Thursday, November 29, 2012

This Bibliophile Loves Books and Book Lists

I am an avid reader. One can find stacks of books all around my house, my office and even in my vehicle (in case I have to stand in line somewhere and need something to read). Every year we add a few more book shelves or cases or places to store more books. My iPad is full of eBooks, and my dear husband encourages me to buy more eBooks so that he doesn't have to build any more shelves... When I visit the library, I bring home a bag of books. I often have several books going at the same time.

I write a few book reviews a year [Think to Learn, Play to Learn, The Kids Cannot Wait], and I enjoy reading book reviews.  I really enjoy browsing through annual book lists, like this recent one, "100 Notable Books of 2012" published in the New York Times. This particular list of notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction has been compiled by the editors of the New York Times Book Review - people who love books.  I like to buy books, and to give books as gifts - it gives me a great deal of pleasure to be the person who "turns on" another reader to an author or series of books. 

Finally, I like reading books with my children. We recently finished the "How to Train Your Dragon" series of nine books by Cressida Cowell, and I am going to start either the Hunger Games trilogy or wade through a few Goosebumps books with them before the holidays.

Friday, September 28, 2012

No, Algebra isn't necessary - Thinking is necessary

Recently, I wrote a review of Roger Schank's book, Teaching Minds, for Education Canada that has received a good bit of attention.

Jacobsen, M. (2012). Think to Learn: A Review of Schank's "Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save our Schools". Education Canada, 52(2), Spring 2012. URL

Schank's book is about THINKING and makes a great contribution to any discussion about 21st century "skills". His argues we should focus on developing cognitive abilities such as negotiation, evaluation, decision making, diagnosis, team work and planning in school instead of teaching content.  I think every educator, from those who teach kindergarten to those who teach graduate school, should read it and learn from it.

Recently, Roger Schank wrote this little gem for the Washington Post:  "No, algebra isn't necessary - and yes, STEM is overrated".

My favorite part:

"You can live a productive and happy life without knowing anything about macroeconomics or trigonometry but you can’t function very well at all if you can’t make an accurate prediction or describe situations, or diagnose a problem, or evaluate a situation, person or object. The ability to reason from evidence really matters in life, the names of famous scientists and their accomplishments do not.

We can teach people the skills they need if we allow them to choose what interests them and then teach them to predict, evaluate, diagnose, etc., within their area of interest. Teaching algebra and then hoping those skills will transfer to other areas of life is simply fantasy, a fantasy that makes our kids bored and miserable in school".

Read more of Roger Schank's writing here:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eyes High on Research - Fall 2012 Public Lecture Series

A Public Lecture Series, Fall 2012
Sponsored by The Advisor to the President on Women's Issues
Fridays at Noon in Social Sciences 1153
University of Calgary
Curious about the research that will help us meet the Eyes High goal of becoming one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016? Save the dates below and hear research leaders from across the university speak about what excites them in their research.
Noon, Friday September 21: Charlene Elliott, CIHR Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, Policy and Children's Health, is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts (Communication and Culture) and the Faculty of Kinesiology.
Noon, Friday October 19: Lana Wells, Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence, is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work.
Noon, Friday November 2: Shirley Steinberg, Director and Chair of the Werklund Foundation Centre for Youth Leadership Education, is Professor of Youth Studies in the Faculty of Education.
Noon, Friday November 23: Josephine Hill, NSERC Canada Research Chair in Hydrogen and Catalysis, is Associate Professor in the Schulich School of Engineering.

Admission is free and open to the public. However, because space is limited, registration is required. Click here to register.

Other interesting links:
Advisor to the President on Women's Issues

Friday, June 8, 2012

Professionals Do Not Use Marks to Motivate Learners

Once in a while I read a blog that is memorable, one that I believe colleagues and graduate students in the Faculty of Education might appreciate. Yesterday, I was sent this blog by a fellow board member at CEA, entitled "Professionals Don't Use Marks to Motivate".

Dr. Bruce Bearisto offers a timely and well written perspective on assessment for learning. In this post, Bruce connects the recent story of an Alberta teacher suspended for giving a student a zero with sound learning and assessment principles and professional practice. Bruce's blogpost is well worth a read, and will likely provoke some thoughtful discussion about assessment in our faculty. Dr. Bearisto is a retired Superintendent of Schools in BC, who currently serves as an adjunct professor at SFU and is a member of the Canadian Education Association Board.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Education Alumni Panel: Words of Wisdom

A role I enjoy in the Faculty of Education is my service on the Executive of the Education Alumni Chapter with President, Teresa Kinley. Our Alumni Website has been revamped to include a Message from the Executive, Spotlight on Alumni Profiles, and Alumni Events - like the Skate with Santa and the Alumni Panel for Graduating B.Ed students. 

