Tag Archives: education

Are we targeting the “right” gender

Recently Verizon kicked off a widely publicized media campaign “targeting” girls and STEM education.  The purpose of the campaign is to encourage more girls to pursue careers in the STEM industries.

While I do believe in the importance of encouraging more girls and young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math I can’t help wonder if the Verizon campaign’s message is doing harm as well as good.  Historically, girls do better in school than boys and while the data for career choices that Verizon puts forth is correct and there is a disconnect shouldn’t we as society be focusing on the real problem now – boys and their continually struggles with education.

Take a look at this video which highlights some of the statistics from a 2010 Newsweek article on the statistics of the current trends of boys in Education

Many argue that we as a society are focusing our education on the wrong gender.  That we are continuing to promote a myth about education and STEM while ignoring the real problem.

Shortly after Verizon released their marketing campaign NPR published this article –  The Modern American Man, Charted.

One graph in particular,

chart on education

really points out the differences in the success among girls in education over boys. And while the article does point out that girls are less likely to pursue higher degrees in STEM they are far more likely to pursue higher degrees to support their career goals. (Thank you @ronishayne for the link!)

There are two sides to every story and in this instance, and Verizon makes a compelling case in their campaign which in part is encouraging America to support young girls and be mindful of what you say to them to avoid gender biases as you can see from the  two PSA’s below;

As a woman, I would have rather seen Verizon promote education and push a campaign that would support learning  on both ends of the gender spectrum.  I think it is important girls be encouraged to play in the dirt or pick up a power drill (I have owned one since I was a teenager and my parents never told me not to get my dress dirty or put down a starfish.)  However, I think a commercial with boys being encouraged to design fashion, cook, tend to people’s needs a nurse,  or even teach would support a campaign that is working on counter-acting gender bias but in many ways creating it by only targeting one gender.

Teaching to the brain…



I have recently participated in several workshops at ASCD Teaching for Excellence 2014 that touched on Brain Based teaching and learning.  While not the focus of the session topics, the strategies that were provided were enough to make me want to learn more about power behind this theory.

While my goal is to spend a significant amount more time on this topic in future blogging and go into depth on specific strategies, especially in gender biased learning and ways to overcome it through brain teaching and learning, my goal today in this post is to begin to collect some of the strategies that speak to the heart of brain based teaching.

Eric Jensen, an expert in the field of Brian based defined the theory in his book, Brain Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching in three words, “engagement, strategies and principles.”  He continues by saying, “Brain-based education is the engagement of strategies based on principles derived from an understanding of the brain.” (Jensen 2008).

To support such change in ones practice below is the beginning of my collection of brain based learning from websites, to publications, to videos that offer an insight into the very heart of the subject.



This is one video from Eric Jenson that explains the foundations of Brian-based learning;

I have also started a channel on Youtube that has a collection of videos on brain-based learning.  You can find the channel here


Below are just a few websites that offer an overview on brain based learning.



Even though I have no formal training in brain based learning, I have found that some of the suggestions and strategies I naturally carry out in my teaching or my suggestions for teachers as “best practice”  and capitalize on the teachable moment!  I do believe that as educators when we follow our intuition, much of the theory that abounds is almost second nature in classroom practice.  But it can be reassuring to know that the experts support the practice through research.🙂

A throw back! – a reminder of how your past work can still very much be part of the present!

Over the course of the year I received several random emails about a website that I had all but forgotten I designed when I was an elementary classroom teacher.  The emails in part asked that I update broken links and such so that their students could use the WebQuest as it was originally designed.  At first, in reading the emails, I was shocked that someone could even find this site but then I remembered that nothing ever dies on the internet and I set out to find the site. My site.  Go figure.  I had to find my own site…which I did, eventually and discovered that over 118,000 people have found it over the last 8 years!

And after poking around my site, did those emails from those educators make sense.   Links were broken, and the WebQuest was effectively impossible to use as it was.  So with a lot of effort, a bunch of emails to the webs.com owners and a lot of thinking about what the password and email address could have been on a site I designed 8 years earlier, I logged in, made some very necessary updates, added a small running blog for updates and voilà!  – My first and only WebQuest linked below….



I will admit that I have done a modified more complex version of this WebQuest with the 8th grade science teacher and his students as an 8th grade science exit project in paper form for years so for me the project has never died.  I just never imagined that it has continued to live in the classrooms around the country in the WebQuest form.  My hope now is that with updated links and my determination to stay on top of it and make it better than ever (eventually including a page on how it aligns to the common core) the web quest will become a tool for even more classrooms and students around the country.

So please feel free to check it out.  Just one thing if you do use it with your students, please consider sharing their work to be published on the site as a model!  Oh and if you know of a great WebQuest  – please share it in the comments section below.  I believe WebQuests are a great way for students to learn.