EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Kids Tuning into Themselves, Others, and the World

    Kids look into the mind’s mirror, see themselves (maybe for the first time), and write about what they find.  How scary is that?  This is “Reflections,” an application of “Music Writing,” which introduced adolescents to the wild world of inner experience via music, and how the mind’s eye, like a giant spotlight, illuminates events as mental image pictures to contemplate.  Contemplation helped kids to examine their inner and outer worlds and gave them organic and real reasons for w ...

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    by Jeffrey Pflaum
    Wednesday, 27 May 2015
  • Summer Work ... JUST SAY NO

    The #BFC530 conversation on Twitter today was centered on Summer work. There are many people who believe we, as educators, must do something to combat this Summer slide that students go through every Summer.  I hear many educators talking about this slide and quite honestly I never really understood the concept. I live in Social Studies world where most of the students who walk through my doors have very little previous knowledge about what they will learn in my class so the Summer Slide c ...

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    by Dennis Dill
    Wednesday, 27 May 2015
  • Tips for Surviving the Mandatory Master's Degree

    Most states today require new teachers to start their master's degrees after just a few, short years in the classroom.  While there are many pros and cons to that requirement, the reality is that many master's programs really help us develop into better teachers and have a huge impact on what we do in the classroom.  Here are some tips and tricks to surviving the required master's program: 1. Go online! There are many great online master's programs out there, from Western Governors U ...

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    by Carina Hilbert
    Wednesday, 27 May 2015
  • peer learning

    When It Comes to Learning, It’s Better Together

    I often wonder how kids are supposed to become part of a community and the world when they have so little experience learning how. We teach kids how to beat each other – in sports and spelling bees and such – but give them almost no opportunity to discover what’s possible when they work together. It’s no wonder American corporations are spending millions of dollars on team-building trainings for their young employees. These young people have been educated in schools where talking to one another ...

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    by Rae Pica
    Tuesday, 26 May 2015
  • The Student Votes are IN: 6 Traits Teachers MUST Possess!!!

    What do students want AND need in an educator? Thoughts run rapidly through my mind as the end of the year approaches and deep self-reflection continues: Did I make a difference this year? What should I approach completely differently next year? How can I revise my instructional approaches? In what manner can I meet more students where they are at in ANY given moment? Instead of permitting my uncertainties to mature out of proportion, I decided to consult the individuals who would know first- ...

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    by Kara Welty
    Saturday, 23 May 2015
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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Kids look into the mind’s mirror, see themselves (maybe for the first time), and write about what they find.  How scary is that?  This is “Reflections,” an application of “Music Writing,” which introduced adolescents to the wild world of inner experience via music, and how the mind’s eye, like a giant spotlight, illuminates events as mental image pictures to contemplate.  Contemplation helped kids to examine their inner and outer worlds and gave them organic and real reasons for writing, motivating them from the inside to express their everyday experiences.  

I created Reflections because student contemplations in Music Writing described painful events present in their minds: divorce, death, illness, failures, and negativity.  After practicing Music Writing for two months (see http://www.edutopia.org/blog/music-writing-trigger-creativity-jeffrey-pflaum), I began Reflections, whose aims were to:

  • Locate a past experience and describe it in 100 words or more.
  • Use visualization, reflection, and contemplation to find and re-create the experience.
  • Improve self-awareness, -knowledge, -understanding, -esteem, and -expression.
  • Use discussion to reinforce all the above objectives.

 INTRODUCTORY LESSON 

I defined “reflection” by drawing a stick figure looking into a mirror, and said: ”When you see a reflection of yourself in a mirror, you’re looking at yourself.”  I sketched a diagram of the inner eye looking at experiences-as-mind-pictures.  I drew the eye looking at images in a mirror inside the stick figure’s head.  I explained: “You see your self, your experiences, in an imaginary mirror.  Observe your reflection inside the mind.  Use your inner eye to find, visualize, reflect on, and contemplate a past experience.  Then, write about it.”  

Practice oral reflection lesson: 

...

Posted by on in Education Resources

The #BFC530 conversation on Twitter today was centered on Summer work. There are many people who believe we, as educators, must do something to combat this Summer slide that students go through every Summer. 

I hear many educators talking about this slide and quite honestly I never really understood the concept. I live in Social Studies world where most of the students who walk through my doors have very little previous knowledge about what they will learn in my class so the Summer Slide concept never really applied, which is why I "Googled" the question, "What is Summer Slide?" and my top result was this from Reading is Fundamental .

