Saturday, December 29, 2012

Things for parents and kids to do with an iPad

Yes, a dad posed the question.
I suggested that Key Experiences in preschool education should revolve more around direct experience than a computer!

Key experiences: 
active learning-musicin active learning, playing with hands-on activities, running, touching, playing with water, sand, cooking, listening to and making music, cut and paste!
That said, the dad told me he does all that: puzzles, cut and paste, lego! He still feels the need to find computer work for them to do. Fair enough!

I have several suggestions. All of my career, and in my personal computing, I have used Apple products. My favourite is iMovie, but I've used Power Point, Flash, GarageBand and Dreamweaver with kids.
One year we created a Power Point Project on Superheroes!
video

Firstly, have them do what we do: document their lives!
Josephine had a fascination for planes, trucks, trains and back hoes. Her sister shares this interest. I made her a video of an airplane zooming overhead. She would watch it over and over, waving 'Bye, to the plane each time!!


My favourite YouTube video is one where we documented Josephine's favourite thing: waiting for the garbage truck! When she was two she would watch and listen for it every day. Visiting her, I made a video of her visit! A newish truck, the video has has more than 3600 hits from young and old!



Working with gifted children all of my career, I find there are lessons we can teach. I made a presentation to parents of gifted children. Rather than plonking them in front of a TV or computer, have them document their lives.


You can create a project about an historical event. Using Kidspiration here is a Mind Map plan.

Here are some things you can do at home:
  • Keep a photo journal of your activities
  • Keep track of money spent: how much per day or per month does your family spend on groceries, transportation, housing, entertainment? 
  • Create a dream location: locate your holiday destination(s) on a map, collect maps, brochures and posters for a country
  • Prepare a Power Point presentation about a holiday
  • Write a creative story about where you would like to be this week
  • Rewrite the 12 Days of Christmas
  • Create a math problem using a digital camera
  • Find patterns in nature - this is crucial to numeracy mastery
  • Begin a literacy project guiding reading
  • Have them answer questions about the books they are reading
  • Have them retell a story, with a different ending (e.g., The Paperbag Princess).
  • The Paper Bag Princess - Part 1 - YouTube

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-O-3Gbl6VE
    Jan 28, 2008 - Uploaded by shbomb
    Cartoon adaptation of the Robert Munsch children's story. This was part of a TV series called Bunch of Munsch

Draw a Stickman


I have Josephine sing songs from her day care program, and now her kindergarten classes.
She loved doing Wee Willie Winkie for me! She loves watching herself.
Istsy Bitsy Spider is another fave!

Josephine Itsy Bitsy Spider from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.


kindergarten songsters from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

Writing in the Information Age

is a far different thing than in the past. Integrating writing of stories with computers and technology means adding your own photos, making movies of your work. This is called authentic writing. Most of us write for a purpose, rather than fiction. This gives kids a purpose: to document their real-life experiences.
I taught my elementary-aged students to take photos of their work, then put the photos together with music.
Elementary Art: plasticene aliens They created a character, with a language, and background.






Create a hot air balloon
Use higher level questioning tactics, best used to extend and expand knowledge. We should be asking our kids open-ended questions. Creating scientific hypotheses, we can film the results.
Higher level questioning tactics

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Music in Multicultural Classrooms in December

With a delightful multicultural mix of kids celebrating various December events, we wrote this: 

The 12 Days of Holidays

1.On the 1st day of Ramadan My fasting was forgot.
I ate all the soup in the pot.
2. On the 2nd day of Christmas Santa he got stuck
I ate all the soup in the pot.
3. On the 3rd Day of Hanukkah the candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.

4. On the 4th day of Christmas the snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.

5. On the fifth day of Christmas fortune gave to to me
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.

The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.
6. On the sixth day of holidays I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.

7. On the 7th day of turkey, I could not eat a bite,
I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.
8. On the 8th day of Eid I ate think I ate the least,
I could not eat a bite,
I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.
9. On the 9th day of Christmas, Nine teachers skiing,
I ate think I ate the least,
I could not eat a bite,
I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.
10. On the 10th day of holidays my parents yelled at me:
Pick up your mess,
Nine teachers skiing,
I ate think I ate the least,
I could not eat a bite,
I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot. 
11. On the eleventh day of holidays fortune gave to me,
11 late assignments,
Pick up your mess,
Nine teachers skiing,
I ate think I ate the least,
I could not eat a bite,
I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.
12. On the 12th day of New Year's my teacher gave to me,
A big honkin' "C",
11 late assignments,
Pick up your mess,
Nine teachers skiing,
I ate think I ate the least,
I could not eat a bite,
I fell and broke the tree,
five hid-den presents,
The snow it would not fall.
The candles were not right.
Santa he got stuck,
I ate all the soup in the pot.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What do I tell my children about the Newton, Conneticut shootings?

