Thursday, February 26, 2009

Conference Time

This week six of our faculty are attending the American Montessori Society (AMS) Annual Conference in New Orleans, and I am attending the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference in Chicago. Among the seven of us, we will bring back to our colleagues a vast array of educational experiences, networking stories, and exhibit items that will enhance our programs, broaden our school's professional development, and most importantly, provide our students with updated educational practices and ideas that will enrich their lives for today's world.

Take a minute and click on the links above, visit the conference sites, and see the slate of speakers and activities provided by these two national organizations. Visit my NAIS blogger buddies to see what has been going on at that conference. Here are the links:
KaTrina Wentzel (Mounds Park Academy, MN)
Jonathan Martin (head-elect, St. Gregory College Prep, AZ)
Michael Obel-Omia (The University School, OH)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Outlier is an Outlier

Of all of Malcolm Gladwell's books and articles, Outlier is out there.  Based on anecdotes and family stories — good as they are — the book is not the usual Gladwell research-based book.  Clearly The Tipping Point and Blink received rave reviews and are mentioned over and over in conversations from business to education to life. . . I'm afraid that is not the case for Outliers.  As big a Gladwell fan as I am, I have to agree with the NYTimes Book Review.

I will say, though, that one section of the book did catch my eye.   "Johns Hopkins University sociologist Karl Alexander's work suggests that the way in which education has been discussed in the United States is backwards.  An enormous amount of time is spent talking about reducing class size, rewriting curricula, buying every student a shiny new laptop, and increasing school funding—all of which assumes that there is something fundamentally wrong with the job schools are doing. [Collected data does show] Schools work.  The only problem with school, for the kids who aren't achieving, is that there isn't enough of it."

Look at the book.  Decide for yourself if it matches up to his other books.

P.S.  I did enjoy reading the last chapter that talks about Gladwell's family heritage.  And, the book is #2 on the NYTimes Bestseller list today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Easy Classical Beginnings

All children, young people, and adults should be exposed to classical music at some point in their lives.  The mere fact that you can listen to it and work at the same time are reason enough!  Like right now — as I write — I am listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2, feeling elevated and inspired by the combination of notes and instruments.  

Start light and with works that aren't necessarily classical in setting and composition.  Here are a few pieces that are perfect for a drive in the suburbs . . . or sharing an iPod earpiece on the subway.

Water Music - George Handel
Brandenburg Concertos - Johann Sabastian Bach (begin with #2 and #5)
The Four Seasons (Fall) - Antonio Vivaldi
Canon in G - Johann Pachelbell
Bolero - Maurice Ravel

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Did You Know . . . about Web 2.0?

The winter 2009 issue of Independent School magazine with a theme of Teaching in a  2.0 World looks at different aspects of technology in the lives of our schools and children.

Some articles you'll want to read:
• "Can You Hear Me Now?" - Lorrie Jackson
• "Technology Use in Independent Schools" - Susan Booth
• "School 2.0" - Tim Fish
• "How to Build for the Future of Technology in Schools" - Catherine J. Hall & Alexander C. Pearson

Here's a look at technology in our schools through video:
• Many of you are already familiar with "Did You Know?" Here is the most recent version of it. Aside from all of the interesting facts displayed throughout the video, I love the music.
• Another YouTube clip that had over 250,000 hits caught my eye. "A Vision of K-12 Students Today," gives another version of technology and what it means in our schools.
• "A Vision of Students Today" with nearly 3 million hits gives a similar account of how students are assimilating technology in their lives today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love of Legos

I grew up with Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Erector sets, and bricks - a precursor to Legos.  My sons wallowed in Legos . . . and, of course, I had to indulge them by practicing parallel play using the multi-size, colorful plastic blocks.  I did it for them!

When I came across this recent article, "I Lego N.Y." by Christoph Niemann, all of those early years of colorful construction came flooding back.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

TED Talks

"Confessions of TED Addict" by Virginia Heffernan in a recent NYTimes Magazine article gives you a flavor of this remarkable organization. Here is a quote from the TED home page:

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

Before you click over to the TED website, let me give you a menu of some of my favorite Talks. Once you watch one, you are compelled to watch others . . . guaranteed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reading to Little Ones

There were a few books that I read to my children when they were wee ones that I have carried with me over the years. I continue to read them to the preschoolers in my school, relatives, and anyone who will listen. Using various voices for the characters, each story comes to life for the children, although their imaginations are very active and can paint pictures without voices or pictures.

Here are the books:

Sam Sunday and the Strange Disapperance of Chester Cats
by Robyn Supraner (Author), Robert Tallon (Illustrator) (Parent's Magazine Press (1978)

Fish Story by Robert Tallon (Scholastic 1977)

The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear by Jorg Steiner (Author), Jorg Mueller (Illustrator) (Heryin Books, Inc.; Tra edition (July 1, 2007)

Boffo: The Great Motorcycle Race by Frank Dickens (Author) (Parents' Magazine Press 1978)

Socks for Supper by Jack Kent (Author) (Parent's Magazine 1978)