Category Archives: personal

The importance of language at an early age for academic success in other areas such as math, literacy,…

From experience to meaning...

Lately there has been some discussion if the infamous word gap is as big as said in the original research. Still this new study shows the importance of language at an early age for other academic domains. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, still it will may well be for some.

In short:

  • Growth curve models revealed strong within-domain—but few cross-domain—predictions.
  • Language skills predicted academic outcomes the most broadly across domains.
  • In general, lower baseline skills at school entry predicted greater gains over time.
  • Higher kindergarten language predicted larger gains in reading from grades 1 to 3 and 3 to 5.
  • Examining multiple readiness domains together is critical for practical application.

The fourth element gives hope, at the same time it shouldn’t – again – be so surprising.

From the press release (with the awkward concept of “kindergarten readiness” included):

Research shows that the more skills children bring with…

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Chess in Schools: Holy Grail or Snake Oil?

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

holy grail chess

‘Armenia makes chess compulsory in schools’, according to this article in the Guardian. Armenian authorities claim that chess is the key to success in school and life. By playing chess, children not only learn how to think creatively and strategically, they also get better at solving problems and become more intelligent. Even better (notice the slightly sarcastic tone here), this creativity, problem-solving, and other similar good stuff, isn’t just specific for chess. The promise is, that it will generalise to other subjects AND to life in general (near and far transfer). In other words, chess seems to be the holy grail!

What the Armenian authorities actually claim is that learning how to play chess on the one hand is the key to developing generic skills (in particular problem-solving) and on the other hand is a vital element when it comes to generic traits

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May 22, 2018 · 8:55 pm

Logical Fallacies: Don’t Let Them Fool You

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

Sometimes people use bogus arguments in the form of logical fallacies (arguments where the conclusion does not follow from the premises) to oppose facts or viewpoints and, ultimately to bamboozle a discussion. Below you’ll find a nice overview of twenty most often used type of ‘luring’ fallacies. We’re writing this blog hoping that you’ll learn to spot them and kick ’m in the butt instead of letting them fool you (or worse, using them yourselves)!

LF1

Let’s look at some examples.

LF2

Basically, the strawman is an intentionally misrepresented response that’s set up as an easy way to defeat the opponent’s true argument. In other words, the person throwing in the strawman doesn’t respond to the actual point that an opponent makes but to a caricatural version of it.

LF3

In the learning space, there are some common strawmen. For example, in response to the argument that…

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May 15, 2018 · 8:36 pm

Novices, Experts and Everything In-between: Epistemology and Pedagogy

A Chemical Orthodoxy

The concept of “novices and experts” answered a lot of questions for me. For a long time, I had been finding it difficult to understand why my students made simple mistakes, couldn’t “apply” their learning to new areas and couldn’t understand exactly what a given verbal or written question was asking for.

Put simply, the idea is that when a learner is first starting out in a particular domain (e.g. chemistry), they are considered a novice. Their knowledge is fragmented and disconnected from the rest of the knowledge within the domain. As their knowledge builds up, they progress towards becoming an expert: someone whose knowledge is broad, deep and extensively connected.

There are a number of classic lab-based experiments in this field, the findings of which are summarised here as:

  1. Experts notice features and meaningful patterns of information that are not noticed by novices.
  2. Experts have acquired a great deal…

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Can You Be a ‘Good Teacher’ Inside a Failing School? (JennyAbamu)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

This article appeared in EdSurge, April 2, 2018

“Jenny Abamu is an education technology reporter at EdSurge where she covers technology’s role in both higher education and K-12 spaces. She previously worked at Columbia University’s EdLab’s Development and Research Group, producing and publishing content for their digital education publication, New Learning Times. Before that, she worked as a researcher, planner, and overnight assignment editor for NY1 News Channel in New York City. She holds a Masters degree in International and Comparative Education from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.”

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Here’s a popular movie plot: Great teacher goes into a troubled neighborhood and turns around a low-performing school. Educators love the messages from these films, and even children are inspired. Unfortunately, many school districts never find the Coach Carters or Erin Gruwells who bring such happy endings. In fact, in a broken district such as Detroit’s, schools in hard-bitten neighborhoods sometimes go from…

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Another study about the importance of books for learning

From experience to meaning...

Reading is key – even in these digital times – and a new study shows again that providing free children’s books in low-income neighborhoods, combined with supportive adults who encourage reading, can boost children’s literacy and learning opportunities. For the project free book vending machines were used. I found this video about it:

From the press release (bold by me):

 An innovative book distribution program that provides free children’s books in low-income neighborhoods, combined with supportive adults who encourage reading, can boost children’s literacy and learning opportunities, finds a new study by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

“Both physical and psychological proximity to books matter when it comes to children’s early literacy skills,” said Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author. “Children need access to books in their neighborhoods, as well as adults who create an…

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Strategies to promote educator effectiveness (Best Evidence in Brief)

From experience to meaning...

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I’m picking this study from their overview:

The Institute of Education Sciences has released a new evaluation brief that synthesizes findings from two impact studies conducted by the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE). One study focused on a strategy of providing educators with feedback on their performance for two years (performance feedback), and the other study focused on a strategy of providing educators with bonuses for four years based on their performance (pay-for-performance). Both strategies were supported by the Teacher Incentive Fund, which provided competitive grants to help states and districts implement a multi-strategy approach to enhancing educator effectiveness.
In each study, elementary and middle schools were randomly assigned to implement the strategy (the treatment group) or not (the control group). The performance feedback study included approximately 29,000 students and 1,000 teachers in grades 4 – 8, while…

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