Jun 26 2016

Highly Recommended: Alternative Education Conference in Portland, Oregon

After five years, the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) is finally bringing their annual conference back to the US West Cost at Portland, Oregon, August 3-7, 2016. Sign up right away if interested. There is not much time left. As one who attended the conference the last time it came to Portland, I can attest that it was a wonderfully moving experience. The keynote speakers will be: Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of… Read more

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Jan 09 2016

Fractions Made Visible – and Fun

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons The aptly named website, “Visual Fractions,” shows fraction concepts and operations the way I teach them – from a visual basis. Although it is standard for math curricula to introduce fractions visually, most of them drop the visualization too early. Worse, when many children are just starting to grasp these concepts, they are expected to move onto the next ones before they have practiced and explored enough to feel confident and remember what they need to do. The “Visual Fractions” website not only… Read more

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Sep 17 2015

New Osmo Game

Osmo®, the educational game platform that incorporates actual, hands-on pieces while giving software-based feedback and enhancements, has a new game for teaching basic math concepts and operations, called “Numbers.” As I mentioned in a previous post, Osmo uses the camera on an iPad to “see” which game pieces the player(s) have put in front of it. The creators of “Numbers” attempt to avoid math anxiety by incorporating flexibility and creativity, avoiding time limits, and building in options for collaboration and fun…. Read more

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May 12 2015

New Story for Young Children Supports Nature as Natural

Category: Health,Learning,Play,Self-Directed LearningAdmin @ 3:41 pm

To counteract "Nature-Deficit Disorder," a new release from Barefoot Books, Outdoor Opposites, plays with words for opposites while portraying children enjoying the natural world. Macy Koch has written a nice description of the book (for ages 3-7) here. It is good to see a book that reminds children and parents how much fun playing outside can be while teaching an early “academic” skill in a fun way. Playing outdoors helps children develop physical and social skills while keeping their bodies, minds and hearts healthy. Watch any… Read more

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Mar 04 2015

Schooling and Interest

When students study what interests them, their work develops a natural, invigorating flow. They engage creatively with their topic, ask their own questions and pursue answers to their own satisfaction. They remember what matters. When someone else chooses their work, students may not find much of personal relevance. The learning becomes a chore, the students’ feelings become an obstacle to the learning, and energy is drained. I am reminded of the title of a book: The Student Resistance Handbook. While I am not advocating any action… Read more

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Nov 28 2014

Children Need to Direct Themselves

Category: Self-Directed LearningAdmin @ 2:14 pm

Here is evidence that too many children’s lives are over-scripted at the expense not only of their free time, but also of their cognitive development. Psychologists at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO (USA) and the University of Denver in Denver, CO published their research in the June 17, 2014 Frontiers in Psychology journal entitled, “Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning.” The “executive function” is the part of the brain’s function which oversees other parts so that we can… Read more

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Oct 22 2014

What is Student-Directed Learning and How Far do we Go?

Category: Self-Directed LearningAdmin @ 11:46 am

I ran across this interview of a little boy by his mother, who asks him various questions about his experiences at his new school. This is not your typical school. It is the Sudbury Valley School in Massachussets, where children decide for themselves what to do all day. Having taught Kindergarten myself, I can attest to the importance of social interaction and hands-on activities at this age. He gets plenty of both. What do you… Read more