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.

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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.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Delayed Gratification: Beyond the Marshmallow Test

You remember psychologist Walter Mischel's famous marshmallow test, right? If not, click here for a quick review and a cute video.

Well, a recent npr segment discusses research that was done on the way people park their cars — drive straight in v. back in — AND the correlation it has to a country's economy. Listen to Shanker Vedantam's entertaining and enlightening npr piece #19 "Parking Behavior May ReflectEconomic Drive."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Chance in the World

I first learned of Steve Pemberton from the recent NAIS Annual Conference venue where he was a keynote speaker. His life story intrigued me enough for me to buy his book and read it. While his story is a model of success, I was horrified to read about his early life as a foster child. Grounded in reality, Pemberton writes with sincerity and honesty, and a balanced sense of diversity.

John Chubb, President of NAIS, wrote eloquently about Pemberton's conference keynote address in a NAIS Bulletin.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Evolution of the College Degree OR Online/Blended/Hybrid Learning - Part II

I came across this very informative article "The Evolution of the College Degree" that I think you will enjoy perusing, especially as it pertains to online learning. The multi-page graphic is excellent.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anne Frank Revisited

Even though it has been a while since I read the book The Diary of Anne Frank, my mind was refreshed when I recently read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and saw the beautiful movie with Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush. Here's the movie trailer.

But I must say that it was listening to Deborah Feldman's ten-minute Moth podcast that gave me a whole new perspective on how Frank's diary could touch so many lives. One site claims over 25 million copies have been sold.

Also, visit the Anne Frank website for more information.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Smartest Kids in the World

I just finished an excellent book that brought much perspective on testing. Here is a neat review from Independent School Management's (ISM) online "Monthly Update"

"On its surface, the basic structure of the book doesn’t seem all that exciting. However, The Smartest Kids in the World becomes a fascinating case study of global teaching pedagogy. Amanda Ripley puts her investigative reporting skills to use when she follows three students during their year in a study abroad program. What’s unique about these high-performing American students is that each spends his or her year in countries categorized as “high performing” according to international standardized testing. Using a combination of the students’ narratives coupled with research and data from Ripley’s observations on the various educational systems and how they help (and hurt) their students, The Smartest Kids in the World becomes a fascinating glimpse into how a school’s mission influences and molds the young people of the world."

Also, here is a video of author Amanda Ripley talking about the book.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Online/Blended/Hybrid Learning - Part I

I thought you might be interested in the ObaWorld and the Stanford University Online High School platforms for learning. I heard representatives speak from these two organizations at a recent think tank I attended about online/blended learning. 
Be sure to click on the video when you click over to the Online High School home page.