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
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
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
Last week I saw 25 kindergarteners walking through the hallway of a school, each with a 4×6 notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other. They flooded slowly along quite naturally, heads turning left and right, eyes going up and down, and all with studious expressions on their faces. Looking, looking, looking. Every onceinawhile one would jot something down. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
Procrustes was a blacksmith who had his house by the side of the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis in ancient Greece. Being a friendly, hospitable guy, though, Procrustes also ran an inn. When tired travelers came down the road, he would sometimes invite them in to spend the night.
The rooms in the Inn were equipped with special beds. When the guests lay down, if they were too long for the bed, a special guillotine-type knife would drop down and lop off whatever was hanging over the foot of the bed. If they were too short for the bed, they would be stretched to fit. Continue reading
How we teach an academic subject is important; the social context in which we teach it is equally critical.
One day in early February, Tanya, one of the teachers of the Fireflies, a preschool class of four-year-olds, came into the lounge at lunch time and said: “We have had an outbreak of writing in the Fireflies today.”
“Really, that’s great,” I said. “What do you mean?”
“Well, just that. It was a little epidemic.”
“Huh. Wow. What happened?” Continue reading