Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do Not Underestimate Our Youngest Students

I came across a post tonight by Angela Maiers titled: Basics Before Big Ideas? NOT! While I was reading her post I remembered two things. First, I began thinking about our observation of Susan Kempton when she told us about the research showing that kids as young as 2 years old can infer.

The other thing that I remembered, was this graph that I came across in a blog post (Sorry, I can't remember who's blog in order to give proper credit).

While kindergarteners may not be able to read or write at first, they are more than capable of thinking critically and divergently. In fact, they may be better at it than we are!

There has been a big push in early childhood for "developmentally appropriate practice (DAP)". That push has helped more than it has hurt. It has kept standardized testing out of kindergarten and helped to keep the balance from leaning too heavily toward academics. However, some people have taken its meaning too far and made broad position statements that children under the age of 6 should not blah, blah, blah. To me DAP simply means differentiation - every child progresses at their own pace and usually going through the same stages.

While some students (probably very few in actuality) may not be ready for big idea thinking, many are. It is a crime not to provide the opportunity for big idea thinking when many are developmentally ready. Some children (I was one) are whole to part learners. They need to see the big ideas and see how they fit, before they can begin to focus on the individual skills that go into it.

Please do not confuse the inability to read or write with the inability to think!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Professional Development - A Request

Often we go to a training, we take notes, we think on it, and we implement pieces of it. I would like for the readers and contributors of this blog to think about adding one more step. I would like you to post your notes, reflections, concerns, ect. as a result of your training to this blog for several reasons. 1) Writing about what you are learning crystallizes the learning in the writers mind. It helps the writer to organize and understand more deeply what they learned. 2) It shares with others the content and value of various trainings so that their interest may be sparked and they can choose to go to said training when it is available in their area. 3) What one person took from a training, may have been overlooked by another who took the same training. It is helpful to read other peoples reflections - as they can extend our own understanding. Not that we all have to see things the same way, but the dialogue that can arise can help us to understand our own thinking better and be more intentional in the way we use what we learned.

Locally - our kindergarten teachers (and contributors to this blog) just attended an Orton-Gillingham training. I wish there were enough slots for me to attend as well, but I didn't want to take the slot of a teacher. I am curious to find out what your biggest take aways were from this training. What will you bring back to your classroom? What will you do differently as a result this year? We will also soon be receiving training in "Every Child a Writer" and web 2.0 tools. I would like to know the answers to these same big questions for these trainings as well.

Globally - What have you learned recently? What were your big Ah-has? How have you/do you plan to use that learning to increase your effectiveness with students?

Friday, June 12, 2009


Wonderful video about play from TED Talks.

How will you incorporate play into your classrooms?
How will YOU play with your students and colleagues?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kindergarten Quotes

My favorite quotes that frame my philosophy about kindergarten (no particular order):
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge. -Albert Einstein
  • Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. - Albert Einstein
  • Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means. - Albert Einstein
  • As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it. - Albert Einstein
  • Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. - Albert Einstein
  • If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. - Albert Einstein
  • I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts. - Albert Einstein
  • The search for truth is more precious than its possession. - Albert Einstein
  • The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. - Albert Einstein
  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. - Mohandas Gandhi
  • We cannot be speakers who do not listen. But neither can we be listeners who do not speak. - Mohandas Gandhi
  • Find purpose, the means will follow. - Mohandas Gandhi
  • Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with effort. Full effort is full victory. - Mohandas Gandhi
  • Speak only if it improves upon the silence. - Mohandas Gandhi
  • Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. - Socrates
  • I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. - Socrates
  • The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing. - Isaac Asimov
  • Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field. - Isaac Asimov
  • All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. - Galileo Galilei
  • You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it for himself. - Galileo Galilei
  • Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. - Plato
  • I would teach the children music, physics and philosophy, but the most important is music, for in the patterns of the arts are the keys to all learning. - Plato
  • When you make the finding yourself — even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light — you never forget it. - Carl Sagan
  • The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education ... (and) the object and reward of learning is continued capacity for growth. - John Dewey
  • Try to learn something about everything and everything about something. - Thomas H. Huxley
  • Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain. - John F. Kennedy
  • Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. ~ Malcolm S. Forbes
  • Think wrongly if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. -- Doris Lessing
  • Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting. — Edmund Burke
  • When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge. -- Albert Einstein
  • A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimension. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • The loftiest edifices need the deepest foundations. - George Santayana
  • All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. - Pablo Picasso
1) What are the main philosophical themes that run through these quotes?
2) If you had to pare this list down to the 5 quotes most reflective of your philosophy, what would they be?
3) What quotes would you add to the list?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Too-Dee-Tah

A Too-Dee-Tah
Dr. Jean

A too-dee-tah, a too-dee-tah, a too-dee-tah-tah
A too-dee-tah, a too-dee-tah, a too-dee-tah-tah

Thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart, knees together, bottoms up, tongue out, eyes shut, turn around.

Sing the too-dee-tah chorus after you add on an action.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tony Chestnut

Tony Chestnut
Tony Chestnut knows I love you.
Tony knows. (Tony knows.)
Tony Chestnut know I love you.
That's what Tony knows.
Tony, Tony and his sister Eileen.
And Eileen loves Neil and Neil loves Pat,
but Pat still loves Bob.
And there's Russell and Skip.
This song is silly, but it's hip.
How it ends, just one man knows.
And guess what, it's Tony Chestnut.

Songs from Training

Here are the lyrics for "The Grand Old Duke of York" sung to the tune of "A Hunting We Will Go":

The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up;
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

Here is a link to Dr. Jean's web-site: http://drjean.org/
There is an alphabetical table of songs matched to the CD they are on that site. I could not find her songs available on iTunes :(