How Your Brain Messes With You (My Favorite Optical Illusions)


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There’s No Tomorrow (Excerpts from the Movie)

“There's No Tomorrow” (Excerpts From the Hard-Hitting Animated Documentary.)


Catch the movie here:


It took nature about 5 million years to create the fossil fuels that the world consumes in 1 year. The modern way of life is dependent on this fossilized sunlight, although a surprising number of people take it for granted.

Once an oil well starts producing oil, it's only a matter of time before it enters a decline. Typically it takes 40 years after the peak of discovery for a country to reach its peak of production, after which it enters a permanent fall.

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Whispers and Whoops: How to Get as Smart as a Brick


Who doesn’t love Brick Heck? He’s so cute and quirky (Softly whisper the word QUIRKY into your chest – because it comforts you.)

In case you don’t know, Brick is the youngest son of Mike and Frankie Heck – a middle class family in middle America in the TV series called the Middle. The role of Brick is played by Atticus Shaffer. (ATTICUS.)

Brick is smart. Very smart. Here’s what this lovable TV character can teach us about how to get as smart as he is:

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How to Learn Better (30 Brain-Friendly Tips & Techniques)

Try these neurologically nifty techniques to improve your learning…

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The Education Revolution vs The Scourge of Standardized Assessment: What Really Matters


Teachers: Let’s be brutally honest shall we: exam results are all that matters in education. Bottom line.


Don’t misunderstand: What students can regurgitate and explain and do in a stress-fueled few hours should not be the ultimate end of their education. Schools should be hubs of self-discovery and confidence building where students learn to think and express themselves independently and where the focus is on curiosity, discovery, critical thinking, creativity and all those other yummy twenty-first century skills. But they aren’t, by and large. Even schools which profess to have these wonderful education principles at their core still subject their students to standardized examinations at the end of the academic year.

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ClassCraft FTW! (Why ClassCraft is the Best Thing to Happen to Education Since the iPad.)

ClassCraft is simply awesome!
I've been using it now for a few months and I have been amazed at how it increases engagement in my class.
Developed by high school Physics teacher Shawn Young, and successfully crowd-funded, ClassCraft is revolutionizing classrooms around the world by gamifying the learning experience.
(Not familiar with gamification in the classroom? Check out this post for an introduction.)
Specifically, this is what I LURV about ClassCraft:
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Woot! Let’s Play! (Leveling-Up Education Though Gamification) #gamification

Let’s play a game…

(Note: Please see my next post on ClassCraft for the best tool there is to gamify your classroom!)

Here is your character: Continue reading

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The Saddest Thing About Being a Teacher.

The saddest thing about being a teacher is seeing the amount of wasted potential leaving our school gates every year.

How dispiriting it is to see what standardized testing and what some (often well-intentioned) teachers can do to a young person's confidence and sense of self-worth. (What makes it worse is how often I am part of the problem myself.)

I despair at the amount of young people who finish school without a sense of purpose and belief that they can change the world in their own special way.

Foolish optimist that I am, though: I live for the day when schools will realise that their job is not to create businessmen and doctors, or even good test-takers, but to help every child to find the desire and the confidence to make their own special mark on the world.

And to be happy.

All the rest follows.



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Collaborative Writing Experiment: Call for Contributions

Dear Reader

I want us to write a story. It will be a story about a school. Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Perhaps a little ironic. Maybe even a touch zany.

What would happen?

I want you to help to write this story, one line at a time.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Compose a line to go into the story.
  2. Add it as a comment below this blog or tweet it and add my Twitter name @SeanHCole.
  3. Share this project with your friends and on social media.
  4. If I get enough responses, I’ll weave them all together into a story. I’ll edit where I need to so please don’t be afraid of the rough edges.
  5. I’ll try to develop the central characters and story lines out of common threads.

Feel free to contribute as many lines as you like. I’ll need about 4000 of them.

Think about it as a crowd-sourced creative project. Instead of money, though, you contribute your ideas.

Let’s see how this goes.


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Peeling Potatoes: The Peculiar Challenge of Teaching Teachers



A One-Armed Man in a Juggling Contest

I used to think that teaching kids under the age of ten was the most difficult thing a teacher could do. It isn't. Or else that it was teaching chimps sign language. It isn't that either. Teaching adults is more challenging by far. And teaching other teachers is the most difficult thing any trainer can possibly do. Mainly, this is because teaching some teachers is like teaching the most disruptive / most demanding children – except that you'll find that you can help these kids… if you really work at it. Too often, teaching teachers feels like being a one-armed man in a juggling contest: you can be as entertaining as you like but it usually feels like you haven't actually achieved anything – simply because of the limits of what you've got to work with.

