Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Beauty of Mistakes

A change of traditional teaching is needed to reflect the evolution of how we receive information.

Diana Laufenberg: How to learn? From mistakes | Video on TED.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Morning Meetings

Morning meetings are an important way to start the school day off on the right foot. They merge social, emotional, and intellectual learning and work to establish a classroom environment of respect and trust. The classroom community, fostered by the morning meetings, allows students to feel safe physically and emotionally. Time is taken to recognize and greet each student, providing them with a sense of significance, and belonging.

The positive and caring environment created by the morning meetings, allows children to become risk takers. When students are not afraid to make mistakes, they are willing to try new experiences and more learning can occur.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reflective Teaching

An essential aspect in teaching is the continual process of reflection. Reflective teaching is a metacognitive strategy that looks at actions in the classroom, the reasons behinds them, and the results. It is a continual process of self-observation and self-evaluation. By gathering information about what happens in the classroom, and by analyzing and evaluating this information, the practices and underlying beliefs and able to be analyzed and explored. The results are constant adjustments and advances in teaching practices, leading towards results that are more effective. When the classroom becomes a laboratory, the teacher is able to expand on teaching theory and improve teaching practice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Top 10 Benefits of Project Based Learning

Top 10 Benefits of Project Based Learning

Project based learning uses meaningful and extensive student-centered projects as a means to teach and assess.

1. Students take full responsibility for their learning

2. Allows for an inquiry based approach

3. Encourage students to become independent workers

4. Has an active role of transmitting information vs. a passive role

5. Students learn to work in a community, thereby taking on social responsibilities

6. Improves self-esteem

7. Promotes better work habits and attitudes toward learning

8. Supports development of critical thinkers

9. Meets the varied social, emotion, and academic needs of a diverse group

10. Establishes students lifelong learners

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Service Learning Projects

Service learning projects (SLP) provide students with an opportunity to create and participate in assignments that go beyond the traditional classroom. It allows the students to feel a greater connection to their community and fosters the idea of civic responsibility. By allowing students to determine the problem and work towards the solution, they are given complete ownership over their learning and the meaning and the value of the project increase greatly.

SLPs have a proven track record. In the article “Critical Thinking in Students’ Service Learning Experiences” Sedlak, Doheney, Panthofer, and Anaya state that “Students can benefit from service learning experiences by enhancing communication skills, strengthening critical thinking abilities, developing civic responsibilities, and fostering a sense of caring for others.” Parker-Gwin and Mabry also found that service learning “move[s] students from identifying concepts, rote memorization, and summaries to higher-order processes of analysis, synthesis and critique” (1998).


Sedlak, C., Doheny, M., Panthofer, N., & Anaya, E. (2003). “Critical thinking in students’ service-learning experiences”. College Teaching, 51, 99-103.

Parker-Gwin, R., & Mabry, J.B. (1998). Service learning as pedagogy and civic education: Comparing outcomes for three models. Teaching Sociology, 26(4), 276-291.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life Prep

Will Richardson touches on the negative consequences of equating better schools and better teachers with better test scores. He argues that schools need to shift their focus from test prep to life prep. By determining the quality of a school or a teacher by the score of a test, the concentration of schooling becomes merely test prep, leaving little or no room for life prep. We live in a world that needs creative and innovative minds; a world that is perpetually rewarding original ideas and depth of knowledge. Yet by focusing on improving test scores, we achieve the opposite, students who believe there is only ever one right answer, students who can recall a wide range of facts, but cannot speak in depth on any one subject.

It becomes clear that schools are designed for an out-dated system. They create an identically prepared workforce that can perform rudimentary tasks and participate in conventional thinking that maintains the status quo. Steps must be taken to prepare students for life that meets our current demands, not the needs of past-century factories. We must practice collaboration. If we teach students to share and respond to the ideas of their classmates, we develop a citizenry better prepared and adapted for our inter-connected society. When we give students time and resources for individual pursuits, we create the experts and specialists of tomorrow. By not limiting students to one “right” answer and, instead, rewarding innovation and creative thinking, we allow for the essential inventors of tomorrow. We need to adjust our thinking to determine what “better” schools really mean.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Collaboration allows for growth, innovation and support. It is beneficial during all stages of a lesson. At the planning stage, collaboration allows for innovative approaches and combined experiences. During the lesson, the skills of collaboration and working together are modeled for students, who are able to see the success and troubleshooting strategies of the collaborators. Post-lesson, collaboration fosters deeper reflection, motivation to improve, and the insight of a varied outlook. The outcome of collaboration is greater than the sum of its parts and should be considered the fundamental tool in education.