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The Cold Came Unexpectedly in Spring

An unexpected cold front came through in the middle of spring, causing everyone to turn on their heaters to keep warm. This kind of weather phenomenon doesn’t happen very often, which is why people don’t really prepare for it. Lots of people were covering their plants to make sure that the cold front didn’t wipe them out. I couldn’t turn on my heater because something was wrong with it. I had to get repairs from HVAC services in Manhattan, NY before I could have heat flowing through my vents again. Luckily the cold front didn’t last very long.

After the cold front, things went back to the way they normally are in the spring. Continue reading “The Cold Came Unexpectedly in Spring”

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Relationships and Learning

Learning outside the home begins early in life. More than one-third of all U.S. children under the age of five are cared for outside of their homes by individuals not related to them.1 Research on early childhood education shows that high-quality child care experiences support the development of social and academic skills that facilitate children’s later success in school. There is also mounting evidence that close relationships between teachers and children are an important part of creating high-quality care environments and positive child outcomes.

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As most parents and teachers know, children gain increasing control over their emotions, attention, and behavior across the early years. These growing abilities allow them to face and overcome new developmental challenges, from getting along with others to learning novel academic skills.2 Despite their growing abilities, preschoolers sometimes find it difficult to regulate their thoughts and emotions in ways that allow them to succeed at new tasks. At these times, close relationships with meaningful adults, including teachers, can help children learn to regulate their own behavior.

The sense of safety and security

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Reading, Writing, and Reform

Schools in Boston, Massachusetts, serve many families living in poverty and have put into place various literacy reform models aimed at getting more children reading at grade level. Leaders in the Boston Public School system raised a question about different approaches to teaching reading: Were the four literacy reform models used in their elementary schools helping first-grade children in high-poverty schools learn to read?

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Harvard Graduate School of Education Lecturer Terrence Tivnan and colleague Lowry Hemphill from Wheelock College carried out a research study to answer this question. Their report received the International Reading Association’s 2007 Dina Feitelson Research Award, honoring the memory of Dina Feitelson by recognizing an outstanding empirical study published in English in a refereed journal.

At each of the 16 elementary schools that took part in the study, most of the students (80-90 percent) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. This means that the schools were primarily serving children from households with few material resources to support learning at home. Literacy reform was one strategy being used to help turn around a

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Learning in Museums

Museums and other informal learning settings can invite students to become engaged in exhibits and activities. In this essay, Shari Tishman, lecturer in the Arts in Education Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education and research associate at Project Zero, discusses how museums embody ideas about how people learn by offering opportunities for active learning and personal agency. This essay is excerpted from the September 2005 College Art Association Newsletter.

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Museums are designs for learning. Whether intentionally or not, museums embody views about what’s worth learning, and the way that artworks, objects, and historical material are presented — from exhibitions to architecture to wall texts — embody views about how learning happens. This in itself is nothing new: museums have always been designed with edification in mind. But historically, museum education departments have been the only place where visitor learning is explicitly considered — and often only after exhibitions have been fully designed — despite the fact that beliefs about learning are present in all aspects of museum offerings and at all stages of exhibition design.

The in and out of setting up a school science workshop

Science workshops are important in every school where science is being taught. An ideal school isn’t just about the classrooms, and recreational facilities, an ideal school is to have more facilities and materials that would add to the total learning in school. One of these facilities is the science workshop. A science workshop or a … Continue reading “The in and out of setting up a school science workshop”

SCIENCEEDUCATION_1Science workshops are important in every school where science is being taught. An ideal school isn’t just about the classrooms, and recreational facilities, an ideal school is to have more facilities and materials that would add to the total learning in school. One of these facilities is the science workshop.

A science workshop or a science laboratory as often called is a room designed to experiment on what has been taught to the students during the class.

To set up a science workshop, the right materials are to be sought for and gotten, safety measures are also to be put in place. The requirements for setting up a science workshop differ depending on the class; an elementary school science workshop can’t be compared to that of a high school.

