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Competency-Based Education: Pythagoras and the Lez-umé

Last week I read an excerpt in the Boston Globe from the blog post, “How to Improve Boston Public Schools,” by Nicholas C. Donohue, president of the Nellie Mae Educational foundation.  The post focused on four items – increasing expectations, advancing students based on their mastery of skills, endorsing learning anywhere, and student-centered learning.   Later on, thinking about the post, I was reminded of the “lez-umé,” a concept my friends and I came up with in the 1980’s, when we were in our twenties.

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Clock Buddies — A Round Robin Tournament Activity

This is a great first day of class activity, which works well with math phobic students (I use it in a math for elementary teachers class). Students make a list 1:00, 2:00, etc. on a piece of paper — however many times I assign — and then they have to make an appointment with a different student in each slot. Students move around the room making appointments and learning each other’s names. If there are an odd number of students, I passively participate, accepting appointments whenever students come and ask me.

At some point a student or a few students will announce that they are done, and I tell them they aren’t done until everyone’s schedule is filled in. It’s an interesting question to figure out a good number of appointments to give them so that they will get stuck, but not overwhelmed; I usually go for a few more than half the number of students (12 for a class of 20). Read more >>

Walter Burke, 1942-2009

Walter was my colleague for 15 years.   Ellen Faszewski wrote a remembrance of him.