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11 Reasons Not to Ban Chewing Gum From Your Class (Hint: It's an Awesome Tool for Exploration!)

I read this and immediately thought to share with you. What a fun and interesting use of one of the things teachers mostly dislike seeing with their students. I love it!

Explore bubble-gum blowing by tying it in with academic subject areas!

Create a graph that shows how many students can blow bubbles vs. how many students cannot. Students who know how to blow bubbles can write a how-to to help peers learn the skill of bubble making. Students who have difficulty can write about how they think a bubble is made.

Geometry/3-D Solids
Students examine the shape of the gum out of the wrapper (cylinder or rectangular prism, depending on the brand). They compare the shape of the gum pre-chewed to making a bubble (sphere).

Instruct students to measure the length of the gum before and after being chewed. Have kids stretch their chewed gum out as far as they can and lay it on a piece of wax paper (make sure they have clean hands!). How long can they stretch it? Then, have each student blow a bubble and measure the diameter of it. Once they find the diameter, have them figure out the circumference of their bubbles.

Mean, Median, Mode and Range
List the students' circumference measurements on the board and have them figure out the mean, median, mode and range using the numbers listed.

States of Matter
solid - gum out of wrapper
liquid - saliva when chewed
gas - blowing a bubble
solid - chewed gum

Ask kids if they think the gum underwent a physical or chemical change.
(Answer: There was a physical change. Nothing new was created. Matter wasn't destroyed.)

Next, have them write about how their gum physically changed (density, color and temperature).

What made the gum get soft? Was it the saliva? Have kids place their chewed gum in ice water (or take a drink of ice water). They will notice that the gum will get hard. Does temperature play a role?

Predict: Will unchewed, chewed and chewed gum exposed to water have the same mass?

Lay the gum on a square of wax paper and compare it to a piece of unchewed gum. Then, weigh the gum that has been chewed and exposed to cold water. Did they all weigh the same?

Figurative Language
Have students describe bubble gum by using a simile or a metaphor.

Have kids invent a new flavor of gum! Then, have them write a recipe for their bubble gum. What will they call their gum?

Have students design a three-dimensional shape for the gum. Can they figure out the volume? Have the students design a logo and packaging. What is the area and perimeter of their gum's wrapper? How many pieces of gum does their main packaging hold? Where can you buy it?

How much will their bubble gum cost? Have the students create math problems, using the cost of their gum, to figure out how much money they would make depending on how many packs are sold.

History - Extra Credit
Students who research who invented gum and the art of bubble making get extra credit points!

Thank you Erin! {}
Erin Bittman is a student at the University of Cincinnati. She will be a student teacher in a multi-grade classroom in the fall (second and third grades). Check out her blog E Is for Explore!


Celebrate! World Teachers' Day 2014 : Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers

Today, the world celebrates teachers as the future investment. In our usual manner, we dedicate a poem to all teachers around the world; especially to those in Nigeria working in conflict areas and most who are working with very limited resources. We celebrate  you.

If I could teach you, Teacher

If I could teach you, teacher,
I'd teach you how much more you have accomplished than you think you have.

I'd show you the seeds you planted years ago
that are now coming into bloom.

I'd reveal to you the young minds that have expanded under your care,
the hearts that are serving others because they had you as a role model.

If I could teach you, teacher,
I'd show you the positive effect you have had on me and my life.

Your homework is to know your value to the world,
to acknowledge it, to believe it.
Thank you, teacher.

By Joanna Fuchs

Teachers are an investment for the future of countries. What today’s children will face in adult life cannot be predicted and so the teachers of today and tomorrow need the skills, knowledge and support that will enable them to meet the diverse learning needs of every girl and boy.

This year on 5 October , we celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers in 1966. This recommendation is morally binding for all countries.

In many countries, the quality of education is undermined by a deficit of teachers. 1.4 million teachers are missing in classrooms – and they are needed to achieve universal primary education (UPE) by 2015, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Added to the challenge of numbers is one of quality: all too often, teachers work without resources or proper training. The stakes are high, because we face today a global learning crisis, with 250 million children not acquiring basic skills of reading and writing.

