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17/07/2014

The Power of Visual Aids - Don't Blame Yourself!




Please study the picture above.

It is interesting to see how beautifully this infographic displays perhaps the most important findings in modern times on how people learn and what educators should do to make learning effective. It is doable!

The statistics shown in the picture above are a strong reminder of what teachers of all ages of students should know and how visual aids can make all the difference.  

No matter what it is you teach, as a teacher or a trainer, as long as you intend to pass on learning to a group of people, the use of visual aids is a game changer. They paint a lasting picture of facts, incite creative thoughts and imprint the subject matter in practical, real life forms that can be translated. 

The results are immeasurable and certainly, outweigh those sessions or classes done without them. The learners and trainees get to achieve HIGHER GRADES/HIGHER PERFORMANCE LEVELS. So, apply this teaching methodology always!

Imagine what could have happened to your performances if you were taught using 'proper' visual aids; and today especially  for younger children - the results would have been markedly different.  

So, don't blame yourself!











15/07/2014

School Test Scores Tell Us Very Little

A letter from a discerning BarrowFord School in United Kingdom to their pupils.

"Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.
However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that makes each of you special and unique.
 
The people who create these tests and score them do not each of you -- the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do. They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place, or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends. They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful or that you try, everyday, to be your very best... the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. 
So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart."


This underscores the limitations of the conventional testing of student's core learning abilities. It is my hope that we can learn from it. 

26/06/2014

What can the business community do to support education?


"In business, we rarely have the luxury of making an investment decision with as much evidence as we have to support the economic value of investing in early childhood development and education... Put bluntly, in my terms, they are a financial no-brainer. The only question is 'how strong is the ROI?' The answer. Two or three or more than one."

- John Pepper, former CEO Procter & Gamble


ROI means Return On Investment

I have noticed the trend most business 
organisations follow in their corporate social responsibility agenda. I sometimes wonder if as a people, we have misled them with the notion of what our collective interests are. It seems to me that many people undermine the need for us to drive change in the education sector by our very limited advocacy. It is time for us to up this discussion by seeking support from the corporate world for the right courses.

Business leaders can take various steps to help children access quality education. 

1. Support access to quality early childhood education through secondary education in their communities and states by sponsoring a child or donating teaching aids,  classroom materials and building standard science and art laboratories. 

2. Support programmes to train pre-kindergarten and elementary grade teachers in math and science to encourage inventions and innovations.

3. Offer employees information on engaging their children in fun activities for basic school subjects.
Provide portable early care centers for employees within their premises.

4. Provide expertise, volunteers and  resources to local schools to help develop play-based, hands on science, technology engineering and math (STEM) programs. 

They may even support radio and TV shows that advocate all of the above and more. We know for certain that investing in quality early childhood education programmes in Nigeria not only ensures that all children have access to quality education, but has long term economic benefits for the nation.

"By age 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy who will complete high school and college and who won't."

- David Brooks, Columnist
New York Times



More from www.readynation.org

17/06/2014

Bursting Education Myths - Myth 2: Homework Boosts Achievement



There is no evidence that this is true. In Finland, students have higher achievement with little or no homework and shorter school hours. The more important factor is what students experience during the school day. Project-based learning, as one example, places the emphasis on what is done during the day. If students choose to do more after hours, that's their choice. There also may sometimes be other good reasons to assign homework, but there should be no illusion that homework will help increase student achievement.

The Learning Craft: We know that any classroom that is full of engaging activities would encourage lifelong love for learning. The experiences given or shared within the environment of the teaching - learning process is usually a 'clincher'. Students take more from this sort of classroom experience than most other places. 
Homework should given when the teacher deems it necessary as the case may be OR given as a project. The type and duration of homework should be done according to age  group and most importantly the students should do it themselves. 

  • Note to teachers: You know when that homework is not done by the child, insist they repeat it and do it by themselves.

  • Note to parents: Homework is given so that you can help your child if the need arises, please resist the eagerness to do your child's homework  for them.  You do more harm than good. 

15/06/2014

The Joys and Benefits of Cursive Handwriting - Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

As a writer and former English teacher I sensed this. But now, science agrees with me.

Yes, it's official. The New York Times says we learn more and express ourselves better when we write long hand.

In her article entitled What's Lost as Handwriting Fades, science writer Maria Konnikova summed it up this way:


"Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it's not just what we write that matters -- but how."

