EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • How (not) to Think of Social Emotional Learning

    A LESSON FROM 5TH GRADE PE I can’t remember much from 5th grade PE, but one day is as clear as can be. On the day that I remember well, our PE teachers had us run and run and run for the first half of class (and I ran more than most as running was my thing). Once we were basically worn flat out, the coaches used the second half of class to drive home a point about the value of taking care of yourself. They gave each student a straw and told us to run until they blew the whistle. So I’m running ...

    by Aaron Hogan
    Wednesday, 20 May 2015
  • student stress

    Strategies for Reducing Student Stress

    Testing, of course, is a big reason for much of the stress in today’s classrooms. Stress is not conducive to learning. Dr. William Stixrud summed it up quite nicely when he wrote, "stress hormones actually turn off the parts of the brain that allow us to focus attention, understand ideas, commit information to memory and reason critically." Not a whole lot of learning going on when that happens. It's darn hard to think straight when your system is poised for fight-or-flight. Testing, of cours ...

    by Rae Pica
    Tuesday, 19 May 2015
  • Something like magic

    My son started reading last week.  Just like that - one day he wasn't and the next day he was... fluently. Now, you may not consider this too spectacular, after all he's six, almost seven.  Maybe you're thinking that it's about time he started to read, already.  But here's the piece I left out: he goes to school in French; he's only ever been taught to read in French.  No one has taught him to read in English and yet last week, he suddenly started to.  He's also learni ...

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    by Emily Caruso Parnell
    Tuesday, 19 May 2015
  • b2ap3_thumbnail_rule10_final-Conflict.jpg

    Why Kids Learn More By Not Sharing

    As soon as children are old enough to walk, we expect them to share. I prefer putting "share" in quotes, since this type of sharing is usually forced by the adult. Our goals are noble: kindness, generosity, awareness of others. Unfortunately, our approach backfires. Kids learn more life skills -- and develop better generosity - when they aren't forced to share. Of course, sharing squabbles happen all the time between kids. Here’s a typical scene: One child is busily engaged with a toy when a ...

    by Heather Shumaker
    Monday, 18 May 2015
  • The Opportunity is Here & Now

    I walked into a classroom to find 23 students busy at work. I walked around, and each student cheerfully said hello and proudly showed off their work. I stopped at one table, and the little girl and little boy were just sitting. I asked if they were finished, and both said no and looked very sad. I asked them where their paper was, and they both said they didn’t get one. I told the boy and girl to go ask for one, that sometimes this happens, but they need to ask the teacher for a paper. They d ...

    0
    by Amy Heavin
    Sunday, 17 May 2015
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Posted by on in Education Leadership

A LESSON FROM 5TH GRADE PE

I can’t remember much from 5th grade PE, but one day is as clear as can be.

On the day that I remember well, our PE teachers had us run and run and run for the first half of class (and I ran more than most as running was my thing). Once we were basically worn flat out, the coaches used the second half of class to drive home a point about the value of taking care of yourself. They gave each student a straw and told us to run until they blew the whistle. So I’m running, running, running and getting pretty tired. Finally the whistle blows and I think I’m going to get some reprieve when they give us our instructions: we are only to catch our breath through the straw we’ve been given.

As it turns out, that’s nearly impossible for a bunch of exhausted 5th graders. I cheated (because there was no way I was going to admit I couldn’t). I could hardly breathe.

My PE teacher went on to connect this to why folks with emphysema experienced exhaustion so quickly. I have no idea how accurate a comparison this is, but for the first time, 11 year old me understood that this was why my grandmother always needed to take breaks while we were playing.

...

Posted by on in What If?

student stress

Testing, of course, is a big reason for much of the stress in today’s classrooms. Stress is not conducive to learning. Dr. William Stixrud summed it up quite nicely when he wrote, "stress hormones actually turn off the parts of the brain that allow us to focus attention, understand ideas, commit information to memory and reason critically." Not a whole lot of learning going on when that happens. It's darn hard to think straight when your system is poised for fight-or-flight.

Testing, of course, is a big reason for much of the stress in today’s classrooms.

