Tuesday Tidbits, October 26, 2010

Yup – almost Halloween. Scary!

Sean Slade from the Healthy School Communities was the guest blogger for Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post blog Answer Sheet back in August; see his post about social and emotional learning. He writes about the school and the classroom as places “where students learn not only cognitively, but also socially and emotionally. Children are there to learn not only how to read, write, add, and subtract, but also how to work together as a group, a team, a community.” He then goes on to write that if we have these environments to assist our kids with their social and emotional learning (SEL) – the elementary school and its classrooms – “why have we not also distinctly aligned SEL to the programs, standards, evaluations, and assessments that take place at the school? Yes, many schools have added SEL to the topics to be covered over the course of the year, but fewer have actually consciously incorporated SEL into the fabric of what goes on in the classroom and the school.”

More on what I posted last week about physical and cognitive fitness: See two paragraphs of an early September piece in Scientific American, Smart Jocks: Sports Helps Kids Classroom Performance. For those that subscribe, you can get the whole article.

I posted a video last week from Sir Ken Robinson; here’s a critique of it by Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at UVA and the author of Why Don’t Students Like School? Among other things, Willingham takes Robinson to task for his statement, near the video’s end, that ADHD is “still a matter of debate.” Willingham: “It’s hard to find debaters willing to take the other side. You’ll be hard put to find them at the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, or any of the other national and international organizations that recognize ADHD as a medical condition.”

The blog Connected Principals had a great post yesterday about engaging parents as partners. Here’s a snippet: “Who gets to decide what meaningful parent voice is?” Sometimes the “smallest things can be so meaningful in a parent/family’s everyday life. It’s the little things that can make a huge difference in the home and how parents engage with their children.” School administrators need to “make a distinction about what the goal is when considering parent engagement: Do we want parents to engage with the school? Or engage in their child’s learning? Provide a variety of opportunities for engagement.”

See these photos from classrooms all over the world; they are part of Slate’s Hive Project for building a better classroom. And here U.S. students and teachers photograph the best and worst of their schools.

Lastly, do you know Auburn University’s Rural Studio? I want it to get into the school design and building business. In 1993, two Auburn architecture professors, Dennis K. Ruth and the late Samuel Mockbee, started Rural Studio in western Alabama, as a way to improve the living conditions in that rural area while imparting practical experience to architecture students. Rural Studio built a lot of homes and now is focused on larger community projects, like this playscape in Greensboro, Alabama.

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