Posts tagged book report
Posts tagged book report
What are you prepared to do?
Commentary on the book Children of 2010, edited byValora Washington and J.D. Andrews, © 1998, published by NAEYC.
Full disclosure: This book had been sitting on my shelf for too long. I finally read it in 2010 instead of when I got it, which was in 1999 (oops). I plowed through it this past June because I had just purchased Children of 2020 after attending one of Ms. Washington’s talks at the NAEYC PDI (Professional Development Institute) event in Phoenix and I felt I should have some frame of reference before reading her new publication. I loved that she ended her talk by telling the audience that we (as teachers) need to get to work because she didn’t want to have to write Children of 2030. Love it! She’s feisty and direct and an obvious advocate for children.
So what’s the book about?
Direct from her introduction: the book addresses some of the issues involved in making democracy work for the next generation of children, who they (in the book) call the Children of 2010.
Play = Learning How Play Motivates and Enhances Children’s Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth
Edited by: Dorothy Singer, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff & Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
The editors and contributors to this work read like a virtual who’s who in the field of early childhood educational research. And they are, in actuality, the scientists and researchers who are doing the heavy lifting. They are the ones conducting the studies and writing the follow up reports that support what we are out there trying to put into practice. Instead of defending their work (the duplication of their studies with continued similar results have already “proved” their positions) let us collectively show our gratitude by putting their findings into practice. Additionally, all of you should (I am, once again, shoulding on you) should be familiar with them. If you are not, then you have even more homework! But I digress…
The Developmental Benefits of Playgrounds
Research Results From Leading Experts on Playgrounds and Child Development
Written by Joe Frost, Pei-San Brown, Candra Thornton, John Sutterby, Jim Therrell and Debora Wisneski.
©2004, Association for Childhood Education International. Copies may be obtained through www.acei.org
The following overview of the content has been prepared by Lisa Murphy, Early Childhood Specialist and CEO of Ooey Gooey Inc.
Perhaps the very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play
-Karl Groos, 1898
Both the forward and introduction alone make the book worth the purchase.
Play is incredibly important to the development of children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development, as well as creativity and imagination. Play is essential to brain development and the development of certain reasoning abilities. Additionally, a lack of free, spontaneous play can be harmful to a developing child. But you and I know this.
In the forward Tom Norquist hints to a correlation between this generation’s inventions and their inventors’ ability to play freely while they were growing up. He also asks why politicians and educators appear to forget that free, unstructured play has a profound impact on a child’s education, social skills and overall intelligence even directly asking, “Why are we eliminating recess?”
FREE RANGE KIDS: How to raise self reliant children (without going nuts with worry)
By: Lenore Skenazy
If I had to sum this fantastic book up in a few words it would be that this book will teach you how to CALM DOWN! Many of you probably know the premise, Lenore is the lady who let her son ride the NYC subway… alone. And she seriously caught a ration of sh** on talk shows and in the media for doing it too. Which is too bad. But, she turned her experience into a blog which (a la Julie and Julia) turned into a book. Which was gifted to me by groupie-Kim in Illinois, which I read on a flight last week all in the house that Jack built. Now, in the unlikely chance that she sees this write up, or in the off chance that anyone reading this knows her… please tell her that I want to be her BFF. Or at least have coffee.
UPDATE SINCE I POSTED THIS ON FACEBOOK IN 2010: She read this post on facebook and then called me! shut up! I know! I was so excited!
Part I of her book introduces you to her 14 Free-Range Commandments:
Part II presents the Free-Range Guide To Life, which addresses:
Safe or not? The A-Z review of everything you might be worried about ranging from (some of my favorites) Animals, being eaten by, Death by stroller, Germs, Halloween candy, Lead paint, Licking the batter, Plastic bags, Raw dough, Sun, the and Walking to school.
She wraps up by talking about Strangers With Candy and then concludes by addressing (hinting at The Feminine Mystique) “the Other Problem That Has No Name… and its solution.”
But her piece de resistance is on the back page… a Free-Range Membership Card for you to clip and save for your child and friends.
I’d love for you to buy this and read it. I’d love even better if after buying and reading, we actually started implementing her suggestions. Find friends who are like minded and start hanging out with them. Go deeper than the quotes and sound bites she offers and take some of her “baby step”suggestions and start living a Free-Range life. You and your family will be better off for it. And a helluva lot calmer.