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Imagine a world with no more exams

Sean Hampton-Cole:

Less testing, more teaching. An idea whose time has come.

Originally posted on Buzzing Blue Room:

Take a moment, imagine it.


Six weeks a year we spend writing exams. A week before each of the two the examination periods is given over to exam preparation. And before those dreaded weeks I am constantly aware of how much I have to leave behind, unexplored, because of the dreaded syllabus that needs to be completed before my kids have to sit down and prove, again, what they have already shown me in class.

Even I (and I am no Maths boff) can work out that eight weeks will give me an extra forty days of teaching time.

What would I do with an extra eight weeks of teaching time? I probably would not even add anything new to my syllabus. But I can teach in greater depth, have time for discussions and side-ways exploration. We might even go off-topic and come full circle back on-topic.

Okay, truthfully, I…

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30(ish) of the Best iPad Apps for Education (2014 Edition)



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Powers of Ten (1977). Still One of The Most Exceptional Short Science Films Ever Made

No words. Just watch:

Navigate to: for more about this little marvel.


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What is it? (A Riddle)


Every year it gains as many young as it loses old (more or less).

No-one there seems to age. And then suddenly you realize that they all have.

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What Would Your Mother Say, You Blackguard? (Funny Fallacious Fallacies.)

I found this here:

It's already 12 years old.

Seems like another brilliant idea that didn't get enough airplay.

Time to revive it, I say.


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25 Questions Every 21st Century Student Should Be Able to Answer

25 Questions Every 21st Century Student Should Be Able to Answer

(And then a few more)

  1. What is the value of creativity?
  2. How do I evaluate the reliability of a website?
  3. How do I stay safe online?
  4. Why is metacognition important?
  5. How do I learn most effectively?
  6. How do I create an engaging presentation?
  7. How do I keep my brain healthy?
  8. How do I manage my time effectively?
  9. What are the common fallacies in arguments?
  10. What productivity apps should I use?
  11. Why is the scientific method important?
  12. How do I spot chicanery and fraudulent thinking?
  13. How do I analyze a text critically?
  14. How do I write and speak to convince others?
  15. Why is standing up for myself and being assertive important?
  16. Why is it important to be kind to others?
  17. Why is it important to be kind to nature?
  18. What things can I do to ensure a sustainable, equitable future?
  19. Why is it important to fail?
  20. Why should I be courageous and determined?
  21. Why is it important to read?
  22. Why is it important to sleep?
  23. How do I manage my money?
  24. Why is art important?
  25. Why is it important to find mentors?

And a few more:

  • How does my brain work?
  • How do I work effectively as part of a team?
  • Why is important to be curious and to learn about things independently?
  • How can I find my own way to be happy rather than sticking to some formula?
  • Why is it important to question and think for myself?

Got any to add?

This post was inspired by this piece of brilliance by one of my favorite education gurus: Mr Terry Heick:



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No, We Are Not Civilized. Or, Why the 21st Century is Still Stuck in the 12th (The Persistence of Middle-Ages Mentality in the Modern Age)

Hans Rosling has shown us that the world is getting better. We have by far the greatest proportion of humanity moving out of absolute poverty that we have ever had. At the same time, Stephen Pinker proves that, remarkably, we are also becoming less violent as a species. We have the internet to exchange ideas, and hundreds of thousands of social justice and environmental movements are springing up demanding a better world.

But in so many ways, we are still enormously backward. So medieval, in fact, that I do despair sometimes. How can we be simultaneously becoming so enlightened and still suffer from these plagues to our collective progress:

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Student Appraisal of Teacher (Form)


Feel free to download and modify this form.

Suggestions are welcomed.

Student Appraisal of Teacher


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Why I Am Frightened of Getting Old

I like getting older. Age brings simplification; a channeling of the raging torrent into an essential trickle. I enjoy the clarity that this narrowing-down brings.

But I am also mortally afraid of getting old. I am afraid that I will stop appreciating the intricate workings of the world around me. I am terrified of losing the ability to see from a divergent perspective and to catch on to change. I am scared of no longer being surprised.


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The Humanistic Physicist (Kurt Vonnegut)


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