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Books I read in September 2021

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Serpentine, by Jonathan KellermanBooks I finished reading (or rereading) in September 2021…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

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Celebrate Modern Manufacturing with the STEM Careers Coalition

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Calling all creators, doers and makers! If your students are ready to solve some of the manufacturing industry’s toughest challenges, check out these resources to see if they have what it takes to Make It In Modern Manufacturing.

In celebration of Manufacturing Day, the STEM Careers Coalition, has curated an engaging collection of brain teasers, career profiles, hands-on activities and more to spark students’ imaginations and help them see what modern manufacturing in America is all about!

Career Profiles

What kind of problems do your students want to solve? Explore the profiles below of people just like you who are using the skills they learned in school to become the kind of problem solvers that make a difference. Make the connection from the classroom to careers with in-depth explorations of careers in manufacturing, including process engineers, maintenance technicians and equipment operations.

In this collection curated specifically in recognition of Manufacturing Day, give students a unique view of manufacturing professionals innovating in the industry, including

  • Process Engineers > Leadership-oriented professionals who combine business management skills with knowledge of multiple fields of science and mathematics, including Chemistry, Thermodynamics, and Physics. They design systems that help factories and plants maximize the efficient production of goods.
  • Maintenance Electricians > As an expert in “keeping the machine running” at a manufacturing plant, Tyler channeled his experience performing preventative maintenance checks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with new safety precautions at his facility.
  • Production Operators > Production operators have sound mechanical knowledge and abilities and are able to work effectively with their hands. They understand how to use a variety of technology applications for measuring oil and gas output.
  • Supplier Quality Launch Leaders > In light of widespread closures of manufacturing plants and parts suppliers due to the pandemic, Alex and his GM colleagues collaborated with an outside company to help produce ventilators, using their manufacturing skills for the greater good.

Student & Classroom Activities

Access the no-cost, standards-aligned classroom activities to support future career success for all students. Each activity features important STEM skills and a step-by-step guide for implementing activities wherever learning is taking place.

  • Farm to Table > Students gain context on the role petroleum plays in food production, while focusing on the importance of fuel efficiency and sustainable infrastructure. They will assess how efficiency varies among freight transportation methods based on factors like speed, cost, and environmental impact.
  • Eco Friendly Manufacturing > Students will investigate the textile industry’s impact on global water scarcity using engineering analysis. They will review strategies for reducing pollution while maintaining industry success, and draft clear guidelines to steer textile manufacturers to a more sustainable future.
  • Critical Thinking > In this sixth session, young people will explore a STEM challenge focused around manufacturing. As they collaborate to complete the challenge, they will apply the engineering design process to create prototypes of a new product and optimize their designs.

Explore the excitement of modern manufacturing all month long at STEMCareersCoalition.org or on the STEM Careers Channel in the Discovery Education K-12 learning platform.

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A Wisconsin brewery is helping parents sue school districts that don't require masks

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In federal lawsuits, parents in Wisconsin are blaming school districts for coronavirus infections, saying they should not have ended mask requirements during a pandemic. Here, a student in Michigan is seen arriving at school in late August.

A school board "threw students into a COVID-19 'snake pit' " when it axed mask requirements and other measures, a federal lawsuit says. A Minocqua, Wis., brewery is helping fund parents' legal fight.

(Image credit: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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Retrieval practice, CBE, and what we value regarding student learning

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Powerful TeachingA number of educators across the country are finding great value in ‘learning science’ books such as Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning. In Powerful Teaching, the authors focus on the potential of:

  • Retrieval practice – “pulling information out of students’ heads (e.g., quizzes and flashcards), rather than cramming information into students’ heads (e.g., lectures)” (p. 4);
  • Spaced practice – “spreading lessons and retrieval opportunities out over time” (p. 4);
  • Interleaving – “mixing up closely-related topics and encouraging discrimination” (e.g., “when students practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems all mixed up, rather than one type of problem at a time;” p. 5); and
  • Feedback – “providing [students] the opportunity to know what they know, and know what they don’t know” (p. 5).

There’s nothing inherently wrong with retrieval practice, spaced practice, and interleaving. These educational practices can be powerful tools for information retrieval. But we also have to ask ourselves the tougher question of ‘Retrieval practice, spaced practice, and interleaving OF WHAT?’ Is the information worth knowing and spending time on in the first place? For instance, in the retrieval practice challenge grid below [intentionally anonymized], many of us could argue that most of the things being ‘retrieved’ to allegedly enhance student ‘learning’ aren’t really worth learning at all, much less remembering later.