Ooey Gooey, Inc.
Creating a Better Tomorrow
By Lisa Murphy
Commentary on the book: Children of 2020: Creating a better tomorrow, edited by Valora Washington and J.D. Andrews, © 2010, a collaborative publication between NAEYC and the Council for Professional Recognition.
At the NAEYC Professional Development Institute that took place in Phoenix in June 2010, I attended a panel presentation style workshop. The presentation was facilitated by Valora Washington, and the speakers on the panel were Barbara Bowman, Luis Hernandez and Sue Bredekamp; three well known names in the early childhood community.
Both the book and the panel followed a theatre style presentation:
Act I: Vision: Imagining the world for the children of 2020, Hernandez spoke on this.
Act II: Knowledge: Information to guide future practice, Bredekamp spoke here.
Act III: Strategies: Facilitating outcomes for the children of 2020, Bowman presented here.
Act IV: Denouement: Taking personal responsibility for the children of 2020.
Are You Ready? Or Not?
This is yet another one of my Ooey Gooey, Inc. Facebook NOTES that I am archiving and queing up for release here on tumblr. Although I was planning on having this particular article post in a week or so, seeings as how I talk about this book ALL THE TIME, I figured I’d let it jump to the front of the line. So again, for your consideration, I offer my commentary on the book: Ready or Not: Leadership Choices in Early Care and Education, By Stacie Goffin and Valora Washington, ©2007 and published by Teachers College Press.
I read this book before the buzz. I point this out for no reason other than to add to this commentary the fact that I had the opportunity to read it prior to the articles, workshops and “special guest dinners” at which Washington and/or Goffin were speakers. Why do I point this out? I was able to get one reading of it in before there was professional pressure to do so. My first read through was impartial and not influenced by any pressure to “read this!”
That being said, the first read through was in some places a bit difficult as I felt (at times) that the authors were airing our profession’s dirty laundry for all to see. They were giving voice to some of our profession’s biggest not-so-positive issues. And the truth can be hard to swallow.
Some comments about Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
© Lisa Murphy
Ooey Gooey, Inc.
February 1, 2011
All right folks, here’s the deal: I’m not over thinking this one at all. But, since I did say that I would post some comments, and did ask you for yours, I have barfed out some “dinner party conversation” in regard to this book. Meaning, if I was at a dinner party and conversation turned to this book, (which, curiously enough, it has not. Yet.) here are some comments I’d throw into the mix for discussion or debate or whatnot:
1) This whole business came on my radar like a “blip” the day that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) released the article. I *gasp* will admit that I didn’t really pay close attention. Then it came on the radar again with a question from my sister, then I saw the Time magazine article (at news stands now!) and then I saw the New York Times (NYT) coverage. And then I got curious.
12 Principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school
by John Medina, © 2008
From the beginning:
“Though we know precious little about how the brain works, our evolutionary history tells us this: the brain appears to be designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment, and to do so in nearly constant motion.”
Mr. Medina, you had me at hello.
The supporting research for all of Medina’s points must be published in a peer-reviewed journal and then successfully replicated. Said references can all be found at www.brainrules.net
And what do most of these studies show?
That if you want to create an educational environment that is directly OPPOSED to what the brain is good at doing, you would design something like a classroom. And if you wanted to change things, you might have to tear it down and start over. (pg 5)
I list for you here Medina’s BRAIN RULES as well as passages from the book to assist in clarification and understanding!
BRAIN RULE #1 = EXERCISE
Exercise boosts brain power
Our fancy brains developed not while we were lounging, but while we were moving. And we moved a lot. Probably up to 12 miles each day.
“Physical activity is cognitive candy.” (pg 22)
Civilization has had a nasty side effect… it gave us more opportunities to sit on our butts.
Cutting off physical activity to do better on a test score is like trying to gain weight by starving yourself! (pg 25)
If you want to improve thinking skills, move.
Exercise gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting. (pg 28)
Aerobic exercise twice a week halves your risk of general dementia and cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%
BRAIN RULE #2 = SURVIVAL
The human brain evolved, too
There is an unbroken intellectual line between symbolic reasoning and the ability to create culture. (pg 33)
40,000 years ago something remarkable happened. We appeared to have suddenly taken up painting and sculpture, creating fine art and jewelry.
