Blogging Action In Another Realm

Blogging action has been temporarily diverted to my classroom blog–not sure how much I’ll be posting on The Thinking Cap, as things are a-cookin’ with Ms. Wendi’s World Wonders. Hope you can join the fun and join us on our New Year’s challenge. We would love to have others participating and sharing what they find!

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Grateful for the Goodness of Others

An inspirational NC sunset. Thanks, M2 (Loretta!), for the photo.

Thanks, M2 (Loretta!), for the photo of an inspirational North Carolina Coastal sunset.

You know when you have those dangerously swimmy feelings of indomitability? You know, the kind where, no matter what might happen, the gratefulness you have for the staples in your life will carry you through?

Yeah, that’s how I feel as I look back at 2012. A roller coaster year to be sure. Filled with its ups, downs, and twisty curves, but laden with the exhilaration that normally goes with that kind of ride.

I’ve learned new skills, deepened my relationship with my son, recaptured a lost part of me, taken risks and regained confidence in the process…I’ve made concerted efforts to appreciate the relationships in my life, and spend more time with those who matter most to me. I’ve focused on simplifying the material part of my world, and not hiding my pure gratefulness at the goodness in others.

I’ve kept on learning, but more importantly, sharing what I have learned. Getting better at that, but for 2013, my goal is to catalyze success for others. As a teacher, a mom, a woman, and someone blessed with the will to work hard and embrace opportunities, I plan to pass on the wealth, to elevate the good in others so that they, too, will feel confident to pursue their own path to success. Would love for others to join me in this journey.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: “What are you grateful for this year?”

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To give anything less…

To give anything less...

I just love this quote.

What gifts do you bring to this world, and to others?

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In honor….

In honor of my kids–and all kids–who have experienced loss this week and this year, my simple art reflects Christopher Robin’s timeless wisdom. No child should forget they have strength and immense capacities to meet adversity head on. Of course, friends with sweets aren’t bad to have around, either…

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Optimizing Young Readers’ Brains: Lessons from Neuroscience

(published in Education Week, Nov. 14, 2012)

“I wish you to gasp not only at what you read but at the miracle of its being readable.”—Vladimir Nabokov

If educational psychologist Daniel Willingham had his way, most teachers would leave the neuroscience to the neuroscientists. Sure, a little neuroscientific knowledge can be dangerous and lead to instructional malpractice. But I’m letting my curiosity and common sense lead me. At the very least, a general understanding of how my students learn helps me sift through all the brain-based hype. (You can read some of my initial reflections on neuroscience and learning here and here).

Lately, I’ve been exploring the science of reading. In this article, I’ll share some recent findings, along with my reflections about take-aways for classroom practice.

Neuromyths: He’s a Right-Brained Kid, She’s a Visual Learner

In the past few decades, teachers have often been advised that individual students can only succeed when they are taught in particular ways. That is, many teachers believe they
Continue reading

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Working Smarter, Not Harder, With Neuroscience in the Classroom

Response: Working Smarter, Not Harder, With Neuroscience in the Classroom

(This is the second of a multi-part series on “brain-based learning.” You can see Part One here.)


The question asked two weeks ago by Larry Ferlazzo was:

What are the best ways to practically implement what we know about how the brain learns into our teaching?

I’ve seen the phrase “brain-based learning” used often, and sometimes in ways that do not seem particularly helpful. However, it is short enough to fit in a blog post headline….

This post is the second in a four-part series on this topic. Last week’s post included responses from three neuroscientists associated with Today, educators Wendi Pillars and Wendy Ostroff will be sharing their ideas. 

Response From Wendi Pillars

Wendi Pillars is a National Board certified teacher and a member of the Teacher Leaders Networkwho has taught ESL/EFL for 15 years, both stateside and overseas. She has been researching and deciphering educational neuroscience one thought at a time in the quest to bridge the science and its classroom applications. Running is her ultimate cognitive processing tool. She is the author of two previous articles in Education Week Teacher, Teachers as Brain-Changers: Neuroscience and Learning and What Teachers Need to Know About Action Research. You can reach her on Twitter at @wendi322:

I was at my wit’s end in reaching some of my students who were struggling. I knew I had to work smarter, not harder. Rather than haphazardly trying one strategy after another, I resolved to better understand what was happening in my students’ “inner spaces.” Which led me to neuroscience.

And although neuroscience is not a panacea, here are a few of my takeaways: Continue reading

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What lies at the “core” of learning


“I was robbed!” is no longer a mere idiom, but a veritable fact in my life as of two weeks ago.

“What was taken from your home?”, my well-meaning friends inquire, concern palpable. But no response can substantiate the now irrelevant monetary value. Heirlooms whisked away to who knows what end, and an unshakeable violation of sacred space have far more meaning than a pricetag could ever admit.

I am fortunate in two ways: that things weren’t much worse (my son and I are safe), and to be presented with a lesson in how loss juxtaposes with value. What I though I was deeply attached to wasn’t what is most important after all. An obvious conclusion, yet one so readily taken for granted.

Relationships trump everything.

Without the intangibles of relationships–from the deputies to the extensive network at the other end of my phone, from my son’s art encouraging me to “not be sad” to my students who unknowingly diverted my fears and sadness the very next morning–my despair would have been much deeper, my fear that much more irrational.

Those of us who teach understand this power of connection with unparalleled depth and passion. And every now and then, especially during this time of divisive educational chatter, an inestimable value comes from revisiting the Power of Relationships.

To an outsider, this factor is negligible, because it cannot be measured with precision, timely effect, or on a linear scale. No numerical amount can be neatly attached, nor can any box be neatly checked. Continue reading

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Daniel Pink

Hi, all!

I saw this Daniel Pink video and I thought it was a pretty intriguing idea, something for us to try with students, but also as teacher leaders–on an individual as well as a group level. Particularly as we’re trying to wield our weapons of positivity and knowledge against opposing forces! Jedi, we are not, but teacher leaders with pretty powerful sentences, I bet we are.

So…what’s your sentence?

(I’m still working on mine.) 🙂

If the video doesn’t embed properly, try YouTube: Daniel Pink–One Sentence Project. It’s a 4:23 minute video…

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What Are The Hardest Languages To Learn? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Voxy Blog

What Are The Hardest Languages To Learn? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Voxy Blog.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a research sabbatical to see which is the “most fun” to learn?

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Friday Night Chill Time Results

Finally taking the time to work on art and creativity this year!

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