As 2015 comes to a close, we are pleased to share with you Catapult Learning’s Most Read Blogs of the Year.
We’ve prepared this list of our top trending blogs, written by our EduExperts throughout 2015, and we hope that they provide you the opportunity to reflect on the events of this year and inspire you as the new year begins.
- Cyber Snow Days by Diane Rymer
Another winter in the Northeast means another chance for winter weather to cause dangerous driving conditions and school closings. The first snow days of the season are exciting for students of all ages—my kids love to wear their pajamas inside out to ensure the early morning robo-call comes through to confirm that school is closed! The excitement and anticipation of a “free” day off is one of the joys of childhood.
- For the Love of Teaching and Learning: Why Teachers Teach (In Their Own Words) by Heather Bickley
Teachers are an integral facet of society. Their effort and impact is infinite. Through education, society passes on knowledge, values, history, and the collective sense of community. Education is how a society celebrates its past and prepares for its future. Teachers are the facilitators of education! However, given the clear importance of teachers to the society for whom they serve, teachers are quite a controversial group of people. Depending on who you ask, we pay them too much—or not enough; they are experts—they are failing our children; they are selfless child advocates—or they work for summers off. During my 20 years in education, I have met countless teachers and 99% of them have noble and admirable reasons for being educators.
- Five Essential Question From Grant Wiggins by Dr. Andrew Ordover
Sometimes in your journey through life, you encounter writers or artists who speak in a language that feels like it was written just for you. The things they say or show you may be brand new, but those things resonate and reverberate with you, touching something that’s already there. They wake up something inside you that feels absolutely your own, but also brand new. Grant Wiggins was one of those people for me, and when we lost him (far too young) on May 28th, it hit me hard.
- Fostering a School Culture for Learning by Lee Ann Housley
Seymour Sarason said, “If you attempt to implement reforms but fail to engage the culture of a school, nothing will change.” As a frequent traveler, I am fortunate to visit a lot of new places and, given the work I do, I am always looking for evidence of culture. Culture is defined as the unwritten beliefs, customs, and traditions held by a group. Think about the last time you walked into somewhere new—a business, restaurant, school, doctor’s office. How did it feel? What helped you learn about their “culture”? By what was on the walls? How were you greeted? By how the space was arranged? By how you were treated? How they treat each other? Now think about your school. What do these aspects of culture say about your school?
- My First School by Dr. Andrew Ordover
I didn’t intend to be an educator. My parents were both teachers—my father at a law school and my mother in a fifth-grade classroom—but it never occurred to me to follow in their footsteps. I was going to be an artist—a playwright, actually. I worked for my university theatre after graduating from college, and then I went to graduate school to get my Masters in Fine Arts. I learned a lot and met a number of people who ended up being important in my life, including my wife. But the one thing my advanced degree didn’t give me was a job. There were no jobs, really, in my field, unless you wanted to teach. And at the time, teaching gigs in theatre were scarce and fiercely fought-over. So there I was, returned to Atlanta, Georgia, ready to ply my craft but in need of a day job.
- Meeting the Needs of All Learners by Dr. Susan Abelein
If you ask ten educators to define differentiated instruction you would likely get ten different responses. Gurus such as Carol Ann Tomlinson might shudder at my simplistic definition: Differentiated instruction is teaching different students differently; or perhaps better defined as a statement, “I teach different students differently so that all students will learn.” Aren’t all third graders the same? Aren’t all high school sophomores the same? How do we know our students are different? Great teachers both instinctually respond and intentionally plan as they respond to the needs of all students.
- Impact of Technology Trends on Education by Lara English-Hill
Think about the ways that technology has influenced your own instruction and education. From the graphite pencil to the wearable devices that students are using, technology has always affected education. And although there have been some failed experiments—laserdiscs anyone? —technology has made a difference in learning for students and teachers. Crowdsourcing, virtual reality, and augmented reality are three recent trends that are impacting education. Read on to explore these trends, discover resources, and more importantly, discuss how educators can maximize learning with these trends.
- Teacher Education, Part 1: What Makes an Effective Teacher by Heather Bickley
This week, I wanted to write about teacher preparation programs. In addition to my work for Catapult Learning, I teach in three teacher education programs, and I love talking about methods and pedagogy. But when I sat down Monday morning to write my blog post, the first thing I realized was that I needed to start exploring teacher education by defining what makes an effective teacher before we can talk about what makes a good teacher education program. I decided to take my research on the road and ask the experts—the students.
- Swinging for Greatness: How Motivation and Mindset Impact Student Achievement by Jessica Bianculli
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk recently about Growth Mindset. Based on the work of Carol Dweck of Stanford University, this theory argues that people with a growth mindset believe that their talents and abilities can be improved upon with hard work and practice. These types of learners expect the process to be challenging—and even expect to fail every so often. Failures are seen as opportunities to grow, rather than end points in a learning journey. Conversely, learners with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence has a limit. These fixed traits or talents can be displayed, but not necessarily increased. They believe that learning a new skill is a result of one’s intelligence, and success or failure with said skill will be determined by his/her fixed capacity.
- Back to the Future of Special Dr. Ellen Gaske
As a forty-year veteran of special education, I often think back to two individuals who had a profound influence on the manner in which I view special education. Over the course of time in which I was engaged in my Masters- and Doctoral-level courses, I was blessed to have the guidance of two spectacular professors at The Johns Hopkins University. As is so often the case of those we recall most fondly, they were both “characters” with a keen wit and always-entertaining style of teaching. Given the small numbers of students in the program, we became a family of sorts. It was also very evident that this was not just a career choice for them, it was truly a passion.
Happy New Year!
The Catapult Learning Team