Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ethan Bortnick — a Young Inspriation

Who is Ethan Bortnick? Here is an excerpt from his website bio:

“Recognized by the Guinness World Records as 'The World’s Youngest Solo Musician to Head-line His Own Concert Tour,' 16-year-old Ethan Bortnick has been performing around the world, raising over $50,000,000 for charities across the globe.

When he was just three years old, the Hollywood, Florida native asked his parents for piano lessons and discovered an uncanny ability to hear a song once and play it back note for note – the musical equivalent of a photographic memory. He soaked up the music of such diverse artists and composers as Beethoven, Mozart, jazz pianist Bill Evans, Little Richard, Billy Joel and Elton John, and began creating original compositions at age five. A few years later, Ethan began making television appearances and touring, connecting with audiences in countries such as Japan, Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Australia.”

Get to know him better by watching this YouTube video.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Learning to Read

Children love to listen to stories.

I have the privilege of volunteering for United Way's K-Ready Readers, a program that gives me the pleasure of reading to a group of 3-, 4-, and 5-year old children each week.

So, this past week, I thought of my former Brooklyn neighbor and friend Tad Hills and his dog Rocket when they would come to my school and read Rocket books. How the children loved that experience.

Well, I read How Rocket Learned to Read and the children loved it. Just maybe Tad, Rocket, and I inspired and brought these little ones a bit closer to reading on their own.

Thank you, Tad and Rocket.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Visit Understood to Understand


Visit the website Understood for learning and attention issues and learn more about--
"Parents want the best for their children. We do, too. For the first time ever, 15 nonprofit organizations have joined forces to support parents of the one in five children with learning and attention issues throughout their journey.

With the right support, parents can help children unlock their strengths and reach their full potential. With state-of-the-art technology, personalized resources, free daily access to experts, a secure online community, practical tips and more, Understood aims to be that support."

Here some of the topics discussed:
  • “I’m Concerned My Child Might Have Learning and Attention Issues. Now What?”
  • “6 Steps for Requesting a School Evaluation”
  • “How to Organize Your Child’s IEP [Individualized Educational Plan] Binder”
  • “Getting My Child to Listen (Without Yelling)”
  • “Am I Cheating?” Why I Felt Ashamed to Use Dyslexia Accommodations”



Friday, June 23, 2017

The Joy of Reading to Children

"The Joy of Reading to Children" is an article I wrote that was just published in Montessori Life. It begins with . . . 

"As a father, teacher, head of school, and now a grandfather, I have always loved reading to children. I read to my sons from birth and sustained this habit as they grew up. I saw the amazement in their eyes as I read; they were enthralled and totally immersed in the story. I knew reading to my sons would increase their vocabulary and their interest in reading, but there was also a selfish reason—it gave me great joy."

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rediscover The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I recently rediscovered Dr. Stephen Covey's bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Published in 1989, the book has endured the test of time and overlapped with Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences, which I believe was the springboard for John Mayer's book Personal Intelligence and Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence.

If you want to learn more in SEVEN minutes, click on this video about the book.


Friday, May 26, 2017

A Voice on Leadership



Hear what Angie Morgan has to say about leadership. View her brief video "It's not about the job title: A Marine explains how to lead when you're not the boss." Here are three excerpts:
  • "So leadership is about two things: influencing outcomes and inspiring others."
  • ". . . as a leader I have to prioritize the needs of those around me and make sure that they are met and their needs are more important than mine."
  • "But I can share with you honestly if you step up and serve those around you, you're going to build that team."

Friday, May 12, 2017

An Even Better Teacher Resource

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has given its online FREE teacher magazine Independent Teacher a whole new online look. As a member of the editorial board, I am proud to present this post of the spring edition and the new look.

