Death Valley Isn’t Really Dead

I started watching the talk by David Christian because I was intrigued by the title, The history of our world in 18 minutes.  I did watch the whole thing but found my mind wandering until he got to the part about his grandson.  Next I watched Dan Meyer’s talk, Math class needs a makeover.  This one was definitely more my speed and both entertaining and informative.  How lucky his high school math students are to have him in the classroom.  Logan LaPlante’s TED Talk recommended on the ED 554 blog by Stella8 was also good.

But, by far my favorite was Sir Ken Robinson’s How to escape education’s death valley.  Again, I chose it for the title, and what a wise choice it was.  When I saw it was more than 19 minutes I groaned because I had already been through more than a half hour of sitting and listening.  When he began speaking…another Brit, really?!  Then I found myself  all lol and rotfl.   Sir Ken used humor to tackle a hard problem…the education system in America.  He begins by addressing NCLB and how it rewards conformity whereas our students are naturally different and diverse.  “Differentiation”  is a term tossed around ad nauseum in college curriculum and classrooms, but how do we do that in a system of conformity and compliance?

Sir Ken said some schools, teachers, and students are succeeding IN SPITE of the educational system not BECAUSE OF it.   He compared American schools with Finnish schools.  In Finland, they have no dropout rate.  In America, if we cut our dropout rate in half we would add more than $1 trillion dollars to the economy.  Sir Ken says, in Finland (1) the teaching and learning is individualized, (2) a high status is given to the teaching profession, and (3) responsibility is left to the school level to get the job of learning done.  Sounds pretty good, right?  In America, it’s our ALTERNATIVE high schools that personalize the learning, give strong support for teachers, have close ties with the community, and broaden the curriculum outside of school hours.  So, why do we consider this the alternative and not the norm?

Well, Sir Ken, you have made me a fan for life.  Next one I will listen to, on Logan LaPlante’s recommendation…Schools kill creativity!

Stay tuned… 

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You, too, can be read to!

Once upon a time there was a little child who loved books..and not just any book but EVERY book.  The child loved to have books read to her at night before bedtime.  How wonderful it was for her to hear the different characters in the book come alive.  Now the child is all grown up and still has a love of books.  The child has become the reader, inventing the voices so that the books can come alive for other children…and the cycle continues.

Can you remember being read to when you were younger?  Those times I read to my children were magical.  Picking the book was a challenge because of so many choices and so little time.  Then we’d snuggle under the covers and get lost in the story.  Sometimes sleep overtook us before we could finish, sometimes I had to say no more books tonight.  These are some of my most favorite memories.

Many think these read-alouds are just for the young pre-readers.  Au contraire!  Students of all ages enjoy being read to.  Whether a short picture book or a book that challenges, the lyrical sound of the voice and the mesmerizing tale … well let’s just say you NEVER outgrow that.  As the reader, I too get joy from reading to students.  I read at least one book, but usually more, to my Kinders every day.  Sometimes they were quiet, sometimes they giggled, oftentimes they joined in.  How I loved it when I heard, “I love this book!”  In my student teaching placement in 6th grade I used picture books to teach a lesson figurative language.  The students got so lost in the books they almost forgot the assignment!  I also chose a picture book to share with the students during our lesson on the Underground Railroad – Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  You could have heard a pin drop. The students were mesmerized.  I read it four times, to four different classes and they all reacted the same way.  It elicited a great discussion afterwards, too.

Well, if you’ve been missing this now it’s your turn for a read-aloud.  I worked with some peers to create a digital storytelling project and we chose the book Parts by Tedd Arnold.  It is a silly rhyming story with fun and creative illustrations.  We took a few liberties and created some of our own “illustrations”, added a few sound effects, and generally just had fun.  I hope you enjoy it!

If you want to grab a blankie first….I’ll wait for you!

Stay tuned…