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Jeffrey Pflaum   @jeffrey_pflaum

Jeffrey Pflaum @jeffrey_pflaum

Jeffrey Pflaum has been an inner-city elementary school teacher in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, for thirty-four years (NYCDOE, retired in 2002). He worked as a creative writing, whole language, social studies, gifted/talented, physical education, and mentor teacher in grades K – 6 and special education. Pflaum coached middle school boys and girls basketball teams and one of his players became coach of the Pace University team. Tennis was also taught on the elementary school level to lower grade kids as part of the NY Junior Tennis League Program founded by Arthur Ashe. Pflaum considers himself a teacher-developer-researcher experimentalist who created successful education projects in emotional intelligence, social and emotional learning, reading, writing, poetry, thinking, creativity, vocabulary expansion, concentration, and intra- and interpersonal communication skills. He has written articles for professional newspapers and publications about his curricula. Various programs appeared on web sites such as ERIC and CASEL/Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning (“Experiences, Reflections, and Insights”). One program was featured at the International National Council of Teachers of English at NYU as one of the best examples of English Language Arts in the NYC Public Schools, K – 12. His students’ poetry and prose have been published in college, writers’, gifted secondary, and children’s literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and by major commercial book publishers; read on public radio (Poetry-In-The-Morning, WNYE-FM, sponsored by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative/NYC); and, won honors and awards from PBS, Channel Thirteen/NYC. One student, Noel “Speedy” Mercado, became a top NYC disc jockey on WKTU-FM. Pflaum published an inspirational book about adolescent reading lives titled MOTIVATING TEEN AND PRETEEN READERS: HOW TEACHERS AND PARENTS CAN LEAD THE WAY (Rowman & Littlefield Education). For book reviews, go to http://www.examiner.com/review/motivating-your-kids-to-read to see Kecia Burcham's response to the book, and also, The Teachers College Record for Karen Polk's insightful article. For Karen Polk's review (8/24/12), from the Teachers College Record, google "MOTIVATING TEEN AND PRETEEN READERS - Teachers College Record." Go to www.JeffreyPflaum.com for more articles on "Contemplation Writing," Meditative Writing Ideas, Internet radio interviews, published student poetry, and newspaper articles about his book on motivating adolescent readers and Inner Cities Arts Project. His recent interviews on Contemplation Writing can be found at these "Pure Imagination" links: http://prn.fm/2012/07/14/pure-imagination-071312 and Pure Imagination - 07/13/12 | Progressive Radio Network. A second interview on "Connect With Julianna" (Toginet Radio Network) about "Contemplation" or "Music" Writing can be found at these links: http://bit.ly/iTFbk7 and http://bit.ly/t5FA0W; or, Connect with Creative Educator and Author, Jeffrey Pflaum. Pflaum is currently a regular blogger on The BAM Radio Network's blog, ED Words, where posts about a plethora of his projects can be found at: www.bamradionetwork.com/edwords-blog/blogger/listings/jeffpaul.

Posted by on in Student Engagement

Einstein imagination quote

Check out a few prompts about creativity and imagination. Use these "sparks" to trigger that "self-amusement park" of the mind to see where they all lead. As you read the prompts, use brainstorming, "picture-storming" (visualize one image-after-another), and "word-storming" (crank out one word-after-another) to get into my original statements, "equations," and quoatations about two vital learning and life processes/skills. Apply the storming processes to conjure up thoughts, ideas, meanings, feelings, mind-pictures (images), words, and connected real-life experiences in your head. Enjoy some fun and creative self-entertainment with these "pumper-uppers," first, with yourself to see what they produce, and then use with your students to motivate discussion.




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Posted by on in Professional Development

music notes png by doloresdevelde d5gt351

For the new school year, why not try a little “day music” to get educators acquainted with themselves, colleagues, and students in a professional development session? My Contemplation Music Writing Project helped students find inner peace and I believe it will work with teachers.

But you might be wondering how I can make this leap from kids to adults? Can the project be adapted to expand intra- and interpersonal communication skills in educators’ worlds? How do we create a more tranquil individual and overall school environment? Can we deflate the stress effecting teachers today? Is it at all possible?

