If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.-—Joseph Campbell

Posts tagged ‘education’

Learning about Learning

Common core and current education research encourages students to use higher order thinking skills. We turn to Bloom’s Taxonomy for guidance. There is a revised version that I like. It’s found here:


This is a newer version of Bloom’s using revised categories and a circular image rather than the hierarchical pyramid.  I will use higher order thinking skills to journal a “section” a month and each word in the section for four days. After six months I will put together a book of anecdotes, activities and new ideas for each section of the taxonomy.

It’s a plan. A more specific framework than I have tried before, and it’s scary.

But I teach a college seminar for beginning teachers. Using experiences from my thirty years as a public school teacher, I have been encouraging students through a version of theory (abstract ideas from college methods courses) into practice (the reality of a class of one’s own) for the past five years. Now after thirteen years of writing practice I am ready to document this journey.


Data Collecting

To write it, it took three months; to conceive it three minutes; to collect the data in it all my life. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities – that’s training or instruction – but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed. Thomas Moore

I need projects in the summer when I’m without much of a schedule, so this month I am keeping a reflections notebook.  My beginning teachers will do this next fall to help them self assess. I want to see how it works for me.

I note what I see and hear around me, what I think about what I see and hear, and how I respond. I try to go into each setting with beginner’s mind…to be open to what is.journalstack

Now is the time for new adventures. Tomorrow I will be in a sculpting workshop. A sculpting workshop! Yikes! Breathe, Laura… and pay attention.

I wonder what I’ll learn.


I attended a meeting last night seeking community input as the search for a new school superintendent begins.  Although I retired twelve years ago, I now work with beginning teachers, many of whom are employed in this parish’s system.

There were about 35 people present, some I’ve known from public meetings like this twenty years ago. Why was I there, I kept asking myself in this morning’s journal pages. What did I learn?

I am using Alan Cohen’s words for further reflection…

Every choice before you represents the universe inviting you to remember who you are and what you want.

Life’s gift to you is your unique vantage point. Your gift to life is expressing from it.

Heaven is gained or lost not by dramatic deeds, but by the simple of acts of daily living.

Fantasy is often closer to reality than what most people accept as reality.

Let out a little more string on your kite.

Anansi the Trickster

It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.  Henri Frederic Amielanansi

Yesterday in our after school folk tales class we read another Anansi story. Anansi, the trickster in West African folklore, often takes the form of a spider. Sitting on the table was a pipe cleaner spider with wiggle eyes and a Jolly Rancher sucker abdomen. I had the children’s attention.

We read the book, discussing the difficulty a spider might have taking a large python and forty-seven stinging hornets to the Sky God. The children were impressed.

Then we made our own spiders. The younger children’s chaotic spider legs were subtly adjusted as I hot glued the eyes. Everyone left happy.

Alas, I was so completely involved in the lesson I had no time to take pictures of the children.

When I got home last night a book I had ordered was waiting in the mailbox…The Tao of Teaching.

Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.   Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice. Practice. Practice

In the intern seminars I facilitate (beginning teachers seeking alternative certification) we practice applying education research and theory in our classrooms..

In my afterschool classes we practice balancing our uniqueness with respect for others.

Outside as the cold wind and rain assault the tender vegetables, I practice accepting Nature’s way and staying open to how I can help.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.  Yogi Berra

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.  Anton Chekhov

It is easy to talk on religion, but difficult to practice it.  Ramakrishna

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.  Arnold J. Toynbee

Boogie Time

Saturday morning, the temperature has dropped and the sky is overcast…I wanted to stay in my nice warm bed and think big thoughts of who I am and why I’m here.

But I had promised my friend that I’d come to the exhibit and demonstrations about the local watershed at a nearby park.

So for today I am Cathy’s friend and I’m here to support her passion for creative science education.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.   Marcel Proust

Cathy as a large drop of water

Cathy as a large drop of water

Dancing the Water Cycle Boogie

Dancing the Water Cycle Boogie



Creative Problem Solving

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.     Albert Einstein

Last night’s elementary intern seminar.

Who: Twelve beginning teachers.

Problem: How to manage class time and keep all students engaged.


1. Divide class into three small groups alphabetically by last names. As students are changing seats, distribute four cards of different colors. Each student chooses a color. Announce that pink will be the leader, green will be the recorder, yellow will be the presenter, and orange will be the time manager.

3. The group will address the question “What are your biggest problems in time management?” using a round robin technique, beginning with the leader and moving clockwise. There will be no cross talk or discussion. You will have two minutes and should be able to go around the group at least twice. This will be the responsibility of the time manager. There will be a follow up question for another two minutes. Each presenter will then share the big ideas with the whole class, therefore, the recorder should take good notes.

4. Are there any questions? Who can summarize what I just said? OK, the timer is set. Go.

5. After this round of sharing, the teacher presents the question, “How are you addressing your problems?” The same procedure applies.  Remember after this round each presenter will share.


What techniques did we use to manage time and assure each student was engaged? What did you learn from hearing others’ problems and solutions?


For the next five days, write a reflection (spend at least ten minutes writing one well-thought out paragraph per day) addressing time management and engagement problems you dealt with that day. What worked? What didn’t work? How are you attempting to solve the problems?

The interns start whining. I rarely give written homework. What is this rebellion? I feel like fussing at them.

Step back, Laura. Make it relevant. Tell them how it will help.

Y’all have been practicing problem solving night. The homework assignment is a practice in self-assessment. It’s how we learn to step back from a problem and adjust the lesson when we’re in the middle of it.

Listening to Learn

Learning to Listen

Listening for Lessons

A Teacher and her Writing Practice

Writing Is My Drink

slake your thirst; find your voice


~ creative ideas for making a difference ~

...the house I live in...

A journal of life pursued