Active Learning Mindfully

March 29, 2013

In her new book Ellen Langer contrasts a mindful approach to teaching and learning with the more mindless activities we often set for our students.

Mindfulness in education is another piece of a very large and expanding puzzle. It makes one wonder about the nature of public education, a reflection that is helpful in understanding its many issues.

Our education system seeks to replicate the world around it. We observe Biologists, linguistic scholars, philosophers, psychologists, engineers, and many others in the outside world. Our mission is to extract from them their essence and bring it into our educational incubators where we can use it to reproduce the various professional species.

But as John Seeley Brown1 points out there is an important limitation in this process. Read the rest of this entry »


Think or Sink, Into the Drink

November 23, 2012

Active Learning 101 Strategies to Teach any Subject by Mel Silberman offers a wide range of activities from ice breakers to strategies to help students work collaboratively and to make learning unforgettable. It includes peer teaching techniques, independent learning, affective learning, and skill development. Here is the amazon link to Silberman’s book.

Strategy #45 is an interesting way to create The Study Group, a simple method for having students, in groups, quickly tackle new material and find out what it is they still need to learn. It is simple, flexible, and scalable.

There has been a lot of talk about the Flipped Classroom Read the rest of this entry »

Finally, a book (postscript)

November 22, 2012

In my previous post I should have mentioned the References in Barkley’s book. It reads like the who’s who of modern pedagogy. Looking it over I really want to read them all. And, of course, it includes my favorite teaching book, Parker Palmer’s, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life.

Here are some web links I have extracted: Read the rest of this entry »

Finally, a book

November 22, 2012

Many teachers, eager to actively teach, have been looking for samples of Active Learning activities they can use. Happily, two helpful books have arrived in the mail and I am eager to tell you about them.

The first is called Student Engagement Techniques, A Handbook for College Faculty by Elizabeth F. Barkley. Here is the amazon link . Barkley is a decorated American college professor with over 30 years of experience. Several other books bear her name.

Of course, student engagement is at the heart of Active Learning. This book begins with a conceptual framework which includes a look at how engagement and motivation interact. Then comes an overview of cognitive theory and neuroscience, neatly summarized for the reader who is eager to get to the good part. The section is well worth the read, however, since it is brilliantly done and hits the right level of detail.

In a chapter called From Theory to Practice we find these engaging sub-titles. Read the rest of this entry »

In a November 19, 2012 article LaPressereported that the new Quebec government thinks the rush to fund Interactive Whiteboards for the provinces’s schools was a bit zealous. Under the plan Quebec ordered 40,000 boards at a cost of 240 million dollars, according to my calculator, about $6,000 a piece.

It seems the government missed several key points in making the generous offer, Read the rest of this entry »