Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bohemian Gravity - Video Presentation of Scientific Theory

McGill grad student Timothy Blaise created an amazing video on string theory among other things. Really interesting way to share concepts. Of course, this can be used in a science class (lyrics here), but also what a great project for high school students can work on as well. Listen to the explanation at the end of the video!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Banking theory of education (or, alternatives to the information dump)

Paulo Freire (1985)  critiques conventional “banking models” of education. Within the banking model, the teacher holds the knowledge (usually the traditional canon of his/her subject area) and has a goal of “depositing” that knowledge into the student through transmission-style teaching in the form of lectures, competition, and standardized testing. As an example, any activity of reading and writing will have to start from what the student already knows and not of what he/she ignores. In this view, students are passive recipients of knowledge rather than active constructors of understanding.

Good teaching avoids “banking models” of education that view students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge poured by the teacher. This approach “transforms students into receiving objects” through control over inquiry (Freire, 1970, p. 77). The argument goes that when students are disempowered, they respond by resisting. That resistance takes many forms—interrupting class with jokes, disagreements with teachers for the sake of disagreement, ignoring the classroom, and so on (Milner & Tenore, 2010). On the flip side, constructivist approaches to learning that center on the student and his or her interests and culture and that are rigorous constitute good teaching. In this way, the engagement approach puts teaching at the center of classroom management.

This brief video doesn't address the interesting and important philosophical underpinnings of the information dump, but it offers a highly practical understanding of different ways of setting up learning that are not limited to elearning.

Works cited:
Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: Culture, power, and liberation. (D. Macedo, Trans.). South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Inc.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Freire, P. (2004). Pedagogy of indignation. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
Milner, H.R. & Tenore, F.B. (2010). Classroom management in diverse classrooms. Urban Education, 45(5). 560–603.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fonts and student learning!?

Daniel Oppenheimer and Erikka Vaughan at Princeton did a study to figure out whether changing the font of written material could improve the long-term learning and retention of information presented to students - they did this with both university and high school students.

Students reviewing material in hard-to-read fonts did better on regular classroom assessment tests than did their randomly selected counterparts reading the same material in easier fonts.

The hard-to-read fonts were Haettenschweiler, Monotype Corsiva or Comic Sans Italicized. The control was whatever the teacher had been using previously -- usually Times New Roman or Arial.

You can read more about the study at or the published findings in the journal, Cognition.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Literature Search in the U of T library tutorial

Here's a walk through of my approach to quick literature searches...