How do we know for sure?

Dr. Karen James, a psychologist at Indiana University featured in the New York Times article, used a scanner to observe brain activity in children as they wrote, traced and typed.

She discovered that free hand writing lights up three areas of the brain -- the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex. When we type or trace letters, there is much less activity.

Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, offered even more insights in the article. Her studies proved that children who wrote compositions in cursive generated more words and ideas than children who typed. In fact, children writing in cursive generated more words and ideas than children who printed their compositions long hand as well.

While this may be news to many educators and parents, many of us who write professionally -- or just for the love of it -- have suspected all this for a very long time. Though now forced to do a great deal of our writing with computers, many of us discovered our love for words by writing long hand.

I call it the "John Boy syndrome," that yearning to curl up with an old fashioned writing tablet, a ballpoint pen or even that old No. 2 pencil to write to your heart's content. As I writer, I can literally "feel" the difference between the writing I do "by hand" and writing I do strictly via computer.

So can some agents and editors. In fact, I've begun to see submission guidelines from both that suggest writers try writing long hand more often. A trend? No.

There are far more agents and editors who will only accept electronic submissions. And very few writers have the time or desire to type or dictate that hand written tome into a digital version.

But I've taken to printing out my fiction and writing the corrections and any idle thoughts that bubble up in the process in cursive. That one extra step seems to unlock a door somewhere -- ideas flow. And I return to the keyboard rejuvenated -- I can't type fast enough.

As an old school English teacher, I even had my students copy notes from the board in cursive. I found that they retained more of what they wrote that way. And they were usually able to write with more confidence and complexity than peers who composed by computer alone.

Yet, cursive writing isn't even part of the Common Core after first grade. And I meet more and more young people who know nothing about it -- they don't even have a cursive signature.

Do they need one? Probably not. It's a digital age.

But now we know exactly what they're missing. And why it matters.

So go get your John Boy on. Write something, or to someone, long hand. And feel those doors open.

The Learning Craft : I have always known this to be a fact. See our previous post on this topic here.

10/06/2014

Bursting Education Myths : Myth1 Teachers are the Most Important Influence





It has become very important for educators around the world to tell truths concerning the effectiveness of our education. We are on a mission to bust some education myths most people have believed for too long. Thanks to the increasing research in the field, educators around the world are discovering truths that are scientifically proven about education. 


These widely-shared myths and/or lies about education are destructive for all of us and destructive for our educational institutions. So destructive that they have potentially misdirected our energies as parents, teachers, caregivers and administrators away from adopting best practices in our homes and schools. 


Written by Mark Phillips of Edutopia, I begin with the most popular one.

Myth #1: Teachers are the Most Important Influence on a Child’s Education

Of course teachers are extremely important. Good teachers make a significant difference in achievement. But research indicates that less than 30 percent of a student's academic success is attributable to schools and teachers. The most significant variable is socioeconomic status, followed by the neighborhood, the psychological quality of the home environment, and the support of physical health provided. There are others, but the bottom line is that teachers have far less power to improve student achievement than do varied outside factors.

Yes, teachers can only do so much as stated. There are quite a number of caregivers who disagree with this fact; but the truth is that the above mentioned factors supercede the influence of teachers. Over many years of experience, teachers know this to be a fact. You could ask any teacher you know.















06/06/2014

Save the Date: Day of the African Child

The world is standing in support of our children's  safe stay in schools on the 16th of June 2014. Programs will be held and you are invited to lend your voice to Children's rights to a quality, safe, free and compulsory education.

 What are you doing this month? If your answer includes "taking a stand so that children around the world can have safe access to education," that's great. If not, there's still time to act.

Thousands of young people are mobilising - from Malawi to Macedonia, Burundi to Bangladesh, Lagos to London and from the US to the UAE -  to host events throughout June. 

You can stand in solidarity with the abducted girls from Nigeria and advocate for safe schools and the right of every girl and boy to go to school.

Here's how:
Attend the event on 16 June, 2014 - Day of the African Child at The National Stadium Surulere Lagos organised by the African Child's Rights group.  Time: 2pm - 3:30pm

I will be among a group of panelists speaking on the Possibilities and Opportunities of a qualitative, free and Compulsory Inclusive Education in Nigeria.

Keep a date with us as we speak in one voice for our Children's rights. 

