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50 Search Results for ""environmental education""

  • Quiz Tank 3: Are you a Pro at Quiz Tank 3: Are you a Pro at Managing Student Aggression?

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      As educators, much of our time is spent assessing student needs.  Before we can truly help our students, an understanding of our own learning is key.  Thus, near the end of each month, I will offer one short educator quiz to help shed light on where we are and where we wish to go...


      If you have topics or research that you would like to include for a future quiz, please email davisj5@mail.uc.edu.  If your material is selected, I will include your name and appropriate information with the quiz.  If you are interested in taking last month's quiz, you can find it here


      Are you ready to build upon your student aggression management knowledge?  You may take the brief quiz below by answering yes or no to the 6 questions listed.


      1.  Do you feel that aggression and bullying in the classroom are the same?

      2.  Is student relational aggression only linked with social deficits?

      3.  Do you feel that school activities/assignments would not impact student agression?  

      4.  Do you feel that students are verbally aggressive due to their environment?

      5.  Would your confidence level in managing verbal aggression stay the same regardless of intervention use?

      6.  Do you feel that there is a lack of best practice guidelines available for managing student aggression?


      Spoiler Alert!  Exploring Your Results

      This quiz was developed in response to 3 research articles (listed below in the references).  If you answered "no" to most of the questions, your knowledge of student verbal aggression is closely related to the material reported in the articles.  If you answered more questions with "yes", take a look at the answer explanations below.


      Answer Explanations

      1.  There are distinctions between aggression and bullying.  One key factor is that in bullying, the action is repeated over time.  Also bullying may include aggression, but not all aggression meets the criteria for bullying.

      2.  Surprisingly, there is research that links aggression with social intelligence by means of the agressive student reaching thier social goals, accessing manipulation skills, and selecting from a variety of options during conflict. 

      3.  The type of activity is important.  Research shows that the more structured the activity, the less likely that students would behave aggressively. 

      4.  There are multiple factors to consider in why a student may behave aggressively such as personality factors of the aggressor, factors related to the victim in the situation, as well as environmental factors. 

      5.  Confidence reportedly improved (when comparing confidence levels before and after the use of a workbook intervention).  There were reports that distracted the child, diffusing the situation, and ignoring the verbal aggressive were effective in managing the occurrence. 

      6.  Best practice program/intervention guidelines for student aggression include the following components: school wide, population-specific, education and practice with the role of bystanders, inclusion of education on cyber bullying.



      Leff, S.S., & Waasdorp, T.E. (2013).  Effect of aggression and bullying on children and adolescents:  Implications for prevention and intervention.  Current Psychiatry Reports, 15(3), p343-353.


      Mclaughlin, S., Bonner, G., Mboche, C., & Fairlie, T. (2010).  A pilot study to test an intervention for dealing with verbal aggression.  British Journal of Nursing, 19(8), p489-494.

      Risser, S.D. (2013).  Relational aggression and academic performance in elementary school.  Psychology in the Schools, 50(1), p13-26.


    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
    • Views: 1561
  • psst...What's Hiding in Your C psst...What's Hiding in Your Curriculum?

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      Do you remember the film “Starman" (Jeff Bridges plays a being from another planet)?  There is one scene, where he is in the car with the leading lady and observes her speeding through a yellow traffic light.  Unsurprisingly, he learns to respond the same when he encounters a yellow light later in the film.  There was no intricate lesson plan or core curriculum involved, but Jeff Bridges’ character learned something from his environment nonetheless.  Let’s use this example to begin our exploration of the hidden curriculum-the learning that occurs as students are shaped by their environmental experiences.


      A big part of understanding the hidden curriculum concept boils down to the word "hidden". First, let’s focus only on this term.  It is necessary to debunk the idea of “out of sight, out of mind” when we think of the hidden curriculum.  Although hidden implies that something is beneath or under the radar, this does not mean forgettable.  Further, when we don’t see things physically, this does not indicate insignificance.  For example, think about all the important health risks associated with lead (most commonly found in paint and toys) BPA (material found in some baby bottles) or bacteria.  In contrast, let's acknowledge the benefits of some of the things invisible from the naked eye-such as ultra violet light (detection of counterfeit bills, signals food on flowers for insects, sterilization of equipment).


      After considering the value of hidden material, I wondered about its impact on my students.  I decided to try an informal experiment to get a better idea.  Typically, I begin each of my classes with a question, thus a couple of weeks ago I asked my students to share (in writing) their thoughts on their learning outside of class work and homework. Below is a few of their responses:


      "We were able to use all of our notes on a final test in high school.  So that taught me how to stay organized."


      "In my chemistry class, you could sell a Cadillac converter for $80."


      "During a highschool play, even if it's funny, its known backstage to be quiet and nobody has to tell you..."


      "During the group activities I learned to come to an agreement without taking total control."


      My student’s responses spurred interested as to how other students would define their experience with the hidden curriculum.  I soon discovered a student blog on hidden curriculum.  There were various accounts on how the hidden curriculum provided insight about others. For example, I was fascinated to see what the students learned about teacher behavior (the students concluded that teachers could be more punitive-based than thought provoking).  In addition, the hidden curriculum was a great resource in learning about their peer’s needs.  For instance, both physical survival lessons (such as when classmates ate large food portions at lunch because of the lack of food at home) and rules for academic survival (such as students storing items in classrooms because the school could not afford lockers) were imparted by peer behavior.


      In addition to learning about others, the hidden curriculum provides self-awareness as well. I found a powerful article about a medical student's schooling experience, that highlights the struggle of going against the rules dictated by the hidden curriculum. The student retells the process of confronting his feelings (conflict of instinct versus hidden curriculum expectations) as a necessary step in developing as a learner, a professional, and a member of society.


      After a while, it occurred to me that the hidden curriculum's impact on students is huge. It varies with the culture of the learner (think again of the film "Starman" and how the adjustment to a new culture made him more prone to follow). It differs with the ability of the learner (or inability to pick up on environmental cues such as students with Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, or those with cognitive-based learning disabilities).  Further, teachers may need help in guiding students through the unwritten or unspoken rules for success in the classroom.  Strategies such as the use of scripts to assist in getting the needed information, identifying a safe person to approach for help, and exploring commons idioms are all ways teachers can help. 


      I will conclude with an excerpt from a radio ad that allows us to hear the consequences of forgetting to address the hidden curriculum in our classrooms:


      In Biology, I learned I’m fat, stupid.

      In English, I learned I’m disgusting.

      In Gym, I learned I’m a joke.

      The only thing I didn’t learn is why no one ever helps…


      To hear the complete radio ad please visit Public Service Announcement Central Website. 


      So, am I wrong about the impact of the hidden curriculum?  The next time you develop a lesson plan for your students, why not take a second or two and consider the hidden learning that may accompany your lesson?  Let me know what secret lessons are embedded within your classroom/school-and how your students successfully rise to the hidden curriculum challenge. 






    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 441
  • The Perks of Following The Perks of Following

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      My 3 year old son follows his older brother around non-stop.  Whether it is doing push-ups, saying “shut-up”, or standing on the living room couch (unfortunately it’s our new couch), my older son is locked into a silent game of Simon Says.  


      It really got on the older one’s nerves.  Even though siblings intentionally try to push each other’s buttons (the more my older son would protest, the more intense the following became), I wondered if there was something more to this.  Did following have to be a bad thing?  Better yet, were there any benefits for following someone or something?


      In contemplating the perks of following, I was reminded of the childhood game “Follow the Leader”.  The game emphasizes the power of observation and environmental study in planning one’s next move.  Similarly, consider the mantra from the Wizard of Oz, “follow the yellow brick road”.  It reveals the power of tenacity-in spite of any real (tornadoes, losing your way, etc.) or imagined obstacles (witches, fake wizards, etc.) that come our way. 


      What is Involved in Following?

      Nowadays, following is an action associated with the use of social media.  For example, thinking about Twitter, we may "follow" celebrities, friends, or colleagues in order to network or keep abreast with things that interest us.  In that sense "following" is done online using technology as a communication platform.  For the purpose of this article, the concept of "following" relies on the desire to emulate.  Please note that there is an element of imitation, but most importantly there is an internal change (learning) when effective following occurs.  


