Monday, November 17, 2014

A sensory garden especially for children with disabilities

I love this idea. The Daily Beast reports on Stephen Knolls School in Maryland, which has a sensory garden for children with disabilities. There are systematic opportunities to use the five senses in exploring the plants and flowers of the garden. Garden arrangements of different colors, textures, sounds, smells, and even tastes are included.

But beyond that, they also provide "vestibular, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic input." What? That means input related to our body's "movements, position, and balance. Swinging high in the air, squeezing into a nook, or rolling down a hill might provide these sorts of sensory input."


What an amazing place for anyone--and it's especially wonderful that it's meant specifically and especially for kids who cannot access experiences many of us take for granted.

I also am giddy about the idea that there is an organization called the Therapeutic Landscapes Network. Must! Learn! More!

H.e.a.r. Chicago Talk's next theme is "Access." What an apropos article to come across.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Link to EdWeek post-election analysis

I'm watching to After The Storm: What the Election Results Mean for K-12 Policy, put on by EdWeek and featuring Gallup Education and some interesting panelists. They live-streamed it yesterday and it's posted today. I recommend it. Here's the link.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recap of H.e.a.r. Chicago Talk: Dignity

H.e.a.r Chicago Talk was this past Wednesday. Our three speakers spoke on the theme of Dignity.

From left to right, Sendhil Revuluri, Mark Larson, Jill Howe, and me

Mark Larson, assistant professor of education at National Louis University, showed clips from his nationwide interview project. Speakers talked about prioritizing the creativity that's integral to learning, and saying No to bad ideas versus choosing to work with existing systems no matter how flawed.

Mark chose a couple audience questions for further reflection: Which interview question would you most like answered in an interview broadcast to the world; and Is it possible for people who have a lot to lose to fight for change?

Sendhil Revuluri, associate director of the Suburban Cook County Mathematics Initiative (SCCMI), which promotes mathematics improvement in high-needs districts, talked about honoring students' existing understandings and misunderstandings in order to teach them most effectively, and how reasonable assessment benefits that process. 

The audience question Sendhil chose for further reflection was, What would a class without assessment look like?

Jill Howe, co-producer of Story Sessions, did a live-lit performance about teaching--and leaving teaching--as a Chicago Public Schools teacher, and the continuing effects of that experience five years down the road.  

The audience question Jill chose for further reflection was, How do you express the desire to teach now that you are no longer a teacher?

That question asked of Jill really struck a chord within me. My teaching career was brief and, by this point, is fairly ancient. And yet--and yet--the desire and drive to teach, the lingering, complicated emotions I have about the experience, the impact this work had on me, continues to shape my life.

I mentioned there was a theme to the evening--Dignity. The theme idea is new, based on feedback from prior attendees, and it worked great. It helped bring out speakers and gave audience a focus. The themes for the next two events are Access (February) and Green Space (May).

I made a couple other changes to the evening, too, based on participant feedback:
  • Past attendees noted that they like the focus on inquiry, but still want to hear answers. So, I added a component where the speakers have time to choose a few questions: some that they can answer, and one that they can't answer fully but that they find particularly thought-provoking, to hold onto for further reflection. This method seemed to retain a variety of question types while providing a more satisfying learning experience. 
  • I've have partnered up with the excellent Educelerate Meet-Up group, which brought out a fantastic crew of thoughtful and energetic people. My hope is to continue to build partnerships with a variety of educator groups with the aim of creating a unique and fruitful mix of participants.
All in all a fun evening with thoughtful and knowledgeable people. I'm looking forward to the next one. 

Can you guess which sticky-note set belongs to the mathematician and which belongs to the writer/performer? :D

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Three Speakers Tonight at H.e.a.r. Chicago Talk: Dignity

The theme this round is DIGNITY. We'll hear three speakers talk about different aspects of dignity in teaching and learning. Audience also gets to join in the conversation.

Following many years as a high-school teacher and a museum educator, Mark Larson is now an assistant professor of education at National Louis University. He has written two books, Making Conversation: Collaborating with Colleagues for Change; and, with Betty Jane Wagner, Situations: A Casebook of Virtual Realities for the English Teacher. He is currently conducting interviews with educators around the country, collected here.

Sedhil Revuluri is the associate director of the Suburban Cook County Mathematics Initiative(SCCMI), which promotes mathematics improvement in high-needs districts. Prior to his work there, he worked at a founding teacher at a South Bronx school, collaborated with the National Science Foundation to create algebra curriculum with embedded socio-emotional supports, and worked with Chicago Public Schools to promote collaboration and leadership among high school math teachers. 

Jill Howe, a former high-school English teacher, is the  co-producer of Story Sessions, a monthly live lit event with stories, music, and artwork at City Winery. Last year, daring herself to write more, she read a new story at least once a month. This fall, Jill is also coaching the new storytelling component of Fear Experiment at the Park West. 

I'm totally looking forward to cozying up to Black Rock Bar's fireplaces with a drink and some grub and joining in a thought-provoking exchange of ideas!