27/05/2014

Happy Children's Day

Even though this is hard to say easily because we should be flying our flags at a half mast in honour of the abducted girls, we still celebrate our children today here at The Learning Craft.

Children have rights!

Right to qualitative education.
Right to access to good health.
Right to play.
Right to explore and discover their environment.
Right to good nutrition.
Right to be loved....

As we celebrate the children of Nigeria today, let us be mindful to give access to that child within our environment any of the above mentioned rights.

Give them an opportunity to thrive not survive.


HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY!

25/05/2014

Thinking About the Girls

 At the heart of any education planner's job is one of the most important aspects of the school environment - safety. It is the provision of a safe environment where children can learn, have fun and  feel ownership. It is usually an environment that should provide opportunities for children to act as agents of change for sustainability and finally become future guardians of the world they live in. Every child's unique qualities and interests therefore is used as the background strategy for the program. 

I think about my days in one of the Federal government secondary schools in Northern Nigeria over a decade ago. I remember our long trips to and from Lagos to school and how we looked forward to those trips in our parent-organised school buses. We caught up on our holiday activities, chatted away happily and sang songs to while away time. We had so many activities inside the bus, some of us could not easily  fall asleep in the over 8-hour journey. The buses we rode in broke down along the way many times such that we sometimes found ourselves in remote towns or villages  at night time for many hours until they were fixed. Passengers were ONLY GIRLS with 2 males - (a driver and an assistant). 

I must say that we were unduly lucky. Anything, just about anything could have happened to us! We sometimes got to school very late at night  or at the wee hours of the next day to our hostels with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. 

Fortunately, and I mean that in every sense of the word, Nigeria had not began experiencing the sensitive issues of terrorism we are going through these days; but these were issues that were certain to arise considering the manner in which national issues were handled. 

We were really lucky those days! There were many unrecorded cases of violence on children as still is today. In the face of multiple challenges, the pulse of the problems is usually felt by ordinary citizens who are searching for a basic living wage. 'Safety' raises her head.

Our hostels were sometimes raided by what we called 'a strange man' or 'strange men' as each case was. Men, who in hindsight, I  now understand to be nomads. Men who easily walked through our school's compound at night time during their long journeys. In their sojourn, they passed through our schools  and into our hostels because our school borders were not adequately protected. Those were very scary times I hate to recall!

Moving forward into today's times, I'm deeply disturbed by the abduction of girls from a government secondary school in Chibok almost 2 months ago. Those girls are just like you and I who passed through our public girls-only secondary schools some years ago! The tide and times have changed in terms of governance and we are yet to adjust  our systems to protect young children from the harrowing situations that have arisen. 

Our public schools are largely unprotected today even after many decades. Safety is a vital part of the school curriculum as is Math, the Sciences or Language. School safety is embedded in the day-to-day administration of any school. 

Our teachers are not fully equipped to teach students efficiently and are certainly not equipped to groom the kind of global citizen who should ultimately become Nigeria's future leaders...and yet, we do not have teachers! The teacher to potential student ratio stands at 1:10,000. There is a lot of 'citizen sensitization' to be done in promotion of the need for teachers. 

School Safety! An issue that had been largely swept under the rug at the helm of affairs; but has managed to raise its head due to the current wave of religious and cultural issues; albeit in such atrocious manner. 

It is my hope that as we collectively raise our voices for the safe return of our missing girls, that we charge forward the other pertinent issues that challenge our system of education as a whole. It is something we must do if we are ever going to see Nigeria change for the better. A qualitative system of education is the one key that could unlock Nigeria from these dragging distress. 

#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS
My heart is troubled. I cannot begin to  fathom the varying levels of physical and mental torture our abducted daughters may be going through. 

14/05/2014

Moments at Puerto Rico



Just got back from the World Forum on Early Care and Education in San Juan Puerto Rico. It was exciting, educating and we were a family of like minds...simply beautiful!

I learnt from the World Forum that at the heart of all situations, people around the globe share common issues in different measures. We may control them differently because of our various systems of governance but the core of our issues are alike. 

I will share these commonalities and differences in time to come as there is a wealth of knowledge to gain from them. 

Here are some moments at the conference.


 Huge support from delegates around the world. 
More support

International Dance Night

With founder Roger Neugebauer

Art works of children around the world. 

Closing ceremony with colleagues who are now friends for life.

