You can Learn and have Fun!

Fun Ways to Learn Today

Remember to EXPECT

Most of us accept that it is important for all people to receive an education. It is what helps propel us forward as a species, the ability to learn and adapt – to innovate. That doesn’t mean that we are all inspired to learn. There are some who have no interest in education, even if it would benefit them when looking long term.

How do we inspire others to love learning?

Many would say that the answer is to help those being educated have FUN while they learn. Here are some ideas for you to embrace today!

  1. Experiment! Do you want to see a child light up? Tell them you are going to help them work through an experiment! My personal experience tells me that when I tie experiments in with Science projects children respond positively. Try engaging your learners with Snowflake Science and then use this experiment!
  2. X-Ray! Be transparent. Just as an X-ray gives you an image of the structure of the body, so too do we want to encourage a strong foundation, through explaining at an age appropriate level, but not being dishonest. We need to know about the world in ways that are appropriate for our age and development.
  3. Play! While sitting in a more traditional classroom is useful for learning, there are many who can’t sit still for seat work and regular activities. In these instances, play can be stimulating and educational! Recently, my family sat in a circle, laughing, as we learned how to sign “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. We were having fun, laughing when we couldn’t keep up and we each learned at least a dozen new signs! When my children began to be quizzed on states and capitals in school, we began playing a game to help them remember the important information. As we drive, we look for license plates that belong to states other than the one we are in. The first person to spy the plate calls out the state name. Then it is a race to see who remembers the capital first! My son is already ready for this section in school because we’ve been playing since his sister went through it. Play can help us learn facts and problem solving skills, and often, it doesn’t feel like we are learning!
  4. Explore! In the US we have National Parks all around us. We can explore and learn all at the same time. The fun of the exploration often masks the education that we are embracing. In Europe, there are castles, churches and museums every where one turns. In exploring our surroundings we are often blessed with an extraordinary educational opportunity. If you don’t have time to go and see something in person, consider going on a Virtual Field Trip.
  5. Create! Have you ever learned how to properly do something via trial and error? Creating a model car is an excellent way to engage in learning. Many people love using their hands, and when you create you are using additional parts of your brain and allowing yourself to look at the material in a new way.
  6. Technology! Incorporating technology is another way to have fun while learning. Yesterday’s flash cards are often today’s apps. Quizlet is used by students of all ages to help them remember information using flashcards, quizzes and even competitions with other classmates. There are plenty of apps available for Android and Apple devices that can help make learning fun.

Just because one is learning does not mean that one isn’t having fun. Fun and learning are not mutually exclusive and for many they are inclusive of each other. Embrace finding your path to learning fun through trial and error! Then, you will be building a bridge to your future.

 

Consider joining us on our voyage! GLD 2017 is less than two months away!

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The Joy of Self Directed Learning

The Fun of Self Education

Why Self Educate?

Everyone knows that continuing education is an important part of most careers today. However, it is also an important habit for life.  Continuing education does not need to be obligatory courses or seminars, it is simply the practice of lifelong learning.  Teaching children to be self educators is as simple as allowing them the freedom to self direct their study.  This is particularly ideal for homeschooling. It can be the difference between just getting the curriculum finished and falling in love with learning.

 

How Does This Fit into My Homeschool?

Self directed learning is not the same as unschooling, although it can be.  If you speak to any veteran homeschool educator, you will invariably hear that the main goal in homeschooling is to raise children who educate themselves.  While this still requires support and guidance from the parents, it does not entail the parent being in charge of every piece of information learned by the student.

 

This technique not only nurtures continued education but is enjoyable for the student. Do you have a favorite time period of history?  How about an animal that amazes you?  Have you ever wished you could do a particular skill or craft?  All of these and more can be accomplished through self education.  So push away the textbooks, clear some time in the schedule, and let your children explore their learning passions.

 

How Do I Promote Self Directed Learning?

There are many ways this can be accomplished.  The easiest is to schedule time where your children explore their interests in depth.  Doing so can include reading, watching how-to videos, taking field trips, experimenting, doing hands on activities, or listening to podcasts.  This time is an active learning period but is also passive as there are no checklists or assignments required to be completed.  Don’t have time every day? Not a problem.  Find time once a week or even once a month if need be, the down time will refresh their enthusiasm and fuel their imagination.

