Excellence is not the only point of education ~ Stephen's Web

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 19:00
Stephen Downes Stephen's Web

Excellence is not the only point of education
Sam Carr, The Conversation, May 17, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Doug Belshaw points toward this item from The Conversation in his weekly newsletter. The argument is that we should not allow business words, like 'excellence', to seep into education. "David Cameron has reminded us once again that our children and young people should aspire towards excellence.... This sort of discourse simply reinforces what we’ve known for some time: corporate mentality has hijacked education." I agree that we shouldn't adopt the language of business and commerce , that we should encourage children to be 'little entrepreneurs', but honestly, it's better than the military metaphors that have permeated the language of education up to this point. I would also observe that the language of 'excellence' has been a part of the language of education for decades, for generations. But the point about the metaphors is a good one. When I was a child we were encouraged to see ourselves in the shoes of scientists and explorers. These were our heroes. They still should be, in my view.

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Last Updated: May 18, 2015 4:03 p.m.
Categories: Miscellaneous

Spread the Word about Summer Meals for Students

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 18:02
Not often raised is the issue of summer hunger. For some kids, a break from school means a break from the school meals that they rely on.
Categories: Miscellaneous

AWS Launches Free Educate Service for Academics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 16:00

David Ramel, Campus Technology, May 18, 2015

Amazon has launched AWS Educate, a cloud service specifically for educators. "AWS Educate is Amazon’ s global initiative to provide students and educators with the resources needed to greatly accelerate cloud-related learning endeavors and to help power the entrepreneurs, workforce, and researchers of tomorrow." No, it's not free;  rates start at $200 per educator. As David Ramel notes, "AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr explained in a  blog post  that this primarily will be enabled by four resources: grants of AWS credits for use in courses and projects; free content to embed in courses or to use as-is; access to free and discounted AWS Training resources; and online and in-person collaboration and networking opportunities."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Modeling repetitive behavior

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 16:00

Mark Liberman, Language Log, May 18, 2015

Admittedly, citing this post is a bit of semantic cherry-picking, but I'll do it anyways. The lesson here is that if you add 'memory' to an otherwise random process, you an create complex behaviours. The 'memory' can be very limited - in this case, the author suggests it's "the bird is getting tired". Why is this important? It's because it shows a way very simple processes can lead to very complex behaviours, and "some of the constructs of 1960s-era formal language theory, such as the Chomsky-Schü tzenberger hierarchy, can be  a source of confusion rather than insight when applied to simple  patterns generated by simple and biologically-plausible  mechanisms."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Weighing Up Anonymity and Openness in Publication Peer Review

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 16:00

Hilda Bastian, Absolutely Maybe, May 18, 2015

Should the peer review process be open? I think so, and the result of this study support my view. "Substantiating our statements, and being accountable for what we say and how we say it when we are gatekeepers for publication, is decisive for me. That’ s all the more important for people whose work or critique loses out because of status bias, and those who may be repelled from publishing and science by reviewer aggressiveness." Would I be linking to this post if it didn't support my views? Maybe not here. But I'd want it published. I would want to know about the relevant data (presumably there would have been some) arguing against my views. And one think I like about listing resources in this newsletter is that I am accountable for what I say about them - something one of the anonymous peer reviewers can say.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Key themes in national educational technology policies

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 16:00

Michael Trucano, EduTech, May 18, 2015

I don't think there are any real surprises here, but it's worth validating our assumptions about what policies say with real information about what policies say. This post reports on "an analysis of over 800 policy documents related to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education from high, middle and low income countries around the world." Michael Trucano observes that "what appears to matter most to policymakers, at least according to the official policy documents that they draft and circulate related to ICT use in education, may not in fact be what *actually* matters." Policy initiatives covered vision and planning, infrastructure (especially power), teachers, skills, contents, assessment and equity. See also the World Bank's  SABER project. Image: Wellcome.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:15

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites
The internet catalogue for students, teachers, administrators & parents.

Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.


Educators         Parents        Students       General     Home


Resolutions & Reflection

Follow effective action with quiet reflection.
From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.

Teacher Notes

Each year I had my students write their learning goals or resolutions for the year on the first day of school. I had them review and update them periodically throughout the school year. (Thanksgiving, 100th Day, New Year's, Valentine's Day...) I kept their resolutions (on paper & online) and returned them at the end of the school year. 