Yes! We share this space.


27/04/2014

My Journey to Puerto Rico

Hola! 
I am counting down to the World Forum on Early Care and Education taking place at San Juan Puerto Rico from the 6th - 9th of May 2014. One of the things I would be doing there as part of the 'Special Needs' Working Group is presenting in a panel discussion on the topic 'Inclusion Practices Around the World - The Nigerian Story' amongst many other experiences.

As I researched on this topic, I realised  how deep our misapprehensions are concerning 'Special Needs' and Inclusive Education in Nigeria. We certainly are in need of community/media advocacy on this issue. There are far too many children in need of this system of education whose lives could be touched just by us beginning to practice a comprehensive Inclusive system of education.

To date, Early Childhood Education  is not being provided by the government throughout the country - an education policy reform that must be looked into. It is the one important sector of any Education system that feeds the foundation for successful schooling for the average child.

What is Inclusive Education? Inclusive Education is sometimes intertwined with 'Integration' which is the mainstreaming and/or incorporation of students with special needs ( blindness, deafness, autism, dyslexia, sickle cell anaemia, polio, and all other mental and physical challenges) in regular schools. Inclusive Education is also the type of schooling that facilitates personalized learning opportunities for all students. It is the kind of practice that adapts frameworks to various excluded groups (especially rural populations, girls, and students with special needs). It also views 'languages' as a factor related to the lack of access to education.

San Juan, Puerto Rico comes alive with Early Care and Education professionals from all over the world. It promises to be 'edutaining' and I will be sharing my learning experiences, sights and sounds with you in the coming weeks. 
Adios!

11/03/2014

Haunted by the Red Ink

I remember opening my books as a young child, waiting anxiously to see how well I had performed in my classwork or tests. Often the anxiety resulted in 'favorable outcomes' but there were moments that didn't turn out so well- These moments haunted me for a very long time well past those daunting years. Those dreaded moments were the sight of 'The Red Ink'. Dreaded and despised by many-a-pupil in my time.


The Red Ink
The red ink signifies teachers' written remarks. Back then, it was an indication that there was something wrong with one's work. If it wasn't a tick in a copy book or written with blue or black coloured pen on a report card, it often indicated a problem. A problem that was usually written in RED COLOURED PEN. 
It didn't come as a surprise when I became a teacher many years later, that I loathed using the 'red pen' in grading students' work. I mostly choose a blue pen or bright and legible coloured pens that were more friendly to the eyes. I soon discovered that it was never really about the colour of the pen, but the remarks that came along with it, which was either discouraging or downright disheartening.

 Rita F. Pierson once graded a student who scored 2 out of 20, with a '+2' and a big smile. "Is this an F?", the student asked. Yes, she replied. "Why did you put a smiley face?", he asks again. "Because you're on the roll, you got 2 right, you didn't miss them all" she replied. She went farther to ask him if he would do better after revision to which he answered a big YES! (Seems strange from a teacher right?)
It isn't out of fact, that the kid  in question had performed way below average, but it was Rita's hope to inspire this child to do better which turned out to be the case and frankly a lot easier.

Teachers’ comments on students’ work should be made to help them understand the strengths and weaknesses of their work, and to make clear how their work has or has not achieved the goals and standards set in the class. It is not to suppress the feelings (or the creative mind) of the student but to serve as a remedial process. A process that should guide students to be interested in finding solutions to mistakes and/or improving on their specific skills. It should even build relationships between the learner and teacher.

Todays teachers should champion the course of guiding the future of the students. Their remarks could either inspire or discourage a learner's spirit. The spirit of inquiry and discovery continues to be the driving force of the world's socio-economic advancements and teachers play a pivotal role in the entire process. 

All Learning is understanding relationships - George Washington Carver

I believe that a good student-teacher relationship has crucial, positive and long-lasting implications for students' academic and social development. Students learn better when they have good relationships with their teachers......teachers they like.

See teachers tips for writing good remarks here.

10/03/2014

In Pictures: Global Money Week - Financial Literacy for Children and Youth

The celebration of Global Money Week takes place every year during the second week of March. This initiative is coordinated by the Child and Youth Finance International Secretariat and in conjunction with 'AJAPA WORLD' group in Nigeria.

Here are the line of events marking the celebration.

