Sunday, January 31, 2010

Confident Kids

With many years of greeting children as they walk into school and observing their interaction with adults, I have come to realize the significant difference in Montessori kids; their confidence is visibly evident.

When I meet a child, I look for eye contact, or a firm handshake, or how easily she/he engages in conversation. I do notice that Montessori children are more comfortable with adult interaction; they work and play in an environment that welcomes adult-child interaction. It is an environment that says we—children, young adults, and adults—are life-long active learners and enjoy learning together and learning from each other. We all have something to share, no matter what age you are. This inevitably breeds confidence in our children.

Whether it is a little one who toddles into my office attracted by the beaver doorstop, preschoolers who want to have me look at their work in the classroom, or an Upper Elementary student who is sharing today’s classroom snack, I love the fact that they feel comfortable enough to engage with the Head of School, who is just another person at school.

Research suggests that building a child’s confidence starts early on, and parents who understand the idea of transitioning independence to their child will better serve their child. Dr. Montessori is very clear about how children work through early sensitive periods. A preschooler’s sensitivity to detail, order, use of hands, walking, and language happens at different stages and is made whole when parents give their children time to explore, experiment, and self-discover their abilities during each sensitive period. Confidence grows with each success, and when there is failure, confidence will grow out of the recovery, not the fall.

In this summer’s faculty and staff book read, The Price of Privilege, author Madeline Levine states that the [child’s] self is born in the crucible of interaction between parent and child. Every time we encourage exploration, applaud independence, and require self-control we help our children grow into their best selves. Interestingly, she goes on to say that kids with a strong sense of self can come out of dismal economic circumstances and kids with an impaired sense of self can come out of the most fortunate economic circumstance.

All parents want their children to make choices, become self-reliant, be independent thinkers, and engage with each other and adults confidently.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Charlie Bit My Finger

When I was at an education conference in San Francisco this past weekend, the 1,000 participants sitting in the grand ballroom were introduced to the video below.  With over 150,000,000 views recorded, videos don't get much cuter than this.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Do What You Need To Do

Reading Malcom Gladwell's newest best seller, What the Dog Saw you discover the book is a compilation of his New Yorker articles that he wrote since 1996.  In the usual Gladwell fashion, you begin reading his works and you find yourself saying, "Yah, he is so right.  How does he assemble so many relevant thoughts, statistics, and connections in one article?"

It was when I was reading "Million-Dollar Murray" an article that was published on February 13, 2006 and coincidentally listening to John Mayer's "Say" that I was struck by Gladwell's ability to strike a chord in our sensibilities.  Making a connection between homelessness, the inefficiency of eradicating it, and Gladwell's ability to say what we need to hear, will help us prepare our world for our children so that they can accomplish what we mean to accomplish.  Read the piece as you listen to Mayer and see if you can understand what I am saying.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And the winners are . . .

The Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal winners were announced, and the winners are When You Reach Me and The Lion and the Mouse.  Click over to this two minute Today Show interview with the authors. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Newbery & Caldecott Medal Awards

     Aren't young adult and children's picture books great . . . for kids and adults.  The picture above is one of the walls in my office.  One poster is of all of the Newbery Medal (the most distinguished children's American book literature) book covers and the other is a poster of all of the Caldecott Medal (The Most Distinguished Chidren's Book Illustration) book covers.  In case you didn't know, the American Library Association (ALA) is currently holding its annual meeting in Boston.  The conference culminating event is the announcement of the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners.
     Pssst . . . I will let you in on a little secret.  After speaking to our school librarian, I have two picks to watch for: Claudette Colvin by Phillip M. Hoose for the Newbery Medal and The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney for the Caldecott Medal.
     Let's see what happens when the awards are announced tomorrow, January 18.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tweens, Porcupines, and Good Advice

     I can never be sensitive enough to those parents of 9- through 13-year old children.  It is such a difficult age for the children AND parents.  I was reintroduced to the above books recently, and they reminded me of the challenges of the tween years — those middle school years.  Here are some links to the books.
     Don't be surprised when you read the first chapter of Porcupine and the introduction to Our Last Best Shot to see that they are almost identical.  The former is about a boy and the latter is about a girl, nevertheless they have similar characteristics.
     The books are all must-reads for parents with children who are approaching these sensitive years in life.  Do yourself a favor and read at least one of them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gutenberg Press, Then — E-Books, Now?

I first began seriously asking myself, "If and when will electronic books take over book-books?" when I bumped into the "Book v. Kindle" challenges (see August 10, 2009 post).  Funny though they are, the sketches made me think and say, "Right, this really isn't going to happen . . . at least, not in my time."

Enter stage right "How E-Books Will Change Reading and Writing," an NPR piece that makes you think about the E-Book notion when you stack it up against what the Gutenburg press did for reading and writing a gazillion years ago.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Growing K-12 Online Learning

Here are some statistics to think about:
  • K-12 online learning is a new field consisting of an estimated $300 million market, which is growing at an estimated annual pace of 30% annually.
  • 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet 

(21 million people).

  • 45 of the 50 states, plus Washington D.C., have a state virtual school or online initiative, full-time online schools, or both.
  • As of January 2007, there were 173 virtual charter schools serving 92,235 students in 18 states.
  • 57% of public secondary schools in the U.S. provide access to students for online learning.
  • 86% percent of teens, 88% of online teens, and 80% of all parents believe that the Internet helps teenagers to do better in school.

  • 14.2 million computers were available for classroom use in the nation’s schools as of the 2005-2006 school year. That works out to one computer for every four students learning.
     Prompted by Susan Booth's Independent School article "At the Tipping Point: K-12 Online Learning," I visited the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)'s Fast Facts About Online Learning to retrieve the above stats.  How far will we go with technology in our classrooms?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Independent School Reading

On December 10, 1997 I wrote "Getting a Read on Independent Schools" for Education Week where I made reference to books about independent schools.  The usual suspects were mentioned: The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, The Rector of Justin, A Prayer For Owen Meany, Dead Poet Society, and others.  All of these literary icons came flooding back to me when I read NAIS President Pat Bassett's Independent Perspective Column "An Explication of 'Fisherman's Wife'" and related short story "Fisherman's Wife" by Medb Mahony in the Winter 2010 issue of Independent School magazine.

Pat eloquently ties Mahony's short story to the Brothers Grimm fable "The Fisherman and His Wife" in his thoughtful analysis, helping readers gain one perspective on today's independent schools.