ThinkThankThunk

Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.

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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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How I Teach Calculus: A Comedy (L’amuse Bouche)

I started with optimization this year. Namely, Dan’s taco cart problem. Why? Because if you have to cut off learning when the semester ends, then you’ve got to present the most important stuff first. Why? So they have time to actually processes it. No one cares until it’s a story, and the text-book order is…

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How I *Know* Things Aren’t Alright – A Hack-a-Thon Story

I was sitting in my office at BIG grading the 3-4 page papers from a cookie cutter assignment on the history of Isaac Newton and planning out which stickers to use in my next toy-economy sticker chart, when I realized I was having a nightmare. Har Har. Actually, I was in a 1:1 session with…

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Standards-Based Grading: Why Now?

I was in Missouri this week working with an amazing group of teachers just outside of St. Louis. They were interested in grading, and you could tell their administration had really raked the coals on some smoldering issues with assessment (like my favorite question) And that’s all this is, isn’t it? I mean, I got…

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Is this ‘u’? Is this ‘u’ too?

I’ve been really watching out for ways to tell when my students are using the abstraction smokescreen. That’s a term I just made up, so let me define it: the head-nodding affirmation that a student does when you’re talking too many rungs above their current abstraction level and they don’t want to “look stupid.” Obviously,…

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Standards-Based Grading: And It Begins

I’m not going to say I told you so, but… It begins: the inevitable backlash against SBG now that it has gone from a grass-roots, classroom-by-classroom implementation for the good of the students to district-wide initiatives with all of the mass communication pitfalls therein. This is really personal for me. My emergence into what I…

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