Sunday, February 1, 2015

Impulse Control, Rejection Sensitivity (RS) & Bullying

As you dive deeper into the wealth of information contained in The Marshmallow Test, the more you can understand what underlies bullying, unwanted weight, smoking, anger, AND overall health. Here is an excerpt from this remarkable longitudinal study and book by Columbia University psychologist Walter Mischel.

“THE MOST EXCITING FINDINGS from the marshmallow studies are not the unexpected long-term links between seconds of waiting on the Marshmallow Test and doing well later in life. More impressive is that if we have delay ability and use it, we are better protected from our personal vulnerabilities—such as a predisposition to gain unwanted weight, become angry, feel hurt and rejected, and so on—and can live with these predispositions more constructively. The research that shows how and why self-control has this positive effect has focused on a widespread and pernicious vulnerability called rejection sensitivity (RS), and I turn here to what has been learned about it.


In middle school, high RS children are more easily victimized and bullied by their peers and are lonelier. In the long run, people who are high in this vulnerability continue to experience more rejection, which in time erodes their sense of personal worth and self-esteem, making depression more likely.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Let it Snow

For those of us living on the northeast coast, snow caused many schools to close today.

Check out this YouTube video showing how one ingenious school called for a no-school day.


Friday, January 23, 2015

All Kinds of Testing: To What End?

Here are a few good resources to bring you up to speed on testing in our schools, especially the first one.

1)  NPR's “The Past, Present And Future of High-Stakes Testing” is an excellent, short update on testing. Listen to Steve Inskeep interview Anya Kamanetz, author of The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed With Standardized Testing — ButYou Don’t Have to Be.
2)  Check out The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley to learn about a test that has been given to 15-year old students all over the world, using the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
3)  “Ivy League’s meritocracy lie: How Harvard and Yale cook the books for the 1 percent” by Lani Guinier

“. . . the name was changed first to the Scholastic Assessment Test (keeping the handy, well-known acronym) and later to the SAT Reasoning Test. Call it what you will, the SAT still promises something it can’t deliver: a way to measure merit. Yet the increasing reliance on standardized test scores as a status placement in society has created something alien to the very values of our democratic society yet seemingly with a life of its own: a testocracy.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning to Lead



I am at a retreat about to listen to David Mead, a protégé of Simon Sinek. To prepare, I read Sinek's book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. I recommend it highly. 

In case you are not familiar with Sinek, here are his two TED Talks—they are so good—"Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe" (below) and a link to "Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action."





If you like him, then you'll want to try Fred Reichheld's The Ultimate Question 2.0, Dan Pink's Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and Danny Meyer's Setting the TableAll of these books revolve around learning to lead, "good profits," caring for employees, and providing dedicated service to customers.


Friday, January 9, 2015

A Bit of Montessori Education


Read the brief article "Why the World Embraces the Montessori Method" I wrote. Here are some of the terms and concepts discussed:

  • Respect for the Student
  • Teacher as Facilitator
  • Intrinsically Motivated
  • Prepared Environment
  • Mixed-age Classes
  • Three-year Cycle
  • . . . and more. 
Read and see what you think.


Friday, January 2, 2015

A First Contract for a Third Grader

When he was in third grade, he received his first contract . . . from his father and mother.
#8 on this week's NYTimes Middle Reader bestseller list, The Contract by Derek Jeter with Paul Mantell is a thoughtful book, all children AND parents should read. Here is that first contract between Derek and his parents.
  1. Family Comes First.
  2. Be a Role Model for Sharlee. [Derek's sister]
  3. Do Your Schoolwork and Maintain Good Grades (As or Bs).
  4. Bedtime. Lights out at nine p.m. on school nights.
  5. Do Your Chores.
  6. Respect Others.
  7. Respect Yourself.
  8. Work Hard.
Failure to comply will result in the loss of playing sports and hanging out with friends. Extra-special rewards include attending a major-league baseball game, choosing a location for dinner, and selecting another event of your choice.

Meet Derek's mother and father Dot and Charles in this five-minute interview.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Middle Readers v. Young Adult Literature

Whenever I speak to a group of middle school parents, I let them know that one of the best resources for learning about their emerging adolescent child is to read books about their world. Middle readers and young adult literature (YAL) have so much to say.

For example, I just finished the book Eleanor & Park, a YAL book that takes you on a journey of a relationship between two 16-year olds.

Check out the Sunday NYTimes Book Review section to see the best selling list for both categories. Age-appropriateness is listed for each book. It is important to keep in mind that there is a definite distinction between middle readers and YAL.

If you want to learn more about the differences, read the middle reader Wonder and the YAL book The Fault in Our Stars.



Friday, December 19, 2014

Optical Illusions - Revisited

Below is the most viewed post of all time on my blog.  It was originally posted on May 13, 2010 and since then has had 4,994 hits to date. Going back to each of the links, I understand why it has been so popular.