      So, let’s clarify a few aspects about the act of following before proceeding:

      • Although copying characterizes the early stages, following is more than becoming a “copycat"
      • There is an attempt to recreate an identified principle or style
      • It is a change process
      • It is not limited to a physical act
      • It requires situational assessments (appropriateness, relevance, effectiveness) 
      • It holds meaning (professionally or personally)
      • It is pursued with a specific outcome in mind


      What Can We Learn About Following From Teachers?

      I began to wonder how the concept of following translates into the classroom.  Educators follow instructional principles in their classrooms everyday.  Let's take a look at the experience of a few educators to learn how and why they follow:


      1. Blogger Jose Vilson suggests that following the principles of an admired educator is inspirational.  Jose recommends that educators study the style of other professionals as a means to refining classroom practice.
      2. Larry Ferlazzo, in one of his blogs, argues that in contemplating following (to discern whether to be principled or unprincipled) a valuable process of self-assessment occurs.
      3. In a post by Jane Healy, we see that following a principle impacts more than just the individual involved with following.  Jane argues that the consequences of following student-centered principles (in which teachers become invisible) reap more benefits for her students (such as self-directed learning, independent thinking, self progress monitoring) than for her.
      4. In a blog by Mark Barnes, he shares the dilemma of being torn between a widely accepted principle and his personal (less popular) belief that homework is ineffective.  His conflict highlights the importance of evaluating principles before committing to following them.

      What Does Research Show in Regards to Teachers Following?

      The teacher mentor process is one way instructional principles are studied and practiced.  Let's take a look at what teacher mentor research suggests about following:


      1. Mentoring is connected to teacher retention.  Research shows that beginning teachers that follow the instructional principles set forth by mentors are more likely to remain in the teaching profession (Odell & Ferraro, 1992). 
      2. Mentoring impacts the perception of teaching.  Research indicates that when teachers observe their mentor modeling an instructional principle, teachers report greater job satisfaction and self-efficacy (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).  
      3. Mentoring establishes teacher support.  When teachers communicate instructional principle difficulties with their mentors, they are able to obtain the required resources to meet classroom challenges (Appleton & Kindt, 2002).

      What Are the Rules For Following Effectively?

      Although teacher experiences and research indicate that following can be advantageous, as educators we must show care in how we follow.  There is a difference between becoming a follower and following (the latter is the goal). Keeping in mind a few tips helps to ensure effective following:


      • Strive to focus on a principle even if at first a person or behavior interests you
      • Expect to see a change between pre/post following.
      • Ask how the principle you wish to follow is appropriate, relevant, and effective for your needs.
      • Understand why the principle that you wish to follow is meaningful to you.
      • Determine the short-term and long-term goals that you hope to accomplish by following the principle.


      At last, it is time to revisit the questions that were inspired by my 3 year older following his older brother. Was there a deeper meaning to gain from this simple act of following?  Yes.  I believe that there is an important take-away from watching my younger son engulfed in the act of following. I believe that following is a powerful and necessary process that may begin copy-cat like, but when done effectively, results in learning.  As for the second question:  Was following bad?  I conclude that following is not bad at all, as long as it is principle-based, purposeful and change oriented.  In addition, we have to remember the many benefits of following that are echoed by teacher experience and education research.  Now, if only I could get my 10 year older to be more receptive to the benefits of following...



      1. Appleton, K., & Kindt, I. (2002).  Beginning elementary teachers’ development as teachers of science.  Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13(1): 43-61.
      2. Odell, S.J., & Ferraro, D.P. (1992).  Teacher mentoring and Teacher Retention.  The Journal of Teacher Education, 43, (3): 200-204. 
      3. Smith, T.M., & Ingersoll, R.M. (2004).  What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover?  American Educational Research Journal, 41 (3): 681-714.
    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 635
  • Creating An Education that Bui Creating An Education that Builds on America’s Strengths

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      I keep reading the “dreadful” news that American students don’t compare well to students in many other countries on test scores, that our scores are woefully behind students in other countries, and that our students are not being prepared for the future as compared with students in other countries!


      I find this a strange way to think about America’s educational system. In other spheres, we rarely compare ourselves to others. Is our medical system as good as others? Of course! We think of ourselves as unique and the best in the world in developing and using technology! We tend to think of ourselves as “special” and “different” in most areas, and make very few comparisons to other countries. We generally look at our own strengths and problems as a way of making judgments about how well we are doing. We most often find our own unique solutions to the problems that we face.  


      In this context, how should teachers, educational leaders, parents, and the general public think about American education? Should we all use a single set of standardized tests to compare ourselves to others at home and throughout the world? Or should we develop a unique concept of American education focused around American ideas, values and strengths? If we were to consider the “specialness” of America, its unique qualities, and build an educational system around those areas, what would it look like? How do we make our educational system “fit” with our unique qualities? What would we expect from teachers and our leaders? How would we know if we were succeeding?


      Let’s take a stab at it. Here is my list of many of the unique qualities of American society and what I think are the implications of these strengths for building a strong American education system:


      The importance of knowledge and “understanding”.  From its beginnings, knowledge and understanding have been a critical part of American society. Benjamin Franklin set a high standard in developing, disseminating, and searching for knowledge and understanding. The American system of mass education for all Americans assumed that it was important for everyone to become literate and build a basic knowledge base. Andrew Carnegie promoted the development of public libraries so all could have access to knowledge and information.

      Educational Implications. Access to and a focus on broad-based knowledge and understanding for all Americans should be an overall goal of American education. In today’s “knowledge explosion” world, a significant knowledge base should be coupled with the lifelong learning skills that will enable all Americans to continually learn and grow in their knowledge, information, and understanding.


      Constitutional government around democratic values.  The development of American democratic values – separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, one man, one vote – are one of the most unique characteristics of American society. We take these rights seriously and have over many years developed strengthened and improved them.

      Educational Implications: A primary educational goal in today’s world is to insure that all our students understand the Constitution, its development, and its role in American society. All students should understand the conflicts that developed around it, changes and adaptations that have been made, related court cases, and its primary role in American society today.


      Active Citizenship. A corollary to Constitutional government and democratic values is the role Americans play in the American political system. Americans today rarely sit back and accept government’s role in American society at any level. We tend to keep up with issues and problems and form strong opinions about what should be done (or not done) to solve them. We join a variety of groups and organizations dedicated to actively pursuing what we believe in – from environmental protection laws to a strong military. We actively engage in improving government, and expect a certain amount of honesty and competence among our government officials. We also expect basic services – safety, road repairs, security, and the like – to be provided efficiently.

      Educational Implications: When studying American history, students should learn how in all eras a variety of individuals, groups and organizations promoted different causes and advocated for governmental policies to support them. Through a strong current events program, students should have the opportunity to continually examine and analyze the many issues that confront us today. Students in their high school years should be encouraged to become involved in causes that they believe in, discuss and write about their diverse views, debate issues that face us, and listen to, read about, and analyze the varied views and arguments of others.


      Pragmatic problem solving. America has always been a land that has prided itself on pragmatic, practical problem solving. This “roll up your sleeves” characteristic began with the Colonists, was demonstrated when the Constitution was written, and is an important value throughout American history. Today it can be seen in the way businesses collect data and solve problems[i]. While our National government today is more ideological and less pragmatic, pragmatic government has always been an important thread running through governmental policies. Even FDR’s New Deal consisted of a lot of very pragmatic efforts by government to solve the problems of the Depression!

      Educational Implications: Students should practice pragmatic problem solving in order to develop alternative solutions to the issues that face us. Developing classroom rules is one way. Conducting interviews to collect data is another. Conducting scientific experiments and building scientific problem solving skills is another. Providing students with authentic performance tasks that require hands on problem solving is also an excellent way to promote these skills.


