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One Brain, Two Systems

Posted by Michael Milone, Ph.D.

Wed, Sep 21, 2016 @ 01:10 PM

How do we think? It depends.

As you undoubtedly know, thinking about some things is easier than others. Here’s an example based on two related questions.

Question 1: How many days are in a year?

Question 2: How many days are in 80 years?

To answer Question 1, you engage brain System 1. This is a relatively automatic set of responses that require little effort, at least for most people. Once you learn there are 365 days in a typical year, you can retrieve that information effortlessly.

To answer Question 2, you engage brain System 2. Using this system requires more effort and concentration. You might call it higher-level thinking, and it can get complicated.


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Topics: General Education, Struggling Students

Exploring Formative Assessment in the Mathematics Classroom

Posted by Bea Moore Luchin

Wed, Sep 14, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

Formative assessment is an important tool to take full advantage of, especially in this transitional era of implementing more rigorous standards.

When correctly incorporated into classroom practice, the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. The process serves as practice for the student and a check for understanding during the learning process. The formative assessment process guides teachers in making decisions about future instruction. 

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Topics: General Education, Math, State Standards, Struggling Students, Assessment

Lifelong Learners

Posted by Michelle George

Wed, Sep 7, 2016 @ 02:10 PM

The week before school ended last spring, one of my students asked what I planned to do with my summer vacation. I told him I was taking classes at the local university, and he blanched. He paused a moment and then asked, “But why?” I smiled and told him that I like learning. He shook his head and then gave me a look of disbelief mixed, I think, with pity. We were on the cusp of summer vacation, so I can easily understand his reaction, but I do strive to be a lifelong learner. I think most teachers are addicted to learning. You have to love learning to choose an occupation that keeps you in school for most of your life. We know that lifelong learning is an attitude that can enrich our lives, but I believe it’s important to share this knowledge with our students.

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Topics: General Education

High Fidelity for High Technology

Posted by Michael Milone, Ph.D.

Wed, Aug 31, 2016 @ 01:05 PM

Here’s the most excellent example of stating the obvious in the history of educational research. When an intervention is implemented with high fidelity, it is more effective than when it is implemented with low fidelity. Really, it’s that simple … and obvious.

So, what is this fidelity of implementation thing? Simply put, fidelity of implementation describes the extent to which delivery of an instructional practice adheres to the protocol on which it was developed or field tested. Or as my father liked to say when I was fiddling with assembling models as a kid, “Do it the way the instructions say.”

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Topics: General Education, Educational Technology, Intervention

Community-Driven Classroom Management

Posted by Josie Pack

Wed, Aug 24, 2016 @ 01:20 PM

The overwhelming feelings of fear and insecurity rise into my throat as I stare into my plan book, pencil tapping away at the empty space where my first week of instruction should be. When do I start with my content areas? When are the materials arriving? Will we have test scores by then to begin grouping? I’m getting ahead of myself. 

After several long, deep breaths, I begin to remember what these first weeks are really about. I won’t be overwhelming my students with an explicit lesson on narrative writing during day one. I won’t be diving into comprehension quizzes on day two. I must go slow to go fast. Establish norms. Build my classroom community. 

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Topics: General Education, Positive School Climate, Classroom management, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports

Are We Punished When Rewarding and Rewarded When We Punish?

Posted by Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D.

Wed, May 18, 2016 @ 01:30 PM

In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” (Kahneman, 2011), Daniel Kahneman tells us many critical things about how our minds work, and how those processes affect the manner in which we make decisions. He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his life’s work, and presents to us simple rules that can guide how we make decisions about our own lives, including what we purchase and how we get along with our partners, friends, and family. He also illustrates the importance of observing longer term patterns to make decisions, and not allowing single events to lead us to believe that something is “true.”

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Topics: Positive School Climate

Making Mistakes: It’s a Good Thing

Posted by Michael Milone, Ph.D.

Wed, May 11, 2016 @ 01:10 PM

The essence of learning is change. For learning to take place, there must be a change in behavior, cognition, or emotion. In all cases, learning is change. It's not just a good idea, it's the law. If there is no change, there is no learning.

No, this is not an example of the “appeal to extremes” logical fallacy, also known as reductio ad absurdum. Nor is it evidence that I was raised in a Skinner Box. (The row house in South Philadelphia where I spent my first five years was home to three generations, including a grandmother who was born in Ireland.) Learning equals change.

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Topics: General Education, Educational Technology

MAGIC ACTIVATED: Part 2 of 2

Posted by Antavia Hamilton-Ochs

Wed, May 4, 2016 @ 01:15 PM

I am more than a teacher. I am an activator. I'm tasked with lighting thousands upon thousands of little ‘aha’ moments in little minds each year. Not each spark takes hold, but others explode! Sometimes, I get to see the magic take hold in the most powerful of ways. Part 2 of 2.

Carmen came to me a reading-shy freshman. She was ever so polite, with a smile that melts my heart daily.

She'd forget her glasses. She'd quietly chat with her friend. She'd wait for someone to notice she was lost.

In the past, I would give her a heads up before calling on her and be met with panicked eyes. While another student read aloud, I'd go over to her and softly let her know I'd help her. When she started to shut down, I'd smile and let her know that ladies let people know what they need and move forward. I'd remind her that she was still moving ahead.

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Topics: Literacy, Positive School Climate, Parental Involvement, Intervention, Struggling Students

MAGIC ACTIVATED: Part 1 of 2

Posted by Antavia Hamilton-Ochs

Wed, Apr 27, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

I am more than a teacher. I am an activator. I'm tasked with lighting thousands upon thousands of little ‘aha’ moments in little minds each year. Not each spark takes hold, but others explode! Sometimes, I get to see the magic take hold in the most powerful of ways. Part 1 of 2.

Periodically, I stop class for a five-minute life lesson. I teach transferable skills, as many of them as I can, on and off curriculum. As these teachable moments crop up, I seize them. I'm preparing my kiddos for life. I'd be shirking my responsibilities if I didn't teach them the soft skills that subtly support us as we move through the world. My pupils needed to be well read, analytical, adept at critical thinking, and savvy. Most of all, they needed to find their voice. They live in a world that doesn't always tell them their “value.” They are told constantly what they are “worth.”

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Topics: Literacy, Positive School Climate, Parental Involvement, Intervention, Struggling Students

What did you learn today?

Posted by Bea Moore Luchin

Wed, Apr 20, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

As we implement higher standards across the country, it has become increasingly important that we identify and use a variety of strategies to assess student learning so that the appropriate interventions may be provided. 

One strategy is to encourage students to reflect on their reasoning and justify their work.  The idea of justifying your work in mathematics has to go beyond the use of inverse operations to “prove” that the calculation was correct. This way of checking is not justification since it does not address the student’s use of metacognition—the thinking about thinking—that goes beyond the use of an algorithm and takes you into their decision-making processes.

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Topics: Math, Common Core, State Standards, Common Core Math, NCTM Standards

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