The first and important thing in putting up a science workshop is to determine the size of the workshop in comparison to the number of pupils to use the workshop. The workshop is meant to be built to accommodate pupils conveniently without having

History Paper Checklist

Mostly student’s primary focus is usually on core subjects lining with their majors. They put in all the painstaking efforts to get good grades in those subjects. While doing so, they forget about the other subjects which, although wouldn’t be as useful in future as the core subjects, but carry equal importance when it comes to accumulative grading.
One such subject is History. Students are often either disappointed or extremely cheerful to receive their History grades. Sometimes they succeed in scoring more than what they had expected but on the other hand there is an equal chance that they may score less because of lack of interest and less attention given to the subject.
So why don’t students pay attention to History which it asks for?
For too many students history might sound boring and just a burden course that is imposed on them. While the truth is that it’s not.
While focusing on major courses what most students often do is that they lose the art of writing. History essay demands good writing skills, though if you don’t have a patience to develop it writers-house services might be in your consideration as a good helper. There

Augmented Reality Technology Brings Learning to Life

When middle school students describe something they did in school as “cool,” “exciting,”  and “fun,” educators who are more accustomed to hearing “Why are we learning this?” tend to sit up and take notice. Over the past several years, Professor Chris Dede and postdoctoral fellow Patrick O’Shea have been pursuing the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools-funded research that, in its early stages, seems to be capturing the imaginations of teachers and students alike. The project — which was conducted in collaboration with research assistants Catherine “Sam” Johnston, Ed.M.’04, Ed.D.’09; Rebecca Mitchell, Ed.D.’09; and former postdoctoral associate Matt Dunleavy — leveraged the power and panache of handheld technologies to enhance middle schoolers’ engagement in learning. For under-resourced schools, it also holds promise for addressing equity concerns when it comes to technology-based learning.

Dede has been studying immersive technology and issues at the juncture of science, education, and technology for more than three decades, working with students from public schools, the military, higher education, and the corporate world. O’Shea’s doctorate is in urban studies, with an educational technology focus. Collaborating with colleagues from MIT and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the two are completing analysis of a learning exercise they

Facts to Refocus the Education Reform Debate

Like many states faced with making deep fiscal cuts in a declining economy, Massachusetts is looking at some difficult choices. One area under particular scrutiny is education, where funding for programs such as charter and pilot schools, mainstays in the effort to bring innovative teaching practices into broader use, has long been a political hot topic. Now, new research led by Professor Thomas Kane is redirecting the debate by focusing on facts instead of conflicting ideologies.

The distinctions between charter, pilot, and traditional schools are key factors in discussions about budget allocations for education in Massachusetts.

  • Traditional schools receive public funding, are under local jurisdiction and maintain tenure and salary guidelines.
  • Charter schools receive public funding, but operate outside supervision by local school committees and district collective bargaining agreements.
  • Pilot schools remain under local jurisdiction and maintain the same basic tenure and salary guidelines as traditional schools, but have more flexibility to make operational and curricular decisions.

While giving some support to the pilot school concept, teachers’ unions — with concerns about contract protections, declining enrollments, and the siphoning of public funds from traditional schools — have been among the most vocal critics of

Education Reform, Accountability, and the Achievement Gap

“We need to think of each school as a kind of puzzle that needs to be continuously solved by the people in it,” says Harvard Gradaute School of Education Associate Professor Jal Mehta in this thought-provoking interview. Mehta links to bold examples as he discusses solving this puzzle through raising school standards, ending “pass the buck” accountability, creating change through education reform, and closing the achievement gap.

You’ve done a lot of work on the history of American educational policy, and how educational policy has been shaped by the rise of standards and accountability. Could you describe how this rise in accountability came about, and what future trends we might expect to see in educational policy?

My research suggests that the rise in accountability is a result of a number of factors, some specific to the field of education and some not. Surveys show that the public’s trust in major professions has been falling since roughly the mid 1960s, which has led to increased external accountability across a variety of fields. Education is particularly vulnerable to external accountability because of its dismal record with poor students, its organizational weakness as a highly feminized “semiprofession,”

Education at Bat Seven Principles for Educators

When Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor David Perkins looked back at his childhood little league and “backyard baseball” experiences, he found the perfect metaphor for the set of teaching concepts presented in his 2008 book, Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education.

Asked in an interview with Usable Knowledge to describe how he would like educators to work with his ideas, Perkins says, “They should get a rough sense of the ideas and start using them…. They needn’t read the whole book — they can just start with the first chapter.” Making Learning Whole, he says, “is a spiral process that front-loads action and then loops back to reflection and more learning — which is what the core principles recommend for learning anywhere.”

Seven Principles of Teaching

Why think about little league? Perkins says that in baseball, as in playing an instrument, one learns what it is to play the whole game first, and then to fine tune aspects of it over time. To elaborate on this concept of “learning by wholes,” Perkins details practical principles.

1. Play the whole game

Perkins identifies two unfortunate tendencies

The Importance of Universal Design for Learning

When a student struggles in the classroom, questions usually focus on the student: Does she have a learning disability? Is this student’s reading skill not on par with the other children in the class? Does he not pay enough attention when sitting in class or doing homework? Until recently, there has been comparatively little focus on the role of the curriculum in these struggles. Thanks to work by Harvard Graduate School of Education Lecturer David Rose, the chief education officer of the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), researchers and educators alike are now examining how the curriculum, not the student, may be disabled, and how curriculum disabilities can be overcome.

