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Monday, 29 October 2012

Spontaneity in the Classroom

October 29, 2012

You're alive. Do something. The direction in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like: Look. Listen. Choose. Act.
-Barbara Hall

"Spontaneity in the classroom provides myriad opportunities and possibilities for learning, building relationships, and collaboration," proposes Judith Pack in her article, Spontaneity and the Pursuit of Beautiful Opportunities, in the new Exchange Essential article collection, The Spirit of Teaching

"There is no limit to what can be learned and enjoyed.  The teacher does not have to center her curriculum around holidays or ... to rigidly follow the seasons, the calendar, or the schedule in order to ‘make’ interesting things happen.  They happen because all inhabitants of the classroom are keen observers: curious, intelligent, and open to all that is around them, indoors and outdoors.  They connect home with school and take time to investigate.  The teacher provides materials and, along with the children, creates an environment that fosters inquiry, comfort, friendship, and creativity.

"Teachers need to resist the mandates to standardize and dehumanize what takes place in the classroom
Spontaneous events that are pursued by bringing engaging materials, good conversation, and time for investigation into the classroom create a true learning environment that is a joyful place to be."

Friday, 19 October 2012

Play is Deep Learning

October 19, 2012

I Think I Can... I Think I Can... I Think I Can.
-The Little Engine that Could
"Watch children at play and you might suddenly realize that they are not just frivolously wasting time or mucking about," notes Paul Bailey in his book, Think of an Elephant (London: Watkins Publishing, 2007).  "Child's play is deep learning: a self-directed state of deep connectedness and personal engagement.  It is also an enthusiastic and absorbing state of relaxed attention — healthy qualities often missing from adult life.  Play is a creative learning exchange between mind, body, and circumstance into one integrated and healthy whole.  Awash with symbols and mental imagery, children at play are learning in a way that can be wildly creative, insightful, and visionary....

search shows that the more animals play, the bigger their brains grow.  Moreover, brain imaging techniques show that social play seems to rewire our brain, increasing the activity of connections between our brain cells.  Play also helps develop our logical reasoning, our ability to learn, and our behavioural flexibility."

Friday, 12 October 2012

Great link for outdoor fun!

Families in nature

Kids who spend time in nature have improved memory, problem solving, and creativity — and they're physically healthier too. Yet our research shows that 70% of Canadian kids spend an hour or less outside each day. Let's change that!

Inspired Teaching Moment

Re-posted from Exchange Everyday
October 12, 2012

One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds.
-Dan Bennett
Great moments in early childhood classrooms are seldom scripted in advance.  In her motivating new book, Heart-Centered Teaching, Nancy Rosenow captures one such moment from her own childhood:

"When I was in 'nursery school,' my teacher was an exceptionally warm and supportive person.  She would often read to us from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic book,
A Child's Garden of Verses.  On most days she would stop reading after she'd come to a page about something in nature, and say: 'Let's go outside to have our own adventure.'  We had plenty of green space around our school, and I remember often searching under bushes and plants, looking for 'treasures.'  One day, to my horror, I found a dead baby bird under a leaf.  I remember being stunned and running to my teacher's side. Her response has stuck with me to this day.  She gently walked back with me, knelt down by the dead bird and put her arm around my shoulder.  'Yes,' she said to me, 'It's very sad to find a dead baby bird.  It hurts us when things die.'  Then she lifted me up to peer into a bird's nest above our heads.  There I saw a circle of tiny birds... all very much alive.  'We must never let the fear of death keep us from enjoying the wonders of life,' she told me.  I am grateful even now for the sensitive way she handled the situation.  She didn't deny my feelings, and yet at the same time she helped me learn to cope with them.  My ability to define myself as a 'realistic optimist' was strengthened early on because my teacher used a lesson from nature to teach me a lesson about life."