EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

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    She Ran Away

      We didn’t do anything.   She transferred here from a different school. I don’t know why. She was mostly quiet, but it was not difficult to get a smile out of her. She said she wasn’t good in science, but was killing it in chemistry, perhaps the hardest science of all. I’d like to think that in the 3 months I knew her, I reached her and got to know her a little.   Yet I couldn’t do anything.   We’re on trimesters here. 3 equal terms and the first one just ended. The ...

    by Oskar Cymerman | @focus2achieve
    Thursday, 08 December 2016
  • No cursing

    You !@#$% Idiot!

    With the US election 2016 in the books, we can all agree that it was an election like no other. We have seen, heard, and were dragged along on quite an experience. I live in a TV market where there was a highly contested race, so I feel I was subjected a little more. I never thought I would admit this, but I am happy to see all of the holiday commercials instead of the campaign commericals.  This election year, I was honored to work with NEWSELA and NBC news; both national organizations ...

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    by Jay Eitner | @Jay_Eitner
    Thursday, 08 December 2016
  • needle and thread

    On the Mend

    It’s been an interesting November and December. While I have been truly blessed with my family, my career, and my traveling, I took a rare step. I did something for myself early in November. I had gastric bypass surgery. This surgery has been a long time in the making. For most of my life, I’ve been the fat guy.  While I just tolerated it in middle and high school, I took it all off in college. I went from 340 lbs to 208 lbs. How? I was in the gym, every day, for at least 4 hours. In a ...

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    by Jay Eitner | @Jay_Eitner
    Wednesday, 07 December 2016
  • Reach-Her.jpg

    Within My Reach

    Every year the fifth graders at my daughter's school go on a two night camping trip. It used to seem so far away. But this year my daughter is in fifth grade. And yesterday she left with her classmates. I know she will have a great time. It is a trip I have taken several times when I taught fifth grade at her school. Students are not allowed to take cell phones or any type of electronic device. The idea is for the kids to bond and become one with nature. I get all of that. But... I miss my d ...

    by Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd
    Tuesday, 06 December 2016
  • Pile.jpg

    Piling On

    While I realize that the football's regular season is coming to an end, I can’t help but think that we in education are continuing to imitate a technique often seen in this national pastime. It is one that annoys me every time I see it and yet I am beginning to think that I am sometimes guilty of it myself. It didn’t hit me until last weekend when I overheard my wife reprimanding our daughter. I was in the other room, but I could not believe my ears. My daughter knew better than to do what sh ...

    by Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd
    Saturday, 03 December 2016
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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Don’t worry, they aren’t hoarders.

You may be relieved to hear that it’s very common for young people to collect things. Starting from about age 7 through to about age 14 or 15, collecting is a popular pastime for many young people. What did you collect?  One thing I collected was stickers. I still have my sticker books and–believe it or not–30+ years later those smelly stickers are still smelly. (Probably not organic.)

In addition to collecting things, many young people also take up hobbies, focusing their attention on learning a new skill or learning all they can about someone or something. What was your obsession?  Did you attempt to master a musical instrucment?  Did you dedicate hours to the basketball court or hockey rink?  Did you read everything from a particular author or spend hours absorbing the music of a particular singer or band? 

Collections and hobbies are features of the imagination and important learning tools.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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Enthusiasm is building about 'growth mindset' and how it helps students persevere and stay open to new challenges.  In line with this, understanding the 'fixed mindset' can also help us find new ways to help students push through their fears of failure and inadequacy.  

What's a fixed mindset?

A person with a fixed mindset believes that ability and intelligence are things we're born with or not, and there's not much we can do to change the 'fixed amount' we are born with. 

Why should you care?

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Plan

This afternoon we took the grandsons to a playground. It's a lovely playground, one of many, many lovely playgrounds available in Seattle. Here's a look at just some of the cool playground stuff available there.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And here is how my oldest grandson spent a good chunk of his time.
It's a well-flogged truism that children will throw away the toy and play with the box, that they will reject the finest plastic construction that the toy industry can muster in order to play with ordinary household objects. I suppose that somebody could have forced my grandson to drop the stick and play "properly" but why, unless they were intent on imposing adult will and plans on a child. "I planned on you playing on that jungle gym over there. Now put down that stick and go have fun, dammit, or else."
 
The bottom line is that children have instincts and interests and involvement of their own. Adults can go nuts trying to direct that, and they can twist children's brains up by hammering them withy messages about what they are "supposed" to do. 
 
It is certainly true that there is room for adult direction and guidance. My grandson played with some of the equipment and played with his father, who did not try to tell my grandson what to do, but joined wholeheartedly in helping my grandson tap into his transcendent joy over swinging.
 
 
But if you go to the playground armed with an adult agenda that allows no room for the voice of the children, you are on the wrong path. The damage is evident by the time students land in my eleventh grade classroom and have trouble writing well because they are more concerned about what they are supposed to write-- what they are supposed to do to meet the requirements of the grown-ups' agenda-- instead of tying to get in touch withy what they actually think.
 
It is easy as parents or teachers to get caught up in the desire to see the tiny humans make the safest, wisest, best decisions. But that process has to include their own voice, their own aims, their own intentions and inclinations. That's not just how you honor their existent as thinking, feeling, sentient, individual human beings-- it's how you create future entrepreneurs, leaders, creators, makers, employees, employers, and people who are not inclined to elect raging tyrants out of desire to have "strong" leaders who will tell them just what they are supposed to do.
 
Yes, the world needs a certain amount of order and sense, and I am not advocating unleashing wild anarchic chaos on the universe (not today, anyway). But attempting to impose adult best-laid plans on every minute of children's lives is both evil and foolish. Evil, because every human's voice is a precious thing no matter how young. Foolish because-- well, I will give my grandson the last word with his ideas about how to use carrot slices.
 
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Posted by on in Education Policy

 No harrassment

Hands Off! Title IX

Keep your hands to yourself, the first rule we teach our preschoolers is a good start.  Manners and appropriate behavior have to start somewhere.

I read a shocking article about Title IX I couldn’t wait to share, not another minute. This is a shorter post than usual, as the author really puts it together for us.

As a Principal and when I taught school administration, the first tenet was to ensure a safe and orderly environment. “Duty to Protect” was clearly stated in the California Education Code and I took it seriously.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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Last week, I wrote a piece about some looks that my students received on a field trip . It was an eye-opening experience for me that demanded immediate attention and reflection. I  shared the piece with my learning network and over all of my social media sites, but how could it end there? How could I create change in the lives of my students if they didn't know about this experience? This is what happened when I shared with them.

We had some time at the end of my classes on Thursday, so I decided to read the piece to my kids. While reading, I gauged the reactions and stopped where it seemed necessary. Each class wanted to talk about different things, but the overall response was the same. They were angry and upset with the reactions that they received, but they were also happy. They were appreciative that I spoke up on their behalf and that I spent the time to write about them. One class broke out into applause when I finished reading to them.

The next day it was time to talk about the piece and dig deep into some tough conversations with my students. They knew it was coming and they were ready. I did not expect my students to come as hard and as real as they did.

I started the conversation by declaring the classroom a safe place. I reminded my students that this conversation would not be easy for some to talk about. I told them that we needed to support each other, show love and appreciation, and not judge the actions or thoughts of anyone. I informed them that what we said in the room, stayed in the room. Everyone in the class agreed to these basic rules and we moved forward.

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