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Photography by Patrick Reddick
A memory of middle and high school is being stuck in class and daydreaming my time away, full aware that my inability to focus on the droning lesson in front of me would cost me dearly when I had to figure out later how to answer the homework problems. Maybe this is why I made educational films in college and more recently worked with a team to launch Elevated Math, an iPad app that teaches middle school math. Teachers need to do something to engage our kids. We have infinite ways to do this, but for now I’ll touch on four.
1. Passion. Teachers must not only love the subjects they teach, they must be passionate about them. In college, I took a class on existentialism. The instructor would talk an hour in the lecture hall and then, when the hour was over, would invite us to join him in the sculpture garden outside where he would lecture another hour. Everyone followed him. He would speak about each philosopher as if this person held the ultimate truth of life that we each needed to know. No doubt this professor passionately loved his subject. Can we approach our class in the same way, as if we hold a sacred gift of knowledge that we must pass on?
2. Real-world problems. I remember my earth science class when the first photographs of the moon were released. My teacher drove to Washington D.C. (we lived in northern Virginia) and acquired large prints of these maps. § Read the rest of this entry…
Photography by Thomas Favre-Bulle
An article in EdWeek this month by David Ginsburg entitled Don’t Prevent Students’ Mistakes, Prepare for Them has prompted this post. The article discusses how traditional teaching methods often deny students the chance to learn from their mistakes. But what about the teachers? Are they encouraged to make mistakes? Are they willing to take chances with their instruction? Is an unwillingness to create a video to use in a flipped classroom a bigger mistake than failing at the attempt?
In the traditional classroom model the information transfer takes place in class with assimilation of that information taking place outside the class. In an inverted model, as in a flipped classroom, the transfer takes place outside of class (often through online videos) and with assimilation in class. If implemented correctly, the class can become a robust environment where students work on challenging problems aimed at making sense of what they’ve seen and heard outside of class. Read our earlier blog if you need to know more.
I’ve spent the last couple months talking with teachers, visiting their classrooms, and reading blogs. I’m convinced schools should head in the direction of the inverted model and they should vigorously pursue the implementation of the flipped classroom.
A teacher I visited outside of Boston had a 6th grade flipped math classroom. It was a fascinating visit. Despite his struggles to keep § Read the rest of this entry…
Variations of flipped classrooms are as many as there are teachers. Brian Bennett writes in his blog post, “The flipped class is an ideology, not a methodology.” He stresses that it is not defined by the use of videos. He has moved away from videos now that he has more time for “engaging activities and labs.” The flipped classroom is all about “making connections with learners and differentiating your instruction.” Therefore, a teacher can have such a classroom as long as the needs of all learners are being met. Bennett is commended for meeting the needs of his learners. However, for a classroom to truly be “flipped,” prepared instruction must continue at home, not just in the classroom.
The way we like to understand the term, the flipped classroom is used to introduce and reinforce the teaching in BOTH the classroom and at home. For example, a teacher introduces and provides direct § Read the rest of this entry…
photography by Pieter Edelman
I’m running for school board in Beverly Hills – a non-paying job with minimal perks – and we have one week left before the elections. The experience of campaigning has caused me to reflect on the experiences of our kids. I see some similarities.
ME: I am expected to spend money on mailers and newspaper advertising which doesn’t contribute anything to the knowledge of the voters other than name recognition. Perhaps it lets them know who has the better graphic designer, but overall it’s a waste of time and money. § Read the rest of this entry…
photography by gianΩmerz
A study published yesterday in the journal Cerebral Cortex suggests some potential treatments for math anxiety. See the Education Week blog.
In prior research, the author Sian L. Beilock found that just the thought of doing math problems can trigger stress responses in people with math anxiety, and adult teachers can pass their trepidation about math on to their students.
One of the earliest posts on this blog was on Handling Math Phobia. This subject is worth revisiting.
The study released yesterday shows that students who are anxious about math yet perform well have a high activity in the frontal and parietal regions of the brain when they learn a math problem is coming up. § Read the rest of this entry…
The Christian Science Monitor article so entitled inspired me to create this post. I learned of Steve Job’s passing six minutes before starting a debate with three other candidates. You see, I’m running for school board in Beverly Hills. The news shocked me and I wondered if I could continue. I felt choked up and could not think about the issues I was expected to discuss. As the other three candidates gave their opening statements I realized what I needed to do. As they talked I confirmed the news I had heard with a reporter sitting in the front row. Then, when it § Read the rest of this entry…
Photography by Michael Gil
First in the list of things that students say they want from education, according to eSchool News, is “real-world application and relevancy.” When it comes to math education finding these real-world examples seems more of a challenge. I tried myself to find some, was stumped, and had to go back through the Elevated Math lessons to find problems that kids might find relevant. Next, I searched into my own life to find some more. And then, after my consciousness was alert to this task, all sorts of ideas began to surface.
I was reminded of a time when my daughter was young. With her strapped to a car seat in Los Angeles’ rush-hour traffic, we filled the time with a game. The objective § Read the rest of this entry…
In the past few weeks I’ve been reading what others have been saying about Khan Academy and decided to watch some of the videos. Since I had forgotten about limits in calculus, I watched a video about that. I promptly fell asleep. His voice is pleasant enough, but I’m a visual person I need more stimulation than having a lesson scratched out on a blackboard. But I didn’t give up. I tried a video where I knew the subject well. On Monday we ran a blog post on the Pythagorean Theorem so I decided to see what Khan had done on this subject. Here is Khan’s version where he proves the theorem. And here is the Elevated Math version. (We just put this up on YouTube.) Khan’s proof takes around eight minutes while Elevated Math’s takes only a minute. You be the judge which is better. The big difference, besides the proof itself, is in production value. Along with the one minute explanation Elevated Math has another 19 minutes of instruction on right triangles, animated graphics, problem-solving, practice and immediate feedback. The Khan video is free while the Elevated Math lesson costs less than the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee.
What I find interesting is Khan’s “flipped” classroom idea where he proposes that lectures are used as § Read the rest of this entry…
Photography by erjkprunczyk
Yesterday, David Sirota published an article in Salon entitled “How Finland became an education leader.” The article is based on an interview he had with Harvard researcher, Tony Wagner, who narrates a new documentary called, “The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System.”
I’ve never been to Finland. I want to go. But this makes a nice follow-up to yesterday’s blog post, “Math in Singapore.”
The two reasons, as I understand it, for Finland’s success in education are: § Read the rest of this entry…
Photography by Christoph
I know that Singapore Math refers to the curriculum they have in Singapore where emphasis is placed on model drawing, problem solving, and mental math strategies. According to TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) students in 4th and 8th grade mathematics rate higher there than anywhere else in the world. Two years ago when I was in Singapore I decided to talk with people about their educational system and do some exploring on my own. I was curious to know what made their system unique.
Here are my observations: § Read the rest of this entry…
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