      Upward mobility, success, a better life.  The Declaration of Independence focused on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as an ideal for all Americans. Millions of Americans came to America’s shores to search for a new life free from persecution and filled with opportunity. Education has always been one of the most significant vehicles for reaching the “American dream” and for upward mobility.

      Educational Implications:  “Equal opportunity” education as a route to “success” and achievement has played and today plays a very important role in American society. Schools are asked to create a culture of high and challenging expectations, share knowledge and information, and develop skills and attitudes that will help to improve the lives of Americans and develop individual talents and interests.

      This means that we should commit ourselves to insuring that ALL schools – urban, suburban, rural – should provide quality services that include a full and complete curriculum in all subject areas, small class sizes, up to date technology, strong extra curricular programs, quality professional and curricular development, counselors and libraries, and so on. Additional services should also be available in those areas with high poverty levels and strong needs.


      Individual development, growth and responsibility

      America values individuals who take personal responsibility for their lives! We admire individuals who overcome obstacles, work hard, continue to improve and learn, don’t give up on themselves. We expect people to persist, show “grit” and determination, and overcome failure. We support the idea that everyone should have the opportunity to develop individual talents and strengths, and encourage difference among students.

      Educational Implications: Schools should figure out ways to help students develop individual personal responsibility over time. Helping students learn to be persistent, learn from failure, stay on track, and see effort as important for success should be an important part of the curriculum at all levels, especially in those areas where children need this type of help and support. Students should have the opportunity to participate in multiple types of experiences that enable them to discover and develop their interests and talents.


      Invention and creativity

      America has always been a society that supported new ideas, innovation, and creative thinking. Americans invented a whole new way of thinking about government in the formation of its Constitution. Consider just the latest manifestations of this thinking – social media options, the desktop computer, mp3 players, tablets, search engines, hybrid and electric cars, solar energy, just name a few.

      Educational Implications: Schools should be places where students learn to think creatively, come up with original solutions to problems, invent. Special elective courses might be developed that examine the role that invention, innovation, and creativity played and plays in American society. Students at all levels might learn creative problem solving strategies and techniques. Project based learning strategies might be used to encourage students to solve problems creatively.


      The promise of science and technology

      Throughout American history, science and technology have been thought of as a way to improve people’s lives. Science and technology achievements have dramatically changed our lives for the better, and will probably continue to do so in the future. Agricultural science thrived in rural America and paved the way for huge increases in crop yields, better water management, and so on. Inventions such as the cotton gin, the electric light bulb, the steam engine, and mass production techniques were critical to the prosperity and improvements in American society.  Nobel prizes are regularly bestowed on America’s scientists.

      Educational Implications:  Science and technology should play a much greater role in educating American students. Strong high quality programs in these areas should begin in pre-school and include an understanding of the scientific method, core concepts and theories in science and the evidence that supports them, involvement in science competitions, and opportunities to creatively think about scientific and technical achievements. A big push should be to integrate science and technology with math and engineering throughout the curriculum, as in the STEM subjects



      American artisans, from individual craftsmen to the design and building of the Model-T ford, have been a stalwart factor in American society.

      Educational Implications:  “Craftsmanship” should be emphasized in American schools. Craftsmanship is not doing well on tests – rather, it is focused on high performance levels, whether it be for writing an essay, participating in a discussion, creating a mural, doing a presentation, or acting in a play. [ii]


      Tolerance for diversity, difference, pluralism.

      One of America’s unique strengths is its continuous movement towards greater tolerance, diversity and respect for difference. Hard work and effort by many courageous Americans has resulted in the collapse of slavery, the significant reduction of anti-semitic, ethnic and racial prejudice, increased civil rights, and the movement for gay and lesbian rights.

      Educational Implications: With the world’s boundaries shrinking through instant worldwide communication, global travel, global trade and multicultural corporations, educational programs that explore cultural diversity and tolerance both within and outside of America are important for living in a multicultural world.  Student self-development programs that promote tolerance and reduce prejudice towards others should also be a critical part of the educational experience.


      Competition and Collaboration

      Both competition and collaboration are important values in American society. Competition is at the heart of the American capitalist system, and our competitive economic system has created products of excellence at relatively low cost. Collaboration is also important, especially within corporations and businesses, in order to bring together the best minds to maintain and develop economic success.

      Educational implications: Our educational culture should support both competition among students to be the best, as well as cooperative ways to learn and grow together.


      Voluntary service to others.

      CNN has created a process to discover and share information about “heroes” that provide voluntary service to others; this yearlong process, culminating in a two hour program rewarding the ten best “heroes” for their work, correlates closely with American values. Many Americans freely give both their money and their services to help others – this is part of the great American tradition.

      Educational implications: Schools should promote this American value by organizing opportunities for students to provide community service to others, and to learn from their service. Many schools already have community service opportunities for their students.


      What teachers, schools and districts can do…

      When education is based on America’s unique qualities, values and strengths, a paradigm very different from one based on improving standardized test scores emerges. Based on these qualities, here are some things that teachers, schools and districts can do:


      • Offer a full and rich curriculum, one that engages students and builds a basic knowledge, information, and understanding in all subject areas.
      • Emphasize citizenship education as a primary goal of learning. This includes creating a quality American history core curriculum K-12,  making special efforts to focus on Constitutional and political issues, continual exposing students to current events - world-wide issues and challenges, and helping students to become active citizens.
      • Pay primary attention to creating high quality, integrated, engaging, motivating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs K-12.
      • Offer and encourage students to participate in a wide variety of extra curricular activities to all students.
      • Integrate the teaching of lifelong learning and pragmatic and creative problem solving skills throughout the curriculum. 
      • Help students develop individual responsibility traits and encourage students to develop their individual talents and interests.
      • Encourage “craftsmanship”. Give students regular, on-going feedback that will help them to continually improve their skills in writing, reading, communicating, presentations, the arts, and in other “performances”.  Expect improvement. Infuse research projects into the curriculum to support the development of  “craftsmanship”, as well as key lifelong learning and problem solving skills.
      • Create a climate of tolerance and diversity and develop a curriculum that supports students learning about others.
      • Emphasize both competition towards excellence and helpful collaboration and cooperation among students.
      • Create a strong selection of service learning-community service opportunities as an integral part of the educational experience.
      • Create conditions that support equal opportunity when appropriate, such as small class sizes, classroom and school libraries, adequate technology, counseling and other support services.


      We need to begin to measure our success in educating our young by how well we implement educational practices and programs based on America’s unique qualities and strengths, not by comparing American student’s standardized tests scores against other country’s scores. Teachers, schools and the outside community can judge success by how well students  “understand” and apply content, read widely, write and communicate well, learn how to do research and problem solve, develop an understanding of American democracy and what it means to be a good citizen, learn about current American and world-wide issues and challenges, become interested and engaged in STEM subjects, think creatively, develop an interest in many activities and their talents through participation in both core and extra-curricular programs, complete high quality work, develop individual responsibility traits, volunteer for community service, and so on.


      These criteria suggest that individual schools, teachers, and educational leaders might want to think differently about what makes for successful educational experiences, and build alternative activities and programs into classrooms and schools to support American excellence. They also suggest that governmental policies, built around standardized test scores, are currently headed us in a very limiting and wrong direction as we try to improve education and prepare our students for living a 21st century world. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go in creating an educational system that builds on what is unique about and important to American society, and in using appropriate assessments to judge when education is successful.

      [i] For example, see a recent article in the New York Times, February 15, 2014, Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist, that examines how Intel fosters research and collects data for improving product development.

      [ii] For further insights into the role of craftsmanship in American education, see Ron Berger (2003), An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann publishers.


      Elliott Seif is a long time educator, Understanding by Design trainer, author, consultant, and former Professor of Education at Temple University. Many of his commentaries can be found on ASCD Edge. If you are interested in further examining ways to improve teaching and learning and help to prepare students to live in a 21st century world, go to his website:  www.era3learning.org


    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 389
  • Neurodiversity Workshop To Be Neurodiversity Workshop To Be Held In Portland, Maine, April 4, 2014

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      On April 4, 2014, I’ll be doing a full-day workshop for Transdisciplinary Workshops at the Regency Hotel, in Portland, Maine.  Here is a description of the workshop:

      The Power of Neurodiversity:  Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain (and Your Children and Students’ Brains Too!) 

