23 February 2015

Items to Share; 22 February 2015

Education Focus
  • Time to name and shame? | dancing princesses 'Here’s an idea – instead of paying a small number of senior FE managers astonishingly high salaries, why not employ a greater number of specialists on lower salaries to share the load? Perhaps we could remedy the erosion of lecturers’ salaries while we’re at it? There is, in fact, excellent leadership in FE if you know where to look for it – many are lecturers and trade unionists. These professionals retain an ethos of public service, and would, if the opportunity arose, take on greater leadership responsibility in flattened, distributed organisations for the love of FE and their communities, not for the prospect of straw turned to gold.'
  • Get publishing! Crown Copyright and my Ofsted monitoring visit notes | Improving Teaching The author obtained the Ofsted inspector's observation notes of his class, and wants to share them. Which proves to be OK; '"On behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office I can confirm that there are no objections from a Crown copyright point of view to you publishing it and if you, as the sole subject, are content for your personal data to be published then you may do so. All we would ask is that you acknowledge the observation itself as being Crown copyright." I queried further, asking for a statement of principles, to avoid everyone having to go through the same process. Any teacher is free to publish their observation notes.'
  • Why Students Should Be Taking Notes | Faculty Focus 'There is also accumulating evidence [...] that giving students teacher-prepared notes or PowerPoint slides does not improve their performance. Students need to take notes in ways that are meaningful to them. It also helps when notes are restructured. [...] “It makes sense to return to one’s notes and organize them in a way that reflects the connections between ideas rather than simply the chronology of presentation.” [...] But how do we sell students on the value of taking notes for themselves? They might be persuaded if we had evidence that doing so may improve exam scores. And that’s exactly what this study showed. The research design is clever—a good example of the kind of classroom research that teachers can conduct.'
  • Interpretation of the results is more important according to John Hattie - Educator Stockholm Also available on ResearchED here. An interview with John Hattie (Visible Learning) with news of a revised "top ten" list of interventions, based on the ever-growing database of meta-analyses. 'I am now close to 1200 meta-analyses (up from the 800 in VL). What is remarkable since I published the first study (in 1989 based on 134) is that the "story" underlying the data has hardly changed. Some of the more interesting (new) effects include Bullying (-.24), parental employment (.03), sleep (.07), single sex compared to coed schools (.08). Philosophy in schools (.43), Service learning (.58), conceptual change programs (1.15), and collective self-efficacy (1.57).' (With thanks to Sara Hjelm for putting me on to it; I'll blog on it shortly)
  • The rigor of chronology: how knowing dates leads to higher order thinking | Newman's blog '...Additionally, and more importantly, specific and precise dates started to make an appearance in the extended written work of the class and the overall grasp of the chain of chronology was clearly improving. However, the thing that surprised me the most is the conversations they were having when they were completing the task – which, in some ways, took me by surprise. It wasn’t just recall, such as ‘this goes with’, it was language laden with connections and links revealing a developing and deepening chronological awareness.' An excellent show of task-centred reflection related to literature and research.'
  • The Problem with Plenaries | mrbunkeredu 'If group work was the holy grail of my teacher training, effective plenaries were definitely the pedagogical white rabbit – the element of the lesson you always felt was achievable, but nevertheless remained elusive. Running out of time for a plenary during an official observation was almost to be expected, but cramming it in for two minutes was better than nothing. [...] Although there’s bound to be some variation, I think most teachers have a pretty similar idea of what a plenary is, or what it is suppose to be, even if they are sceptical about its efficacy.
  • What goes on in teachers' brains as they help students to learn 'Neuroscientists are beginning to understand how the human brain processes information in learners. Yet very little is known about how the brains works when people are engaged in teaching. Our new research [is] aimed at finding out whether it’s possible to understand the brain processes involved when we monitor how wrong other people are.' 
Other Business
  • Are We Becoming Morally Smarter? - Reason.com 'Given that the moral Flynn effect is cultural, not evolutionary, there are no biological constraints on what we are capable of becoming in centuries and millennia hence, if we apply what we know works to expand the moral sphere: [...] As we're witnessing today the unfolding of a new rights revolution for gays and lesbians, and yet another for animals, there is no reason to limit our thinking of how much better life can be for more people in more places: Freedom and abundance for all is within our reach this century. We can bend that moral arc even more.'
  • Your Brain Is Primed To Reach False Conclusions | FiveThirtyEight 'Explaining the science and helping people understand it are only the first steps. If you want someone to accept information that contradicts what they already know, you have to find a story they can buy into. That requires bridging the narrative they’ve already constructed to a new one that is both true and allows them to remain the kind of person they believe themselves to be.'
  • How a Dog Actually “Sees” the World Through Smell | Brain Pickings Even though smell is the most direct of our senses and the 23,040 breaths we take daily drag in a universe of information — from the danger alert of a burning odor to the sweet nostalgia of an emotionally memorable scent — our olfactory powers are not even mediocre compared to a dog’s.
  • John Ioannidis has dedicated his life to quantifying how science is broken - Vox 'Medical research is in bad shape. Fraud, bias, sloppiness, and inefficiency are everywhere, and we now have studies that quantify the size of the problem. We know that about $200 billion — or the equivalent of 85 percent of global spending on research — is routinely wasted on poorly designed and redundant studies. We know that as much as 30 percent of the most influential original medical research papers later turn out to be wrong or exaggerated. We also know that a lot of medical evidence is contradictory and unreliable, such as those studies that purport to show that just about every food we eat either causes or prevents cancer. (Courtesy of John Ioannidis) What all this means, says Stanford University professor Dr. John Ioannidis, is that most published research findings are false.' 

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