Guided Education

Do you remember the last conversation that engaged you? Perhaps it sparked an interest that caused you to continue searching for information when you sat back down in front of your computer or visited your local library. What was the topic? Why did you become so engaged?

 

Global Learn Day seeks to engage all people by uniting them in a love for education and learning. In order to do this effectively we, the Crew, search far and wide for engaging information leading up to our event and presenters for the day of our event. We ask you, our voyagers, to help us by recommending individuals who share our desire to use education to help us achieve the idea of “One People, One Planet”.

 

This is an opportunity for all to participate and many to have a voice. Our most notable Key Note Speaker was Nelson Mandela, many years ago. You can still listen to his address here. Along with the audio, we have made his words available to read for those who need visual assistance to receive his message. Global Learn Day depends on educators and students to share their voices in order to present a valuable experience for all of our voyagers. If you, or someone you know, should be participating and presenting at Global Learn Day, you can find more information and our application here at our Call for Presenters.

 

If you would like to participate in any way for Global Learn Day please contact us and/or Join the Voyage!

Building a Good Foundation

Foundations

Every Bridge Needs a Good Foundation

The Golden Gate Bridge is not only an iconic landmark, it is a feat of engineering.  The soaring red towers are easily recognized by people around the globe.  Everyone marvels at it great span, and the intricate design of its supports. However, without the ever important, but not as photogenic, foundation, the Golden Gate would be in the San Francisco Bay.

 

Like all bridges, the bridge between cultures, countries, and concepts requires a strong and well laid foundation.  In education, this foundation is built by experience, experiments, and general knowledge.

 

The greatest foundational pillar of education is reading.  Through reading bridges can be build to every subject across the curriculum. Fine literature provides the bricks and mortar for bridges to other lands and creative imaginations. With reading, we can become life long, independent learners.  We can also grow to understand our neighbors down the street and on the other side of the globe.

 

This call to well founded education is part of our mission.  Educating the promise of tomorrow and encouraging them to never stop learning, while also bridging the gap between those with educational opportunity and those lacking the basic freedom to an education.

 

Global Learn Day seeks to build good, solid bridges. Bridges between teachers and students. Bridges across oceans and continents. Bridges that span the old and the new, that bring together generations and point us to the future by embracing our past.

 

The bridges we are looking to build are ones that will stand the test of time and continue to grow. Our bridges need good foundations, though, just like the Golden Gate.   We strive to inspire young and old alike to delve deep into their knowledge base in order to share with others, but also to fortify that base with new learning and the motivation to grow.

 

Through continual learning and outreach to others, we can build a solid bridge that will one day envelope the world in educational unity.  There are so many who still need access to education, and many who are not using their access to the fullest potential. The foundation of our prospects and purpose can only be strengthened by coming together as One Planet, One People to learn more and pass on the richness of our knowledge treasure trove.

 

How can you help us fortify our foundation?  What knowledge do you have to share?  Have you learned something new today?

 

Come build along with us…never stop learning, always seek ways to share what you know!

Book with Reading

Literature and Learning

Literature and You, Perfect Together

Have you read a good book lately?  Literature is one of the hallmarks of a developed culture.  It synthesizes the values, beliefs, and societal make up of time and era.  Even books that aren’t explicitly historical fiction present a commentary of the lives and times the author experienced.

 

Andrew Pudewa, education advocate and founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, observes that like anything you can’t get out what you don’t put in.  Our brains are like computer processors, they need the reliable connectors and high quality coding to produce good results.

 

Reading opens door and worlds to children and adults. Through books we can explore times and regions that would be impossible for us to access otherwise.  Reading truly is fundamental as the old commercial jingle said.  It is the building block of our civilization and our future innovations. In his book, How Literature Plays with the Brain, Paul B. Armstrong observes, “Literature matters, for what it reveals about human experience, and the very different perspective of neuroscience on how the brain works is part of that story.”

 

Books Are the Way of the Future

With all the technological advances, it is easy to focus on the STEM curriculum in the hopes of raising up a generation prepared and enthusiastic about all that is possible in this high tech world.  However, it is important to have roots before we have wings.  Literature can give us those roots and the brain power to soar.

 

Science has shown that reading actually stimulates the brain in a way that it actually believes it is doing something that it is not. This is called embodied cognition.  This same principle is employed by athletes who use visualization as a manner to enhance their skills.  When a basketball player uses visualization, it triggers the same centers of the brain used to physically play the game.  In this way, embodied cognition truly takes our brain to the place and time of what we are reading, allowing us to experience and problem solve on a high plane that watching the same story on television.

 

Literature also teaches empathy and understanding of other points of view.  Theory of Mind is “the branch of cognitive science that investigates how we ascribe mental states to other persons and how we use the states to explain and predict the actions of those other persons.”  Studies have shown that children who have more literature read to them have keener theory of mind and are better able to empathize with others.

 

While reading is the important part, it also matters what we read.  As stated above, you only get out what you put in.  Informational reading is not the same as deep reading of literature. The reading of complex literature with the drama, suspense, and intricate details creates life like images in our brains that exercise our brain and expand our ability to think.  Decoding words is not enough, we need to be reading literature that pulls us into the story.

