John Hattie is a guy who spent twenty five years doing over 50000 meta analysis studies on about 80 million students and wrote a book called “Visible Learning”. He has also done a number of TED talks. Essentially, he asks the question, “What affects students learning?” and clearly as well as simply defines what an “effect” is. He told the story of a researcher who spent years recording classroom interactions from the perspective of the student and the teacher. The researcher was surprised to learn that about seventy percent of learning was not visible to the teacher. So..even the best teachers with the best data only get about thirty percent of the picture. Next came the book, Visible Learning for Teachers and the website “Visible Learning Plus”.
How did someone figure that out? Can you explain to me why this happens? No matter the topic, individuals are always seeking information as they look to explain complex objects and theories. “Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words” by Randall Munroe uses only one thousand of the most common words to explain various inventions and phenomena in the field of physical science.
I have been on a mission lately to make scientists out of my students. I am long past my fears that they are not capable of discovering the world for themselves or that they won’t learn the content if we spend too much time on science practices. What I have to work on now is orchestrating the experience. The pedagogy underlying Modeling Instruction has become the backbone for much of my instruction lately. This method of instruction not only gives my students an engaging, authentic scientific experience but has resulted in deeper content knowledge.
I just wanted to share a resource that I have been using since I started teaching AP chemistry last year.
A great book for summer reading is "Rust: the longest war".
Cars rusting! Bridges collapsing! Rust, and corrosion in general, is probably the most important topic that is not on most people's radar. This is definitely something people should be paying more attention to.
This book is not about chemistry, and it probably is the most "literary" book that I have written about in these pages. It is a beautiful story about the lives of a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, who escapes during the Nazi occupation of France with her father, the master locksmith of the Paris Museum of Natural History, to St. Malo, where lives her great-uncle in a grand house by the sea.
This book has helped me to uncover student misconceptions and look into their thought processes regularly. A supervisor gave me the book in August, and it sat on my nightstand for several weeks. In my mind, it was going to be another book about visual learners and strategies for using images to increase engagement. I WAS WRONG. This book is different. It is not about visual learning; it focuses on making student thinking visible to the teacher. While still learning to use the visible thinking routines, I really feel more conscious of students’ understandings than ever.
xkcd is a nerdy Internet daily cartoon that is written and drawn by a former NASA "roboticist". The subject matter is all over the map [yesterday's (11/4/14) is about TypographicChemistry], but tends to favor physics and computing. He encourages readers of the cartoon strip to send him outrageous questions, and he supplies outrageous but scientifically accurate responses. Some of the best of these have be come a surprising NYT Best Seller.