My Goals page

Setting Goals and Reflection

New Year's Resolutions lesson plan

Promise Locker

Popular New Year's Resolutions

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers

5 apps that can keep your New Year's resolutions on track

Back to School – January Edition @pernilleripp

Revisiting Class Expectations for the New Year @MelanieSwider @MelanieMeehan1

My One-Word Resolution @JohnWink90

Habits of Mind for the New Year: 10 Steps to Actually Accomplish Your Resolutions

Top Ten New Year's Resolutions

10 New Years Resolutions for Online Students

Setting Technology Goals for the New Year

How to Make a New Year's Resolution

Help Your Child Make Resolutions that Stick

How to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions - Pinterest

 The History of New Year's Resolutions

It Is Time To Renew, Reorganize, and Reevalute

 New Year Page


Self Reflection @Glennr1809

 5 helpful strategies for self-reflection

What It Means To Be A Reflective Teacher

Educational Leadership:How Teachers Learn:Fostering Reflection

ALPS: Reflect: How can I reflect upon my teaching practice

Resources for Resolutions & Reflection: Teacher Reboot Camp @shellterrell

The Nerdy Teacher: Weekly Reflection Supports Growth #NerdyCast

The Dean's Corner: Put Another Log on the Fire!

Learning through Reflection

 Understanding Reflection - Facilitating Reflection

Metacognition - Cultivating Reflection

Education World: Teacher Diary: Reflections on Teaching and Learning

 Five Steps of Reflective Thinking flashcards

The Eight Steps of Reflective Thinking

10 Reflective Questions for the
Classroom Teacher

30 Questions For Teacher Reflection

The "Mirror Model"
A Guide to Reflective Questioning

SMAART New Year's Resolutions for Students - Create SMAART New Year's Resolutions

Teaching is Elementary: I resolve to resolve the problem of resolutions!

New Years Resolutions Lesson - January Idea for New Years Resolutions Lesson

How to Write New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolution Time Capsules  Scholastic

My Exit Slips Page

I am a big proponent of being in the best shape possible.  To accomplish this I make resolutions to keep in shape.  I create spreadsheets to keep track of my workouts.  Periodically I reflect on my progress. 

I can, I shall – I did! #1000in2014

Categories: Miscellaneous

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:15

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites
The internet catalogue for students, teachers, administrators & parents.

Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.


Educators         Parents        Students       General     Home



Voxer is a walkie talkie like system with live voice, text, and photos.

#voxer  #eduvoxers

#EduVoxers > PLN Add Your Contact Info Below (Alphabetical FN)

Voxer Groups doc

Educational Voxer Group Directory sign in

On our weekly Sunday evening Google Hangout my good Twitter buddy @wkrakower mentioned that he was enjoying using Voxer.  Since I am a constant learner and not afraid to try new tech tools I started "voxing."

In a less than a week's time I was communicating and sharing pictures with members of my PLN from all over the world

My Voxer Mavens

Educators Use Voxer to Share Challenges and Victories Daily

Voxer Walkie Talkie - YouTube

How do I use the Voxer Directory to search for my friends? : Voxer Support

Why You Should be Voxing | Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Categories: Miscellaneous

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:15

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites
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Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.


Educators         Parents        Students       General     Home

Inquiry Based Learning "The important thing is not to stop questioning." - Albert Einstein  Designing Questions that Drive Real Learning BAMRadio   The Question, Waiting to be Answered
Classroom Questioning

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Questioning Toolkit

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20 Questions To Guide Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquire Within Blog

YouTube - Inquiry and Problem Based Learning

Project, Problem, and Inquiry-Based Learning

Fostering a Culture of Inquiry

Costa's Levels of Inquiry

Reflective Questioning

10 Reflective Questions for the Classroom Teacher

The "Mirror Model"
A Guide to Reflective Questioning

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge. –Thomas Berger

Knowledge is not knowing the answer
but asking the right questions!