 

Falling In Love Is Literature

In a Time magazine article about the value of reading literature, it states, “The deep reader, protected from distractions and attuned to the nuances of language, enters a state that psychologist Victor Nell, in a study of the psychology of pleasure reading, likens to a hypnotic trance. Nell found that when readers are enjoying the experience the most, the pace of their reading actually slows. The combination of fast, fluent decoding of words and slow, unhurried progress on the page gives deep readers time to enrich their reading with reflection, analysis, and their own memories and opinions. It gives them time to establish an intimate relationship with the author, the two of them engaged in an extended and ardent conversation like people falling in love.”

 

How romantic is that?  Books are not only our escapes but the gym for our minds.  As we teach children to love learning we must also instill a love of fine literature to fill their minds with rich language and shape their theory of mind for the benefit of the world at large.  As One Planet, One People; providing the access to quality literature books to all children can go a long way toward building the bridges to a future of peace and harmony.

 

What has literature done for you? What piece of literature have you loved?

Education is Its' Own Language

Education is Its’ Own Language

What was your first language?

 

Spanish? English? French? Education? Wait. What? Education isn’t a language! I would argue that it is. Language is a means for people to communicate, to reach an understanding. Can education not help within those areas? It can and does.

 

Education is a way to come together and communicate with each other. I might have nothing in common with the person standing next to me. We can come from different cultures, have different religions and different languages. The one thing we might share is an understanding of math, or a love of Victorian authors, or Renaissance artists. It is our education about things that allow us to seek and find common ground with those around us.

 

The all-encompassing mission of Global Learn Day is that while we celebrate mankind’s learning we are promoting the concept of “One Planet, One People”. We are a collaborative people, building up ideas one on top of the other, expounding on previous research. It is through this language of education that we come together and improve the human condition.

 

This link lists 100 influential scientists. Looking through the list you find individuals from a variety of eras, cultures and languages. They spoke the same language though. Education opened up their mind and engaged their curiosity. Via their education and their willingness to continue to learn they were able to contribute to man’s understanding and knowledge long term.

This is the language of education. The desire to never stop learning, to never stop sharing what you have learned with others. This contribution has the ability to shape the world, to Build a Bridge to the Future. Never stop learning. Never stop speaking the language of education.

What is your favorite thing to learn about?

As always, consider joining us this year for Global Learn Day 2017!

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?

Climb to new heights with learning.

Why Does Life Long Learning Matter?

Do you remember fourth grade?

Do you remember everything that you learned?  While you may remember that year, just like exercise if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Our brains need to be worked and stretched.  Putting an end date on learning limits the potential of our mind. Lifelong learning is essential.

 

Imagine if you exercised consistently, intensively, and productively for 12 years straight, then you stopped and never did a single sit-up, jog, or workout again.  What would happen?  While your body gained flexibility, endurance, and muscle mass during those 12 years, the years afterwards would strip it all away. If you woke up and thought, “I exercised so intensely for all those years, I’ll go run a marathon today!” You would quickly come to realize how much your body lost from atrophy and neglect.

Learning, like exercise, is a never ending process.  Not only does our brain need the engagement and challenge to stay sharp, but there is always more to learn.  The body of information in our world is rapidly increasing.  Even learning all that is known today would take more than a lifetime.

In addition, the capabilities and comprehension of brains change over time. Experience shapes our view point and opens us up to a different analysis of the facts we know.   Learning expands our minds for new ideas.  New information leads to new discoveries.  Our world would stagnate if no one continued to learn beyond the basics.

The practice of endless learning is not new, it has been the backbone of human innovation since the dawn of time.  Those who keep researching, wondering, growing, and trying are the historical figures who have shaped our world. However, in this age of information, the wealth of knowledge and data is staggering.

Each day 2.5 extabytes (which is one billion billion bytes) are produced. Not all of this is relevant, neither is a large chunk of it true.  However, there it is, our lives are inundated with massive amounts of information.  Continual learning and study gives each of us the tools to wade through the false information, misinformation, and useless clutter to discern what is important.  In this way, we can make informed decisions and continue to grow in understanding, not get pulled down a stream of lie.

 

Lifelong learning matters because as “One Planet, One People” there is a never ending process of bettering this world for all who live here.  The more you know, the more you grow.  Let’s keep learning and create a brighter tomorrow.

 

How do you keep learning?  Why is lifelong learning important to you?

 

 

 

Coding for Math

Technology in Education

Tool or Hindrance?

 

It seems that everywhere I look, I see kids with technology. Like many, I have had mixed feelings about this increased presence in the hands of younger and younger children. I paid for my own cell phone as a teen and young adult, but my child has one as part of her every day tools. Granted, she is an avid reader and I have found that the gas and book money I save by being able to check out books and download them to a cell phone covers the cost of the plan she has. It is still a huge difference from when I was young.

Recently, I watched a video on Facebook that equated technology usage to cocaine for children. That is a jarring comparison, especially coming from the After School Special and DARE generation. It caused me to question if there is a way to find harmony between Technology and my children. Can technology be a helpful tool without the harmful effects?

