ThinkThankThunk

Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.

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Iowa BIG is Change Today

I’m going to see Seth Godin speak this afternoon at Iowa City’s Entrefest, and I have to admit that I feel inspired to be a change agent today; it’s been hard to maintain that lately. Running Iowa BIG has sapped nearly every ounce of energy I’ve been able to cleave from Lucky Charms and coffee…

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I Have to Take a Second Job to Support my Teaching Habit: Thanks #ialegis

I am the headmaster of Iowa BIG, one of the most progressive public school programs in Iowa and in the Nation. We were featured speakers at SXSW and at the PioneerBasecamp Policy Summit in DC, in just the last month. I make the salary of every other 7th-year teacher in my district, with some added…

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Just to be clear, Teaching Math is a Tire Fire Right Now

When a student comes to me and says she can’t concentrate on her projects because of how she’s doing in another one of her classes, I tend to feel a violent ambivalence. When someone is asked to prove that two trigonometric expressions are equal by using arcane identities, especially when this someone is a barely…

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Mu of Zero

What happens when you get to the bottom of a slippery slope? You end up attempting to optimize a system that has no high point. It began simply: someone, somewhere, said that they knew a few things that they were sure everyone needed to know, probably on East Coast around 1910. The list grew exponentially….

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That Study Never Happened

She picked back up flippantly, as if she hadn’t known that I was a physics teacher, “…and then we did this thing, you know, with like a, turning balance thing, and I have to use some equation, and, oh, I’m screwed, something with period or time.” I immediately flew into whiteboard mode, “Like this?!” I¬†drew…

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How to Run an Iowa BIG: Our Space #gowhalephants

This begins a series of posts about how one might start a totally project-based, competency-driven, asynchronous schooling environment with a Creative Commons Licensed pedagogical model. We call ourselves Iowa BIG, and yes we know that sounds a bit pretentious, but hey, my official title is Headmaster Cornally, so, deal. Through our initiatives, we deliver core…

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The Overflowing Froth of Realness: Iowa BIG

A quick primer on what we do at Iowa BIG: It’s been slow, especially because I’m used to running my own little kingdom of a classroom, but Iowa BIG is bearing the fruit of a community-focused, project-based model. The dream was to create a schooling experience with a seamless connection and sometimes blurred difference between…

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[Tyranny of the Curriculum] What is Extra in Education?

You wanna know what keeps me up at night? Not climate change. Not the fact that Ke$ha makes more in a minute than I make in a decade. Not the fact that Iowa is slowly but surely wasting the prairie’s soil and everyone’s fresh water so it can produce Pepsi, ethanol, and beef. No, it’s…

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Designing Schools for Humans

Humans are Built to Walk: Not run. Not jump. Not swim. Walk. We have arched feet and an astonishingly efficient walking gait. We think better when we walk, and our happiness and sense of purpose may be tied to the simple act of wandering about. It’s not that we’re good at walking; it’s that we…

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What I Learned at ACT

The issue here is that most assessment of students is inbred. Having just spent my first (and last) visit at the r/education sub-reddit, I was left with a tinny taste in my mouth; it’s a lot of complaining. I suppose the Internet was built for complaining, and cats, and, oh, maybe communicating. What really got…

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