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Engaging Students Through Effective Questions | Canadian Education Association (CEA)

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For Students, Why the Question is More Important Than the Answer | MindShift

Think of a question... | Thinking skills resources

Questioning Strategies that Lead to Higher Level Thinking

Questioning Strategies for Higher Cognitive Rigor

The Four Questions Strategy

Four Strategies to Spark Curiosity via Student Questioning | Edutopia

5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students | Edutopia

5 techniques for questioning in your classroom

5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

Asking Better Questions: 6 Ways to Improve Classroom Discussions

7 Ways to Creatively Ask Questions in the Classroom Using iPads!

10 ways to encourage good questions…

12 Questions To Promote Self-Knowledge In Students

26 Questions Every Student Should Be Able To Answer

Creativity: Friendly Questioning 

Effective Questioning in the Classroom

Curriculum-Framing Questions

Guided Comprehension: Self-Questioning Using Question-Answer Relationships

Effective Listening and Questioning Techniques

Did you ask a good question today? « What Ed Said

OIR - Assessment: Multiple-Choice Tests

10 Rules For Writing Multiple Choice Questions

The Art of Questioning…. | EFL Classroom 2.0 - Teacher Talk

Helping EFL/ESL Students by Asking Quality Questions





Categories: Miscellaneous

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:15

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites
The internet catalogue for students, teachers, administrators & parents.

Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.


Educators         Parents        Students       General     Home



"Digital Curation: The selection, preservation, maintenance, and archiving of digital assets." @_MichelleCooper

"Curation is more than just gathering.
Its organizing, tagging, vetting, evaluating, and most importantly, sharing." #edtechchat

A curator is a constant learner who should model that trait for their students.

The techbrarian in the libratory is a digital curator.

 Quick List of Apps For Learners And Curators @web20classroom

#EdTechChat: Student and Teacher Curation

SAMR Model Searching and Collecting Information or Resources

Curation in Education - #patue Chat - Instructional Tech Talk

#TXLchat Digital Curation - (with tweets) · _MichelleCooper · Storify

3 Ways To Quickly Share Bunches of Links With Your Students

4 Reasons Why Content Curation Has Gone Mainstream - Forbes

Four nifty ways to display and curate Twitter

5 Cool Content Curation Tools for Social Marketers

Five questions about content curation

7 Key Tools Uncovering A Goldmine of E-Resources

10 Key Reasons Why Curation Will Transform Education and Learning

My Top 10 Web Curation Tools as A Teacher

11 Awesome Mash Up Tools for Creating Digital Learning Content

Content Curation: 19 Definitions

55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content

Digital Curation - LiveBinder

Content Curation - LiveBinder

Curation Tools - LiveBinder

Content Curation Tools - The Newsmaster Toolkit by Robin Good - Mind Map

Curation: Collecting and Sharing Your Stuff - Pinterest

Digital Curation Tools - A Listly List

Aggregate, Curate and Create Your Own Textbook

Social Content Curation for Learning Communities

The Unanticipated Benefits of Content Curation

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Free Technology for Teachers @richardbyrne

Educational Technology Guy @daveandcori

Cool Cat Teacher Blog @coolcatteacher

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Flipboard Magazines make curation for your classes EASY.

The Daring Librarian @gwynethjones

NeverEndingSearch — @joycevalenza by Joyce Valenza

Flipboard for Educators - curating and sharing content - YouTube

 Educational Curating with Pinterest!

Welcome To Storify - YouTube

Make Your Images Interactive - ThingLink

Information Literacy Resources | Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

Why Curation Matters: Blogging About The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom @web20classroom

Curation, Creation, and Communication resources - ISTE @web20classroom & @kylepace

School Library Monthly - Curation

Content Curation - Joyce Valenza

Digital Curation: Putting the Pieces Together
Sue Waters Blog

Curation for Education - Curate Content

The Ultimate List of Content Curation Tools and Platforms

Content Curation Tools | iTeachU

Digital Curation for Teachers

Content curation in education | The Edynco blog

What is digital curation? | Digital Curation Centre

Visual Notes from Steven Anderson & Kyle Pace’s ISTE Session for Administrators Curation, Creation, and Collaboration for 21st Century Administrators

Curation as Digital Literacy Practice

Content Curation by Lucian Duma | ZEEF

Social Bookmarking vs Content Curation | The Educators' Cafe

How to Find New Competitive Knowledge in Social Media - Martin Harrysson, Estelle Metayer, and Hugo Sarrazin - Harvard Business Review

Resources for Curating and Publishing Digital Content

Find and Review Curated Data for Education Technology Products in Minutes with the EdSurge Index

Blendspace (formerly EdCanvas)


My Diigo Page



My Educlipper Page

My Evernote page


Learn about curation on instaGrok.com



My Livebinders Page

Getting to Know MentorMob for Teaching and Learning

Mural.ly Paper.li


My Pinterest Page

Pocket (Formerly Read It Later)

Rebel Mouse



My Symbaloo Page







Free Resources for Better Content Creation | Instructional Technology

My Librarian/Library Blogs, Sites


Categories: Miscellaneous


Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:15

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites
The internet catalogue for students, teachers, administrators & parents.

