Month: May 2014

Is Teaching Critical Thinking The Most Important (And Most Under-Taught) Skill At School? #SlowChatEd

I sometimes think that my school indulges my madness too easily. A few years ago, I suggested that we offer Chess as an Option subject for our Grade 8s and 9s. I firmly believe that the lessons chess has to teach about structured, consequential thinking, pattern recognition and even creativity make it a crucial subject at any school. This year, I wangled a couple of periods for a Thinking Skills class for the Grade 8s. The intention was to teach critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving and metacognition.

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Hop in the water plug just for old time’s sake.

Recently on #SlowChatED, we contemplated the role of summer in the lives of teachers and students. We shared photos, told a few stories, and made future plans. Sometime during the week, a spirited conversation broke out about whether summer vacation was still a valid—and valuable—custom.

Here are highlights from the week.

Q1: Share and caption a photo (or video)  from a cherished summer memory of your own.

 

Q2: What are some ways you (or a teacher you know) have earned extra cash in summers past?

Q3: Some say summer break no longer makes sense, is a relic from a different era, and negatively affects learning. What say you?

Q4: What’s on your summer reading list? Photos or links please.

Q5: What were the growth or learning experiences of the summers of your youth?

Q6: What are you doing THIS summer? Photos and/or links preferred.

Thank you everyone who stopped by last week! Go enjoy Summer 2014, and see what you can do to make summer more meaningful for all the kids in your midst.

Finally, if you made it to the bottom of this post, and are of a certain age, I invite you to enjoy the following piece of pop culture nostalgia:

From Rich Hovey, #SlowChatED moderator for May 12 – 18

May 12 – 18: Summer

Q1: Share and caption a photo (or video)  from a cherished summer memory of your own.

Q2: What are some ways you (or a teacher you know) have earned extra cash in summers past?

Q3: Some say summer break no longer makes sense, is a relic from a different era, and negatively affects learning. What say you?

Q4: What’s on your summer reading list? Photos or links please.

Q5: What were the growth or learning experiences of the summers of your youth?

Q6: What are you doing THIS summer? Photos and/or links preferred.

Image

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

My name is Rich Hovey. I work with at-risk teenagers on California’s Central Coast, and am pleased to bring you a special edition of #slowchatED. Educators across the land are gazing with hope at the coming months on their personal calendars. Let’s harness all that anticipation and explore the most wonderful and envied of fringe benefits: Summer Vacation

When I was a younger man, veteran teacher Jeff Weit sparked my imagination with a snapshot from his memories of summers off. In the middle of a July cross-country road trip many years ago, Jeff pulled off the highway somewhere in the Dakotas, and pitched tents in a simple campground with a parking lot and open field. The next morning, his wife and children still asleep, Jeff emerged to find himself surrounded by swelling hot air balloons and their crews. Jeff wondered what day of the week it was. He fired up the campstove, dug out a stack of paper cups, then wandered about the field, handing out coffee and making new friends.

This week on #slowchatED, I hope to gather more stories like Jeff’s. Let’s talk about tasting rooms and ice cream trucks, road trips and long-haul flights, grad school and summer reading lists, side jobs and volunteer hours. Let’s talk about sunscreen, open-toed shoes, frisbees, grilled meats, and of course, that to-do list you’re working on. Let’s recall great memories and gaze forward at those which have not yet been made.

 

Keep On Teaching On

This is one of the more in depth responses to this week’s #slowchatED discussion on “ambition”, and I feel very strongly that it deserves a place here on our site. After all, wouldn’t our profession be a much, much better one if more of our colleagues held the ambition to just be the best teacher they can learn how to be? Give @tritonkory a minute of your time and kudos for being a light in the shadows.

Work In Progress

Something I’ve always said was a perk about living in a tiny, little town in the middle of nowhere is that it gives one plenty of country roads in the middle of nowhere to drive on all by yourself, which gives one plenty of time to think. Today I had a 25 minute drive on those country roads while heading to pick up my daughter at gymnastics practice.  Confession, during this 25 minutes of driving I bawled the whole time.

The reason why I bawled?  I’m a teacher who truly loves just being a teacher.

I should probably back up a little bit, as there is more to the story.  It started earlier in the day by this question posted by Jeffrey Farley (@FarleyJeffrey) in the #slowchated chat group on Twitter-Q3 What are your ambitions as an educator? Or have you “arrived”? Thinking about my answer to this question was…

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Week 15 – April 5-10, 2014: Opening Statement – Ambition

Okay. There isn’t a lot of time. I’m a mad juggler here lately, and if I don’t push that pretty blue “Publish” button over there before I stand up, this “opening” post on the second day of the chat will never manifest. So here goes.

As I said in one of the opening tweets yesterday, I’ve wrestled with the concept of ambition in my life. Is it a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? As @randahendricks pointed out yesterday, ambition has historically been associated with the white-knuckled grip of the tyrant, the superficial climber who will stop at nothing to summit the social pyramid.

But then, for many of us, ambition is an admirable quality. It means that one is not content with mediocrity. It means that one is not content with the status quo and desires to change it.

I want to continue exploring this concept throughout the week. I want to see whether that traditional connotation remains in place for anyone. I want to know you all better as educators, humans, and friends, and it is my position that our ambitions tell a great deal about who we really are.

See you all week at #slowchatED.