Retrieval Practice Challenge Grid

On another educational front, many advocates of competency-based education (CBE) are working diligently to create ‘high reliability’ school structures. This work often involves extremely sophisticated proficiency scaling of desired learning outcomes, student leveling diagnostics, and individualized instruction and student interventions. Here is an example third grade mathematics proficiency scale [intentionally anonymized]:

3rd grade math proficiency scale

And, once again, we have to ask ourselves the tougher question of ‘Proficiency scaling and student leveling ON WHAT?

In Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World, David Perkins noted that “the achievement gap is much more concerned with mastering content than with providing lifeworthy content. . . . The achievement gap is all about doing the same thing better… [In contrast,] the relevance gap asks us to reconsider deeply what schools teach in the first place” (pp. 30-31). Accordingly, a couple of questions that we might ask ourselves as educators include:

  • In our learning science and competency-based educational work, are the desired student outcomes that we’re emphasizing just low-level content or are they lifeworthy content? 
  • If we’re going to ask our students to ‘retrieve’ and ‘interleave’ their learning weeks and even months later, can it at least be knowledge and skills that are worth remembering?

There are at least two potential dangers as schools and educators move in these ‘high reliability’ directions:

  • Schools will continue to reinforce, strengthen, and reinscribe their typical emphases on standardized, low-level learning at the expense of more lifeworthy knowledge and skills, particularly for traditionally-marginalized students.
  • By doing so, schools will continue to reduce kids to proficiency scales, score reports, and individualized, dehumanized, numerical widgets in mechanistic, technocratic educational systems. Rather than being agents of their own learning and active, hands-on meaning-makers, students are passive recipients of processes and outcomes that are imposed on them in the name of ‘reliability.’

Both of these practices contribute to students’ learning apathy, boredom, disengagement, perceived lack of relevance in what they’re learning, and dropout rates (both physically and mentally).

Even Daniel Willingham, who, as a cognitive psychologist, is a tremendous advocate for brain-based learning and background factual knowledge, asked in Why Don’t Students Like School?, “When is it appropriate to ask students to memorize something before it has much meaning? Probably not often…” (p. 64). Willingham also reiterated that “We remember much better if something has meaning” (p. 33) and that “Repetition is good for learning but terrible for motivation” (p. 1). In other words, we have to focus on creating learning experiences that are meaningful to students, not just in a school-y ‘you need to know this for the test’ sense or in a ‘do this or you will be punished academically or behaviorally’ sense but rather in a ‘you need to know this for life’ sense. We know that most students – even successful ones – are really struggling to find meaning in most of the learning tasks that we put before them.

Willingham also stated:

Students can’t learn everything, so what should they know? Cognitive science leads to the rather obvious conclusion that students must learn the concepts that come up again and again – the unifying ideas of each discipline [emphasis added]. Some educational thinkers have suggested that a limited number of ideas should be taught in great depth, beginning in the early grades and carrying through the curriculum for years as different topics are taken up and viewed through the lens of one or more of these ideas. From the cognitive perspective, that makes sense [emphasis added]. (p. 37)

Are our school systems focusing on big important concepts or just trivia and minutiae as they engage in learning science and competency-based educational practices?

Some may wonder if it is even possible to engage in learning science and competency-based educational practices for so-called ‘deeper learning.’ The authors of Powerful Teaching do say that “these strategies apply for … critical thinking” (p. 5). However, the vast majority of the examples that they use in the book pertain to students remembering something that they read earlier, answering exam questions, taking notes, engaging in mini-quizzes, regurgitating back what they heard from a teacher, and similar, extraordinarily traditional educational practices. Higher-level thinking examples and discussions of real world thinking, application, and problem-solving are scarce in the book (as they are in our larger, societal-level conversations about ‘learning loss’ during the pandemic). The language that the authors use in the book to introduce their key concepts also emphasizes lower-level learning (e.g., practicing math problems, quizzes, flashcards, teacher lectures, and so on).

Of course students need to have factual knowledge and procedural fluency. But those aren’t enough in today’s global, innovation society (and arguably never were). Some of our lower-level student learning outcomes are important and many are less so, particularly when viewed through the lens of ‘lifeworthy content.’ But how we get there is always up for negotiation. Learning modality matters A LOT. It would be really easy to shove kids in front of a bunch of worksheets or homework packets or transmission-regurgitation / individualized-progression / box-checking software systems and say that students are achieving ‘mastery’ of supposedly ‘important’ knowledge and skills. We can see the allure of that for a large number of school leaders or policymakers. Be cognizant of that seduction, because it’s a student soul-sucking idea that’s been floating around in education for many, many decades. And vendors will be quite happy to take your money and sell this to you.

