Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Great advice from the Tiger Mother

I like this exert from The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:

'What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it.  To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.  This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up.  But if done properly, the Chinese style produces a virtuous circle.  Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America.  Once a child starts to excel at something - whether it's math, piano, pitching or ballet - he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction.  This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun.  This in tun makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more'.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The role of parents in education

I really like this article.  It highlights the positive impact that parents can, and should, have on the education of their children. 

It's all thanks to mum, says high-achieving teen

5:30 AM Friday Mar 25, 2011
When Ruby Porter found she had won a highly regarded scholarship, her first thoughts were about what it would mean to her mother - a woman she says has given her so much despite being a solo parent.

"My mum's my biggest influence," said Ruby. "She's given me so much, and I know this is a small way in which I can give back to her by making her proud of me."

The former Northcote College student is one of eight who have won $4000 scholarships from the NZ Education and Scholarship Trust, an independent group sponsored by business.

Trust chairman John Graham said the eight winners were selected from a high-calibre pool of 124 candidates who were nominated by 83 schools.

"The results achieved by the 2010 NZEST scholars were quite outstanding and the panel is amazed that each year the academic bar rises higher."

Ruby's principal, Vicki Barrie, said the school nominated her because of her "outstanding achievements".
Northcote College was "delighted" with the news of her success.

"Ruby is an exceptional young woman. She has a sharp intellect, is extraordinarily creative and has tenacious work habits," Ms Barrie said.

Ruby told the Herald that despite being school dux last year, being heavily involved in a writers' group and organising a fashion show, she was surprised to hear this week that she had won an NZEST scholarship.
"I was really shocked. I didn't think that I had the marks for it."

Those marks were five New Zealand Scholarships, including three outstanding passes in classical studies, English and painting.

Ruby said she owed her achievements to the encouragement of her mother, Linley, through the years.
"A lot of what I did well in were creative subjects and she's really developed that. She has heaps of prints of artworks around the house and she used to do a lot of art with me when I was younger.

"We read poetry to each other at night and she's always encouraged that side, but she's also encouraged the things she's not interested in, like the maths."

Ruby said her mother was "really over the moon" and had cooked the vegetarian teen a special dinner as a reward - a black pepper tofu dish.

The 17-year-old is studying fine arts/arts with a major in English or English writing at Auckland University. She plans to put her scholarship money into a savings account to help pay for her study later on.
Ruby hopes to go into something creative once she graduates.

"I'm really interested in art, writing and fashion design so a combination of, or one of, those three things."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Using blogs to support learning programmes

My class and I have set up a couple of blogs to support classroom learning programmes.  The blogs are for our French and Te Reo Maori programmes.  You can check them out by clicking the following links:
For both blogs content is added before concepts are covered in class, an idea I got that was outlined in an earlier blog post on this site, 'Teaching Back to Front - Flip Thinking' on the 5th of March.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Google Science Fair - the innovative encouraging innovation

An innovative company encourages innovation!  For those of you who don't already know, click this link for all the information you need to enter the Google Science Fair.  It's open to children 13 to 18 from all over the world.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why we need books in homes

This article pretty much defines why we need to get books in homes.  Check it out, it's well worth a read.

Books fuel drive to learn study

By Beck Vass
5:30 AM Saturday Mar 12, 2011

The number of books a child grows up with in their home is related to how many years of education they will complete, researchers have found.
A study published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility looked into more than 70,000 cases in 27 countries and found that children who grew up in homes with many books receive three years more schooling than children from bookless homes.
It also found that the number of books a child grows up with was more influential on the years of education they completed than their parents' education, occupation and class.
The study, conducted by four scholars from American universities, has revealed findings which reflect the "books change lives" theme being celebrated this month for New Zealand Book Month.
The project, in its sixth year, aims to promote the use of books with the distribution of four million $5 vouchers to encourage people to buy books.
The American study showed that children who grew up in homes without books completed on average about seven years of schooling.
Children who grew up in homes with many books (500 or more) completed on average 14 years of education.
"This is as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father.
"The difference between a bookless home and one with a 500-book library is as great as the difference between having parents who are barely literate (three years of education) and having university-educated parents (15 or 16 years of education)."
The study's findings are no surprise to author and TVNZ 7 presenter Emily Perkins, one of Book Month's reading role models.
Perkins said she got behind the initiative because of how much reading had influenced her life.
"Reading's been one of the greatest pleasures in my life. It just takes you to many wonderful places. It's a very profound, human act and for me, really the pleasure of engaging with a book is just unlike anything else."
She said books were important for children because of the insight they gave into different experiences through a shared language regardless of their place or privilege.
"No matter what a child's circumstances are, books are a door into other lives, other ways of being, other people's realities.
"I see [books] as a crucial point of connection with the rest of the world and in that sense, for children, they are important."
Many of her memorable reading experiences occurred when she was a child.
While books were informative and educational, Perkins said they could be incredibly fun as well, which she believed was equally valuable.
"Books help you become who you are in the world, they're really important - and fun."
NZ Book Month project director Nikki Crowther said it was the first year that Book Month had not focused on Kiwi books.
"This year, we wanted to say all books are good books and we wanted to get as many people involved as possible."
The other reading role models are film-maker Sir Peter Jackson, journalist and producer Carol Hirschfeld and cricketer Stephen Fleming.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to motivate children to achieve at school

Competence motivation is all about students striving towards achieving mastery of skills, knowledge and concepts; ultimately what we as teachers should be looking to develop within our students.  The Handbook of Competence and Motivation identifies eight key strategies for enhancing competence motivation in classrooms:

