Friday, August 31, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Stumbled across a great website that features different people listing five things they have learned. A few gems:

Eliot Washor, co-founder of Big Picture Schools: "What matters in learning is whether each and every student matters to the schools they attend with regard to what matters to each student.

Rick Melmer,Dean of the School of Education, University of South Dakota: "Perspective is an ultimate achievement."

Dan Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators: "Tweaking the educational system to make it more efficient is like putting wings on a ship to make it fly."

And many more. What resonates most with you?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Perfectionism in Gifted

I honestly thought we had avoided this.

The Child is gifted, and after two years of being her teacher, I have watched her flourish and come into her own. Yes, she is still a typical kid and grumbles about French verbs, but generally, as she is designing her own learning plan, she is very motivated and enthusisatic about what she is doing; she is also willing to take risks, dive in and start over if it doesn't work. This risk-taking attitude took a couple years to develop in her academically, but now it is pretty well settled in.

Not so in softball, and it is finally catching up to her. She is a good softball player, with a great mind for the game. The next couple years are crucial, as players are separated into two categories: those that will continue and be scouted for college softball, and those that will play reasonably well and end their careers in high school. The Child would like to be the former; her stated goal is to play for the Washington Huskies softball team in college on a full-ride scholarship.

Trouble is, right now she is crippled by perfectionism and having a hard time trying to change what isn't working. Example: her swing. She knows, intellectually, what she needs to change. She has heard the same thing for the past three years from many different people. Her problem is that she doesn't want to do something that she isn't good at (i.e., try a new swing and start to slump as she makes adjustments). The Child is hard on herself and wants to be the best but can't get herself to make the changes she needs to be the best. A vicious, painful cycle.

So how do you get a gifted kid to leave perfectionism behind and be okay with failure?

Some ideas:

1. Set goals and focus on improvement. In school, The Child has benefitted by having a vision of the big picture, and then breaking it down into smaller steps and giving each a time frame for completion. This is the approach I have suggested to her dad, who is an assistant coach on her team. This prevents the task from being overwhelming.

2. Start from a strengths perspective, not a deficit model. Focus first on the areas in which a student is confident and capable, then use whatever helps them in that area to apply to their area of weakness. For example, an excellent math student who struggles with writing might benefit from looking at essays as puzzles to be solved or formulas into which information can be plugged (at least initially). These same students struggling with sentence construction and grammar might be more comfortable with that old dinosaur, sentence diagramming, as it is more mathematical in nature.

3. Focus on encouragement, not praise. Praise says, "Good job!" (vague and non-specific, thus offering no base to work from), and encouragement says, "You kept your eyes on the ball all the way to the bat," or "The way you set up that problem and gathered your resources before you began really helped you work through the problem!" Praise is hollow, and encouragement highlights what worked well. Even if they didn't hit the ball or they got the problem wrong, this gives a positive starting point; you can then ask, "What went wrong?" and let the student work backwards.

4. Study successful people. Man, did they ever fail: often, hard and frequently. The difference? They were not crippled by their failures; they may have felt a bit down by them, but not defeated.  As Andre Malraux, French historian, said, "Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not that one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk - and to act." Steve Jobs, one of our most famous failures, was fired from Apple. His response, not the fact of being fired, is what matters; Apple is now the single most successful company in the world, largely due to his sometimes prickly leadership.

5. Eat the elephant in small bites, and enjoy the meal. Take small steps towards whatever you are trying to improve while continuing to let your kid take giant leaps in the areas in which s/he is confident. Enjoy each achievement, and enjoy the journey. This is not a race to the end; this is the major work (and joy) of life.

There is a wealth of information on this topic on Hoagies Gifted Education page. If you have worked with a kid who struggles with perfectionism, leave a comment below about how you managed it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Flying By At The Speed Of Life

We are already halfway through the third week of school, and I think this year is going to fly by. So many good things are happening, and so quickly.

As we move into September, here is my list of reminders for when things start whizzing by too quickly:

1. It doesn't all have to be graded. In fact, very little of it actually needs a grade. Most of it, if planned properly, is in service to the big picture and will grade itself by contributing to the project, or not.

2. Relationships matter most. Taking time to develop them with my students, my child and my family are the things that make the school what it is. Paying full attention to the story of the weekend and the morning meeting are critical.