It seems that our great achievements mostly had to do with a nasty change in the weather. Yet this change was not too powerful, or too subtle. The Goldilocks Effect. The change was just right. The weather change was enough to knock us out of our trees, but it wasn’t enough to kill us when we landed. (pg 36)
The net effect of this evolution is that we did not become stronger; we became smarter.
We fell out of the trees, we stood up, we walked and we learned to cooperate.
Theory of Mind = the ability to peer inside someone’s mental life and make predictions on how they will respond and react.
Our intellectual prowess, from language, to mathematics to art, may have come from the powerful need to predict our neighbor’s psychological state. (pg 45)
BRAIN RULE #3 = WIRING
Every brain is wired differently
We are hard wired to be flexible!
Our brains are so sensitive to external inputs their physical wiring depends upon the culture in which they find themselves. What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like!
Learning results in physical changes in the brain, and these changes are unique to each individual. (pg 62)
No two brains are wired the same. Not in structure. Not in function. Given this, why do we continue to expect children to all be learning in the same way, in the same style in the same fashion, and at the same time? (emphasis added)
Some Concerns (pg 67)
1) the current educational system is founded on a series of expectations that certain learning goals should be achieved by a certain age. Yet there is no reason to suspect that the brain pays attention to those expectations. Students of the same age [sic] show a great deal of intellectual variability.
2) These differences can profoundly influence classroom performance. About 10% of students do not [sic] have brains sufficiently wired to read by the age at which we expect them to read. Lockstep models simply based on age are guaranteed to create a counterproductive mismatch to brain biology.
Some Suggestions (pgs 66-69)
1) Smaller class sizes
2) Customized instruction
3) And a three-pronged research effort between brain and education scientists that includes evaluating teachers (and teachers to-be!) for advanced Theory of Mind skills.
Our current education system ignores the fact that each human brain is individually wired. We have a great number of ways of being intelligent, many of which don’t show up on an IQ test.
BRAIN RULE #4 = ATTENTION
We don’t pay attention to boring things
Summary from page 94:
Emotions get our attention
**emotional arousal helps the brain learn
We grasp meaning before details
**we are better at seeing patterns and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail
The brain cannot multi-task
**When we see people good at what we might call “multi-tasking” we might be witnessing people with really good working memories who are capable of paying attention to several inputs one at a time.
The brain needs a break
**Audiences, students, board meeting attendees check out after 10 minutes, but you can grab them back through narratives or creating events rich in emotion.
BRAIN RULE #5 = SHORT TERM MEMORY
Repeat to Remember
Summary from page 119
The brain has many types of memory systems. Declarative memory is one of these systems. These are memories of things you can “declare.” Example: “They sky is blue.” This system has four stages of processing: encoding, storing, retrieving and forgetting.
Information coming into your brain is split into fragments that are sent to different regions of the cortex for storage.
Most of the events that predict whether something that has been learned will be remembered occur in the first few seconds of learning. The more elaborately we encode a memory during its initial moments, the stronger it will be.
You can improve your chances of remembering something if you reproduce the environment in which you first put it into your brain.
BRAIN RULE #6 = LONG-TERM MEMORY
Remember to Repeat
Memory may not be fixed at the moment of learning, but repetition, doled out in specifically timed intervals, is the fixative. (pg 130)
Great deal of research show that thinking or talking about an event immediately after it has occurred [sic] enhances memory for that event. (pg 131)
If you have only one week to study for a final, better to space out the studying, not attempt to cram it all in.
Learning occurs best when new information is incorporated gradually into the memory store rather than when it is jammed in all at once. (pg 133)
So why do many classrooms do the exact opposite??
Summary from page 147:
Most memories disappear within minutes, but the ones that survive get stronger over time.
Long-term memories are formed in a 2-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex, until the hippocampus breaks the connection and the memory is fixed in the cortex = but this can take years!
Our brains only give us an approximate view of reality because they mix new knowledge with past memories and store them together as one.
The way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals.
BRAIN RULE #7 = SLEEP
Sleep well, think well
If you ever get a chance to listen in on a brain while it’s owner is asleep, you will see that the brain is not asleep at all. The brain displays more rhythmical activity during sleep than when it is wide-awake.
“Dreaming permits us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.”
