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Setting Up Effective Group Work

Edutopia – Jeff Knutson

“Research supports what we probably already knew about student collaboration: It’s integral to learning. We know that collaboration helps students build their interpersonal and social and emotional skills. We know that students don’t learn facts in a vacuum; social learning helps them build a more meaningful understanding of the world.”(more)

To Build Teamwork, Breakout EDU Challenges Students to Think Out of the Box

Ed Surge – Chrissy Romano-Arrabito

“I was on my way to my new gig as an elementary teacher one morning when I first heard the term “PBL paralysis” on a podcast. Erin Murphy and Ross Cooper, authors of Hacking Project Based Learning, were using the term to describe the hesitance that teachers feel when jumping into Project Based Learning (PBL), a hands-on model which encourages students to learn through doing. Their advice? Start with a small project and go from there. I decided to take their advice, beginning with a simple project for my 3rd graders around designing balloon-powered cars. But what started out as promising quickly went south. Balloons weren’t inflating, cars weren’t making moves. While I observed my students, I realized the main reason they were struggling was that they simply weren’t working together as team. There was no collaboration and there certainly was no effective communication. In some groups, students were downright mean to each other.”(more)

The teacher evaluation mistake 28 states are making

E-School News – Laura Ascione

“A growing number of states award teachers a rating of effective or higher even if those teachers score poorly on student learning, according to a new study from the National Council on Teacher Quality. Currently, 30 states use evidence of student learning as part of teacher evaluations. Some of those states give teachers an “effective” rating even if they earn the lowest possible score on their ability to increase student learning.”(more)

How to Make a Liberal Arts Degree a Career Asset

Fortune – Anne Fisher

“Plenty of research supports the idea that STEM degrees, although they’re in big demand, are not the only horse in the race. Two recent employer surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, for instance, show that four skills outrank technical knowledge and computer proficiency on employers’ wish lists: Critical thinking/problem-solving, work ethic, teamwork, and strong oral and written communications. Not only that, but those “soft” skills matter more as people progress in their careers…Still worried? Of course you are. So here are three practical suggestions you might pass along to your daughter (if she’ll listen).”(more)

Farewell to the Walking Encyclopedia

The Huffington Post – Robert E. Slavin

“Like just about everyone these days, I carry a digital device in my pocket at all times. At the office, I have a powerful desktop, and in the evening, I curl up with my iPad. Each of these contains the knowledge and wisdom of the ages. Kids and parents have as much access as I do. The ubiquity of knowledge due to digital devices has led many educational theorists and practitioners to wonder whether teachers are even necessary anymore. Can’t everyone just look things up, do calculations, and generally provide themselves with just-in-time wisdom-on-the-spot?…digital devices are not yet transforming education. But what they are doing is putting the last nail in the coffin of the teacher as walking encyclopedia…Content knowledge is still crucial, but a “walking encyclopedia” is of declining value when everyone can find out everything all the time. Does the decline of the walking encyclopedia diminish the role of the teacher? Just the opposite. When kids are immersed in too much information, what they need is a guide to help them learn how to comprehend complex texts and understand and organize information. They need to know how to write, how to solve complex problems, how to set up and carry out experiments, how to work well with others, how to contextualize their own thoughts to reason productively, how to manage their own behavior, how to maintain positive motivation, and how to be productive even in the face of difficulties.”(more)

Life Prep Should Include Problem-Based Learning, Failure & Leadership

The Huffington Post – John N. Buxton

“The students of today are different. They plan for the future at a young age…we see middle-school students initiating the admissions process to prepare for a desired career path. In fact, students typically recognize the opportunity and then convince their parents of the course of action. This is a proactive, practical generation that isn’t engaged with traditional teaching methods. But there are three things educators and parents can do to prepare students academically and personally for their future:”(more)