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Posted by on in Miscellaneous

furniture 640x398

I loved the idea of desks with wheels. My lessons usually involve some combination of partner work, small-group work, whole-class discussion, inner circle/outer circle discussions, independent work. Movable desks seemed to make sense for this kind of collaborative practice.

And I have noticed  a few distinct benefits:

  • It can be fun to push oneself around in one of these desks
  • It's very easy to push the desks around the classroom (no heavy lifting required) and scratches on the floor are significantly less likely to appear
  • Students can more fluidly shift between partners
  • It's easier for students to turn around to see what's happening in different parts of the room.

With that said, I can't say that this new desk necessarily makes collaboration easier for my students -- particularly since my students are already so adept at team work. Classroom furniture should reflect our pedagogical values. I do see the potential benefits of Node chairs, but it seems like a stretch to dub them "real world" or "21st century."

A few issues that I've noticed:

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


A couple of years ago my husband and I took a 20th Anniversary trip.  The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone have always been on our bucket list so we decided to go to out west.

I remember reading about the Tetons and the elevation of Grand Teton .... an elevation of 13,776 feet.  Almost 2 miles.  What makes the Tetons particularly awe-inspiring is the landscape next to it.  They are at at the edge of a flat valley which allows for the stunning views.  You can step back and appreciate them in full.  And there is no gentle slope up or foothills - it's a fault-block mountain so - BAM there they are!  Imagine how you drew a mountain as a kid - those triangles popping up out of the grass.  That's what the Grand Tetons looked like.  It is truly the most beautiful place I've ever been, and I'm a bit obsessed now.

We've camped in West Virginia where we climbed Spruce Knob, which is (for this area) a healthy 4,863 feet.  We've been to the Smoky Mountains several times and hiked to the top Clingman's Dome at 6,643 feet - tallest peak of the Smokies.   I could not wait to see what 13,776 looked like!

But when we got there, I was surprised.  Please don't take this for disappointment - but 13,776 didn't look nearly as "tall" as I had imagined.  And that's when it struck me - I hadn't considered the prominence of a mountain.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


“Bridie, how can we celebrate George Washington’s birthday?”

It was a very straight forward question from a precocious seven-year-old and I jumped on it, eager to teach a little history lesson as well as to encourage use of the internet for actual research and not just a way to see what your friends ate for breakfast.

First, I explained that Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, meaning it can occur the 15th through the 21st inclusive, in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732.

I was even more chuffed with myself to add that colloquially, it is widely known as Presidents' Day and is often an occasion to remember all the presidents, not just George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February. The term "Presidents' Day" was coined in a deliberate attempt to change the holiday into one to celebrate all presidents. I even explained the correct punctuation of "Presidents' vs President's" Day.

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


“When you are three, everything is a brand-new Ferrari.”

This was my explanation to a group of parents of preschool-aged children at a recent workshop about sharing, and how to effectively teach this concept to young children. I had asked each parent to come with an example of either a time when they felt sharing worked effectively, or an example of a time when it was a total disaster.

One dad in particular, John, shared how he had been extremely upset and embarrassed over an episode at his daughter’s recent third birthday party. His daughter had opened all of her gifts and was especially excited over her new toy called “Shopkins.” When she was then told to share them with her fellow party-goers who were equally excited about said Shopkins, a full-on, hysterical, screaming, crying, peel-the-pain-off-the-walls-wailing meltdown ensued.

Sharing is a hot-button topic for parents because it is presumed to be an indicator of a child’s successful social and emotional development. It is also falsely presumed to be the same as teaching a child to be generous. Parents worry that if their children do not share well or take turns, then they will not have any friends, or will not turn out to be good people. Naturally, no parent ever wants to see those things happen. Sharing and taking turns are important skills; however, adults often expect them of children far earlier than is age appropriate. Many parents will insist that their children share their belongings with other children. What does this really teach them?

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous


In a recent, very enjoyable #edchatNZ focusing on reflection and the purpose and practice of education, Chris Clay made one comment in particular that caught my attention and sparked subsequent curiosity. He suggested that as educators, we reflect on the difference between education and schooling.

At a dinner party later that same evening, I took this question to the other guests, some also educators and all parents. A lively discussion followed and I found it remarkable to hear each person’s interpretation of the two words and their meaning. Some equated “schooling” with the loving, nurturing component of the overarching umbrella called “education”, while others saw it as the term defining the building or institution in which the “education” happens. Some argued that schooling is confined to one particular place, while education can happen anywhere, and still others felt it was the exact opposite - education being reserved for institutes of learning, while schooling reached beyond the walls of the classroom to encompass all of life’s lessons.

edremainsCharged by our dialogue and now filled with even more curiosity, I decided to take my question to the harshest critics – a group of middle-schoolers. I explained to each that I was looking for information to share in this week’s blog post, and then followed by asking: “What do you think is the difference between education and schooling?”

The first young man, who shall remain nameless, declined to answer and expressed that "at his age" he does not wish to have any kind of online presence, even if just a mention or a quote in my blog.  I couldn’t very well argue with that logic.

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