The idea of curriculum disability arose when Rose was working with other neuropsychologists at the North Shore Children’s Hospital (near Boston) to evaluate children who were performing poorly in school. Rose and his colleagues often felt discouraged, because their recommendations offered teachers little practical guidance to help their students. Eventually Rose formed a group to see what might make the reports more useful — leading to the creation of CAST.

CAST researchers gradually realized that the core issue was frequently not students’ learning problems; instead, the problem lay

Origins of a Framework for Effective Practice

Good ideas often arise out of collaboration among reflective people. Such is the case with the Teaching for Understanding (TfU) framework. The three founders were Howard Gardner, David Perkins, and Vito Perrone (now retired), all faculty members at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They began with age-old questions about education: What does it mean to understand something? How do we know if a student understands something? How can we support the development of understanding? Critically, they enlisted the help of many other experienced teachers and researchers to develop, test, and refine an approach for effective teaching.

In 1988, the founders convened a group of educators and researchers to plan a five-year project. The project’s goal would be to develop a research-based and classroom-tested approach to teaching for understanding. At its core would be a performance view of understanding: student understanding means not just the ability to reproduce knowledge, but to generalize it in unscripted ways to new problems. With initial support from the Spencer Foundation, more than 60 school-based and 30 university-based participants took on this mission, and the Teaching for Understanding Project was born.

The school- and university-based collaborators were a diverse group. They represented

Building a New Structure for School Leadership

Based on the essay “Building a New Structure for School Leadership,” from Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Richard Elmore’s book, School Reform from the Inside Out: Policy, Practice, and Performance (Harvard Education Press, 2004).

If our educational system is to deliver on the promise of high standards for all students, educational leadership must strive to create conditions for high quality instruction in every classroom. The historical paradigm — in which instruction is solely the purview of the teacher, to the exclusion of administrators, superintendents, and policymakers — is an obstacle to reaching our academic goals for children.

Like successful business executives, winning coaches, and triumphant politicians, good school leaders have traditionally been viewed as standouts — not because of their expertise in instructional practice (which, after all, is what their business is all about), but because of their individual character traits and actions, “in the heroic American tradition of charismatic leadership,” exlains Elmore.

In this essay, Elmore sets forth a novel vision for school leadership that would not reside with individuals, but would instead be distributed among various branches that are fully accountable not only to one another and to teachers, but

What is Teaching for Understanding

Research and practice were connected in the development of the Teaching for Understanding Framework, a collaborative approach for effective teaching developed, tested, and refined by faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education along with many experienced teachers and researchers. It’s no surprise, then, that the core dimensions of the framework reflect what educators would agree good teaching ought to be. Educators can apply these guidelines, described below, to teaching at all grade levels, even through higher education. They are not meant to capture every element of effective classroom practice — other factors, including classroom structure and teacher-student relationships also play a role. Instead, this framework is a guide that can help keep the focus of educational practice on understanding, while allowing teachers flexibility to design units that fit their priorities and teaching style.

1. Generative Topics

What makes a topic or concept worth teaching? To guide the selection of teaching topics, the framework prioritizes those that have the following features:

  • Central to a given discipline or subject area
  • Connect readily to what is familiar to students, and to other subject matters
  • Engaging to students and to teachers
  • Accessible to students via multiple resources and ways of thinking

When

Reforming the Education of School Leaders

In a special section on educating school leaders for the March 2006 Phi Delta Kappan, guest editor and Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Jerome Murphy argues that “schools of education are slow-stepping elephants when it comes to leadership education — sluggishly adjusting to today’s call for new blood, stronger content, more relevance, and higher quality.”

Murphy goes on to identify three trends that may help — or force — schools of education to change: First, today’s political climate introduces powerful external pressure for schools to perform and leaders to reform, and schools of education are under pressure to produce principals and superintendents who can ensure results. Second, viable alternatives (for example, the Broad Academy and New Leaders for New Schools) are emerging and competing with university-based programs to prepare administrators. And third, higher education, which has long been spared critical analysis by outsiders, is increasingly considered fair game (Murphy cites a July 2005 New York Times article titled “Who Needs Education Schools?”).

After laying out the problem — and noting reasonably that education schools are increasingly attacked for irrelevance — Murphy collects and presents 13 writers’ critiques and proposals for improving the education of school leaders. He

Critical Exploration in the Classroom

An educator can gain insight into students’ understanding by observing and talking with students as they work through complex problems and projects. Professor Eleanor Duckworth describes a dialogue between a teacher/researcher, Lisa Schneier, and six high school students, four of whom spoke English as a second language, as they read a poem together.1 Among the students’ initial reactions to the poem were:

“I don’t get this.”
“It don’t rhyme.”
“It’s silly.”
“It doesn’t make sense.”

