Oct 31

Obama and McCain on education

Coming Tuesday is election day in the US, I don’t think anyone failed to notice that.  Both Obama and McCain are mainly focussing on the financial crisis and the war in Iraq. These are also what most voters claim to be the most important issues facing the US at the moment. With the campaigns hardening, it is quite possible to miss out on what the election candidates stand for when it comes to (K-12) education.

I found it hard to find out exactly what the main differences are between the two. But when it comes to K-12 education policies like school choice and funding, there are fundamental differences. McCain is much more supportive of school choice and local control than Obama, and Obama supports a much larger increase in federal education spending.  Obama supports an 18 billion dollar increase in federal education spending, with 10 billion of that increase devoted to an expanded federal effort in early education and preschool.

what do you find more important? More money for early education or freedom of school choice? Or both?

Oct 15

Halloween and autumn ideas

It’s that time of year, autumn is here again: The leaves come falling down and Halloween is also around the corner! This is just a short reminder that our autumn and Halloween pages are filled with fun stuff to do during this time of year.

halloween

So if you want lesson suggestions or just some general activities on the autumn and halloween themes, check out these pages:

The halloween crafts page is loaded with creative ideas to make your own cauldrons, bats, witches and more.

The halloween worksheets page is filled with flashcards, halloween memory games and more worksheets on the halloween theme.

The autumn crafts page features ideas to make leaves, mushrooms, spiders and umbrellas.

The autumn worksheets page is loaded with flashcards, games with leaves, templates and more.

Have fun!

Oct 05

Preschool learning activities

It is important for those who work with preschoolers to choose a preschool learning activity carefully. Teaching preschoolers is a rewarding experience and young children are like pliable putty in their preschool teacher’s hands. Those who teach children, especially preschoolers, experience one of the finest joys that life has to offer. If you have ever watched a young child’s eyes widen in amazement as they see a new creature emerge before their sight – as with a science-based preschool learning activity, then you understand the true rewards of teaching children.

Choosing the best preschool learning activity for young children will enhance their skills, prepare them for kindergarten, and help them develop important emergent skills. Some skills that are critical to early childhood development include:

  • Language Arts/ Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies/ Character Building
  • Physical Education/Health

Continue reading

Oct 04

Games to learn ESL

One of the challenges in teaching English as a second language (ESL) is to make learning as effortless as feasible. By making learning simple and fun, the instructor can make sure that the material imparted is received, understood and retained. Language is all about meaning and context. The best way for students to find meaning and context in what they are learning is in the event that they experience it.

Is it feasible then to teach the English language by allowing the participants to experience it? Yes it is feasible, through games. According to Lee Su Kim, author of Creative Games for Learning Class, using games in the classroom help students to maintain the work of learning. More to the point, it fosters interaction. What is language but a method to communicate? Through these fun activities, instructors will be able to promote the practice of English.

Real-learning is when even outside the learning place, the student will still be able to apply the subject material. Instructors must understand that the more relaxed the learning surroundings is, the less anxious the scholars will be. Hence, the simpler the scholars will be able to assimilate what is being taught. However, the use of games in ESL instruction requires cautious planning, design and execution.

Continue reading

Oct 02

Computer games and childrens’ math skills

Can playing computer games improve childrens’ math skills? Researchers in Scotland (link) found out that playing Nintendo DS‘s Brain Trainer significantly improved the students’ test scores.

Students aged nine and ten completed math tests before the nine week project, and then again afterwards.  All the childrens’ scores were higher, but those using the trainer improved by 50 per cent more than those who did not.

They also noticed when the pupils started the day with a twenty minute problem solving session of the game, that they had and increased attention span during the day.

According to LTS’s (Learning and Teaching Scotland ) national advisor for emerging technologies and learning,  “It shows teachers needn’t be afraid to use technology in the classroom”.

Well I’m not afraid  to use technology in the classroom, but I wouldn’t just let the students play games in school.  As one person commented in an earlier post on this site: “I believe children need to explore and develop fine motor skills and get exercise running around outside. I think a lot of other skills may suffer (Like social skills)”. I completely agree! 

Sep 18

Autumn photo flashcards

There are new autumn flashcards available for download on the autumn worksheets page. The flashcards are made with real photos. Have fun!

autumn flashcards

Sep 11

Laptops for kindergarten students

A new pilot has just started in Canada (link) to supply 4 year old kindergarten students with laptops, to be used in the classroom. During the pilot, the computers will be used “in both reading circle and outside the building to explore nature”.

Huh, what is that I thought? Exploring nature with a laptop?

Anyway, the people behind it find it important that “from the beginning, children will experience the technology that will be a part of their lives”. Well, it’s debatable whether that is something desirable, there’s lots of technology that you don’t want your child to experience at age 4: Game consoles, certain websites etc.

I encourage the use of computers in classrooms as a helping tool, but for kindergarten students to walk around with laptops (think about the weight they have to carry around!) sounds to me like one step too far. Although the mentioned “enhancements in their intelligence, non-verbal skills and problem-solving” are undoubtedly substantial, it probably does not help their social and emotional development. Guidance by a skilled teacher in this experiment will be very important.

Nevertheless I’m curious how this pilot works out, and whether these children are really better off later in life. The people behind the idea claim that “The younger they’re exposed to it, the better”. Well, I guess only the future can tell.