Preschool Bans Superhero Play

Really?  That was my first reaction when I read the title of the email blast I received from Exchange Everyday, a community that promotes the exchange of ideas among leaders in early childhood education.   The notice sent by an unnamed preschool to their parents stated that overactive imaginations are causing injuries and the school doesn’t  “promote hurting one another.”  Admirable but, again, REALLY?   Is that the best they can do to avoid injuries?   In the notice sent to the parents, the school makes some valid points. Besides not allowing students to hurt each other, the school suggests monitoring the media the child watches and eman-of-steel-pretendncouraging creative thinking and imaginative play.  Great ideas!  It is a bit disappointing that the powers-that-be at the preschool can’t use their imaginations to come up with different ways to avoid injuries at their preschool than to ban the good guys!  I was even more flabbergasted when I scrolled through the slideshow after the article that shows even more outlandish bans  by schools.

By the way… lets call the Grammar Police …their notice needs some proofreading!

Stay tuned…


All the little birdies on Jaybird Street…

… love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet …

Yes, it is true – I now have a Twitter account and haven’t got a clue what to do with it. I’ve witnessed the under-25 crowd in my house tweeting, re-tweeting, #hashtageverything and I just don’t get the allure of it all.

I recently read some tips by Mike Reading about using Twitter in education, which gave me a simple list of need to knows. Kelly Walsh goes even further and provides links to resources which present over 100 ways to teach with Twitter! As I went through some of them I was surprised at how amazingly UNCOMPLICATED they were. Tweeting a recommended book for your class, asking for SMARTboard lessons, recognizing important days in history, tweeting with a pen pal, and collaborative writing….simple yet fun and interesting.

Now, if I can just get past the intimidation factor of figuring out how all it works….guess I will seek out the experts…. “Children, Mom needs you!” #ainttooproudtobeg

twitter2 @MissCory123

And now. a blast from the past for your listening pleasure.

Stay tuned…

Targeted Learning Standards

I have chosen Grade 1 math as my focus for the semester.  I am going to teach summer school and I will have one kindergartner and three first graders.  I don’t know much about my students yet; however I do know the focus of the summer session will be math and reading.  I am hoping to create something that I can put into practice with my summer school students.

Computation and Estimation

Focus: Whole Number Operations

1.4   The student, given a familiar problem situation involving magnitude, will

a)   select a reasonable order of magnitude from three given quantities: a one-digit numeral, a two-digit numeral, and a three-digit numeral (e.g., 5, 50, 500); and

b)   explain the reasonableness of the choice.

1.5          The student will recall basic addition facts with sums to 18 or less and the corresponding subtraction facts.

1.6          The student will create and solve one-step story and picture problems using basic addition facts with sums to 18 or less and the corresponding subtraction facts.

Giving Reluctant Students a Voice

The article by Reynold Redekopp and Elizabeth Bourbonniere discusses the use of blogs and discussion boards as tools for students to contribute to classroom discussions.  According to the authors, the tools primarily help those students who seldom or never participate in class discussions.  The reasons for not participating isn’t really defined in the article and doesn’t seem particularly important.  When given a forum that is safe, non-threatening, and perceived as equal, those reluctant participants not only participate but have insightful and thought-provoking comments.

This article reminded me of the PBS program, Digital Media*New Learners of the 21st century and the segment on the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  Douglas Herman, a history teacher, discusses the use of chat rooms in his classroom.  He states that the students that have the least level of participation in an open discussion in the classroom become “rock stars” at posting to the forums – constantly posting their ideas and responding to others.  The instant gratification of putting an opinion out there as well as the immediate feedback and ability to respond, work for these reluctant participants. In the video the students were using these chatrooms while in class, which is counter intuitive to me.  I was thinking homework – but they were using it for classwork.  Instead of a single conversation happening, they could have 32 conversations going on simultaneously, leading to a much richer discussion.

According to the participation levels defined in the article, I would be a level 1.   I know that I talk a lot in class but I do try to formulate my comments so they are productive and helpful. Sometimes I may fall woefully short but at least I try!  I have noticed that others don’t talk.  This article made me reflect as to why.  Do I dominate the conversation so much that its like Janice was saying…”by the time I figure out how I want to [comment], the discussion is over or has moved on…”?  Sometimes I know I speak up to jump start a discussion because no one is talking and we’re supposed to be having a dialogue.  Sometimes I speak up to support a colleague who is presenting.  And, sometimes I just have an opinion to share.  Regardless, before I jump right in the next time I think I will count to 10 and give someone else a chance!  Will I be able to do it?

