Sep 12 2016

Why did the Principal of Chicago’s Top School Resign?

Category: LearningAdmin @ 11:43 am

Principal Troy LaRaviere dramatically improved the quality of a Chicago elementary school, using empirical evidence about effective school practices. In other words, he used what had worked elsewhere and it quite naturally worked in Chicago, too. Nevertheless, the school board wanted to fire him. His successful ideas conflicted with the politics of the Chicago Mayor and his appointed school board. In under five years, he took his elementary school from a ranking of No. 6 to No. 1 among neighborhood schools and from No. 16 to No. 3 for… Read more

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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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Apr 15 2015

Recommended Books are Back

Category: General Spark a Playful Mind (SAPM)Admin @ 3:06 pm

I put up a “Recommended Books” page again, this time with my own brief descriptions for many of the books. Check it… 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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Mar 01 2015

Conference on Alternative and Child-Centered Education

Category: Alternative EducationAdmin @ 6:28 pm

The Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) is the best resource I know for learning about alternatives in education. Their conference in Portland, Oregon, which I attended a few years ago, was fantastic. I heartily recommend this year’s conference, which will be near New York City from May 20 to 24, 2015. Presentations will include a variety of learner-centered approaches, including democratic education, progressive education, homeschooling, Montessori, Waldorf, charter schools, magnet schools, and more. Keynote speakers… Read more

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Dec 06 2014

Sharing Beautiful Children’s Books

Category: ReadingAdmin @ 4:37 pm

Listen to children and you will hear stories. They love to tell their own and hear those of others. Ask them about a picture they have drawn, and you will often discover that a story goes with it. Storytelling is innate.1 Books draw children to the stories told by words and pictures. To turn story interest into literacy, high-quality text and art work are essential. A child taught only phonetic rules and given countless reading drills will often suffer illiteracy, while one nurtured in his love of books will study and ask for help until he… 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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