 

To truly embrace the gift of self directed education, have your child make curriculum decisions with you.  Perhaps allow him to choose his history study.  Together design an elective class. Your child could even choose the theme of her studies for the year.  The possibilities are endless.  One of the great beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility and freedom that comes with this style of education.  No one is bound by a simple course manual, or rigid schedule. Schedules and curriculum plans are important but not the hallmarks of homeschools.

 

If the thought of designing a course is overwhelming or you don’t know where to begin, there are also journals like Thinking Tree books that provide a guided approach to self education. Each journal has a theme and the student follows the guidelines of the journal, choosing his own books to study. These can be used as a supplement or a course in themselves.  There are also several blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the idea of “Funschooling” which can help you design an entire curriculum around self directed study.

 

What if My Child Doesn’t Have an Interest to Pursue?

So you have provided the time, space, and support for your child to plunge ahead on this self education adventure, but he just doesn’t know what to study.  What to do now?  Is all hope lost? Never! There is always time to learn something new. Here are a few times to encourage your child to want to self educate.

  1. Read a wide array of literature and nonfiction books as read alouds and see which spark an interest.  It may take awhile, but something is bound to peak her curiosity and leave them with questions she wants answered.
  2. Take varied field trips (including virtual ones) to learn more about history, science, and geography. Allow the experience to intrigue your child to learn more.
  3. Have a reading week where you have no lesson plans other than reading as a family and individually.  Do not set any timers or make any required reading lists.  Reading is the first and more important components to self education.
  4. Let your child get bored!  Necessity may be the mother of invention but boredom is the father of ingenuity.  Once true boredom sets in she will need to find a way to counteract it.  This is where interest, ideas, and experimentation take off.

 

What if We Are Not Homeschoolers?

Self directed learning is by far easier in a homeschool but it is not exclusive to the homeschool life. Anyone can and should promote this practice.  Follow the suggestions above and find time, perhaps on a weekend afternoon or over a school break to give your children, and yourself, room to explore and learn. Discovering how to fit such activities into a busy schedule is a skill that will serve everyone well for a lifetime because learning should never end no matter how full our plate becomes.

 

Freedom to dive into a body of knowledge or conquer a manual skill builds self confidence and self reliance. Let your child steer the ship for a little while and see what shores you discover!

 

How do you promote self directed study in your home?

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MeetOurTeam

Get to Know – Jennifer

Recently, one of our GLD crew created her introduction video. For those who would prefer to read it, you may continue below!

 

Hi I’m Jennifer Elia! I’m from New Jersey and this is my first Global Learn Day and I’m so excited to be a part of this team! When I was a child I loved to read. I mean, I still do but I would read anything that was put in front of me. In fact, I would read the same cereal box every morning just because it was words and it was there and so I couldn’t resist it!

But, my favorite book was Madeline. You know the big house in Paris all covered with vines. I wanted to be Madeline and I begged my parents to send me to boarding school in Paris so that I could live there and be just like her. That book had such an influence on me that all I wanted to do was learn to speak French! And when I got to Middle School I got that opportunity and I studied it all through high school. I became a French major in college and then I was a French professor for twelve years. Now, I’m a home school mom and so learning and education is a part of my everyday and still so important to me. It is something I really enjoy.

I think back about my education and I have had so many amazing teachers and professors, many of whom I’m still friends with today in person and on Facebook. But the biggest influence to me in terms of learning was my mom because from the time we could sit at the table we were doing lessons every morning for a couple hours. We read books. We did math problems. We did SRA kits, which we thought were the coolest thing. Even though we didn’t realize that this wasn’t what everybody did in the morning, when they were home, on their summer break or in preschool. We cooked. We made diagrams. Um… Diaramas. She would take us to the library twice a week and we would have to check out a certain number of books and read them and then we would write book reports and Venn diagrams and do character studies.

It was just such a part of my childhood and it really taught me the value of learning and how great it is to be able to teach something to someone else and enjoy everything that you are learning. So, even though I wasn’t home schooled as a child I always say that my mom is the one who taught me how to home school because she taught me the joy of learning and teaching and how to bring everything to my children and make it important.