Stay tuned…

Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century

ImageTruer words were never spoken.This insightful quote was made by John Dewey at age 85…8 years before his death in 1952.  Not only that, in 1915 Dewey was calling conventional public schools to task accusing them of structuring the system “to make things easy for the teacher who wishes quick and tangible results.” (John Dewey, Schools of Tomorrow, New York:  Dutton, 1915, p. 18)  Nearly 100 years ago, Dewey recognized the need for schools to prepare students for the future and to emphasize freedom and individuality.

PBS’ presentation of Digital Media*New Learners of the 21st Century examines five programs across the United States that have embraced technology, integrating it and sometimes replacing traditional curriculum with it in schools. I was particularly interested in New York’s Quest to Learn elementary school.  In this segment, John Seely Brown says that the 21st century and maybe even in the 20th century has overlooked the power and importance of play in learning.  This concept resonated with me from my preschool teaching days.  Our  philosophy at VBCC was that children learn through play…compromising, negotiating, critical thinking, problem solving etc.  Mr. Brown extends this concept to the students of today.  He states that the most important thing is for children to have curiosity and a questioning spirit. With this, students can take an idea and “play” with it, tinker with it, make the idea personal and relevant, and ultimately own it. Then, the student will indwell in the idea and the idea in the student. Long lasting learning takes place here that can be applied to future situations.

I loved the way the students in the program talked about the way they learn at Quest to Learn school. Their interest and enthusiasm are evident and contagious.  I had to keep pausing the video because my mind would start wandering to ways I could implement technology tools into my teaching.

All the segments in the PBS broadcast were interesting to me and I highly recommend you set aside 52 minutes to watch the program. Some of the quotable quotes I captured follow.

 “Assessments and testing drives current school systems.  We are not going to change the paradigm of schooling and get deeper learning and learning for problem solving and innovation unless we change the test and change the assessment.” James Gee, Professor, Arizona State University

“Why do we assume that kids’ socializing and play is not a site of learning?” Mimi Ito, cultural anthropologist , University of California, Irvine

“Is someone literate if they cannot critique media, take media in, if they’re only taking in traditional text – so if a 6th grader today, by the time they graduate from college is not fluent if you will, in some of these other forms of media, I would venture to say that they won’t necessarily be considered as being literate. Nichole Pinkard, Founder, Digital Youth Network

“If we know that learning outside of school matters a great deal to kids’ ability to learn well in school, we have to pay attention to that. Katie Salen, Founder, Institute of Play

Addendum: My favorite resources from the Digital Media page are:

Howard Rheingold – packed website and blogs but especially like the virtual classroom

Edutopia – cool website and blogs on tons of topics

Stay tuned…

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

declaration of independenceAs frightening it is for me to think about it…I think I’m becoming a history geek. Well, maybe “geek” is too strong. But, after student teaching in a 6th grade Social Studies class I am hooked. So, naturally my favorite blog was by Glenn Wiebe called History Tech.

Glenn is a history teacher turned technology geek and curriculum specialist. He has a lot of great ideas for using all types of technology to teach History. One of my favorite blogs he wrote was about making a Facebook page on Abraham Lincoln. I LOVED this idea. Any historical figure could be studied this way. Glenn teaches how to create the dummy Facebook page and gives ideas how to use the page. The link to this post is below.

This got me thinking. In Facebook you can create events and invite people to them. This feature could be used for studying significant events in history as well. By having the students respond and post to these pages, it can become a flipped classroom (my second favorite blog). Pictures (primary sources), videos, and linked pages can be shared with the students.

Another of my favorite posts by Glenn is using primary sources in the classroom. I’ve also posted that link below. What is particularly cool is that he has posted a Primary Sources page with a ton of links to primary source websites. My Mentor Teacher, Nicole, used primary sources so I naturally fell into that same practice when doing my takeover weeks. Primary sources were a great way for the students to critically think about what they were seeing instead of seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I’ve included that link below too.

Glenn is also really interested in video games and has a link to a whole presentation on how to integrate video games into teaching. I need to think about this more because I’m not totally sold here. Glenn has a list of games and how they relate to Bloom’s Taxonomy. While I get this part, I’m not sold on how it relates to “content knowledge.”

While the History Tech is primarily History focused, I think it would be interesting and fun to try to apply some of these ideas to other subject areas.

I mentioned my second favorite blogs were by the Flipped Learning Network. I explored here because I wanted to learn more about flipped classrooms. Again, I return to my Mentor Teacher, Nicole. The last few days of my time in her classroom, she was trying out the flipped classroom concept. She gave the students reading assignments and questions to answer at home to introduce some topics around the Civil War. This was my first exposure to anything like a flipped classroom. I want to read more of the blogs to get a good understanding of how this works, especially since I will have a flipped classroom assignment in ED554. I’ll admit; however, I am not looking forward to videotaping myself. After all, the camera adds 10 pounds!

Stay tuned…