“Be so good they can’t ignore you” and other things I learned this week

Rough draft thinking – Interesting thoughts here on rough draft thinking. Essentially the idea is that you encourage students to view their talk in class discussions as being in rough draft form. This encourages students to use talk in a way that they don’t feel like they have to have the right answer, especially initially. This encourages students, ideally, to worry less about being right, recognizing that their working towards a better understanding.

My writing – I wrote up this post on How ten minutes on Twitter reminds you that you’re awful and not trying hard enough. It discusses how it’s easy to fall into the mental trap that everyone around you is doing better than you. I also wrote this post entitled It’s just a notebook and it’s stupid. This was a fun piece about how I agonized for months over the best way to use my shiny new notebook.

34 Reasons my Toddler Lost her Shit – by Stephanie Wittles Wachs If you have had, do have, know of, or were a kid then you might appreciate this article. It’s a great 2 minute read that perfectly encapsulates life with a toddler.

Tim Ferris Podcast (again) – As has tended to be the case in the weekly recap, I ended up with a couple revelations listening to The Tim Ferris show podcast. The episode was Marc Andreessen — Lessons, Predictions, and Recommendations from an Icon. Marc said two things that stuck with me. The first was “Smart people should build things”. The second was a quote from Steve Martin which was, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” (Click here to jump directly to that part of the podcast.)

My AP Calc students finished their final projects (In which they had to spend two weeks learning anything they wanted) and there were a few that stood out. Check out this time-lapse video of a student building a card house. One of the most interesting projects was by a girl who’s family is originally from Palestine. She chose to learn two things. First, she wanted to learn documentary filmmaking. Second, she wanted to learn about her family history. She put these two things together and produced the short video below. Have a look!

Last, I’ve been giggling about this meme all week. Thanks for reading!

This is a weekly recap of the major things I learned or have been thinking about this week. It’s primarily for me but I thought other people might find it interesting as well. All these posts have been categorized under “Weekly Recap”.


On grit, boredom, free play, and climbing ropeless – The Weekly Recap

Here’s a short list of the things I’m reading, thinking about, and learning this week.

Putting Grit in It’s Place by David Brooks – If you’ve read my Twitter bio then you know that I’m somewhat of a grit skeptic. I hadn’t really pinned down why exactly, but my inclination was that many students that are the most disengaged come from difficult backgrounds. I worry that teachers begin to blame a lack of grit on student’s disengagement. While this is certainly true for some students, for others (that have have to work on top of school, take care of a family member(s), aren’t eating enough, don’t sleep enough, etc.) school takes a backseat. If you aren’t sure whether you’re going to have a meal that evening or not then learning quadratics doesn’t seem particularly important.

However, Brooks’ focus is on an aspect of grit that at times gets lost. That is that according to Angela Duckworth, the woman that wrote the book and gave the Ted Talk, passion is vital for grit. Essentially a person who is very gritty is not working on something they’re not passionate about. To ask a student to work his/her tail off daily in a subject that they aren’t passionate about doesn’t compute in the “grit world”. Anyway, read his article. You won’t be disappointed.

Sticking with the theme of “stuff in my Twitter Bio”, I heard an interesting perspective on boredom from Kevin King while listening to the On Being podcast by Krsita Tippett. Kevin talks about boredom and unstructured play and how it forced him and his friends to think more creatively. Jump right to the part where he talks about boredom by clicking here. The entire episode is located here.

I also read a great article on free play entitled The Importance of Free Play for Kids by Katie Arnold of Outside Magazine. Maybe the highlight for me was this excerpt that is approximately halfway through the article. Give it a read if you find a five free minutes.

A 2014 study from University of Colorado found that children between six and seven who engaged in less-structured activities like imaginative role-playing, reading for pleasure, and playing board games and tag demonstrated greater so-called “executive function,” or the ability to organize their time, initiate tasks, and achieve goals without external direction—skills which help build self-reliance and success later in life (and ensure that they’re not still living at home when they’re 30).

My favorite podcast from this week was The Tim Ferriss Show: Assessing Risk and Living Without a Rope – Lessons from Alex Honnold. Alex Honnold is probably the worlds best free soloist rock climber. That basically means he climbs really tall rock things without a rope. Listen to him talk about how he handles fear, life living in a van, and a plethora of interesting stories.

This week I posted “Never stop learning – Life after my Master’s” in which I write about my plans for continuing to learn and grow as a person and professional, now that I’ve completed my master’s in educational technology. In short, you’ll be seeing more writing from me in various forms.

Thanks for reading!

Here’s an epic picture of Alex Honnold doing what he does.

Weekly Recap – 5/20/16

Here’s my recap of things I’ve read and thought about over the previous week.