3. We need to go outside every day. Watching the seasons pass puts things into perspective.

4. Say yes more than we say no.

And finally,

5. Keep the most important thing the most important thing. Whatever it is, make sure that is where the focus remains.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bring on The Learning Revolution!

I have been thinking about the Future of HoneyFern (in all caps to demonstrate its importance and prominence in my mind these days!).

In this Ted Talk, Ken Robinson speaks of the learning revolution, changing the circumstances under which we are educating students.

"Reform is no use anymore."

"Innovate fundamentally. Innovation is hard because it means doing something people don't find easy."

I agree, and I have been actually banging this drum for several year snow; Sir Ken and I are speaking the same language; on occasion, exactly the same language (he is in my head? Great minds think alike?). Here is the full talk, with some serious food for thought for me. Watch and comment below: do you agree with his premise?


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Go, Kart, Go!

One of my students is building a go-kart from scratch for his curriculum this year; he is currently slogging through an online design software and taking apart an old, non-working go-kart engine ahead of re-building an old, non-working riding lawnmower engine for his go-kart.

But don't take my word for it; follow him on his blog. Yes, he has some punctuation errors, but this is what learning is about, yes? He is learning how to find his own voice in writing, and the most recent blog has more of him in it than the first few. I expect great things from this student!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today's Lesson: Do It Right, Or Do It Twice

The Child and I had an unbelievable day yesterday discussing design and building the model of the tiny house (she was the builder, and I was the questioner). Amazing how much a small model can teach you.

For starters, if your model is not to scale, there is a good possibility you will create blueprints that locate windows in the middle of doorways and knees sticking out into the kitchen when you are using the bathroom.

Another important thing to note: getting a building to square is going to be challenging. Getting a foamboard model to square was tough, and there are still gaps. This is something to pay very close attention to in the building stages!!

We talked about the Golden Section last night before bed, as well as the Fibonacci sequence. Today she will present her model to the school and ask for feedback, then finish a re-build of the interior to accomodate what we learned about scale (be consistent!) and storage space (at least 100 cubic feet of storage per person in the house). If you would like to follow the progress of the tiny house, please head over to Le Petite Maison and follow The Child's blog. She is planning on blogging three times a week on her progress and would love feedback and comments on her work.

Come to think of it, if you like what you read here, please use the tools below the post to share on Twitter, Facebook and Google.  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How a Homeschool (or Similar) Environment Makes a Difference

Today's proof brought to you by various sources in the form of an infographic. I am linking directly to the site, as the picture I have is quite small and hard to read.

Do take the time to visit the site; the comparison is startling. The idea is that it doesn't even have to be traditional homeschooling (oxymoron?); when you remove kids from the traditional school system and give them options and different methods to learn material and a say in what they are doing, they take off and achieve.

The thing that strikes me most is when I talk to parents who say their kids are "fine" at public school; I know immediately from this comment that they cannot envision how much better their kids could be in a smaller, more personal environment. They cannot picture a world beyond multiple choice tests and standardized scores that compare them to their peers (instead of measuring their progress against themselves). The kids themselves are not learning how to think; they are memorizing and regurgitating. Even the finest public schools are still spending most of their time on testing and test prep, so a kid doing "fine" there may be getting content knowledge with no idea of how to use it.

I want to take a moment and say that this, and any previous posts, are not set up to tear down teachers. Many of my friends still teach in public systems, and they are the hardest working people I know. I don't have a single teacher friend who doesn't spend hours every night and most of the summer in professional development and work-related tasks (grading, planning, etc.). The environment of public schools is not of their making, and some of them work very hard to create islands of sanity in a world of overzealous test focus.

The facts remain, though, that an environment out of traditional schooling that embraces alternative methods of teaching and learning is the best for kids of all ages and backgrounds. It is time to look harder at the facts and act accordingly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Looking Ahead

Amazing conversation this morning with Thomas McSorley of Fulfill My Mission.

HoneyFern is entering its third year as an accredited private school, and we definitely share some similarities to toddlers. We are enthusiastic, wobbly at times and energetic. We believe that what we are doing is right and will continue to push for progressive change in education for all (maybe this is viewed as our version of a tantrum!!). We are charming and funny and immersed in our world; everything is a wonder, and there is so much to learn.

