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Educators approve national campaign to halt high stakes, “toxic tests”

Not a news item, but an announcement from a stakeholder. As a homeschool parent and college teacher, I’m interested in the rhetoric of the “toxic testing” pushback. Increasingly frustrated with the abuse and overuse of high stakes standardized and the negative effects on student learning, nearly 9,000 educators approved a national campaign to reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by standardized tests and to implement more effective…

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Boys And Girls Memorize Words Differently

Girls were more likely to memorize words and phrases by relying on their mental dictionary, while boys tend to use their mental grammar. Mental dictionaries of the mind store sounds, words, and common phrases, while mental grammar stores the composition of longer words and sentences, such as going from “walked” to “walk.” They also compared the children’s test results to data collected from 71 adults, ages 18 to 50 and…

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Essay on meaning of a life grounded in the liberal arts @insidehighered

For David N. DeVries, the critical thinking, openness to other viewpoints and appreciation of diversity are all well and good, but those are not why he values the liberal arts. The real reason is pleasure. The pleasure of having my mind tickled into action by the vibrations of words sprung into patterns “where more is meant than meets the ear.” The pleasure of having within my reach congeries of words…

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Academic study concludes that teaching kids to touch-type can make them better writers

Improving students’ handwriting skill did improve their writing ability, but improving their typing skills improved their writing even more. From 1999, so not exactly news, but interesting info in light of the pro-handwriting links that have been making the rounds on the Intertubes. There was a significant relationship between orthographic-motor integration — handwriting and the length and quality of handwritten text, and a stronger relationship between orthographic-motor integration — typing…

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There are more museums in the US than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined

I have no particular problem with the plural of “Starbucks” being “Starbucks,” as “Starbuckses” would sound a little too precious, but how does the Washington Post get from the singular “McDonald’s” to the plural “McDonalds”? There are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants. But combined, the two chains don’t come close to the number of museums in the U.S., which stands at a…

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The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom

Maybe the students in this photo are diligently peer-reviewing each other’s work. I know full well students are not always attentive during my classes, but a study that explores whether laptops help students perform better on pop quizzes makes the interesting assumption that we measure learning by comparing scores on pop quizzes. (Or that students actually take notes, which is another issue altogether.) I teach very few courses where I…

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How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

While I appreciate the efficiency of uniform standards, I am concerned because it becomes even more efficient to teach to the test, which means more students will arrive in my college classes expecting to be told exactly what to do. I want them to take risks which means I have to convince them that I will reward them, not take off points, for making and fixing mistakes — which can…