John McCarthy

Educator and life long learner. Exploring the many ways to advocate for student voice in their learning career. Passions: my family, writing, teaching, and gaming. Blog: Blog:

Most commented posts

  1. Rebutting Misconceptions about Differentiated Instruction — 7 comments
  2. Inspiring the Writer in everyone — 7 comments
  3. Learning Preferences Cards — 5 comments
  4. Student Learning Preferences Quick Surveys — 4 comments
  5. Education is like Yoga III: Starting School Right — 3 comments

Author's posts

Why Concept Learning?

I noticed a tutor working with a student at a Starbucks. I’ve brought my own kids to such places for tutoring help. Nothing like a beverage to ignite academic thinking. Long division was the focus of the student. She looked to be a tween or young teen, and she looked stressed. “I don’t get it,” …

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Belly Up to the Genius Bar

I’m at the Genius Bar of the Apple Store to get help with my laptop. As usual the customer service is top notch. I’ve had two service staff assist me, and done so in a collaborative way. Both are supporting other customers at the same time that they are helping me, yet I do not …

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Inspiring the Writer in everyone

The Window activity was taught to me by Sally Jessup, my close friend and colleague. She had a gift for recognizing in others a capacity that they did not always see in themselves. The Window activity, as she designed it, is a powerful tool for inspiring writing in all people. She understood that writing skills …

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Communication = Voice

Student voice in learning is a reoccurring topic for me. At every workshop I do, voice becomes an integrated action item that teachers grapple with. This was the case during my sessions at the PBL World Conference in Napa, CA. Fostering student voice is a critical key to enabling them to effect their learning experiences. …

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Hip Hop Genius Innovates Education

PBL World 2013 is meeting the highest expectations as conference that redefines thinking about learning. Today’s keynote, Sam Seidel, talked about how the business of education can be re-invented, and he showed how it’s being done. Sam Seidel, author of Hip Hop Genius, shared his life’s passion for Hip Hop, and how he combines that …

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Differentiated Instruction through the 8 Elements of Project Based Learning

On June 20th, I’ll be presenting at PBL World on Differentiated Instruction (DI). As I immerse myself into that process, I thought this would be a good time to make several posts in the theme of DI. What follows is a way to kick things off… Project Based Learning (PBL) is an efficient structure for …

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Making the Invisible Visible: Scaffolds

I love watching the show, “So you think you can dance.” A show about “amateur” (emphasis on the air quotes) dancers who perform on a televised stage in the hopes of either winning or staying in the competition long enough to get noticed. When the contestants dance in their style of choice their movements appear …

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3 p.m. Remembrance: Learning about Memorial Day

Bivouac Of The Dead by Theodore O’Hara THE MUFFLED drum’s sad roll has beat The soldier’s last tattoo; No more on Life’s parade shall meet That brave and fallen few. On Fame’s eternal camping-ground Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead. (complete poem) I’m not a …

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Not your traditional projects: Three Understandings about PBL

A big open secret about Project Based Learning (PBL) is that it’s a great structure for designing units of study. But many educators struggle with this understanding. It’s no wonder when you think about the concept of project carries so much historical baggage. As a student, I remember doing school projects that were fun and …

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Adjusting for Success

“Defense wins games; rebounds wins championships.” As a sports fan and a former basketball coach I’ve seen this to be a truism. Take the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Michael Jordan was the leader who could will a victory from games that should have been lost. While an offensive force, he and Scottie Pippen lead a team …

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