As countries accelerate towards 2015 and the new development agenda is shaped, it is essential that teachers remain a priority.


HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Nigeria: Through the Lens of the School Teacher

Happy Independence Day to every Nigerian from The Learning Craft. My thoughts today are focused on what our future is looking like and I'd like to view it from the lens of our teachers. It is my hope that we can truly attain sustainable educational growth in a short time to come.

"The figure of the school teacher may well be taken as a central symbol in any modern society"  - Richard Hofstadter

Many decades ago, the average public school male teacher was easily recognised by his very well tailored,  crisp and gatored pair of shorts matched with a glistening white shirt. The female teacher obviously cleaned up nicely in smart flowy gowns and skirts; suffice to say that they were usually very well spoken. They almost mirrored what the economy looked like in those times, full of milk and honey, bustling with hope and fruitful prospects.

Teachers, to some extent are always conceived by others, by expectations and fantasies of students and demands of parents, administrators, policy makers, politicians and to all of whom we all are as the "other". But we quickly forget that we are formed as well by their and our own internalized histories. 

Rolling forward the decades to today's Nigeria, that very image or figure of the school teacher is very different. Teachers are largely unexpected to earn a decent living, ride in comfortable vehicles, live in decent homes and possibly unexpected to even speak our official language (English) impeccably! But, does that not also mirror what our economy now looks like? Today, many still do not expect that our schools can become better....yes, I hear that a lot!

We are certainly quick to also forget that teachers can become witnesses to the notion that intelligence and learning can lead to other worlds and not just the successful exploitation of ours. And what better place to begin than promoting a process of empowering the country's teachers! 

Yet, so much is expected from teachers! The pressure upon them is enormous to effectively do their jobs against all apparent odds - financial, societal, economical, cultural and political. A job they most likely would record low successes. A case in mind is the last results of WAEC where to my surprise most people blamed the teachers for the poor results without associating their so called 'lack of performance' to the system that has retained them in the midst of institutional loopholes.

While we wait for new and well-regulated reforms to be made across all the states of the Federation; what we see in our public school teachers, and I mean in the larger part of Nigeria, is a snippet of what our country was, what it is, and hopefully what is to come! 

I believe that we have a better tomorrow because we are better poised to bring about a much needed change in the midst of a multitude of support from international agencies/institutions around the world. And...yes, we can!


Today is International Literacy Day!

The theme of this year's  celebration is "Literacy for All."

Literacy is a human right and the basis for lifelong learning. It empowers individuals, families and communities and improves their quality of life. Because of its “multiplier effect”, literacy helps eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, curb population growth, achieve gender equality and ensure sustainable development, peace and democracy.

In today’s rapidly-changing, knowledge based societies where social and political participation takes place both physically and virtually, acquisition of basic literacy skills and the advancement and application of such skills throughout life is crucial.

Promote this day on all your social media links. Use the hashtag #ILD2014. Say something about this important day. It is our responsibility.

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What To Do As School Resumption Dates Are Postponed!

Due to the importance of the need to contain the spread of the dreaded #EbolaVirus, the federal government has moved the resumption date for all private and public schools to the 13th of October, 2014. This further extends the holiday time for all children, to an average of 3-6 weeks. The news has obviously come with mixed feelings.

Some parents are excited that they get to spend more time with their kids and do not have to begin the process of 'school runs' or just excited to be able to add more time to their holidays away from home. On the other side of the divide, is another group of people who are wondering how they would be able to manage the additionally enforced holidays effectively. It is a situation that was just unplanned for. 

One thing that all parents must do therefore is to awaken time management. Kids do get bored easily and it would be absolutely important for parents to figure out engaging activities to occupy this period of time. At this time, kids know they should have begun school and are beginning to get into the groove of learning. So, here are some tips you should try.

1. Discuss the reasons why they have to be home explaining the importance of the federal government's decision. What a great way of getting children to learn strategies of decision making on a national level!

