A Quick Guide to Due Diligence

I want to be a good skeptic and a good teacher, but I have a thousand tasks to do both in and out of the classroom and things like “fact-checking” get relegated to the procrastination pile. In a perfect world, I would make sure I’m not unintentionally passing on any …

A row of cups that look like faces.
Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogy

You Cannot Not Have Conceptual Understanding

In education, we seem to take some delight in shoveling a confused mix of folksy connotations into sciencey-shelled words and phrases. Some of my colleagues would call the result edujargon, though I think that word allows us to feel too smug about our own obtuseness—as though the problem is that …

EducationPedagogySecondary EducationTechnology

Use Microsoft Excel to be More Data Driven (Part II)

This is Part 2 of a piece about visualizing assessment data, designed to help teachers see more information about an assessment than just the class average.  If you missed Part 1, stop now and go read it first.  I will assume that you have assessment data in a tidy format …

Excel Example of filtering at work
EducationPedagogySecondary EducationTechnologyUncategorized

Use Microsoft Excel to be More Data Driven (Part I)

As a teacher, one of my tasks is to assess how well students are comprehending the material I am teaching. There are many ways to assess student comprehension, but this post will focus on using Microsoft Excel to extract meaningful information from formal assessment data.  I am defining a formal …


Keeping high standards when you are a sucker for a sob story

Yesterday Apostrophobia wrote about one of her regular courses that is designed to be challenging and build problem solving skills.  She talked about the journey students take as they go through the course particularly one student who saw the value of the course and went the extra mile to not …

An open book and its reflection

Building Knowledge From Facts

Every year my students write down some version of this definition: “Period: a row on the periodic table.  The atoms of elements in the same period have the same number of electron energy levels.”  They memorize it and can spew it out on a test or quiz, but they don’t …


Technology blues

So I have spent the last several weeks convincing myself my hard drive wasn’t really failing, and then of course it did.  My computer’s in the shop and this blogging platform doesn’t like tablets too much.  I haven’t even been able to congratulate Dan on his recent achievement, so yay …

Dorchester High School Science
Critical ThinkingEducationHigher EducationPedagogy

Active learning as get-out-of-teaching?

A recent article in the Chronicle highlighted the growing shift toward student- or learner-centered teaching in higher education.  The idea is that rather than a professor lecture to a passive audience who soak up the wisdom of the sage on the stage, the class is structured around activities and discussion …

EducationHigher EducationPedagogySecondary EducationTechnologyUncategorized

MOOCs, A High School Teacher’s Perspective

If you haven’t heard of MOOCs yet, welcome to the education blogosphere, it’s nice to have you here!  The New Yorker recently wrote an article challenging the mission and execution of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) offered at places like Coursera, Udacity, EdX, and Khan Academy.  It so happens that …

Critical ThinkingEducationLesson PlansPedagogy

Teaching the nuance of “wrong”

I teach children aged 12-15.  This borderland between childhood and adulthood is filled with both physical and mental upheavals. Mentally it is a transition from thinking in a concrete manner to thinking in a more abstract and nuanced manner.  Into this quagmire I step boldly and try to teach science …