The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

18th October 2018

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The world’s most popular book about teaching, it seems, is Harry and Rosemary Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher. This self-published book has sold over four million copies in the decades it has been in print, perhaps making it one of the most successful self-published books ever. What’s nice about this book is its disarmingly folky advice about common sense topics such as why you shouldn’t be your students’ friend, and why and how to set your classroom up for successful management practice.  We found the practice of placing entire bibliographic references into the middle of sentences, instead of just referring to them in an endnote, to be pretty clumsy—it was clear this is a self-published book.  But even so, there was a lot of great advice. If you’re a K-12 teacher, this book’s a must-read.

The Case for Quality Homework

We are often asked about homework and its value for K-12 students.  This top-notch article in Education Next by Janine Bempechat, Clinical Professor of Applied Human Development at Boston University, makes a case for the vital importance of well-thought-out homework.  Key graf: “…‘homework is a red herring’ in the national conversation on education. ‘Some otherwise privileged children may have too much, but the real issue lies in places where there is too little. . . . We shouldn’t forget that.’”

Probability: Basic Concepts & Discrete Random Variables: a Review of the Course

Here’s another great review of a MOOC, (this one on probability), courtesy Online Learning Success. We’ve enrolled!

The Cult of Pegagogy

We’ve been hearing wondering things about the podcast, blog, and video site  As one of Barb and Terry’s colleagues notes “I am addicted to Jennifer’s podcasts and blogs and use them frequently.”  We can’t help but like the title pages’ description:

If you’ve ever been told you’re way too into your job…
If you can’t stop talking about teaching (even during happy hour)…
If you buy teaching books with your own money and wake up in the middle of the night with lesson ideas…
Welcome home, friend. This place was built for you.

Glider soaring via reinforcement learning in the field

Terry and his colleagues just published a paper on glider soaring via reinforcement learning in the preeminent research journal Nature. Key graf: “How soaring birds find and navigate thermals …  is unknown… Here we use reinforcement learning to train a glider in the field to navigate atmospheric thermals autonomously. We equipped a glider of two-metre wingspan with a flight controller that precisely controlled the bank angle and pitch, modulating these at intervals with the aim of gaining as much lift as possible… Our results highlight the role of vertical wind accelerations and roll-wise torques as effective mechanosensory cues for soaring birds and provide a navigational strategy that is directly applicable to the development of autonomous soaring vehicles.

A New MOOC paper on instructional design and the course Learning How to Learn

Barb was co-author with her more prominent colleagues in a brand new paper on MOOCs in the journal Computers & Education: Eulho Jung, Dongho Kim, Meehyun Yoon, Sanghoon Park and Barbara Oakley. “The Influence of Instructional Design on Learner Control, Sense of Achievement, and Perceived Effectiveness in a Supersize MOOC Course.” Computers & Education 128,  (2019): 377-388. Key graf: “These findings provided empirical evidence that instructional components are critical predictors of student learning in MOOCs, which have been conceptualized as important factors in prior studies.”

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team



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