Educational Readings February 14th

by Allan Alach

The list is shorter this week (do I hear sighs of relief?) as my brain has gone AWOL….

 I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

This week’s homework!

 Does size matter?

Article on class sizes written for a Canadian readership but as usual applicable all over.

‘Mr. Biased Columnist points out that places like Finland, Korea, Singapore (among others) have class sizes that are larger than in Alberta, and still perform better on PISA (this is fact). What he deliberately neglects to tell us (Logical fallacy of Omission – Stacking the Deck) though, is that teachers in those countries spend far less time in front of students than we do in North America.’

 Parsing The Unintelligible Stefan Pryor

Article about the inability/unwillingness of an Education Commissioner to speak plain English when discussing education. You will, of course, note the similarity with language used by similar people in your country.

‘The model that we established for evaluation with the inclusion of teacher observations of student learning indicators to making sure that we are looking at student outcomes and other features — that was arrived at by consensus through our Performance Evaluation Advisory Council.’

From failing to killing writing: computer based grading.

The ultimate nightmare, the death of creative writing.

‘Our students’ writing has “something the tests and machines will never be able to measure,” and it is now the duty of all writing teachers to make known the art of human assessment of writing.’

 This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:

Debunking the Left Brain and Right Brain Myth

‘There is a common belief in many management and popular psychology circles that a person’s creative ability is determined by which part of their brain is more active. People often refer to people who work in the creative industries or find it easy to come up with ideas as “Right-brained”, whereas people who are more methodical, logical or process-focused are “Left Brained”. I’m here to show you why these terms should be ignored, and give you more of an insight into how the brain actually comes up with ideas.’

Inquiry-Based Instruction Explores, Then Explains

‘It is common for lessons to follow an “Explain-before-Explore” model, which includes reviewing previous work, introducing a new concept, modeling that concept, and then student practice with the concept in a controlled, prescriptive exercise. The goal is for students to be able to replicate solution methods or to parrot what was told to them. With the Explain-first model, ask yourself, how are you challenging students to think deeply every day about science or mathematics? Alternately, an “Explore-before-Explain” instructional model allows students to grapple with the ideas and skills within a concept before the concept is thoroughly discussed and described.’

The Art of Thinking Like a Scientist

‘Through the arts, students learn to observe, visualize, manipulate materials, and develop the creative confidence to imagine new possibilities. These skills and competencies are also essential to scientific thinking and provide a strong argument for transforming STEM education by integrating the arts.’

 Innovation: Are You a Gardener or an Architect?

“Integrative Thinking is the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generating a creative solution of the tensions in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each.”


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