On Noticing

This post was last updated on April 28th, 2019 at 08:54 pm

I travel a lot and I’m good at. Travelling out of a small airport make connections tough so I often have to come up with ninja moves in order to get where I need to or get home at a reasonable time. I know exactly how long it takes to get through security at customs at almost every airport and can time things pretty well. I also move through airports like the wind. I might be old, but I’m fast. I can take a carryon on a 15-day trip. 


But that’s not really what makes me a great traveller. I think what I do better than many of my fellow road warriors is enjoy it to the fullest. Not just the airport stuff but I take advantage of every place I go. I don’t take it for granted that I have the privilege of seeing many parts of the planet. Even on the fastest trip where I get in late, do my thing and leave, I always try and see something I’ve not seen before. Whether it’s a museum, a famous landmark, a hole in the wall restaurant … Read the rest

“Whatever it Takes” I’m not sure…

This post was born out of a conversation I had with teachers a few weeks ago. I was sitting in a computer lab with about a dozen top-notch educators who had either been using Discovery Education’s Science Techbook or were just being introduced to it. After exploring it for an hour or so and having lots of dialogue one teacher said something to the effect of, “I don’t see why any teacher wouldn’t use this. It’s got everything you need, aligned to the new curriculum. Not only is it an amazing resource, but it’s also a real time saver.” To which another teacher replied. “It is a time saver but in order to get there, you likely need a couple of days of PD or just time.”

I suddenly had an image in my cost benefit analysis scale.

It occured to me that this is essentially … Read the rest

Stop Being Bad with Names

This post was last updated on February 4th, 2019 at 10:02 am

Stop Being Bad with Names

“I’m terrible with names.” It seems like a very common statement. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. I’ve always prided myself with knowing people’s names and yet I’ve never been as intentional as I ought to be.  There have been 3 sources that I’ve found recently that have addressed this theme to the degree that it’s now become a personal mission of mine to pay better attention to people’s names. 


The first is a reading of a classic book by Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” The book, while focused on business, offers some simple, timeless truths about relationships. Most of it seems like common sense but the depth and specifics stated in the book are great reminders not only for business folks but anyone who works with people. 
Specifically the chapter on names. Here are a few quotes:

“Most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves; they are too busy.”

Of course, … Read the rest

Going Gradeless

I’ve written and presented on assessment many times in the past 2 decades. The trend in education is clear: Most people, if not all, believe grades are a poor representation of learning and yet many can’t figure out how to either de-emphasize or get rid of them entirely. My current grading gig is with Wilkes University. I play the game but I’m clear with my students from the onset I don’t value them at all. To that end, I’ve shifted to full-on self-assessment. Unless someone is completely delusional, whatever grade they justify, they get. I’m not interested in quibbling over a few points here. As graduate students, I’ve yet to find any that are delusional. To that end, my course and I believe any teaching comes down to 3 questions:

What do I know now I didn’t know before?

What can I do now I couldn’t do before?

Why does it matter?

That’s it. For the most part, grades have not been an issue … Read the rest

What Do You Mean by “Knowledge”?

This post was last updated on January 8th, 2019 at 07:13 am

One of the most frustrating things in education is the tendency to have conversations about ideas and issues when we don’t share the same definitions. We also make false assumptions about what others believe. We spend a lot of time talking past each other. Add to that a tendency to create false dichotomies and instead of working toward understanding and meaning solutions, we follow the ugly trend of today’s political world and polarize people.

Among the topics and questions that fall into this trap include:

I acknowledge that I’ve simplified these debates and those invested in them would likely argue my statements themselves are flawed but you get the gist. One of the challenges falls in how we define things. It’s always a good idea to begin any discussion with the question: “And what do you mean by _____________”

Certainly, the idea of inquiry learning has gained traction worldwide in the past decade, largely because of the Internet. I used the term “inquiry learning” … Read the rest