"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Follow Up to Theraputic Listening

In December, I posted that I was starting one of my children on The Listening Progam, a theraputic listening program for auditory processing disorders.  I preceded symptoms on a check list with X's on it representing areas in which I though the LP could help.  I've now remarked it with an O if the problem is significantly better or gone.
X 1. Difficulty paying attention
X 2. Poor short-term memory
0X 3. Poor reading comprehension
0X 4. Difficulties spelling
0X 5. Low academic/job performance
X 6. Difficulty starting and/or completing projects
0X 7. Easily distracted in presence of background noise
8. Is oversensitive to certain sounds
0X 9. Misunderstands directions or instructions
0X 10. Confuses similar sounding words
    11. Difficulty understanding jokes/puns/humor
0X 12. Frequently asks “huh” or “what”
0X 13. Difficulty discriminating sounds
    14. Flat and monotonous voice quality
    15. Speech lacks fluency and rhythm
0X 16. Difficulty sounding out words
0X 17. Mispronounces words
0X 18. Difficulty summarizing a story/expressing thoughts
X 19. Hyperactivity
   20. Has poor posture, including slouching or slumping
   21. Has coordination problems
X 22. Difficulty with organization and planning
   23. Is overwhelmed with sensory information
   24. Confusion of right and left and/or location and direction
  25. Lack of tactfulness
  26. Poor social skills
0X 27. Feels overburdened with everyday tasks
  28. Low stress/frustration tolerance
  29. Difficulty reading non-verbal communication
  30. Poor self-image or low self-confidence  '

It took us 20 weeks to get through the program with a few fits and starts in between.  The progress has been  significant, especially in the area of spelling.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Confessions of a former Apple Hater...

My technical background is in Unix.  In case you don't know what Unix is, it is an operating system.  It is one of the most configurable, useful, versatile, multi-processing, multi-threaded operating systems around and there are as many flavors of Unix as there are ice cream.  I'm a certifed, card-carrying Unix System Administrator and Network Administrator.  I taught Unix and Network Administration for 10 years or so.  I was even a system administrator on a Cray supercomputer once.  Part of what comes with being a Unix geek is a, well, ummmm, rather bigoted opinion about operating systems and hardware platforms.  Really, I had almost convinced my husband to install Linux on our home PC, but he rightfully reminded me there were no apps to run on it (this was back pre-Java and OpenOffice.) 

I've since been talked off the ledge and brought into the Windows world (albeit kicking and screaming.)  And then there was that time between baby number two and baby number three where I got to develop and teach a post secondary degree program on Unix System and Network administration.  I got to work with a real operating system again.  Those were the days...

But, since baby number three came along more than eight years ago, my use of Unix has been limited to a short summer job helping configure and specify Unix equipment for a local reseller and the Linux running on our old EEE PC.  It's a shame, too.  Because I feel like I've lost something. 

Here's my confession.  After the announcement of the iPad 2, we made a joint decision (the boss and I) to buy an iPad 1 (refurbished.)  We had many, many reasons for doing so, but I was expecting to be very disappointed.  It was an apple, after all.  Much lower down there than a Windows device.  I.WAS.SO.WRONG.  The iPad is a game changer.  Really it is.  What I have to clarify, though, is that it is a consumption device, not a production device.  What does that mean?  If you are taking in data (video, playing an app, music, browsing, etc.) the iPad is the most intuitive, approachable, well thought-out device I've ever seen.  It is not, however, a device to do wordprocessing or spreadsheets.  My 22 month old daughter could use it without instruction.  What is up with that?  My kids have to earn screen time, which they share with the now almost two year old.  But, really?  She gets it?  I am amazed at the draw it has for all of us in our house, this Unix geek included.

I'll close with one last thought on the iPad.  One of our many reasons for buying it was for testing out whether the iPad was a viable device for home education.  It's so much more than that.  When my kids are FIGHTING to have 10 minutes of time to do math drills, I think we are on to something (especially when similar drills are available on the PC.)

How are NETS, CBL and PBL related?

I wanted to put out a little preview about what our Technology in the Homeschool talk will cover for those checking in from the Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference happening on June 3-4. 

