Interesting Teaching Concept

Finland is restructuring how they teach- removing “subjects” and teaching “topics”. For some reason this new teaching concept interests me. I can’t wait to see how it all works and the learning that happens. Definitely a different way to view teaching.

Historically, Finland has been studied by other countries all over the world as a model educational system. I found this general article about the fascinating educational philosophies in Finland on Smithsonian magazine website and this quote stood out:

There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.

Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States.

Why is Early Education Important?

I am often asked about the importance of having the appropriate learning environment for gifted students. I loved how these educators answered the questions in an article titled: “Love the Child, Not the Gift”

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Why help gifted students? Because the first rule of education is “do no harm.”

 JON: What are the most important reasons why we need to invest in gifted students?

SIDNEY and FELICIA: The first rule of education is to “do no harm.” There is considerable research suggesting that gifted students can be harmed if they do not receive appropriate educational interventions. This is especially true in elementary school and among at risk populations, such as children who live in poverty or children who have both gifts and disabilities. The harm can manifest as disturbances in social and emotional development, such as behavior problems, depression, loneliness, and alienation. It almost always manifests as lost academic potential. Hence, the first reason to invest in gifted students is to ensure that they are not harmed by their school experiences. We might call this a moral imperative for investment in gifted students. A second reason to invest in gifted students is to enable them to fulfill their potential.  Gifted students by definition have unusual capabilities, but those capabilities cannot be fully realized without a long process of talent development. For gifted individuals, talent development is a prerequisite for self-actualization. We might call this a humanitarian reason to invest in gifted children. The third and final reason we propose for investing in gifted students is because of the potential return that investment might yield for society. Gifted individuals have tremendous potential to benefit society as adults, whether they choose to focus their talents on raising their children, excelling in their professions, performing at high levels in the arts, making discoveries in the sciences, and/or creating inventions that enhance our lives. We might call this the pragmatic reason to invest in gifted children—the investment may return substantial gains to society in the future.

What do you think? More recess, less, or none?

What??!! Recess isn’t mandated? I just read an article that a break in the day for children is not required by law. I am in shock and had no idea. I just assumed since in the adult world, breaks are mandatory, it would be the same for little bodies. Nope. Since the push for testing and assessments, it seems that other facets (like social skills from recess) of the lives of children are not as important to develop?

Recess is vital in my opinion. Not just for a mental break but for social interactions, imaginary play, games, and there is a lot of research about the benefits of just moving our bodies around.

If adults want a break during the day at work, don’t you think children do too?!

Educators Issue a Call for Mandatory Recess

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Camp Posts, Delayed

So sorry but our camp posts will be delayed a few days…

We are so busy getting the classrooms painted, decorated, and furniture put together that I won’t be able to write on the blog for a few days. Here are a few pics to keep you updated…

Here is Debbie working very hard holding the door open.

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Here is Sherry putting the sofa together, taking apart, and putting it back together again!

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Sherry putting together her first piece!

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How to Annoy a Gifted Child

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I LOVED working with gifted students in my gifted resource room and classroom. They are intense, perfectionist, funny, and enjoy challenges. They could also get annoyed quickly and sometimes didn’t hesitate to tell me all about it- even if I didn’t want to hear it. I learned over the years to help guide them in how to express this frustration or annoyance. I taught them how to try to be constructive and understanding towards other students. Sometimes I was successful. 

I recently came across this article my partner and I hung up in our classroom by our desk. We also shared it with some of the classroom teachers we worked with at the school. I felt it was important to remind myself of why these children got annoyed so I could be more understanding. 

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How do I find the right school for my child?

Where we live, we are fortunate that we have lots of options when it comes to educational setting for our child. However, sometimes that can also be a curse. There are almost too much to choose from!

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When we started looking last year for the right place to send our son, we looked into charter, magnet, private, and public schools. In our county the public schools even have 2 different calendars to choose- year round or traditional. It was so overwhelming to talk to, research, and tour all the schools. However, I was really glad that we did and here are a few personal reasons:

1. Every school has its own “personality” or a feeling that I got when I walked in to the school. You can get a good sense if it is a good fit for your child pretty quickly.

2. Some of the schools were a little overwhelming in the classroom- almost too much going on or a lot of “stuff” around (NOTHING wrong with this at all- just something I noticed).

3. Each school had different size classrooms and amount of children in them.

4. I liked the students having technology in the classrooms.

5. I liked smiling teachers.

6. I thought hands-on, field trips and speakers were important.

*All the schools I toured had fantastic curriculum and learning so I didn’t really list this.

Every parent will opinions or ideas of what they want from the school environment. The hard part is not to feel pressured by others when making your decision. I always tell parents to tour several schools, talk to the teachers and administrators, and make sure you feel comfortable with your choice. Some parents will tour 8 schools and some will know right away where they want to send their child. It is a personal decision! Good luck!!

Helpful parenting link from PBS for choosing right school

Kids NEED To Learn To Make Mistakes

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LOVE mistakes as a teacher. It is so important for kids to learn that it is natural part of learning and it WILL happen.

I might sound like a bad or mean teacher but I always highlighted mistakes in my classroom- mine and students’. I think it is an integral part of the learning process and one that is often not taught. I would also point out my mistakes and have the students analyze how and why I made it.

Sometimes I would ask the students if I could use them as an example of making a mistake. In the beginning of the year the students would balk or start to get upset about this- especially the perfectionists. It would provide the perfect opportunity for students to learn that EVERYONE makes mistakes and it was fine. We would talk about how it didn’t make the person better/worse/smarter/ or dumber. We would always recognize the bravery of the person and letting us look at their work and to talk about it.

For gifted students, this was vital. They realized they didn’t have to be perfect, they didn’t have to always be right or have all the answers. It also helped them become comfortable with coming to ask questions and realize I was going to judge or think of them any different.

I love this article posted on Edutopia and how it highlights embracing mistakes. Highly recommend it.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Today has been full of changing our name, converting to new blog address, learning how to utilize help topics, tweeting, Facebook, Instagram, etc! I also got to talk to another private gifted school that is opening their doors next year too! What an opportunity for me to talk to someone going through the same experiences.

Anyways- just wanted everyone to know our name changed, the look of the blog changed, but we are the same! Happy reading!

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Power of a Teacher

I love teaching.

I love seeing faces light up when “something clicks”.

I love hearing the little feet running down the hallway or up a trailer ramp with excitement of the learning that happens.

I love having students or parents years later come and tell me how much it meant for their child to have been in my classroom.

I just love teaching and always hope my students feel that from me.

~I saw this video tonight and it is a great demonstration of how one assignment can change the lives of students forever.

Sometimes I feel Like a Hypocrite

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Do you ever feel like this?? Not just in parenting but anything?

Well, I do…this weekend we made a decision to change the name of our school. I strongly believe that gifted children should not be ashamed of their gifts but taught about them. They are not better than anyone else but they are different.

Anyways- I could stand on that soapbox (and I have!) for awhile.

I cannot change that there is a social stigma against talking about or having your child be considered academically gifted.

Therefore, we are changing the name to “Wake Academy“.

Just wanted to make sure everyone knew! We will be busy the next few weeks changing everything over to the new name.