Atul Gawande gave the commencement address at CalTech this month, and The New Yorker published his speech under the headline “A Mistrust Of Science.”
Here’s an excerpt:
The whole piece would be useful in IB Theory of Knowledge classes when discussing science. I especially like his discussion of pseudoscience (you might also be interested in Video: Bill Nye On Pseudo-Science.
Police Body Cameras: What Do You See? is a new very impressive interactive at The New York Times. After first soliciting the reader’s general feelings about the police, the interactive shows several staged police encounters from different cameras and angles – asking you to judge what you think you saw. Then, those judgments are compared to other what others said and their feelings about the police. It’s extraordinarily useful to just about any class, and will be a superior addition to my Theory of Knowledge lesson on perception,Videos: Here’s The Simple Theory of Knowledge Lesson On Perception I Did Today. That post shares several other videos showing the same event from different angles.
You may, or may not, be familiar with the BBC’s “A History of Ideas.” It’s a show with 72 one-hour podcasts and 48 accompanying short video animations about philosophy. You can access all the podcasts and videos on the BBC site, which is particularly nice since a lot of the other material on the BBC won’t play in the United States. All the video animations are also on YouTube.
My 2014 post, New “Fillable” PDF Forms For IB Theory Of Knowledge Presentations & Essays, has been very popular, with TOK teachers from around the world not wanting to brave the IB website just to download some simple forms. Instead, they’ve just gone to that post, and I haven’t heard any objections from IB about my making them available. In January, though, I heard from TOK teacher Vladi Stanojevic that, in their infinite wisdom, IB decided to make some changes to the Presentations form (the Essay form appears to be the same):
It’s very similar to the old one, except it doesn’t have space for the candidates names. It does seem odd that they have entirely removed any space for student names, but I’ve given up trying to figure out IB decisions….
However, last year I began publishing a regular Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week post. I thought, because of that new feature, it made sense to just publish a list highlighting the best from that series, in addition to the regular “Practical Advice” one. That latter list will include many other resources.
The title of this “The Best…” list is pretty self-explanatory. What you’ll find here are blog posts and articles this year (some written by me, some by others) that were, in my opinion, the ones that offered the best practical advice and resources to teachers this year — suggestions that can help teachers become more effective in the classroom today or tomorrow. Some, however, might not appear on the surface to fit that criteria, but those, I think, might offer insights that could (should?) inform our teaching practice everyday.
For many, the headlines provide enough of an idea of the topic and I haven’t included any further description.
“Grit” is all over the news lately, and I’ve previously shared a number of related resources (see The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit”). In fact, there’s been so much written about it, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start or who to believe. But that won’t be a problem anymore because Dan Willingham has clearly written the best (and most accessible) analysis of grit that I have seen – and, believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them! (and this is one day after he gave the best advice you’ll see on students listening to music in the classroom!). It’s in this summer’s issue of the American Educator under the title of “Grit” Is Trendy, but Can It Be Taught? and it’s freely available online. He provides an excellent analysis of the research, along with reviewing common critiques.
Education Week has just published one of their typically excellent special reports, and the title of this one is Next Draft: Changing Practices In Writing Instruction. It’s composed of eight separate articles, including “As Teachers Tackle New Student-Writing Expectations, Support Is Lacking,” “Remodeling the Workshop: Lucy Calkins on Writing Instruction Today,” and “Students in My Math Classes Next Year Will Do a Lot of Writing. Here’s Why.” I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.
One of my most popular posts is The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels.” It’s filled with free sources where you can get the similar versions of the same text that have been edited for different levels of readers. For some reason, however, I have neglected to put the modified readings from the great British Council on that list, and I am fixing that oversight now. They have a number of readings in three or four levels each. They seem to have them in two different places — stories in three levels here and four levels here.
Ways to Help ELLs Learn Pronunciation is the headline of one of my Education Week Teacher columns. In it, Wendi Pillars, Paul Boyd-Batstone, Ivannia Soto, Judie Haynes, Diane Mora, Eugenia Mora-Flores, and many readers offer suggestions on how to help English Language Learners develop good pronunciation skills.
