December 1 - December 8, 2019

A crisp, excellent week this week:

This week's second feature -- about collecting common mistakes made by students -- is a simple and detailed blog post by a middle school teacher detailing the kind of day-by-day work we can do as teachers to improve our practice: be intentional about keeping records of student performance, and then change what we do based on what we learn.  It's a good reminder.  This deliberate focus on practice drives better growth in our students than whizbang catchy edufads.

The first feature article provides an outlier case study on how algorithmic, quantified social media impacts the psychology of adolescents, how the quest for likes and followers satisfies the amplified social needs of teens with extrinsic rewards that ultimately leave students feeling empty when those rewards disappear.

Also this week: elementary reading instruction continues to draw vigorous discussion as the science of reading becomes better and better understood.  Interestingly, the lessons regarding the science of reading are applicable to teachers of all grade levels.

Enjoy these and others, including a delightful piece of mathematical sleight of hand in the STEM section.

Peter Nilsson
King's Academy


On The Adolescent Search For Relevance Through Their Online Lives  New York Times
“When he got home, Rowan would turn on his laptop and sit in front of the glowing screen for hours, or flop onto his bed, his phone hovering above his face. His Instagram feed flashed before him like a slot machine. His most popular account, @Zuccccccccccc, taking its name from Facebook’s chief executive, had 1.2 million followers. If his posts were good, his account would keep growing. If he took some time off, growth would stall. Rowan, like most teenagers on the internet, wasn’t after fame or money, though he made a decent amount — at one point $10,000 a month and more, he said. What Rowan wanted was clout.”

When You Are Grading, Keep A List Of Common Errors  Middle Web
“Sometimes it takes a long time and lot of painful grading in order to figure out the mistakes. You have to be open to your own errors in the assignment. When you see kids all making the same kind of mistake, you need to notice that maybe it’s how you phrased the question, or the emphasis you gave to a certain point in class, or your lack of emphasis on another crucial point.”


Should Schools Go Legacy-Blind?  Boston Globe


Attention Is Connected To Alpha Brain Waves, Which Can Be Controlled MIT
“Alpha manipulation really was controlling people’s attention, even though they didn’t have any clear understanding of how they were doing it.. After the neurofeedback training session ended, the researchers asked subjects to perform two additional tasks that involve attention, and found that the enhanced attention persisted.”


For Best Creative Work: Explore It, Then Leave It, Then Return To It James Clear
“Being creative isn't about being the first (or only) person to think of an idea. More often, creativity is about connecting ideas.”


The Damaging Effect Of High Expectations In Early Childhood Learning  New York Times


“My Grading Scale For The Fall Semester, Composed Entirely Of Samuel Beckett Quotes” McSweeney’s
“We wait. We are bored. Confusion amounting to nothing. Despite precautions. The confusion is not my invention.”

In Search Of A Universal Grammar In Music.  Found?  Behavioral Scientist
“But the team didn’t just look at the relationship between songs and the behaviors that go with them. They also built a discography with actual song recordings, in order to understand if the music itself shared common features. The discography consists of one example of four types of songs—love, healing, lullaby, and dance—from 30 regions around the world.”


Six Basic Pedagogical Tools, With A Lengthy Introduction MLA


Against The Rubric In Writing Instruction  EdWeek
“In effect, narrative feedback is a personalized message giving individualized feedback for the student regarding his or her writing. That is a human interaction, not a bureaucratized one, as with a rubric.”

How One State Has Used Science-Backed Reading Instruction New York Times
“The simple view is an equation that looks like this: decoding ability x language comprehension = reading comprehension. Notice that reading comprehension is the product of decoding ability and language comprehension; it’s not the sum. In other words, if you have good language comprehension skills but zero decoding skills, your reading comprehension will be zero, because zero times anything is zero… The simple view model was proposed more than 30 years ago and has been confirmed over and over again by research.”

How A Number Of Schools Revamped Their Reading Instruction Seattle Times


“Does 0.9999… Really Equal 1?” Medium
“If you’re not convinced yet, here’s a quick algebraic proof…”


Pursue A Hobby Different From Your Work. It Can Help You At Work. British Psychological Society
“The researchers found that when participants spent longer than normal doing their leisure activity, their belief in their ability to perform their job increased. But this was only the case when they had a serious hobby that was dissimilar to their job, or when their hobby was similar to their work but they only did it casually. When their hobby was both serious and similar to their job, then spending more time on it actually had a detrimental effect, decreasing their self-efficacy.”

“Is This Chess Piece Unearthed in Jordan the World’s Oldest?” Smithsonian

A Collection Of Obsessive Morning Routines Atlantic