Sarcasm Always Helps....Right?

I realize the last few post here on the Bobcat Blog have been a little "heavy" in nature.  I have quickly learned that the topic of Common Core elicits a quick response among our Brainerd Baptist School families. In an attempt to add some humor to this topic, the link below is submitted for your consideration.  I read this blog post earlier today and also watched the two videos that are a part of the blog post. The post does a tremendous job of explaining how simple math is becoming more complicated.  The first video (almost 4 minutes long) is by Stephen Colbert and was on his show The Colbert Report.  Because I always enjoy sarcasm, I had to chuckle at Colbert's take on Common Core.  
The second video (almost 9 minutes long) provides a detailed explanation of the controversial way in which the subject of math is being approached.  I would encourage you to watch it if you are interested in learning more about this.  I know many of you read the article from the front page of the Times Free Press a few weeks ago and were somewhat confused on how they were getting the answers to the problems listed in the paper.  This video shows this. I found it very informative.  Click here to view the post. 

Common Core Post #2 - $how Me the Money!

Common Core has become a much talked about topic over the last few months.  This post is the 2nd in a series dealing with the different aspects of Common Core.  

$how Me the Money

The first post in this series dealt with explaining what exactly Common Core is.  I want to state (for the record) that although I disagree with many aspects of Common Core, I do not think it's proponents are evil people who are bent on exerting control over the minds of our children.  I have found that those who believe this is a good thing for education really do have a sincere belief that the answer to what is wrong with our educational system lies in the implementation of an untested curriculum. I have also found that very few people who actually support Common Core have actually been classroom teachers, which is somewhat ironic.
 When I think about education, I am reminded of the words of Solomon when he says "there is nothing new under the sun."  I have now been in education for over 15 years.  In my time I have seen "new math" come and go as well as various iterations of  the "whole language" approach to teaching reading (this approach has come and gone multiple times over the last 40 years).  I am confident that both of these had aspects that were valuable, but any school that jumped on the bus and adopted either of these programs had adverse affects on their students.  It didn't take long for teachers to realize that phonics is a very important part of reading instruction.  What is different about the "new" things in education that have come, gone, and come again over the years is that schools, or school systems were free to move away from things if they were not working for their students.  This is not the case with Common Core.  Standards and curriculum are now connected to "Race to the Top" monies which are also connected to high-stakes test scores and teacher evaluations that are also based (in part) on student performance on these test. It is a vicious cycle and a classic example of getting the "cart before the horse".  The high stakes testing is driving the curriculum, which in-turn is driving the instruction.  If it is not on the test, then it is not of value.  This is one (of the many) problems with Common Core.  I have talked with many public school teachers (several of whom have their children enrolled in our school) and I have yet to have a conversation with any of them who believe this is the answer.  Our teachers are being forced to do something that even they know will not work.  The problem (in my opinion) is not with the local school systems, but rather at the state and federal levels.  There are so many layers to this problem that the water is constantly being muddied.  Even in Tennessee there seems to be confusion.  Mrs. Creed and I went to training conducted by the State Department of Education. The purpose of this training was to make sure that we could continue to conduct the observations needed so that our teachers could keep their state licensure. We were continually told different things in regards to how these laws would affect private schools and our teachers. The state has yet to clearly articulate what we are (or will be) required to do to make sure our teachers can keep their professional licenses.  The have continued to push back the implementation of the observation system because they can not agree on many parts to it. 
So, now that I have rambled for several minutes I still have not answered the question of "why are we doing this?" I have become somewhat of a cynic when it comes to things like this.  The most powerful people in education are the textbook publishers. Who stands to gain the most from having to write new textbooks geared to these new standards that are adopted at every school in America?  It is painfully obvious why they are pushing so hard for this.  If you are really interested in this, the Huffington Post has done some amazing writing about the money behind Common Core implementation.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded tens of millions (if not hundreds) in grants to organizations that are helping make this implementation take place.  I would encourage you to Google the term - "Common Core Funding" to see the hundreds of pieces written by virtually every reputable news organization in the country including The New York Times and The Washington Post.  I am convinced that what may be good business for textbook companies may not be what is the best business for our students and that is the sad part to this.  




The Check is in the Mail!

