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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in learning environment

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

WhyCuriosityFadesandHowtoGrowIt.png

I read a lot in my elementary years. Growing up in the 1980's communist Poland I spent a lot of time in the cowboys-and-Indians world of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. I'd relive the main characters' stories with an older friend who introduced me to this world and lent me books I'd devour in spare time. I read other books too. I read like a maniac expanding my world and consciousness. They tickled my imagination.

 

I guess I was curious.

 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

kindergarten classroom

I've been thinking about mistakes in the classroom...mostly the ones I make. The first one that comes to mind happened when I was teaching first graders. I had put up a wonder wall and received lots of great questions and wonders. One day, when reading some of the wonders in our group, I read a great question about rainbows - and then I proceeded to answer it instead of leading the group in ways to discover the answer. I realized that mistake as I drove home. I'd missed a great opportunity to lead children in discovering their own answers to questions.

I've made spelling mistakes and factual mistakes in the classroom. I've tried things that just didn't work or that just didn't interest the children like I thought it would.

I think about how to take advantage of mistakes when I make them - showing the children that we all make mistakes and mistakes help us learn. I think about how plan to avoid general mistakes. I think about how to laugh when I make them and how to encourage when kids make them. Making mistakes is a great way to learn. So often, children are afraid to be wrong, to make mistakes. But I hope to create classrooms that welcome mistakes and use them for more learning.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

glitter

What is your favorite thing to do with a group of young children? What kinds of activities make you excited? What types of materials do you avoid?

Oh, come on. You know that you purposely avoid doing certain types of activities or avoid using certain types of materials. Me? I don’t like glitter. I will do just about anything other than use glitter.

It’s not the mess. I don’t mind mess. I’ll make sand and glue pictures or cut paper into little bits. We paint all the time. But something about glitter makes me almost hyperventilate. It doesn’t just make a mess – it is insidious, showing up months after we have last used it. I just don’t like using it.

I love blocks. We could have blocks as our major focus every week and I would be happy as I could be. I like to experiment, adding rope light or mirrors or straws with the blocks. I enjoy seeing all the different things that children can do with blocks. I like making patterns for kids to follow. Blocks are just about the best thing ever!

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Posted by on in School Culture

Anyone who has worked with me can attest to the mantra I believe wholeheartedly: “Education is like a three legged stool. The school is one leg, the student is another, and the parents are the third. It takes all legs holding up their load for the stool to stand.” All legs have an equal responsibility, different, yet equal.

The school has a responsibility to provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Engaging lessons crafted to develop the whole child should be delivered in a safe and caring environment. Instruction should be multicultural with equity and inclusion for all. The school should provide feedback to each student in regards to closing achievement gaps. Finally, the school should introduce children to the arts to offer opportunities not always available through the family.

The student has the responsibility to be a learner, not just a student. A student infers seat time. A learner embraces and takes ownership of his learning. The learner should engage in the classroom, know where he/she is in regards to mastering a target, and be a good citizen, both in and out of the school. The learner should be open-minded, caring and respectful to all in which he encounters.

Parents need to be their children’s first teachers. Developing language, introducing literacy, and making every activity a teachable moment are parents’ responsibilities. Parents should value education and support the school and teachers in whatever manner is doable for them. They should ensure that their children are well rested and loved. Parents need to make sure that their children are on time and attend school regularly.

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

whs-centurylinkgrant-web1_0.jpg

The picture you see above is of my students and myself after I received a technology grant, which I used to purchase Chromebooks so that my students can learn using 21st century technology.

I already have 21st century technology. Now, I am on a mission to bring a 21st century learning space to my chemistry classroom. Traditional High School classrooms are gray, gloomy, boring, and most strikingly outdated.

About 3 months ago, I started a movement "Starbucks My Classroom," which quickly caught on social media and many educators in the US and abroad are now transforming their classrooms.

I believe that sitting in one place for close to an hour at a time is detrimental to student learning and health. Getting rid of the traditional seating you see in the picture above and creating a flexible seating space will allow for more movement, which research says is not only healthier, but also more conducive to learning. Student attention span peaks around 8-10 minutes, so allowing and promoting movement provides the necessary short brain breaks that lead to better focus and comprehension.

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