We'll be talking about using the National Education Technology Standards (NETS)to put technology into your core classes, and preparing your middle through high schoolers for real-world, 21st Century problems using Challenge Based Learning (CBL) and its close cousin, Problem Based Learning (PBL).  Within those concepts, we will also explore technology platforms, on-line safety, and social networking.  All of those items are addressed within NETS*S. 

I'm guessing you all have an idea about our State Education Standards.  NETS follows the same concept.  However, those who are familiar with TJEd, will really get CBL and PBL.  Think about Scholar phase. On what does a scholar work?  They are working on a specific topic of interest, reading and writing about it more like an MBA student than a high school student.  It is depth.  The belief is that by studying a topic deeply, developing an expert level of understanding, naturally draws the scholar into deeper study of other core subjects.  CBL and PBL do that as well as tying in technology.

What does this all mean to the homeschooler?  I will be talking about how to incorporated technology into your core classes and even take it a step further, showing how CBL/PBL naturally incorporated core classes into technology.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do You Moodle?

I'm curious if anyone in the home education community uses Moodle?  Moodle is a social learning tool that is FREE and akin to using Lego blocks for building.  Moodle is a platform with many different "blocks" that allow the teacher to design a learning environment that is engaging and on-line.  My mind reels with the possibility.

You see, I'm all about sharing.  Really, I am.  That is why I do many, many book clubs and invite others into my house for classes or co-schooling.  What I'm curious about is if I created classes using Moodle, would others be interested in using it.  For free.  If I build it, will they come?

I am not a fan of social networking unless its controlled.  By controlled, I mean you join a group of like-minded individuals, passwords and authentication is required.  Not just everyone can browse your profile or "ask to be your friend,"  Participants must be invited or if they ask to join, must be approved.  I'm not an elitist.  I'm just careful.

I'm really curious.  Please leave a note in the combox about how you feel about social, interactive learning.   I would like to know whether Catholic Home Education content I created would be of interest to others...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Love of Learning - Dweck Style

My current library read is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck I got it after researching the difference between gifted learners and non-gifted learners.  There are two schools of thought on intelligence.  One - IQ doesn't move and you can never get smarter than you are (or better at anything than your natural ability.)  Two - you have to work hard at something.  If you don't get it right away, keep working.  Practice.  Don't give up.  I'm sure it is a little of both, but we all know that practice is necessary to be come an expert an anything.  I wrote about the 10,000 hour phenomena a while back.

What I was more interested in was finding out what turns a kid off of learning and success.  What can a parent or teacher do?  We often, unconsciously, use language that paralyzes our children.  We assume the praise is helpful, but instead it can build barriers.  Sometimes frustration appears because a child feels something is "too easy" but when given a challenge gives up.  Some people have a "can do" attitude while others have an "I could never do that" attitude.  Dweck studied this phenomenon for 15 years.  I was interested in how my interactions with my kids was affected by my reactions to their success.  So, I reserved the book. 

Dweck's studies found there are two prevalent mindsets: fixed and growth.  A fixed mindset says something like, "Oh, they think I'm smart in Math.  If the problem is too hard and I can't do that they won't think I'm smart in Math anymore..."  Whereas a growth mindset says, "Oh!  I didn't get this the first time. I must need to practice to understand it better."

Ultimately, her book agrees with Talent Education (that of Suzuki), TJEd (Love of Learning) and the 10,000 Hour Phenomona.  Here's a synopsis:
World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area. “If you manage any people or if you are a parent (which is a form of managing people), drop everything and read Mindset.” –Guy Kawasaki, author of _The Art of the Start _and the blog _How to Change the World_ "Highly recommended . . . an essential read for parents, teachers [and] coaches . . . as well as for those who would like to increase their own feelings of success and fulfillment.” _–Library Journal (_starred review) “A serious, practical book. Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.” _–Publishers Weekly_ “A good book is one whose advice you believe. A great book is one whose advice you follow. This is a book that can change your life.” –Robert J. Sternberg, author of _Teaching for Successful Intelligence_ “A wonderfully elegant idea . . . It is a great book.” –Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of _Delivered from Distraction_
 So, if you are struggling with "Inspire, not Require," I highly recommend this book, especially the chapter written for Parents, Teachers and Coaches.  I attribute my turnaround in school in the 6th grade to Ms. Kunz, who challenged me to do better because she knew I was a hard worker, unlike the teachers up to that point who told me I was too smart to be doing so poorly.