      Neurodiversity is a revolutionary new concept that suggests we look at exceptional individuals in terms of their diversities rather than their disabilities.  In this workshop, you will learn to reframe the way you think about yourself, your children, and your students when it comes to labels such as learning disabled, ADHD, autistic, developmentally disabled, and socially and/or emotionally disordered.   

      Dr. Armstrong will share current research on the strengths of people with the above labels to counteract the tendency that currently exists in education, psychology, and psychiatry to focus on weaknesses in those with mental health labels.  

      • Did you know, for example, that people with autism are better than average at perceiving small details, understanding how systems work, and having strong interests in a wide variety of topics?
      • Did you know that people with ADHD are attracted to novelty, do better out in nature, and need to learn by moving?
      • Did you know that people with dyslexia make excellent entrepreneurs, can visualize in three-dimensions, and are able to think ‘’outside the box’’? 

      After presenting five basic principles of neurodiversity, Dr. Armstrong will devote most of the workshop to seven practical tools that can be used to help neurodiverse individuals—yourself, your kids, and/or your students—become more successful in school, work, and life.  These strategies include:   

      • Becoming aware of your strengths
      • Using positive role models to inspire a desire to meet challenges head-on
      • Employing assistive technologies and Universal Design for Learning methodologies to overcome obstacles
      • Creating enhanced social networks that support and help you, your children, and/or your students become all that they are capable of being
      • Developing positive environmental modifications that can make it easier to think, learn, and perform at home and/or at school
      • Utilizing strength-based learning strategies to solve problems, develop skills, and create projects.
      • Nurturing affirmative career aspirations that match the strengths of an individual with jobs that are out there in the marketplace     

      The workshop will use a wide range of learning methods, including lecture, Power Point slides, experiential activities, peer sharing, small and large group discussion, and strengths assessment.  Participants will fill out a 165-item Neurodiversity Strengths Inventory to identify strengths in themselves, their children, and/or their students, and learn how to use those strengths to create positive niches within which they can flourish.  Participants will leave this workshop with a new and more hopeful attitude toward individuals who are ‘’differently wired’’ and a new set of tools for helping neurodiverse people achieve success in school and life

      Here is information about the workshop.  To sign up for the workshop, click here.

      CEUs: This workshop has been approved for 6 CEs for Maine Psychologists and .6 Continuing Education Credits from University of Maine.
      Application has been made for certification by Commonwealth Education Seminars Continuing Education Credit Provider Program for the professional continuing education of Social Workers, Nurses, and Licensed Mental Health Counselors.  Application has been made for APA approval for psychologists as well.
      Date: Apr 04, 2014
      Start Time: 8:30 AM
      End Time: 3:30 PM
      Speaker(s): Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.
      Location: Regency Hotel – Portland, Maine
      Early Tuition Due Date: Mar 04, 2014
      Early Tuition: $165
      Late Tuition: $180
      Luncheon: Continental breakfast and snacks will be provided.  Lunch is on your own from 12:00 – 1:00.  There are many restaurants within walking distance.
      Intended Audience: This workshop is of interest to educators, mental health professionals, psychologists, parents and administrators
      Audience Capacity: 100
    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 200
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  • Sometimes a Chat is Just a Cha Sometimes a Chat is Just a Chat

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      I recently attended a provocative session at Educon. For those who don’t know Educon is an annual education Conference held at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia each year on the week before the Super Bowl. It is a conference of discussion as opposed to a conference of presentation. Each of the sessions is a facilitated discussion that involves the participants.

      It was in one such session that #Edchat received what I thought was an unwarranted criticism from one of the participants in the session.

      For those who may be new to social media scheduled chats take place on Twitter on various topics in education throughout the week.  Each is hosted and moderated by an educator who has an interest in the topic of discussion. This real-time chat is conducted through the use of hash tags (#Edchat), which curate all the tweets, so that the chat can be followed without interference from other tweets on the stream. One would simply create a column to follow the specific hash tag and all other tweets would be filtered out so that only hash-tagged tweets would appear in that column. I gave a complete description of education Chats in this post: Chats: What are they and why do we need them?

      The Edchat criticism came in a discussion that I attended on The Privileged Voices in Education; facilitated by two people I greatly admire Jose Vilson, and Audrey Watters. I attended that particular session in need of making myself more aware of how I might be unknowingly offending and even demeaning people, as I address things from a position of privilege as a white, heterosexual, male educator. Those are all factors that have been brought to my attention lately, specifically because I have a voice in social media, and I haven’t been aware of my privilege in our very diverse culture. This need for awareness comes with the added responsibility of being an educator. I was unaware of my micro-aggression. As I consulted Wikipedia for specifics I found Micro-aggression: “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color ” I need to reflect on that discussion more before attempting to delve deeper in a later post. A follow-up post on this is my intention.

      Of course the Edchat criticism came during this particular educator’s comments within this larger more important discussion, so I did not feel it appropriate to respond to him at the time. It was later however, that it occurred to me that we, as educators, are also privileged and must be aware of the less educated or informed. The comment about Edchat was not horrible. It was not even offensive. As a founder of Edchat, I am always listening to educators’ comments. Of course it doesn’t help, when a comment is made about Edchat in a room full of educators, and that a half-dozen, or so, immediately turn to me to see if I will respond. It reminds me of a group of kids gathered to watch a fight afterschool.

      This educator said he was introduced to Edchat nine months ago and he felt that Twitter, and Edchat specifically was not the right place to have education discussions. He felt that 140-character format was insufficient for discussion. That was when it occurred to me that he might be speaking from a position of privilege as an educator who is exposed to education discourse. He certainly is an educator who was afforded an opportunity to attend a $200 conference in Philadelphia. His experience is not that of educators in other regions of America and even further from those of educators outside America. Who was he, to make the judgment for other people who an education chat had little, or no value? Opportunity to freely discuss issues in education does not take place in every school globally. Education chats are global, and they offer a glimpse, yes, just a glimpse, of only some of the things that concern educators. It is also mainly an American point of view for most of the chats probably dominated by a northeast influence. Additionally, I have no idea how many people of color are involved. I might assume that not as many as we should have. For anyone to consider all of this and feel that their experience outweighs all others in a judgment on the worth of a chat, may be a little too much, but, the again, I have already made too much of even this.

      These twitter chats and even blog posts are not the deep discussions needed for us to make all the right decisions in education, or even our personal lives. They are however starting points. They are flags, signposts, billboards, and bulletin boards to concerns that educators have. They are forerunners and precursors to the needed deeper discussions. Please don’t criticize Chats like Edchat for not being the needed deep discussion. They were never intended to be that. They were set up to create awareness for the community. The very deep discussion that was taking place at Educon was in great part a result of the tweets and chats of social media as explained by the facilitators. We should remember that sometimes a chat is just a chat.

    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 266
  • 7 Assessment Tools to Identify 7 Assessment Tools to Identify Strengths in Students with Special Needs (and All Kids)

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      It is part of federal law that students with special needs should have their strengths identified and described in their IEPs (IDEA 2004 Section 1414(d)(3)(A)).   And yet, when I search the special education literature online, I find virtually nothing dedicated to identifying strengths in these students.

