"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..."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Excellent video: "Changing Education Paradigms"

UPDATED:  I removed the video from my blog.  When you view it via Youtube as I had originally posted it, there are "suggested videos" that appear on the screen afterwards.  One is bothersome.  So I have replaced the video with a link.  The video is directly on TED.com, so no offensive recommendations come after it.  I apologize.  I have no control over the recommendations made by Youtube.

Have you ever heard of TED.com?  TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

It has grown and now there are 900 on-line presentations that are fascinating!  For example, my first visit to TED was based on a Google search about math and origami.  Up came a great video by Robert Lang looking at a new approach to origami that is rocking the Science world with new solutions to big problems.  And then, as usual, I went down rabbit holes and came up with other treasures, like this:

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Education Paradigms - Totally worth 12 minutes of your time

Not only is he right, but my question for you is:  Should we go back to our agarian methods of education or something totally new?  I think it is a combination of both.  We need to step off the conveyor belt and rethink our approach.  Ah, the beauty of homeschooling is that we are not stuck on their conveyor belt.  But how has your conveyor belt education hampered your job of educating your children?

And - the presentation style is absolutely fascinating!  I wish I could do a presentation like that...I would have to work on my drawing skills!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gone Fishin'

My 6 year old has a way of keeping me on my toes.  He does not want to do school anymore because it's "no fun."  So, it was time to get creative.
He got a cheap dollar store fishing pole with a magnet for a hook from his sister for Christmas.  Inspiration!
I got out his flashcards and had HIM put paper clips on each.  (Great skill for developing fine motor skills.)  Before hie could completely finish, enter two year old.  She found the fishing pole and WOULD NOT give it back.  She had "gone fishin'" for his flashcards.  He was LIVID.  The scene he created was loud.
The result of the ruckus?  Enter four year old.  "I want to fish, too" he declared.
I ran out to the garage and grabbed the two kiddy fishing poles we had.  I cut the hooks and managed to tie slip knots on the line.  I added a couple of magnets to the lines.
Four year old and six year old now were putting paper clips on Disney Princess Math flashcards for the two year old.  She switched to fishing for princesses instead of reading words.
Four year old and six year old casted and fished for reading words, with four year old trying to say the letter names or sounds and six year old reading the words.  Two year old was still picking up princesses.
In the end I used:
  • 3 fishing poles (kiddie or play type with magnets on the line)
  • box of paper clips
  • flashcards
Result:  three happy kids under 7, fine motor skill activity, gross motor activity (fishing), reading, letter recognition and PRINCESS recognition (don't all two year old girls need that?)  :-)
What have you done for fun lately?  Leave some creative ideas here.  Help us all out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some excerpts from other books on Motivation...

Quick tips from some other books I'm perusing:
  • Some kids are not motivated to achieve in school because they do not value the outcomes of school, nor do they enjoy completing the homework.  To reverse underachievement that stems from an apparent lack of motivation, educators must first determine how to build task value into the student's scholastic experiences.
  • Students must believe they have the skills to perform a task before they will attempt it...The term self-efficacy is the individuals' judgment of their capacity to perform specific activities.
  • The way in which parents and teachers compliment students has an impact on how successful students perceive themselves.  (Read Mindset for more help on that one!)  Try "Good work!" rather than "You are so smart!"
  • If a child attempts a task and fails, they may determine, after that one attempt, that they can never succeed at that task.  This logic occurs because they fail to recognize how abilities are developed.
  • Biblio-therapy can be great for kids who lack motivation by reading stories about famous people who have overcome hardship.  (Also from Mindset.)
  • Believe it or not, the lack of motivation may stem from the opposite problem - lack of intellectual stimulation.  This does not mean piling on MORE work.  This means finding work that is challenging and of intellectual interest to the child.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: Drive:The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

Have you ever gone down a rabbit hole to find a treasure for which you were not looking?  I found this book while reading through the Amazon reviews for Mindset by Carol Dweck.  I had checked out the library copy and kept it passed the due date, incurring a fine close to the cost of the book.  I am fully convinced I needed to own this book because it is just so good.  So, while I was reading the Mindset reviews again, about to purchase the Kindle version, I came across this book.  But this is not a review of Mindset.  I've done that already.

This book is relevant to me because I am often asked at talks that I do or in helping other moms that are new to homeschooling how they can better motivate their children.  The ratings on Amazon for this book are very high. What caught my eye was this from one of the 266 reviews:
This is a great book for teachers. As an upper elementary teacher (I've taught 4th through 7th grades, primarily 5th and 6th), I've long struggled with the emphasis on extrinsic motivation. I think that and the enormous pressure to raise test scores, thus narrowing the curriculum, are doing great damage to our children. They are told what they must learn and how they must learn it every day of their education. Their curiosity and interests are not respected and they are responding accordingly with apathy. This book is a clear, readable summary of the research of motivation and clarified many things for me. It also made me think deeply about my classroom and my practice and what it is I want for my students, which is to be able to think for themselves and love learning. Thank you, Mr. Pink, for a boost before I start another school year!
It is that age group that I believe struggles the most with motivation.  And it is this time of year I need motivation. 

