Monday, February 27, 2012

Play Time

I've been in the process of updating my membership to some professsional organizations.  I came across this list of those focused on play.  Some of them look worthy of my dues. :)

I also want to buy this video below.  Anyone seen it?

Organizations that promote creative play
Alliance for Childhood, American Association for the Child’s Right to Play, Arbor Day Foundation, Association of Children’s Museums, Children and Nature Network, Children’s Environments Research Group, City University of New York, Hooked on Nature, KaBoom!, National Institute for Play, North Carolina State University Natural Learning Initiative, Play England, Play Wales, Playborhood, Sierra Club, Building Bridges to the Outdoors, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment, U.S. Play Coalition, Wild Zones,

Where Do Children Play?
This 55-minute award-winning film, directed by Christopher Cook and produced by Michigan Television, is now available for public screenings by schools, universities, and community organizations. To purchase a copy for $19.95 go to University of Michigan Press.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mr. or Mrs?

I think I can count on two hands how many male teachers I've worked with at the elementary level.  Here's some data on the subject of male and female teachers:

"Many students experience instruction from both male and female teachers. A 2006 study by the National Education Association showed that preschool and elementary school children are taught by 75 percent more female than male teachers. Typically, there are an increase in male teachers at the high school and college levels.

  1. Current Data

    • In 2006, the National Education Association released data on male and female teachers. Men accounted for less than 25 percent of all teachers in United States public schools. Kansas has the largest percentage of male teachers at 33 percent, and Mississippi and Arkansas both have the lowest percentages at about 18 percent. Historically, there have always been more women than men going into the education field.

    Why More Female Teachers?

    • Females as a group are more drawn than men to careers that involve working with elementary and preschool children. The National Education Association survey cited on showed that more men than women stated that salary is a significant factor in them pursuing other, often more lucrative careers than teaching.
      For example, a Seattle newspaper said in December 2005 that in the Seattle area alone, according to the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, men take jobs as administrators and superintendents, with 81 percent of area superintendents being male. The same articles says that at the University of Washington, only 12 percent to 15 percent of the students in the elementary education program are men.

    Advantages of Male Teachers

    • A 2006 study in Education Next, by the Hoover Institute, and conducted by Thomas Dee, an economics professor at Swarthmore College, found that boys learn better from male teachers. The study states that having a teacher of the opposite sex hinders a boy's academic progress. Boys were less likely to be seen as disruptive in a class with a male teacher. Male teachers are more likely to include games and competition in their teaching methods.

    Advantages of Female Teachers

    • The same 2006 study conducted by Thomas Dee found that girls learn best from female teachers. Women often teach in ways that may fit girls better, such as sitting at desks and using worksheets for learning. More female teachers than male expect a quiet and orderly classroom, which girls appreciate.

    Male or Female?

    • Most students will end up being educated by primarily female teachers. In the middle and high school years, they will probably have a few male teachers. Both males and females bring different approaches and techniques to learning styles.
      Experiencing both male and female teachers may be best for students so that they can experience the advantages that both sexes bring to the classroom and a wider variety of teaching methodology.
      Because research shows that young boys may learn best with male teachers, the educational field has been stepping up efforts to recruit male teachers. Websites such as and the Call Me Mister male teacher recruitment program promote teaching as a desirable career for men."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fake Books

Here is another list I came across, naming 16 fake books that are mentioned in real books that we wish were real.  I only recognized these three but link over to see if you know the other 13.  I wanna read these fake books!

The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern, in The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Voyages with Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

“The Murder of Gonzago” in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kindergarten Has Changed

Here's an article I ran across that caught my eye. I have an up and coming kindergartener who has to start a year later due to his birthday which is a few weeks after school starts.  In Arizona he could have started as long as his birthday is by Christmas but here in Utah, it has to be by the first day of school.  It's frustrating because he is ready now. I think kinder can definitely use some reform.  I was interested also in this article of what they called "Preppie Kindergarten."

There was a study done by "92 examiners conducted 40-minute one-on-one assessments with 1,287 children ages 3–6 at 56 public and private schools in 23 states." Here are more excerpts I found interesting.