      If a student is having difficulty in school, what they need is to have adults around them who see the very best in them, not just their deficits, disorders, and dysfunctions.  I’ve created an informal 165-item strength-based checklist in my book Neurodiversity in the Classroom:  Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life.  However, there are a number of formal strength-based assessments out there that should be utilized by special education personnel in identifying the strengths of students with special needs.  Here are seven of them:

      • Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale, Second Edition (BERS-2) by Michael H. Epstein.  The BERS-2 is designed to measure the personal strengths and competencies of children ages 5 through 18, and has versions to be filled out by the child, the parent, and the teacher.   Includes items like ”asks for help,” “accepts a hug,” and ”is popular with peers.”
      • The VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman.  VIA stands for ”Values in Action” and the inventory represents one practical application of the ”positive psychology” movement (Seligman, a former president of the American Psychological Association, is one of the founders of this movement).  There are twenty-four strengths in this model, including creativity, curiosity, zest, humility, appreciation of beauty, and humor.  There is a VIA Strengths Survey for Children (between the ages of 8 and 17), that kids can take online (anonymous results are used in research at the University of Pennsylvania).
      • Dunn and Dunn Online Learning Style Assessments.  These assessment tools are based upon the learning style model of Drs. Rita and Kenneth Dunn, which focuses on 25 factors important for understanding how a child learns (e.g. environmental, emotional, social, physiological, and psychological).  There are separate assessments for different age groups (ELSA, grades 2-4; LSCY, grades 5-8, LIVES, grades 9012).
      • Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets.   These are assets that identify a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults.  There are separate lists for different age groups (early childhood, grades K-3, middle childhood, and adolescents).   The list for adolescents, for example, includes honesty, responsibility, cultural competence, caring, and reading for pleasure.  Upon request, the Search Institute will mail the survey (they have several, including the Developmental Assets Profile survey that students ages 11-18 can take) and results and follow-up steps will then be provided.
      • Clifton Youth Strengths Explorer®. (for ages 10-14).  Developed by the Gallup Poll organization, which also developed the StrengthsFinder for adults.  Assesses 10 possible talent themes of students, including (Discoverer, Achiever, Future Thinker, and Organizer).   It is an online  measure consisting of 76 paired comparison items that requires about 15 minutes to complete.
      • TorrenceTests of Creative Thinking (TTCT).  These assessments have been around for six decades (developed by creativity expert Dr. E. Paul Torrence), and were originally designed to assess creativity in elementary school children.  There are two main forms–figural (picture-oriented) and verbal (word-oriented)–that test such capacities as fluency, originality, flexibility, and richness of imagery.   Appropriate for kindergarten through adult.
      • Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scales (MIDAS) by Dr. Branton Shearer.  One of the few reliable and valid instruments to measure students’ (or adults’) multiple intelligences (linguistic, spatial, logical-mathematical, musical, naturalist, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and bodily-kinesthetic).  Basic certification provided for administration of the scales.

      I would be interested in hearing from special educators or researchers who use one or more of these strength-based assessments with a special education population or with individual students with special needs.  In particular, I’d like to know what impact knowledge of strengths has upon the students themselves as well as their teachers.  Contact me at: thomas@institute4learning.com  or visit my website at:  www.institute4learning.com.

    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 504
  • Complexity: Long-term vs Short Complexity: Long-term vs Short-term Predictability

    • From: Kevin_Goddard
    • Description:

      Long-term predictability. In non-linear systems, a lack of understanding, the smallest miscalculation, or the smallest bit of information missing magnifies throughout the system until predictions are useless (Waldrop, 1992). Unpredictability is key to creativity which emerges from complex interactions and “cannot be intended in any comprehensive way….we are agents in systems that are coevolving into an open-ended evolutionary space” (Stacey, 1996, p. 71, 217). We are not in control of what happens in long-term outcomes.

      The system moves toward a strange attractor like the mission and vision of a school, but never reaches the mission and vision. The system continues to move toward the mission and vision from the given point of the school generated by the sociocultural and environmental contexts driven by the specific interactions of the multitude of agents residing in the school community or any networked systems resulting in the school “orbiting” shakily around this strange attractor as those negotiations are made (Gilstrap, 2005). Long-term outcomes based on these uncertain, complex movements are unpredictable at best (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).

      Short-term predictability. In complex systems, themes and archetypes are recognizable (Stacey, 1996; Waldrop, 1992). In fact, understanding the history of a complex system to look for patterns allows educators to plan within a short-term time frame, sometimes simply the next move to be made. This almost total lack of control causes the behavior of the system to emerge. Short term, general predictions are possible since tiny fluctuations take time to build and the momentum of the system is rooted in the past (Kieren, 2005; Stacey, 1996). “Patterns emerge at higher levels as a result of adaptive dynamics at lower levels of integration…prediction is limited, and…we must develop statistical mechanical methods to extract the knowable from the unknown” (Levin, 2002, p. 15).

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 301
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  • Complexity: Unpredictability Complexity: Unpredictability

    • From: Kevin_Goddard
    • Description:

      When analyzing their school’s organizational context, principals cannot underestimate the unpredictability of the long-term future of the system. Marginalized populations within the school act as a recessive system undermining the efforts of the dominant, legitimate system. The future of the school emerges from interactions within and between the recessive and the dominant systems. A new paradigm that recognizes and makes meaning of the dynamic, nonlinear versus linear nature of the processes and interactions of these two subsystems would help protect principals from unreasonable long-term planning, unproductive and unmanaged conflict, innovative but misguided agents, and wasted time due to superficial work and restructuring efforts not based on emergence (Bower, 2006; Stacey, 1996).

      The dominant paradigm rosily sees success in stability, predictability, and carefully strategic plans (Stacey, 1996). “Predictions are nice, if you can make them. But the essence of science lies in explanation, laying bare the fundamental mechanisms of nature” (Waldrop, 1992, p. 39). Educational complexity is not different. Researchers have to look at explaining how education works with the knowledge that it may not result in predictability since education is emergent based on too many factors to mathematically analyze.

      History and past pedagogy is important to creating effective high-performing, high-poverty schools (HP2S), but vast changes in the sociocultural capital available to students in this decade make research of previous decades null or irrelevant. Even within the same time period, findings in one context will not be generalizable to another setting. Failing schools that are trying to transform cannot hope to perfectly implement what other successful schools have accomplished because of the unpredictability of complex systems (Barr & Parrett, 2007; Berliner, 2002; Brady, retrieved October 22, 2007; Church, 2005).

      Strategic planning in complex environments results in rigid processes such as goal setting and action plans that restrict emergence. Educational institutions should allow for a more flexible process that takes into account causal relationships (Gilstrap, 2005). Small fluctuations would have a harder time permeating multiple boundaries within similar structures across a flattened hierarchy. This redundancy provides stability, robustness, and resilience against small environmental fluctuations (Stacey, 1996).

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 284
  • Effective Teachers Need 21st C Effective Teachers Need 21st Century Teaching Skills

    • From: Mike_Anderson
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.

      As we face rapid technological, environmental, economic, political, and social changes in this new world, the need for dedicated, skilled teachers has never been greater. We need teachers who can teach children not only how to solve problems, but how to use higher-order thinking skills to discern what problems need solving—teachers who can inspire students to do their best work and thrive as contributing citizens in an increasingly complex world.

      We need, in short, teachers who move beyond good teaching to great teaching—transformative teaching. Just as students need a specific set of skills to equip them to succeed in the 21st century, teachers need a specific set of tools to be effective teachers of 21st century learners.

      Responsive Classroom professional development focuses on building 21st century teacher skills in three crucial, interrelated domains:

      • Engaging Academics: Effective teaching requires that teachers know how to offer academic lessons, assignments, and activities that are active and interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students’ interests. This kind of teaching leads children to a higher level of motivation, skill mastery, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
      • Effective Management: Effective teaching is possible only in well-managed classrooms and schools. In such classrooms, teachers establish and teach behavior expectations, manage the schedule, and organize physical spaces in ways that enable students to work with autonomy and focus. When children make behavior mistakes in these settings, teachers respond in non-punitive ways that quickly and respectfully help them resume their learning.
      • Positive Community: Effective teaching requires a classroom and school where every child feels safe, valued, and fully included in the learning community; where teacher and students share a common purpose along with regular routines and traditions that form a comforting underpinning for their days; and where a sense of joy envelopes hard work. Only when such a positive climate prevails can children take the risks necessary to learning.

      Too often in schools, community, management, and academics are seen as three separate domains. Responsive Classroom approaches the challenge of increasing teacher effectiveness for the 21st century by helping educators develop teaching skills that simultaneously apply across all three of these crucial, interrelated domains.

