Feed You, Feed Me

The winter holidays are a time for giving, for sharing, and for reflecting on the passing year. This is a terrific time for families to celebrate their values and traditions as they nurture the spiritual, emotional and social intelligence of their children. A favorite activity of my colleagues and I is called “The Great Meal Exchange,” which is especially appropriate at this time of year. In short, two people assemble and serve each other a Read More →

Screen Smarts and Digital Tools

The following is the full-length version of an article in this month’s “NFamily Magazine.” It is a bit long for a blogpost, but is so chocked full of important information about digital app tools that will spark children’s creativity, we wanted you to have every bit of it:   Gift packages this year will for many families include something with a screen: a digital tablet or mini-tablet, a new smart phone, a digital camera. Your Read More →

What Moves Us Now?

There’s a great big world out there that is trying to grab our attention, to lead our eyes to a new spot on the page, to entice us to follow the video movement into the storyline or tickle our senses in a way that makes us want to Buy This or Go Here or Be This Way. Images and sound in all their forms pour out of all the screens that are now a huge Read More →

Deal With the Way You Feel

Emotion cannot be separated from cognition. How a child feels about himself, his ability to think and learn, the subject he is studying, his teacher—all impact his thinking and learning. Moreover, when we, or our children, are in the middle of a strong emotion—fear, anger, grief—we are literally not reasonable. We cannot think. Our brains and bodies are flooded with feeling—we cannot think straight. The time to think about how to manage emotion is when Read More →

Teaching Stress

I recently read this post: “I’m a primary school teacher and completely understand how frustrating and stressful it is not to be listened to. I can almost guarantee that, after explaining a lesson in great detail, there will always be one or two kids that trot up and ask, “what have we to do?” Grrr! I also find I get very stressed at work by the constant barrage of questions, arguments, complaints, so forth that Read More →

Real Rewards

Sometimes as parents (or teachers) we are tempted to offer rewards to our kids in order to get them to behave the way we want. Rewards can vary from an immediate, “Good job!” to a piece of candy to the promise of a party. But the brain research shows us that rewards are only helpful for low-level responses and actually interfere with higher-order thinking, problem solving and creativity. However, there are some “real” rewards that Read More →

Poems About Creativity

I am just finishing taking a free course on creativity through Penn State and Coursera. Here are my final reflections on the course, in the form of poems: Intelligent Fast Failure Be smart. Just start. If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again! If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again! I said… If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again! Try-fail-reflect! It’s never what you expect! Try-crash and burn! But think Read More →

Creative Writing With Children

Today a friend of mine asked for advice about creative writing with third graders. Here are my suggestions, most of which hold true for most ages and grades: (Note: Be the “secretary” for very little kids and/or let them use “invented” spelling.) STEP 1: Find something to write about. Here are some great ideas: • Find out the children’s favorites (activities, animals, stories, music, places, meals, etc.) and write about that. • Bring them something Read More →

Follow the Curiosity

Last weekend when my grandsons came for a visit, the 12 year old showed me a photo on his phone that he (somehow!) took though the microscope in his science class. The new and special wonder of observing the very clear “thing” that lives in a world much smaller than we can possibly see had him entranced.  The surprise of the color, the amazing detail with its hairy-looking texture, the seemingly improbable spherical form — Read More →

What is really important to learn?

At present opportunities to learn are increasingly accessible and abundant. We educators need to think deeply about what, in all this abundance, is most important for our students to know. It is not enough to follow a curriculum or text—a teacher must teach valuable things. This is the first step in creating “unforgettable” lessons. Think about the following: What concepts and mental scripts should my students have at their fingertips? What important questions should they Read More →