When I finished school I realized that I still wanted to learn, even though I had learned so much I enjoyed it. Growing up my best friends were a dictionary, my Time Life Atlas and then the encyclopedia which I would stay up almost all night reading and then just do cross references with it and there was so much in there. It was just such an incredible resource to have in our home. So I realized that I didn’t want my learning to end. There was still so much out there and learning doesn’t have to end because there is just more than you can ever take in. It’s like a good book that you just don’t want to keep turning the page and learning more and more. Novels come to an end but the best thing is that learning never does because you can always pick something else to learn about and there is always new information. Even if you are studying history there’s more books than you can read. And that is why I am always learning, I always want to learn. My mom always used to joke with me that I would never have brain problems because I am always wanting to learn something new. She was actually impressed with how many things I constantly study even though I have always considered her my mentor as far as learning and teaching.

My current learning obsession though is gardening. I have been reading about it for the last few years and finally built my own 800 sq ft garden last year. And so, I am reading about different kinds of plants, how I can use them, what to plant where, how to help my soil, how to get rid of pests, how to be more organic, be more productive and make the soil healthier for my family and my children. My garden is my hobby but it is also a help for my family.

So, my question for you is… What have you learned today? And, what book really changed your life and want to be a life long learner. I’m so glad that you are here and hope that you come along with us. Thank you and take care.

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Hibb’s Observations on the America Cup

As promised, John Hibb’s observations of the 2017 America’s Cup.

The Kiwis Rode in on a Bike. And Flew Out with the Cup.

We haven’t seen a thrashing this bad since Cassius Clay whupped Sony Liston. Clay, a heavy underdog, showed the power of foot speed, courage and that he could take a hit. All made more impressive by youth, innovation and ability to adjust to tough new challenges..

Plus, a terrific reminder of how the Wright Brothers whupped a race horse and left the horse in the dust.

But first….about the America’s Cup.

There is nothing bigger in whole entire sailing world than which TEAM takes home the Cup. (Entry fees, to begin, start at around $30 million bucks.) But who cares about the price?

Here, the difference was clear cut:

The boys from New Zealand were quick, dazzeling and superb. The opposition — Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle – got an old fashioned ass kicking. Particularly appropriate because Ellison dictated the design rules and set Bermuda as the venue.

What he didn’t count on was Kiwi Magic…a carryover from the days of “Black Magic”.

No matter. This was not about magic. In the end, Oracle was out-classed, out-manned, out-gunned by smart folks from Down Under.

In my book the Kiwis had it all the way.

Guess what? Big League sailboat racing will never be the same. In ten knots of breeze these machines are jaw-dropping rocket ships — with electronic wizardry that would amaze Google, Amazon and the whole geek world.. (Not to mention all those brainiacs at Oracle.)

But the biggest change came when the Kiwis substituted ordinary ‘coffee grinders’ for athletes recruited from the Tour de France. The message: Screw you Larry. We have a better way!

Today, the question that Ellison has yet to answer is a why billionaire software guru forgot this maxim: Sailors win races by a keen view of the seascape. What better view than high on a bicycle seat? Sure. Leg power is more powerful than arm power. But, far more important is that teamwork and collaboration is the heart of all great performances. Larry: Ask your grinders. Which team had the better collaborative platform? A better view of the whole entire race course?

Also this: While the America’s Cup vocabulary has changed from jib, spinnaker and mainsail to dagger boards, wings and foils….and “Fly Time” has become the most important new metric, the new dictum is you are either ‘up on your foil’ …..or you are looking at the tail end of a rocket ship.

Don’t blink! In a heart beat you could miss the knock out.

The simple truth is this: Foot speed really, really counts. Disagree? Ask anyone who saw Cassius Clay — (aka Muhammed Ali) — put a whuppin on Sonny Liston. For many of the same reasons, it was the same for the Kiwis.

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Boredom has its' own value.

The Value of Boredom

When the Activity Ends

School is out and the exhilaration of not having anything to do has already worn off.  How many children have complained, “I’m bored!” just days after summer break begins?

 

Pinterest is full of “boredom buster” ideas and tutorials.  Local libraries ramp up their offerings to accommodate the aimless and bored children.  Then there are camps for every interest and skill under the sun.  None of these are bad ideas, and each has value in its own right, however so does boredom.

Going, Going, Going

We live in a “let’s entertain me” culture.  The children of today are not only inundated with television in every public place, but have grown up in organized play for the most part.  While generations past ran outside to play with the neighborhood kids and didn’t return until dusk.  Today’s generation is most likely to only play at scheduled playdates or organized sports.

 

Boredom is the dreaded disease of down time.  It is something that needs to be cured, immediately and effectively.  Parents are often worn down trying to keep every moment interesting and engaging for their children.  Have you ever wondered what’s the worst that can come of boredom?

