Tag Archives: children

Don’t forget TED for teaching

Engagement in the middle years of school may well be an oxymoron.

This was recently confirmed for me when starting off a year 9 class of boys in their research for an effective speaking competition. We gave them a brief: talk about an event which has had a significant impact on society or has stood out in history.

Hmmm….  reading long chunks of text wasn’t something they were going to do willingly, especially during the last period of the day. What about videos? Yes, miraculously focus was rediscovered, and the boys managed to maintain their concentration for almost an hour as they browsed the list of videos I’d prepared.

Fact known by all: young people respond well to information presented in video format.

That’s why TED is such a great teaching tool. I forget about it sometimes, but really, there’s so much information to spark thinking, discussion and debate.

Today the TED blog recommended the childish thinking playlist.

Today’s playlist is about kids and their brains, which hold the dreams and possibilities of our future. How can we teach them … and how can we learn from them?

TED recommends, amongst other videos,  Adora Svitak, who makes the case that grownups have lots to learn from “childish” thinking — creativity, audacity, open-mindedness.

Here’s another one:

Who are the leaders of tomorrow? Joachim de Posada shows how to find them — with a marshmallow

Dave Eggers thinks like a child to create a massively popular after-school tutoring club — starring pirates, superheroes, time travel …

Then you’re invited to share your favorite stories about kids in the TEDTalks archive -

Add your suggestions for this playlist to the comments below, or email contact@ted.com with the subject PLAYLIST: KIDS. (Jog your memory with the TEDTalks spreadsheet.)

A brilliant way to share best TED content within a theme.

The spreadsheet is seriously informative, and lists the name of the TED talk, the speaker, a short summary, duration of video and publishing date. Very nice. I really like seeing, at a glance, the shorter videos because they are often just what I’m looking for to show students.

I found Sirena Huang, an 11 year old prodigy on violin, playing beautifully and talking about her instrument.

TED’s format is satisfying, providing biography and links, as well as transcript. Excellent for teaching purposes. It also provides relevant websites, you can bookmark the speaker on the site if you like, and you also get a list of related speakers and themes.

I think I should plan to use TED in teaching regularly.

Has anyone used TED talks in teaching? Would you like to share your experiences?

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, film, media, teaching

Rethinking young people, rethinking ourselves

schoolkids

Photo taken by Chris Suderman

In his book Through the children’s gate, Adam Gopnik said this about children:

Children reconnect us to romance. For children, … every day is the first day of love: The passions that for us grown-ups rise and fall only in exceptional circumstances, unexpected storms on the dull normal beach where the tide breaks unchangingly, rise every day for them. Shock, hatred, infatuation: “I hate you,” they cry, slamming the door, and they mean it; and then the door opens fifteen minutes later for dessert. They compel us to see the world as an unusual place again. Sharing a life with them is like sharing a life with lovers, explorers, scientists, pirates, poets. It makes for interesting mornings.

I like this quotation for a few reasons. Firstly, to remind me of the passionate and immediate nature of young people. If at school they seem indifferent, apathetic, unengaged, then we need to ask ourselves why. We look to ourselves and what we are doing as teachers to make them behave in a way which is actually contrary to their nature.

Secondly, this passage tells me what we can gain from being with young people, what we can learn from them. Our role as teachers is not to ‘teach’ them in the sense of pouring into them what we know better, it is to listen, to bring out, to – with time, the time it takes to know a person – understand where their interests lie, what their passions are, how we can harness their dreams to educational opportunities. We provide the environment, teach skills, encourage and guide, but we work with the unknown – the unknown possibilities of what each young person is yet to create, to achieve.

As I think about returning to school soon, starting along that well worn cyclical path again, I’m gathering together the technology tools that I look forward to using with students, but I’m not thinking about the technology – I’m thinking about the process, the learning and teaching process that will take place. This year I’d like to focus on providing learning experiences which are from people, from communities, learning not from static texts but from living, thinking people – some from other hemispheres – from conversations, comparisons, real discoveries. I’m hoping that this year’s learning will not come solely from one teacher. The net will be cast wide. What treasures will be collected in the net?

