Broken Child

I have to reblog this. It breaks my heart. It hits so close to home.

This is by one of my favorite bloggers. I have tremendous respect for her honesty, her approach to life, her love for children and her love for books. I have tremendous respect for her teaching. She had the courage to completely change how she structured her class. She empowers students in a way not seen frequently.

This is a post about one of her children. I wish I could tell her that no, her child is not broken. Her child is lovely, wonderful, creative, caring. It’s not her child who is broken — it’s the school system. It is hard to tell a teacher that the school system is broken, but she knows it. She changed who she is in the classroom to address the very issues she’s seeing now in her child.

As one of the commenters said,  a world where kindergartners, first graders, etc., are expected to sit still is unnatural. Some kids thrive in it, but certainly not all. We crush the spirit of those who don’t fit that expectation. Why is that the value? Why do kindergartners need to read? Why is it that the only valuable learning occurs at a desk?

I saw this happen in my house. I was stubborn — too stubborn — and thought if my child only tried harder, if she only cared. I watched her spirit get crushed. I watched her frustration. I watched her self-esteem plummet. I watched her level of anxiety increase to the point of being incapacitating. All this for similar reasons — she couldn’t focus no matter how hard she tried. If I could do it all over, there are so many, many things I would do differently.

I wish I could just say to this blogger to follow her heart. Do what you need to do to honor your child. That’s what’s important – not what the expectations are of society, or of school.


Pernille Ripp

She’s got my eyes, you know.

Blue mixed with gray depending  on the weather.   She’s got my long legs, arms for miles, and a laugh that comes from her heart.  Her hands look like my grandfather’s who gave her her name.  And those feet of hers are just like mine, growing too fast for her shoes to keep up.

She’s got her daddy’s sense of humor, always ready to make you smile.  And also his artistic eye, declaring one day she will be an artist.  She will paint the sky with every color she knows.

But she doesn’t have my skills of sitting still.  Of staying quiet.  Of focusing in.

She doesn’t smile easy or understand when others are kidding.  Friendships are sometimes hard to find.

Some would say she is a broken child.  Some would say she is a broken child.

We come up with fixes to help…

View original post 309 more words


Fantastic idea about how to help high school students get ready for college — and I think it would help them STAY in high school!

Nick Stoneman writes about his school that schedules seniors in a way that gives them more autonomy over their day. In Nick’s words, this so-called “fifth grade schedule” is a problem: “Complacency is a risk when students have their time managed for them, as are both absenteeism and a lack of engagement.”

Even the brightest, most successful high school students have trouble when faced with the unstructured schedule of college.  This approach with a phased-in schedule would be a great way to give kids a safer place to experience this schedule, as well as keep kids engaged. Seniors are DONE with school by their last year, and giving them more responsibility and freedom could be a great way to keep them engaged.

Would some of them abuse the privilege? Of course. Guess what: they already find ways to sneak out of class and even if they are in class, they aren’t always present.

Will this happen? In most schools, no way, at least not for most kids. You’ll hear about transportation issues. You’ll hear that kids need to be in school. The transportation issue is real, although there must be ways to work around it.

Figure it out.


On the way to school this morning (for yet another early theater rehearsal) my daughter and I were discussing being tired and getting to bed at a decent time. (To her credit, she is in bed by 10:30 usually, which is early for a high school kid.)

Her observation about being tired? “I bet I wouldn’t be so tired if I wasn’t having to sit quietly and listen all day long.”


Seriously. Even 15-year olds need to do something besides sit quietly and absorb information. They need to move, to create.

Without prompting from me, she brought up the art class she took last year and reflected how that was such a different experience creating things.

How do I, as a parent, reconcile the fact that I send my kid into an atmosphere in which I feel deadens the learning experience? Not every class, not every teacher, of course. But the overall model of kids sitting and taking in content delivered by a “sage on the stage” figure is outdated. Something needs to change, and I fear it won’t change soon enough.

Students prefer Print?

Great post by Technology in Music Education today about a study that shows that college students prefer print books to e-textbooks. I attended a session at the MN e-Learning Summit in July presented by the folks at the U of M that shared the same impressions – that students didn’t use the interactive features, they preferred print, etc.

I have two main comments:

  1. What was not shared in the Chronicle article (and another summary article I saw about this but can’t find at the moment) is that the folks at the U has similar thoughts to what Chris expressed in his post: students and professors haven’t been exposed to these tools, and need to learn how to use them. I was happy to hear the U folks saying this, because it’s SO totally true.
  2. The U of M folks also expressed that the e-textbooks they used were not, perhaps, quite ready for primetime. There were some issues with the reader and it sounded like the e-texts were pretty much pdfs online, with minimal interactivity.


As Chris said, students and professors tend to stay with the familiar. These college students were trained in school to learn with certain tools. They know these tools, that’s their comfort zone. I saw this in an experience I had with an undergrad class last year. In a group of about 40 students, not a single student used a device to take notes. They actively expressed skepticism about e-texts — until they did more research and watched 6th grade students using our iPad app!

I also see this with my kids and their friends – both the 7th grader and the 10th grader. Kids stick with what they know and how they’ve been taught. I’ve asked high school kids if they want digital curriculum, and they have all the same reasons we hear that they don’t: not everyone has a device, they prefer print, etc. We can’t always rely on the students to lead. Sometimes, they need to be taught – shown – different ways of learning. In my cynical state, it’s just a sign of how they are trained in our current educational system.


I totally concur that the e-text industry isn’t ready for prime time. I’ve done a great deal of looking at digital textbooks and curriculum. I have yet to see tools that really take advantage of the medium and aren’t basically moving print to digital. Fortunately, not all are just pdfs online, but they still have a ways to go.

The Modern Learner

I’ve posted quite a bit about the 21st century learner – -traits we all see: visual, social, bits of information, etc.

Here’s a great description of a fictional “modern learner” by Mike Fisher.

Outside of school, he doesn’t separate technology from other activities. For him, it is air or water, something that he doesn’t really think about because it’s always available.

Go read the full post.


This year, my son is taking an Astronomy class at a three-week summer program. It’s intense – they are doing some tough stuff during these three weeks. My son loves it.

On the first day, he was so excited to tell me that the teacher told them to USE their camera on their cell phones/iPods!! The teacher told them to take pictures of the activities they do in class. Wow. He gets it!!

The kids are going to use the pictures to create a slide show for the Open House night  on the second-to-last day of camp. I think this is brilliant. Instead of the teacher taking all the pictures, let the kids! That way you see the class through their eyes – not the teachers. The kids have a task, a responsibility.

The teacher also encouraged the kids to show their parents the pictures. So my son does. It’s been a great way to get past the “What did you do today. Nothing.” conversation. Instead, I ask him to show me the pictures he took that day. We’ve had some great conversations, he’s talked a ton more than he would otherwise, and I’ve learned something. It would have been much harder to explain some of what they did without the pictures.

So, besides learning incredible stuff about astronomy, the kids are also learning digital citizenship, and 21st century skills such as communication and collaboration. In addition, they are using visual media to communicate – and since over 60% of this generation are visual learners, this fits right in.

So, thank you, Mr. Bullard. You get it.


Ask the Kids

Blog post by Heather Wolpert-Gawron about what her students find engaging. This would be a great step for any teacher to take.

Recently had an excellent conversation with the principal of a local high school that is just starting to look at technology integration. We discussed how it is really about teaching and learning differently, not about technology. We discussed doing a survey of students about the technology they have available.

This would another great step to take. What do the kids think would be engaging?