Archive for October, 2011

Incidental Learning

I spent the better part of my day today observing lessons in a variety of fourth and sixth grade classrooms.  While I always enjoy getting into the classrooms (and participating, when I’m allowed!), it’s always a welcome bonus when I learn something new while doing it, either about one of my students, about the subject matter, or about teaching techniques or tools.

Today I learned about two teaching techniques that were new to me.  You may have been using these for years, and if so, I’d like to hear about your experiences with them.  If not, feel free to take and use these as you see fit.


In one class, I initially thought I misheard when students were instructed to take out their “whisperphones” and start reading independently after they finished a task.  I Googled “whisperphone” on my non-whispering phone right there and found that it is indeed an actual product line.  The version I saw was a little plastic “handset” into which students read quietly; my understanding is that the handset (or headset) acts as a voice-feedback device that allows speakers to hear phonemes more clearly.  I can’t say for sure, never having seen this before this morning, but take a look at the company’s research page and come to your own conclusions.

Foursquare Plus 3

In my English teacher days, I used to have students use graphic organizers or plan sheets to organize their thoughts.   Today I learned about a slightly different take on graphic organizers: Foursquare Plus 3.

I’ve written and deleted several attempts at an explanation, but wasn’t satisfied with any of them.  Check this slideshow for an explanation instead (it’s the only result for “foursquare” on Google that doesn’t return something related to the location check-in site).

Do you have any experience with Foursquare Plus 3 or the WhisperPhone, good, bad, or otherwise?  See anything new here you might be giving a try?  Leave a comment!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Chance are slim to none that you’ve been reading this blog as long as I’ve been writing it (though I’d love to be proven wrong!).  With that in mind, I thought I’d kick off October with some reruns a look back at some of my personal favorite posts from the past four-plus years I’ve been at this.

Also, welcome to any new folks who are just discovering some new blogs for the new school year.  I hope you stick around and share your thoughts in the comments!

Schools: Your Friendly Neighborhood ISP? (Aug 2007)

If we are going to commit to instructing not only students, but administrators and parents, too (as folks have suggested elsewhere in the edublogosphere recently), should schools commit to providing community Internet access and education, especially in communities where folks may not even own computers?

Individual Accountability in Group Work (Jan 2008)

It’s not perfect, but it’s by far the most objective, data-driven approach to grading participation I’ve ever taken. I can’t take full credit for this, as I distinctly remember getting the basis for this from someone in the Twitterverse (sorry, can’t remember who), but I did flesh it out to suit my needs.

Open Letter to a New Teacher (Jun 2009)

It turns out that an aspiring teacher came across my resume via Google and decided to call me to ask for some advice on resources she could look to in order to prepare for her first year of teaching.

Leadership Day 2009 (Jul 2009)

Whenever I have spoken about these experiences, formally or informally, I make it a point to credit Mr. X as integral to whatever degree of success my students experienced via these projects, not because he had any hand in implementing them with me, but because he did four things that I think any supervisor would do well to emulate:

Does Gender Matter? (Aug 2009)

My wife was the first to point out the gender differences in the administrative teams, and I’m wondering if she’s on to something.  This piece from Inside Higher Ed (May 2007) posits that the differences between male and female leadership styles in education are becoming less pronounced (based on a study of community college administrators), but I wonder if that can be generalized to the K-12 sector.

Text Messaging and Executive Functioning (Mar 2010)

While I’ve been utilizing SMS & email reminder systems in my personal & professional lives for years now, I’m certainly not the only one. In fact, multiple studies have shown SMS reminders to have mostly high (but admittedly varying) degrees of efficacy in increasing desired behaviors, including:

  • adherence to medical treatment schedules (Jacobson & Szilagyi, 2005; Kollmann, Riedl, Kastner, Schreier, & Ludvik, 2007; Liu, Abba, Alejandria, Balanag, Berba, & Lansang, 2008; Strandbygaard, Thomsen, & Backer, 2009;  Hanauer, Wentzell, Laffell, & Laffel, 2009)
  • attendance at doctor & specialist appointments (Downer, Meara, Da Costa, & Sethuraman, 2006; Koshy, Car, & Majeed, 2008; Chen, Fang, Chen, Dai, 2008; Foley & O’Neill, 2009; Kruse, Hansen, & Olesen, 2009)
  • participation in exercise regiments (Prestwich, Perugini, & Hurling, 2009; Prestwich, Perugini, & Hurling, 2010)

If none of these do it for you, please feel free to peruse the category of blog posts I have labeled Damian’s Favorites.  I’ve found this is a good way to keep an easily-accessed portfolio of what I feel is my best stuff, and if you blog, I encourage you to do the same as well!