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, learning, networking, teachers, teaching, Web 2.0

What children get out of a Montessori education

While I was thinking about what I wanted to say in this post, I took a peak at what Jenny Luca had been writing recently, and ended up commenting about why I had chosen a Montessori education for my boys in their preschool years.

‘As far as what parents want for their children – I’ve just revisited the Montessori education online; watched a couple of videos. Both my sons had a preschool Montessori education before going mainstream in primary school. I love so much about Montessori, but the reason I chose it in the first place was because I looked at how young children naturally loved to learn and initiated their own learning, then I looked at the middle years students I was teaching – often disengaged with traditional classroom teaching – and I thought: something is not right. I desperately wanted my children NOT to lose touch with that fire within them that lit up so many areas of learning.

Yes, I care about whether they get the marks to enable them to go on with their tertiary learning, but more than this, I want them to be empowered, independent thinkers and lifelong learners, part of the local and global community, taking responsibility, solving problems, making decisions, caring about people and the environment, connecting with others.

If these ideals are at the base of our desire to integrate new technologies into teaching and learning, then we can honestly say that we use them as tools to enable new ways of lifting off the page of a textbook and into a global world of limitless possibilties and connection.’

Apart from an excellent core education with an integrated curriculum based on choice, Montessori educators prepare students for the world, firstly by giving them a context in the world (literally by showing 3 year olds where they are located on the world map) and giving them a firm sense of belonging on this earth. Then by instilling in them the belief that life has meaning and value, and that they need to value themselves, others and life itself; that their decisions are important, and that they will learn and develop from their mistakes. In this way education is empowering; it teaches children to live in a community, to build communities, to be part of a team. Montessori students develop into flexible, self disciplined, independent learners.

The next video, Joyful scholars – Montessori for the elementary years, asks the question of parents that I think begs deep thought -
‘What kind of child do you want at 18 years?’
Hopefully, the answer to that question would include something more than a student with a good ENTER score.

Have a look at a summary of the Montessori educational principles.
There are many points that are worth a closer look. For example,
The premises of a Montessori approach to teaching and learning include the following:
That children are capable of self-directed learning.
That it is critically important for the teacher to be an “observer” of the child instead of a lecturer.

Montessori or other type of education – let’s think personal, communal, global. Let’s think about preparing students for living in the 21st century.

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Filed under Education, Web 2.0

Russian children’s books


esta es bella

Originally uploaded by sindicato de la imagen

I wanted to reply to a colleague’s blog on the subject of children’s books and childhood memories, but while I was searching flickr for a book cover that was under the Creative Commons category, someone else emailed me, wondering how to add a flickr image to the blog. Yes, I know I’ve done it, but that doesn’t mean I can remember how. In fact, the first picture I inserted was a simple matter of copying and pasting, and that was so easy, I’m wondering whether it was the wrong way to do it. This time I’m repeating the other way I did it, which was to click on the flickr image so that the picture had its own page, then click on the ‘blog this’ icon. I’ll see if this works. I love the way this is demonstrating learning – we don’t necessarily learn from the first time we do something. Doing it a few times, and especially trying to teach someone else, makes it stick. Having said that, I hope I remember it next time I get frustrated with a student who ‘has been told’ and who’s forgotten.

By the way, the picture is from one of the children’s books I remember from my childhood. Since I didn’t speak any English until I went to kindergarten, all of the books read to me by my mother and grandmother were in Russian. Looking back, I realise that I owe to these children’s books my love of bright colours (often strangely juxtaposed) and of the bizarre. Strange characters come to mind from the recesses of my mind – crocodiles in suits smoking cigars, a muddle-headed man who reminds me of Mr Bean, a giant, menacing sink (more  like the whole vanity) with human features who bullied the boy who wouldn’t wash (Soviet moralism).

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Filed under Children's books