Back Home and Back to the Basics


Sitting here at Logan International Airport in Boston awaiting my flight back to Chicago. Able to check off another on my list of things to do, attend a National NSTA Conference. I couldn’t have picked a better year to go. This year’s conference was held in Boston. I met a ton of great teacher scientists. I even got a few minutes to walk the exhibit hall floor, seeking out the latest and greatest for science education.

I was surprised by the number vendors selling simple gadgets for the classroom. Ex. fake snow, mentos loaders for diet coke bottles(if not familiar click here), strong magnets in tennis balls, etc… This got me thinking, actually it made me smile and laugh. I felt like a kid again, amazed by science, able to forget those annoying questions like, “What catalyst are they using? Is that just poly-vinyl-alcohol? Did this guy try and sell my Sea Monkeys?” Letting go and becoming a kid again allowed me to enjoy science, remembering it was these simple demonstrations that kept my attention, leading to my ultimate degree in science. A day later came the thinking.

It’s very easy for us to forget what it’s like to not know. In Made to Stick , authors Chip and Dan Heath talk about this “curse of knowledge”. Chip and Dan talk about it in context of a failure to communicate in business, thus your idea fails to stick. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. Example from the book.

The curse of knowledge was explored in 1990 by a PhD candidate named Elizabeth Newton

For her dissertation, Newton asked participants to tap the rhythm of a well-known tune. The tappers predicted that listeners would be able to identify the songs 50 percent of the time, whereas in reality the listeners could only figure out the tune about 3 percent of the time. The reason for the disconnect, Kruger says, is that tappers would inevitably “hear” the whole, orchestrated tune in their minds as they tapped, whereas listeners heard only an irregular series of taps.†

My goal with this blog is provide the basics, the simple steps for beginners and those that may have forgotten. Many of the initial posts here will reference the great work Matt Monjan has done over at Streaming A to Z. Beyond streaming, we’ll take a look at the easy to use web2.0 sites. Lots of printable one-sheeters for you to have and share with other teachers in your school and district.

I hope you’ll join me here a Basically Speaking as we learn or review great tools together.

†Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Made to Stick. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 2007.


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