Tell them as little as possible.
I'm no expert, but I have had death touch us many times in the classroom, as well as in my family. I am a hospice volunteer. I researched it over the years. There is no right way to handle it, but you must respect the age of the child, and the reality of the situation.
Ontario teachers are wearing black arm bands.
I believe this is wrong if it is being done in schools. As always, there is little real information.
Adults must protect the children. Older kids must protect the younger.

When my cat died two years ago, crossing the street, we used it as a learning opportunity for my 4-year-old granddaughter. We don't talk about Oliver the cat every day. We do bring it out from time to time. Oliver died because he did not look both ways. We are sad. We miss him.

Some counselors tell parents not to show their emotions. This is wrong. Children need to have grief modeled. It is normal. We need to know that it is not the end of the world. Children need to understand traditions, culture and values, as well as spiritual beliefs of their family that gives them strength. We tell them that we can, and will, carry on. For adults, a death that touches our lives brings up grief from our past. It is an opportunity to deal with our emotions, not to live in denial. Hope, faith, the future, they will survive.

We have had frank discussions in classrooms. If death touches us, we deal with it in the here and now. We deal with truth, not rumours. We deal with the questions. We tell them that this happened far away. We tell them that we have many ways to protect ourselves in the schools: lockdowns, locked doors after entry, adults who must sign into the school.

We've had lockdown drills in schools all the time. They work. We had an angry husband shoot a wife in a near-by store. We locked down, it gave us something to focus on.

When death occurs, we let the children talk about their fears and allay them. This hit home on 9/11 in Ottawa. Far from the terror, the kids were terrified to walk home. This is just wrong.
When a sibling of a student passed away, we talked about our worries. We did something positive.
We shared good memories.
"To live in hearts we leave behind is to never die."
We drew or wrote down our fears, put them on paper and destroyed them.

1. Respect their needs to talk or to be silent.
2. Deal with the issues as they arise. Talk to the Trauma Response team if you have students who are directly affected.
3. Listen to their concerns.
 4. Let them you know you are upset, too.
5. Model the means by which you deal with your grief.
6. Do not tell them the answers if you do not know the answers.
7. Clear up faulty misperceptions, if they arise. (During 9/11 kids were afraid to walk home. Kids were afraid for their pets, relatives, etc.)
8. Have them talk to their parents about their feelings. Parents need to know.
9. Let them tell their stories. Draw pictures, create poems, write letters.
10. Make a fear box. Cut out pictures from newspapers and magazines that represent their fears.
11. Write down your fears. Assign them a number from 1 - 5. have them talk about these fears with their families.
12. Help others. Do 20 things in remembrance of the children who died. Give a donation to one of the relief agencies.


RESOURCES FOR TALKING WITH YOUR CHILDREN

The following resources may be helpful in speaking with your children about the school shooting in Newtown:
American Red Cross: "Recovering Emotionally"
Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services: Crisis Intervention Hotline 
National Association of School Psychologists: "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers"
Save the Children: "How to Help Children cope with a Crisis" 
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: "Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event" 

Always, I would read stories to the kids. My favourite, when a grandparent died, was the Ten Best Things About Barnie. The child, who lost a pet, was told to remember ten good things. This is another great opportunity.
The book doesn't matter, the opportunity to share your grief surely does.

What Happened When Grandma Died is terrific. It tells the child that Grandma has a new body, a new home and a new life. I believe in this one.
 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 'New Math' or abstract problem solving vs. arithmetic

Yes, we need real-world problems, but they also need
to memorize times tables, understand formulae.
The bright photos and busy drawings, distracted kids.
I think it high time we figure out that it isn't new anymore!

If Tom Lehrer can write a song in the 70s about it, it is old math.

What it is: is Enquiry Math or Investigation math.
I heard an interview with Dr. Joel Westheimer, uOttawa (my alumni!) and he spoke of this very eloquently.
Regrouping is best taught early on, with hands-on materials, by the time kids enter middle school grades, kids who skipped the lessons simply used a calculator. They missed the entire concept, however.

Our school is going on a field trip. If  62 kids are bringing lunch, how many kids will be buying it in the restaurant?
What if 65 kids bring their lunch?

Originally too complex for families to solve at home, parents complained. For adults who suffered in math classes, it brought the suffering home with homework.

Used with gifted kids, this strategy it works well for those who have mastered arithmetic.
For those with any disabilities, or gaps in their learning, for kids with ADHD, or kids who have missed school for health reasons, it doesn't work.
The simple tasks of arithmetic, pave the way for students to solve simple problems, leading to more complex abstract thinking skills.

The text books changed in the 90s. The problems became complex, which challenged kids capable of such, but totally overwhelmed kids incapable and they gave up.

