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Posted by on in General

connect-without-words.jpg

Connecting with the children we teach everyday means everything. If we can’t connect we don’t connect. About 95% of our efforts to connect involve us talking and them listening. While our intentions our good, I think sometimes we talk too much. I think sometimes we need to try some of the strategies above that don’t require uttering a word. I think it’s at least worth a try.

 

With Your Eyes

Children know what we are thinking just by looking into our eyes. They have craved eye contact ever since they were infants and now they have become experts. The other day I was attempting to take a nap on the couch but my son was having none of it. What he said next was unintentionally brilliant (he is only 3). He said, “Open your eyes so I can see you.” He had it backwards, but there was a hidden meaning there. If we don’t have our eyes open, if we are not truly looking at our students, they know it. And they dismiss us right away. On the other hand, I believe it is important that when we do make eye contact, we do so with happiness in our eyes and a gentleness in our soul. Kids will know, and they will feel it.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

There is nothing wrong with your screen. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. I am controlling the image. I control the horizontal and I control the vertical. I can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next 10 minutes, sit quietly and I will control all that you see and perceive. You're a subject in my experiment. You're about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.

Follow the directions below carefully.

  1. Imagine you are Picasso, Elizabeth I, Michelangelo, Maya Angelou, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Jackie Kennedy, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams or whoever that one extraordinary person you aspire most to be like is. Imagine what their life is/was like. How do they look? What clothes are they wearing? Where are they? What world changing thing are they doing right now? Are you inspired?
  2. Imagine that you are surrounded by plants and flowers. Stand up and walk toward them. Focus on them. If something has been on your mind today, forget about it. Forget about everything. Let your mind wonder. How do you feel now?
  3. Think about a big goal you have. Conjure up images associated with it; the more the better. Think of words that represent it; the more the better. Is there a phrase or two or a quote it brings to mind? If you have not made one before, but are compelled right now, step away and do it. Grab a big sheet of paper, put your goal down in the center, gather the images, write down the words and phrases and quotes, and connect them to the goal. If you've ever created a mind map such as this you know the feeling. It's important to look at it often.

It's also important to control your students' minds without them knowing it.

PrimingStudentsForCreativityInfographic.png

Alter the environment. Imagine it. Model it. Help students achieve the right mindset first so they will be more creative later. Abracadabra!

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

blocks and basket (Brick by Brick)

I take a lot of photos. Often I will look back through the photos...and I'm reminded of things. I see things that I forgot happened. Recently, I came across the photo above. As I look at it, several things come to mind.

  1. Many things happen in a classroom each week. I forget most of them. A remark or a shared activity will often come to my mind. But often I forget about moments - big and small - without reminders. I need to take photos and/or write down things to remember the great things that happen.
  2. Lots of learning happens in the classroom each week that isn't planned, at least planned by me. These will also probably not be remembered individually but become part of the foundational knowledge in the child's learning.
  3. Children are creative. They see everything as a possible resource for what they are doing.

This last one is something that I've thought about before. Kids are open to all kinds of possibilities; anything is possible.

And this photo reminds me again that I put limits on my thinking so often. A basket is for holding things. I don't consider it as a possible building item. If I were working in a blocks center and needed something for the top of my building, I would have overlooked this basket. It doesn't fit my definition of building item. But my friend saw it, decided to try it, and figured out how to use it in his structure.

We do the same for children. We see them in a particular light or through a particular lens. We try to figure out how they tick and interpret everything by our conclusions. "She's quiet. She won't be interested in doing this." "He is active. He will not sit down to do that." And so forth.

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Posted by on in What If?

girl on monkey bars 500x250

How many times do you imagine a child hears an adult say, “Be careful!”? I suspect it’s a close second to them hearing, “No!” And, if it’s a female child, it may be the number-one phrase coming at them, as studies have shown that girls are cautioned far more often than boys.

This, of course, is a clear and persistent message that one shouldn’t take too many risks. That there are far too many hazards in the world. So, children learn to “stay safe.” They learn to fear.

But outright cautions aren’t the only way in which children are receiving those messages. When a school takes away all traditional playground equipment and replaces it with safe, sanitized (read: boring) plastic, they don’t need to hear the concern spoken aloud to get the message. When a school bans tag or cartwheels, children learn that it’s safer to be sedentary than physically active. When children aren’t allowed to walk – or do much of anything, really – alone, the not-so-subliminal message is that they need to be protected…from everything.

Our society – and its 24-hour news cycles – have generated so much fear that if parents and educators could literally bubble-wrap kids, I believe they would. But, as Lenore Skenazy repeatedly points out, we’re prioritizing fear over facts! She reported just last week that another school has banned cartwheels on the playground – not because there have been any injuries from cartwheels, but because the potential for injuries exists! (Does that mean we should no longer let children ride in cars?)

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

PowerofThreeSimpleLessonDesign.jpg

It's simple really. Use the Power of Three when designing lessons.

The Power of Three (also called the Rule of Three) is the idea that when we group things in threes they are more doable, more memorable, and more fun.

It helps me keep things simple, but powerful.

In this blog, I want to show you how to use the Power of Three to design lessons.

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