Over 20,000 relevant links personally selected by an educator/author with over 30 years of experience.


Educators         Parents        Students       General     Home


Podcasting Vodcasting


TeacherCast Live Broadcasting

My Podcasting Mavens


Take5 - PodOmatic | Best Free Podcasts

Video Podcast (Vodcast) Wikipedia

How to create a vodcast | iPod & Entertainment - Page 1 | Macworld

Wired 14.05: Lights! Camera! Vodcast!

My Flipped Classroom Page

9 Safety Tips for Podcasting in the Classroom – SimpleK12

Top 40 Podcasts for Teachers

PodOmatic | Best Free Podcasts

Podcasting Resources for Educators & Students

Podcast Directory: The 411 on podCasts

Podmatic: Excel Graphs by Kindergarteners

Spanish Professors.Pod Profesores de español.Pod


A Classroom in your Pocket: iPods in Education

Podcasting News

Teaching Tips by Teachtopia Education Podcast


Mr. Mayoh's Blog: Innovating with iPods - How to Lose a Day of Your Life - Part 2



Howstuffworks How Podcasting Works

How To Make A Podcast - The Illustrated Guide From Buzzsprout - Podcasting 101

TeacherCast.net: Educational Blogs, App Reviews, Podcasts, Screencasts, LiveBinders & Career Center

Create Your Own Personalized Podcast Using Voxer - Joe Mazza

Integrating Podcasts Workbook - SimpleK12

Podcasting in Education

Podcasting Tools

Podcasting in Five Easy Steps Video

Screencast-O-Matic - Free online screen recorder for instant screen capture video sharing.

A Podcasting Mini-Guide

Educational Podcasting, Educational Vodcasting

How to Promote a Podcast - WikiHow

Podcasting Legal Guide

How to Start Your Own Podcast - WikiHow

Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom:: The hows and whys of podcasting in class

Podcasting - K12 Handhelds Podcast Alley

Podcast Pickle Focused on Podcasters and the Podcasting Community

Apple - iTunes - Podcasts

Recommended iPod Apps (Grade Levels & Subjects)

The Compendium Blog of The A.T.TIPSCAST | Christopher R. Bugaj

Podomatic training videos | Teacher Training Videos Free on-line training in using technology in teaching

My iPod Touch Page









Categories: Miscellaneous

Can you steal an education?

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 14:48

Just over a year ago, Hamlet Garcia lumbered up the steps of a stately courthouse in Norristown, Pa., wondering how much longer he would be free. The Philadelphia resident and his wife, Olesia, an insurance agent, were about to go on trial for theft of services, an offense usually reserved for cable service pilferers and […]

The post Can you steal an education? appeared first on The Hechinger Report.

Categories: Miscellaneous

How Do You Teach Survivor?: “Survivor Professor” Max Dawson’s Syllabus

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:55
Over the past two posts, I’ve been sharing an interview my son, Charlie Jenkins, has been conducting with Survivor contestant Max Dawson, about what it was like to be an acs-fan who becomes part of a reality television phenomenon. Dawson is one of xx contestants who are competing to get a “second chance,” to be […]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Can a California charter chain ditch tough discipline and retain its high ranking?

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:33

This winter, shortly after landing a job as superintendent of the American Indian Model Schools (AIMS), one of California’s highest performing — and most controversial — charter chains, Maya Woods-Cadiz got into what she calls “my study-mode.” She pored over how-to books, sat through countless instructional videos, and feverishly jotted down ideas in her journal, […]

The post Can a California charter chain ditch tough discipline and retain its high ranking? appeared first on The Hechinger Report.