I understand the value of reading, but should a school mandate the reading to kid? What constitutes "reading"? If it doesn't have to be a book than why do school deem it necessary to have required Summer reading. Even more interesting, if reading is important to do than why does my daughter have math worksheets to complete this Summer? You know what I did ... I "Googled" the question, "Why do kids have to do math work over the Summer?" and I found this article from Today's Parent; Do You Give Your Kids Homework Over the Summer? The article talked about parents giving workbooks for their kids to complete over the Sumer so they would be prepared for the upcoming school year. Even mentioned how they wouldn't get to play with their friends on the Slip-n-Slide until they completed their workbooks. I commend the will to ensure your kids are prepared, but at what cost. Sure they enter the new grade level prepared ... maybe even better prepared than their peers, what does it get them? A more relaxed school year because they already know what the teacher is teaching so they get to sit and listen while the other kids catch up.

I am not knocking parents do with their kids, but I think forcing kids to learn from a book or do some arbitrary assignment over the Summer is misguided. Let's be honest, if you are a High School teacher you are more than likely assigning something to the incoming kids that you feel will prepare them for the year or worse something you really don't want to teach so you make it Summer work and force the kids to learn it on their own ... like when AP US History teachers assign the "Discovery Chapters" over the Summer. Don't believe me? Here is an excerpt from an APUSH syllabus: 

...

Posted by on in Education And Training

Most states today require new teachers to start their master's degrees after just a few, short years in the classroom.  While there are many pros and cons to that requirement, the reality is that many master's programs really help us develop into better teachers and have a huge impact on what we do in the classroom.  Here are some tips and tricks to surviving the required master's program:

1. Go online!

There are many great online master's programs out there, from Western Governors University to my alma mater, University of Southern California's Rossier Online program, and the cost is wide-ranging, too.  Some programs require some face-to-face sessions while others don't, but it is possible to find a program that fits your best blended learning style and budget.

The best part about studying in an online program is fitting classes around work and home so much more easily.  I will warn you, though: most online programs have higher workloads in order to make up for less or no face-to-face time.  That's just the way it is.  The nice thing, though, is that you can still use all the great social media and online meeting or backchannel apps to develop real relationships with your professors and fellow students.  If you aren't as comfy online, don't worry--you will be by the end!

2. There's an app for that!

...

Posted by on in What If?

peer learningI often wonder how kids are supposed to become part of a community and the world when they have so little experience learning how. We teach kids how to beat each other – in sports and spelling bees and such – but give them almost no opportunity to discover what’s possible when they work together. It’s no wonder American corporations are spending millions of dollars on team-building trainings for their young employees. These young people have been educated in schools where talking to one another in the classrooms, hallways, and even the cafeteria has been forbidden. And the idea of working together? Well, in the past there was a name for that; it was called cheating.

Clearly, I’m in favor of peer-to-peer learning. When kids collaborate, they’re much better prepared for the world – regardless of any argument made by those who believe it’s a “dog-eat-dog” place to live. When we stop to consider it, we have to admit that life offers us far more opportunity to cooperate – with life partners, family members, co-workers, employers, community and church members – than it does to compete.

Because I love this topic, I fully enjoyed my conversation with Suzie Boss, Dave Truss, and Shelly Terrell, three educators who understand the value of collaborative learning. Here’s some additional advice from them on the topic.

From Dave:

1. the key to peer to peer learning is providing sufficient scaffolding for students to be successful. Provide students with enough information and structure so that they can meaningfully contribute to the learning. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

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What do students want AND need in an educator? Thoughts run rapidly through my mind as the end of the year approaches and deep self-reflection continues: Did I make a difference this year? What should I approach completely differently next year? How can I revise my instructional approaches? In what manner can I meet more students where they are at in ANY given moment?

Instead of permitting my uncertainties to mature out of proportion, I decided to consult the individuals who would know first-hand what traits they are seeking in a teacher...my STUDENTS, of course! I simply asked my sixth graders one question: What kind of teacher are you looking for? Many of the answers I received were absolutely astonishing! As teachers already have keen awareness of the attributes we need to make the greatest impact. But, when students present their hopes in their OWN words, it is life-altering.

Moreover, I was incredibly amazed with each child and their extraordinary maturity when offering honest input; I felt that I was conversing with grown adults! This inquiry reiterated the importance of student feedback in my mind. If our goal is to be student-centered, then shouldn’t we spend time to attend to the opinions of our own students?

Below are the top 6 responses I received from my two classes, 55 students combined. Some students decided to elaborate on their answers, while others did not. Thus, I inserted a handful of descriptive responses that I found intriguing.

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