The body possesses a series of internal clocks, and their automatic rhythm occurs as a result of the continuous conflict between 2 opposing forces: Process C = The Circadian Arousal System (designed to do everything in its power to keep you awake) and Process S = The Homeostatic Sleep Drive (designed to do everything in its power to keep you asleep) (pg 155)
Process C and Process S are locked in a daily warfare of victory and surrender so predictable that you can graph it. Process S determines the duration and intensity of sleep and Process C determines the tendency and timing of the need to go to sleep. (pg 156)
Larks = 1 in 10 people. Early birds. Most alert around noon.
Owls = 2 in 10 people. Most alert around 6 pm.
Larks and owls cover about 30% of the population. The rest are called Hummingbirds. Some are more larkish, some more owlish, some more in between.
So how much sleep do we need? The answer = we don’t know (pg 158)
What we do know though is that there is a universal need to nap. And it’s not just because you ate a big lunch.
Some scientists suggest that a long sleep at night and a short nap in the midday represents human sleep behavior at its most natural. (pg 159)
Sleep has been shown to enhance tasks that involve visual texture discrimination, motor adaptations and motor sequencing. Sleep loss = mind loss. Sleep loss cripples thinking in about all of the ways you can measure thinking. It also impairs:
· Executive function
· Immediate memory
· Working memory
· Quantitative skills
· Logical reasoning
· General math knowledge
It affects manual dexterity, fine motor control and gross motor movements.
Sleep is intimately involved in learning.
Medina wonders what schools (And offices!) might look like if we took these sleep facts seriously!
1. Match “type” schedules (Larks, Owls, Hummingbirds) with work and school schedules.
2. Promote naps.
3. Sleep on it. (propose a question, sleep on it, answer it next day).
BRAIN RULE #8 = STRESS
Stressed brains don’t learn the same way
Stress Science 101: When you get stressed your body responds. The hypothalamus in your brain (pea sized, right in the middle of your head) sends a signal to your adrenal glands (on top of kidneys). The adrenal glands dump buckets of adrenaline into your system. This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response.
Cortisol comes next. Released in small doses, it wipes out most unpleasant aspects of stress and returns us to normal.
The issue is that our stress response system was shaped to solve problems that lasted for SECONDS… we were out on the savannah we saw a saber-tooth tiger! Release adrenaline and RUN! Get to safe spot. Release cortisol. Calm down.
These days our stress is not measured in seconds by interactions with mountain lions, but by days, weeks and sometimes months of hectic work lives, screaming toddlers and money problems. (pg 176)
And when moderate amounts of hormones build up to large amounts, or when moderate amounts hang around too long, they become quite harmful.
Stress that is too severe or too prolonged harms learning. Stressed people:
1. Don’t do math real well
2. Don’t process language efficiently
3. Have poorer memories (long and short term)
4. Don’t adapt old pieces of information into to new scenarios as well as non-stressed folks
5. Can’t concentrate
Specifically stress hurts declarative memory and executive function. The skills needed to excel in school
Under chronic stress, adrenaline creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember. (pg 195)
One of the greatest predictors of performance in school turns out to be the emotional stability of the home. (pg 183) Kids of all ages who watch parents fight constantly have higher stress hormones in their urine. (pg 183) The presence of overt conflict – not divorce –predicted grade failure. (pg 185)
RULE #9 = SENSORY INTEGRATION
Stimulate more of the senses at the same time
Summary from page 218
We absorb information about an event through our sense, translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, some for sound, etc); disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.
The brain seems to rely partly on past experience in deciding how to combine these signals, so two people can perceive the same event very differently.
Our senses evolved to work together – vision influencing hearing, for example – which means that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at once.
Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories, maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations, which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.
BRAIN RULE #10 = VISION
Vision trumps all other senses
We do not see with our eyes, we see with our brains. (pg 223)
Medina relayed an interesting story where professional wine tasters were given white wine that had been colored red with an odorless, tasteless red dye. Researchers wanted to know if their delicate palates could detect the trick, or if their noses would be fooled. The verdict? They were fooled! Every single wine professional used “red wine” language to describe the wine they were drinking. The visual input (seeing red) trumped their other highly trained senses. (pg 224)
We are so visually driven that when we read, most of us are trying to visualize what the words are trying to tell us. (pg 235)
“Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap”
-George Bernard Shaw
Teachers should learn why pictures grab attention.