Categories: Miscellaneous

My feedback on the draft ISLLC standards

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:18
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is working on its latest draft of standards for school leaders. The ISLLC standards are intended to detail the knowledge and skills that effective district and school leaders need in order to build teams of teachers and leaders who improve student learning. CCSSO is seeking feedback on [...]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Plywood Dodecahedron Snaps into Single Piece Construction

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:00

Students of Oakland, California’s Laney College FabLab showed off a large plywood dodecahedron at the 2015 Bay Area Maker Faire. The room-sized structure was cut using CNC fabrication and fits together without any need for glue or nails, making it relatively easy to set up and break down. Aside from serving as […]

Read more on MAKE

The post Plywood Dodecahedron Snaps into Single Piece Construction appeared first on Make:.

Categories: Miscellaneous

Digital humanities | Reflections for a Digital Age

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:30
Reflections for a Digital Age YLBarrett Search Menu Main menu Skip to primary content Post navigation Digital humanities Posted on May 18, 2015 by

I have jumped into Twitter this year as part of my Masters coursework (after a hiatus or should I say hibernation), and while I still have a way to go with sharing succinct reflections, I love the PLN aspect of the platform. I came across a link to Elijah Meeks (@Elijah_Meeks – Stanford University) and his article/posting: Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship (2013). I picked up on his keywords ‘digital citizenship’ which is my focus topic for the upcoming digital essay. Yet, I was intrigued because I had never heard of the term digital humanities. What was it? Elijah stated he worked for the Library – another hook and then there was reference to secondary schooling. So, I kept on reading.  Elijah defined digital humanities as “the use of computational methods and tools for the study of traditional questions” or It’s the application and integration of buzzwords and acronyms into humanistic inquiry”. Reading through his infographics and visualizations, I immediately thought of course readings related to the need for our students to develop computational thinking. Other course concept such as open source, geospacial (geographic information systems) and gaming also seemed to link to what we have been exploring. However, I was definitely lost at the ‘spatial analysis and the data visualisation’. As an elementary librarian, I can appreciate the context, but could certainly not apply it. I will be forwarding on this resource though to the secondary humanities department (who will most probably know all about this).

I liked how Elijah made the concept of ‘digital humanities’ accessible to our secondary students. It is fun, inherently collaborative, overlaps with STEM, takes advantage of the growing accessibility of computational methods, and incorporates the power and meaningfulness of information literacy.

Another totally different aspect of coming across ‘digital humanities’ was the clear indication that our students are learning for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. Yes, digital humanities is here, but it is indicative of what is ‘around the corner’.

And, as Elijah Meeks concludes:

“By bringing the digital into the humanities, we provide a space to question the effect of these pervasive techniques and tools on culture and society. Digital humanities, as those of us who have taken part in it are aware, is extremely self-conscious and self-critical, it lingers on definitions and problems of its scope and place, and it especially turns a jaundiced eye to technological optimism of all sorts, even as it attempts to integrate new technologies into the asking of very old questions. At the high school level, it provides for a more literate, sceptical student, which would prove beneficial in every aspect of society.”

And I am in definite agreement. We need to be helping our students to become those reflective, sceptical citizens.


Meeks, E. (2013, February 11). Digital Literacy and Digital           Citizenship. Stanford University Libraries. Retrieved                             18 May 2015, from https://dhs.stanford.edu/algorithmic-literacy/digital-literacy-and-digital-citizenship/


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Categories: Miscellaneous

How public colleges use merit aid to compete in the out-of-state student arms race

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:01

The University of Alabama’s dominance on the football field is legendary. The Crimson Tide’s success comes from aggressive recruiting around the country. Last year’s recruiting class included 27 players from 15 states, many of whom were four- or five-star prospects. What most people don’t know is that the University of Alabama takes the same intense […]

The post How public colleges use merit aid to compete in the out-of-state student arms race appeared first on The Hechinger Report.

Categories: Miscellaneous

One Family's Journey Exemplifies Anytime-Anywhere Learning | Getting Smart

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:45
One Family’s Journey Exemplifies Anytime-Anywhere Learning Blog Series, Learning, Online & Blended, PreK-12, Smart Parents May 17, 2015


Max Silverman & Sue Wilkes

We are a family of five consisting of two parents and three children; Noah age 14, Caleb age 12, and Rohama age 10. Nearly three years ago, we began dreaming about an extended trip in which we would travel and see the world together.  After many months of planning, saving, and preparing, we set off on a six-month journey that includes stays in Ethiopia, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.

