July 2018

The Quest for Deep Learning

By Miriam Bogler      March 10,2015

About a week ago,while searching on google,I discovered a website that intrigued me. It was the site of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning–a global partnership between education experts,schools systems, philanthropic and private sector organizations and hundreds of schools around the world. Their hope is to gather the experiences of all that are involved in this effort to learn how to make education more relevant to the needs of today’s students. For those of you who follow education news as I do,it is quite evident that deep learning has captured the attention of education stakeholders around the world. In this new 21st century economy,employers have been loudly expressing their need for highly skilled employees that can solve problems,think critically,communicate and collaborate effectively,and be innovative. Schools,scholars,and different organizations are diligently looking into methods that can improve student learning and instill students with those deep learning skills. I have followed this topic quite extensively and have looked at it from different angles. In a series of blog entries,I will discuss my journey into the different aspects of deep learning and based on research and articles I read,I will lay out the methods that have the best potential to improve learning. Continue reading The Quest for Deep Learning

Why Did I Create Project Pals

By Miriam Bogler      October 24,2013
Project Pals Analysis

The Project Pals Application

As an advocate of project-based learning,my students were always busy working on projects. While observing them work,it always occurred to me,that there was a fundamental flaw in the way they were approaching problems. Instead of engaging in an investigative process of discovery that leads to deep learning,they approached it as a process of searching information for the “one right answer.”An outcome,which is greatly influenced by an industrial age education system,that fails to instill critical thinking and collaboration skills,so essential for the workforce of the 21st century. These days,as our education system starts waking up to the benefits of project-based learning and 21st century skills,we are witnessing many new effective methods that can turn our students into critical thinkers.  Yet,a student’s ability to tap into a generic approach that they can always turn to when faced with a problem,is still to be desired. Such a set of guidelines can provide students with the means to simplify and organize information,better understand what they learn,store it more effectively in long term memory,see the big picture and discover relationships within the data. Realizing this,motivated me to start Project Pals. Continue reading Why Did I Create Project Pals

Keep the Discussion Going

By Miriam Bogler      October 24,2013
The Project Pals Interface

The Project Pals Interface

It has been a long time since my last blog entry,but I was busy founding a new educational startup called Project Pals. Project Pals is a web-based application where students can create projects with others. Project Pals is focused on “How to Solve the Problem” based on established findings in cognitive science. The application is not complete and I am still navigating my way through the tremendous hurdles of forming a startup.

While being consumed with my work at Project Pals,I realized that creating an educational startup is never complete without an ongoing dialog with the education world about the problems it is trying to solve and how those are reflected in the topics that are defining the current conversation in education.

It is never too late to add my five cents to the great discussion that is going on about important topics in education such as:project-based learning,educational reform,aligning education with the latest findings in cognitive science,the common core and other important topics.

So,this is my first attempt to keep the conversation going………

Beyond the Rhethoric –Technology in Action


By Miriam Bogler      April 22,2010
Picassos Guernica

Picasso's Guernica

As soon as I walked into this middle school classroom,I noticed that it was completely different from what I’d seen before. The classroom was quite big and students were working in groups,gathered around round tables or sitting on the floor next to their laptops. The elevated noise level was apparent,but no one seemed to be bothered by it. In one corner of the room,Picasso’s famous painting “Guernica”was projected on the wall. From time to time,students glanced at the painting and turned back to their laptops to write down their newly discovered observation. A few groups were engaged in heated conversation about art as a tool for political protest,while comparing it to contemporary graffiti as a tool for social expression.

I noticed that every group was engaged on different parts of a multi-disciplinary project. A few students were busy researching the Spanish Civil War–the historical event which inspired Picasso to paint the “Guernica.”Others were busy identifying the symbols in the painting and what each meant. A different group was working diligently on a “Guernica”recreation,using a professional art software called Painter and a Wacom tablet. Disagreement arose over what type of palette to use in the painting. Some said that Picasso suppressed color because he felt that it will distract from the impact of the painting,others thought that a livelier palette may better serve the cry of the victims. At the far end of the room,a group of students –dressed in costumes that fit the characters in the painting –were getting ready to rehearse and videotape a live recreation of the painting,as they witnessed in the Laguna Beach Art Pageant. The final goal was to create a website in which students will analyze Picasso’s “Guernica,”in terms of its historical background,symbolism,artistic style,political message,impact,artistic and live recreations,and an itemized comparison to contemporary graffiti. Continue reading Beyond the Rhethoric –Technology in Action

Constructing Your Vision with DoInk

By Miriam Bogler      March 13,2010

One of my favorite things to do while reading a book is creating a vision of what the scenes and characters look like. For as long as the reading lasts,I can turn into an imaginary director –staging scenes,dressing characters,and putting on my own show. Later,if the book is made into a movie,I enjoy comparing my vision of the book to the director’s interpretation. Disappointments or pleasant surprises usually follow. As enjoyable as this exercise is,I have never tried seriously to discover why I (and many others) do this. Until one day,as I was reading the Smithsonian Institute’s “Once Upon a Real Time:Telling the Stories the Past Tells Us,”I noticed that one of the methods described to improve student understanding is encouraging them to envision story scenes and characters in their minds. It became clear that visualizing is an important part of the learning process.

