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What Makes a Genius? This story appears in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

What Makes a Genius?

The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia houses an array of singular medical specimens. On the lower level the fused livers of 19th-century conjoined twins Chang and Eng float in a glass vessel. Nearby, visitors can gawk at hands swollen with gout, the bladder stones of Chief Justice John Marshall, the cancerous tumor extracted from President Grover Cleveland’s jaw, and a thighbone from a Civil War soldier with the wounding bullet still in place. But there’s one exhibit near the entrance that elicits unmatchable awe. Look closely at the display, and you can see smudge marks left by museumgoers pressing their foreheads against the glass. The object that fascinates them is a small wooden box containing 46 microscope slides, each displaying a slice of Albert Einstein’s brain. Throughout history rare individuals have stood out for their meteoric contributions to a field.

Nor does it happen on the first try.


Co-teaching. Math. Leadership. PD. Books. SWD. College/scholarships. California. Do No Harm: Flexible and Smart Grading Practices. My Edutopia post When Grading Harms Student Learning generated a lot of buzz.

Do No Harm: Flexible and Smart Grading Practices

Grading is an emotional subject, with strong-held opinions and ideas. I was really excited to see discussion on all sides of the issue. The best feedback for me was that, while many readers agreed with parts of the premise, I hadn't been specific on support strategies. Thank you for that feedback -- it was specific, actionable, and created the need and excitement for a follow-up post. While there are many tools out there that help address concerns around redoes, zeroes, not grading homework, and more, here are some of my favorites: Address Behavioral Issues Affecting Academic Achievement Points off for late work may not motivate students. Request to Retest This is a great way to put the student in the driver’s seat of what they'll redo and how they'll redo it. Redo Parts of an Assessment Some assessments that we give students have very clear categories.

Reflect on Assessments Were you prepared for this test?

Instructional coaching

Tech Tools. What’s Going on Inside the Brain Of A Curious Child? By Maanvi Singh, NPR How does a sunset work?

What’s Going on Inside the Brain Of A Curious Child?

We love to look at them, but Jolanda Blackwell wanted her 8th graders to really think about them, to wonder and question. So Blackwell, who teaches science at Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High in Davis, Calif., had her students watch a video of a sunset on YouTube as part of a physics lesson on motion. “I asked them: ‘So what’s moving? And why? '” Once she got the discussion going, the questions came rapid-fire. Students asking questions and then exploring the answers. Blackwell, like many others teachers, understands that when kids are curious, they’re much more likely to stay engaged.

But why? Our Brains On Curiosity “In any given day, we encounter a barrage of new information,” says Charan Ranganath, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, and one of the researchers behind the study. Ranganath was curious to know why we retain some information and forget other things. Curiosity Helps Us Learn Boring Stuff, Too. How to Use Anchor Charts in Your Classroom. You see them all over Pinterest.

How to Use Anchor Charts in Your Classroom

You see them all over our WeAreTeachers Facebook page. You might even see them in the classroom next door. Teachers are incorporating anchor charts into their teaching in all subject areas. But what are anchor charts actually good for? That’s the question one teacher bravely posted on our HELPLINE this week. The HELPLINE crew was, as always, incredibly helpful.

Use Anchor Charts? To recognize goals: “They help students know (and be able to verbalize) what they are accomplishing.” Source: The Primary Buzz How to Use Anchor them in journals.

Effective teaching/teachers

The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About. Knowledge is a curse.

The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About

Knowing things isn't bad itself, but it causes unhealthy assumptions -- such as forgetting how hard it was to learn those things in the first place. It's called the Curse of Knowledge. In this post, we'll identify how the Curse of Knowledge affects educators. Then we'll outline seven ways to alleviate the curse. The ultimate goal is to improve instruction. The Curse of Knowledge The Curse of Knowledge has been variously described in articles by Chip and Dan Heath, Carmen Nobel, and Steven Pinker, and also in books such as The Sense of Style and Made to Stick. All of the resources describe the same phenomena -- that a strong base of content knowledge makes us blind to the lengthy process of acquiring it. We do not remember what it is like to not know what we are trying to teach. As a result, we end up assuming that our lesson's content is easy, clear, and straightforward. Lifting the Curse Here are seven ways to make learning easier for your students. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.