With our oldest currently a freshman in high school we decided from the outset that it made most sense for our trip to comprise one full semester of school. This would allow him to complete his first semester of high school, miss a semester, and then return to school for the start of his sophomore year.

Oddly enough, this was the extent of our initial thinking about traveling and school. We say oddly enough, because to our surprise as we told others about our trip, the first question we almost always heard was, “What are you going to do about school?” With all of the historically and culturally significant countries on our itinerary, the last thing we were worried about was what we were “going to do about school.” We have had to learn as we go, but in a short time we have witnessed the opportunities, challenges, and surprises that come with learning on the road and in several different countries.

As parents we had good clarity early on regarding what we hoped our kids would learn while traveling. To be honest we were much more focused on how they would develop as young people rather than how they might advance their academic skills. To us this meant:

  • They would learn how to handle themselves and problem-solve in environments very different than their own.
  • They would develop an empathy and understanding of how others in the world live and sometimes struggle.
  • They would be exposed to the incredible cultures and history of countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
  • They would nurture their curiosity and develop a deeper understanding of places and people they had only read about in books or the news.

As we approach the half waypoint of our trip we are so pleased with all that Noah, Caleb, and Rohama have been learning about the world and themselves. They have each taken on volunteer opportunities in Ethiopia, figured out how to adapt to new and very different situations, and started making interconnections between the different places we have visited and the people we have met.

What we did not account for in our planning and find ourselves negotiating on a regular basis is how to handle our kids schooling. By this we mean either earning credits, staying on pace with certain courses, and/or continuing to develop reading, writing, and math proficiency.  While we are far from figuring this out, we have learned much about how to do “school” while traveling and not have it get in the way of the learning that we really want to occur.

In essence, each of our kids has a “learning plan” that was developed with input from their teachers, each child, and us.

Noah was most concerned about earning the credits necessary to stay on track and be ready for his sophomore year.  For him this meant exploring online options offering credits that would be accepted by the Seattle Public Schools. After researching a few options he decided to enroll in the Federal Way Internet Academy initially taking Physical Science, World History, Geometry, Spanish, and Language Arts.

After meeting with the school counselor and teachers, Caleb decided that it was important to keep up with Algebra I so he could advance to Geometry and continue his first-year Chinese studies. This learning plan needed to be quickly adjusted.  While he is easily able to complete the second half of Algebra through Khan Academy, we were unable to find a suitable option for Chinese.  On his own, however, Caleb explored Duolingo and decided to take up Turkish as our itinerary included one month in Turkey.  While he may not continue learning Turkish after this trip, we feel this will be a valuable experience as he trains his brain to learn and use other languages.

In partnership with her teacher we decided that it was important for Rohama to keep up with math, reading, and writing. The reading and writing have been relatively straightforward.  She reads books of her choosing on her Kindle and has decided to focus her writing on keeping a semi-daily journal of her travels.  As she finds journal entries she likes we work together to turn them into published pieces on our blog. Math has been a bit more complicated as neither of us are trained math teachers. However, over time we found that a combination of Khan Academy for learning new content, IXL for individual practice, along with parental tutoring using a Singapore math workbook and a set of manipulatives is doing the trick.

We continue to struggle how to negotiate taking full advantage of all that we are seeing while also putting in some school time most days. Blogging has provided a great opportunity to articulate and examine what we are learning while also growing and developing as a writer. Each of our kids has decided that their writing will be focused on publishing blog posts. The combination of writing about something of immediate interest along with writing for an audience has helped them produce their best work, with minimal nagging from us.

While in hindsight, we wish we were more intentional about connecting our travels to their schooling (such as having them read books about the places we are visiting), we are finding that our kids are taking in their travels and their schooling on their terms.  As a result we have witnessed them:

  • Develop a keen interest in current events and growing ability to connect them with what they are learning.
  • sharing their experiences and insights with people we meet along the way – each time sounding more articulate than the last.
  • demonstrating increasing resilience and independence at each new destination by mapping and learning about their new neighborhoods and problem-solving travel logistics.