Have you ever been told that before? This soon could be true for some parents across the state of Tennessee. I don't know if this topic is garnering much interest in our area, but earlier tonight Governor Haslam moved a voucher bill on to the senate for a vote.  Over the last two years there have been so many different versions and caveats to this bill that it has been hard to keep up with what is real and what is political grandstanding.  I think parents hear the term "voucher" and  immediately envision getting a check in the mail to help with our monthly tuition obligations.  Wouldn't that be nice?  Although I like the premise, the state has not made clear what strings are going to be tied to receiving this money.  I am not willing to sacrifice our independence in determining our curriculum, scheduling, programming, testing or other things for a few more students. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months and to also see what things are added or stripped away from this bill.  To read more about the article from the Times Free Press, click here. What are your thoughts?

Common Core Post #1 - What is "Common Core" and why is it Controversial?

Common Core Part #1 This post is a first in a series about the topic of Common Core. This post will deal with what Common Core is and the next will deal with how Brainerd Baptist School is responding to these new standards.

So, are you a parent that keeps hearing this “Common Core” phrase on the news, in the paper, and on social media and you really have no idea what it means? If so, you’re probably also assuming that it is bad, and that you don’t have to worry about it too much since you have chosen to send your child(ren) to an independent school like Brainerd Baptist School.  While there is some truth to the fact that independent (or private schools if you prefer) schools are not under the same federal guidelines that public schools are, I believe it is still prudent for us to be aware of what is happening in education.  If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you will notice that I try to post articles that have to do with education in general.  The purpose of this post will be to provide an elementary explanation (in my own words) of what Common Core is, and then explain how I see it impacting us at Brainerd Baptist School.  To date, I have met with one set of parents, spoken in the hall with another, and via email with one more.  As this topic is gaining more of a media presence, more parents are becoming aware of it and are beginning to ask questions. I hope this post will be beneficial to you.   

It is also important to know that Brainerd Baptist School has been watching the developments with Common Core for almost two years.  We actually brought in an expert on the topic to help us learn more about it, and more importantly, to help us learn what we should be doing to prepare for Common Core.  This was done at an in-service back in August 2013.  So, here goes,

What is Common Core – Common Core, at its foundation is not a bad thing. Currently, each state has it’s own set of standards that are written for each subject in each grade.  These standards provide a general framework for teachers as they plan their lessons and these standards vary from state to state.  This is usually not an issue in elementary schools, but those of you who have lived in different areas of the country and have relocated to Chattanooga may have had an experience where your child learned something that had not yet been introduced in their class here.  This does become a problem in high school where students are accruing credits for graduation.  In theory, one would think that a geometry class in Texas would be the same as a geometry class in Tennessee, but that is not the case.  Because each state has their own standards, these credits are not always the same, and do not always transfer.  This is the part of Common Core that is needed or beneficial.  In their attempt to make all credits, and standards the same from state to state, Common Core was created.  The term simply refers to a “common “ core of standards that are the same from state to state.  Currently, common standards have been developed for English, Language Arts, and Math with Science and Social Studies expected to be added in the next two years.  This in itself is not a problem.  What has become controversial is that many educators (and parents) believe that some of the standards have been lowered (dumbed down) while others have been raised to a level that is not obtainable.  To further complicate matters, the public education system has adopted high-stakes testing that holds the teacher accountable for the results of their students.  Initially that premise sounds reasonable, but when you do not take into account that a teacher is being judged on the results of a student that may have come into their class way behind the other students, it does not seem fair.  Public schools are required to take all students regardless of their academic level or ability. Factor in the fact that the average class has a wider range of academic levels and then add to this that in our area (N. Georgia and Tennessee) the average class size is around 25 students (or higher) and it even becomes even more difficult.  Also, there is much debate over the type of testing that is being used to measure these results as well.  Too see what type of atmosphere this has created, Google the phrase “standardized test cheating” to read stories of all the school systems that have had teachers or administrators arrested for cheating on these test in the last few years.  Another problem with this is that many curriculum’s are now based on these standards, and if it is not tested, so important developmental skills and subjects are pushed to the side, or not covered at all because teachers have to make sure the students do well on the test. It is a vicious cycle of the dog chasing his tail, and in this case, the dog will never catch the tail.

Currently, forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense (military base schools) have adopted Common Core.  Minnesota, Kansas, Texas, Indiana, and Virginia have chosen to not adopt the standards.  You may have heard that Tennessee recently voted to delay the adoption of Common Core by two years. 

The Department of Education has tied hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to states choosing to adopt.  The next post will look at the money behind Common Core and provide some interesting information about a particular foundation that has given hundreds of millions of dollars to help ensure that Common Core becomes the standard in public education. 

So Is BBS Doing that Common Core Thing?

