06/30/2009

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Generating and Testing Hypotheses is Not Just for Science I’m right in the middle of facilitating a three-day workshop in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. We are just about to get to the Strategy of Generating and Testing Hypotheses. Out of the 30 participants, less than a handful have taught science. I can tell that I will need to do my best to show the power of this strategy for all content areas. Often when we mention the words “hypotheses” and “testing” together, people automatically think we are talking about science. To be fair, we sometimes are talking about science, but not nearly as much as people think. Generating and testing hypotheses is just another way saying “predict and determine how good your prediction turned out.” It can be used in all sorts of teaching situations. For instance, a language arts teacher might be leading students through reading a novel and ask them to predict what actions the character will take next based on what they have read so far. Then as the read more, they discuss the accuracy of their predictions. Another example is a music teacher that teaches a unit on Blues music and then has students create their own simple blues song. Creating music includes making many lyrical and melodic predictions and testing them out. A final example is the social studies teacher that asks students a big question like “What would the World be like today if the Nazis had won World War II?” Students are then asked to predict and investigate the...
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Addressing High School Dropout: Taking a Look Inward The AT&T Foundation’s new report, “On the Front Lines of Schools,” sheds light on what educators, students, and parents believe has the greatest impact on high school drop out. The report shows a lot of finger pointing—and only one group actually accepting responsibility for the crisis. When asked about reasons why students are disengaged in school and drop out, district-level personnel point out the failures of principals, principals cite the failures of teachers, and teachers rattle off a laundry list of what parents do wrong. When questioned about the reasons why students chose to discontinue their educations before receiving a diploma, it is rare that the teacher responds “my lessons were boring and disengaging.” Instead, teachers are much more likely to blame parents and the home environment. Specifically, the report mentions that 74 percent of teachers and 69 percent of principals felt parents bore all or most of the responsibility for their children dropping out. Raise your hand if you’ve heard an assistant principal, head principal, dean, or headmaster say “students at my school dropped out because I was not involved in monitoring my staff as it implemented the curriculum.” Frequently, our school-level leaders point their fingers toward low teacher efficacy and poor classroom management. Show me the parent who states that his daughter did not receive her diploma because “I did not create space, time, and the expectation she complete her homework.” All too often, parents claim that they did not even know that their children were not on...

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