Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Will Use D.C. Power to Force Vouchers Down Your Throat — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Here is a paradox. Congress wrote a new law called “Every Student Succeeds Act,” late in 2015, loaded with limits on the power of the Secretary of Education. Both parties were fed up with Arne Duncan’s overweening reach into every school in the nation, going far beyond what Congress intended. Perhaps they knew that all […]

via Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Will Use D.C. Power to Force Vouchers Down Your Throat — Diane Ravitch’s blog

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Progressivism and the fulfilled life…

Leafing through the many pages of my writing from over the years, I ran across an education article I wrote in 1991 as I was just beginning my journey into education. After reviewing it, I find it amazing that in all the years since my philosophy of education remains as steadfast as it did then (with a few additional refinements). Though there is much I would change as far as grammar and style, I have chosen to publish my article in original form.

John Dewey - Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to ...

Progressivism and the fulfilled life…

“The aim of education should be to teach the child to think, not what to think.” One brief comment by John Dewey (1859 – 1952) can sum up the total concept of progressive education. Progressivism’s basic underlying concept is that the physical world is the basis of reality, and as such, progresses over time. Since the world is progressing and changing over time, so must the ideas and methods behind educational instruction.

Sydney Smith said, “The real object of education is to give children the resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that will ameliorate, not destroy; occupations that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.” Careful scrutiny of Smith’s statement might lead one to the conclusion that indeed, these ideals reached, would lead an individual to a fulfilled life. Through Dewey’s methods of instruction, a child should, in all probability eventually reach this state of fulfillment in life.

The underlying basis for Dewey’s progressive schooling is that we learn best from meaningful life experiences, social interaction, and scientific experimentation. The focus of the curriculum is flexible, integrating academics around activities reflecting the personal integrity, need and experiences of the students. Each one has a path to take in life. Surely each path should be taken in the most harmonious manner to the individual. Just as we are not all Einstein’s – we cannot all be molded into the same form of thinking.

Dewey’s philosophy of education has students learning by doing. Students are directed or guided by a teacher into integrated learning experiences in which the student is encouraged to think and perform to the best of his/her ability in his/her most appropriate style.

What does the author mean by most appropriate style? Every student learns in a different style.  Some are auditory learners while still others are visual.  Many learn best through hands-on experiences. Progressivism allows for freedom of expression in learning.  It’s goal is for students to become independent problem solvers, to enjoy learning, and to live comfortably (remember Smith?) in the world while also helping to reshape it (as it progresses). When we encourage individual growth in an independent manner and style we encourage people who can function well in the world because they are living up to their potential. The “fulfilled life” – giving our children “resources that will last as long as life endures.”

We truly give them these resources by encouraging the use of the individual’s abilities. Dewey believes that as the world progresses, so must education. Children of today are not the children of yesterday. They are living in a new world and must be led toward the path of fulfillment with as little stagnation as possible. Progressivism can help lead them in the right direction.


Americans are entering another new era in education. One in which vouchers may wreak havoc on many of the tried and true methods of learning that positively led many of us to high student achievement over years past. We must all be responsible enough to hold our government officials accountable for the policy changes they make which may or may not lead our future generations to “the fulfilled life.”

Nancy

Today’s child – Maslow and physiological needs…

According to Maslow, a child’s first need is physiological. Children need food, water, clean air, and a safe, warm place to sleep. How can parents and teachers meet these needs?

Parents:

  • Make time to meet these needs in a “family” way – no matter how big or small your family may be.
  • Set the breakfast table together the night before.
  • Ask your child to help you plan a healthy menu while teaching him or her about nutrition.
  • Pack a healthy lunch instead of buying one. Include an “I love you” note for your child to read when the lunchbox is opened.
  • Find time for a home cooked evening meal and eat together around the table to discuss everyone’s day.
  • Keep the air in your home clean. Avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke, excessive dust, and toxic fumes.
  • Provide a clean, restful slumber environment void of technological distractions.
  • Teach your child to be responsible for his or her own physiological needs over time.

Teachers:

  • Allow time for snack breaks each day. Children can’t learn when hungry.  Ask parents to donate healthy snacks.
  • Allow children to drink water as needed. If no classroom fountain is available, let children bring a water bottle from home.
  • Create a warm and inviting classroom environment.
  • Provide students the opportunity to design and keep up the classroom environment.
  • Classrooms are dusty places. Try a Friday cleaning day and include students in the process. This makes for a great way for all to begin new Monday morning. If needed, bring in an air purifier. Be sure to clean the filter as required.

All of these suggestions are easy to carry out and need very little time. If you have other suggestions, feel free to comment and add to the list.  Thanks!

 

How Clueless Can D.C. Bureaucrats Be?

Unfortunately this scenario plays out across our nation. In a country where standing among nations was built on the unique gifts and talents of individuals not fitting a “mold” our vision for progress has sorely dimmed.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Avery Gigliano recently turned 13. She is a world-class pianist who has won international competitions. To play in international competitions, it is necessary to travel. To the D.C. public school system, she is not a champion, she is a truant. I forebear from using the words that come to mind. The D.C. schools should be celebrating her success. Instead, they drove her out of the school system. Great story by Petula Dvorak in the Washington Post.

“The prodigy, who just turned 13, was one of 12 musicians selected from across the globe to play at a prestigious event in Munich last year and has won competitions and headlined with orchestras nationwide.

“But to the D.C. public school system, the eighth-grader from Mount Pleasant is also a truant. Yes, you read that right. Avery’s amazing talent and straight-A grades at Alice Deal Middle School earned her no slack from school officials…

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Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing – – Education Week Teacher

From Education Week Teacher Update

Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing – – Education Week Teacher.