Like toddlers, too, we have been swerving around somewhat. As we get older, our mission clarifies and distills more; what we are trying to do becomes very clear, and everything else seems to naturally recede into the background. This new relationship with Fulfill My Mission has already helped to steady our feet on the path; in the coming months, look for changes to our website and online presence, and contact us to get involved with the future of the school!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blog Round Up

The first week has come and gone; everyone has an individual learning plan and is trying to figure out how to make it happen. This year we have big plans, including building a tiny house and building a go-kart from scratch.

Please visit the blogs for those two projects here:

La Petite Maison

Go, Kart, Go!

Even better, follow and comment on their progress; we could use experts in all areas to weigh in on the process and also on the potential issues and fabulous things that we are doing right.

Thanks for your support of HoneyFern students; have a great week!

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Friday!

No annoying songs to post today, just a few resources....

Languages online: exercises for five different languages (including Latin!) to help build vocabulary.

Design Contest: a great way to get your kids hands-on by designing an eco-friendly helicopter!

And a movie for Friday; this was the inspiration for The Child's curriculum this year!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Properly Reform a School

Start off by leaving politics out of it.

This has been my endless rant since the beginning of time; inserting politics into the debate over education squeezes out what really matters in the whole shebang: the student. An article in Open Salon this morning agrees with me, parsing the political into two opposing camps: privatizers, like Bill Gates, who is, scarily, focusing research on practices which solely improve test scores, and anti-privatizers, like Diane Ravitch, who has given up on discussing what actually happens in schools and classrooms to rail against privatization in any form.

They are both wrong. Hideously, dangerously, disastrously wrong.

Education is not dealing with numbers and production. Education is dealing with human beings: live, changing, frivolous, infuriating, challenging, wonderful, crazy, complex humans beings (parents, students and teachers alike). There is no one approach that helps everyone.

Picture this: a ten-year-old with dyslexia and dysgraphia who also happens to have an IQ of 172 (this is a real example from a parent I spoke with recently. This child exists, and I have taught several just like him in my career). Put in a test-heavy environment, this child would fail miserably and be labeled as learning disabled. His gifts would languish. Place him in the environment Diane Ravitch is extolling right now (which is what, exactly? Preserved teachers unions and public schools intact is all she talks about lately), and the same would happen.

There is too much ego in education; too many people "know" the one right answer and are unwilling to compromise and meet in the middle. Sound familiar? It mirrors the American political landscape for the past ten years.

We have lost our way; we no longer consider what is best for each child, and the only thing we can agree on is that public schools are threatened - not even "broken" in the case of Ravitch anymore, who is unbelievably annoying in her single-minded ranting against privatization. She seeks to preserve teachers' unions at all costs and in every situation. I have benefited from a union in the past and agree that they do offer protection and respect for a profession that is increasingly under fire, but Ravitch continually fails to recognize or address those situations in which a union has failed egregiously (New Yor's rubber rooms, anyone?). Likewise Gates, who would not recognize a poorly-performing, money-grubbing charter if it hit him in the face, and his laser focus on test scores reflect his pragmatic programmer's background, not an understanding of how people learn (Gates himself is a college dropout who is believed to have Asperger's which does explain the laser focus at least).

If we want to do well by students then we need to acknowledge their individual natures and complex needs; we need to address the vagaries of life outside the classroom as well as the challenges within, for all parties. Public schools will never be all things to all people; there is no institution that can function that way. If we want to truly reform education, though, we need to start by refining the mission and vision of public schools away from the factory education model toward a more flexible, sustainable, successful practice that understands what is needed to support students, teachers and parents in the 21st century and beyond. Society has changed, and our schools do not reflect that change.

To properly reform a school, remove the politics and revise the mission/vision. Once those things happens, the rest of the necessary reforms will become clear and make sense. Until that happens, any changes made are like a Band-aid on a sucking chest wound: futile, ineffective and pointless.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

Today, Julia Child would be 100. In honor of her birthday, The Child and I made boeuf bourguinon last night, dirtying every pot and eventually eating at 10 p.m.