 

But What Will We DO?

True, idle hands are the devil’s playground, but idle minds are fertile ground waiting to bloom.  If there is no down time how will new ideas be explored, let alone formed?  Boredom may be uncomfortable at first, but it is a necessary distress.  Once the entertainment ends, we are left with ourselves.  It is just us and our mind.  What will we think?  What could we do?

 

Our pace of life is extremely busy.  We are on the go so much and hardly stop to smell the roses.  It is difficult even for adults to find themselves with nothing to do.  On the other side of uncomfortable, though, is innovation and creativity. We need to be bored sometimes.  According to Andreas Elpidorou of the University of Louisville,  “In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations, and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us to switch goals and projects.”

 

Sweet Summertime

 

Summer break is the perfect time to practice boredom and see where it leads.  In the absence of noise, distraction, and obligation the mind is allowed freedom to wander.  In the wandering, the brain relaxes and switches to creative problem solving mode.  New ideas take shape and the person finds something to do.  Not something he has to do, but something he wants to do.  Boredom allows you the freedom to discover your true passions and evaluate your likes and dislikes.

 

In fact, psychologists suggest that it is most beneficial for children to have a “boring” summer.  In the doldrums of inactivity, they are afforded the opportunity to self-motivate.  This motivation allows freedom to discover not only the world around them, but the one inside their own head.  If adults are always prescribing and directing what a child should do, how will she ever know what she wants to do?

 

Facing boredom head on and pushing through it, is “developmental achievement” for children.  Even the sulking at being bored has value.  The children are not wasting their time but taking their time.

 

In The Conquest of Happiness, Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote, “A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”

 

So, the next time your child comes to you with the age old gripe, don’t rush in to save the day.  Instead, encourage him to sit a while and just relax, explore something new, or lie down on a blanket under the clouds and just daydream.  Resist the temptation to rush him on to something new.  Let the effects of boredom run their course. His mind and your summer will be better for it.

 

What have you discovered while being bored?

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Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 2 – Making the Learning Stick

Make the Learning Stick

 

On a traditional field trip, teachers or venues often provided scavenger hunts, worksheets, group projects, or memory pages for students to bring home a bit of the experience and solidify what they learned.  Virtual field trips take it a step further by often connecting you to social media groups that extend the experience, games, quizzes, and follow-up projects.

It has never been easier to give your students the world, and have them remember where they went.  When students are engaged, their potential soars.

Be Prepared

While virtual field trips take a lot of the prep work off of the teacher by providing links and apps for further learning, there is still preparations that must be made before embarking on an adventure. One of the chief tenets of teaching, like the Boy Scouts, is “always be prepared.”

  1. Check that all audio-visual equipment and available technology works properly and can sync together to provide a total experience. Flying over the Savanna is amazing but sound would definitely improve the journey.
  2. Click on every link and make sure that it is active and accurate. The Internet is always changing.  The “trip” you want to take may have been created four years ago, which is like ions in the digital world.  It may still be a worthwhile venture, but you want to be aware of what aspects work and what doesn’t.
  3. Make sure all content is appropriate for your study and students. Just as there are always changes, there are pitfalls on the Internet, namely seemingly innocent links that take you to malicious downloads or sites.  Ensure that your trip will be a safe one for your technology and students by previewing all the links and content before introducing them.
  4. Create a list of recommended reading and “surfing” for after the field trip. Make up a follow up activity list with books available from your school or local library, websites with additional information, and/or apps the correlate to the subject matter presented.
  5. Set the stage and the schedule before you depart. Even though there is no physical traveling involved, virtual field trips still need an itinerary and time allotment. Is there a way to clear the whole afternoon for your class?  Do you only have students for 40 minutes? How many class periods will it take to complete the entire field trip and follow up activities?  Are there any supplies, such as colored pencils or astronaut ice cream that would enrich the experience?  Make sure that you treat this trip as you would one that requires permission slips and plan well.

 

Optional Extras

 

If you have the time and resources, there are some fun extras that could really make a virtual field trip come to life.

 

  1. Have a picnic lunch. Ask your class to brown bag it on field trip day and set up a picnic area inside your classroom or on the school grounds.
  2. Add the local flavor and music. Are you going to a foreign land or region of the good old US of A?  Consider having a potluck of local fare.  Hand out recipe options a couple weeks before.  (Please, take into consideration allergies and have all food labelled) While you dine, listen to some regional or cultural music via an mp3 player, computer, or phone.
  3. Set up shop! What is a highlight of every trip?  The gift shop, of course.  Sell pencils and erasers that match the theme of the trip.  Print out bookmarks or activity packets.  Use as a class fundraiser or have students cash in points earned during the regular school year.

