Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tea and Conversation

There's a memorable scene in Three Cups of Tea where Greg Mortenson tucks his 6-foot, 4-inch frame into a tiny cable car and pulls himself across a river gorge in northern Pakistan. Reflecting later on the creaky cable that he entrusted to hold him aloft, he said, "If it broke, you'd fall. And if you fell, you were dead."
Overcoming one obstacle after another, Mortenson has helped to build 131 schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. His is a remarkable story of courage, persistence, and cross-cultural understanding. It's also an ideal tale for launching students on their own quest to make a difference in the world through a service-learning program called Pennies for Peace.
I'm delighted to be hosting a webinar for Edutopia on April 15, when Mortenson will talk about his own journey and the examples of youth leadership that he encounters wherever he goes. (This new article from Edutopia introduces one such student from San Diego.)
Are there questions you or your students would like to ask Mortenson? Post them here in the comments, and I'll do my best to pass them along in person. Hope you can join us!
Photo by David Oliver Relin

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teach Like a Champion

I just read the March 2 NYT Magazine article Building a Better Teacher that looks at the "hidden game" of accomplished teaching. Doug Lemov, teacher, principal, charter-school founder and consultant, decided to study the methods of champion teachers who, working under the most challenging circumstances, are able to reach and teach kids and ultimately, significantly, increase their achievement. His findings, referred to as Lemov's Taxonomy, isolate 49 instructional strategies that make a difference. From "cold call" questioning where every kid gets ready to answer to the "strong voice" technique that ensures a teacher's words are heard, Lemov digs into seemingly small but significant communication and management methods that increase a teacher's effectiveness. The "Taxonomy" is presented in a new book due in April:
Teach Like a Champion: The 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. (Amazon offers a discount if you preorder!)
I look forward to reading about the strategies and imagining how they apply to the PBL classroom. I wonder, if we were to drill down into the methods of exemplary PBL teachers, would we identify techniques that are unique to the PBL-constructivist setting? I look forward to reading with my PBL lenses on.

Monday, March 15, 2010

PBL Goes Global

Excited to learn from our friends at ISTE that Reinventing Project-Based Learning will soon be published in German. And here's more evidence that PBL is generating interest around the world: Eduteka, a Spanish language website for educators, has just translated "Appendix A: Essential Learning with Digital Tools, the Internet, and Web 2.0," from our book. Spanish-speaking colleagues can find the full text here.
And for our English-speaking colleagues, we have just updated Appendix A to include a few new Web 2.0 tools. See link at top right of this page to download a copy.