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Showing posts from April, 2013

20% Project Failure: Student Centered Learning

Over the past five years, I have spent a great deal of time shifting 20% of my class from being teacher-centered to student-centered. That was a fail.

I've written a fair amount about the 20% Project and why I believed that it was important to have class time when the teacher is off center stage while shifting emphasis on the students. This model energized and liberated many of my students, while it confused and terrified others. Either way, I was committed to establishing a project where students can take on challenges and solve problems any way they saw fit. As a result, my students are currently wrapping up some amazing projects.

The problem, though, is that a 20% Project should NOT be a student-centered project. It should be a human-centered project. OK, I don't really like the term human-centered either. Last I checked, most students and teachers at least resemble humans. I mean, what else would it be, pistachio-centered? I'm reminded of when writers begin a sentence …

Solve the Multiple Google+ Accounts Problem

If you’re like me, you have several random Google accounts, like so many perfectly functional but rarely used pants hanging in your digital closet. You could delete your account, but that probably feels too painful. I know I have several accounts I cannot get rid of because I use them at least once a week. These extra accounts aren’t really a problem, and switching among them all is easy. The problem with them now is when people start looking for you on Google+. How often have you searched a name and found three different profiles, all for the same person? How do you choose which one to circle? I would love for Google to find an elegant way to merge all of these profiles, but I can imagine how insanely complicated that would be with tons of privacy implications. So, until that gets sorted out, I have two recommendations for people who have multiple Google+ accounts.
1. Use only your personal profile.Sure, you have a different identity for the different accounts. One could be work, and…

5 Reasons Teachers Should Own a Domain Name

You found this blogpost, so you are probably (a) an educator and (b) relatively tech-savvy, so why don’t you own your own domain name yet? The world of domain name ownership has changed, so step up your teaching game and buy your own domain name.
1. Getting one is simple and cheap. Purchasing a domain used to be difficult, but many new domain services make the process painless and inexpensive. The first place many people try is the sleazy godaddy.com. Gender politics aside, the process of purchasing through godaddy takes about as long as an AP Chemistry test. There are several much simpler and more palatable services that sell domain names including networksolutions.com. My favorite is hover.com, which sells domain names for $15 per year and offers amazing phone tech support. They’re not paying me, but if they did happen to want to sponsor the Google Educast, I’m sure Dan would take your call! Hover is great because of its simplicity. I can setup a domain, and in a few minutes, I’m l…

How I Ate My Dog Food at TEDx Monterey

One of the several unpopular assignments I force upon my students is the Sophomore Speech. I am capitalizing Sophomore Speech because it has become a thing at our school … a proper thing. Every single one of my 10th grade students is required to write a personal essay and convert it into a speech to be delivered in front of the entire school during our assembly period we call Break.

The word speech has fallen out of fashion these days. It’s much cooler to give a talk than a speech, but talk doesn’t alliterate with sophomore. I guess I could have called them 10th Grade Talks, but as I said, the Sophomore Speech is a thing, so I’m going with it.

Of course, I don’t win many votes for Most Popular Teacher of the Year when I announce this assignment to my students. Most members of our species tend to avoid public speaking whenever possible, and you won’t be surprised to hear that some students consider this the waterboard of English assignments.

“Mr. Brookhouser, I really need to get out o…