Top Prize for Thinkwell's Physics Author

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Congratulations to Thinkwell Author, Steven Pollock, for winning the 2013 prize for U.S. Professor of the Year!

The U.S. Professor of the Year award recognizes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the county.

Professor Pollock was chosen from a field of more than 350 distinguished nominees from across the country.

In addition to this most recent award, Pollock has been awarded the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in STEM Education, Innovation and Research in 2009; the CU President's Teaching Scholar award in 2008; the Sigma Pi Sigma Favorite Physics Professor award multiple times; CU-Boulder's Best Should Teach gold award in 2006; and the Boulder Faculty Assembly Teaching Excellence Award in 1998, among others. He became a Pew-Carnegie National Teaching Scholar in 2001.

Read more about Professor Pollock's work here and check out an amazing video of Professor Pollack at work here: 


Hot Off the Press! Thinkwell's First Print Textbook

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After a lot of hard work and excitement, here it is--Thinkwell's first ever print textbook! We're oohing and aahing up a storm! Learn more about the book here.

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Education Secretary: Textbooks Must Go Digital

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For over a decade, online textbooks have been a crucial part of Thinkwell's approach to education. Our strong commitment to digital learning is behind every one of our online textbooks, available in math, science, and social science subjects for middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, and college students.

Recently, Education Secretary Arne Duncan described the transition from print to online textbooks as absolutely urgent. "Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete," Duncan said. "The world is changing. This has to be where we go as a country."

The education gap continues to widen between students in the U.S. and their peers elsewhere. South Korea, which consistently betters the U.S. in measures of educational outcomes, has embraced digital learning and plans to go fully digital with its textbooks by 2015.

Several states in the U.S. have begun to make digitizing textbooks a priority. Now that all 48 states and D.C. have adopted the Common Core standards (uniform standards for reading and math), it will be easier for states to collaborate in creating online content. This summer, a school district in Huntsville, Alabama, became the first district nationally to attempt to transition completely from print to online textbooks.

Check out Thinkwell's latest online textbook (which also comes in print format), College Algebra.



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Hello from a New Thinkwellian

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Greetings, readers! My name is Leanna and I joined the happy ranks of Thinkwell a few months ago as Assistant Editor. I've been hard at work on one of our newest products--the very awesome College Algebra interactive textbook--but now it's high time I make my blog debut.chloe.jpg

Here to help me make my debut is my Feline Friend, Chloe! You know we love our Canine Cadets at Thinkwell--you can't go wrong with a puggle snuggle--but some of us are cat people, too!




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Thinkwell Volunteers With Colin's Hope

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This Spring, a group of Thinkwellians had an opportunity to serve alongside Colin's Hope, an organization here in Austin, Texas, that promotes water safety.

Colin's Hope, was founded just a few years ago, by the parents of Colin Holst, a lively, energetic boy who drowned in public swimming pool at the age of 4. After dealing with this horrific incident, his parents were shocked to learn that drowning was the number one cause of death for children under the age of 4, and made it their mission to educate others about water safety and drowning prevention.

One of the ways Colin's Hope helps spread the word, is through targeting zip codes throughout the city with the highest risk of drowning rates. Then, packets are distributed to every doorstep, that include safety cards, printed brochures, and healthy snacks. Colin's Hope has seen zip codes with the highest risk, go to zero risk, within a year.

We got together with Alissa Magrum, longtime friend of Thinkwell, and the CEO of Colin's Hope, to learn about this program and stuff over 1,000 packets for distribution. Here are a few pictures we took along the way.


Alissa, giving hope through Colin's Story, teaching us about water safety.


Team Thinkwell, stuffing packets.


Niko, from Tech Support sorting safety cards and arm bands.




To read more about Colin's Hope, Colin's Story, water safety and how you can get involved, check out their website: www.colinshope.org
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Calculus I in 20 Minutes Hits A Million Views

This weekend, Calculus 1 in 20 Minutes, by Thinkwell's very own Professor Ed Burger reached a million views on Youtube! Click the video below to join the many others who have marveled at this amazing lecture. 

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You can find more of Thinkwell's fantastic videos on YouTube, Mindbites, and, as always, our website.

STEM Education at AfterMath Camp

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Kent Fuka is dedicated to STEM education. Not only is he chairman and CFO of Thinkwell, but he's also an advisor for AfterMath Education, a nonprofit group in New Mexico that provides extracurricular STEM education for middle- and high-school students.

 

Their series of 4-day summer camps is coming up soon, and if you're in the Albuquerque area, we highly recommend checking it out. With a unique blend of traditional teaching techniques, hands-on experiments, and even exercise classes, AfterMath Camp has something to offer every student, from those who struggle with STEM subjects to those who excel. Students who sign up will get to prepare for standardized tests, strengthen STEM skills, and of course, have fun.

 

For more information on AfterMath, visit their website or contact them.