Teachers should use computer animation.
It was interesting to read that simple 2-D animation is quite sufficient. Studies have shown that if the drawings are too complex or too lifelike, they can distract from the transfer of information.
Communicate with pictures more than words
Toss your power point presentations
Remember the terrible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible power of images. Then, burn your current power point presentations and make new ones!
From the Summary page 240:
Vision is by far the most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.
What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and its not 100% accurate.
The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.
We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken word. (Our evolutionary history on the Savannah was filled with images – trees, food, and saber-tooth tigers, not text!)
BRAIN RULE #11 = GENDER
Male and female brains are different
In the book, sex generally refers to biology and anatomy and gender refers to mostly to social expectations. Gender differences can be divided into three areas:
Medina said most scientists will spend their entire career exploring one of them.
The basic default setting of the mammalian embryo is to become female.
Get the facts straight on emotions:
1. Emotions are useful. They make the brain pay attention.
2. Men and women process certain emotions differently
3. The differences are a product of complex interactions between nature and nurture.
Try different gender arrangements in the classroom
Use gender teams in the workplace.
From the summary on page 260:
Males have 1 X chromosome. Females have 2 – although one is a back up. The X chromosome is a cognitive “hot-spot” carrying a large percentage of genes involved in brain manufacture.
Women are genetically more complex, because the active X chromosomes in their cells are a mix of Mom’s and Dad’s. Men’s X chromosomes all come from Mom and their Y chromosome carries less than 100 genes, compared with about 1,500 genes in the X chromosome.
Men’s and women’s brains are different structurally and biochemically (example: men have a bigger amygdala and produce serotonin faster) but we don’t know if those differences have significance.
Men and women respond differently to acute stress: Women activate the left hemisphere’s amygdala and remember the emotional details. Men use the right side amygdala and get the gist.
BRAIN RULE #12 = EXPLORATION
We are powerful and natural explorers
Babies have an unquenchable NEED TO KNOW. Babies are born with a deep desire to understand the world around them and an incessant curiosity that compels them to aggressively explore it. (pg 265)
Object permanence = the concept of knowing something is still there even if it’s removed from view. Object permanence is important on the savannah! Saber-toothed tigers still exist even if they duck down in the grass! (pg 268) Those who didn’t develop object permanence probably became lunch!
What is obvious to you is obvious to you. (pg 268)
Mirror neurons are cells whose activity reflect their surroundings. Example: if a primate simply heard a sound of something it had previously experienced (the tearing of a piece of paper) these neurons would fire up as though the monkey was experiencing the full stimulus. Not long after mirror neurons were identified in the human brain too.
We do not outgrow our thirst for knowledge! (pg 270)
Our survival depended upon chaotic, reactive information-gathering experiences. One of our best attributes is the ability to learn through a series of increasingly self-corrected ideas. “The red snake with the white stripe bit me yesterday and I almost died.” But then we went a step further and hypothesized that if we encountered that snake again, the same thing will happen!
It is a learning style we literally have explored for millions of years. It is impossible to outgrow it in the whisper short seven to eight decades we have on the planet! (pg 271)
A child’s need to know is a drive as pure as a diamond and as distracting as chocolate. (pg 273)
Medina states that if children are allowed to remain curios they will continue to deploy their natural tendencies to discover and explore until they are 110!
Discovery brings joy, says Median. Exploration creates the need for more discovery so that more joy can be experienced! Experience breeds confidence to take intellectual risks. (pg 273)
Analyze the success of medical schools. The best medical school model has three components a teaching hospital, faculty who work in the field as well as teach, and research labs.
What if we applied this model to our school system? He proposes a college of education that studies the brain. A college of education that is all about brain development and like a medical school, is divided into three parts: 1) traditional classrooms, 2) a community school staffed and run by three types of faculty: traditional education faculty, certified teachers who teach little ones, and brain scientists. And 3) research labs devoted to a single purpose: investigating how the human brain learns in teaching environments, then actively testing hypothesized ideas in real-world classroom situations. (pg 277)
The greatest brain rule, says Median, is one he cannot prove – the importance of curiosity.
From the summary on page 280:
Babies are the model of how we learn – not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment and conclusion.
Specific parts of the brain allow this scientific approach. The right prefrontal cortex looks for errors in our hypothesis (saber-tooth tiger is not harmless) and an adjoining region tells us to change behavior (run!).
