Banning Chocolate Milk Doesn’t Improve Nutrition

Parents who had children in several schools in Oregon noticed what they viewed as a problem. The kids were much more likely to drink chocolate milk than they were to drink white milk. The parents believed that banning the chocolate milk would force the kids to start drinking more white milk. Instead, things did not work out as planned. It is safe to say that the parents in the school district’s PTA meant well. They were hoping to make changes that would provide better nutrition for the students. They believed that removing the chocolate milk, and only offering white milk, … Continue reading

Have Some Mountain Dew Before a Test?

How do you feel about standardized testing? Chances are you aren’t an incredibly big fan of it. Children tend to strongly dislike taking standardized tests because it is stressful, confusing, frustrating, and very different from how their typical school day goes. Perhaps this is why a school in Florida found a controversial way to motivate students to take their standardized tests. Someone at Creel Elementary School in Florida came up with an unusual way to get students excited about taking the FCAT. The FCAT stands for “Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test”. A grandmother who learned about it contacted the local media. … Continue reading

A (very) Brief Ethics of File Formats

I’m a bit of a free software activist. Okay, that was a bit of an understatement. I’m sort of a big free software activist. Big as in “I care a lot,” not in that I’m well known (I’m not). I’m not talking about price either (though that is a factor), I’m talking about freedom. Make a quick web-search for free/libre software to see what I’m talking about. At any rate, I have a very strong belief that this should be the software of education (and governments) for a variety of reasons. Others have said it better than me but I’m … Continue reading

Your Own Work

A nearing-the-end-of-the-semester reminder to all of the students out there: plagiarism is not good. Oh sure, you might be tempted. When you’re staring down a couple of all-nighters in a row the prospect of replacing your friends name with yours and changing a couple of sentences seems appealing. As we’re not at the very end of the semester just yet I think you might be able to avoid those all-nighters of the future if you pull some part-timers right now. Sure, there are probably all sorts of social things you could be doing. Social things are good — but is … Continue reading

On Ebooks and Libraries

At various points throughout my time as a blogger for families.com I’ve written about my weird relationship to ebooks. “Weird,” you ask? Yes, weird. You see, as a graduate student (and a part-time instructor) I’ve got my fair share of books sitting on the shelf. I’ve also typically got a constant stream of new material flying my way and filling my existing shelves. “Ebooks don’t take up additional shelf space,” you correctly retort. No, they don’t. You see, part of my strange relationship with ebooks is that I don’t buy them. Now before I hear all about how I’m a … Continue reading

Copy to Learn

If you haven’t been keeping track of my other blog you may not know that in addition to be a student and a teacher I’m also a father (and the Fatherhood blogger here at Families.com at present). Being a father (or a mother) opens your eyes to the very beginning stages of learning in a human being’s life. Our son is amazing. He’s constantly learning and progressing at a break neck pace that I can’t quite comprehend. If all of us kept learning at the pace of young children for our entire lives humanity would have cured every disease and … Continue reading

Working Together – Working Alone

Oftentimes in education we get hung up by two dilemmas: Sharing and Plagiarism. When is what you are doing “sharing” and when is it “plagiarism.” Oftentimes students receive misleading instructions from the various courses they may be taking (and certainly from the internships they may also be doing in the “real world”). I’m not going to try to definitely separate these two ideas today but I will try to lay out the difficulty students might find trying to apply these ideas effectively in the classroom (and beyond). One of the difficulties students face is the simultaneous desire for them to … Continue reading

Out of Print

Recently I’ve been doing research. Okay… for the past four years I’ve been doing research of one form or another. What I keep coming back to is the absurdity of unavailable information. When I’m doing research there is a blend of old and new information I might want to look at. The internet has provided the opportunity to quickly research and review information for a wide variety of purposes and students have certainly benefitted from this technology. What is disappointing is when something gets between the student and their ability to learn. There are often different colleges and sometimes those … Continue reading

Blaming the Teacher

There is a disturbing trend that is growing. Perhaps it is the absence of proper formation in high schools. Perhaps it is the increased media saturation on television and mobile devices. Perhaps it is a byproduct of the soundbite culture and a loss of the ability to pay attention or pay respect. Any one of these things (and I suspect many others left unmentioned) could contribute to a disturbing trend among young people I’m tentatively calling “blame the teacher.” In many ways this is nothing new. Talk shows have long been riddled with children blaming their parents for their own … Continue reading

Math Class and The Importance of Numbers

Do you hate math class? Do you loathe numbers, fractions, division and multiplication, and/or the elusive “imaginary” number? I’d like to suggest that you learn to love them, or at least get along. One of the most useful skills to have, even in day to day situations, is the ability to think in and utilize numbers to your advantage. If the constant progression of humanity has left us anything at all (and it has) math is one of the most valuable of those skills. You see, numbers are important. I’ve recently been teaching my son to count (kind of) and … Continue reading