These responses provide no evidence of what students understand about it. But the responses are revealing. They highlight the fact that the students bring their prior expectations about poetry to the learning experience. To reach an understanding of the poem, a student makes a connection from the poem to what he or she already understands.

Over the course of several sessions, Schneier asks questions based on students’ comments and has the class look at the poem in different ways, such as by identifying phrases that “go together” in meaning. In the midst of an animated class discussion, a student conveys, in his own words, that the language of the poem is figurative; there are many things that the word “you” could

Rounds for Teachers

In a semi-darkened Harvard conference room, a gathering of 35 professional educators watches a videotaped dance performance on a large screen. In the dance, a dozen or so teenaged girls, dressed in black and trailing red scarves, move in time to rhythmic music, following choreography that alternates between short solos and group interaction. Although this is the second time they have viewed the five-minute tape within a span of 20 minutes, and although it is early on a Saturday morning, the assembled group watches intently, trying to pick out details they may have missed the first time through.

Dance videos are not typical of the work teachers bring to Senior Lecturer Steve Seidel’s “Rounds at Project Zero,” a monthly collaborative assessment discussion group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that is based on principles from hospital medical rounds. But the protocol Seidel follows to encourage reflection and uncover insights about the performance is familiar to the regulars in the group, many of whom have been rising early and trekking in to Cambridge on Saturday mornings for close to a decade to discuss students’ artwork, math projects, poetry, essays, and research assignments. “What emotional qualities did you see

Secrets of Successful Afterschool Programs

The United States is engaged in an ongoing, public discussion about how to best expand afterschool time and opportunities for children and youth, to support their learning and development across the day, throughout the year, and from kindergarten through high school. Debate continues about the range of academic, social, and other types of knowledge and skills that young people will need to succeed as workers, citizens, and family and community members in a global world.

To build the knowledge base, and to support efforts to improve quality in this field, the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) has developed and maintains an accessible national database of evaluations of hundreds of afterschool programs. In 2008, HFRP issued a review of these studies to address two fundamental questions: Does participation in after school programs make a difference, and if so, what conditions appear to be necessary to achieve positive results?

The verdict: a decade of research and evaluation studies confirms that children and youth who participate in afterschool programs can reap a host of positive benefits in a number of interrelated outcome areas — academic, social-emotional, prevention, and health and wellness. These are the skills that many suggest are necessary for youth

College Remediation Who Needs It, and Does It Help

Many students enter college in the United States without the basic academic skills needed to be successful in their coursework. Harvard Graduate School of Education Academic Dean Bridget Terry Long has analyzed this issue, which lies at the intersection of K-12 and higher education. A large research study she and a colleague conducted in the state of Ohio provides much-needed information about the effectiveness of remediation for helping college students to graduate.

Many students enter college in the United States without the basic academic skills needed to be successful in their coursework. Researchers from the Manhattan Institute Center for Civic Information found that only 32 percent of students leave high school academically prepared for college (Greene & Foster, 2003). This percentage is even lower among black and Hispanic students (20 percent and 16 percent, respectively). These staggeringly figures are especially disconcerting, because these students are likely to need remediation in college — and far less likely to complete a degree — than classmates who enter with higher levels of skill. Ultimately, not having a college degree means these individuals will have a harder time finding meaningful work in today’s knowledge economy.

To respond to the

Building Better Leaders

Educational leaders are increasingly looking at lessons learned in other industries to inform their leadership strategies. The Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA) is a research initiative at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, led by principal investigator and Professor of Education David Perkins. LILA is a collaborative learning community of business leaders and Harvard researchers whose members include executives from diverse organizations, including the U.S. Army, the World Bank, Cisco Systems, Raytheon, Humana, YMCA, and Deloitte.

In this piece, the LILA contributors suggest that successful leadership development hinges on:

1. Focusing on the development of leadership, not individual leaders;

2. Distributing leadership responsibility throughout an organization;

3. Embedding leadership development in the context of people’s work; and

4. Assessing your organization’s capacity for, and immunity to, leadership development.

“Are we witnessing the end of leadership?” asks LILA principal investigator David Perkins. With this provocative question, Perkins suggests that the voluminous and ever-growing body of leadership research has invested this term with so many (often conflicting) meanings that it may have lost much of its utility.

In his book, King Arthur’s Round Table (2003), Perkins identifies four different patterns or “archetypes” onto which the many