The online publication Quartz published a piece about an amazing new interactive ad campaign that encourages people to repeat phrases as part of an online video story. Fine, you might be thinking, so what’s the big deal? Well, the recorded phrases then go into a VoiceBank that supplies audio for people who must use a device to communicate. Can you think of many other things that could be more motivating to an English Language Learner to try to get as close to perfect pronunciation as that? All you have to do is go to the Voice of Goldivox and follow the story along. The phrases are short and very accessible. I wouldn’t use it with Beginners, but would think Intermediates and Advanced could do it with a little practice. Here’s a sample video, though you have to to the Goldivox link to watch it all and record:
NPR has been run a three-part series on how “gifted” English Language Learners, particularly Latinos, are overlooked for admittance into advanced classes in schools. Of course, that’s no surprise to most of us — it’s common that even many teachers confuse not speaking English with not being intelligent. It’s great that this problem is finally getting some public attention. We’re lucky at our school that some of us who also teach English Language Learner classes also teach courses in the International Baccalaureate program so, for instance, I recruited four of my ELL students for my IB Theory of Knowledge class this year and have twelve slated to attend next year. Why Gifted Latinos Are Often Overlooked And Underserved is the link to one of the stories.
Reader Susan recommended I check-out the Big Learners site, and I’m glad she did. It has thousands of worksheets for elementary grades that you can print-out for free with no registration required. The English ones I looked at seemed pretty decent and could certainly be used with Beginning and Low-Intermediate English Language Learners to reinforce concepts that have been initially taught in more engaging ways. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Free ESL/EFL Hand-Outs & Worksheets.
Let’s Learn English is a new course for English learners. It’s a series of 52 lessons with online resources, student printables and teacher lesson plans and is from the Voice of America.
WordSift came out several years ago as a great tool to help English Language Learners develop academic vocabulary knowledge. Mary Ann Zehr wrote an excellent description of it at Ed Week, and I put it on The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary. It was created by Stanford Professor Kenji Hakuta. Then, it seemed to disappear. I started getting requests from educators for alternatives. Now, it’s back! WordSift 2 has launched. Paste in a text, and you get all sorts of stuff in return — word clouds sorted in various categories, images of words to enhance understanding, sentences showing the words in context, word webs, and more!
ASCD’s monthly “Educational Leadership” magazine is usually great, but it was even more special in February with a special issue titledHelping ELLs Excel.Usually, I provide a brief review of a few of the articles that aren’t behind a paywall and which I think are particularly worth reading. However, I’d recommend you go and read all the ones that are freely available AND pay a few bucks to read all the others (if you aren’t already a subscriber).
I use short, funny video clips a lot when I’m teaching ELLs, and you can read in detail about how I use them in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them). In short, there are many ways to use them that promote speaking, listening, writing and reading (including having students describe – in writing and verbally – a chronological description of what they saw).
I’ve posted a few of them during the first half of this year, and I thought it would be useful to readers — and to me — if I brought them together in one post.
Video clips of sneaky critters are great ones to show to English Language Learners to get them to describe — verbally and in writing — what they see. I also use them to in my IB Theory of Knowledge class for a discussion about if animals have ethics:
Astronaut Scott Kelly at the International Space Station filmed himself in a gorilla suit chasing Tim Peake:
The humor exhibited in this Darth Santa spoof would be a big hit for many teenage boys who are English Language Learners, and I suspect others would enjoy it, too (note that there are a few seconds showing him drinking). Students can watch it and describe verbally and writing what they saw:
Here are my choices for The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2016 – So Far (let me know what you think I’m missing) – these are not listed in any order of preference (I’m starting off with links to “Best” lists I’ve posted over the past few months that relate to ed policy):
Slate is published an impressive series of twelve long articles on race and schools – all in one week – and called Tomorrow’s Test. You can access all of them at the bottom of that introductory article.
The Harvard Business Review – of all places – has published what I think is the most thorough and devastating critique that I’ve seen of performance pay – see Stop Paying Executives for Performance. It’s targeting executive pay but, with a few minor changes in wording, the article can be applied to teacher pay and evaluation, as well as student assessment. It’s short, and definitely worth the read.
The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.