      Teachers who have these tools at their command have the ability to immediately impact student learning in powerful, positive, and lasting ways. Few teachers begin their careers with highly developed skills in all three domains, which is where professional development comes in. We work with teachers, schools, and districts to develop the skills that today’s teachers need to realize our shared vision of a high-quality education for every child, every day.

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 1358
  • Creative Funding in Education Creative Funding in Education

    • From: Robert_Thollander
    • Description:

      What do you do when Graduate School loands and Fellowships only cover have of your expenses and you need structure too much to wait another 2-3 months about scholarships? 

      I tried Crowdfunding. It's actually kind of like a social experiment. I learned so much making this project funding page. 

      Please read it, I'm very interested to hear what people think. 

      Help fund my grad degree so I can help others! I'm about begin a program in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University in NYC, but I need support.

      Please read it, I'm very interested to hear what people think.
      Help fund my grad degree so I can help others! I'm about begin a program in
      Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University in NYC, but I need support.
    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 357
  • Read My New Article in Educati Read My New Article in Education Week Teacher on Neurodiversity

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      I have an article in the April 9, 2013 online issue of Education Week Teacher entitled: ”7 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Special Needs Students.” In the article, I share the experience of a music teacher who had a young student with Asperger’s syndrome in her class who said he hated music and proceeded to make her and the class miserable for the rest of the year. But then she introduced him to GarageBand, the Apple software program that allows users to easily compose music. He took to it like gangbusters, and soon, he was winning acceptance from others for his music, and had a whole new way to express himself in the world.

      This story suggests that we focus on the strengths of kids with special needs rather than focus too much time on their weaknesses. I share seven tips for doing this: 1. discover students’ strengths, 2. provide role models of people with disabilities, 3. develop strength-based learning strategies, 4. use assistive technologies and Universal Design for learning methodologies, 5. maximize the power of your students’ social networks, 6. help students envision positive futures, and 7. create positive environmental modifications. To read the entire article, click here. You can also leave a comment just below the online article if you wish. I’d love to get your reactions!

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 1502
  • Complexity: Chaos versus Compl Complexity: Chaos versus Complexity

    • From: Kevin_Goddard
    • Description:

      Many confuse chaos theory with complexity theory. Chaos theory is defined by nonlinear, chaotic systems, homogeneous in nature, moving toward strange attractors which may very well describe dysfunctional organizational units within a complex system. Complexity theory seeks to understand heterogeneous complex adaptive systems moving toward one or more attractor patterns with the ability for “strong emergence” with radically novel results which describes the institution of education as a whole (Gilstrap, 2005).

      Theory is meant to explain in order to gain understanding to the point of accurate predictability whereas the science of complexity serves as a “conceptual framework” or paradigm to analyze complex adaptive systems (Semetsky, 2006). Bloch (2005) says, “It is in the nature of each [complex adaptive entity] to adapt to its environment and internal state to maintain its life” (p. 195). Levin (2002) defines the properties of complex adaptive systems as diversity and individuality of components, localized interactions among those components, and an autonomous process that uses the outcomes of those interactions to select a subset of those components for replication or enhancement. Schools can only be complex if they are more than their ‘complicated’ parts. Structure is not enough since those components have to be in competition and cooperation with each other to have enough tension for the system to become emergent as appropriate components within the school are replicated and enhanced. Schools are just now beginning to embrace complexity since the past has been an effort to revolve and replicate the entire institution of education around a point attractor and wait for the next cycle to occur.

      In Waldrop’s (1992) masterpiece, he defines complexity as:

      A class of behaviors in which the components of the system never quite lock into place, yet never quite dissolve into turbulence, either. These are the systems that are both stable enough to store information, and yet evanescent enough to transmit it. These are the systems that can be organized to perform complex computations, to react to the world, to be spontaneous, adaptive, and alive (p. 293).

      While Stacey’s (1996) following piece examining complexity in human organizations speculates

      what the peculiarly human features do seem to add is potential complexity; they make the operation of human systems more complex and unpredictable rather than less so…the rate of information flow, the level of diversity in schemas, and the richness of connectivity among agents all remain as control parameters [with] further control parameters added…of power differentials and levels of anxiety containment (p. 114)

       which move the organization along the complexity continuum and/or edge of chaos.

      “Complexity arises because you have a great many of these simple components interacting simultaneously” (Waldrop, 1992, p. 86). Since broad features of complex adaptive systems are knowable (Levin, 2002), “the challenge for theorists…is to formulate universal laws that describe when and how such complexities emerge in nature” (Waldrop, 1992, p. 86). Understandings of complex organizations coalesce around relationships, especially in schools where the density of network connections determines the level of complexity (Bloch, 2005; Gilstrap, 2005).

      A supersystem such as education has “a holographic or fractal aspect in which the parts interact continually to recreate the whole and the whole affects how the parts interact” (Stacey, 1996, p. 21). As smaller organizational units or fractals, which look similar to the overall organization, paradoxically enable and constrain each other through the layers of the organization, leaders have the opportunity to understand, through complexity science, the “dynamic, co-implicated…integrated levels—including the neurological, the experiential, the contextual/material, the social, the symbolic, the cultural, and the ecological—” of the school “rather than isolated phenomena” (Davis & Simmt, 2006, p. 296). Levin (2002, p. 16-17) asks “seductive” questions surrounding the study of complex adaptive systems that make their study relevant to educational leaders facing diminishing resources, increasing accountability, a hostile political environment, rigid school structures protected by reluctant staff and unions, growing concerns of equity and social justice, and absent family involvement:

      • How does cooperation arise and become sustained?
      • How do social norms arise in human societies and become sustained against external influences?
      • Can this understanding help us to sustain patterns of behavior that serve the common good…
      • And to change antiquated frameworks that are resistant to progress simply because they have become frozen accidents of a cultural evolutionary process?

      The dominant metaparadigm currently views organizations predominantly in equilibrium with members acting rationally and cooperating. Outcomes are predictable in the long run within a regular and uniform world. A metaparadigm based on the science of complexity would understand effective organizations as far from equilibrium operating at the edge of chaos, but not quite falling into chaos. The organization could embrace the paradox of competition and self-organizing cooperation in the behavior of its agents. Actions into outcomes would be unpredictable except in the extremely short-term as “the links between actions and their long-term outcomes are lost in the complex interactions between various components of the system” (Stacey, 1996, p. 248).

      An educational complexity metaparadigm would serve as a framework for understanding how school systems act as complex adaptive systems within local, national, and global ecosystems (Waldrop, 1992).  Because complex adaptive systems have many parts cooperating and competing, interaction is too overwhelming to reflect on at once, so, paradoxically, educators use many lenses to focus on one or two aspects of a system while keeping in mind that all the systems and agents working together actually account for what is happing on local and global scales (Stacey, 1996). Educational complexity is the matrix of cultural, social, environmental, political, symbolic, economic, historical, and directional interactions and contexts of which any given school is comprised. A school would not exist in as richly a manner and be able to provide the degree of cognitive stimulation necessary for the development of future citizenry without the complexity existent in the public school system. If we were all white, middle-class males from the same geographic location of the U. S. and would never work outside the local school community, then maybe complexity would not be as big an issue; regardless, the brain is a complex learning system that grows by being challenged and making connections through complex problem-solving situations (Nasir & Hand, 2006).

      Education is constantly barraged by new programs and new practices (Marzano et al., 2005). The recent trend of comprehensive school reform recognizes the complexity of the school system and attempts “to address all aspects of school effectiveness” (U.S. Department of Education, 1998, p. 21); however, through a lens of complexity, leadership recognizes resources “not as discrete items…but as inter-related variables that are a part of a comprehensive plan to impact student achievement in high-poverty schools. This is an important step beyond one-shot remedies or magic bullets” (Machtinger, 2007, p. 7). Marzano and colleagues(2005) agree with Fritz (1984) and Fullan (2001) that education is too complex for absolute truths or “once-and-for-all answers” (p. 67). DuFour and Eaker (1998) reiterate, “The interconnectedness of the elements affecting teaching and learning makes it impossible to attribute either improvements or problems to a single area” (p. 268). Leaders prepare for structural and pedagogical changes in school function as complex, difficult, and dependent on context while gauging multiple cores of successful practice within unstable environments (Marzano et al., 2005; Schechter & Tischler, 2007; Chenoweth, 2007).

