Monday, January 14, 2013

Can kids teach themselves?

strive to make my classroom a place where children learn best. I spend a lot of time focusing on the environment and making it one of learning. Much of my curriculum planning is all about creating interest centers that push the thinking of the children. 

On any given day you may come into my room and find a table lifted on one side, paper taped to it and a tub under the lower end so children can drip drop paint. With glee they watch the liquid watercolors stream down the table. My science table is over grown with vegetables and weeds we have “rescued” such as sweet potatoes, carrot ends, and dandelions. The classroom computer has a sign up sheet and a ten minute hourglass timer, there is usually a crowed of children around the computer as well.

My main goal as a teacher is to become unnecessary, at least as far as imparting knowledge. I arrange the environment for optimal learning; this includes the emotional environment as well. In the first months of school I spend most of my time teaching the children collaborative skills, how to ask for what they want or need, and I do a lot of modeling these skills. We do activities that increase collaboration in group and all the children must learn how to play together, I am often saying, “can you find a way for everyone to play in this game?” or “it looks like Joey has an idea of how to use this material, lets listen to him.”

This video shows how Sugata Mitra found a way for children in rural India to learn without any teachers. Are teachers necessary? I tend to agree with Sugata when he shares what Author C. Clarke says, “If a teacher can be replaced by a machine, they should be.” This Hole in the Wall Experiment showed that when good teachers are not available it might be better to allow children to learn on their own. In this 21 minute video Sugata shows how his experiment worked and worked wonders in areas where teachers were not available or were not effective. Please take the time to watch this, as it is informative and entertaining to watch. I have also included a link to a more refined video of Sugata Mitra at the TED Talks.

Sugata Mitra: Can kids teach themselves?

The Link to another video: Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education


Friday, January 11, 2013

Neil Postman quote

This Quote is so true for us, especially today when we continue to teach our children in the old way. 

We are entering a new Era, a new time. While many parts and ways we are teaching are still effective for most, we need to step up our game and teach for the Future!

From Wikipedia: "Neil Postman (March 8, 1931 – October 5, 2003) was an American authormedia theorist and cultural critic, who is best known by the general public for his 1985 book about television, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than forty years, he was associated with New York University. Postman was a humanist, who believed that "new technology can never substitute for human values.""


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blissful Teacher offers classes

I am offering my first education classes. Coming this February I will be teaching locally two classes through Freecycle. These classes are being hosted by Mendocino Baby, and this is where they will be offered.

Here is my Public Service Announcement sent to several local radio stations, this should be read aloud:
“Learn the recipe for play! Come To Mendocino Baby for two unique Mendo Free skool classes. Come on February 12th to learn some fun recipes and potions for play with young children. Then on February 19th for ideas to turn activities like sorting socks into learning math and shopping for food into pre-reading experiences. Hosted by Mendocino Baby in their classroom and starting at 4pm,. Contact Kristi from Blissful Teacher at 707-360-7334. Come have some fun!”

Here is the class information for the Mendo Free Skool Calendar:
Recipes for fun with young children Tues. Feb. 12th 
Parents will learn how to use everyday ingredients to create easy and fun recipes, potions, goos and goops! Make like a Preschool Teacher and make your own, will also have some recipes for gluten free options. See you at Mendocino Baby!

Making Learning Fun at home Tues Feb. 19th 
Everyday we are doing chores and typical life goes by while our children are watching. Use these activities to encourage math and literacy skills in your children. When you sort socks into size and color talk about it with your children and they will learn color names, counting, mathematical thinking, and critical thinking skills. Come to this class and learn other ways to make every moment a teachable moment.

I am very excited for this opportunity to practice sharing my skills with our community. I hope that lots of parents, homeschooling teachers and preschool teachers come and see what I am offering in these classes. It will be fun and educational.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Rock Stars

Preschool teachers are Rock Stars! We are, we know cool recipes to make play dough and paint, can plant things, create interest centers in a few minutes; we decorate our walls with cute and professional documentation that is both attractive and educational all while juggling theoretic knowledge and Developmentally appropriate practice.

Talk to any Preschool teacher and most have gone to more college, workshops and classes than most people; We have a better understanding of how children actually learn and can control 12 to 24 children under the age of 5. Now that is a Skill not to be taken lightly. So why do we, with all the love of our job, and all the understanding of how important it is, still allow it to be minimized. The funding for early education is one of the smallest of budgets, pay is anywhere from $9 to $18 and hour. This means that the cashier at Costco is making more money than a preschool teacher.

Preschool teachers come to their job with extensive training and passion for the work involved. They love to learn new activities, new therories, new educational methods. This is not an entry level position, and why when so many parents are literally fighting to get their children into great preschools are we not working harder to make all preschools great.

Remember to thank your preschool teacher! Your preschool teacher is a Rock Star and puts a lot of thought into what “PLAY” your children will learn from today.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Epic Journey

I often have far reaching goals and amazing dreams that I one day would like to accomplish. In my new being of playing BIG I noticed that I often fail to accomplish some goal not because I didn’t think big but because I failed to fully accept the responsibility of the small steps.

I often find myself daydreaming about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I think as part of my dream, “If I started at the US/Mexico border I could hike all the way to Canada. That would be an epic journey, but the reality is that one of the main reasons I want to do this is to loose weight. Instead of taking the daily steps of walking for 30 to 45 minutes, strength training and eating healthy amounts of healthy food I want to hike 2,650 miles of rugged terrain. I think Epic.

So how do I put epic into my daily life? How do I create a journey to my goals that is practical, includes the daily persistence needed to accomplish such goals and still create a feeling of an epic journey? Something I need to make me happy.

Lets look at what is appealing about an epic journey. Someone or something has set a task for you, even if that someone is yourself. Often others have done this before and you can follow in their footsteps; you have a role model that has accomplished something similar before. You have a companion or more with you, someone to share the misery and triumphs with. You have a map of where you will go and you reach for smaller destinations and have mini-successes.  There is usually an amazing prize or accomplishment at the end.

I know how to accomplish my goals, when there is an outside force working with me, and a feeling of a long arduous journey with others.  I have attempted and accomplished with flying colors many goals I set for myself. I have my M. Ed in instruction and curriculum and I did that as a working single parent of teens. I think using these epic journey elements will help me accomplish my other more personal goals too.