Articles I’ve Read

Please Don’t Learn to Code – This TechCrunch article by Basel Farag takes an interesting perspective on whether people should learn to code. His primary thesis is that we shouldn’t all be blindly learning to code. It’s not specifically aimed at teaching young people to code but it’s certainly addressed.

Don’t get me wrong; I do believe that engineering and programming are important skills. But only in the right context, and only for the type of person willing to put in the necessary blood, sweat and tears to succeed. The same could be said of many other skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn to program than I would urge everyone to learn to plumb.

So there’s something to think about in rebuke of the learn to code movement.

The 10 hottest topics in ed techISTE wrote up the ten hottest topics in edtech this week based on proposals to 2016 ISTE conference . For the most part I think they got it right, although I think some of the trends are more promising than others. It’s an interesting and short read.

Dear STAR Test, We Need to Talk – Intriguing insights into the STAR reading test from [Pernille Ripp]. She explains how going from the MAP test to the STAR test was supposed to better and in short, it’s not. I found the high rate of error, as admitted by the STAR people, to be the most surprising. It’s worth reading if your an elementary teacher, have young children, or need one more insight into the problems with the testing era.

If you’re bored then you might consider checking out What are People Working on in Coffee Shops or the tragic revelations in regards to sexual assault by Baylor athletes as reported by Outside the Lines.

Tweets I’m Thinking About

Pretty self explanatory there. How much time do we spend on helping students get better at school? How much time should we spend on this?

I love the maker movement and wish I could do more of it in my classroom. I played with Little Bits at a conference a couple weeks ago and found them interesting. Well, not I’m more interested. I think every school/community should have some sort of Maker Space.

Towards the end of the years this kind of stuff gets on my nerves more and more. So many problems wrapped up in this. I’d also add, “Well we aren’t really doing anything in my other classes.”

Words to live by.

Podcasts I Listened to

I didn’t read a bunch of articles this week but my goodness did I listen to some good podcasts. Here’s my three favorites. Side note: Overcast is my favorite podcasting app so try it out if you’re an iOS user.

The Tim Ferriss Show: How to Optimize Creative Output — Jarvis versus Ferriss – This is a long one and took me a couple days to finish it but these guys spit hot fire in terms of advice for life, creativity, productivity, etc. I find listening to fascinating people have conversations to be well, fascinating. I recommend this as highly as I possibly can.

Freakonomics Radio: How to Become Great at Just About Anything – Every teacher, student, and person should listen to this. If you care at all about growth mindset, grit, or how people improve at anything then this episode is for you. In fact, if education is purely your interest then I recommend this over the Jarvis versus Ferriss episode. There’s a large focus on deliberate practice and how talent is not nearly the most important factor in being successful. In fact, the last month has been self improvement month on Freakonomics so if you’re into that, check it out.

The Highly Sensitive Person Podcast: 64: Oliver Burkeman on Happiness & Negative Thinking – I find Oliver Burkeman to be particularly interesting, especially his rebuke of the positive thinking movement, and this is an insightful conversation with him. Once again, when fascinating people talk I want to listen.

Quote I’m Pondering

This is a Tim Ferris quote from the first podcast listed above. The question was, if you could put one statement on a billboard and put that billboard anywhere, what you write on it and where would you put it? He said he would put this near a popular walking path at a large university.

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“You are the average of the five people you associate with most.”

Weekly Recap

What I Read

What I Wrote

Nah, you could do something great – In this post I reflect on a comment a student made that I would argue is indicative of a broader perception of the teaching perception.

Tweets I’m Thinking about

Laurie Richards tweeted this about grit and Freakonomics did a podcast on it and since according to my Twitter bio I’m a grit skeptic naturally both things occupied some space in my brain.

Sam Shah tweeted this awesomeness (you’ll have to send him a follow request to see the tweet) that one of his students is working on. I’ve read bout his final projects before and they are typically awesome. Check out last year’s and the previous year’s.

Last, but the first of the week, a former colleague of mine won his 1000th softball game as a head coach! So there’s a bit of local awesome for you. Read about it here.

Tech Tools I Recommend

If you’re an iOS user then I highly recommend checking out Google’s new keyboard for the iPhone. Features such as Glide Typing, emoji search, and speed (as fast as the stock keyboard). Oh, did I mention it’s free and that Google search is integrated into it? Read about it here and download it here. Also of note, part of Google’s motivation here, as described in the article, is to gather data that it’s missing out on by tracking your searches. You can however not let Google get this data by not allowing full access. The downside is you can’t use the search feature, but it’s still an awesome keyboard without it.

What My Students Are Working On

My calc students starting working on their final projects in which they can learn anything they want over the course of the last couple weeks of school (once they’ve taken the AP test). Here’s some of their projects.

Final Project Topics

That’s it for this week. I’ve never done this before so if you enjoy it (or if you think it’s stupid) let me know. Have a great weekend!