If you are not feeling quite so daring (or patient!), enjoy this, one of her seminal cooking videos that introduced the world to cooking shows and forever changed the way Americans (and perhaps many other parts of the world) thought about cooking.

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thinking Naturally: Preschool Outside Facilitates Learning

As the weather turns cooler in the south, HoneyFern is much happier to be outside. We also get lovely pictures like this one:

It is always much nicer to be learning outside, and now some schools in America are discovering this, starting "nature schools" - pre- and elementary schools that hold student-led classes outside. Exploring nature and getting hands-on is a natural fit for young children, and schools that encourage curiosity and questioning give their kids a head start. My alma mater, Antioch University, is even developing a nature preschool major.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Parenting 101: You're Doing It Right

Three cheers for authoritative parenting, which seems to be the most successful style of parenting in terms of raising well-adjusted, successful kids (socially, emotionally, academically and financially). Not surprisingly, this style handily beat out helicopter parenting and tiger moms; both styles are too much into a kid's business and hinder a kid's ability to develop autonomy. This is perhaps why some kids parented this way rebel so fiercely; they are clawing their way to independence.

So what is authoritative parenting and why does it work?

1. You are the parent, and your job is set limits and rules. Your job is also to respect the person your child is trying to become, and chances are pretty good it is not a little mini-you.

"The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality. If you treat your walking toddler as if she can’t walk, you diminish her confidence and distort reality. Ditto nightly “reviews” of homework, repetitive phone calls to “just check if you’re O.K.” and “editing” (read: writing) your child’s college application essay."

Please stop doing your kid's homework. PLEASE. I have asked nicely.

2. Authoritative parents allow their kids to make mistakes and give them time and space to try again. In the article above, the author gives as an example parents who do not allow their walking toddler to walk. That child will quickly learn that being carried is easier, so why walk? To wit:

"Think back to when your toddler learned to walk. She would take a weaving step or two, collapse and immediately look to you for your reaction. You were in thrall to those early attempts and would do everything possible to encourage her to get up again. You certainly didn’t chastise her for failing or utter dire predictions about flipping burgers for the rest of her life if she fell again. You were present, alert and available to guide if necessary. But you didn’t pick her up every time.  You knew she had to get it wrong many times before she could get it right."

Let your kids fail. It won't kill them. Seriously.

In a nutshell,

"A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy."

You can do it. I have faith in you. Be gentle when you fail (like when you yell at your kid for eating the cooked chicken that you were saving for something else but that wasn't really any big deal at all but you lost your temper because of something non-child related. I'm just sayin'.), apologize to your child when you make a mistake and attempt to be the best person you can be so your kid can see the try. Don't let your kid be rude, obnoxious, entitled, self-centered or mean. This is where discipline comes in, but not the kind that beats them down forever and makes them feel ashamed - the kind that a kid can learn something from and try to do better the next time.

Enjoy your kids. They are only with us for so long and then they are off in the world. Let's all try to make it count.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Many Stories Are There, Really?

I have heard that there are only two possible stories in literature:

1. A stranger comes to town.
2. Someone goes on a journey.

The Child and I have spent a few lazy hours (in combination, not all at once) trying to apply this formula to everything we have read recently. For the most part it works (go ahead, take a minute and try it).

This website posits other possible plot formations in literature, breaking down one, three, seven, 20 and 36 possible plots in all of literature.

I am of the mind that whatever makes complex literature easier to understand initially will help students be more engaged and want to do the deeper work of understanding character and structure. I favor the "two plot" rule (and the 20-plot rule looks more like the elements of a quest to me).


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Privatizing Education Means What?

"The push to privatize has alarmed some parents and teachers, as well as union leaders who fear their members will lose their jobs or their autonomy in the classroom."

Let's be honest, shall we? Teachers have already lost their autonomy in the classroom, and many have lost their jobs.

Tuesday's article in HuffPo on privatizing education has some very valid points, not the least of which being that if money is the object then little consideration will be given to the students behind the dollar signs.

But truly this is happening already. The Common Core Standards came out just after all elements of NCLB were implemented; these "new" standards now require new textbooks and other materials, and since most public schools are allergic to dropping traditional methods of instructional delivery (don't throw out those textbooks!), Pearson, M-Hill and other textbook publishers stand to make a ton of cash in the next five years. Then, mark my words, some other "new" idea will arise, necessitating a repeat of the cycle (and more filthy lucre for the companies that could not care less about your kid).

