Professional Reading Favourites

This week my office was in need of cleaning and organizing, especially my bookcase. As I re-arranged the shelves to accomodate an ever growing library I found some gems that I had forgotten about. The books listed below changed the way I taught, or moved me to establish new practices to meet the needs of my students. Now there may be ideas that are considered antiquated in today's classroom but I am confident there are still great practices contained in them that would be valuable in any classroom today. Below are my personal favourites with a brief description of each. The Teaching Gap (James W. Stigler and James Hiebert) - The description of math practices in Japan, Germany and the United States literally had me searching for more research on effective programming. It led me to implement a math program based in problem-solving. This wasn't lost on my principal and colleagues as...
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The Changing Computer Lab

This year my administrative partner and I decided to move our staff toward utilizing the computer lab for project-based learning and away from the traditional scheduled periods on our 10 day cycle. There were a number of reasons for this decision but largely what we were seeing a lot of was meaningless game time with no end product. The move to guide teachers toward booking "chunks" of time for project-based learning is a powerful way to engage students with their learning. Initially, I was unsure how staff would respond and work with the new direction. I finally came to the idea of "nothing ventured, nothing gained". I knew we had staff who were comfortable with technology and were developing excellent project-based learning activities for their students, but we also had staff that were not as confident with technology but certainly accessed the computer lab on a regular basis. How this new...
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Alternatives to Homework

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200"] The Joys of HomeworkPhoto used under creative commons This week I read an interesting blog post called "Why do we torment kids with homework?" which had me reflecting on my own personal experiences with homework as a student and teacher.  Homework has become a very divisive topic with parents, teachers and school boards.  There has been a tremendous amount of research done on the effects of homework which suggests that for our youngest students there is no connection to improving learning. Today I am not going to write about my personal philosophy of homework but rather provide some alternatives to traditional homework.  Activities that parents and their children can do together or that students can do on their own that will not only provide learning benefits but will be of interest to children. Play sports or games as a family - what better way to stay health...
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