The Educator's Notebook

A weekly collection of education-related news from around the web.

Educator’s Notebook #435 (January 21, 2024)


  • An excellent few weeks!

    I hope your new calendar year is off to a great start.  If not, there’s plenty to dig into in this issue to get you going: from this week’s feature articles which both offer some surprising takes on hot button issues in schools.

    Also this week, see developments in the adolescent experience, some helpful cognitive science tips for memory and learning, and growing calls for removing cell phones from learning environments.

    These, plus an iteration of the newsletter design this week… enjoy!

    More to come in the weeks ahead,


    • Inside Higher Ed
    • 01/17/24

    “The responses varied notably by race and ethnicity. Among Black adults, 52 percent said the legal victory for Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was “mostly a good thing,” while 48 percent found it mostly bad. In comparison, 72 percent of white respondents, 68 percent of Hispanics and 63 percent of Asians approved of the decision, while 28 percent of white, 32 percent of Hispanic and 38 percent of Asian respondents disapproved.”

    • New York Times
    • 01/07/24

    “Without test scores, admissions officers sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between applicants who are likely to do well at elite colleges and those who are likely to struggle. Researchers who have studied the issue say that test scores can be particularly helpful in identifying lower-income students and underrepresented minorities who will thrive. These students do not score as high on average as students from affluent communities or white and Asian students. But a solid score for a student from a less privileged background is often a sign of enormous potential.”



    • New York Times
    • 01/12/24

    “Nicotine pouches are even less visible than vaping. Zyns come in two strengths in the United States, three and six milligrams. A single six-milligram pouch is a dose so high that first-time users on TikTok have said it caused them to vomit or pass out.”

    • Medical Economics
    • 01/11/24
    • New York Times
    • 12/31/23

    “Today’s hyperpartisan system, with its Manichaean mentality, can make parties even more unappealing for younger voters, said John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, whose specialty is younger voters. “They are not willing to take that responsibility to have to defend one party and create an enemy of the other.””



    • ASCD
    • 12/01/23

    “Digital storytelling projects—like those I’ve used with my students—can help teachers connect the curriculum to their communities, and help students make connections across disciplines and to their own lives. At a time when artificial intelligence has everyone wondering about the future of writing instruction, digital storytelling projects like those outlined here and discussed in my forthcoming book, Storytelling With Purpose: Digital Projects to Ignite Student Curiosity (ISTE, 2024), provide highly engaging, authentic learning experiences and “uncheatable” assessments.”








    • Smithsonian
    • 01/17/24
    • Aeon
    • 01/15/24

    “Gurindji speakers’ habit of using cardinal directions would seem to have opened up their powers of perception. At least some Gurindji speakers may be able to consciously feel Earth’s magnetic field. But do English speakers and Gurindji speakers live in ‘distinct worlds’, as Sapir would have it? Having greater sensitivity to some features of the environment still seems like something less than the all-encompassing, incommensurable worldviews of the Humboldtian tradition.”

    • Culture Study
    • 01/07/24

    “Like many writers, I went through an extreme em-dash phase (if you think I use a lot of em-dashes now, you have no idea). Then I moved on to the colon, and at some point, the semi-colon. This was in my late teens and 20s. I was reading a lot of Henry James…..and then a lot of academic writing.”

    • MIT
    • 01/03/24

    “A new study finds that language regions in the left hemisphere light up when reading uncommon sentences, while straightforward sentences elicit little response.”





    • Yale Review
    • 12/01/23

    “Ultimately, Chayka’s recommendation for fleshing out the flatness of Algorithmic Culture is to reinvest human agency into the narrative he has crafted to eliminate it. He calls for a return to human curators, not algorithmic ones.”





A.I. Update


  • AI developments over the past few months are coming again as fast they came over the summer. This time, however, the developments are in multimodal technologies.  

    At the end of the 2023, releases its AI song generator, which is stunning for what it means for art creation (except for the IP). See the LifeHacker piece for more information on this.

    Also, has continued to superpower its video AI generator.  See Ethan Mollick demonstrates just how powerfully real digital avatars can be. Look at his video that was scripted by him, and that made by completely simulating his voice and face.  Stunning.

    For our schools, see the lengthy education section this week.  From curated resources for teachers and leaders to a university enrolling an AI student, recent news shows that we are heavily in the experimentation stage as a sector.  See the posts below for more.

    These and more, enjoy!


    • LinkedIn
    • 01/05/24

    “This is a completely fake video of me. The AI (HeyGen) used 30 seconds of me talking to a webcam and 30 seconds of my voice, and now I have an avatar that I can make say anything. Don't trust your own eyes.”

    • Brandeis
    • 01/01/24

    “Whether students in your course are forbidden from using chatGPT or expected to explore its limits, a policy helps ensure that your expectations for appropriate interaction with generative AI tools are clear to students. Once you decide on a policy, make sure you articulate it clearly for your students, so that they know what is expected of them. Below are examples of sample language you may adopt for your own policy. Feel free to modify it or create your own to suit the needs of your course.”


    • BizNews
    • 01/18/24

    “The future may see two main categories emerge: one resembling familiar learning platforms and the other adopting a “friendship-first” model. While the former promises personalised learning experiences, the latter envisions chatbots as companions that subtly impart knowledge over time”

    • Dan Meyer
    • 01/17/24

    “If any one thing can be said about all the practitioners in a field as vast as teaching, it is that they are ruthlessly pragmatic with their time. They can afford to be nothing less. If teachers thought generative AI had a realistic shot of saving them time, we would have seen different survey results here.”

    • Learning On Purpose
    • 01/12/24

    “Generate and discuss scenarios. Examples and case studies are always a valuable way to move a conversation from abstract to concrete. AI can generate scenarios based on your goals. For example, you could train AI on case studies like Harvard’s “Confronting Challenges” for principals and have it generate new case studies in a similar style that are related to issues you’re facing at your school.”

    • UVA
    • 01/12/24
    • Harvard Business Review
    • 01/12/24
    • EdWeek
    • 01/11/24

    “In this animated video, high school ELA teachers Larry Ferlazzo (who also hosts an EdWeek Opinion blog) and Katie Hull Sypnieski offer their best-practice advice for any educator who is either intrigued by, intimated by, or deeply comfortable with the use of AI. Whether it’s how to refresh a lesson plan, differentiate instruction, create high-interest reading materials, or leverage assistive technology—Ferlazzo and Hull Sypnieski provide their guidance.”

    • LinkedIn
    • 01/09/24

    “Our focus as always remains on the responsible adoption of AI, but here are 6 specific efforts you could be a part of. – Prompt Library (testing or submission of Prompts) – AI for Education Summit (March 16th) – National AI Literacy Day (April 19th) – Responsible GenAI Edtech Tools Framework – AI for Education Ambassador at your school – Webinar Idea or Guest”

    • EdWeek
    • 01/08/24
    • Michigan Live
    • 01/08/24






Every week I send out articles I encounter from around the web. Subject matter ranges from hard knowledge about teaching to research about creativity and cognitive science to stories from other industries that, by analogy, inform what we do as educators. This breadth helps us see our work in new ways.

Readers include teachers, school leaders, university overseers, conference organizers, think tank workers, startup founders, nonprofit leaders, and people who are simply interested in what’s happening in education. They say it helps them keep tabs on what matters most in the conversation surrounding schools, teaching, learning, and more.

Peter Nilsson


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