The time is ripe for new ideas in schooling, that much is correct in the article. But prior to making changes in what we do in education, we need to reinvent how we think about education. The way we think about school is antiquated and ineffective; our mental models of lockstepping kids in age bands towards a universal diploma are no longer working for the real world OR the intellectual world (please refer to the staggering number of kids taking remedial classes in college prior to taking classes for credit. Please also refer to the staggering number of jobs going unfilled in America because there are no skilled workers to fill them.).

In the end, it matters not a whit who does the job if the job is done well. We need to remember that students should be at the center of every decision, and neither side of this argument seems to be able to keep this in perspective. As of this blogging, is all about who is right, and students are the losers in this contest.


Here's a roundup:

Sid the Science Kid, and app from PBS promoting early engagement in science, launched on August 2nd.

Botiful is a new device that makes Skype-ing easier by keeping your face ina  frame (much more considerate for your chatting partner, no?).

Reverso is a free, collaborative online dictionary for foreign languages; if you create an account, you can save a personal word or phrase list. We have been using it to look up slang, like "whatever" in French. Now if The Child wants to be obnoxious, she has to do it in French.

Book recommendations for the week, some fiction, some non-, all fabulous:

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World

Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Creating Innovators: the Making of Young People Who Will Change the World

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World Hardcover By Wagner, Tony


Gone Girl

Happy reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Genius - Born or Made?

"Genius involves figuring out who you are, and owning yourself. It’s about amplifying your best traits and compensating for the rest. Geniuses grab life by the horns, and persevere amidst setbacks. They take control of their lives, instead of waiting for others to open up doors. In this very important sense, greatness is completely, utterly, made.”

Excellent. Lots of debate still regarding how gifted kids are gifted - nature v. nuture for the helicopter- and vacuum-parenting 21st century. Does it really matter? If we are offering all kids equal opportunities and truly believe that all students can achieve at high levels in some area, isn't that what is important?

I am not in the group that believes all students are gifted; gifted brains function differently. Unlike some people, though, I do not make this distinction in the manner to say gifted = better. Gifted = different.

I do believe that every student has potential to develop brilliantly in an area in which they are passionate and interested. The key is finding out what that area is and nuturing that skill. Not ignoring areas of struggle, but moving away from deficit-model education (which focuses on weaknesses to the detriment of strengths).

The issue is that we are not offering all kids the same opportunities, and education does not believe that all kids are capable of greatness. Imagine what we are missing when all of those kids fall  through the cracks.  Imagine what would happen if we empowered kids to have a say in their schooling.

If what we are doing now isn't working, why not try something new?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How Important is Algebra?

Education flows on a cycle, like everything associated with a world organized by the moon.

This week, algebra has washed back on shore, with articles asking if algebra is really necessary and positing that failing algebra in high school isn't the end of the world.

The short answers are no, and it's not.

The long answer is, I believe a bit more complicated.

First, some background. I failed Algebra II, spectacularly. I am not sure how I passed the basic math class I took in college. I have been, since about 6th grade, nearly phobic about upper-level math. I had horrible teachers who consistently failed to answer why math is organized the way it is and who were incapable of applying any of it to the real world. When I was confused and asked for an explanation, the teachers simply switched the numbers and did the exact same problem again. Zero help.

So now I am responsible for educating kids, including upper level math students. How on earth does this work, you wonder? Generally, HoneyFern uses Aleks, an artificially intelligent online program with math through college, Life of Fred (a series of math for readers, usually as a supplement), and, in extreme cases, I turn to Derek Owens who teaches locally at LEAD in Decatur, Georgia, and online for everyone else. I have also been watching some of Vi Hart's videos in an effort to understand; the one below on snakes (not really, but that's the entry) is an excellent representative sample of her work:

More importantly, we use math every day in what we do. I work hard to apply what we learn on paper to what we do every day. Filling in the gaps in a budget requires algebra, and calculating sales tax and square footage requires understanding of basic mathematical functions and formulas. I work hard to figure out why something is important to learn.

