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12 reads of Christmas


At the dawn of the internet's worldwide web one of the first pages I posted - in 1994 (and you could have put the whole www on a memory stick in those days if they'd been invented then) was an advent calendar of handy Christmas links - on the science of candle flames, the maths of Santa reaching every child in 24 hours etc etc. Loads of fun. Since then of course advent calendars have become rife.

A good few years on (20 years to be precise!) and teachers are now even more hugely busy, in very short supply, and in manic end-of-term mode in both hemispheres. But I thought I'd return to that format with a more time efficient 12 reads of Christmas - nobody has time for 24 links any more!!

These are all things I've enjoyed reading over 2014 and think you will enjoy and / or be informed by too. No cute kittens, epic fails, or double entendre predictive text errors, just useful stuff about learning that learning professionals might gain insight and pleasure from. I haven't, this time around, limited what you can read and when - no Advent style daily doors to open. There are 12 links here - you choose how you work through them, if at all:

Oh and festive greetings to you all, whatever your perspective on this Yule tide stuff... and do please forgive the obligatory and irritating flashing lights - I resisted music!

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  1. OK, lets start gently with this lovely set of Pearson interviews - I'm one of them - about "the five things I've learned". Loadsa insights and little chuckles here - will probably see you through the Christmas break on its own.

  2. Katrina Axford (her website is our day 2) works at the fabulous Mark Oliphant College where I'm proud to be Thinker in Residence and is a full black belt in PBL (project based learning). Her website is full of sensible, proven and effective examples, as indeed Katrina is too!

  3. Read number 3 and I struggle to understand why, in the face of such clear evidence about the ineffectiveness of setting, streaming and banding, so many schools and increasingly primary schools too, fall in desperation back to it. This nice summary of the evidence from London's Institute of Education should be compulsory reading although it would have been nice to go on to say how well Stage not Age can work instead, where the children are in big shared agile spaces with mixed ages present.

  4. Gary Stager has been an unswervingly indefatigable advocate for maker and constructivist learning - and more. He speaks up for the stellar contribution of Seymour Papert too, better than anyone. So when Gary writes a paper about Learning, it is worth reading.

  5. Time now for something entirely foolish - and this Spurious Correlations site will have you laughing out loud, but may also arm you with handy examples of why correlation is not causality. I particularly enjoyed the divorce rate / margarine consumption correlation - never trusted the stuff anyway!

  6. Learner Voice isn't just the occasional focus group or a tiny school's council who you ask about toilets. Here's a BBC report from back in 2006 that is indicative. Surely by 2014 everyone would / should engage children centrally in everything?

  7. And since we have mentioned toilets - you've probably been to this page on heppell.net but here is the low down on why better toilets can make better learning

  8. Here we are at read number 8 and something jolly again - a user review of coloured pencils - it's elegantly done, and timely, given the explosion of tablets into classrooms.

  9. This one is simple enough really. A readable journal paper about how less-structured time in children's daily lives helps with their self-directed executive functioning.
  10. As we learn more and more about Learning much of what we discover is counter-intuitive. This short piece in the Washington Post explores why perhaps practice doesn't make perfect, and probably never did!

  11. So penultimate read: it never fails to amaze me, with so many students sitting down to examinations each year, how little support we give them for doing the best that is possible in their exams, despite a lot of clear and helpful research. This summary paper from the UK's Innovations Unit has a helpful look at Spaced Learning, which works rather well.

  12. And finally, how could I not end, 20 years on from that first advent calendar, with a passing reference again to the physics of Christmas. This piece in the Economist is an accessible summary. Ho ho ho indeed.

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so there you go, a few more irritating flashing lights and we are done for this year. Part way into this I realsied it should maybe have been 1,012 reads for Christmas - it was so hard to choose just a few. However, 12 is enough for busy folk. Enjoy

page last updated by Stephen Heppell - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 9:16 AM