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Can a Video Game Make Us Better Thinkers?



10 minutes per day. 2 months. That’s how long students played the video game Wuzzit Trouble before showing dramatic gains in math.

Can this be true? Stanford University says, yes it can.

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What’s More Important, High Test Scores or Self-Direction?

The education technology discussion is fraught with false dichotomies. One that I find particularly troubling is the false choice between improving test scores and preparing for life and work in the 21st century.

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it isn’t mobile learning if the devices stay in the classroom

Copyright Steve Babuljak - Unlimited Usage Licenced for Edmodo

This article was first published on Edmodo’s Blog on April 15, 2015. (Edmodo is a K-12 social learning platform connecting teachers, students, and parents around the world.)

It hasn’t been that long since cell phones were first introduced as instructional devices for the classroom. Seven or eight years ago, the discussion was centered on whether mobile devices had a place in schools or whether they should be banned, whether they were tools for learning or distractions. The discussion has changed dramatically since then.

We’ve moved from talking about mobile devices to talking about mobile students who need anytime, anywhere access to the Internet for their digital tools, content and, even more importantly, their communities of learning. Anytime, anywhere access means that students have access at school, at home, and everywhere in between, including the school bus, after school childcare, part time jobs, extracurricular activities, and so on. It may often mean using multiple different devices over different networks such as the school WiFi, home cable access, and cellular networks when out and about. It may mean having a mobile device for anytime/anywhere access, as well as having access to a more robust device such as a desktop or laptop when its time to do serious content creation and editing. Read more

why I’m opting IN to testing my kids

It feels hypocritical. Because the current testing regime makes me angry. Angry for students who are stressed by hours and hours of high stakes testing. Angry for teachers whose value has been discounted as anything other than test-prep machines. Angry for anyone who suffers the misguided consequences of using test results in ways that they were never intended – to prevent graduation and to fire capable teachers. Angry.

But the baby is far too precious to send the way of the bath water. I would be up in arms protesting and boycotting testing if it weren’t for one unassailable truth: state testing is how we know if our students are being educated to the same levels as those in other demographic and socio-economic groups. No Child Left Behind, amid all the horrific and counterproductive side effects, accomplished this one thing too important to ever give up: it shone a light on the disparity between the outcomes for kids of privilege versus kids of poverty and between white kids and kids of color.

As a mom, I cannot, will not, be a part of extinguishing this light.
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part 2: independent learners require first independent teaching

This article was originally posted on Getting Smart on December 19, 2012

postpic1In my previous post, I tackled the debate of student performance as a measure of teacher effectiveness in. Here’s why performance-based pay for teachers as an approach to teacher effectiveness runs counter to every meaningful definition of personalized education: Read more

part 1: to personalize learning, first personalize teaching

This article was originally posted on Getting Smart on December 18, 2012

postpic2The irony is hardly lost on anyone when at education-related professional conferences educators sit in the audience as experts lecture them about how to teach as a guide-on-the-side rather than a sage-on-the stage. A “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” moment that often has even the lecturer chuckling. The habits, traditions, and structural constraints of conferences make such absurdity inevitable, and we all tend to take it in stride with a dose of self-deprecating humor. Back in classrooms and buildings and districts, however, similar habits, traditions, and constraints have a much more serious, and less obviously absurd effect. Read more

classroom management software: training wheels for student technology?

This article was originally posted on Getting Smart on October 9, 2012

postpic3When I worked in the high-tech industry, our products sometimes included what we called “check-box features.” These were features that would never, in reality, be used by the end customer but which purchasing agents would look at when they compared our product against our competitors. In many ways I think of classroom management software as falling into this category – with the fears about technology use that absolutely do exist among parents and educators, having a checkbox that says, “Don’t worry – we can control student technology use,” feels like a must-have. Read more

world of warcraft and minecraft: models for our educational system?

This article was originally posted on O’Reilly Radar on November 4, 2011


What is wrong with schools that there is so much discussion about how to fix them through gamification? One perspective is that students are unmotivated by school but obsessed with gaming — perhaps a game-like structure for school would make students as passionate about solving quadratic equations as killing monsters. Another perspective is that students are not being prepared for a 21st-century workforce — perhaps the collaborative requirements of online guilds and group challenges would help them gain the skills needed to work in a global environment. A third perspective is that school has lost any authentic connection with real life — perhaps introducing playfulness will create more relevance and authenticity.

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