The best learning games are always fun. Try playing them yourself and see if you enjoy them. No matter how advanced your understanding of the subject matter, a good game should still be fun. I've understood algebra and number partitions for decades, but DragonBox and Wuzzit Trouble are still challenging puzzlers that I like to fiddle with on long airline flights. All good games offer challenges in intuitive ways. In fact, this is the reason games work so well for learning: Players are intrinsically motivated to identify and succeed at understanding the game's mechanics.The MindShift Guide to Digital Games and Learning provides a basic introduction to the use of video games in education, gives several thought-provoking examples, and points to numerous sites with related goals, including Edutopia's articles on game-based learning and Graphite's reviews of digital games with educational content. Meanwhile, this being what The Guardian has just called "Board games' golden age," resources such as Play Play Learn, BoardGameGeek's Games in the Classroom, and The Dice Tower's recent countdown of "Top Ten Games for the Classroom" offer interesting options for the tabletop as well. [more inside]
Sudbury Valley School - "It upends your views about what school is for, why it has to cost as much as it does, and whether our current model makes any sense at all. But what's most amazing about the school, a claim the founders make which was backed up by my brief observations, my conversations with students, and the written recollections of alumni, is that the school has taken the angst out of education. Students like going there, and they like their teachers. Because they are never made to take a class they don't like, they don't rue learning. They don't hate homework because they don't have homework. School causes no fights with their parents." (previously-er) [more inside]
Blackboard Sketching by Frederick Whitney, Director of Art, State Normal School, Salem, MA, 1908. [more inside]
Where Are Your Keys? (WAYK) is a language-learning game that starts with identifying a few simple objects and builds into a conversation dealing with abstract concepts — in the space of an hour or two, with minimal supplies. [more inside]
Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos is an 8 minute video by Derek Muller that offers some skepticism as to the usefulness of science videos that only teach the facts without investigating existing misconceptions. TL;DW? Here's a 1 minute 29 second version. Too brief? Here's his PhD thesis.
The learning paradox is at the heart of “productive failure." While the model adopted by many teachers and employers when introducing others to new knowledge — providing lots of structure and guidance early on, until the students or workers show that they can do it on their own — makes intuitive sense, it may not be the best way to promote learning. [more inside]
"so you can imagine, here I was, an analyst at a hedge fund; it was very strange for me do to something of social value"
Salman Khan: The Messiah of Math - "His free website, dubbed the Khan Academy, may well be the most popular educational site in the world. Last month about 2 million students visited. MIT's OpenCourseWare site, by comparison, has been around since 2001 and averages 1 million visits each month... [more inside]
100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers includes some great choices, among them are also many generally likable ones like the CIA (not that one, The Culinary Institute of America) l Words of the World l NPR Radio Pictures l The Metropolitan Museum of Art l PBS.
Best of History Web Sites (from EdTechTeacher,) is a resource of annotated and rated-by-content links to over 1200 history web sites across a broad range of related topics. The site also offers links of special interest to educators: hundreds of K-12 lesson plans, teacher guides, activities, games and quizzes and more.
Children Full of Life - grade 4 students in Kanazawa, Japan learn deep life lessons from their incredible teacher and from each other. I strongly recommend this as awesome, but one caveat: keep tissues handy. (5 parts, 40 minutes total, English)
Howcast shows engaging, useful how-to videos and wiki guides. A few examples include: How to Do Polyphasic Sleeping, How to Make a Fried Onion Blossom, or How to Do a Frontside 180 Ollie. Founded by veterans of Google and Youtube.
SmARThistory is an edited online art history resource to augment or replace traditional art history texts. For a given artwork, smARThistory brings together podcasts, video clips, images, links to other resources, and commentary, providing a rich context for the work. Indexed by timeline, artistic style, artist and theme.
GetBodySmart.com is a wonderful and remarkably complete resource to learn about the systems that keep our body running, including the skeletal , nervous and even urinary systems. What's more amazing is that it's all created by one man in his spare time and for no gain of his own. Read his mission statement here.
SoundJunction is all about music. You can take music apart and find out how it works, create music yourself, find out how other people make music and how they perform it, you can learn about musical instruments and voices, and look at the backgrounds of different musical styles. Over 40 musicians talk on film about their experiences. [more inside]
“…if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done — I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul-crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education.” [more inside]
Polyglot Michel Thomas came to prominence through his work for the French resistance and the successful interrogation of Nazis (who had formerly imprisoned him). After the war he started to develop (and eventually patent) a method for teaching languages that eschewed notes, books, writing, memorisation and homework. Instead, words and phrases would be built up in lego-like constructions to provide “confidence in hours not years”. He gave private lessons to a long list of A-list celebrities including Woody Allen, Natasha Kinsky, Tony Curtis and Grace Kelly. A BBC documentary from 1997 told his story and tested him out with the less exalted audience of 16 year old London school kids pre-selected to be “incapable of learning a foreign language” by their teachers [YT pt 1, 2, 3, 4]. He was secretive about how his methods worked until the end of his life when he finally made his courses available as audiobooks. [more inside]
Over the years millions of children have been introduced to a foreign language by Big Muzzy [wiki], a friendly, green, clock-eating monster. Here's the complete British English version of Muzzy in Gondoland on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
Junior General is intended to promote the use of historical simulations as a tool for teaching history by providing free resources that anyone can use. To go with their teaching scenarios they make available thousands of paper solders for download and printing. Everything from stone age primatives thru Myceneans, Confederate gunboats to US Iraq infantry and futuristic Cyber Assault Droids. Also available are accessories like castles, houses, trenches, battering rams and hangers.
"The Create a Comic Project (CCP) is an activity that teaches children creative writing through comics." In New Haven, CT, John Baird works with children to teach writing, art, and creativity in an afterschool program. The results are often surreal, and frequently entertaining. His inspiration? The Penny Arcade Remix Project. (from today's QC newspost)
Music makes you smarter if you get an early start. Certainly debatable given the incredibly small sample, but perhaps it's a prelude to an emerging 21st-century collaborative scientific suite or symphony that can explain why we love music so much.
[T]his pattern, grade for the sake of a grade, work for the sake of work, can be found everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of intellectual thought is lost. I speak today not to rant, complain or cause trouble, and certainly not to draw attention to myself. I have accomplished nothing and I am nothing. I know that. Rather, I was moved by the countless hours wasted in those halls. Today, you should focus on your child or loved one. This is meant to be a day of celebration, and if I’ve taken away from that, I’m sorry. But I know how highly this community values learning, and I urge you all to re-evaluate what it means to be educated.- from a graduation speech by the valedictorian of Mainland Regional High School, Kareem Elnahal, critiquing his school's education process.
The principal's reaction? “My hope was they did not hear or understand what he was saying. ... He was belittling the diplomas of every one of those kids.”.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority has recently produced a new qualification on blogging [PDF] and used a wiki to produce teaching and learning material. Wikis look well-suited to this purpose. Could this be the future of curriculum development?
The Socratic Method: Teaching by Asking Instead of by Telling Transcript of an intriguing experiment to teach binary arithmetic to third graders using the Socratic Method - only asking questions. See also a demonstration of the socratic method with a man who procrastinates. Some background, Who Was Socrates?
What can video games teach us about learning and literacy? A lot, says James Paul Gee whose recent book approaches the question armed with three different discourses (situated cognition, new literacy studies, and connectionism). [mi]
Imagine drifting off to dreamy anaesthesia -induced sleep for some such surgery and having some medical student cram a digit up one of your holes. Apparently, it happens all the time in the name of "learning".