Better Learning for Schools

Orchestrating Compelling Problems for Students to Solve (Better Learning For Schools #31)

March 30, 2015

Young people’s brains are designed to solve problems. Once they are invested in a something challenging, they will often do whatever it takes to work out a solution. One of my own son’s, for example, heard about an extracurricular trip that some of his elementary school friends were going on in order to retrace the route of the Santa Fe Trail. The trail itself was part of a unit of study that they had completed earlier on in the year. […]

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Does Spelling Really Matter? — Part 2 (Better Learning For Schools 30)

March 17, 2015

If you ever want to have a bit fun, walk up to a group of educators and ask them—does spelling really matter? As I visited with schools over the past few weeks, I found out that spelling seems to be one of those polarized issues that everyone seems to have an opinion on…and a strong one at that. It’s almost like asking someone to share their views on the upcoming election, gun control or capital punishment. Not too long ago, […]

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Does Spelling Still Matter? (Better Learning for Schools #29)

February 3, 2015

What do Charlie Sheen, Jane Austen, Paris Hilton, John F. Kennedy, Kanye West, and Benjamin Franklin all have in common? The answer—they’re all very well-known, very successful, and very terrible spellers. This week’s blog post and podcast is titled, ‘Does Spelling Still Matter?’ It could also be titled…’Can You Spell Better Than a Middle-Schooler?’ Some of us are just fine chuckling at our own spelling mistakes. Words like ‘acceptable,’ ‘Wednesday,’ and even ‘misspelled’ continue to plague us despite our own repeated effort. […]

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What Schools, Technology, and Curriculum Can Do To Support Higher-Level Thinking In The Classroom (Better Learning For Schools #28)

January 13, 2015

I have never met an educator who was opposed to higher-level thinking activities. Yet, if you or I were to drop in on any classroom at random, research suggests that that we would observe teaching and learning operationalized at a fairly low cognitive level. In this week’s podcast, we examine ways that schools, technology, and curriculum can be utilized to help support teachers in their efforts to engage students in higher-level questioning and thinking. References Elias, M. J., Weissberg, R. […]

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Teaching Students HOW To Think Instead Of WHAT To Think (Better Learning For Schools #27)

December 31, 2014

One the most challenging aspects of being an educator is knowing when to answer questions…and when not to. For example, the other day I was visiting a school and came across two young students who were in a heated debate over whether or not megalodons—enormous, prehistoric sharks—still live in today’s oceans. One student was adamant that the giant sharks were extinct. He insisted that he had recently been to a natural history museum, seen a model of the creature’s giant jaws and […]

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Three Types of Questions for Fostering Higher-level Thinking (Better Learning For Schools #26)

December 16, 2014

Human beings seemed to be innately adept at asking questions. Over the past few weeks here are just a few interesting things that I have heard come out of students’ mouths.  -Why we do round up instead of down in math class?  -What are our armpits for?  -Is toothpaste a liquid or a solid?  -If I was bad, but really wanted coal…would Santa give it to me? This week I was fortunate to be able to visit on the phone […]

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What Happens When Students Play – and Design – Games (Better Learning For Schools #25)

November 24, 2014

Not everything we do in schools can be fun and games, but much of what we do in the classroom should be…especially when it comes to science instruction. I was visiting a school recently where I found a number of students outside, chasing each other and working to accumulate red and blue bracelets. But it wasn’t recess or a physical education class that I was watching. It was a science class. This chase/survival game was actually a simulation designed by […]

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3 Tips for Creating ‘Sticky Learning’ in Schools (Better Learning For Schools #24)

October 28, 2014

How do you get learning to stick? That is the question on the minds of a number of educators I have visited with over the past few weeks…and an emerging body of educational research. Recently as I have worked with schools and educators, the term ‘sticky learning’ has surfaced on more than one occasion, along with a number of suggestions for making learning endure beyond the end of the school day.  ‘Seemingly’ Less-Structured Activities I was in an elementary school […]

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Beyond Menus and Ladders—Offering REAL Choice and Control to Students (Better Learning For Schools #23)

September 30, 2014

In this podcast, we finish our visit with author Alfie Kohn. Alfie insists on the need to for educators to move beyond the ‘menus and ladders’ approach in the classroom. Instead, he insists that schools must seek to offer students real choice and control by seeking their input regarding content, learning activities, and even assessment.   Curtis Chandler can be contacted at: Twitter @curtischandler6 Blog:  Better Learning For Schools Email: Subscribe to this podcast and many others!  

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Working WITH…Rather than AGAINST…Students (Better Learning For Schools #22)

September 16, 2014

One of the most effective ways to improve student engagement and student learning is to extend students a bit of control and choice in the classroom. In this podcast, we examine how choice and control are employed by video game designers to ensure that players persist in difficult challenges.  We also visit with Alfie Kohn. Alfie writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. He has authored thirteen books and scores of articles. Kohn’s criticisms of competition and […]

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