Kids Haven’t Changed; Kindergarten Has

Laura Pappano, Harvard Education LetterSeptember/October 2010

Volume 26, Number 5
September/October 2010

"...Although the study shows children have the same developmental schedule they always have, Jerlean E. Daniel, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, says findings in recent years about the value of one-on-one conversations to early literacy, and music and patterns to math concepts, have added to the understanding of how children develop cognitively. Nonetheless, says Daniel, kindergarten has become more rigid and pressured. “Above all, young children need time—time to manipulate objects and ideas, time to make the information their own,” says Daniel. The Gesell study, she says, “is a resource to people who want to find greater balance in kindergarten.”

What’s tricky, says Guddemi, is that children can be trained to perform tasks (called “splinter skills”), such as writing names or counting. But just because “April” can pen her name doesn’t mean she can perceive letters with oblique angles. “You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened,” she says. “Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.”

Guddemi worries that many kindergarteners are facing work inappropriate to their developmental abilities. For example, Gesell study results, compiled by the non-profit Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) in Denver, CO, show that children at age 4 1/2 know and recognize 12 letters (no letter is more popular than another). For a child on the younger side in kindergarten, Guddemi says, the mismatch is jarring: “Day One they are going to be hit with the [entire] alphabet.” Drilling students on the alphabet is a much different strategy for increasing literacy skills than exposing students to vocabulary-rich conversations, she says. (See “Small Kids, Big Words ,” Harvard Education Letter, May/June 2008.) 

The perception that “more input is always better,” may be misguided, agrees David Daniel, psychology professor at James Madison University and managing editor of the journalMind, Brain, and Education. “The four-year-old has a four-year-old brain and a six-year-old has a six-year-old brain. There are certain things connecting in a six-year-old brain that are still being worked on in the four-year-old brain,” he says. Serious academics in kindergarten? “They can be teaching it,” says Daniel, “but the question is: Is the child learning it?”

The New Kindergarten
Elise Goodhue’s kindergarten classroom at the Fair Haven School in New Haven, Conn., does not have lofts or pillows. Children sit at tables; print is everywhere. A fourth year teacher, Goodhue says her classroom is different from the one she attended as a student in 1988. “When I was in kindergarten, I had the drama center and the sand table,” she says. “Now it’s a lot more instruction.”

While Goodhue says some are not ready—one child a few years ago regularly slept through the afternoons—she doesn’t see a choice. “To meet the expectations for first grade, kindergarten has to be like this,” she says, explaining that, among other skills, students entering first grade must be able to speak and write in complete sentences, read independently, and be able to retell and comprehend what they read. There is much to accomplish, but Goodhue includes physical breaks, at one point gathering students on the rug for the “Months-of-the-Year Macarena.” 

After dancing, children have a writer’s workshop assignment: Write a one-sentence story about yourself and a special person. Briana, age 6, forms petite letters in upper and lower case, marching them across the top of the page. Her invented spelling needs translation, but she nails the assignment, writing: “I played with my sister and my cousin.”

...“This is not the 1950s,” says D’Amore, who sees nothing wrong with pencil-and-paper work in kindergarten. “The thing with the costumes and the playing was the interaction and oral language. You can walk around; they are talking to each other. The whole point is that it just looks different.”

Laura Pappano is a writer-in-residence at Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College and a frequent contributor to the Harvard Education Letter.  She is the author ofInside School Turnarounds; Urgent Hopes, Unfolding Storiesto be published in November 2010 by Harvard Education Press.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Creativity Decline

I like to think that my five kids are pretty creative...especially after cleaning up the "village" they created in our basement out of every box, holiday toy and knick knack they could find that took an entire day to clean up.  So... this article about the IQ and creativity (CQ) tests in a longtitudinal study about creative kids was a good read.  Let's see what you think.

"Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the “Torrance kids,” a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, “How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?” He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist’s session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn’t the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have “unusual visual perspective” and “an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products.”

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

In the 50 years since Schwarzrock and the others took their tests, scholars—first led by Torrance, now his colleague, Garnet Millar—have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded. 
Nobody would argue that Torrance’s tasks, which have become the gold standard in creativity assessment, measure creativity perfectly. What’s shocking is how incredibly well Torrance’s creativity index predicted those kids’ creative accomplishments as adults. Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance’s data. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

The Creativity Crisis
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, NewsweekJuly 10, 2010