Snow Days and AI Plays

kentucky schools in winter
Live look at Kentucky schools

It’s a Friday in mid-January, which means there’s snow on the ground here in Kentucky, and many of our schools are either working remotely or out of session. I’m checking in with my teachers while enjoying cup of coffee number 3, swaddled up in my old man sweater.

Next week, I’m attending FETC and will be presenting on Thursday afternoon. If you’re there and want to chat, hit me up!

For now, here’s this week’s 10 Things. Stay warm!

10 Things Worth Sharing


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Leveraging the Science of Learning and Development to Combat Loneliness in Schools

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Understanding the Loneliness Epidemic

In a profound exploration of the modern societal challenge, Harvard professor Robert Waldinger sheds light on the growing epidemic of loneliness in his recent YouTube lecture. He defines loneliness as a subjective experience where an individual feels less connected to others than desired. This feeling is distinct from isolation, as one can be isolated and content, surrounded by people, yet feel profoundly lonely.

The Rise of Loneliness

Loneliness has been on an upward trend since the 1950s. Factors contributing to this rise include increased societal mobility, the introduction and evolution of television, and the digital revolution. These changes have gradually eroded community engagement and personal interactions.

The Health Impacts

Research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad highlights the severe health implications of loneliness, equating its danger to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. Loneliness contributes to physical health deterioration and accelerates brain decline in later life.

The Power of Connections

Waldinger emphasizes the importance of investing in relationships for well-being. It’s not just close relationships that count; even casual interactions with community members, like a mail carrier or a grocery store cashier, can foster a sense of belonging.

Student Mental Health: A Guide For Teachers, School and District Leaders, School Psychologists and Nurses, Social Workers, Counselors, and Parents
  • Dikel MD, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 08/16/2022 (Publication Date) – W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

Schools’ Role in Building Inclusive Communities

Recognizing Loneliness in Students

Schools must first acknowledge that loneliness can be a significant issue among students. Young adults, in particular, are highly susceptible to loneliness. Educators can play a crucial role in identifying signs of loneliness and providing support.

Creating Inclusive Environments

Schools can use the science of learning and development to build inclusive student communities. This includes:

  1. Promoting Social Skills: Integrating social skill development into the curriculum can help students who feel lonely and are hesitant to reach out. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can be adapted for the classroom to help students revise their assumptions about social interactions.
  2. Encouraging Community Engagement: Activities that foster community involvement can help students feel more connected. This might include group projects, community service initiatives, or school clubs that cater to diverse interests.
  3. Building Casual Connections: Schools should create environments where casual, positive interactions are encouraged. This could be in the form of mentorship programs, buddy systems for new students, or structured social time during the school day.
  4. Supporting Emotional Health: Schools can provide resources for emotional support, such as counseling services or workshops on managing feelings of loneliness and building healthy relationships.

Empowering Students

Empowering students to understand and combat loneliness is essential. This involves teaching them that seeking connection is normal and healthy and providing them with the tools and opportunities to build meaningful relationships.

Conclusion

Loneliness is a complex and growing challenge, but schools can play a pivotal role in addressing this epidemic by understanding its dynamics and implementing strategies to promote connection and belonging. It’s about creating a culture where every student feels, as Waldinger concludes, “You belong. You matter. You’re connected.”


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

New Year, Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

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It’s the first newsletter of the new year, and I’ve got several cool things to share with you.

I’m still struggling to adjust back to normal life after the swirling nothingness that is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We didn’t do much at our house besides reading, listening to new vinyl, and eating way more snacks than we should have.

But, life continues, and we meet a new year with new challenges head-on, no stopping.

I hope this year holds much joy and happiness for you. For now, here’s this week’s “10 things”…

10 Things Worth Sharing


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Beyond English: Why Writing Belongs in Every Classroom

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Given the benefits of writing on reading skills, comprehension, information retention, higher-order thinking, and quality of learning, it makes sense for all teachers to focus on increasing the time they dedicate to writing in their classrooms.

Dr. Catlin Tucker

Dr. Catlin Tucker emphasizes the importance of integrating writing across all subjects in education. Tucker argues that writing enhances learning, academic success, and helps students develop relationship skills and manage emotions.

She highlights how writing boosts reading skills, comprehension, and higher-order thinking. It underscores the necessity for educators to support students through the writing process, leveraging it for a deeper understanding of material and emotional well-being, regardless of the subject taught


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Leveraging ChatGPT for Customized Learning

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Recently, on the Easy EdTech podcast, Dr. Monica Burns spoke with Sarah Wysocki on the use of ChatGPT in education.

