February 2 - February 9, 2020

An excellent week:

Words are the tools we use to make sense of the world, and the larger our lexicon, the greater our ability to articulate our experiences.  I've been thinking about this for a long time, especially in relation to the idea that every discipline is really about literacy.  We study math to learn the language of math. We study history to learn the language of historical thinking.  We use different vocabularies in each of our different contexts, and the more language we have, the more we can understand, interpret and express our experience in the world.  This idea is described wonderfully in relation to middle school teaching in the first featured article.

Sometimes, however, unnecessary verbiage makes ideas and ways of thinking more complicated.  See the PD piece on design thinking as a reminder to keep language simple and relevant.

Last, it continues to be a joy to see the resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons in popular culture: this time not as a perceived danger to culture (as in the hysteria of the 1980s), but instead as a model for learning essential skills, not only for empathy and understanding, but also now for teaching as well.

Enjoy these and others!

Peter Nilsson
King's Academy


"More Complex Vocabulary Leads To More Complex Thought"  Middle Web
"I found myself darting around the room having to explain what the word “inevitable” meant. The question of inevitability in history is a fascinating one that middle schoolers of all levels can discuss. But it sure helps to understand what the word “inevitable” means in order to have it. As I heard from another teacher, “vocabulary is a tool of thought.” Without a rich vocabulary, student thought is simplistic."

Growth Oriented Teachers Lead To Growth Oriented Students  KQED
"When adults continue to learn at their jobs they are better at creating that experience for other people. She says if schools are going to be places where students consistently push against the edge of what they don’t know, testing new theories, and trying things out while learning from mistakes, those same qualities must be present for their teachers. It’s difficult for a teacher to facilitate that type of learning environment if they haven’t experienced it themselves."


The Peer Effect: Why Friends' Behavior Is So Important In Adolescence  Atlantic
"Parents shouldn’t worry about peer pressure or peer influence… They should worry about who the peers are that their kids are hanging around with. When kids hang around with students who get better grades, their own grades go up over time. Teenagers can also pressure one another not to use drugs. Of course, the reverse is true as well."


How Gratitude Leads To Better Cooperation  Behavioral Scientist


Facts Vs. Basic Ideas Vs. Principles: The Role Of Concepts In The Curriculum  IBO


The Canterbury Tales Is Released As An App  Phys


Five Key Elements For Successful Teamwork  Gallup
"Managers must ensure each employee knows what's expected of them at work and has the materials and equipment they need to do their work right. Managers must create a culture that values providing genuine recognition for work well done. Managers must care about their employees, encourage their personal and professional development, and respect their opinions. Managers must help employees understand how their work ties to the mission or purpose of the organization. Managers must foster a team environment where employees can develop real, lasting friendships with one another."


New EduTrends Would Be More Palatable If They Used The Language Of Teachers  EdWeek
"The Stanford Design Lab, a leading group in the design education field, breaks down design thinking into five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Each of these buzzwords represents a concept already broadly known in the field of teaching. Teachers of writing, for example, could find significant overlap with the basic tenets of effective writing instruction, which ask students to establish their intended audience's needs; define what needs to be communicated; seek evidence, examples, and new ideas to answer the given question; build a prototype (as in, write a paper); and, finally, edit based on feedback."


On The Importance Of Play In Kindergarten  EdSurge

D&D: "Five Best Practices Teachers Can Learn From Dungeon Masters"  KQED

"How Strengthening Relationships With Boys Can Help Them Learn"  KQED


School Safety Through Relationships, Not Correction  SmartBrief


"Existentialism And Instagram" -- Students Reflect  Kappan


A New (Old) Way To Solve Quadratics  New York Times

How Do Planes Fly? (Is It Still Actually A Mystery To Physicists?)  Scientific American


Kids From Cork, Ireland, Make Delightful Climate Change Rap  CorkBeo


Your Phone Grants The Government "New Perfect" Surveillance On You  New York Times
"Many apps — weather apps or coupon apps, for instance — gather and record location data without users’ understanding what the code is up to. That data can then be sold to third party buyers including, apparently, the government."


"The Seven Spaces Of Learning"  Medium
"Digital land knows no boundaries of space, time or geography. The effect on learning has been profound this past decade, though still not consistently so on learning in schools. When we apply the principles of digital development to physical learning spaces, we can imagine a totally different means of designing and constructing new schools, where the physical space takes on a role as vital as the technology itself in pushing on teaching and learning practice in schools by leaps and bounds."