This week we look at going techless. No Tech School, Jack West and Dianne de Las Casas.
It came to my attention through a video on CNN. I found another article by searching Google for it and came up with a piece from the NY Times. And now I’m preparing my notes for my internet delivered podcast on Google Docs so that it is something that I can work on from home and school without having to physically transfer it. Ironic, since the “it” that I am talking about is the Waldorf School, a school with the philosophy of “no tech” in the school. Although the one that was focused on in the video was the the Waldorf School of the Pennisula, there are around 160 Waldorf schools. And the irony continues with the Waldorf School of the Pennisula, since it is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. In fact, many of the parents at the school work in the technology field. So what do they do at Waldorf? They focus on creativity, physical activity, and hands on experience. They toss bean bags while reciting verses because it helps to synchronize body and brain. (We went through a phase 15-20 years ago where we all had to attend a Cross Brain Teaching course). They teach fractions through cutting up pies and cakes and having hands on experiences. Even in a school WITH technology, that is just good teaching practices. We all end up cutting the pie for fractions and reinforcing it on Pi Day in March. It just makes the learning memorable instead of memorized. The Waldorf Schools do endorse limited use of technology starting in Eighth Grade. Before that is a focus on literacy, numeracy and critical thinking. And here is where we part company. As in all things, moderation. I don’t feel that the technology and creativity are even remotely exclusive. My own children love their computer time. While sitting in the emergency room last night, they played a puzzle solving game on my phone. (We were there, though, because my two youngest love to play outside and let their imaginations run rampant. It just ran a little too rampant and ended up with a fall, a stick on the ground, and six stitches to the cheek) All of my girls love books. Not eBooks. Physical books. My eldest loves art and my tween loves the cello. And none of those joys were learned through technology, but they all are proficient in tech. So yes, by all means stress the creativity. Let’s end up with more people like Cain Munroy and his wonderful no-tech arcade. But don’t lose sight of the fact that without the tech of the internet, Cain’s story would only be known by his local community and not serve as an inspiration to us all.
This week’s KidLit Pick is Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World By Elizabeth Rusch
Have you ever thought about how you might make the world a better place? If you have, good for you! Did you know that kids with great ideas just like you are putting their ideas to work and helping people every day? In this book, you’ll hear the real life stories of 20 kids who found amazing ways to solve problems that grown-ups couldn’t. You’ll meet kids like Zachary Ebers, a 14-year-old who collected enough cereal so that kids at his school could have free breakfasts during summer vacation. You’ll also get to meet Ann Lai – a 12-year-old inventor who built a sensor to monitor the pollution levels being released from nearby smokestacks – and many others!
Our Audible Pick and KidLet Author of the week is Elizabeth Rusch. She is the Award-winning Child magazine columnist. Elizabeth Rusch is a frequent contributor to Know Your World Extra, Read, and the Oregonian newspaper. This book, along with her other’s, like A Day With No Crayons, show her dedication to creativity and encouraging children to explore their potential.
Check her website out at ElizabethRusch.com.
This week’s EdTech spotlight falls on Jack West
Jack West is a National Board certified, high school physics teacher. He is concluding the third year of a collaborative study with the Stanford Education department and the Industry Initiatives in Science and Math Education. It is through following him on Twitter that I read about Misconception Based Teaching. I am looking forward to trying out the approach in my own classroom next year, after a more research into the methods, of course. It was Jack’s tweet about a post on EduDemic that mentioned EdShelf, that brought Jack to my spotlight this week. EdShelf is a website that provides a directory of great EdTech tools for you to check out. Not only does it provide links to the tools, but gives you a chance to see reviews and how other educators are using them. I look forward to digging into it and providing some reviews and suggestions myself.
This week’s KidLit Spotlight is on Dianne de Las Casas
Dianne is both an author and a story teller where, on stage, she comes alive with “traditional folklore gone fun!” Her audiences sing, clap, dance, chant, and roar with laughter. Dianne adapts traditional folklore, adding fun audience participation, song, and of course, humor.
But as an author, Dianne has crafted great books for educators like Story Fest: Crafting Story Theater Scripts ,Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take , and, if you think you might like to go the traveling story teller route,The Story Biz Handbook: How to Manage Your Storytelling Career from the Desk to the Stage Having spent several years traveling with the Atlanta based Center for Puppetry Arts, working for Sid & Marty Krofft, and several other theater based jobs, I enjoy her enthusiasm and humor. She delights with regional favorites likeThe Cajun Cornbread Boy ,Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach, Mama’s Bayou and The Gigantic Sweet Potato. Her debut CD, Jambalaya ~ Stories with Louisiana Flavor has won numerous awards. Check her out on Twitter @storyconnection or her website http://www.storyconnection.net