Tagged “Problem Solving”

Kavita Singh

Exciting New Perspectives on the Scientific Method in Interdisciplinary Learning

There has been some progress in the last few years for interdisciplinary studies. It's a trend still in its infancy, but it is beginning to catch on due to great successes from early adopters. Schools are challenging their students with problems requiring learning from traditionally disparate subjects. What will be the next technology in education design to use the best methods of learning in siloed core subjects and apply those methods to other subjects? The first, and most obvious example, will be the use of the scientific method in traditionally nonscience classes.

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Walter McKenzie

To Infini-Pie and Beyond!

We baby boomers grew up in an age of finite pie. There was only one pie and it could be divided into only so many slices. Even our pie graphs represent the totality of the resources we have to work with. There's only so much pie to go around. And the implications play out in how we think, act and define success. If you only have one finite pie, what flavor is it? How many people can it serve? How small can you make the slices? What does it mean if you simply don’t have enough?

All of this is a legacy of the Industrial Age, which was based on the availability of natural resources to feed growth. Empires were built by gaining access to raw materials that could fuel their economic engines. You could not sustain industrial success on finite resources, so you kept expanding the size of your pie. Of course, this works well as long as there are new lands to acquire and new resources to consume. But in the physical world, there are always limits. Be it foreign lands or fossil fuels, everything runs out eventually.

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Fred Zilian


When teaching history, it is very easy to get caught up and lost in all the details of a particular lesson. I am especially drawn to political, diplomatic, and military history and have found myself spending far too much time in my Western Civilization courses on the fine points of the diplomatic maneuverings of the Congress of Vienna or the tactical skill of Hannibal during the Second Punic War. So, to ensure that my students have the big picture, I do the following:

  1. At the outset of the course, I ensure that they understand the critical overarching themes and questions of the course.
  2. At the start of each lesson, I indicate which of these are present in the day's lesson.
  3. And finally, I require each student to have a "BIG IDEAS BOX."

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Rich McKinney

Moving Beyond the Textbook: Closing the Book on the Textbook-Dependent Classroom

A few weeks ago I was watching my daughters as they were working through drills during their weekly tennis lessons. I observed a group of elementary kids dutifully take their places, hit the ball, and then move to the next station. It was simple, efficient, and monotonous. Though they were learning the basics of tennis, the kids simply weren't having much fun. Their coach must have noticed because he immediately changed pace and led all the kids to an adjoining field next to the courts for a lively game of freeze tag. All the kids were laughing and loving it, though I found that it bore little resemblance to anything even remotely related to tennis. I was wrong. What looked to me to be free play was really the development of skills such as acceleration, lateral speed, and footwork. This coach recognized that sometimes you can leave the court and have fun while accomplishing goals.

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Andrew Miller

21st Century Skills and the Common Core Standards

Twenty-first century skills are quickly becoming taught and assessed in schools across the United States. Whether through explicit instruction or models like project-based learning, educators are realizing that lower-level content comprehension is not enough. The Whole Child Initiative calls for tenets that rely on these skills. Educators create a safe environment through collaboration. Critical thinking creates rigor and challenge. Communication can create engagement with the community. When we pair 21st century skills with content, we can create powerful and meaningful learning. The Common Core State Standards explicitly call for these skills, so through uncovering the 3 Cs in the Common Core standards, we can see how educators must teach and assess them.

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Paula Mirk

The Ethical Core of Common Core

Both the whole child approach and the Common Core State Standards "compel school instructional staff to develop and deliver effective, engaging instruction reflective of individual student needs and strengths." That's what we all want for our students, and we should expect nothing less. But the standards are undergirded by an "ethical core," and all educators should keep in mind that our ultimate purpose in teaching—indeed in creating schools in the first place—remains preparing the next generation to contribute to and improve our society. The Common Core State Standards are one dimension of reaching the goal of healthy students ready to be competent, thoughtful, and informed citizens.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Our Top 10 Blog Posts in 2012

In the past year, experts and practitioners in the field, whole child partners, and ASCD staff have shared their stories, ideas, and resources to help you ensure that each child, in each school, in each community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged and prepared for success in higher education, employment, and civic life. These are the top 10 posts you read in 2012.

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Thom Markham

Ten Reasons Why Common Core Standards Require a Whole Teacher

When teachers and parents hear the term Common Core State Standards, many have a tendency to think of the new standards as a simple upgrade. In fact, the standards represent an entirely new operating system.

This is good news for the whole child movement. The Common Core standards focus on an inquiry approach to education. Inquiry can't be done through direct instruction alone; it requires student cooperation, engagement, and persistence—all attributes drawn from a pool of social and emotional resources. Without addressing this aspect of human performance, the standards will fail.

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Sean Slade

Do We Need to Burn Our Violins and Close Our Swimming Pools?

"To compete with China in education we will need to burn our violins and close our swimming pools."

Author Yong Zhao said this last week in Melbourne, Australia, at the 2012 Joint Australian Primary Principals Association and New Zealand Federation of Principals Trans-Tasman Conference. Zhao presented a keynote at the conference, as did ASCD Board of Directors member Pasi Sahlberg and author Andy Hargreaves. Interestingly, the themes each speaker touched on have relevance to not only Australian audiences, but also those around the world who are going through similar discussions.

Call them the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) discussions.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

The Assessment Gap in Career and College Readiness

Post written by Douglas B. Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning Center in Salem, Mass., and author of ASCD books on educational leadership. Connect with Reeves by e-mail at DReeves@LeadAndLearn.com. This post was originally featured in ASCD Express.

What does "college and career readiness" mean? The Common Core State Standards suggest some clear and reasonable criteria. Consider the example of critical thinking. The Common Core documents suggest that students must be able to examine claims, arguments, and evidence and determine whether or not the evidence supports the claim. In addition, students should be able to advance arguments and support their ideas with evidence. The Common Core also places a heavy emphasis on informational writing, a need highlighted by college professors frustrated by the poor writing skills of even high-achieving high school students.

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