Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Inspirational Summer Reading: Daniel Pink's "Drive"


First off, I apologize for today's Tuesdayedness, I opened my inbox to a barrage of angry emails asking if I knew it was Monday.

This week your recommendation is a strong one. I don't recommend books lightly because reading a book is an investment and you want to hope for the best. This book, "Drive", by Daniel Pink, is one of the best non-fiction I have ever read. I recently finished it for the second time a few weeks ago and it was just as good as the first. The book is about motivation, and what gets people motivated, and under what conditions people give their best performance. The most popular guess (which comes in a tone of "obviously, we all know the answer") is "money". However, the fact that so many people are confident in their wrong answer is largely what makes the book so fascinating. (It's not money)

If you're not actually interested in all the proofs and stories, then I found a really good summary of the "just the facts" version of the book.

If you're REALLY not feeling like reading anything, here's a very well done, condensed version of the entire thing done in a few minutes, with some great cartooning.

The principles in this book are interesting and enlightening. I promise you'll be surprised and there's plenty of evidence so show the proof in the pudding. The ideas you learn will be applicable to any individual, any group of co-workers, and definitely to a classroom. Try it out and see what you learn. 

PS: I did forget to mention above, that one very  big difference between the actual book and the other two things is that Pink provides a list of schools around the country who practice smarter methods of motivation. At least for me, that list was as interesting as the book itself and I spent lots of time looking up each of them reading their home pages and watching their project videos etc.. A lot to learn there as well. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Some Inspirational Summer Viewing: Geoffrey Canada TEDtalk

If you have not yet seen the documentary, Waiting for Superman, then you should put that on your list. Just to be sure, it will be featured on this blog some Monday this summer. In that film, there are interviews with a progressive educator, Geoffrey Canada. This is his TEDtalk. He is funny, interesting, and inspiring, just like a good teacher. And.... his voice sounds like Marge Simpson (another characteristic of a good teacher). Seventeen minutes of quality. Watch it and see what you can learn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Improving Student Engagement


The following post comes to us from a friend and guest blogger, Dave Black. See more from him on one of our favorite other blogs. 

We all have experienced those times when nothing we do seems to engage our students in learning. Our entertaining presentations do not spark interest, nor does video content, discussion, or seemingly any other technique. What should one do at this point to light a spark?

Some relatively new research outlined in the March 2013 volume entitled Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge provides some interesting insights in how we might better engage students in learning. This research, referenced from multiple sources, led to the following findings:

  • ·         Creating short exercises that focus on the feelings and attitudes of students can lead to improved student achievement and the closing of academic gaps. The opportunity to express subjective experiences results in a more personalized and engaged approach to learning since our students are craving the chance to have a meaningful voice in discourse and in the sharing of ideas.
  • ·         Another discovery is that, with most students, 20 minutes of intentional time in working with a student is often enough to bring about a measurable change in a student’s attitude and behavior in the classroom. Subconsciously, learners desire to be honored and noticed. The 20-minute time frame seems to be the tipping point for significant improvement in student engagement.
  • ·         A third strategy involves an investment of time over a period of days. Try opening a conversation with a student about a topic of THEIR interest for two minutes a day over ten days. This approach will almost always yield a behavior and learning engagement improvement.

These strategies seem so simple. Yet the challenge for us as educators is to be intentional about their use in the classroom. Additionally, these approaches open doors for us to have surprising faith conversations with our students, providing opportunities to share Jesus Christ with them in more tangible and applicable ways.

Feel like you have been tuned out? Then intentionally apply one or more of these approaches to better connect your students with classroom activities. Honor them by engaging them in research-tested ways to bring about positive change in their motivation to learn. Try it and see what you can learn.