I wanted to test this method on my students,and I was looking for implementations that would be appropriate for our internet-age students. My explorations led me to a free,web-based drawing and animation application called DoInk. DoInk is relatively new and tries to appeal to those who enjoy drawing and creating animations,sharing them with others,and publishing them for all to see and enjoy. Published art creations become part of a big pool of props that users can search and use in their own creations. This web-based art and animation tool is backed by a dedicated DoInk community,turning it into an active social network focused on art and animation. Continue reading Constructing Your Vision with DoInk

Meaningful Learning With PersonalBrain

By Miriam Bogler      February 15,2010

In a typical middle school,a social studies teacher was contemplating how to commemorate black history month in a way that will leave a lasting impact on students who had no idea what type of life,humiliations,and struggles the black community in America had experienced. She decided to pick “The Story of an Escape:Flight on the Pearl,”from the Smithsonian Education series “Once Upon a Real Time:Telling the Stories the Past Tells Us.”The story is about the  famous escape of slaves in Washington D.C. in 1848,which was a watershed in the fight of the anti-slavery movement in America. In view of the enormity of the task,she decided to divide the class to teams. The assignment was to read the story,understand it,identify and analyze the stakeholders,scenes,plot,and viewpoints. The teacher tried to avoid assigning roles because she felt that it was part of the learning process. Instead she advised students to record “story thinking”by hanging up large sheets of paper around the classroom and record their thoughts while working on the story. This,she thought,will help her students identify the main components in the story and make role assignments easier. Continue reading Meaningful Learning With PersonalBrain

Making Observations With Google Apps

By Miriam Bogler      January 30,2010

One of the major stumbling blocks that students face when conducting research is how to construct meaning from what they read. Research usually starts with a question or topic that the teacher has assigned or the student is curious about. In most cases,the students use a search engine to look up as many sources as possible for their research. Students often use advanced search to filter research results to fit their exact topic or age level. As they identify their sources,they usually store research results in a web-based research management tool such as Diigo or Zotero. As complex as this may seem,students as young as 8 years old perform this process almost flawlessly. The problem usually starts when they open a piece of text and start reading what it says. When students get to this stage,I can almost see the wall that is formed between the student and the text. They seem mostly lost. Why is it so difficult to read text,understand what it says,and identify the things that relate to the students’goals? Continue reading Making Observations With Google Apps

The Obsession With Typing

By Miriam Bogler      January 17,2010

I know that I promised to continue my “Project-based learning Google templates”series,but I could not help myself but share my thoughts with you about a subject that has had me thinking for a while- typing. A few weeks ago,our school held an open house for prospective parents. As parents walked through the computer lab,one parent approached me and asked me about our computer program. I explained to her that we have one computer class per week in which students are researching and creating projects that relate to topics they study,using web-based tools (Google Apps). It was clear that my response was not what she was looking for and she kept asking:“Are you teaching typing?”I told her that due to limited computer lab time,students cannot engage in typing. She walked away and joined the group and I was left wondering:why are so many parents and teachers focused on the importance of typing skills? Continue reading The Obsession With Typing

Planning the Task with Google Apps

By Miriam Bogler      January 6,2010

Imagine a classroom getting ready to start working on a project. The teacher has just assigned the driving question–a question designed to look into the heart of a discipline and serve the purpose of organizing and driving activities in the project. Getting ready to plan activities for this project turns out to be a challenging task for the students. The teacher,who anticipates the difficulty,decides to break the task into more manageable sub-goals and provides them with a project template designed to systematically guide them through the core components of a project:defining the task,documenting information sources,recording observations,inferences and questions. Using this template helps students become task driven,thoughtful planners,focus on one small thing at a time and pay attention to details. As a result,students end-up gathering a meaningfully organized body of information they can rely on to answer the driving question and write their project conclusions. Continue reading Planning the Task with Google Apps

Project-Based Learning With Google Sites

By Miriam Bogler      December 25,2009

Last year,I introduced Google Sites as a presentation and collaboration tool for my students. They used it to create projects covering the California Missions,Native Americans,and each of the 50 states. On the surface,the sites functioned as an online replacement of traditional paper. In essence,students were able to create quite sophisticated projects with it. For example,students were able to embed a Google Map,marked with all 21 California missions into their site,long before Google enabled this functionality. But the main advantage of using Google Sites or the entire Google Apps package was that due to its web-based collaborative nature,students could brainstorm and work with their team members and access their files from anywhere. As the students learned to master Google Sites,the company kept adding new features almost daily. Some of these additions have opened up new possibilities for using Google Sites as a project-based learning template that helps students organize their work and manage the process of creating a project in teams. Continue reading Project-Based Learning With Google Sites