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 431
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  • Multiple Intelligences Expands Multiple Intelligences Expands Around the World

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      The use of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory) has been increasing by leaps and bounds in countries across the globe. In many countries, it has become part of national policy. In India, for example, as part of its National Curriculum Framework for School Education teachers are required to have familiarity with the concepts of multiple intelligences. Gardner himself writes: “…I have been amazed to learn of jurisdictions in which the terminology of MI has been incorporated into white papers, recommendations by ministries, and even legislation…I have heard from reliable sources that MI approaches are part of the policy landscape in such diverse lands as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands” (Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, p. 248).

      At the same time, research studies based on multiple intelligences have multiplied in higher education institutions around the world. Journal articles dedicated to this subject have covered populations from areas as diverse as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Malaysia, China, and Japan. In Geneva, Switzerland, the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization, which offers programs to over 600,000 students in 128 countries, has acknowledged Gardner’s role in influencing its own approach to learning: “Howard Gardner has been influential in changing views about learning and the ways we learn. Access and equity within the IB today is much wider than it was previously. It is acknowledged that all students have strengths and weaknesses which must be supported in a strategic way for them to meet their potential.” (IB World, September, 2007).

      In the Phillipines, the MI International High School in Quezon City (a suburb of Manila) puts MI theory to work in the cause of promoting entrepreneurship among its students. Students are challenged to develop real-world business plans based on ideas that emerge from MI lessons. A linguistic group, for example, developed Flash Range, a media center that creates books for teens that deal with environmental and personal and emotional growth issues. A musical group created a business called Boom Box Music, which offers musical composition and record production services. A group of people-smart students conceptualized their own family restaurant –Pastuchi- featuring a fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisines.

      In Denmark, the industrial manufacturer Danfoss, has created a theme park—Danfoss Universe– that incorporates many strategies and ideas from multiple intelligences. They have essentially created a multiple intelligences interactive museum, where children and adults participate in over fifty activities designed to both test their multiple intelligences and also raise awareness concerning the many different ways of being smart.

      In my own work with multiple intelligences, I’ve given keynotes and workshops in twenty countries including Iceland, Singapore, and the tiny province of Andorra. I’ve had my books on multiple intelligences translated in over fifty foreign editions into twenty-three languages (including 11 editions in Chinese alone). It’s truly been marvelous to see the broad impact that MI theory has been making internationally.

      To learn more about the impact of multiple intelligences in cultures around the world, see: Multiple Intelligences Around the World, Jie-Qi Chen, Seana Moran, and Howard Gardner (eds), San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. To read my chapter from the book, click on the title: “When Cultures Connect: Multiple Intelligences Theory as a Successful American Export to Other Countries

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 718
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  • Advice on Building a Strength- Advice on Building a Strength-Based Classroom: New ASCD Webinar

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      Calling all educators! Want to create an atmosphere in your school or classroom that is based upon the positive attributes of all your students? Want to meet the needs of kids with special needs by creating IEPs and learning strategies that are based on their strengths? Then watch this free webinar sponsored by ASCD that presents strategies for bringing out the best in every child, but particularly in those who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and emotional and behavioral disorders. This webinar presents a revolutionary new paradigm based on ''diversity'' rather than ''disability.'' The webinar will show you how to create positive ecological niches for these students consisting of strength-based learning strategies, positive environmental modifications, positive role models, affirmative career aspirations, enriched human resource networks, assistive technologies/Universal Design for Learning, and basic strengths awareness to help ensure that students with special needs achieve success in school and life. To watch the webinar, click here.

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 313
  • Watch Free Webinar on Neurodiv Watch Free Webinar on Neurodiversity in the Classroom

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      On November 29, 2012, I did a free webinar for edWeb.net, a professional social network for the education community. The topic was Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Emphasizing Strengths in Students with Special Needs. It was based on my forthcoming book (out December 13, 2012), entitled: Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Achieve Success in School and Life, published by ASCD. In the webinar, I talk about my own beginnings as a special education teacher in the mid-1970′s, my introduction to multiple intelligences in the 1980′s, and my discovery of neurodiversity in the 2000′s. Then I define neurodiversity, and explain how it can be used to view students with special needs in a more positive way. Most of the webinar is practical: I focus on seven components of what I call “positive niche construction” or creating favorable environments within which students with special needs can flourish.

      Providing concrete examples, I cover five different disability categories for each of the seven environmental enhancements: learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, intellectual disabilities, and emotional and behavioral disorders. The seven components of positive niche construction that I talk about in the webinar are: strengths awareness, enhanced human resource networks, affirmative career aspirations, strength-based learning strategies, positive role models, environmental modifications, and assistive technologies/Universal Design for Learning. In the course of the webinar there are at least 35 practical strategies that both special and regular educators can use to help students with special needs achieve success in school and life.

      The webinar lasts for approximately one hour, includes over 130 slides, and ends with a brief question and answer session with the participants who were participating in the live broadcast. To listen to the webinar in its entirety, click here.

    • Blog post
    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 358
  • Join My Webinar on Thursday, N Join My Webinar on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012

    • From: Thomas_Armstrong
    • Description:

      I’ll be doing a Webinar on November 29, 2012 at 4 pm (EST) with edWeb.net., a social network and professional learning community for educators. The title of the webinar will be “Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Emphasizing Strengths in Students with Special Needs.” Here is some information from edWeb.net on my presentation:

      “This webinar will introduce the concept of neurodiversity as a positive paradigm for helping students with special needs succeed in the classroom. I will discuss the importance of using a “diversity” paradigm based on strengths, rather than a “disability” paradigm based on weaknesses, in working with these children.

      I also will discuss the origins of the term neurodiversity, and will present an ecological intervention model that explores the use of “positive niche construction” as a practical framework for creating favorable environments where students with special needs can flourish in the classroom. All seven basic components of positive niche construction will be outlined:

      * strengths awareness (with highlights of research findings on the strengths of individuals with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other special needs)

      * positive role models

      * innovative technologies and Universal Design for Learning

      * strength-based learning strategies

      * enhanced human resource networks

      * affirmative career aspirations

      * positive environmental modifications.

      I hope that you will join me for this event. There will be opportunities for audience interaction during my presentation. If you enjoy the ideas shared in the webinar, you can order my book Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Achieve Success in School and Life, which is being published December 13, 2012. For more information about the webinar, click here.

    • Blog post
    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 612
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  • A new book that helps all of u A new book that helps all of us examine teaching and learning in a 21st century world

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:


      One of the joys of my retirement years is the ability to pick and choose schools that I decide to consult with and work in as a volunteer.  Since I live in Philadelphia, I also feel as if I am helping to support public schools that work with urban children who often live in difficult circumstances. Two of these schools, the Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice and the Science Leadership Academy, are very special schools, both dedicated to helping students learn and grow around an important theme, and providing multiple opportunities to promote their themes in engaging ways.


      Imagine how surprised I was to learn that a new and wonderful book, Embracing Risk in Urban Education, by Alice E. Ginsberg (2012: Bowman and Littlefield Education) features these two schools, along with two other Philadelphia schools.


      Why is “Embracing Risk” in the title? In an interesting twist, Alice Ginsberg turns the concept of risk on its head. She argues that, instead of eliminating risk from schools by “regulating, standardizing, scripting, and quantifying” what we do in schools, we should try to develop schools that embrace risk by enabling students to “…experiment, disagree, … assert their individuality, test assumptions and question data”, essential qualities for a 21st century world and a democratic society (p. 3). The book then describes four Philadelphia urban schools and sample teaching examples that, in her view, “make space for children to explore the unknown” (p. 4), to learn how to inquire, collaborate, foster social justice, and build patience, sustained commitment, and cooperative, responsible leadership (p. 10).


