Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Element - Sir Ken Robinson

     As you may have gathered, I am a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson.  It all began when I first saw him at Radio City Music Hall when he spoke before 6,500 at the 2008 NAIS Annual Conference.  Then again, it was his TED Talk that was inspirational.  Now, after reading his recent book, The Element, I continue to be convinced that he understands human nature and the precious qualities of the imagination and creativity in children and adults.
    The best part of The Element for me is reading story after story of people who have come into their element — some in their early years but many in their later years.  Gillian Lynne, James Earl Jones, Ewa Laurance, Mick Fleetwood, Richard Branson, and many others.  Listen to this seven minute clip of Robinson talking about the book.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Check out this website: Wordle.  You can type in a bunch of words or the URL of a website.  For the image above, I typed in the URL of this blog.  Give it a try.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Did Jaime Escalante Stand and Deliver?

     I loved the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver. You remember, it's the one that chronicled Jaime Escalante, the Garfield High School AP Calculus teacher's work with Los Angeles low income students.  Here are an excellent Education Week article and a NPR piece that helped me sift through fiction to find fact:

What Jaime Escalante Taught Us That Hollywood Left Out: Remembering America’s Favorite Math Teacher” by Heather Kirn Lanier in Education Week, April 21, 2010.

Read "Jaime Escalante, Math Teacher Behind 'Stand and Deliver', Dies" by Frank James and listen to an excellent interview by Claudio Sanchez.

     Escalante passed away at the age of 79.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bathroom Talk

The other day as I walked through the school lobby, I noticed a lone father seated working at his iPhone. We smiled at each other, and I proceeded to the bathroom. Opening the door, I noticed the stall door ajar, and the rustling I heard inside clued me into the fact that someone was inside. Before I took another step, the 4-year old voice from inside clearly said, "Dane, tell my Dad I did a poo." My mind instantly connected the child's voice with the father in the lobby. I said, "Will do, Charlie."

As I walked back to the lobby I realized that my little friend recognized me by seeing my image in the mirror through the opened stall door. I'm never surprised at how smart kids are and how resourceful they are when it comes to directing adults.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Not Sure I am There Yet . . . but

Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School presented this funny but interesting TED Talk, "5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do." View this 8-minute video for yourself and decide if you buy into what Tulley is saying.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Getting to Know Jacqueline Woodson

    Yesterday our Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary students got to listen to Jacqueline Woodson in our library.  Author of over 30 books, Woodson enchanted and inspired students about writing. I could see in the faces of those assembled that students were taking in all that she had to offer.  A multiple Newbery Honor and Caldecott Honor winner, Woodson recited chapters from memory from her books.  The students and I loved it when she read from her picture book, Show Way holding the book for all to view while she recited word-for-word the rich history of her family.
    My own read of her books Maizon at Blue Hill and If You Come Softly confirmed for me her gift as a writer and an author who understands the world of young adult readers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Bear That Wasn't

     On May 22, 1980 I was leading a group of ninth grade students through Quincy Market in Boston, and I sauntered into a bookstore.  As I was pawing through books in the children's section, I came across The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear, fell in love with it, and purchased it for my sons.  This past holiday season my younger son asked me if I remembered the book and had the copy I bought all those years ago.  In fact, I did; I vividly remembered the copy; it had illustrations that reminded me of the 1962 Stanley Kubrick movie A Clockwork Orange.  The original story, written by Frank Tashlin, has a bit of a Simpsonesque feel to it — it's eloquently written for both children and adults. I bought my son his own copy.
     Listening to Weekend Edition (scroll down a bit to get to the reading) recently, I heard Scott Simon and Daniel Pinkwater read Tashlin's original book, The Bear That Wasn't on the occasion of its re-issuance by the New York Review of Books Children's Collection.  In case you missed reading the book in your parenting or teaching work, here it is in full color.