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Awesome Things

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We know that traditional multi-tasking diminishes our productivity and quality, but here Tim Hartford makes the case for "slow-motion multi-tasking."  In the Maker Lab, my 2nd-8th grade students and I have a huge variety of simultaneous projects in an array of media. I am constantly multi-tasking, and I have never been more productive; Hartford makes an interesting case as to why that is. 

Super TED talk by Shawn Achor. Normally we think we need to work hard to then succeed to then be happy, but he wants people to start with happiness, which fosters productivity and success. Wise, research-based, very applicable to students and teachers, and one of the funnier talks I've seen. 

Chapter 8 of Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational explains our aversion to losing out on potential opportunities. We will even engage in self-destructive behavior in order to maintain useless options. I apply this to our behavior with electronic devices where we feel compelled to check to see if a social feed, news site, or other source has updated. Perhaps we fear opportunity loss. Ariely's suggestion is to consciously limit our options so that we may better focus. More metacognition around our use of tech. 


Chapter 9 discusses the power of priming. For example, Asian women who were primed to think about race did better on a math test than Asian women who were primed to think about gender. We can stereotype ourselves. How can we prime students and teach them to prime themselves in helpful ways ?

"Problem-Based Learning"

in Stanford University's Speaking of Teaching newsletter

I love the notion of presenting students not with projects but with problems. This approach frames problems and problem-solving as the norm for school, career, and life. We then help equip them with a set of tools that can be applied to diverse problems. 

Here is an overview video of Vidcode, a platform for teaching coding through video projects. It's particularly aimed at engaging girls with coding through making and sharing videos that matter to them.

"Speaking While Female"

by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

This piece from the New York Times gives a compelling and concise look at women and "voice" in today's work world. It makes for a great companion when reading about characters like Penelope in the Odyssey, and Hermia, Hippolyta, and Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream

A useful RSA animate on this important topic. 

Dan Pink's three elements of motivation from Drive:

1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives.

2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters.

3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Instructive to think about Pink's ideas in terms of projects in education. 

Interesting reporting in Scientific American on typing versus handwriting notes. It would be useful to see if these findings hold for handwritten Notability notes on the iPad. 

Getting from 100 to 60

Sheryl Sandberg writes about how women often feel they must meet 100 percent of the qualifications in order to apply for a job while men will often apply when they only meet 60 percent. What if we designed experiences for girls around altering this mindset? For example, we could intentionally only prepare a class 60 % for a technology task, then give them heuristic procedure to follow:

  • Experiment, fail, repeat

  • Network with peers

  • Find outside resources

  • Seek advice from mentors

  • Iterate and persevere

  • Reflect on and appreciate your progress


If girls graduate with repeated experiences of succeeding when they know they are only partially prepared for challenging experiences, they will be armed with crucial resilience and boldness. 

"When we read human stories, we become alive in bodies not our own. Literature is in many ways like faith: it is a leap of imagination. Both reading and writing require an imaginative leap and it is that imaginative leap that enables us to become alive in bodies not our own. It seems to me that we live in a world where it has become increasingly important to try and live in bodies not our own, to embrace empathy, to constantly be reminded that we share, with everybody in every part of the world, a common and equal humanity."  

― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


“The most necessary task of civilization is to teach people how to think. It should be the primary purpose of our public schools. The mind of a child is naturally active, it develops through exercise. Give a child plenty of exercise, for body and brain. The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation.” 
― Thomas A. Edison


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