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Spotlight: 2021

Stories from HGSE to revisit and reconsider as we head into the new year
2021 blocks being turned to 2022

As the year draws to a close, the editorial staff in the Communications and Marketing Office looked back at some of our most memorable stories and social posts. Some happen to be the stories that drew the most readers or got the most likes, while others are pieces we simply loved writing and producing. As you look through the list, you might find a few mentions that surprise you — one in particular continues to surprise us! — as well as others that get you thinking.  

The story you missed but should go back to
In early November, award-winning journalist Katie Worth sat down with the Harvard EdCast to answer a question that seems timelier than ever: What are American students actually learning about climate change in schools? Turns out, there’s a lot of misinformation being taught, and in many places, no information at all. As Worth found visiting schools and digging into textbooks, climate change education is just as contentious in the classroom as it is in politics. 

The video interview with Dick Light that made you see the light about college
Earlier this semester, we started a new YouTube video series called “What You Can Do” with Ed School faculty offering advice on simple education challenges and questions. In this video shot in September, long-time professor Dick Light offered five tips for first-year students on how to make the most out of college.

A feel-good story that will make you want to find your old phone books
Ed. magazine published a piece called "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking, With Ishmael" about a new book written by one of our forever favorite Ed School alums, Logan Smalley, Ed.M.’08, and his wife, Stephanie Kent. The quirky interactive paperback pays homage to the iconic Yellow Pages but instead of offering numbers for pizza shops and plumbers, it’s full of listing that will make book and bookstore lovers happy.

Our coverage of a cardboard box
This summer, as part of a new “5 Ways To” series that we debuted on the Usable Knowledge site, we ran a fun — and usable! — piece called 5 Ways to Keep Kids Occupied With a Cardboard Box that came out of work being done at Project Zero. 

The sweet and sometimes humorous Instagram photos that helped connect virtual students to campus
A mittened Bernie Sanders in the iconic purple chair waiting for Gutman chicken fingers (January 21), security officer Dinesh Thapa waving from the entrance of Gutman Library (February 5), an aerial view of Appian Way with a Millenium twist on Star Wars Day (May 4), Elmo wishing the class of 2021 a happy graduation (May 27), and a lone leaf near Longfellow Hall ushering in the fall (October 1). 

Our most-read and shared story of 2021 that surprised even us
In April, Usable Knowledge ran a piece called "The Effect of Spanking on the Brain." The piece looked at new research that shows that spanking actually alters brain function in children. Maybe it was the headline, maybe it was the content or the writing, but this story outperformed pretty much everything else we published on all of our platforms this past year. 

The story that doubled down on the “virtual” in “virtual learning”
In a challenging year of prolonged remote and hybrid instruction, doctoral student Eileen McGivney brought the outside world — and sometimes the universe — into classrooms through immersive technology. Through her work in high schools and in the course she leads at the Ed School, McGivney was able to use virtual reality as a way for students to gain access to seemingly unreachable learning experiences and build connections with each other.

The one that made us fall in love with teachers — all over again
As students and teachers settled back into school buildings this fall, amid the ongoing “not normal” of pandemic teaching and learning, our Education Now broadcast series looked at what it means to teach with compassion. What we heard in that episode — from our panel of caring, perceptive educators — was stirring. “What looks like a disengaged student might be hungry or tired. What looks like a student who's not trying may not know how to ask for help,” said Victor Pereira, who heads up HGSE’s new Teaching and Teacher Leadership master’s program. “Teaching with compassion means understanding their stories and taking the time to know yourself as we check our biases and lead with inquiry.” Hear, hear.


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