“He was a curious child – at age two, he tried to figure out how matches worked and ended up lighting his clothes on fire.” (Writer’s Almanac) He later won the Nobel Prize for inventing the cyclotron, a device that splits atoms.

Report Cards


Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.03.06 AMI had to issue grades to my students yesterday, so their homework over the weekend was to grade MY performance. I used a google form to collect their input about the best/worst reading and writing assignments in my English class, and how I’m doing as a teacher. Their feedback was gathered anonymously, so I hope it’s honest. I was a little scared to open the results, but it looks like I’m on the right track.

Finnish Lessons


Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg describes “how Finland built a world-class education system during the past three decades.” It’s a complex and thorough historical summary, but the most interesting pages are the last five in which Sahlberg identifies current themes for reform:

  1. Development of a personal road map for learning (a well-prepared, rich, and educationally justified individual plan for learning that is jointly designed and agreed upon by teachers, parents, and the student)
  2. Less classroom-based teaching (more time for integrated themes, projects, and activities)
  3. Development of interpersonal skills and problem solving (in small, globally-diverse groups, in both concrete and virtual settings)
  4. Engagement and creativity as pointers of success (rather than standardized knowledge tests)

Sound familiar?

Public k-12 for 21st Century Jobs


An interesting article in TIME Magazine examines a handful of high schools in America that lead directly to real-world jobs. If you ask any educator “What is the purpose of k-12 education?” you will get a variety of answers, most of which you could plot on a continuum from 100% career-readiness training to 100% intellectual exploration, and all the hybrid proportions in between. Firmly anchoring the practical end of the spectrum are trade schools, apprenticeship programs, and innovators like Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH and Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, where k-12 overlaps with college and career. Every student at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy graduates with a promise of a $40,000-plus opportunity at IBM.” 

Kid + Education + Parent = ?


The New York Times recently published an article claiming that parental involvement is overrated. It lists only three things that seem to work: “…expecting your child to go to college, discussing activities children engage in at school…, and requesting a particular teacher for your child.” All the other things that parents do for their kids apparently do not affect grades and test scores. Focusing on these three high-level points makes good sense: set robust expectations, express interest, and advocate for good mentors. 

Crib Notes: As a teacher, I would argue that grades and test scores are never the only goal of education. As a parent, I would note that recommendations based on statistical averages is good science, but what if my child is not average?

Google Science Fair 2014


Would you like to win worldwide fame and a $25,000 scholarship? Are you interested in any of these topics?

 ● Computer Science & Math
 ● Earth & Environmental Sciences
 ● Behavioral & Social Sciences
 ● Flora & Fauna
 ● Energy & Space
 ● Inventions & Innovation
 ● Physics
 ● Biology
 ● Chemistry
 ● Food Science
 ● Electricity & Electronics

Well, get to work! The deadline for submission is May 12. Your project will be judged on its capacity to make an impact, your passion for science or engineering, the excellence of your method, your communication skills, and general awesomeness. 2013 projects included plastic made from bananas and a hand-heat powered flashlight!