AJAPAWORLD GLOBAL MONEY WEEK

10th March - 17th
9am - 10am: Press Conference at SIAO
11am - 1pm: Money March from Freedom Park to Marina with public schools

MARCH 11TH TUESDAY
10am – 11am: Visit to Banks
 1pm - 2:30pm: Visit to School

MARCH 12TH WEDNESDAY
9am -11am: Visit to Supermarket and Panel takes place at Ajapaworld Studio

MARCH 13TH THURSDAY
8am - 9:30am: Visit to School - Corona
12pm - 1:30pm: Visit to School - Edidot 2:30pm - 3:30pm: Visit to School - Dowen College

MARCH 14TH FRIDAY
TBD: Monopoly Tournament at School

MARCH 16TH SUNDAY
2pm- 2:30pm: Radio discussion about children and money

MARCH 17TH MONDAY
All Day: Pledge Balloons all over Nigeria (Social media campaign)


Rhoda, Akin and Jimi
Akin Braithwaite of Ajapa World
The celebrations of 2014 will take place between 10 March and 17 March 2014. During this week various worldwide activities will be held to engage children, youth and their communities to learn how money works, including saving, creating livelihoods, gaining employment, and becoming an entrepreneur. The week brings the world one step closer to ensuring that every child will have access to financial services, financial awareness through education, a reliable source of income, and the the understanding of the need to save. Aiding the next generation to be confident, responsible and skilled economic citizens. Every year, during the second week of March, young people around the globe talk, play, create, sing, read, discuss and learn about saving, money, changing economic systems and building a strong financial base.

08/03/2014

Infographic: Why female education is absolutely necessary!

United Nations Global Monitoring Report

World Women's Day 2014


Yes, it is our day! The world will be celebrating women and girls today. Issues to be discussed will include gender gaps in education and labour. 

Be a part of this day by promoting the discourse.

06/03/2014

Celebrate International Women's Day 2014

The International Women's Day 2014 will be celebrated on the 8th of March ( 2 days away). Women and men around the world will be participating in activities that would raise issues in advancement of women and girls courses.

One of the main issues to be raised will be the education of the girl child. At least one in five adolescent girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, conflict and discrimination. Missing out on school can mark the end of a girl having any choice over her own future. 

Please join in this celebration. Support the education of girls in any measure you can. Here are some ideas on what to do. Make it simple.
Discuss with your friends and colleagues on its relevance. Talk about ways you can help. You may organise a bake sale and give proceeds to a girl around your neighbourhood or community in support of their education. Organise group meetings to seek support for consistency and most importantly, keep the message alive by spreading the word.


14/02/2014

LOVE! Happy Valentine's Day!

It is a known fact that St. Valentine's Day is on the 14th of February every year and the theme of this celebration centers on 'love'. Luckily, it's a few days before my birthday and so I get to receive gifts early, feeling loved even more so at this season of sharing love.           
                                   
Many are of the opinion that Valentine's Day is just another day that should not be given any more accolades than necessary because love should be celebrated daily. I do agree with the position that we should endeavour to make the expression of love a lifestyle ritual. However,  I understand that human beings have always done better with a bit of reminders.
I believe that the celebration of love on this special day is more of an advantage than disadvantage to the world especially among families, friendships and humanitarian causes.                    
What bigger reason could there be than for the world to be unified for any cause other than the giving of love.
'Love', a phenomena that captures hearts beyond biases, sentiments, religions, customs and beliefs. Read a brief history of St. Valentine's Day here.  


Today, share and give love. Educators around the world are united on reaching one goal - which is to instill in students the love for lifelong learning. We equally understand that learning could not be permanent if it excluded sharing love.

How to share  Love.
Consider using a time when the whole family is together to share why you love one another. Give each member of your family the opportunity to share a few reasons why they love each member of the family. This makes for great conversation at the dinner table!

Hug often. The old saying that "actions speak louder than words" could not be truer when it comes to showing love and affection. Fortunately, there are endless ways we, as parents, relatives and caregivers show our love every day. In the process, we are strengthening the bond we have with children and promoting their sense of self and confidence.

Help a child through school. Find a kid in your neighbourhood whose life you could change. Support their education in any measure you can. You would be contributing to reducing the number of over 10 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.

So give love... 

