In the Middle

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The Case Against Grades

The Case Against Grades | By Alfie Kohn

By now enough has been written about academic assessment to fill a library, but when you stop to think about it, the whole enterprise really amounts to a straightforward two-step dance. We need to collect information about how students are doing, and then we need to share that information (along with our judgments, perhaps) with the students and their parents. Gather and report -- that's pretty much it.

You say the devil is in the details? Maybe so, but I'd argue that too much attention to the particulars of implementation may be distracting us from the bigger picture -- or at least from a pair of remarkable conclusions that emerge from the best theory, practice, and research on the subject: Collecting information doesn't require tests, and sharing that information doesn't require grades. In fact, students would be a lot better off without either of these relics from a less enlightened age.

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Get those monkeys off your back!

Inside our heads we all have both a rational decision-maker and an instant gratification monkey - says writer and blogger Tim Urban in the Blog Wait But Why?  When it comes to things like homework and studying, we would all love it if the rational decision-maker was in charge and we finished our work regularly as planned.  Unfortunately for most of us, the instant gratification monkey is King - so we tend not to.   We get diverted.

For most students, when it comes to procrastination, only the Panic Monster can overrule the monkey!

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The Importance of Logic and Critical Thinking

"The rationality of the world is what is at risk. Too many people are taken advantage of because of their lack of critical thinking, logic and deductive reasoning. These same people are raising children without these same skills, creating a whole new generation of clueless people."

>>> Wired magazines Curtis Silver explains the importance of teaching Logic and Critical Thinking.




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Let's teach for Mastery!

Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics? Yes, it's complicated, but in his November 2015 TED Talk, educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace. 

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Phoenix Middle School
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