Teacher Strengths

  A new year is a good time to reflect on yourself and your own strengths as a thinker and learner. Only think of your strengths. Don’t worry about your deficits. Don’t worry about how many strengths you have. This is a good blog to print out so you can circle items that are true for you. Or you can save it as a document and highlight favorite items. Use these strengths to enhance your Read More →

Everybody Read!

One of my favorite strategies for encouraging active engagement is called Shared Reading. This can be a whole class activity in which all children, regardless of reading skills can participate. Shared Reading can also be a template for reading with one child or a small group. The secret is to include as many senses as possible (via the Sensory Alphabet) and to involve multiple intelligences (a la Howard Gardner).   Objectives for Children: To practice Read More →

Experiment, Play and Make

The 21st century calls for literacy in both high-touch and high-tech materials. To demonstrate deep understanding, students will need a wide variety of media in which to express ideas and convey information. Producing different versions of a quality in different media will further deepen understanding. For example: The same line looks very different when made with a pencil, Japanese brush, clay, pipe cleaner, sand, bottle tops, computer app or whole body. Each brain is unique Read More →

Observe and Collect

Creative Moves The creative process is one of going from idea to form or from problem to solution. The end result is producing something innovative, useful, enriching or otherwise of value. The process can be broken down into components, practiced and learned. These include using the senses more deliberately, generating ideas (and problems), finding new connections, playing with possibilities in different contexts and media, changing viewpoints, giving form to ideas (or solutions to problems), getting Read More →

What’s the Evidence?

Evidence-based education basically means applying a scientific process to guide educational decisions. The aim is to know what interventions “work” and which do not. This approach has been used for a long time in medicine: Information is collected. The patient is diagnosed. A treatment is sought. If it works, it will be used again with other patients with similar problems. If it doesn’t, other solutions will be sought and tried until the patient is cured Read More →

Look Inside. Look Outside.

NWK and related programs have a deceptively simple mission: To help children (and others) identify their internal and external resources and use them creatively. An adult example of this mission in action was the CASS/SEMILLA Program. Coordinated by Julia Jarrell, this USAID-funded program took place at Alamo Community Colleges in San Antonio, TX. http://alamosemilla.wixsite.com/seed-2013 Each year groups of 20 teachers were selected from hundreds in their home countries in Latin America to spend a year Read More →

Balancing Act

In the late 1980’s in Houston, I created activities for the HISD’s “Say Yes to a Youngster’s Future: Math and Science for the Family” program sponsored by Shell. Students met on Saturday with an adult family member and explored different concepts using everyday materials. Participants were from the lowest performing elementary schools at that time. At the end of the year, all the schools had raised their test scores. Here are some of the activities Read More →

Difficult People

Many times in life, we and our children will experience what we might call “difficult people.” These are people that push your buttons, drive you crazy, perhaps even make you want to resort to violence. Don’t do it! Talk to your children about this and model positive behaviors. Here are some suggestions that might help: Different, not difficult. We were all born with unique temperaments and dispositions that sometimes might clash. For example, my mother Read More →

Special Needs?

What if you had to demonstrate a jazz dance, analyze a cubist painting and play Fur Elise on the piano before you could graduate from high school? How would you do? What if these skills were considered just as important as writing a persuasive essay, solving a quadratic equation or explaining the causes of the American Revolution? Everyday, students who have been labeled as having “special needs” are asked to operate in areas where they Read More →

Free Play

There has been a dramatic rise in depression and anxiety in children and young people in America that cannot be attributed to wars and conflict. Twenge and colleagues finds a domino effect, beginning with the decrease in free play. In play, children learn to explore on their own, resolve problems, take on other people’s viewpoints, and control their own lives. Today children are over-scheduled, pushed to pass high stakes tests, driven not to fail, and Read More →