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Austin's Theatre Action Project is a nonprofit group that uses theater as an educational tool in schools and communities. They're currently collaborating with Ballet Austin on Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, a three-month multimedia arts project about the Holocaust involving lectures, dance performances, visual art displays, and more.

Last week, Thinkwell employees volunteered with TAP to help build and decorate papier-mâché lanterns for the project's Holocaust Remembrance Day Event at Congregation Agudas Achim. Attached to each lantern is the name of a child who died in the Holocaust. When they're all displayed together, the lanterns will be a beautiful way to honor Holocaust victims and remind us as a community about the importance of human rights.

Thinkwell is proud to be able to contribute to the Light project alongside many other Austin organizations. If you're in the Austin area, we highly encourage you to check out some of the events and performances. 

To make your own papier-mâché lanterns, follow the steps below.

Materials you'll need for one lantern:
  • - 1 balloon
  • - 1 strip of cardboard, about 9" x 3"
  • - masking tape
  • - colored tissue paper, cut into strips
  • - a mix of Elmer's glue and Mod Podge
  • - stickers, glitter, etc. (optional)
  • - 1 electric candle (a real one might set the lantern on fire)
  • lantern2.jpg- string with which to hang the lantern

How to make the lantern:
  1. 1. Inflate the balloon.
  2. 2. Shape the cardboard into a circle and tape it to the bottom of the balloon to form a base.
  3. 3. Cover the balloon with 5 layers of papier-mâché, using the colored tissue paper and glue. Don't forget to cover the cardboard base.
  4. 4. Decorate.
  5. 5. The next day, when the papier-mâché is dry, pop the balloon.
  6. 6. Place the electric candle in the balloon and hang it upside down, using tape or a hole punch to attach the string to the cardboard base.


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The Positive Power of Failure in Education

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For many bright students, making a mistake on a homework assignment or test is one of the worst feelings in the world. But could mistakes play a vital role in the learning process? According to a growing number of educators, the answer is yes.


In his book Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov says, "Error followed by correction and instruction is the fundamental process of schooling...teachers should normalize error and respond to both parts of this sequence as if they were totally and completely normal. After all, they are." Lemov isn't the only one who sees failure as an integral part of education. In their excerpt of his book, website Delancey Place notes that his philosophy reminds them of the motto of the engineering department at "the Franklin Institute's nationally recognized Science Leadership Academy": Fail early, fail often.


Even the New York Times is reconsidering the value of failure. In an article on the effectiveness of homework, author Annie Murphy Paul writes, "When we work hard to understand information, we recall it better; the extra effort signals the brain that this knowledge is worth keeping. This phenomenon, known as cognitive disfluency, promotes learning so effectively that psychologists have devised all manner of 'desirable difficulties' to introduce into the learning process: for example, sprinkling a passage with punctuation mistakes..." Making and then correcting errors may be akin to those "desirable difficulties," the struggle ultimately heightening students' ability to grasp a given concept.


We at Thinkwell are no strangers to this approach to learning. In fact, Professor Edward Burger, the star of Thinkwell's math lectures, considers it one of the most valuable parts of the educational process. "In all my courses," he says, "I emphasize the power of failure: learning from failed attempts and taking risks." In The Heart of Mathematics, the textbook Prof. Burger coauthored, the second item in his list of the top ten mathematical ways of thinking is "Make mistakes and fail but never give up."


How have you and your students approached errors and failure? Do you view them as obstacles to success or as stepping-stones on your way to mastering a subject? Have you found any techniques particularly helpful in learning to view mistakes as a good thing?

Happy Homeschool Halloween!

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Jack-o-lantern.JPGHalloween is just around the corner, and while most of us will have fun with candy and costumes, there are also plenty of ways to make the holiday a learning opportunity for your homeschool students.

For example, once you get back from trick-or-treating with a bucket full of loot, you can use the candy for math lessons. For younger kids, Surf Net Parents has some sorting and estimating activities, while older students can learn about calorie content and graphing with these exercises from Education.com.

If it's science lessons you're looking for, check out these awesome candy experiments--you can use your Halloween spoils to learn about density, pH, and more! Red, White & Grew also has some anatomy activities that go perfectly with all the spooky skeletons and fake blood on October 31.

What better way to study literature on Halloween than to read Washington Irving's classic short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"? This Red, White & Grew post links to the original version, a children's adaptation, and Disney's take on it (something for all ages!), while Connect the Thoughts has a Washington Irving literary guide on sale for the Halloween season.

The holiday also offers a great opportunity to learn about other cultures. This infographic details spooky superstitions from around the world, while this Soul Travelers 3 post discusses Halloween celebrations in different countries. And of course, the day after Halloween is Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which you can learn more about here.

And a good old-fashioned Halloween lapbook ties it all together.

How do you plan to homeschool this Halloween? What are your favorite homeschooling ideas from Halloweens past? Let us know in the comments!

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