Friday, April 25, 2014

I am thankful that in a troubled world no calamity can prevent the return of spring. - Helen Keller

Just one of many amazing quotations by Helen Keller, and one more thing to be very thankful for! 

Other things I'm thankful for: long conversations with trusted friends; quiet mornings just like this one; quiet evenings alone with my husband; quiet afternoons working at my computer.  See a pattern?

Be well - grateful for the return of spring - today and always,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Believing we can improve schooling with more tests is like believing you can make yourself grow taller by measuring your height." - Robert Schaeffer of FairTest

Yes, I hate our testing craze!  The way I see it - standardized tests measure how well a kid feels at a particular moment, how well he knows how to take tests, and how well he understands one tiny piece of information that someone in an ivory tower somewhere has determined is important for him to know.  And that's not measuring learning.

BUT - my complaining about it isn't helping anyone who has to deal with testing during this month of months in most schools across the USA!

Take a look instead at this video performed by a group of 5th grade teachers in Mounds View Schools, New Brighton, Minnesota.  It's wonderful! Thanks to these energetic young teachers (and every other teacher out there who is dedicated to going into a classroom each day) the future of public education is looking very good, despite the reliance on standards and testing.

Be well today and always,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The things that make me different are the things that make ME. - Winnie the Pooh

Just recently my step granddaughter, Noelle, asked me questions about learning styles for a research paper she's doing.  Little did she know I'd get going and never shut up!

I think it's trendy these days to find labels for everything, including labels for how kids learn.  It's kind of like "tidying" up the pantry so we know what we have in there: auditory, visual, tactile, social, verbal, logical, etc. etc.  Trouble is,  kids - all of us - are rarely one and only one "style," but rather a very unique combination of all.  Good teachers from the beginning of time have recognized that we all learn differently.  They didn't need the labels. 

As a special ed teacher I loved trying to figure kids out and adapt materials to find the right trigger or twist to get their "motors running" as I used to say.  And every once in awhile I got lucky!  But what I had to learn myself - over and over again - is that kids don't learn until they're ready. Teachers can know their learning styles and help create a readiness to learn in their classrooms, but kids have to bring in the rest. 

Phew - makes it sound impossible, right?  I had a great chemistry teacher in high school, Mr. Clyde Skogan.  He knew I was clueless (still am) about the need for understanding chemistry.  Each day after his opening lecture and while others were setting up lab experiments, he quietly explained to me the 2 or 3 main points I had to remember just to pass the class.  He wasn't talking "down" to me but finding language I could relate to.  Perfect example of accomodating a learning style.  In this case, my readiness wasn't really wanting to learn but definitely wanting to graduate!

Be well today and always,