In a word, “yes.” My approach to EI/SEL is an alternative to the mindfulness programs used in schools. It was extremely successful with inner city students under very difficult circumstances. People use this simple technique in daily life without realizing it. And it all centers on music and music listening.

Picture this imaginary scene in professional development session:

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Posted by on in Literacy


Reading is fundamental, that’s true, but somehow this idea gets lost in the translation. Re-stated, it means, in today’s education system, that reading is fundamental when we make Johnny read and read and read until the words come out of his eyes and ears. At that point, it becomes a habit, so deeply ingrained in him, that it is only natural for him to pick up a book in his leisure time.

Imagine that: In a world of constant distractions and events flying by at high speeds, Johnny will read at a pace much slower than reality, where digressions and inner-space journeys intervene frequently. In order to prevent these diversions from happening, we bombard the child with a barrage—sometimes called a list—of thirty books to read on his own.

By reading, on average, three books per month, along with the summer bonus of ten more books, Johnny might become, for us, but unbeknownst to him, a reader, booklover, lifelong learner, in a naturally unnatural way. This is the fundamental way to impact the reading process, or the magic of reading, so he can sit engaged and bored simultaneously, and constantly thinking and asking questions about his future days, for example:  

What are the easiest books to read and respond to?

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies


I don’t think you can ever underestimate the complexity of the reading process, and I’m not just talking about sounding out words, word recognition, vocabulary, knowledge of content area, and fluency. The silent reading process alone, from start to finish, that is, when readers first see the words in the book in front of them, until the final moment when they make sense out of it all, is a multi-wired pathway with crisscrosses and interconnected tracks that have to be firing and functioning and clear of “debris,” the distractions of adolescents’ minds and imaginations.

The upcoming process/illustration is not taught in the schools and should be addressed because, as you will see, it gives kids, especially those who struggle, the reluctant ones, and the totally unmotivated children frameworks and guideposts that will lead them through the darker tunnels, those inner landscapes of reading, the imaginary and real worlds of reading, each requiring mental-emotional-psychological energy and the “glue” of awareness to put all the pieces of reading back together again.

Please go to my diagram of—and take on—the silent reading processes. See if it makes sense according to your reading life experiences and how you teach the subject in your classes. What I’m trying to do with the illustration, which, upon first scanning it, might seem quirky (and I can understand that response), is to visually demonstrate what happens when kids—and adults—read silently. And from looking at it, you can see that a lot happens inside a child’s head during the process. Note: I draw this illustration on the board to illuminate the inner reading process for students.

 Screen Shot 2016 02 11 at 9.29.44 AM

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Certainly this is the new age of photography. And I always thought the 70’s were the real photography revolution with your Nikons, Canons, and, of course, Paul Simon’s song,  “Kodachrome.” Find it with lyrics at https://youtu.be/N4ltLp30KVs before reading any further.

I remember buying Kodachrome slide film and shooting, sparingly, because processing was expensive. Not so today because you can take hundreds of digital images with smart phones, DSLRs, view them on your computer screen, and share the images with the world. I know I do, all the time. What a difference a revolution makes! And don’t forget those “Selfies” we take ad infinitum…

But in my classrooms I would like to take another approach, a creative, contemplative technique and skill you can teach children from grades 4 on up. This requires an imagination and openness. What I’m offering is something kids would appreciate and understand. They haven’t lost their creativity yet, at least on elementary and middle school levels, despite what Common Core throws at them. And as a veteran classroom teacher I’m always looking for ways to improve and expand kids’ concentration. The upcoming lesson is an experiment to enhance students’ ability to focus, concentrate, contemplate, and to be there while navigating the world around them. 

So what is this imaginary concept I would like to teach students? “Your eyes are like cameras that take pictures when open.” Huh? What do I mean? Just what the statement says: Introduce and motivate the idea by saying to the class:

“Imagine your real eyes are like cameras taking pictures of what you see. You record and store those images in your mind. Then, you will use your inner eye to re-view the ‘photographs’ you took on the outside. You go from snapping pictures of what you see in front of you with your real eyes to seeing them again inside your mind with the inner eye. Maybe this sounds a little complicated, so let me take you through the process step-by-step”:

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