How can your puzzle-solving skills help you in developing your career?

Guest post by Laura Anderson

There are many reasons why people like to solve puzzles. Solving puzzles can be a great way to help you sharpen your mind or enjoy your time playing them, but did you know that your puzzle-solving skills can help you develop your career? There are many benefits to knowing how to solve puzzles, and the skills you learn from them can be easily applied to many career paths. This article will look at what valuable skills you can develop from solving puzzles and how these skills can help you out in your professional life.

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Tutoring like a GPS in the car – helpful at the moment but not long term.

Originally written in 2010, but still holds true.

About a year back, we purchased a GPS for our car. It is so convenient, especially when travelling out of town, or even to a new place here in Montreal. Of course it is more of a toy than a necessity. I travelled a lot before we had the GPS. I got around fine. Of course there were times when I got lost, especially in big cities. But that was part of the fun, part of the exploration. I could say: that city is easy to get around, while that one is terrible – once you get into a neighborhood, there’s no way out. But now with a GPS, it is very rare that I get lost. Of course, Montreal is really hard to get around with the terrible signs pointing right, when they mean to get off on the left, “no entrance” signs everywhere, just a really messed up city; so I still get lost once in a while, but it’s so so easy to get out of a bind with the GPS right at my finger tips. I just have my GPS “Karen” with her Australian accent telling me where to go – it’s all good. Safe and very convenient.

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Navigate Life By Your Own Internal Compass

Guest post by Mick Kelly

Perhaps this monument at Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand in Ireland commemorating the first Europe to USA air link answers questions about our freedom to live a meaningful life.
On the 24th June 1930 Captain Charles Kingsford Smith and three crew members flew their three engine Fokker monoplane from this beach to Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and then on to New York creating the first Europe to The United States air link.
Pioneers like Captain Charles Kingsford Smith, Co-pilot Evert van Dijk, Navigator Paddy Saul and Radio Operator John Stannage show what we humans are capable of when we put our minds to it. Kazimierz Dabrowski showed us how to put our minds to it.
These are all leaders who clearly chose their own authentic path in life and by their actions have sent us a signal that we can do it too.

I can choose my own personality. I say this because I am an ordinary human being who happened to be drawn to Kazimierz Dabrowski’s ‘Theory of Positive Disintegration’ when I came across it many years ago.

I believe those six words (I can change my own personality) form the central thesis of TPD and they have helped me to be courageous and ambitious enough to explore this theory in the context of my own life experience and to make my mind up on whether or not it is a valuable reference point from which to navigate.

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What makes a good teacher?

What makes a good teacher?

What makes a good teacher? Is it some genetic trait, that cannot be taught? Is it from experience or passion? Why are some teachers loved by some students and hated by others? On the other hand, why are some teachers considered “great” and others not so much? What characterisitcs do the “good” teachers have that are not present with OK teachers or the “bad” teachers?

If you go on Google and type in “What makes a good teacher?” millions of entries pop up. Everybody has a say in this. We all had good and bad teachers in school, and consciously or not, we rated them or ranked them according to which we liked, which teacher was really good, which teacher really taught us something, etc.

Here is my take on what I think makes a good teacher, from my experience of being a teacher.

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4 Tips For Improving Student’s Success In Science

Guest post by Laura Anderson

When it comes to learning in school, math and science classes are arguably the most important ones. This is because the lessons we learn in these classes form the basis for most advanced studies that we pursue later on. These basics also help us develop an idea of how the universe works as we grow and mature. However, these classes can be challenging because of such complex and new topics being introduced to students. Not everyone can comprehend the same way, which is why they might find themselves struggling in class.

This situation can be quite distressing for both children and parents, as they think that they might lack skills. This is usually not the case, and it is simply a case of different students learning in different ways. This article will discuss 4 tips to improve your student’s success in science class. These tips will hopefully help you get rid of the anxiety you feel.

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Becoming an expert teacher

When somebody asks me what I do, I reply that I am a math and science teacher. I have been a teacher for the last nine years, and a tutor even before then. I taught all sorts of subjects and levels, in many different schools and even in two separate provinces (Alberta and Quebec). I feel like I have a lot of experience, and being exposed to the different types of schools (public, charter, private) I can compare the teaching going on in many different environments and I have opinions of what seems to work better for me. I pick and choose what I like and what works best. I learn and apply from one environment to the next. The overall result is that I am becoming a great teacher. In fact, I might be called an expert teacher by my students, peers and superiors.

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Teaching math and science with magic rather than content

When teaching, the teacher always should have an objective in mind: what is the purpose of this lesson, this activity, this game? So when I am teaching how to factor polynomials, I could use many games (factoring bingo), activities (group work / collaboration), and manipulatives (algebra tiles), but I also have to have a purpose in mind. For instance I can’t tell my students to play Monopoly, as that is irrelevant to factoring polynomials, even though the Monopoly game could be used in a different situation to teach how to count money, give out change, etc. Similarly in a science classroom, we shouldn’t be showing explosions unless there is a relevance in what we want the students to learn.

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Teaching science – how to teach innovation?

I was impressed from the very moment I read about Knowledge Building in the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (Sawyer, 2006, pp. 97 – 115). As a science teacher, I see the enormous potential of this learning philosophy, and cannot wait to apply it to my existing teaching repertoire. In order to implement the principles of Knowledge Building, I must understand it fully and understand how to apply it. To this end, I am writing this thought paper with two articles on Knowledge Building as a backdrop. The first is “Learning to Work Creatively With Knowledge” by Carl Bereiter and Marlene Scardamalia (2003) and the second is “Student-Directed Assessment of Knowledge Building Using Electronic Portfolios” by Jan van Aalst and Carol K. K. Chan (2007). The first article serves as the theory portion of my understanding of Knowledge Building. The second article provides an example of Knowledge Building in practice and presents a possible way of implementing the innovative learning environment as well as assessing students in the collaborative Knowledge Building setting.

I see teaching science as having two different sides. The first side is teaching the basics, the processes, the structures of a lab report, the ways of solving a physics problem, the organization. Let’s call this the “alphabet” of the scientist. Without this, the students could not achieve any kind of success in the sciences. It is a way of communication in the scientific world, the building blocks of science. In the same way that a child cannot read a beautiful story without knowing the alphabet first, the scientist cannot see or understand the complex design of car without first understanding the mechanisms of the simple machines or the fuel combustion effects, or even the knowledge of the basic elements or simple kinematics. I would say that traditional teaching focuses on these basic skills. Teaching only these kinds of skills is equivalent to presenting knowledge in what Bereiter and Scardamalia (2003) call belief mode.

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Conceptual change of the concept of FORCE

Growing up, children have a plethora of experiences that have to do with the concept of force. Even before they start talking and knowing the word “force” they have an intuitive understanding of the concept of push and pull. It doesn’t take long for a child to figure out that pushing their brother will result in him moving in the same direction. Babies realize from very early on that things fall down. (A common game among babies and parents is the “baby drops toy – parent picks up toy – repeat many times until parent loses patience”.) This environmental input of the force of gravity acting on an object, thus accelerating it towards the earth gets absorbed by the child’s awareness, and becomes second nature to the child. Most children will ask a parent about these phenomena. The parent then tries to explain these phenomena in terms of sophisticated words such as force, gravity, energy, power, and push / pull. The adult might go in depth or just quickly dismiss the inquiry, depending on the adult’s actual knowledge of the phenomenon, the parent’s interest in scientific principles, or even the time and place of the question. Based on these explanations, and the instances of hearing the words of force or gravity in context, children start to associate what force actually means in terms of their world around them. Their understanding however might not be in alignment with the physicist’s definition.

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