Entries Tagged as 'Reflective Teaching'

Child’s Play and Spatial Vocabulary Development

This Science Daily article refers to research about how playing with blocks increases spatial development.  Interaction during this play time also increases spatial vocabulary.

The researchers found that when playing with blocks under interactive conditions, children hear the kind of language that helps them think about space, such as “over,” “around” and “through.”

So, is there an age limit to playing with children’s toys in the classroom to learn these prepositions?  Some classes are academic leaning and don’t allow for much play.  However, other groups might be willing to play around, especially if it helps them master prepositions reflecting spatial concepts that are often difficult to explain with words and pictures only.

Listening passively to Mozart

doesn’t make you smarter.  There are, however, things you can do actively to stimulate cognitive development. According to this article, joining a drama class or other social activity, or learning  a musical instrument has more effect on development than simply listening to Mozart.

And as far as I know, listening to Mozart while doing those other things never hurt anyone.

Signs of Dyslexia

The signs of dyslexia go beyond abilities of decoding symbols. The International Dyslexia Association covers some of the other common problems people with dyslexia encounter including memorizing number facts, learning a foreign language, and correctly doing math operations.  Check out their website for signs of dyslexia among adults, very young children, and older children.

They also have a frequently asked questions page if you are interested in learning more.

Seth Godin and Romanticizing Education

If we were tasked with teaching our future the same set of shared values and if every student valued them in the same way, then it would be a piece of cake.

But, we’re not.  In the heterogeneous society in which we live, where cultural values vastly differ in even one classroom let alone from district to district, addressing each student’s unique background is essential for their success.  For example, the value of how money is made, shared, and spent might vary from family to family;  the scientific method, while awesome, has the potential to negate some personal religious beliefs.

These contradictions can be confusing for a young person who, developmentally, is still only wired to see the world in terms of right or wrong.  If one student places more value on what is taught in the curriculum (My way is right according to this system), it puts the student who comes from a culture that doesn’t value what is taught in the curriculum at a disadvantage (My way, that my parents have taught me, is wrong according to this system).  Enter identity crisis.

That said, I don’t disagree with Seth Godin’s post titled What’s High School For?  I just think it may be a little romanticized.  It’s certainly necessary to maintain hope and to endeavor towards this business-centric utopia.  But let’s at least begin the endeavor with a list of values that considers the students’ background and interests.  Or, better yet, as a starting point, let’s use the students’ lists.

From Seth’s blog:

  • How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
  • The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
  • How to read critically.
  • The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
  • An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
  • How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
  • Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
  • Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
  • An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
  • Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

Bad Writing

Maybe at one point in time, you have rolled your eyes at something someone said that confirmed your belief at how poorly educated Americans are.  This tumblr, as seen on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, will provide further evidence to support your conviction.

From a linguistic perspective, some of the errors presented in the tumblr are simply from making distinctions between morphemes (Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams, 2003), creating words and phrases that are different from the original, and perhaps well-known, phrase.  One example is, “Two pees in a pot,” instead of “Two peas in a pod”.  The only error here, then, would be the writer’s lack of exposure to the original phrase.

The website is mostly fun because of how English can be manipulated so easily and unknowingly, and in some cases, it’s a little discouraging that these students didn’t proofread or edit before submitting their work.


Fromkin, V., Rodman, R. Hyams, N. (2003). An introduction to language (Seventh edition). Thomson Heinle, Boston.

No Laughing Matter

Oxford English Dictionary has decided to conserve LOL and OMG in its 2011 edition.  The expressions depict not only our recent use of concise communication, but also demonstrate our tech savvy. Mark Brown from Wired writes of other terms:

There’s also dot-bomb, used to describe web concepts that fizzle out and die. That one derives from the soaring, stock-market dot-com bubble of the late ’90s, and the eventual bubble burst in the early 2000s. Ego-surfing, another new addition, means searching for your own name online.

Do you think these terms are worth saving?  Do they describe real English, or have they stripped the language of its academic and professional integrity?


Link to Webinar: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better

If you’re looking for something to do with your time off this winter break, this webinar is, well, educational…

Happy Thanksgiving!

A  lot of cultures celebrate special days with food, but Thanksgiving Day is uniquely American.  I guess that has a lot to do with its origins, or maybe it’s because we celebrate before dinner by enjoying the Macy’s Parade and winding down in front of the TV for football afterward.

Another tradition is the food we eat.  Usually, there is a turkey or a ham, stuffing, yams, some greens, potatoes, cranberries, and gravy.  Other side dishes may vary from family to family.  Some highlights of our dinners include carving the turkey, catching up with family we haven’t seen in a while, snapping the wishbone, and saying what we’re thankful for.

This year I’m thankful for everything I’ve learned and everyone I’ve taught.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Waiting for Ideas

One of my students said she didn’t have an idea yet for her science project that she wants to finish by the end of January.  I asked her if she had thought about it at all.  She said, “No.  I’m waiting for the idea to come to me.”

Do you know any great scientist, inventor, or artist who waited for ideas to come to them?  Here’s a list:

1.5 Hour Commute to School By Bus

…sounds to me like a lot of uninterrupted downtime during which one might consider the following:

  • learn a new language with podcasts
  • study 10 words a day for the SAT
  • read the news on your laptop
  • start on your homework
  • start a conversation
  • outline an upcoming project
  • get to know your classmates
  • allow yourself to relax before your after school activities
  • reread a confusing chapter from class earlier
  • make a to-do list
  • plan your weekend
  • fill in your daily schedule
  • balance your budget

Whatever you decide to do, don’t be bored!