wary of such so called 'meta research.’”

Friday, July 13, 2018

How we learn / slow education / Hattie's research? / teacher stress / and Tomorrow's Schools Review

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

What if we don’t know what we don’t know?
‘A glaring obstacle to change and hopefully improvement in our education system, which needs to be addressed, is that educators don’t always know what they don’t know, but make decisions with the information they have. Making decisions with limited information often limits the potential of progress.’

How Unlearning Helps Us Grow
The world is changing faster than ever before. If you are not ready or willing to practice unlearning, to change our habits and reject that which is easy for that which is necessary, than success will always be out of reach. It is time to redefine the way we learn, to take a step back, and give ourselves room to grow.’

‘Slow Education’ and its links to sustainability
‘Slow Education’ is more than just slowing down. It is an educational approach that seeks to achieve healthy relational bonds between and across people, as well as connectedness to the local and wider environment. It asks us to pause before we buy something for use in our teaching and to instead consider whether we might make do with the resources that we have on hand. In addition, it asks us to build our own skills and capacities to meet these ends. It prioritises care, quality, and enjoyment.”

Schools are buying ‘growth mindset’ interventions despite scant evidence that they work well
What is it about growth mindset interventions that hold so much appeal? And how much of a
Carol Dweck
difference do these interventions actually make when it comes to academic achievement? I am a psychology professor who researches learning and achievement, so these are interesting questions to me. To shine the light on these issues, several colleagues and I set out to examine the effectiveness of growth mindset interventions on students’ academic achievement.'

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

'Open to new ideas': What does teacher's report really mean?
It's that time of year again. Teachers up and down the land have been slaving over their end-of-year reports and parents are eagerly awaiting to hear whether or not their little angels are top of the class. But what does "full of self-confidence" or "lively and enthusiastic" really mean? We asked one teacher - who goes under the name of Mrs Smith - to let us know what those positive-spin comments actually mean.’

Hattie’s Effect Size: A pseudoscience or critics just being critics?

To believe Hattie is to have a blind spot in one’s critical thinking when assessing scientific rigor. To promote his work is to unfortunately fall into the promotion of pseudoscience. Finally, to persist in defending Hattie after becoming aware of the serious critique of his methodology constitutes willful blindness.’

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have always shared this big red flag on technology - screen time for kids is dangerous
Which begs the question as to why both developed their companies to exploit screen time in education?
‘It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history — Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — seldom let their kids play with the very products they helped create.
“What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don’t?” the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.’

Creating a Positive School Climate For Teachers
‘I spent 8 years as a school principal, and I define school climate as how we feel when we walk into a school building. Do we feel like part of the community or an unwelcome guest? When I say “we”, I mean students, teachers, leaders and families. It begins by understanding that not all teachers, students and family members are at a place where they have the same focus and that has everything to do with self-efficacy.’

'We're not being trusted': Teachers drowning in paperwork at expense of teaching
A survey from Australia that is sadly true all over.
Teaching students is the best bit; the paperwork is by far the worst.
Like many of his colleagues, he struggles with the increasing amount of time he is being asked to spend on data entry. It's a quagmire of buzzwords; evidence gathering, validation, and the long, after-school meetings about school plans.’

Bali Haque: Tomorrows Schools review must deal with the market's failure
‘However, pretty soon after the system was established it became clear that we cannot actually run a schooling system like a commercial business. Some schools
have large numbers of children who experience disadvantage whilst other schools have large numbers of children who are advantaged. While we know all students can make significant gains in learning and achievement, regardless of their circumstances, it is clear we are not starting on a level playing field by any means.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative teaching at Opunake Primary.Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Numberland
A visit to Opunake Primary School is always an inspirational experience. The  blogs below provide some insight to the programme of this small rural town low decile school. The first is about a school wide theme of technology, the other about a school wide theme “Alice in Numberland.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Smart phones / ability grouping in maths? / behaviour management / Smart Schools ......