Wysocki, an English language learner teacher, discusses using ChatGPT to create personalized, culturally relevant learning materials, and adapting lesson plans to student needs. She emphasizes the importance of specificity in prompts and the need for educators to review and adjust AI-generated content. The discussion highlights the potential of ChatGPT to enhance education through tailored learning experiences.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Embracing the New Year: Five Approaches to Goal-Setting and Growth in the Classroom

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John Spencer’s enlightening piece on reimagining goal-setting in education. serves up five refreshing strategies like a gourmet meal for the mind: SLIME (a quirky acronym for a robust planning method), differentiating process vs. product goals, nurturing creative momentum, the ‘Snailed It’ approach (slow and steady wins the race), and meaningful mid-year reflections.

These are not your typical classroom goals. They’re innovative, dynamic, and all about growing and adapting in today’s ever-evolving educational landscape.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

The Power of Learning and Combining Skills

As educators, we can choose to ignore this truth or embrace it. 

mastery

One choice will further alienate our students, leaving them only wanting more from school. The other choice, to embrace, will bring dramatic change and new life to schools. 

It’s up to us.

Robert Greene, Mastery


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Leveraging Games in the Classroom: The Issues and the Benefits

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In January 2022, a review of 17 research studies showed that young kids can learn from “guided play” as well as if they were being directly instructed by an adult or a teacher. More play in the classroom also addresses issues currently burning precarious holes in the education system. In an email survey conducted by Lego Education in September, 98 percent of 1,000 K-8 teachers indicated that play-based learning “reduces their feelings of burnout.” The same study also captured responses from 1,000 K-8 students, of whom 89 percent said play made them “more excited” to go to school. Lego has used its signature building-block toys as a basis for play-based activity guides for teachers.

Gamification in classrooms has both advocates and critics. Some discourage using external rewards for learning, but others argue that the benefits can be profound when games and rewards tap into a student’s intrinsic motivation to learn. Students can learn to value learning as its own reward and become active, engaged learners over time.

Additionally, a program focused on the social-emotional learning aspects of gaming has shown positive results in student behavior and confidence. Many participants who may not have excelled in traditional classroom settings have become leaders of their gaming teams, showing that games can provide a platform for students to feel successful and express themselves.

Teachers like Philip Baselice and Jonathan Nardolilli use games to teach subjects like history and math, making lessons more engaging. This method, supported by research, helps in enhancing learning and memory. However, teachers face challenges in integrating games with curriculum goals, often leading them to create custom games for effectiveness.

While games increase student engagement and aid long-term learning, they must be thoughtfully incorporated into educational strategies. This innovative approach signifies a shift in traditional teaching methods, embracing interactive and enjoyable learning experiences.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

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Backward Design and the Portrait of a Learner

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Education’s landscape is shifting, shifting from focusing on rote learning to fostering 21st-century skills like collaboration and self-awareness. This evolution is captured in the emerging concept of “Portraits of a Graduate” (POG), which underscores the skills vital for success in today’s world.

To navigate this shift, the “Portrait of a Learner” (POL) model, steeped in research from diverse fields, provides a roadmap. It highlights the importance of nurturing curiosity, critical thinking, and collaboration while emphasizing identity and belonging in the learning process. This approach is about understanding learners as they are and designing education that supports their holistic growth, ensuring they are equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing global economy.

More and more school districts are crafting Portraits of Graduate (POG) to highlight the core skills and characteristics they believe students need to be successful in a 21st century global economy. What many of these portraits capture is a distinctive shift away from content knowledge and towards the 21st century skills and dispositions that drive lifelong learning—things like collaboration and self-awareness. This mirrors research on the science of learning that demonstrates how learning includes social emotional processes and is driven by interactions between the learner and their environment. In education there is often a disconnect between what exactly we are trying to teach students, and why, especially as the goals of education are shifting.

Alison R. Shell and Jessica Jackson

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Does the new AI Framework serve schools or edtech?

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The Australian Federal Government released the Australian Framework for Generative AI in Schools on November 30, 2023, as a guide following the introduction of ChatGPT. While acknowledging AI’s potential in education, the Framework emphasizes human wellbeing, privacy, and safety. However, concerns are raised about its relevance and adequacy due to the rapidly evolving nature of generative AI. Critics argue that the Framework, with its six core principles, underestimates AI’s inherent biases and reliability issues, placing unrealistic expectations on educators.

At the 2023 Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference, Jane Kenway encouraged participants to develop radical research imaginations. The extraordinary impacts of generative AI require a radical policy imagination, rather than timid or bland statements balancing opportunities and threats. It is increasingly clear that the threats cannot readily be dealt with by schools.

Lucinda McKnight and Leon Furze

The article suggests improvements to the Framework, such as redefining generative AI, acknowledging its limitations, addressing the digital divide, and emphasizing evidence-based policies. It also calls for policies that are inclusive and consider diverse perspectives, stressing the need for teacher-led policy development in AI education. The authors advocate for a radical policy approach that accounts for the far-reaching impacts of AI and ensures that schools play a pivotal role in shaping a just future with AI.

For a comprehensive understanding of these issues, the full article can be read on EduResearch Matters.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or are curious to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!