Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Can a middle schooler understand?

Dan Pallotta doesn’t understand what he’s hearing. To quote his post,

“I’d say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me.”

Similar epidemics exist in every field, sometimes spreading outside the box.

My personal solution? If a middle school student doesn’t understand, I should refine my explanation.

(Here’s a group making a project of simple explanations, and also a growing encyclopedia in simple English.)


Data, data everywhere

Like many organizations, schools collect data.

What data do you have that might be useful?

Here’s a starting place: taking a tip from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, compare your graduating class rank (if you don’t rank, then compare grades in a single class) with student age. Does age have a predicting factor in student performance?

How far back could you check with existing records? With archived records?

What data might you start gathering today to measure something in a year – or a decade?

If NASA found something important in data thirty years old, don’t be surprised if your organization could have a similar success.

On evaluating sources

Kevin Levin, chair of the history department at St. Anne’s-Belfield in Charlottesville, Virginia, wrote an insightful article surrounding the use of online sources in historical research – specifically considering the questions of slaves in combat roles for the Confederacy.

He asks the exact questions every historian must ask when evaluating online sources. When our students ask these questions, they have moved beyond completing assignments to evaluating knowledge, a skill essential to making a worthwhile contribution to knowledge through insightful interpretation.

Testing as an educational experience

Educators talk about great tests assessments as a learning experience of their own.

According to new research summarized in this NY Times article, traditional knowledge tests still have a place as a learning experience.

The effective Merlyn knows every learning tool has a place in training future royalty.

Use your brain. Really.

I find myself enthused by the growing body of research examining the human brain.

Understanding brain functions directly parallels an athlete’s understanding of how muscles and joints and cardiopulmonary systems work – and can be improved.

Bruna Martinuzzi’s discourse on how knowledge of your brain can make you a better leader. I applaud the reference to Your Brain at Work, an excellent book by David Rock (nifty lecture at Google), and also encourage you to consider Dr. Joann Deak’s Girls Will Be Girls. [I met Dr. Deak at gcLi in 2008, and she spoke at the SAIS conference in fall 2009. You can check out Dr. Deak’s group here.]

Irony, thy name is Merlyn

Many of my students feel that Good Writing requires Deep Magic. I continually assure them that Good Writing comes from hard work, tireless reading, and continual revision, citing no less an authority than Stephen King.

One would think a brilliant a writer as T.H. White would have read the source material for his thesis on Thomas Malory‘s Le Morte d’Arthur.

One would be incorrect.