Math and Programming?

 

In my search, I came across a blog by Jonathan Mugan a researcher and author. You can read it here. In his post, Dr. Mugan walks parents and educators through a “how to” in order to use programming to teach our children Math. It seems like fun to me, and I am not all that interested in programming! Disclaimer: This is probably because I LOVE to learn.

This fantastic blog post walks the educator through using Python and how to effectively teach basic arithmetic on up to PEMDAS and Variables. I can see where this could be useful for many kids! It is also an excellent example of technology being used effectively to teach.

 

Back to my child…

 

We had a rough school year and Math was often a struggle. Do you remember the Summer Slide post? This can also be an effective tool in a parent’s arsenal to combat it! I can’t wait to set this up for my mini me to work through. It will break up the usage of the Kahn Academy, which we are on daily and also will provide a new skill. Who knows, could this spark a “First Moment of Lasting Excitement?” Will a new path to software programmer begin?

 

In reality, anything that I can use as a tool to educate could also be abused and turned into a problem. As Dr. Mugan shows with his blog post, Technology can absolutely help with education. In fact, programming to learn Math is Innovative and could be Transformative for many. This could be a child’s “AHA Moment”.

 

So, go check out the blog post and maybe take some time to learn how to program! Consider joining our voyage if you have not already!

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!

Dad

My Dad Helped Me Build my Future

Thanks Dad.

It’s Father’s Day in the United States. For some this is a good day to Bar-B-Que or go out to dinner. For others, it is just another day or even a source of pain. For me, I can’t help but look back on my childhood and give thanks for the father that I had (and still have).

In no way am I claiming a perfect childhood. I have no rose colored glasses, I assure you. However, I do have a dad with an adventurous spirit and a love of education (and by default, educating). Together, with my mother, Dad created an educational whirlwind of a childhood and opened doors and opportunities that still help me today. So instead of talking about an article or some crazy technology innovation today, I’m going to share some memories and with them ideas that can help you build your child’s future.

Adventure.

It was not uncommon for my weekend to involve finishing Church services and my dad announcing when we hopped into the van that everyone needed to get inside, get changed and load up the car with beach chairs and towels. I’m sure a lot of kids in South Florida experienced that. Fewer experienced the three hour drive as we would go discover some new beach and the ham radio that we all had to be quiet so Dad could be on. My teenage self was not pleased with these Sundays because they prevented me from spending time with friends and watching TV. Looking back, I became an excellent navigator thanks to the multiple times we got lost in the pre GPS days. It’s a tool that I still use today. We also discovered isolated, beautiful beaches and had the chance to really explore them since they were not crawling with other families. So, pack a bag and take your kids on a local adventure today!

Interact.

Sometimes, instead of the ham radio in the car we would listen to him as he was sitting at his desk and talking to people around the world. He would often run mini contests when we had friends over, just to see how many contacts in how many countries we could make. When the twin towers were attacked, I didn’t need an explanation of where Afghanistan was and it wasn’t the first time I had heard about the Taliban. You see, one evening we were running a contest a few years earlier and we got to speak with a ham operating his illegal station from inside Afghanistan. I remember looking up the country and then the Taliban so I could understand why he couldn’t chat long. Had my father not been willing to interact with me or encourage me to do so with others, I never would have taken that time to learn.

Encourage.

There was never a dream that I had that my father didn’t say was possible. I went through a phase of wanting to be Scully from the X Files, and my dad told me I could absolutely do that. Even though that is nothing close to the career I have found myself in, I never doubted that I was capable. Encouragement to explore and discover who I am and where my interests were was a huge part of me being who I am today. There is no fear when I consider what I want to do in the future. Even now, when I tell my father I want to take on a new endeavor he talks me through the logistics and encourages me.

Educate.

I’m sure most of us have heard that we, as parents, are our children’s first teachers. A more accurate statement would be we are our children’s longest teachers. I’m still learning from my parents in my thirties and I can’t be the only one. I came close to a perfect score on the Vocabulary portion of the SAT. I’m sure part of the reason is that I have always been a voracious reader. However, a stronger part is likely my father. We would sit around the dinner table most evenings and enjoy a meal together as family. During that time there were many common topics and some not so common ones. Whatever the conversation landed on, we were each able to participate. Often, one of us would use a word that my father thought was inaccurate. At that point, we would be challenged to provide the definition of the word and if we did not know it, we would be required to get the dictionary and read the definition out loud. I love my expansive vocabulary and the only people who have offered a challenge in Scrabble in the past 15 years are my siblings.

 

We don’t have to do things the same way my father did, but we do need to consciously create and make available opportunities that encourage a love of learning. My father still does this with my children. While other kids are told to stop asking “Why?”, Dad is actively asking, “Do you know why?” It might drive you nuts but he is taking advantage of the sponges that children are. They absorb knowledge from all around them. So, today, go ask a child if they know why something happens. Listen to their answer and then help them discover what an adventure learning really is.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and if you are an educational adventurer give yourself a pat on the back. You are a likely a big reason why your child LOVES to learn.

 

This post is dedicated to my father, a life long learner and adventurous educator. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

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?