Cheryl Mizerny says

Test anxiety affects students from all walks of life and all ability levels. In an ideal world, teachers would be in a position to completely eliminate classroom testing in favor of other, more performance-based assessments, but this is just not the reality at this point in time. Therefore, a best practice all teachers can implement is fair and compassionate testing practices. If the students realize that one classroom test is not going to completely change their world, they will be able to have a better perspective. It all starts with a student-centered classroom culture that celebrates learning, not grades.

...

Posted by on in Early Childhood

My son started reading last week.  Just like that - one day he wasn't and the next day he was... fluently.

Now, you may not consider this too spectacular, after all he's six, almost seven.  Maybe you're thinking that it's about time he started to read, already. 

But here's the piece I left out: he goes to school in French; he's only ever been taught to read in French.  No one has taught him to read in English and yet last week, he suddenly started to.  He's also learning to read and write in Hebrew so we might assume that there would be a bit of a first language lag but no, he started picking up English books and reading them, just like that.

Another funny thing happened.  Today, one of our students, who had yet to express an interest in our classroom architecture project, decided she wanted to build something.  As the project's been winding down, we've gotten a little short on cardboard for our 3-D sketches so we had to scramble to get some materials for her.  The building started out quite predictably: four tall walls attached to a base.  Then the question of a roof came up. What kind of roof did she want?  I was working with another student at the time and got to listen in on her conversation with my colleague. 

"I want it like this" - placing her fingertips together with her wrists pointing up.

...

Posted by on in Early Childhood

b2ap3_thumbnail_rule10_final-Conflict.jpg

As soon as children are old enough to walk, we expect them to share. I prefer putting "share" in quotes, since this type of sharing is usually forced by the adult. Our goals are noble: kindness, generosity, awareness of others. Unfortunately, our approach backfires.

Kids learn more life skills -- and develop better generosity - when they aren't forced to share.

Of course, sharing squabbles happen all the time between kids. Here’s a typical scene: One child is busily engaged with a toy when a new child comes up and wants it. A nearby adult says: “Be nice and share your toys,” or “Give Ella the pony. You’ve had it a long time.” What happens? The child is forced to give something up and her play gets interrupted. She learns that sharing feels bad. It’s the parent who’s sharing here, not the child.

Traditional sharing expects kids to give up something the instant someone else demands. Yet we don’t do this ourselves. Imagine being on your cell phone when somebody suddenly comes up and asks for your phone or takes it from you. “I need to make a phone call,” he says. Would you get mad? As adults, we expect people to wait their turn. We might gladly lend our phone to a friend or even a stranger, but we want them to wait until we’re done. The same should apply to kids: let the child keep a toy until she’s “all done.” It’s turn-taking. It’s sharing. But the key is it's child-directed turn-taking. 

...

Posted by on in Education Leadership

I walked into a classroom to find 23 students busy at work. I walked around, and each student cheerfully said hello and proudly showed off their work. I stopped at one table, and the little girl and little boy were just sitting. I asked if they were finished, and both said no and looked very sad. I asked them where their paper was, and they both said they didn’t get one. I told the boy and girl to go ask for one, that sometimes this happens, but they need to ask the teacher for a paper. They did, the teacher happily got them a piece of paper, and both got to work, smiles on their faces. Crisis resolved.


This instance got me thinking, as many events during the day tend to do. As educators, we are often so busy or not sure where to turn, so we never ask or step outside our comfort zone to try something new, taking a risk. Our professional growth is stale because our school day is so fast-paced, by the time we need to ask, the rest of the world has moved on, leaving us stuck with a comfortable teaching technique or same procedure. That little boy and girl were not sure what to do, despite knowing they could simply ask the question in order to get that piece of paper. But they both felt the time to ask had passed, and they weren’t sure what to do.


We cannot allow the opportunities for our professional growth slip by.


Professional learning is a passion of mine. There are multiple topics I enjoy reading and learning about, such as technology, literacy, leadership, and motivation. I often ask myself, “What do you want to focus on, learn more about?” And over the past few months, I am drawn to the development of collaborative communities within a school and throughout the wider educational community.

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