 

Can’t Find What You Want? Create Your Own!

 

“Pre-packaged” jaunts are great resources but no one says they are the only way to go.  Create your own tailored to your needs and curriculum. With a little bit of effort and a few clicks of the mouse, you can create memories to last a lifetime.

  1. Consult Pinterest for activities and photos.
  2. Find a relevant video on Please, remember to pre-screen entire video AND the suggestions that pop up at the end. Certain surprises are never welcome.
  3. See if there are any related organizations, tourist bureaus, or foundations with informative sites. These may also be able to provide you with additional literature or free items for your gift shop.

 

Where would you take your students if even the sky weren’t the limit? Have you taken a virtual field trip?  How did it go?

Consider bringing your class or going on our global voyage this October!

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Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 1

Learning by Doing

 

There is a special kind of learning that occurs when children get to experience a topic rather than just study it. Their eyes light up, their minds engage, and their spirits soar. Using multiple senses make lasting impressions and pique curiosity.  If you want to keep learning fresh, you need to change up how it is done from time to time. The age old concept of field trips meets the new virtual world to create a learning platform like never before.

 

The Field Trip that Comes to You

 

Think back to third grade.  Whether it was five years or thirty-five years ago, you probably remember your annual field trip.  It was the pinnacle of excitement for the year.

With rising costs, budget cuts, and greater demands on classroom time, fitting in a field trip has become more difficult over the years. The sheer price of transportation is often more than can be reasonably met by the school and individual students.

What if you are studying the far away lands of Africa or Australia from your Illinois classroom?  Sure it would be great to experience these lands first hand, but what principal is going to approve that trip? Could you even imagine the fundraising it would require? How does that permission slip work?

Virtual field trips open doors to every teacher in every location!  Now, students in Paris can visit the Smithsonian in an afternoon.  A fourth grade class in Massachusetts can sail around the world and still make it to baseball practice and dinner.  The experience comes right to your locations with the touch of a fingertip!

Come back next week as we explain how to conduct a Virtual Field Trip!

 

For your consideration – If you could take a field trip anywhere, where would you go? Why?

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The Summer Slide

Recently, I attended a meeting that spoke about “The Summer Slide”. This is a situation where students lose skills as a result of having the summer off.  After eight or nine months in school, students take a few months off and typically go to summer camps, on vacations or just spend time in their community. It’s a well-deserved break, right? After all, we would not want to push kids too much, would we? What if kids could enjoy their summer and not lose skills? In the US, programs are being created to help.

It was while learning morning about the Summer Slide that I found this article. In it, we can read about year round learning (an interesting idea) AND “National Summer Learning Day”. This is a great program that brings awareness to the Summer Slide and encourages communities, families and elected officials to engage students during the summer months. This year it is July 13th and you can learn about it here.

In addition to checking out the National Summer Learning Association, there are additional options for families to encourage their kids during the summer and avoid the Summer Slide. Parents can enroll their children in the Kahn Academy a nonprofit that has a wealth of information available to students. Parents are able to monitor student’s progress through subjects by grade level. Videos and exercises are both available and at no cost. This is definitely a program that is building a better future!

At home, with my children, we set reading goals at the beginning of the summer. We also work to brush up and get stronger on subjects that the kids had a tough time with the previous school year. This year, it is Math. We will buy books, definitely use the Kahn Academy and drill. Usborne Books have amazing keys that kids can use on the go (a low tech solution that is fun)! As a parent, it is my responsibility to help my kids fight the Summer Slide.

 

BUT…

 

What happens when we finish our school days? What is the equivalent to the Summer Slide for adults? And… if there is one, how do we fight it? The answer should be that we never stop learning, we never stop picking up new skills.

Global Learn Day celebrates mankind’s learning. We appreciate and respect those who innovate education and help spread it to all corners of our planet. In order to truly be, One Planet, One People, we must educate. We must spread our knowledge to all corners of the planet. As a people, as mankind, we can all fall into the Summer Slide when we stop learning and growing our knowledge base.

So now, we can choose to fight that slide. Let’s join together in Building a Better Future by spreading our knowledge around the globe. Celebrate Global Learn Day with us!

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