What are your thoughts?

Powerful article!

stemcollege

onefour

I’ve been doing research for my latest book and was interested to find studies are showing that students who take medication for AD/HD are conflicted about their identity. These students seem to be absorbing larger social impressions/myths that imply that some kinds of medicine are less valid than others.

While starting medication from a young age can allow a student to suddenly focus in class, students are also being impacted from a young age by the social myth that goes something like this, “Normal means being who you are without taking medication [unless you need medicine for life and death], so when you take medication for AD/HD you aren’t behaving like your normal self; you only are your normal self if you aren’t taking medication.”

childm

Obviously there are a few problems with the myth that says we aren’t our normal self when we take medicine, or that medicine impacts our…

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Sir Ken Robinson – always thought-provoking ideas worth listening to and following!

TeachBytes

TED Talks are great resources for inspiration in the classroom, but sometimes my students struggle with focusing their attention on one person talking for so long. So, when I found this clever animation that visually articulates the information from a TED talk, I had to share! This one was given by Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert.

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Another great talk from TED!

TED Blog

At TEDxUW 2011, economics professor Larry Smith gave a memorable talk titled, “Why you will fail to have a great career.” [ted_talkteaser id=1384]The hilarious talk takes aim at people and the incredible excuses they dream up for not pursuing their passions, from “It’s too hard” to “But I value human relationships more than my work.” His talk was a call for people to get out of their own way and at least try.

At this year’s event, entrepreneur Michael Litt gave his reaction to Smith’s talk, titled, “Why you have to fail to have a great career.” His idea: that failure provides the ultimate experience needed for success — learning to get up and dust yourself off after a fall. Watch above to hear Litt’s candid telling of a time he failed professionally, big time. Since being posting on December 23, this talk has been watched…

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Music and its importance to learning

I was once asked what my greatest personal accomplishment was.  My answer was a no-brainer.  My greatest personal accomplishment was
overcoming a birth defect to go on to make a living for many years as a
professional vocalist, then teacher.

I was born with a hemangioma under my tongue which prevented me from speaking normally until after surgery at the age of five. The doctors said surgery would be too dangerous to attempt before then.  It turned out that the age of five was almost too dangerous.  As doctors were about to do a tracheotomy due to swelling, I began to breathe normally.  I suspect God had a long list of things for me to carry out with my voice!  🙂  Healing wasn’t easy and I had just come through years of being teased by other children.

The taunting left me embarrassed to speak so my parents encouraged me to sing to use my voice.  That I did! After surgery, my singing and a short stint in speech class found me off and running! (Or I should say “talking and singing”!)

Though my shyness remained, my junior high school music teacher helped me realize I had talent and encouraged me to use it. Because of his encouragement, I held many leading roles in high school and college theatre productions and went on to earn a living as a professional vocalist for many years before becoming a teacher.

MB900184975I have long shared with colleagues the importance of using music in the classroom – no matter student age.  I was thrilled to meet with my neurologist to review an MRI of my brain after falling and badly hitting my head weeks earlier.  He shared the pictures stating,  “All is well – you have a highly developed brain – especially your cerebellum.”

I knew the reason immediately.  “I have been a musician all my life!” I shared trying to contain my enthusiasm.

“We see this development in people having experiences in music from an early age on,” he shared.

Music has great significance to learning – especially to children who may lack self-esteem or sit through class day in and day out trying to fit a “one size fits all” educational expectation.  Learning is hard to without being provided creative experiences which create neurological connections that enhance learning.

One of the most important books on this subject is This is your brain on music written by Daniel J. Levitin.  For more information you may want to explore –

Cover of "This Is Your Brain on Music: Th...

http://daniellevitin.com/publicpage/books/this-is-your-brain-on-music/

Enjoy and be sure to listen to music!

Flu season and the classroom

With flu season in full swing now issneezing a great time to search for those books on “germs” taking residency on your classroom bookshelves. Presenting tips to avoid catching the flu to your students through literature is a valuable lesson this time of year.  Follow-up your readings with posting pictured tips on a classroom wall.

Preventing the spread?  What teachers can do:

1. Inform your students – knowledge is power.

2. Teach students the importance of proper hand washing – lather top and bottom of hands with soap and rinse thoroughly.

3. Teach students to cough inside of the arm or elbow.    Encourage use of tissues by having several boxes available at different classroom locations.

4. Provide hand sanitizer and encourage students to use it when entering or leaving the classroom.

5. Clean desks and doorknobs daily as well as any classroom items often touched by others.

6. Inform classroom parents of the steps you are taking in the classroom.  These tips can help them at home as well.

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Is it a cold or the flu?

Characteristic

Flu

Cold

Chest infection/cough Common.  Can become severe. Common.  Mild to moderate.
Fever Usually high (102°-104°) May last 3-4 days. Rare except in young children.
General aches and pains Usual. Can be severe. Mild.
Headache Common. Rare.
Sneezing/red, watery, itchy   eyes Rare. Usual.
Sore throat Occasional. Usual.
Stuffy nose Occasional. Usual.
Tiredness Severe. Mild.
Primary season Winter. Late August – April.
Duration Up to a month. 7 – 10 days.
Adapted/modified from:Balch, P. A., & Balch, J. F.   (2000). Prescription for nutritional healing   (3rd ed.). New York, New York: Avery.

children

Remember – a healthy classroom is a happy and productive classroom!

For other ideas see http://www.teachervision.fen.com/disease-prevention/resource/62164.html

For more information see http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2013-2014.htm