ED Tech Talk Roundtable 53 | When the Teacher Leaves the Room

ChrisJamie and Michael discuss the articles of the week and share their edtech tips.

Articles of the Week


  1. At the Acton Academy in Austin, TX, we are experimenting with a “Learner Driven Community,” a disruptive approach led by self-directed learners, in a community tightly bound by personal covenants and contracts, using the full power of the internet to craft a transformative, personalized learning path. Inspired by the work of Sugata Mitra and his Hole in the Wall experiments, where children in some of the poorest villages in Africa and Asia, armed only with an internet terminal (and no teacher) have outperformed the top private schools in their countries, Acton learners are taking charge of their education. We use multi-age classrooms; the latest game-based adaptive computer programs; and quest-like adventures for deeper integrative learning, in a studio increasingly run by our young learners.
  2. A backchannel is a conversation that takes place alongside an activity or event. In most cases, this happens using a digital or mobile device. There are many different ways you can backchannel. You could use Twitter, Today’s Meet, or Google Moderator just to name a few. Having a backchannel is a great way to open up a conversation to all students in class and expand on any discussion.
  3. Today, that metric exists. Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, is the culmination of the first wave of “sabermetrics,” the study of why teams win and lose baseball games—mature fruit of an idea first planted by Bill James in 1977 and watered, tended, and pruned by statisticians and analysts like Mike Gimbel (in 1990), Keith Woolner (1995), and Voros McCracken (2001). It’s a fairly intuitive concept: Take all the runs a player contributes at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field, then calculate the additional games a team would win should they have this player rather than a scrub from AAA. It’s what the Society for American Baseball Research (or SABR) probably always dreamed about: a single metric that communicates, in one glance, a rough understanding of the value a player added to his team.
  4. Kids have nuanced views of blended, flipped, and online courses.
  5. Different teaching styles appeal to different types of students. Despite popular opinion, I know folks who do really well with lecture-based courses. Perhaps they’re just really well adapted to how most of our educational system works. Or perhaps they’re just some of the few who do really well with that instead of a more hands-on approach. Most studies show that more learning happens with hands-on approaches, and the handy infographic below addresses that concept. It shows learning as a pyramid, with the least amount of retention on top, and the most on the bottom.
  6. Eleven-year-olds running a classroom? That could sound outlandish to some elementary school teachers, but not to Joe Jamison, or “Mr. J” as he is affectionately called by his fifth-grade students at Lawrence Intermediate School in central New Jersey. “I learn from my kids,” says Mr. J, as he dips his hand into a Philadelphia Eagles football helmet — otherwise known as the “helmet of fate” — and pulls out the name of the next group of students to give a presentation on Mercy Otis Warren, an American playwright and poet, not to mention one of the few female propagandists of the American Revolution, which Mr. J’s class is studying.

Tech Tips


  1. The No.1 App for Every Teacher…. | Learning and Innovation dedwards.me
  2. StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.
  3. Quill quill.org
    My daughter writes these worksheets at home. I know that she’d rather complete them online, with the instant feedback that online delivers.



About miles.mei

Technology Multimedia Specialist

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