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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. Also, he is a contributing writer for EDUCATION VIEWS at: www.educatnviews.org/author/jeffreypflaum/

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Contemplation Writing: An Alternative to Journal Writing and Mindfulness Programs

Part 4: Categories of Student Contemplations

Parts 1, 2, and 3 of my previous BAM POSTS introduced the Contemplation Writing Project:

 

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Contemplation Writing: An Alternative to Journal Writing and Mindfulness Programs

Part 3, Contemplation Comprehension and The Contemplation Questionnaire

The Contemplation Writing Project started with an introduction to “inner experience” using the “Counting Technique” for several lessons until I felt the kids understood the concept and process.  Following my invitation to their inner worlds, I continued the journey through the “Music Technique,” where the students listened to music for five to ten minutes and then wrote about and discussed whatever they experienced inside themselves.  This method was applied for the rest of the school year.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Contemplation Writing: An Alternative to Journal Writing and Mindfulness Programs

Part 2: The Music Technique

 

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

Contemplation Writing: An Alternative to Journal Writing and Mindfulness Programs

Part 1

 

As an inner-city elementary school teacher for thirty-four years (retired from the NYCDOE in 2002), I have had extreme positive results in the areas of Emotional Intelligence, character education, values clarification, concentration/focusing/centering, writing, reading, thinking, creativity, poetry, and vocabulary expansion/appreciation.  My education project, which uses an original form of writing called “Contemplation Writing,” develops intra- and interpersonal communication skills and creative self-expression (personal, journal, memoir, or therapeutic writing) through music (from rock/pop/top ten to classical), writing, discussion, and self-assessments.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

A Novel EI Reading Experience for Adolescents:

JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL by Richard Bach

 

  • This is a story about Emotional Intelligence, character formation, values clarification, and conflict resolution.
 
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull (JLS) can be described as an experimenter, thinker, searcher, observer, non-conformist, even a renaissance bird.  The book is all about character, identity, learning, knowledge, searching, self-discovery, self-motivation, and self-education.  It describes a self-aware seagull not afraid to look at himself, to feel his feelings, to be courageous, to be, and to make changes through trial-and-error that would improve his life.  Think about this: Are there any words or phrases in the paragraph good-for-students-and EI lessons?
 

The book deals with fear, boredom, and hostility.  One key for JLS is to get “fear under control” while experimenting with flying and diving.  Handling fear and anxiety is also important for children when learning new things, in reading, writing, math, and science. Teachers can remove blocks to learning while teaching core subjects.  And then again, there are always standardized tests that create test-anxiety causing kids to dislike the subject tested.  Imagine that: How do you teach EI along with reading, writing, and arithmetic?  Learning is also about thoughts, feelings, experiences, pressure, and stress-reduction, so why isn’t it in the curricula?  Where do you read about EI in district manuals?  Does its absence relieve responsibility to teach it?  I am talking about ideas that fit into the EIrubric called commonsense.  Whatever happened to that?

 
  • Think about this: JLS is a symbol of freedom, love, peace, and hope.  Is this starting to sound like the Sixties for those who remember and lived through those times (JLS was published in 1970)?  Jon embraces these ideas because he sees the other gulls’ meanness and resignation: a world of pure survival limited by emotions and thoughtlessness, a life with little motivation.  He wanted to change things by teaching them what he learned about openness, experimenting, acceptance, communication, thinking, courage, patience, self-control and -discipline, questioning, perfection, and living in the present.  Questions: Don’t the above ideas, values, and EI skills need clarification with students?  How would they affect your kids as individuals and the class as a whole, and you as a teacher?
 
  • JLS is about the individual versus the group, inner- versus outer-directed behavior. One seagull goes against the flock’s retro standards and way of life, that is, a life of eating and survival.  Jon sees life as trying to achieve excellence, searching for new ideas, possibilities, and experiences.  At-risk/disadvantaged kids are faced with going against the crowd who wants individuals to conform to their life style and not achieve.  Imagine that: Teach children EI skills to fight against “friends” who don’t have their best interests in mind, to do what’s best for them, to find motivation from the inside, and to face themselves.  To be or not to be, that is the question educators can pose to students.
 
  • The concept of open- versus close-mindedness is a theme, where JLS wants to re-create his world, to get away from the hostilities and fighting amongst the gulls because he realized there is more to living than “war all the time.”  Imagine that: Adolescents learn to keep an open mind, to see peripherally, to avoid tunnel vision thinking, and ultimately, to learn to think critically and creativelyQuestions: Don’t these EI skills teach kids to think deeply in school and real life situations?  Are we teaching kids the prerequisite fundamental skills of reflection, recall, visualization, thinking, contemplation, and meditation to keep the channels of thought and feeling open to all worlds?  If the doors of perception remain open to experience, students will understand things not only through the eyes, but with their understanding, another important theme to be discussed.
 
  • JLS is about being there, being present in the world.  But the reality is that we live in three subjective time zones: present, past, and future.  Which time should we live in?  What did you say?  A no-brainer, well…yes, it’s better to live in the present where our attention/focus should be.  Jon felt the flock was living-in-the-past by fighting for food and always feeling bored and angry because of an empty life.  JLS wanted more; he had a vision of the future and how great it could be.  To reach that paradise, to learn about flying in the sky and in the mind, he had to be focused and living-in-the-present or else he couldn’t control his fear.  Questions: Does this idea of being focused and in present time sound like a familiar issue in the classroom?  How do you get your kids’ attention?  Do you demand it by saying: “Pay attention”?  How do you get the class to be there with you?  How do you combat their fragmented attention spans?  Do you use concentration activities with them?  Imagine that: Try diverse, fun, absurd, creative, and challenging concentration activities, games, and meditations, all necessary skills-exercises to create an emotionally intelligent class, but rarely found in school curricula.
 
  • Questions: How do students see their worlds and the world? Can they see possibilities for themselves?  Do they view learning as limited or unlimited?  Do they see themselves as lifelong learners, readers, and students?  JLS sees his world, the world of flying, diving, learning, and teaching others as one of unlimited potential.  Think about it: Maybe this might stretch classroom reality a bit, but the idea of no limits falls into the zone of positive thinking, self-efficacy, self-reliance, self-guidance, and open-mindedness, which connects kids to their worlds and the world.  Question: Aren’t the concepts of limitless goals and keeping an open mind values students can learn through reading and JLS?  This is values clarification, where a child has the board set up in front of her: limits vs. no limits and open vs. close-mindedness, or to be or not to be, that is the question.  Aren’t these concepts important to pose to all children in urban, suburban, inner city, and rural areas to see how they would respond? 

 

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