I will be the first to admit that I can use plenty of help when it comes to my ability to remember lists of facts, or organizing my thoughts.  I will bet that many teachers are familiar with ways to become better thinkers and I’d love to here them.  Here’s a link to a really immpressive list of things you might consider useful in improving your own thought processes.

 This interactive list of ideas and information surrounding ways to improve your cognitive skills comes courtesy of Jessica Merritt and can be found at http://www.find-schools-online.com/blog/  This list has something for everyone. 

Please feel free to comment on your favorite or on any that you think are not worth the time.

As you strive to educate today’s students in a way that will prepare them for an unknown future, it might be clear to you that the responsible and effective use of technology should be of utmost importance. Nearly every facet of our student’s lives has been affected by technology. I hope in mostly positive ways. So it should follow that their educations should also be positively impacted.

To those of us active in understanding the trends of education in the 21st century, the use of new tools and media afforded by new technology is a forgone conclusion. Also, it seems very clear to me that we want our teachers and students to become familiar with the technologies faced and embraced in today’s society. But how do we stress the importance, and model these behaviors so that others might share in this vision.

I recently sent an open ended email to some of my colleagues with a question about a recurring theme I keep running into.  I often see it stated that: “Technology is most effective when it is transparent”.  To me this is both obvious and perplexing at the same time.  As we look to engage our students and bring the content they need in the formats they desire, how do we make the need for new skill sets and tools obvious if they are “supposed” to be unseen?

Many of the responses I received recommended video or other similar examples of “best practice” and peer or community development. I quickly realized we wouldn’t have to look very far to find these things. Luckily, we have many dedicated and forward thinking educators right here that have been doing just this for a long time, and getting results that validate their efforts. Many teachers have been leading the way for years by exploring new delivery methods and developing strategies that encourage collaboration and produce amazing results.

I invite your comments to discuss some of our successes and the challenges that have been laid out in front of us as we move further into this unknown future.

One of the most thought-provoking resources that educators can visit online is the terrific web site from the George Lucas Foundation–Edutopia.

Currently Edutopia is running a special edition called: What’s Next 2008: Ten Predictions for the Future of Public Education.

You’ll find lots of articles about this topic and some information from the country’s leading experts, including a provocative video from a professor at Arizona State University who discusses the need for collaborative problem solving curriculum, and how it might be solved using an unexpected tool–video games!

Definitely worth your time!

An interesting article today from the Washington Post had its beginnings in a rather strange story–the forced expulsion of a student in a prestigious and popular Washington D.C. magnet school where students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA. In response to that story and the fallout from it, Jay Matthews shares Five Ways to Motivate Students, excerpts from Engaging Minds: Motivation and Learning in America’s Schools by David A. Goslin (2003). Here are some excerpts from those 5 tips:

1. Only work on those who need it. Goslin, past president and chief executive of the American Institutes for Research …says grades are often not as motivating as we would like them to be… Goslin suggests, among other things, well-planned teaching, more optimism about each child’s chance to learn, closer teacher-student relationships, smaller schools and grading by mastery, not the curve — meaning you tell the students what they must learn, check off each concept or skill as they master it, and don’t fret if some students take longer than others.

2. Stop telling them they’re smart. Goslin writes, “…most Americans act as though innate abilities are the primary determinants of their most important accomplishments.” Goslin favors the contrasting Asian philosophy that effort, not brains, brings success. He also wants teachers to make clear to each student what has to be learned, and express confidence each can learn it.

3. Make sure the homework isn’t stupid. Goslin calls this problem “inefficiencies in the learning processes.” He says, “There is a great deal of evidence that an enormous amount of effort on the part of children, not to mention their parents and teachers, is wasted.” … He prefers a national curriculum and nationally certified teaching methods based on research on what works, and what doesn’t. I sense he would also support letting teachers with good track records do anything they want.

4. Show some respect for learning. We Americans, despite our bookish founding fathers, have always had an anti-intellectual streak…Maybe we should point out to our children that although Bill Gates doesn’t have a bachelor of arts degree, he sometimes goes off for days at a time just to read books and think.

5. Involve the kid’s family. “The school is only one of the two principal socializing institutions in society, the other being the family,” Goslin says. He wants more support at home for learning. (But)…motivation comes from many places…If teachers don’t know how to produce it, none of the rest of us are going to have a chance of having any impact on our favorite reluctant scholars.

Definitely worth a read, as some interesting viewpoints are offered by the author of the article. And as always, your comments are welcome here as well!

What role do you see student motivation playing in the overall educational climate of our schools and homes? Do those tips ring true with you and your experiences in the classroom?