04/02/2014

Revealing The Global Learning Crisis

At least 250 million of the world's 650 million primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics, according to a report commissioned by the U.N. education agency.
The report found that 130 million are in primary school but have not achieved the minimum benchmarks for learning, and almost 120 million have spent little or no time in a classroom including 57 million youngsters who are not attending school.
The independent research team that wrote the report for UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, calculated that the cost of 250 million children around the world not learning translates to a loss for governments of around $129 billion annually.
UNESCO's U.N. representative Vibeke Jensen said this global "learning crisis" is mainly caused by a lack of well-trained teachers, especially in impoverished areas.
"While more children are in school, it's been at the cost of quality," she said at a news conference launching the report. "The issue now is to put the focus on quality."
In a third of countries analyzed by the team, less than 75 percent of the primary school teachers had been trained to meet national standards.
"Teachers have the future of this generation in their hands," UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement. "We need 5.2 million teachers to be recruited by 2015, and we need to work harder to support them in providing children with their right to a universal, free and quality education."
The report said that ensuring an equal, quality education can increase a country's gross domestic product per capita by 23 percent over 40 years.
Interesting stats! I wrote about the need for more teachers during the 2013 World's Teacher's Day. See post here

One thing we can do as concerned stakeholders is to get active about getting kids into school and talking about their education with any chance we get in any local community forum. 
We can also get involved, and play our own role in whatever measure by contributing and or supporting public primary education initiatives and programmes. There is strength in talking about these issues in every relevant (even any) forum and opportunity we get. This builds up the momentum that (combined with our ideas and suggestions already lurking), will add vent to the collective clamoring for the refurbishment, modernization and ultimate reformation of our Teacher Colleges. Our country will progressively advance, as we educate the minds and enable the spirits of our people. Poverty and illiteracy will be reduced with a better education system. From the UN report above, it is clear that the Economies are directly affected by education- it impedes Gross Domestic Product output. 

Encourage a Teacher, Train a Teacher, Support Teacher Education!

30/01/2014

What Our Math Teachers Didn't Do For Us

I don't!
I was preparing for an exam at work and a colleague looked into the book I was reading. She asked if I could work out all the statistical calculations I was looking at. I laughed quite hard and answered with an emphatic 'Yes' to her question to which she replied, "I truly do not know what I did in Math throughout my High School days because that subject was always alien to me! MY BEST FRIEND AND I HAD NO CLUE! I HATED MY MATH TEACHERS!" 

I have noticed among many circles that there is a general phobia for Mathematics. This phobia by the way is called Arithmophobia. Even though I escaped it (the phobia) for many reasons which include the fact that I always thought Math was easier than the rest; I now understand the reasons why most of us in our adolescence ticked off the 'dreaded Math'. OUR TEACHERS DID THIS TO US.

The teachers are not to be blamed entirely because most of them were not properly trained to gain the skill of using the best approaches to deliver enjoyable Math lessons to students. Many of them stumbled into the profession as a means of livelihood. The structure of the education system did not give room for innovation and new ideas among many other reasons.
However, a good teacher's reaction to a student who is struggling with Math should never be synonymous to those of SOME of 'our' Math teachers back in the days. I know a Math teacher who once declared in class that Math was meant for only genuises!! Some of their methods contributed largely in students 'hating' the subject even at benchmark examination periods.


I don't think so!
Lisa Medoff, a teacher in human biology and the School of Education at Stanford University, shares these insights from her article “Getting Beyond ‘I Hate Math!’” in the September 2013 issue of Educational Leadership about teaching to adolescent students. 


It’s incredibly important that educators incorporate adolescents’ needs for Autonomy, Belonging, and Competence into many aspects of school, from classroom structure to curriculum and assignments. These needs are not unique to adolescents, but they become particularly salient with the physical, social, and cognitive changes teens go through during this time. It’s very important that math teachers keep these three needs in mind; adolescents often use their performance in math to judge their intelligence and ability to succeed in school.

As adolescents pursue Autonomy, they begin to separate from and question adults. They may ask why they need to take math and when they’ll use what they are learning. Take students’ questions seriously. Explore them while guiding students to ask questions politely. Offer students a choice of assignments when possible, such as allowing them to do the regular textbook homework set, write an explanation of how to do the problems, or post a video of themselves explaining a concept.

