Need more convincing that Minecraft can be a powerful tool for learning? Check out this fun video from PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta, who specifically (and very quickly) lists a number of ways the video game can and has been used to learn everything from physics to history.
Author Archives: Tina Barseghian
If kids can access information from sources other than school, and if school is no longer the only place where information lives, what, then happens to the role of this institution?
“Our whole reason for showing up for school has changed, but infrastructure has stayed behind,” said Diana Laufenberg, who taught history at the progressive public school Science Leadership Academy for many years. Laufenberg provided some insight into how she guided students to find their own learning paths at school, and enumerated some of these ideas at SXSWEdu last week.
1. BE FLEXIBLE.
The less educators try to control what kids learn, the more students’ voices will be heard and, eventually, their ability to drive their own learning. But that requires a flexible mindset on the part of the teacher. “That’s a scary proposition for teachers,” Laufenberg said. “‘What do you mean I’m going to have 60 kids doing 60 different projects,’ teachers might say. But that’s exactly the way for kids to do interesting, high-end work that they’re invested in.”
Laufenberg recalled a group of tenacious students who continued to ask permission to focus their video project on the subject of drugs, despite her repeated objections. She finally relented — with the caveat that they not resort to cliches. In turn, the students turned in one of the best video projects she’d ever seen: a well-produced, polished video about Americans’ dependence on pharmaceutical drugs that was dense with facts backed up by students’ research. “And I almost killed this project,” she said. “There are vastly creative minds that are Continue reading
A new survey from PBS KIDS of 1,000 parents found that those with older children are more likely to practice math skills daily with their kids than parents of younger children: 60 percent of parents of 5-8-year-olds practice math daily with their kids, whereas only half of parents of 2-4-year-olds do. Parents are also more likely to practice reading skills with their kids than they are to practice math. This may be in part due to parents’ lower comfort levels with teaching math. Nearly 30 percent of parents reported anxiety about teaching their children math, and that anxiety is even greater for moms (33%) and parents with an education level of high school or less (32%).
Read more about PBS’s “It All Adds Up” campaign, a collection of more than 100 games and apps that PBS KIDS and CPB have launched over the past two years through Ready To Learn to help build math and literacy skills.
Schools, the way they’re currently constructed, are not needed anymore, says educational researcher Sugatra Mitra, founder of Hole in the Wall project in India and winner of the 2013 TED Prize. At his recent TED talk asked the following provocative question: Is knowing obsolete? Sugatra made the following request: help him design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore, go on intellectual adventures, and learn from each other — using resources and mentoring from the cloud.
A new Pew Research survey of more than 2,400 middle school and high school teachers released today shows that, while teachers believe technology has helped with their teaching, it’s also brought new challenges — including the possibility of creating a bigger rift between low-income and high-income students.
A few highlights from the report:
- While 92% of these teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching, 75% say the internet and other digital tools have added new demands to their lives by increasing the range of content and skills about which they must be knowledgeable. And 41% report a “major impact” by requiring more work on their part to be an effective teacher.
- 73% of AP and NWP teachers say that they and/or their students use their mobile phones in the classroom or to complete assignments, and 45% report they or their students use e-readers and 43% use tablet computers in the classroom or to complete assignments.
- Overall, 62% of AP and NWP teachers feel their school does a “good job” supporting teachers’ efforts to bring digital tools into the learning process, and 68% say their school provides formal training in this area. (But that’s the average — there’s a bigger discrepancy when those numbers are broken down between high-income and low-income schools). Still, Continue reading
Some of the most important subject areas and activities we want students to learn are the very ones that are left out of many schools: the arts, computer programming, and learning to making things by hand.
We know that arts integration can open all kinds of opportunities for learning and fostering creativity. We’re learning why computer science is an essential skill for every student to thrive in the digital world. And we’re understanding how allowing kids to get their hands on do-it-yourself projects shows them the value of designing, creating, and the process of making.
Until such time that schools provide these essential skills to all students, certain individuals and organizations are stepping in to fill the void. We met a few of these changemakers who are bringing these essential tools to students recently at the Big Ideas Fest in Half Moon Bay. Here are their stories. Perhaps their work and influence will make progress towards bringing these skills from outside the school system to where it belongs.
SMARTHISTORY: Making High Art Accessible
Steven Zucker and Beth Harris, the creators of Smarthistory, a huge collection of videos that take you inside the most important museums in the world, talk about how their explanations of significant art work make otherwise abstract or hard-to-understand concepts more accessible to students.