Struggling Readers

I was one of those struggling readers. I didn’t become a reader until fifth grade. That puts me in league with two twenty-five-year-old single mothers whom Julie Pangrac of Project READ introduced me to. They told me their story Continue reading

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How to Take No for an Answer

A Story from My Good Friend Allan

“No, I don’t want to take a nap!  Not tired!” said Elise. Continue reading

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Kindergarten Readiness: Parent Strategy for Best Results.

A very reliable way of assessing children’s readiness for kindergarten is to bring twelve four-and-a-half-year-olds together for a one-hour mock kindergarten class. A teacher greets parent and child at the door, and the parent says good-bye. Most of the time the children leave their parents happily and launch off into what for them is a super play-date. Continue reading

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Cover of the Second Edition of “Genius”

The publisher of the second edition of “Genius”, Globe/Pequot Press, has selected a photo for the cover after a great deal of searching. It is particularly fun for me that they selected this candid taken by a new photographer friend of mine, Julie Carter, who lives in Decatur. Here’s what Julie says about the photo she took of her granddaughter at home a year or so ago.

“When Rick talked to me about creating a photo to illustrate the message he was wanting to convey in his book, I immediately thought of the photograph you are considering. The little girl in the photo is my granddaughter, Natalie, who was four-years-old when the photo was taken.

“Natalie was “teaching” my husband how to read a book after telling him that he was reading it to her in a rather “silly” way Continue reading

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How a Willful Child Can Become a Game Changing Leader (Hint: Have Fun Saying “No.”)

You can tell a good school from a bad one within minutes of walking in the door. All the humans are learning, and no one is making them. Everyone is taking responsibility.

Last June I walked through the gate in a chain-link fence that enclosed a mottled asphalt parking lot/playground and approached a steel door in a one-story brick building. A sign above the door read: Academy for Global Citizenship.

Buzzed in, I was immediately greeted by one of two busy people who escorted me down the hallway to the director’s office. I waited in the hallway so I could see what was going on. Continue reading

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Building Strong Brains: The Real Reason Schools Need Environmental Education

One day second grader Miranda said: “I was in the garden looking at the tomatoes with Patrice and Josh, and we saw a wasp tackling a fly.  Then it tore the fly’s head off and flew away with the body.  An ant found the head and started eating it and the fly’s eyes separated from its head.”

The teacher asked, “What did you think about when you were watching this happen?”

She replied, “I thought, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I wouldn’t want to be that fly.”

Later that same afternoon Sasha and Kate joined in the insect hunt and Kate said, “The garden seems to be so calm when you first look at it but when you look closer it’s very alive.”

On another day first graders found the front half of a dead snake and immediately started generating hypotheses as to what happened: Continue reading

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Should Parents Give Their Children Books For Christmas, or?

 Love

When I was nine and my father asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said, “Something I can build and then when it’s built I can play with it.”

Fifty years later, when my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said, “Fifty pieces of rebar two feet long.” Continue reading

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New Media Are Neither Good Nor Bad. It’s Parenting Makes It So.

Ever since I was seven, when my father compromised his stand on the new technology, by allowing a television in our house, there has been a running dialog in this country about the evils of new media. As in my father’s original stance, the central question of the conversation is usually about exposure. How much, if any, exposure should parents allow their children?

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Management-Speak Disguises a Short-Sighted Vision of School

In decades of trying to improve schools, things aren’t working out. Maybe, we should apply a lesson of life to our approach to elementary school: Do the present right, and the future will take care of itself.

On the surface much of the lingo of school improvement seems full of confident commitment to excellence and success for all. Language like accountability for measurable outcomes, high standards, data driven decision-making, racing to the top, leaving no children behind, and so on is seductive. Hearing this language in a school system one imagines thousands of children working hard to produce results that will someday make thousands of adults proud of their collective commitment to success. Continue reading

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Blessings on the First Day of School

On the first day of school, Peter had had a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. His teeth were brushed, his lunch and snack were in his backpack, and his favorite shirt was on his back. As his father scurried around the kitchen, he talked to Peter saying things like, “Have you got your lunch? Have you got your backpack?”

Peter was in the lead as they stepped out the door and down the steps to the car. Five feet from the car his father yelled: “Peter! You don’t have any shoes on!”

Looking down at his stocking feet, Peter saw that it was true and said, “Okay. But you don’t have to get mad at me.” Continue reading

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