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“I Used to Think . . . And Now I Think . . .” At the end of a course or a professional development session, I frequently ask the learners I work with to reflect on how their thinking has changed as a consequence of our work together. This reflection takes the form of a simple two-column exercise. In one column, I ask them to complete the phrase, "I used to think . . . ," and in the other, "And now I think . . . " People often find this a useful way to summarize how our work together has changed their thinking and their habits of mind, and how we have influenced each other.
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It’s an Amazing Time to Be a Learner Whether it's the two billion teachers we can now connect to on the Web, the myriad of entertaining and at the same time educational video games we can play with our friends (or by ourselves), or the potential to answer almost any question we can pose through a few keystrokes on the phones in our pockets, we live at a moment of ubiquitous learning, one few of our ancestors could have imagined. It's a moment that in many ways we ourselves are still struggling to make sense of, struggling to imagine the endless possibilities that we find ourselves swimming in.
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Is Online Learning a Disruptive Innovation? Depending on the sources you turn to for your higher-education reading, you might come away with the perception that online learning is a risky experiment taking place in the margins of higher education--largely under the oversight of profit-seeking, fly-by-night diploma mills.
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The Strategic Question of Class Size In his new edited volume, Stretching the School Dollar, Frederick Hess notes that teacher ranks have grown twice as fast as student enrollment over the past several decades, sharply increasing what has always been the single largest expenditure in district budgets. In times of limited resources, the essential question for policy makers should be how to save money while also maximizing teacher productivity.
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Rating Teacher Education? A Fork in the Road In the old days, before caller ID and no-dial lists, victims of obscene phone calls faced a difficult choice: hang up in hopes the perp would go away, or try to trace the origin and press charges (or at least stay on the line and persuade the caller to get some therapy). Police psychologists usually recommended the more passive strategy, but that was never entirely satisfying because the dilemma evoked a deeper conundrum. From operant conditioning one could hope that ignoring bad behavior would extinguish it, but from our 16th president we learned that "to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men..."
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How Change Really Happens: The Hidden Potential of Social Networks When I was a teacher, a colleague of mine wanted to try a new reading program. He had done his homework and carefully examined the research base upon which the program was grounded. Moreover, he even went to visit schools that had successfully implemented the approach, carefully noting strengths and necessary modifications for our school. As he presented the approach at a staff meeting, he was convinced he had constructed a very powerful, balanced, rational argument for the program. I was quite impressed with the work he had done and the persuasiveness of his line of reasoning.
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School Boards and Adult Issues Anyone who is interested in school governance should check out the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Atlanta School Board. In brief, all its high schools were put on probation this month by an accrediting organization due to dysfunctional behavior on the APS school board.
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Let’s Leave No Child Inside Our country has a growing problem--our kids are spending less time outdoors learning and exploring and more time inside hooked up to video games or surfing the web. Lucy Hood's recent piece, "The Greening of Environmental Ed," provided a good look at how science teachers are combating this problem through their curricula and teaching methods. I'd like to offer an additional viewpoint.
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Q&A with Jeffrey R. Henig Jeffrey Henig, coeditor with Katrina Bulkley and Henry Levin of the new Harvard Education Press book, Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform, discusses the book's subject--the new Portfolio Management Model (PMM) for district management--and its implications for school improvement in four urban districts.
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Equal Opportunity in Higher Education Arizona is the latest state that voted to end affirmative action in higher education (and other public domains). Earlier this month, voters in Arizona passed Proposition 107, titled the Arizona Civil Rights Amendment, making it the fifth state banning the use of race in consideration for higher education admission through public referenda.
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