While we are certainly not experts on how to best connect schooling, learning, and traveling, we can offer a few tips for others considering a similar journey based on our experiences and mistakes:

  • Decide as a family, in advance of travel, how much time you want to dedicate schooling on the road.
  • Set clear expectations with each child on what they need to accomplish.
  • Understand as parents that you will probably be more involved in supporting each child with their schooling than you may initially imagine.
  • Map out when and where you will have access to technology and the Internet.
  • Find ways to connect what your children are experiencing with what they are doing for schooling.  This is most easily accomplished through reading and writing about places you are visiting.
  • Don’t underestimate how much your children can learn just from the experience of traveling and visiting other countries.  Try not to let their schooling get in the way of their learning.

This blog is part of our Smart Parents series in partnership with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. For more information about the project, see Parents, Tell Your Story: How You Empower Student Learning as well as other blogs:

Max Silverman is an Associate Director at the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership. Follow Max on Twitter, @maxsilverman. Sue Wilkes provides capacity building support and training for non-profit organizations in the Puget Sound area. 

1 Comments Justin Talmadge / May 17, 2015

This is a very helpful post for those of us who have been considering extended travel experiences with children. Thank you, Max and Sue ( and the kids ) for sharing your insights. Now I’m going to check out your blog!

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Mobile phone bans improve school exam results, research shows | Education | The Guardian

Education (Spigot Aggregator) - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:45
Close sign in subscribe search jobs more from the guardian: change edition: US edition browse all sections close Mobile phone bans improve school exam results, research shows

A study by the London School of Economics found pupils at phone-free schools performed better in GCSE exams, especially those in bottom 60% of KS2 tests

Pupils at mobile-free schools benefit by the equivalent of an extra hour’s teaching per week, the research shows. Photograph: Caiaimage/REX_Shutterstock

Schools that ban pupils from carrying mobile phones show a sustained improvement in exam results, with the biggest advances coming from struggling students, according to research published by the London School of Economics.

The findings calculated that pupils at mobile-free schools benefitted by the equivalent of an extra hour’s teaching per week, meaning many schools would benefit from taking a tough line on keeping phones out of pupils’ pockets.

The large-scale study found schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester that banned mobiles enjoyed a boost in the proportion of pupils getting five good passes at GCSE, compared with schools that allowed pupils to keep their phones, even if switched off.

a strict ban on mobile phones does seem to be effective in improving student tests scores

Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy, one of the co-authors of the paper, said that the distraction and low-level disruption caused by pupils having mobile phones in school appeared to be behind the results.

“If schools have concerns about students being distracted by their phones, a strict ban on mobile phones does seem to be effective in improving student tests scores, especially those that a school might be concerned about because it ups the number of students getting five good GCSEs,” Murphy said.

The authors of the study – which centred on 91 schools and the exam results of 130,000 pupils since 2001 – found that the net effect was a 2% higher GCSE pass rate based on mobile phone policy alone, after accounting for factors such as gender and family income.

“That 2% is the average over everyone but we found that the impact of the ban was twice as effective for children with poor prior achievement or who were on free school meals,” Murphy said.

“Students who scored badly on their key stage two tests did twice as well from the ban compared to an average student. Kids that did well in key stage two didn’t gain at all from the ban. All the gains were driven from kids in the bottom 60%.”

Stuart Lock, deputy headteacher at Rushcroft Foundation School in Waltham Forest, said his school banned mobiles when it became an academy in 2012, at the same time as adopting tougher behaviour rules.

“Our strict behaviour policy, including on mobile phones, is a significant contributor to our improved results. I don’t think it is just mobile phones but the amount of time that used to go into investigating the use and abuse of phones was incredible.

“As well as this, the most eagle-eyed teacher could not be sure that pupils weren’t distracted by mobile phones. Since we know that distractions are key to undermining learning, this has improved learning – although we can’t measure exactly how much,” Lock said.

Murphy, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Texas in Austin, said the study did not take into account any positive effects for pupils using mobile phones for research.

King Solomon’s Academy, a west London school in the Ark group, has tough rules banning iPods, mobiles and other devices, under penalty of automatic detention and confiscation. A second offence in a year means a phone is confiscated indefinitely, no matter the cost to parents or pupil.

“There is plenty of solid evidence which shows that in order to learn, we have to pay attention. Again and again, research shows that when people are distracted or when they start multitasking, they don’t do as well as when they are able to concentrate fully on one task. That’s probably what underpins this finding,” said Daisy Christodoulou, Ark’s director of research.

“The challenge for people like me, who think that educational technology has great potential, is how we can use such technology in the classroom in a way that enhances rather than reduces concentration.”

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