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Teachers lacking educational background in science use inquiry-oriented instruction least
‘A new study shows that eighth-grade science teachers without an educational background in science are less likely to practice inquiry-oriented science instruction, a pedagogical approach that develops students' understanding of scientific concepts and engages students in hands-on science projects.’

The Benefits of Cultivating Curiosity in Kids
‘Far from driving the demise of cats, curiosity comes with many benefits. Studies suggest it’s linked to joy on the job, social skills and even a happy disposition. And in an academic context, greater curiosity generally predicts greater success.’

How Entitled Parents Hurt Schools
‘Motivated by a fierce desire to protect their children and themselves from difficulty, and armed with a robust sense of entitlement as well as ample economic, cultural and social resources, affluent parents can create conflict and interfere with school districts on a scale that is rarely acknowledged.’

This innocent question we ask boys is putting more pressure on them than we realize.
‘For example, the first get-to-know-you question they are inevitably asked by well-meaning grown-ups is, "So, do you play sports?" When they say, "No, not really," the adult usually continues brightly,
"Oh, so what do you like to do, then?” No one explicitly says it's bad for a boy not to play sports. But when it's always the first question asked, the implication is clear: playing sports is normal; therefore, not playing them is not.’

 Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

14 Smart Ways to Use Smartphone Cameras in the Classroom
‘With a smartphone camera you can look forward to features like plenty of megapixels, image stabilization, and improved low-light photo capability. Videos are also better than they’ve ever been. It’s a growing trend, and one we can make good use of in education. All these great advances in technology have exceptional uses in the classroom. Students who have the current technology (or will be snatching up the new) can access these powerful tools for producing great school projects. Areas like PBL and STEM learning call for imaginative and innovative solutions to complex problems.’

Looking at learning through the eyes of a child
‘There's no hugely mystical reason, basically I have chosen to channel each and everything I do through the eyes of the child.  Because I have never really grown up, I find this quite easy.  The other thing that makes it incredibly easy is that I know my children, I spend a lot of time talking to them, play-based learning makes that possible.’ 

Miss Snuffy and Mr Snake Oil on 21st-century learning
Lyall Lukey, convener of Education Leaders Forum 2018, examines some of the views expressed by, among others, London headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh and her host Roger Partridge of the New Zealand Initiative, before, during and after the recent researchED conference.’

How should we group students in primary maths classrooms?
‘Grouping students in maths classrooms based on their ability or prior attainment is a notion that is increasingly being challenged by research (see also here and here). When we have engaged in so-called ‘ability grouping’ practices for so long, why should we think about changing? And what would the change involve?’

Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities
‘Associate Professor Bobbie Hunter explains how cultural reticence and ability grouping have had unfortunate consequences for Pasifika children. She advocates a collectivist ethos, de-emphasising speed, repositioning mistakes as a necessary and desirable part of learning, and teaching the skills of friendly arguing/respectful engagement.’

A Deeper Look at the Whole School Approach to Behavior
‘Classroom management is an essential tool for an effective teacher, but it’s not always easy to do
well. Without an orderly classroom it’s hard for teachers with upward of 25 kids in their classrooms to lead effective lessons, help students who are struggling, and perhaps most important, to trust students. That’s why getting behavior under control was Michael Essien’s number one goal when he started as the assistant principal at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School (MLK) in San Francisco.'

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creating Conditions for Creativity. Steven Johnson's 'Where Good Ideas Come From’
‘Johnson writes about why some environments squelch new ideas; some environments seem to breed them effortlessly; environments that are powerfully suited to the creation, diffusion and adoption of new ideas. Where does your class or school fit?’

Smart Schools
“‘We want our schools to deliver a great deal of knowledge and understanding to a great many people of differing talents with a great range of interests and a great variety of cultural and family backgrounds.
Quite a challenge – and why aren’t we better at it. ’Some, he would say, is because ‘We don’t know enough.’ Perkin’s, though, thinks they’re wrong, ‘We know enough now to do a much better job’. The problem comes down to this, ‘we are not putting to work what we know.”