And so now my review.  I started this book this morning.  It is not a long book.  It is engaging, however, and my kids have enjoyed the day off due to the illness of one child (who is on the mend).  All of our book clubs and activities were canceled because he was contagious until today at 5pm.

The book starts out with the thesis that Carrot and Stick motivation is dangerous.  Study after study and example after example show the reasons why and the Seven Reasons that Carrots and Sticks (Often) Don't Work.  My favorite part of the book is the Type I Toolkit.  He spends one third of the book explaining how to create an environment that supports Intrinsic motivation over Extrinsic motivation. 
Perhaps the part that hit me hardest upside the head was this:
Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement...While complying can be an effective strategy for physical survival, it's a lousy one for personal fulfillment.  Living a satisfying life requires more than simply meeting the demands of those in control.  Yet in our offices our classrooms we have way too much compliance and too little engagement.  The former might get you through the day, but the latter will get you through the night.
I thought of this with relationship to my parenting style and homeschool environment.  While obedience is a good think, I want my children to obey me because they are motivated to do it, not because of fear of punishment.  I want my kids to learn because they are curious, not because they will get some "reward" for doing so or they will receive punishment if not successful.  I once heard someone say at a homeschool workshop that you only need to provide extrinsic rewards for a short while before intrinsic rewards set in.  I don't believe that works for my kids.  Daniel Pink also provided proof that indeed, that is the case - extrinsic rewards do not lead to intrinsic motivation! 

Please keep in mind this book is written more for the professional world, but there is really no reason the ideas he gives can not be used in the home and homeschool.  Perhaps what appealed to me the most was that he wrote this book from the perspective of a software release, which is something to which I can relate.

I am in the process of writing two new talks.  One talk is on motivation which has no title yet, but I was asked to put together for a homeschool group.  The other I'm writing because of the number of requests I have had from parents about Special Needs and Special Gifts.  This book will figure in heavily in the first talk and I can see it being extremely useful in helping our kids with Special Needs develop the mindset to grow and succeed even when it's difficult. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recipe for an on-line co-schooling experience

Have you ever dreamed of doing a class with another family, but are intimidated at the idea of trying to get together on a regular basis?  How about doing an on-line class with another family or two?  It's easy and if you are using the same curriculum, no extra books are needed!

For each family you will need:
  • 1 computer with Skype* installed and an Internet connection
  • 1 web cam
  • 1 or more willing students (and one teacher)
 *If more than two families are participating, ONE family will need Skype Premium.

Once both parties have installed Skype and created Skype accounts, they need to invite each other to Skype.  After that is completed, you can connect to one another and start!  You can lecture, discuss, have a Socratic seminar or share screens.
Did you know that if it is just a two-way conversation, you can share screens (meaning you can):
  • Show a presentation (done with PowerPoint or some other presentation package)
  • Watch a DVD together (the person with the DVD must share screens)
  • Watch YouTube videos or listen to audio together
  • Use educational games or software together
Group Screen Sharing (more than two people talking) is not available on Skype Premium for Windows unless you install Yugma or some other web conferencing tool.  Group Screen Sharing IS available for MAC with Skype Premium.

If you want to check out a free on-line test service, visit examgeneral.com and sign up for a free account.  Your students will need accounts, too.

I run several classes on-line (in a co-schooling manner) with three other families right now.  We meet one time or more a week.  Then I will assign, for certain classes, on-line quizzes.
Here's what we do every week:
3X a week - Lingua Latina
1X a week - Latina Christiana
1X a week - Earth Science for grades 5-8
1X a week - Earth Science for grades 1-3
1X a week - Catechism class
1X a week - Bible Study
1X a week - Composition class

This has been a grand experiment for me.  My older kids, at 12 and 13 are interested in more social schooling, but have no desire to go to a brick and mortar school.  This has given them the opportunity to study with other kids their age on topics we would cover anyway!  I have the Science class for the younger kids because they think it's really cool.  And, no, I am not taking any more students ;-).  I have seven other students between three other families so I'm sufficiently obligated.  However, if you have questions about doing this, please let me know.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Special Thanks!

I wanted to thanks the members of TEAM for having me over to give the Technology in the Homeschool talk.  It was not only my pleasure but my privilege to share that which my husband and I have a passion - technology!

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and I will try to post answers for you!