We can recognize and imitate behavior because of mirror neurons scattered across the brain.
Some parts of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s, so we can create neurons and learn new things throughout our lives!
By John Medina
Book summary shared with you by Lisa Murphy
April 6, 2012
Posted to facebook and the blog
By: Rheta DeVries & Christina Sales, this book is a © 2011 NAEYC publication
I attended a workshop in June 2009 in Charlotte, NC at the NAEYC PDI Conference entitled, “Ramps and Pathways: A Constructivist Approach to Teaching Physical Science.” The session was presented by Betty Zan, Jill Uhlenberg and Rosemary Geiken. They are all from the University of Northern Iowa where the Ramps and Pathways project was pioneered. So naturally when I saw there was a BOOK about the same amazing topic I just had to read it!
From the book: I offer for you here a basic list of what you need to start a Ramps and Pathways program, as well as some of the information about the whole process in general that I found of interest!
From page 6: “this is a book about movement of marbles and other objects along sections of track that we call ‘pathways,’ including inclined pathways, which we call ‘ramps.’”
Cove Molding: Cove molding is a decorative wooden edging used to conceal the seam between ceiling and wall around the perimeter of the room. You can get it at building supply stories. Size: 1-¾ inches wide and cut into 1, 2, 3 and 4 foot lengths. Other options: plastic rain gutter, transparent flexible tubing, and cove molding of smaller and larger widths.
Adequate Space: This requirement is pretty self-explanatory. The book stated that children initially worked independently and made a single ramp section; later on they worked together, side-by-side and collaborated on larger, more elaborate ramp structures that required more space. Remember that outdoors is an option too. Ideally children are able to work on their structures for more than one day. If they MUST come down, find a way to capture what has been created to serve as a model for that child the next day as s/he continues to add to their building.
Variables: Variables includes supports to hold ramps at a particular angle. A suggested list might include blocks, tables, chairs, desks, existing shelves, etc. You also need different objects to travel down a ramp or along a pathway; such as: marbles, small balls, ping pong balls, golf balls, “play pit” balls, small cars, etc.
The books offers suggestions on how to start such an exploration in your program as well as a thorough overview of how it connects to the constructivist way of interacting with children. I found the explanations of conventional knowledge vs. physical knowledge quite good (pages 16 and 30) and an example shared quite telling:
The authors observed children who had memorized definitions for words such asinertia, but were surprised when marbles flew straight down an incline, off the path and didn’t follow the zigzag pathway they had constructed at the bottom of the incline! The children had memorized a definition but did not “know” what it meant! Not until their hands, and bodies got involved in creating physical examples did they really understand and “know” what inertia meant.
From page 18: Memorization may satisfy requirements for standardized tests but it misleads adults, teachers, parents (and sometimes the children themselves), into assuming that children understand the concepts they have memorized. Piaget referred to this memorization as “school varnish” as it conceals what children actually think or believe at that stage of their growth and development.
The book encourages mutual respect between the adult and the student. Especially when the children are faced with a challenge that makes them frustrated. The authors offer encouraging language such as, “What could you do to get the marble to move?” or “What are you wanting the marble to do?” One phrase I found of particular interest (page 33) is that if we, as the adult, offer that something can CHANGE, the simple use of the wordchange often communicates to the child that there is another option and might assist in encouraging the child to keep exploring and not abandon the activity. I would offer this to you even OUT of the context of Ramps and Pathways … offering the possibility that something can change might be a powerful catalyst in many other areas of our program!
The book is filled with color pictures of ramps and pathways created by children and both the text and photographs makes me want to make this a required “center” in everyone’s room! Additionally, there are lots of great quotes from Vygotsky and Piaget to support the implementation of a Ramps and Pathways activity.
The authors conclude the book by presenting their 10 Principles of Teaching. They apply the principles specifically to the Ramp and Pathway activities but I’d say that they are 10 points that should be applied to each and every area of our environment and in all our interactions with children!