As I said in a recent keynote, I absolutely adore the idea of ‘high-reliability schools.’ But we need to make sure that our definition of ‘high reliability’ includes deeper learning opportunities and outcomes, not just the low-level learning that we’ve traditionally spent most of our time on in P-12 schools. One last time: students aren’t going to recall and regurgitate their way into 21st century life success.

I know that deeper learning networks like Big Picture Learning, New Tech Network, and High Tech High are trying to figure out what ‘high reliability’ looks like in the deeper learning context, as are the schools featured in our recent book, Leadership for Deeper Learning. The work that these students and educators are doing is incredibly complex and even more inspiring. It’s relatively easy to come up with pedagogical and data systems that help students recall and regurgitate a little better. It’s much more difficult to create educational systems that develop successful, problem-solving humans. I would encourage all of us to think pretty deeply about this: not just about how to make existing technocratic systems even more technocratic, but about what it means to be educated and successful over the next few decades. 

Your thoughts? How are you reconciling learning science and competency-based educational principles with deeper learning?

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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SplashLearn Courses Are Live K-5 Math And Reading Classes

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SplashLearn Courses are engaging, live K-5 Math and Reading tutoring classes for elementary school-aged students.

The post SplashLearn Courses Are Live K-5 Math And Reading Classes appeared first on TeachThought.

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You don't need a bachelor's degree to land a high-paying job

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Illustration by Cha Pornea

On average, a worker with a bachelor's degree will earn more than a worker who doesn't have one. But new research shows there are a lot of exceptions.

(Image credit: Cha Pornea for NPR)

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Teachers in Texas are told they must teach 'opposing' views of the Holocaust

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The Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, is in the spotlight after an administrator reportedly instructed teachers to provide students with "opposing" views of the Holocaust when the subject of recent statewide legislation came up.

An administrator with the Southlake School District reportedly made the statement during a meeting when a new state law came up. It says multiple perspectives should be presented on certain topics.

(Image credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images)

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What borrowers need to know about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness overhaul

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"Borrowers who devote a decade of their lives to public service should be able to rely on the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness," U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Education Department said it would temporarily relax some of the program's rules. The changes could lead to loan cancellation for tens of thousands of borrowers.

(Image credit: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

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New Activities Celebrating SEL as a Team Sport 

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Inspire students to set and achieve goals this year using practical social-emotional skills they can run with in their everyday lives. 

Find easy ways to engage elementary students in important SEL competencies this school year with new resources from LaGolda, a pro-social animated series and online educational program available on the Discovery Education learning platform. 

As LaGolda and her growing team of friends travel the world and overcome challenges together, students can follow along and discover how SEL skills are put into action to overcome obstacles and achieve personal goals. 

Tackle timely topics in class with three new hands-on activities that empower students to harness SEL skills and play the long game to a successful future. Each new activity pairs with a corresponding episode in the LaGolda series: 

  • Plugging Into Social Awareness
    Investigate students’ social awareness through their use of technology to find parallels between healthy personal relationships and savvy digital citizenship. 
  • Leading with Responsible Decision Making
    Students will explore how making good decisions benefits themselves and those around them with an important lesson focusing on inclusion. 
  • Breaking Down Adversity with Social Awareness
    Help students understand prejudice and racism using the lens of social awareness and reflect on simple ways they can be more inclusive of others. 

UnitedHealthcare is committed to inspiring the healthiest generation yet by partnering with Discovery Education to make these resources available on the LaGolda SEL Resources by United Healthcare channel in Discovery Education’s K-12 learning platform. Visit the fun animated community of LaGolda and jump right into powerful SEL explorations that set students up for a lifetime of social connection and success. 

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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Facebook's own data is not as conclusive as you think about teens and mental health

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Illustration of young people holding their cell phones up to their face

It's grabbed a lot of headlines, but the evidence on social media and teen mental health — including that Facebook and Instagram research — is far from a smoking gun.

(Image credit: LA Johnson/NPR)

Time To Teach reviews each blog post by our contributors but if you feel this is a blog post better suited for another page please let us know. Teachers and Educators are our heroes. We want to thank you for the work you do! Yours In Education! Time To Teach

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