Belonging to a group is comforting for all of us, but is especially important for adolescents, who are solidifying their identities and feel unsure of themselves. As long as teens can do so productively, let them do some classwork in friendship groups. Assign homework or tests that allow kids to work together. Hands-on math activities that give each group member a specific role boost both learning and sense of belonging and reduce the anxiety often associated with demonstrating a math problem in front of an entire class. Make sure each individual student feels she or he is a vital part of the classroom who would be missed if absent. Help students use math to do service projects for the community so they feel they have an important contribution to make.

Competence is definitely something many adolescents don’t feel, especially in math. Seek out activities and assessments that expand beyond traditional textbook problems and tests, such as projects where students can continue to work on and improve their skills, rather than compete against others for test scores. When tests are necessary, emphasize mastery over grades, allow for test corrections or retakes, and use math content to help students improve study skills and figure out how they learn best.

Math teachers must give love so as to get love in return. It makes the entire learning process easier for the teacher and student. So, if you know any Math teachers out there, give them these tips to remind them of how adolescents will embrace Math. 
We were all born to do Math! So says our natural instincts!


19/01/2014

Great Insights on How Our Kids Learn

Happy New Year dear Learning Craft readers! It is my first blog of the year and I am excited about the programs and projects we will be undertaking this year. I promise to keep you informed and 'edu-tained' all through the year. The Learning Craft is bringing new and interactive fora to you and I am certain that you would love the process every step of the way. So much work is in the pipelines to ensure a fully packed year. I am starting off the year by taking you into the workings of the brain. Most parents and caregivers expect so much from their kids and when kids don't seem to match up, they get frustrated. Here is an article that educates us about how our kids learn. It is my hope that you gain insight on how your child learns and begin the year by applying these insights accordingly to help your child learn in full capacity; thereby leading them to ultimately love the process of learning.



Children develop skills the way builders build a house. They start with the foundation. What gets built on that foundation at different stages of development determines what the house looks like and how to get from room to room. Here are eight key things to know about how kids learn and build on different skills.

Building the Brain’s Wiring System
Each brain cell (neuron) looks a bit like a baby tree. As babies take in information about the world, their neurons branch out and create connections with each other. Called neural pathways, these connections are like an electrical wiring system. Each neuron can have multiple connections to other neurons.

The “wires” don’t touch. Instead, they pass information at the gaps between neurons—the “electrical boxes” known as synapses. Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) help power the system to get these messages through.

How Neural Pathways Work
Each neural pathway is a circuit. When electricity goes through a circuit, it powers a response. For example, when you flip a light switch, a light comes on. Some brain circuits, like the ones for breathing and circulation, are already developed at birth.

Other circuits are “activity-dependent.” They need input to work, and the more input they get, the better they work. That input is more complex than just flipping a light switch. It comes from all the experiences kids have. Sounds, sights, tastes, smells, the way things feel and emotions all help the brain to release neurotransmitters and power those circuits.

Pruning the Pathways
The neural pathways that are used more often get stronger. Circuits that are not used weaken and disappear over time through a process known as “pruning.” That’s okay—young children have more circuits than they need. Pruning happens all the way through childhood and adolescence. That means kids’ brains are flexible enough to work continuously to build new circuits and refine commonly used neural pathways. This is known as “plasticity.”

The Power of Plasticity
Plasticity is especially important for kids who have learning and attention issues. Their brains process information differently and don’t always use brain chemicals effectively. These brain differences make it harder to create or strengthen some neural pathways. Intervention to teach kids alternative ways to process information takes advantage of plasticity. It helps neurons build new pathways. The information may have to take a detour and take a little longer to get where it needs to go, but it can still get there.

Learning Through the Senses
Kids don’t have to think about developing neural pathways. It happens naturally as they explore and learn about the world. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget came up with a famous theory about how children develop cognitive or thinking skills. The first stage is when babies use their senses—sight, sound, touch, taste and smell—to start to make connections. They taste, shake and throw objects. They also start to roll and reach for things and, eventually, crawl and walk.

All of these activities help build neural pathways that control things like movement, vision and language development. For example, babies keep making sounds that get them attention they need. They keep putting things that taste good into their mouths, and they keep moving to places they want to see. As they do these things, the brain strengthens those circuits and helps make the activities easier.

Learning Through Language
Between ages 2 and 7 years, language development takes off as kids learn more words, use more complex sentences and even read a little. This is a critical time to provide children with a language-rich environment because the more words and ideas they’re exposed to, the more neural pathways they’ll develop.