With the theme of Wellness in Schools, here are some of the articles in this edition:

"Exploring the Question of Happiness"
"Initiating an All-Employee Wellness Program"
"Neurodiversity and Differentiation"
"Wellness for Leaders"
"Incorporating Wellness Into School Life"

Click over, see, and read the high quality of Independent Teacher.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Gift of Failure

This is a must-read book, especially if you have anything to do with tweens and teens. The author, Jessica Lahey, a mother of two boys AND a middle school teacher, has all of the correct instincts when guiding parents through the perils of how parents should handle failure with their children. Here are three quotes from the book that can apply to any child and parents:

In order to raise healthy, happy kids who can begin to build their own adulthood separate from us, we are going to have to extricate our egos from our children’s lives and allow them to feel the pride of their own accomplishments as well as the pain of their own failures. (p. xv)

The less we push our kids toward educational success, the more they will learn. The less we use external, or extrinsic, rewards on our children, the more they will engage in their education for the sake and love of learning. (p. 22)


Teach your children to face failure and accept it as valuable feedback. Let them see you taking risks and failing, and talk about those failures as opportunities to better yourself. (. 238)

I personally read the book through the lens of a middle school teacher, former head of two schools, and a father of two sons. Some of my thoughts on failure are captured in "Rethinking the 'F' Word" an article I wrote back in 2008 for Independent School magazine.


Friday, April 14, 2017

A Look at Empathy

"Empathy Can Ease the Pressure: A very short empathic one act play" is an article I wrote for Independent School magazine in 2010.

"Empathy is Tough to Teach But is One of the Most Important Life Lessons" from MindShift is excellent, and this video comes with the short article introducing Dr. Brené Brown's informative take on empathy.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Neurodiversity: A most Important Word & Topic


From NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman:

"One of the most promising developments since the publication of 'The Geek Syndrome' has been the emergence of the concept of Neurodiversity: the notion that conditions like autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations with distinctive strengths that have contributed to the evolution of technology and culture rather than mere checklists of deficits and dysfunctions."



Friday, March 17, 2017

A Video Against the Misuse of Standardized Testing

Check out this video that is a message to schools and children on how to respond to the misuse of standardized testing.

The video is presented by the Community Montessori School in New Albany, IN. View their special Be Brave for Education website.

From the video . . .

"Our care of the children should not be governed by the desire to 'make them learn things,' but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence." (Mari Montessori)

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Lesson in Emotional Intelligence




Click over to this powerful article "How Emotional Intelligence Landed Mr. Rogers $20 Million" by Travis Bradberry author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Embedded in his article, Bradberry uses this YouTube video of Mr. Rogers speaking at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in 1969 about caring for children.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Helping Our Children and Ourselves Understand the Ills of Class

Recently, my son recommended that I read the book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, a #1 NYTimes bestseller about a young boy growing up in Kentucky and southwest Ohio. For me, there are so many lessons to be gained from reading the book, particularly lessons in class distinctions.

Back in 1999 I wrote an article in Independent School magazine entitled "Class Bias—the Real Enemy." Here is a quote from the article that appeared in the NAIS Trendbook 2012-2013—"What impact does this [class] have on independent school communities? In 'Class Bias, the Real Enemy,' Dane L. Peters argues, 'By the nature of a school's many diverse constituents, there is inextricably woven within the fabric a class thread that can unravel the prevailing mission to educate children.' In addition to addressing access in admissions and financial aid, many schools have found that examining issues of socioeconomic and class diversity can help the school become a more welcoming community for all."

For those who may want to dig deeper into understanding class via Hillbilly Elegy, listen to a podcast from "The Ezra Klein Show" that features an interview with author J.D. Vance; it gives excellent insights into class and how it affects America.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I Came Across a Palindrome the Other Day and . . .


. . . way back when I was teaching my 5th grade math class, palindromes was the subject that really interested my students and me. You know that palindromes are numbers, words, and sentences you can read forwards and backwards, and they are the same, e.g. 32523, Otto, radar, and . . . "Go hang a salami! I'm a lasagna hog!" Yes, that is a palindrome.

Fifth graders are great thinkers. See what I mean when you read "Is That Number Really a Palindrome?," an article I wrote back in 1995 for the publication Teaching Children Mathematics. 

Here is the link to the book GO HANG A SALAMI! I'M A LASAGNA HOG! and Other Palindromes by Jon Agee.