  1. Develop and assign academic tasks and activities that are personally meaningful and relevant to children.
  2. Develop and assign moderately, or appropriately, challenging tasks and material.
  3. Promote perceptions of control and autonomy by allowing students to make choices about classroom experiences and the work in which they engage.
  4. Encourage students to focus on mastery, skill development, and the process of learning rather than just focusing on outcomes such as test scores or relative performance.
  5. Help students develop proximal, challenging, achievable goals.
  6. Infuse the curriculum with fantasy, novelty, variety and humor.
  7. Provide accurate, informational feedback focused on strategy use and competence development rather than social comparative or simply evaluative feedback.
  8. Assess students' confidence, attributional tendencies, and skill levels to help meet their preferences for challenge and help students approach tasks with realistic expectations and cope with difficulties adaptively.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teaching Back to Front - Flip Thinking

This article by Daniel Pink discusses the way in which a teacher in The United States has started to 'flip' his teaching.  To see what this implies, check our the article that was published in The Telegraph; it's well worth a read.

Think Tank: Flip-thinking - the new buzz word sweeping the US

Teacher Karl Fisch has flipped teaching on its head - he uploads his lectures to YouTube for his students to watch at home at night, then gets them to apply the concepts in class by day.

 8:00AM BST 12 Sep 2010

This month, tens of millions of children in the UK and the US are streaming back to classrooms for another year of school.
Since it’s 2010, many of these students will see smartboards instead of chalkboards and they’ll turn in their assignments online rather than on paper. But the rhythm of their actual days will be much the same as when their parents and grandparents sat in those same uncomfortable seats back in the 20th century.
During class time, the teacher will stand at the front of the room and hold forth on the day’s topic. Then, as the period ends, he or she will give students a clutch of work to do at home. Lectures in the day, homework at night. It was ever thus and ever shall be.
But one American teacher is taking a different approach – and in the process, he’s offering a lesson in innovation for organisations of every kind.
Karl Fisch is a 20-year veteran of Arapahoe High School, located south of Denver, Colorado. For the past 14 years, the one-time maths teacher has been the school’s technology co-ordinator. But a round of budget cuts forced him to take on extra duties – and a few weeks ago, he returned to the classroom to teach an algebra course to 9th and 10th graders (14 and 15 year-olds).
However, instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – Fisch has flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts.
Lectures at night, “homework” during the day. Call it the Fisch Flip.
“When you do a standard lecture in class, and then the students go home to do the problems, some of them are lost. They spend a whole lot of time being frustrated and, even worse, doing it wrong,” Fisch told me.
“The idea behind the videos was to flip it. The students can watch it outside of class, pause it, replay it, view it several times, even mute me if they want,” says Fisch, who emphasises that he didn’t come up with the idea, nor is he the only teacher in the country giving it a try. “That allows us to work on what we used to do as homework when I’m they’re to help students and they’re there to help each other.”
When he puts it like that, you want to slap your forehead at the idea’s inexorable logic. You wonder why more schools aren’t doing it this way. That’s the power of flipping. It melts calcified thinking and leads to solutions that are simple to envision and to implement.
Consider the publishing industry. In the US and the UK, publishers typically launch a book by issuing a pricey hardcover. Then, after a year or so, they publish a less expensive
paperback. But the marketing guru and author Seth Godin has proposed flipping the sequence – especially for books that aren’t written by celebrity chefs or former prime ministers.
Why not, Godin has proposed, put out the cheaper paperback – or even an e-book – first? Readers are more likely to gamble on an unknown author when they can risk £8 rather than £25.
Then, if the book sells well and builds an audience, the publisher could produce, say, a £40 commemorative hardcover edition – something that’s a collectible for true fans willing to pay a higher price.
Or imagine flipping the sequence in the movie business. For blockbusters, the typical strategy is to open huge the first week, maintain the momentum for a while, and then come out on DVD when interest wanes. Alas, most films aren’t blockbusters. So for those sorts of movies, studios instead could first issue a low-price DVD or streaming video to build an audience. If the film proved popular, the studio could then release it to theatres – where early adopters and people who have heard the buzz could watch the film as a communal experience.
Even the human resources department is a candidate for the Fisch Flip. For instance, employees get a going-away party on their final day with an organisation. But Rite-Solutions, an upstart American software firm, does the reverse. As William C Taylor writes in his upcoming book, Practically Radical, the company holds a welcome bash for new employees at 9am on their first day of work.
If incumbents can rejuvenate by flipping the sequence, sometimes challengers can gain by flipping an industry’s very business model. For example, in large cities in the US and Europe, many cafes have become makeshift workplaces. Small entrepreneurs, independent workers and free agents can buy a cup of coffee – and get an internet-enabled office for free.
But this trend has also helped give rise to a new industry – co-working spaces, where those same sorts of business people can rent small offices and have access to conference rooms, copiers and kindred spirits. Places like Le Bureau in London and Thinkspace in Seattle have flipped the model. They charge for the office – and give away the coffee. “We encourage collaboration among community members,” says Thinkspace founder Peter Chee, and “our free coffee is one way to facilitate that”.
So here’s your homework for tonight. Ask yourself: what is one process, practice, method or model in my business, work or life that I can flip? We’ll work on your answers together in class tomorrow.
Daniel H Pink is an author and business leader who writes about the world of work. His most recent book is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Canongate Books).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Best Class Blog in New Zealand

Check out The Ins and Outs, rated by Interface Magazine as the best class blog in New Zealand.  I must say that I agree, it really is awesome.  I also had a quick look through some of the student blogs that are linked to the class blog, these are also pretty impressive.  This is definitely something for all other classes to aim at.

I really enjoyed the Interface Magazine article about the award.  The teacher, Stephen Baker, started out with little knowledge about blogging, but has gone on to create something very special.

Congratulations Stephen and all of the students in Room 9 at Russell Street School.