Kids can now use objects to play more imaginatively. For example, you might see your child use a big stick as a horse or turn a box into a rocket ship. Social skills develop slowly at this age because kids aren’t ready to understand logic, reasoning and other people’s perspectives. They often have difficulty putting themselves in other people’s shoes and can be critical of other children’s choices and behavior.

Learning Through Logic
From 7 years old to about middle school, kids start thinking more logically. During this stage, kids are more able to make connections between things. They become “detectives” who are able to see clues and put them together. Socially, kids develop the ability to take turns, put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand that actions have consequences. The circuits that process emotion and feelings strengthen and mature. In this stage, adults can support children by helping them reflect on things like cause and effect.

Learning Through Reasoning
In their teens, kids start thinking more abstractly and with more complexity. They consider the “what ifs” of situations to figure out possible outcomes. In terms of school, this means they’re able to do more complicated math and understand characters and plots in deeper ways when they read.

Socially, these new skills help them see that other people’s reactions are sometimes based on different perspectives and experiences. Physically, it means they’re able to put different types of skills together to do more complicated things like driving. The wiring system of the brain becomes more intricate, with circuits intertwining with other circuits to allow all of those skills to work together.


Amanda Morin is an education and parenting writer who uses her experience as an early interventionist and teacher to inform her writing. Her work appears on many parenting websites and she is the author of two books, including The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education

23/11/2013

Un-graduating the graduates


No matter how Nigerians would prefer to view the pressing economic hardships faced by millions of her citizens, while a few live in lavishness; everyone will get to feel the pulse of the nation's heartbeat if the education sector is not taken by the bull. Whether we choose to arrest the education sector or not, a state of emergency must be declared in the sector for any economic gains to be achieved.

Read this:

Most people strive to get into the numerous colleges and universities in the hopes of obtaining a college degree. They say that the key to a successful career or life, in general, is a quality education. Attaining a higher education is a ticket to a bright future. But are the students prepared for the real world? After graduation, the next step is to look for a job. New graduates are normally eager to put into practice what they have learned in school. However, life outside the walls of a college or university is different. Adapting to a new environment is important. Knowledge, skills and the ability to adapt to a work environment is necessary to survive the real world.

When students enroll themselves in college, they expect to have all the knowledge and skills a higher education can give them. They have a right not only to be educated but also to prepare them to work. It is the duty of the educational institutions to teach and train their students so that they may maximize their potentials fully. Colleges and universities normally focus on the knowledge and skills of students but fail to prepare them to a life after graduation. Recent studies show that they play an integral role in honing students to be globally competitive. Employers recognize the role of colleges and universities in preparing students for the real world. They agree that to succeed in today's global economy and to prepare a student after graduation, colleges and universities must improve on the following: communication skills, critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills, application of knowledge and skills in real-world settings, complex problem solving and analysis, ethical decision making and teamwork, among others. Employers also agree that higher educational institutions should be doing more to provide a learning environment and skills relevant to the workplace.

Times are changing. As people embrace new innovations and technologies, higher educational institutions must also learn how to keep up. The future of not only their students but also of the economy lies on their hands in preparing students for a globally competitive workforce. Colleges and universities need to focus on three areas to prepare their students for the real world.

First, improve classrooms. Classrooms equipped with the latest technology necessary for the students' training will enable the students to acquaint themselves with the same technology they might be using once they begin to work.

Second, teachers and professors must be qualified and proficient in the subjects or skills they are about to teach. A teacher who knows nothing about a subject cannot effectively teach students. They must employ professionals known for their expertise.

Third, curriculum must keep up with the changing times. It has to constantly change depending on what is relevant in the workplace. It must include all the knowledge, skills and training necessary to produce students who are highly competitive and ready to be part of the workforce. It must provide the students an opportunity to experience real-life work settings while being enrolled. Internships can also be included so students have a firsthand experience on how it is to work. Students must also be required to show mastery of the skills they have studied before graduating. It is not enough that they graduate. They must be highly-skilled graduates. Students must be prepared for a life beyond their classrooms. This is possible if higher educational institutions continuously change and upgrade their classrooms, hire professors known for their expertise and a curriculum that adapts to the changing technologies. A nation's future depends on the quality of workers it produces. Workers who are once students well-equipped with knowledge and skills and ready to take on the challenges of the world.

teach-nology.com