I have been teaching myself more upper-level math as we go, and to me it is like a puzzle to be solved, just for the sake of solving it. I am honest with the kids, though; although the perseverance and logic upper-level math teaches them is priceless, it is not going to make-or-break them in life (unless they want to be a physicist or an astronaut or rocket scientist). My goal is to make it harmless and not intimidating, and hopefully they will reach for the more challenging courses as they move through HoneyFern.

Side note: Interesting blog Friday in Education Week; turns out, algebra-for-all actually hurt high- achieving students.

Friday, August 3, 2012

HoneyFern and Chick-Fil-A

HoneyFern supports unequivocally equal rights for all who walk the face of the earth: gay, straight and every shade of the rainbow. This means that all people should enjoy the same protections and freedoms, regardless of anything. Full stop.

Chick-Fil-A has the same protections and can say whatever they would like; this is a sacred right of the American people and it is truly what makes us American. They are a private company, and, as such, are not beholden to shareholders or the public. They can run themselves as they choose, including making statements about their beliefs and staying close on Sundays.

Be that as it may, HoneyFern will not be patronizing Chick-Fil-A due to statements made last week and their history of discrimination against the LGBT community. We are a private, non-profit school and are not making this statement politically but morally and ethically.

A friend of mine scoffed at our little boycott; we are only three people, and we rarely eat at fast food restaurants. Chick-Fil-A is (was) only an occasional indulgence. No matter. It is something. This is not a ploy to change Dan Cathy's mind; he is definitely set in his beliefs, and he is entitled to his opinion. Best case scenario would be a retraction of his divisive statement and an honest attempt to make life better for the LGBT employees at his restaurants (see how they feel about the controversy here; eye-opening). It is hard to reconcile the perky, pleasant employees at the drive-through with the vitriol being fired back by the company and its most loyal customers; hopefully this can be resolved in a manner that actually respects the rights of everyone involved.

'Deeper Learning' Missing From School

This seems to me to come a bit from the Department of Duh, but I guess it may take people a little while longer to catch on.

"While students have to master core subjects, unless they also excel in areas such as problem solving, critical thinking and communication, their education won’t necessarily prepare them for the modern world – that’s the conclusion reached by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences."

(you can read the full report here)

In a nutshell, memorizing the multiplication tables helps you pass a test, but if you can't figure out which groceries to buy to stay within a household budget when you are older, your education hasn't done much for you. Overly simplified example, but you get the idea.

This is old news, older than this most recent "crisis" in education and moving far beyond the Common Core nonsense and political debates over NCLB and RttT. Kids in school cannot apply what they know, cannot transfer what they have learned and don't know how to use what knowledge, when.

Suggestions to fix this include the following:

"Curricula and instructional programs should be designed with a focus on clear learning goals along with assessments to measure students’ progress toward and attainment of the goals...These programs should feature research-based teaching methods such as using multiple and varied representations of concepts, encouraging elaboration and questioning, engaging learners in challenging tasks while also providing guidance and feedback, teaching with examples and cases, connecting topics to students’ lives and interests, and using assessments that monitor students’ progress and provide feedback for adjusting teaching and learning strategies."

Yup, we do this, and it shows not just in our process and products, but also in our test scores; last year's average on a nationally-normed standardized test was 97%, and this without a single minute of test prep. Teaching and learning this way is revelatory, and I wish more schools would understand how joyful it can be! Maybe if they knew how much fun it was to dive deeply into something and to discuss and fail and try again and engage actively with students then there would be less talk about test and more about how to get all kids to this place of active, purposeful learning.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August Has Arrived!

Today (August 2) is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (get some free goodies here), Pretty is As Pretty Does Day and Dinosaur Day (more info on those here), and August itself is National Inventor's Month.

Here is a customizable calendar for your kiddies to keep track of other important events in the month.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Free Design Program

The more I use it, the more I think that Google is fabulous. You can do all sorts of stuff other than simply searching the interwebs.

Today I am shilling a lovely, free design program called Google Sketch-up. Oh, the places you will go with this 3-D program: design houses and entire cities to scale before you build and share them with the world. You can add objects and people for the total picture.

Of course, if you want to pay some cash and get some additional features, you can go with Sketch-up Pro, but for your average student wanting to design/build, Sketch-up should be fine.

Have fun!