As a special education teacher, I used the older texts, with sample questions, sample answers, and broke down the skills clearly and carefully, providing a road map for students.

This is the same issue with Phonics vs. Whole Language. Teacher poorly trained in the strategies, fail to teach kids basic decoding skills. For those who listened to the entire Whole Language lectures, phonics comes within the lessons, it is not an add-on, nor something that can be skipped.

For those trying to solve a complex mathematical problem, using higher level thinking skills, if they have not mastered the basics of arithmetic then they will fail to understand how to solve the problem.

This is a complex problem,
broken down for students.

We worked out the problems, on the board, together.
Several times. A lawyer/father, with poor English skills, told me
during parent-teacher interviews
that I didn't know how to teach his gr. 8 son.

How do you learn to solve problems? By practicing solving them. Kids need guidance. They need to understand the process, if they cannot determine it by themselves.


From Wiki:  Parents and teachers who opposed the New Math in the U.S. complained that the new curriculum was too far outside of students' ordinary experience and was not worth taking time away from more traditional topics, such as arithmetic. The material also put new demands on teachers, many of whom were required to teach material they did not fully understand. Parents were concerned that they did not understand what their children were learning and could not help them with their studies. Many of the parents took time out to try to understand the new math by attending their children's classes. In the end it was concluded that the experiment was not working, and New Math fell out of favor before the end of the decade, though it continued to be taught for years thereafter in some school districts. New Math found some later success in the form of enrichment programs for gifted students from the 1980s onward in Project MEGSSS.[3]

In 1973, Morris Kline published his critical book Why Johnny Can't Add: the Failure of the New Math.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Junk food has no place in schools!





Given my feelings about Junk Lunches, as I dubbed it in my previous post, how could I not be pleased with the newly announced provincial School Food and Beverage Policy? This is how the policy works (from the ministry's press release):

Ontario's new School Food and Beverage Policy

As I made clear in a previous post, I am no fan of the ubiquitous "Pizza Lunch" fundraiser in Ontario's public schools. My principal objection is that kids eat far too much commercial pizza as it is. When I was a kid, no one served pizza at birthday parties; many kids (me included) didn't even like it, mainly because industrial pizza, which is the kind served most often at schools and parties, is simply boring, blah food: salt dressed up in dough, stringy cheese substance and tomato sauce. Nowadays, kids' palates have been trained from a young age to like humdrum salty foods. (My children initially disliked pizza, but after the umpteenth birthday party, their palates succumbed to peer pressure, and now they like it.)

The death of preschool

Yes, it's true. With McGuinty's Ontario, the new initiative of full-day kindergarten has destroyed the chances that our kids can just be children. Ontario has spent $1.5 BILLION instituting full-day kindergarten. Schools are crowded, and teachers, with a one-year B.Ed., are not trained in delivering preschool. They are educated in the ways of curriculum delivery in grade 1 - 6. I know. I've seen them, with their cookie-cutter art, increasing expectations beyond that which a child can manage. Young boys, especially, are not able to recognize letters or write their names, and there is pressure to do so prior to the time at which they are ready.




I have long written, participated in phone surveys before the whole plan was in place, and I long believe that preschoolers have different learning needs. While the government touts a play-based learning principle, many teachers cannot grasp this message.

Preschoolers do not belong in an institution, and a half-day program may be just the thing they need to please parents who do not grasp the activity-based education philosophy.
We have many wonderful ranges in services for them; from JK/SK, nursery school, home cay care, profit and non-profit day care, before and after school care, Montessori, and other programs that have proven successful for young children.

I have done practicum in private schools, day care centres, nursery schools, and have participated in many systems.

I have seen the benefits for our at-risk kids, who can be placed in a subsidised space, with trained Early Childhood Educators (ECE) who provide a balanced day, in an intimate setting, often homes, or churches, where a kind, caring loving placement will support at-risk families.



In day care, a trained professional, in a maximum teacher student ratio of 1:8, can be much more in touch with his/her charges. The opportunities for interaction between parent and teacher increase and a teacher has an opportunity to watch for serious issues in the children. They can advocate for the kids, find a moment to share a highlight of the day, or provide more information to the parent who may not have child-rearing skills other parents possess.

The Death of PreschoolThe trend in early education is to move from a play-based curriculum to a more school-like environment of directed learning. But is earlier better? And better at what? 
By Paul Tullis


PAUL TULLIS has written for the New Yorker, Wired, McSweeney’s, NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and more than 50 other print, digital and broadcast media outlets. He lives in Los Angeles. “The Death of Preschool” appears in the November/December issue of Scientific American Mind

Elections give students opportunities for discourse

Elections are a grand opportunity for discourse. No matter your political viewpoint, students can compare, read articles, discuss political cartoons, and a teacher can generate much excitement and interest in politics.
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