2. Talk extensively on why this time was designed for learning and should be used for that specifically. Here, you are teaching responsibility.

3. Act like a teacher! (It doesn't seem to me that you have a choice in this time anyway). Create a time table of key concepts or topics to be practiced on a daily basis especially for subjects like Math, Language and Sciences. It could include topics learnt in the last school year that needs to be reinforced. Practice makes perfect! For those who can get into their natural born teacher instincts, this will be fun! Be careful to do this in age appropriateness by assuming some limits. Remind your child to show dedication and responsibility. 

4. Reward good behaviour always - not in monetary terms but with frequent hugs and positive comments. You could take a nice walk - a phenomena most people do not get to share with their kids in #Nigeria. Talk about climate change (google it if you need to know more about it), and identify things in the environment during your walk that could help you make up a great conversation with your child. Do this within your neighbourhood for safety.

5. Talk about their dreams! Ask them what their dreams are. No child is too young to dream. Discuss what the possibilities are in positive ways. This is a good time for you to find out a lot more about your child's interests. Ask them to write about it and when you get back from work, review it with them. For kids within the early childhood stage, they could be made to express theirs in drawing and colouring their pictures. This makes a good strategy to help them build essay writing skills. You are helping with corrections where necessary and appreciating their work all the time. 

6. Ask your kids to redecorate. It could be their room, your room or the living room. Ask them to come up with ideas of what can be done and how to go about it. If plans fall within budget for you to buy anything, go ahead and have fun with them. If not, then have them rearrange existing stuff or recreate with available materials. Remember, this is age restrictive but all kids can participate fully in their own little ways.

7. Create time for indoor sports and games too. Depending on the age group, it could be simple tasks such as asking them to try bouncing a ball 20 - 200 times, skipping with a jump rope or building castles with cardboards...yes, it's doable!

These are to mention a few. All of the above and more could make up your daily time table. Get into your creative juice! You will definitely find many more great ideas.

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Zero-Tolerance Policies Don't Make Schools Safer

I would support zero-tolerance policies in schools only if they properly serve as a deterrent to an infectious spread of misdemeanour. 

A zero-tolerance policy in schools is a policy that punishes any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances. Common zero-tolerance policies concern possession or use of illicit drugs or weapons, stealing, use of verbal and physical abuse, examination malpractice, smoking, discrimination and harassment, derogatory remarks and disrespectful gestures. 

These policies are promoted in order to prevent drug abuse and many forms of violence in schools. 

What we know for a fact is that it is equally important for those policies to be supported with effective counselling and rehabilitation programmes for affected persons.

Below is an excerpt from Mark Phillips, a teacher and education journalist (on a myth busting journey) that sheds light on zero-tolerance policies in schools. He basically busted the myth that suggests that zero tolerance policies make schools safer. It would be useful for school administrators to embrace these ideologies.

Read >>>

"This strikes me as one of the most colossally wrong-headed and destructive of the myths. Berliner and Glass describe numerous examples of this policy being implemented destructively, including one in which two students were suspended because one shared her inhaler with a friend who was having an asthma attack. Most importantly, there is no evidence that zero tolerance policies decrease school violence. To the contrary, the authors note that "suspensions and expulsions have far-reaching implications for a student's academics and can set them up for failure in their personal lives." Zero tolerance policies have resulted in school officials routing record numbers of students through the juvenile justice system, students who are then more likely to also end up in an adult prison later on. And, not surprisingly, all of the unintended effects associated with zero-tolerance policies in schools are multiplied for non-whites.

The authors also give examples of some schools that are learning from this research. As one example, after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, teachers, parents, and administrators are focused on crisis preparedness and the politics of the gun debate, not on stricter policing of students."

It is my hope that we can all learn from history and experience. For more busted myths, click Edutopia.


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!


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. 


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


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.



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. 

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


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.


My Journey to Puerto Rico

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. 


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.


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.


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

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

9am -11am: Visit to Supermarket and Panel takes place at Ajapaworld Studio

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

TBD: Monopoly Tournament at School

2pm- 2:30pm: Radio discussion about children and money

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.