Read this Great UToday story about the Alumni Panel by Betty Rice, HERE.

On April 4, the Education Alumni Association hosted a session with the undergraduate class of 2012, the students about to enter into the workforce—450 new alumni. We presented a panel of classroom teachers, fellow Alumni, to tell the graduating class about those first few years of teaching, and to answer their questions about what to expect. Thank you to Jessica, Jocelyn, Mike, Teresa, Jennifer and Michael, who volunteered to share your experiences!
Faculty of Education alumni took time to share their classrooms experiences with undergrads on April 4. Photo by Clayton MacGillivray

Alumni profiles: Several Alumni have shared stories about what they have been up to since graduation. Our long-term goal is to have enough profiles able to organize them by decade, or ideally, by the graduating year. So, you are invited to get in touch with the Education Alumni, and tell us:
--your degree and when you graduated (e.g. BEd '87, MA ' 05, PhD Educational Technology '98)
--what you've been doing since you graduated
--how you stay connected to the U of C

We are hoping for submissions of up to 500 words and a photo!
Email your profiles to us at

Finally, please do keep an eye on Faculty of Education Events that may be of interest!

Check the main website for a calendar of events. For those of you who live and work in other parts of Alberta, Canada, or the world, many of the presentations (Engaging New Ideas, several keynote lectures), will be posted on line following the events—so watch the website for updates. And remember to follow the Faculty of Education on Twitter—you can find us @UCalgaryEduc

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Engaging Teachers, Engaging Learners: The 2012 Pat Clifford Award

It is my honor to serve as Chair of the CEA Awards Selection Committee and to announce the call for submissions for the 2012 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education.

The 2012 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education recognizes the work of emerging researchers – their promise, research contributions, and commitment to breaking new ground, to challenging commonly held assumptions in education policy, practice or theory in Canada. As a classroom teacher and faculty researcher, Dr. Pat Clifford saw no difference between practice and research. Pat strongly believed that teaching was at the heart of research, and that research was at the heart of teaching.

Read my CEA "Engaging Teachers, Engaging Learners" Blogpost to learn more about CEA's Pat Clifford Award, and my August 2008 blog, Embracing Pat, to learn more about my connection with this amazing teacher and scholar.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

School As Experienced by [Too Many] Young Children

My sister just sent me this little funny -- I don't know who wrote it -- but it resonates with me because all too often kids experience school not as a place that cultivates creativity, imagination and interest in our endlessly fascinating world, but as a place where they are required to conform, sit silently and listen to others tell them about subjects in the curriculum.

A little girl had just finished her first week of school. 'I'm just wasting my time,' she said to her mother. 'I can't read, I can't write, and they won't let me talk!' 

Not so funny, really.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

AERA in Vancouver, BC - April 2012

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference is held in Vancouver, BC this April 2012. I am delighed to be involved in presenting an invited talk and three papers from my collaborative research projects at this conference.

Invited Talk - Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning (TACTL-SIG).

Daniels, J., Varnhagen, S., Friesen, S., and Jacobsen, M. (2012). Barriers to Systemic, Effective, and Sustainable Technology Use in the Classroom. A paper to be presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2012 annual meeting, April 13-17, Vancouver, BC. Nominated for Best Paper by the Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning (TACTL-SIG).

Jacobsen, M., Friesen, S., Daniels, J., and Varnhagen, S. (2012). A Two-Year Case Study of High School Student Engagement and Learning with Technology. A paper to be presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2012 annual meeting, April 13-17, Vancouver, BC.

Jacobsen, M. and Davis, B. (2012). Investigating Usability and User Experience with Clickers in Large Lecture Learning with Student Teachers. A paper to be presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2012 annual meeting, April 13-17, Vancouver, BC.

Technology and High School Success Research - AECT in Jacksonville, FL

Sharon and I had a great time presenting our collaborative research at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Conference in November 2011 -- we traveled to Jacksonville, Florida (took us a whole day, both directions) and we got to hang out with cool folks like Rick Schwier from USask.

A Mixed Method Case Study of Student Engagement, Technology Use and High School Success

Michele Jacobsen and Sharon Friesen, University of Calgary
Jason Daniels and Stanley Varnhagen, University of Alberta

Abstract: The relationship between technology use, student engagement and high school success was examined over two years. Surveys, interviews and classroom observations with students, teachers and school leaders informed study findings. Teachers are enthusiastic about technology, but design low level, low challenge recall assignments and tests. Student interest in learning with technology is high, but engagement tends to be low. Instruction is dominated by information delivery using display technology. Teachers must create meaningful, challenging and authentic student work that integrates technology. Leaders must create a shared vision for learning with technology in high schools; Research data on learning with technology must influence decision-making and systemic change in the education system.