*   *   *   *


I have always been fascinated with optical illusions.  Check out these two websites for more illustrations like the two at the left.  Illusion-Optical. com and NIEHS KIDS' PAGES.
     Also, M. C. Escher, a master of optical illusions, was one of my favorite artists, and I used his work often way back when I taught geometry.

Friday, December 12, 2014

You Don't Know Jack . . .


. . . but you will after reading my interview with him that was recently published in Montessori Life magazine.  First read the article —"A Model of Will: An Interview with Jack Andraka"— then go to his website to learn more about this amazing teenager who will be a keynote speaker at the American Montessori Society annual conference this March.




Friday, December 5, 2014

Listen, but Watch the Children's Faces

Here is a wonderful treat as we work our way through the holiday season. The United States Air Force Band holiday flash mob at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Common Core 101

If you want to get a good insight into the Common Core State Standards, check out the debate, "Embrace the Common Core," that took place on the website "Intelligence Squared Debates." It gives a great perspective from both sides. Here is an overview from the website:


"In K-12 education, there is nothing more controversial than the Common Core State Standards, national academic standards in English and math. Adopted by more than 40 states, they were developed, in part, to address concerns that American students were falling behind their foreign counterparts and graduating high school without the necessary skills for college and the workforce. But is this the reform we’ve been looking for? Has the federal government overreached and saddled our schools with standards that have been flawed from the start? Or will the Common Core raise the bar and improve the quality of our children’s education?"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Smaller Class Size = Better Education?


When I read "By Trying to Reduce Class Sizes, We're Solving the Wrong Problem" by Sam Chaltain in the November 19 Huff Post Education blog, I immediately thought of Malcolm Gladwell's book David and Goliath, specifically Chapter 2 - "Teresa DeBrito 'My largest class was twenty-nine kids. Oh, it was fun.' " Essentially, the first part of his book is about the advantages of disadvantages. A great read, by the way.

The best part of Chaltain's piece was when I came to the part that stated:

“The University of Virginia's Angeline Lillard, a professor of psychology who has studied the extent to which [Dr. Maria] Montessori's century-old theories have been affirmed by 21st-century research, unpacks Montessori's preference for large class sizes a bit further. ‘She believed that when there are not enough other children in the classroom, there are not enough different kinds of work out for children to learn sufficiently from watching each other work, nor are there enough personalities with whom children can practice their social interaction skills.’


‘In traditional settings in which class sizes are reduced, Lillard explains, ‘when one person is teaching the whole class simultaneously, that person would have more attention to devote to each child, and fewer children would conceivably allow for better teaching.’ By contrast, ‘when children are learning from materials and each other, having more varied possible tutors and tutees, a greater variety of people to collaborate with, and more different types of work out (inspiring one to do such work oneself) might be more beneficial.’ ”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lauren Living For Basketball

This is such a touching story about Lauren Hill a college freshman who is an inspiration to her classmates — actually, for all of us.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Independent By Design



Take a peek at my first book that came out yesterday. Independent by Design is a history of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS).  Filled with historical events, best selling books and movies lists, and landmark educational events from 1947 (the organization's beginnings) to the present, the book makes for an enjoyable read. The book is available at amazon — in both print and Kindle versions.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Beautiful Conversation with 12-Year Old Joshua

From StoryCorps . . .

“Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best—and the most challenging—parts of being a parent.”



Friday, October 24, 2014

Love You Forever

A classic read aloud children's book, Robert Munsch's Love You Forever appeared on my grand daughters' bookshelf one day. Having recognized it from many many previous reads, I could not resist one more read. I thought it might be a treat to share a reading of the book by the author. Enjoy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Teachers Write

The easiest way to experience professional development for teachers is to write. That's right, write. And, you not only help yourself, but you help others AND your profession. Here is an article I wrote in Independent Teacher that is titled "Teachers Write." While the title can be read two different ways, the meaning is all the same, teachers should write; it is what distinguishes us among professions.

Read the article and see what you think. Comment if you agree . . . or disagree.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Time Lapse With a Beautiful Message

If you have 10 minutes and you want to view a stunning video with a message of nature, beauty and gratitude, watch the work of Louie Schwartzberg. The two narrators of his latest project are special in words and feeling. Watch this now. You will want to see it a second time with your students and children. Also, be sure to watch it full screen.

Friday, October 3, 2014

From a Different Perspective

Drop-off is a time of the school day I relished; standing at the front door of the school greeting children, parents, and faculty was pure joy. Now that I am a grandpa, I get to participate in drop-off from a different perspective; that is, dropping off my grand daughters. You might enjoy an article I wrote last fall describing the differences of receiving children at school and dropping off children at school. Here is a link to "From a Different Perspective," that was published in the quarterly paper Public School Montessorian.


Friday, September 26, 2014