10. Encourage social interaction
“It is important for teachers to present children with materials and situations that allow them to move forward. It is not just letting them do anything. It is a matter of presenting to the children situations that offer new problems, problems that follow on from one another. There needs to be a mixture of direction and freedom. “
A little bit about the workshop I attended back in 2009:
The session was great, the handouts were informative and the speakers passionate about their topic. The highlight of course was the experiment they had us do where we had to work in small groups to construct a ramp structure (with blocks, cove molding, marbles, cups, etc.) that manipulated a marble to move along a structure fulfilling various requirements (listed below). We were only given 20 minutes to create the structure and we were told to use as few as materials as possible to make a structure that had a marble:
It was a lot of fun! We all worked in our groups and created our structure, then we went around and observed all the other structures! Some advice from the instructors when using marbles on tables: put bulletin-board border around the edge of the tables to keep the marbles ON the table and not shooting out all over the floor! (I thought this was a brilliant suggestion!) They also suggested that some children might need to work at the table before transitioning to the floor for larger scale Pathway construction. Additionally, use masking tape to define space for creating Pathways on the floor.
After the conference I immediately went home and implemented Ramps and Pathways in the classroom I was in at the time, as well as on a much larger scale in my backyard with my niece and nephew. I created a PHOTO ALBUM here on FB containing some pictures of what transpired in the backyard!! Send or post pictures of what transpires in your yard or program!!!
And to view videos of various Ramps and Pathways projects do a quick search on YouTube!! I have posted 2 short ones up on the Ooey Gooey Lady channel on You Tube too!
March 16, 2011
At first this was a no brainer of a title for me, I was like, well, duh! Tell me something we don’t know. But once again, we are always on the hunt for the ONE book that reaches that ONE person that says what we have been saying (for years!) in the way THAT person needs to hear it said!
So I bought it.
Some good quotes from the forward (written by David Booth)
“To observe an effective teacher in a classroom where play and learning are successfully intertwined is to see education at its best: participants are engaged in “deep learning”, establishing habits of mind and patters of behavior that are the building blocks for their futures.”
“Play is not a four-letter word in education; it is the heart of learning. Engagement is the true motivator for learning, and play, we know, does this from the inside out.”
Too bad the people who already know this are the ones reading the book!
I am not sure if Burke tells us anything “new” per se in her book, but it was an interesting read filled with info that might be well shared with those who still question why playing is what we do. (The recently in the news NYC I want a refund for $19,000 spent on preschool mother comes to mind…
According to Brian Sutton-Smith, (and I am directly quoting here from Burke’s book, page 17) “play brings children a greater awareness and understanding of the world in which they live: Play is an inquiry process that consists of four ways of learning:
3) imitation, and
When children play they construct an understanding of what the world means using these 4 ways to create their knowledge base.” (end quote)
Burke talks about the types of play based on Sara Smilanky’s work:
3) Symbolic (dramatic)
4) Rough and Tumble
5) Games with Rules
Bias alert - Smilanky and Sutton-Smith should be on your “folks I should be familiar with” list!!
From page 23: While playing, children may be focusing on making a nameless product, but that does not negate the importance of what they are doing.
She gives a good overview of the Developmental Stages of Writing on page 57:
2) Scribbling (random and controlled)
3) Forms that resemble letters
4) Letters that are recognizable
6) Words and sentences
And a nice comparison is provided on page 64:
“Their scribbles are similar to an infant’s babbling. Just as an infant babbles to experiment with the sounds he/she can make, taking pleasure in repetition as well as variety, so do novice writers delight in discovering the infinite combination of marks they can make; they find satisfaction in gaining sufficient control to deliberately repeat the same marks. Writing is both exploratory and practice play!”
And THIS is justification for needing LOTS AND LOTS of paper, shaving cream (for scribbling) white boards, sidewalk chalk, fingerpaint and crayons!!!!!
In individual chapters, Burke points out the “play” in reading and writing, math, science, ELL skill development, and in cultivating citizenship.
From page 101: “One of the greatest aspects of true free play is that it allows children to learn and to take risks in a safe environment. Safe learning, in turn, builds self-confidence.”
She ends with a list of books that promote “playful learning” as well as an annotated bibliography and four pages of references.
At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll again state that this book didn’t necessarily provide me with any info or data that I didn’t already “know” but it did provide me with another tool in my tool belt. Another resource to have on hand for that one parent, that one colleague, that one supervisor… a resource that might say it in a way that reaches that one person who needs to see that play-based learning is not my preference, it is what we know is best for children.
Ooey Gooey, Inc.
March 17, 2011