      What is special about these four schools? Briefly, Science Leadership Academy is a public high school committed to inquiry, creativity, project based learning, and experimentation. It has gained national attention for its willingness to try new approaches to teaching and learning, its emphasis on five core values, and its commitment to authentic learning. The Folkarts Cultural Treasures School (FACTS) is a K-8 Charter School in Philadelphia’s Chinatown that embraces the cultural values, identities, knowledge, wisdom and languages that students bring to the school and incorporates these into all learning. The Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice is a public high school that promotes peaceful methods of solving problems, and emphasizes conflict resolution, social development, ethical behavior, citizenship, service, and leadership.  Finally, the Wissahickon Charter School is a K-8 school that promotes a ‘discovery approach’ to all learning, and has an environmental focus that includes a working garden, a healthy lunch program, and student access to environments such as woods, lakes and mountains that are not ordinarily accessible to urban students.


      In short, these schools have unique and common features that “embrace risk”, such as purposeful, meaningful, thoughtful missions and goals, open-ended inquiry and project based learning, student reflection, relevance, empathy, experiential learning, community connections, literacy in a broader sense than just the ability to read and decode, and multi-faceted assessments that go well beyond the traditional multiple choice, right answer standardized test.


      Although the book is ostensibly about urban education, all educators can learn from its key ideas, school and teaching examples. I urge anyone who is interested in further understanding the core concepts embedded in the book, the nature and character of these schools and model teaching examples, and what they imply for a 21st century education, to read this book. You will not be disappointed. The concept of “embracing risk” that is explored on many different levels; the lessons from, characteristics, and distinct qualities of these four schools; and the personal qualities exemplified by students who graduate from these schools need to be thoughtfully examined and considered by all educators as we prepare our children for the challenging, complex, confusing, and risky world of the future.


      Elliott Seif is an educational consultant, author, member of the Understanding by Design cadre and the ASCD faculty, and a contributor to Educational Leadership.  



    • Blog post
    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 884
  • Letter For A March Of Protest Letter For A March Of Protest

    • From: Robert_Thollander
    • Description:

      This is a letter I wrote on the morning that the Occupy Chicago movement joined with the Chicago Teachers Union for a march through downtown Chicago for better public schools.  The letter is my attempt to unite the missions of both groups.


      October 10, 2011




      Dear Chicago Public School Teachers, Protesters, the 99%, the 1 %, Politicians, and Allies on all Sides,  



      First, to Chicago Public School Teachers and Allies: 


      I know we have the day off.  I know I am in need of some rest and relaxation!  But today we are needed more than ever.  I’d like to do nothing more today than sit at home and play video games.  Of course, that would never happen.  I'd be spending my holiday grading the 120 lab reports that were turned in on Friday.  It has to be finished today because I want to be able to pass them back to my kids on Tuesday so they can learn from their mistakes, and improve for the next lab I have planned for them.


      J.C. Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are trying to belittle and degrade our noble professions by forcing us to work 29% more than we already do for 2% more money (only half of the annual raise that we already lost this year).


      I believe that a longer school year and school day would benefit our children.  I am in the business of doing what is best for our kids, their future, and ultimately the country’s future.  For my kids, the more time that they are in school, the less time they are out on the streets, which have become more dangerous as ever as the recession hammers a neighborhood of poverty-stricken U.S. citizens.  


      I'm not a teacher for the money, even though I do make a decent, middleclass salary.  I'm a highly qualified biological researcher and could be making significantly more money working in the research industry.  However, I go to work everyday as a Secondary Science Teacher to inspire, mold, shape, help, support, and teach the next generation of our country’s leaders.  I believe that I have one of the most important (and hardest jobs) that I could be doing at this point in my life.  That said, I also feel I should be equitably compensated and respected for the job that I do, just like any other profession.  


      I am often saddened by the conditions that some of my students face on a daily basis.  There are days that the shootings and violence surrounding my school overwhelm me, but it is always the resilience of my students, being stronger and more composed than I ever will be, who remind me with their hopeful eyes that education is their path to a better future.  I push my students to dream big, and there isn’t a second in my classroom that’s not used to create our future leaders and innovators.  However, I am aware that for many of my students, graduating from high school and going to college means being able to earn just enough money avoid public welfare.  For some of my students, being in school for an entire school day and away from the streets for a few hours is a matter of life and death. (There was a shooting at 7:21 am a few weeks ago just 2 blocks away from the school and violence is a regular occurrence in the surrounding neighborhood)


      Given the current political, economic, and environmental situation of our country, sometimes I feel like all of my efforts are in vain and I am giving a false sense of security to my 10th and 12th grade students.  We have the resources, the ingenuity, and strength to create a bright future.  Unfortunately, corruption, gluttony, and greed are currently controlling the path the world is on, and preventing that future.  I have not given up hope and never will.


      For the respect of our profession, the nobility of our daily task of preparing the next generation of leaders, and the lives of our students, please join parents, students, teachers and other community members for a march to tell big business: “Put kids first!”


      Next, to the Protesters and Allies in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and around the world: 


      How can I continue to push my students to graduate from high school and take out loans to go to college when there are no jobs waiting for them when they graduate that pay a living wage?  How can I continue to hold my students accountable for embodying the value of commitment when the leaders of our country continuously drop the ball on their water-downed promises?  How can I impress upon my students the ideals of compassion when the wealthiest minority is oppresses the vast majority of the people of our country?  How can I continue to imprint upon my students the value of integrity in one’s conduct, given the fact that after failing the economic system, the largest banks were bailed out and face little to no consequences for their immoral actions?  Finally, how can I continue to teach my students the value of reflection, leading to improvement and self control when, upon taking a reflective inventory of the economic and environmental status that the world is in, no substantial and sustainable changes occur? 


      I creatively continue to infuse my curriculum and teaching practices with these values because I of my hope for a better future.  I have not given up hope and never will.  Every child that leaves my Biology class at the end of every year has not only has a deep understanding of living things and how they interact with the world, but they also understand why it is so important that human beings consistently embody commitment, compassion, integrity, and reflection in every idea thought, every word spoken, and every action taken.  


      Everyday, 120 wonderful people sit in front of me with inquisitive teenage eyes that crave hope for the future.  I believe it is part of the responsibilities of my job to calm their fears, fuel their hope, and give them the tools to manifest their destinies.  I will be at Occupy Chicago as much as I can, as long as it doesn’t interfere my commitment to my students.   


      We will succeed in Chicago.  We will succeed in New York City.  We will succeed in Los Angeles.  We will succeed in D.C.  We will succeed everywhere that Americans are standing up for what is right, just, and humane.  We will succeed because failure is not an option.  We will succeed because this is the most important thing in the world right now.  We will succeed because we have the strength and endorsement of the majority of the people and living things that make up this planet. 


      It is up to us, the 99% to take back control of our world.  There are ways to sustainably rectify the dire situation that the majority of the people in the world and the planet itself are facing.

      What type of future are we going to give our children?  What is our legacy?  How will we fix environmental and economic collapse?  What will you do to make sure we succeed?  


      Finally, to Those in Power, Those in Charge, the 1%, and Their Allies:


      We will never give up.  This protest has no definitive beginning or end point, but don’t underestimate its power.  The American citizenry is not an entity that will fizzle out after a month, a year, or even a decade.  Politicians seeking endorsements and corporations hunting profits will not hijack us.  It is We, the People, United and Standing Strong.  This is about total systemic change.  I know you hear us and now it is impossible not to see us.  The status quo is no longer acceptable or even possible.  A peaceful and non-violence transition to a new way of life is the sane and sensible option.  It is to this future to which we, the 99%, have committed.  Will you fight us, or will you admit defeat and join us at the table?  





      Love, Hope, and Support for Humanity and the Living Planet,




      Robert Earl Thollander Jr

      Secondary Science Teacher

      Chicago Public Schools 










      P.S.  If you like what you read in this letter, pass it on. Write you own letter and pass that on too.  Also, if you don't like what you read in this letter, respond!   What we need right now in this country is a civil and democratic dialogue.       


    • Blog post
    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 411
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