This is a question I have been asked numerous times over the last few months.  I have found that many people that ask this question do not always have a good understanding of what Common Core actually is.  Over the next week I am going to write a little more in-depth on this subject to help our parents (who are interested) in having a better understanding of this important subject.  There are two reasons for doing this...first, shameless self-promotion of trying to get you to come back and read another post here on the Bobcat Blog, and secondly, I do not have the time to write a longer post at this time.
The answer to the question posed in the title is "NO."  That being said, I think it will be impossible to not see some effects of Common Core in virtually every classroom because of the textbook publishers.  There is a very interesting article on the front of todays Times Free Press about the new way of teaching math.  I read this article with interest because I used to teach math to 6th graders. I have seen several post on Facebook about parents of students in various public schools not understanding the "new" math techniques.  I would encourage parents to read this article from todays paper and see if you understand what is being integrated into classrooms across the country.  I would love to hear your feedback on this subject. 


Art IS Important (and so is Science too)!

If you have read today's Times Free Press, you may have seen an article talking about how the newest elementary school in Hamilton County does not have an Art teacher or a Science teacher even though their new building has space for these classes. As our public education system is moving more to a system that is driven by test results (see Common Core!), it would appear that subjects like art, which are not tested, seem to be losing their importance.  I can promise you that these classes are very important at Brainerd Baptist School.  We will continue to offer an amazing array of fine art classes for our students...including art! If you would like to read more about the article today, click here

BIG Announcement for Brainerd Baptist School!

This past Friday night at our Shine event I was able to share some exciting news with those in attendance.  In chapel this morning, I was able to share the same news with our student body.  You can imagine how excited they were about the possibility of playing on this great playground next year! The following is from the Shine event on Friday night. (Pictures of our new play space are available below, you may click on them to make it larger

Over the last 5 years we have been very intentional in our improvements of every classroom space in our school.  We have replaced carpet, windows, lights, boards, and upgraded technology.  We have also retiled and painted our cafeteria as well as a complete renovation of our library.  The next thing that we are setting our attention to is probably one of the most widely used spaces on our campus, and according to many of our students, the most important! Our playground has been in need of  major upgrades for several years. It is currently approaching 20 years old, and the typical life span of a playground is 15-20 years.  We have been talking about this project now for two years.  The mere size and scope of this project has required many hours of hard work and planning.  We are excited to unveil to you tonight the plans for a new playground.  Earlier this school year we formed a playground committee who has met numerous times and discussed more options than you can imagine in regards to a new playground.  All of our teachers participated in a survey process to share with Playcore what they would like to see improved in this new space.  Before I show you the new renderings for our space, I would like to publicly say "Thank You" to Ellen Baggenstoss for her hard work in heading up this project.  I would also like to thank Tonya Hathorne, Amy Shulman, Amy Roberts, Matt Winn, Andy Baggenstoss, Becky Tedford,  Amber Long, Fred Weichmann (BBS parent and VP at Playcore).  We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us over the next 3 months.  We need to raise $150,000 to make this playground a reality.  Work to do this is already happening and we are excited about the great progress that has already been made. Over the next several weeks we will be meeting with prospective donors, corporations, and friends of Brainerd Baptist School as we endeavor to raise this money.  Our goal is to have this playground ready for our students to enjoy this August.  If you are a former BBS parent that is here tonight, and would like to be involved with helping BBS reach this goal, we would welcome your donation tonight.  There are still naming opportunities available if you know a company that would be interested in partnering with us to make this playground a reality.  To our current families, you will see a lot of correspondence about this exciting opportunity over the next couple of weeks.  We are hopeful to secure a matching grant and will need your help! 

Kindergarten is Too Easy

Through my years at Brainerd Baptist School I have read countless articles on the differences between an academic-based verses a play-based program. There seems to be a lot of different views and opinions on this from just about everyone you talk with.  We have an academic based program at BBS and believe that is what works best for our school.  Our Assistant Head of School ran across this article recently and sent it to me. As soon as I read it I knew it would be a great read on the blog.  The article actually supports more academic rigor being inserted into kindergarten programs.  Click here to read the full article. I would love to hear your thoughts as well. 

7 Behaviors That Can Cripple Leadership in Our Children

I know many of you are on Facebook, and often there are many good articles that are shared there. This article was shared by several of my friends recently and is from Forbes magazine. As I read the article I found myself questioning my own parenting skills.  The author says, "As a parent myself, I've learned that all the wisdom and love in the world doesn't necessarily protect you from parenting in ways that h old your children back from thriving, gaining independence and becoming the leaders they have the potential to be."  The author continues by listing 7 specific areas where parents need to be careful when raising our children.  I am sure that you, like me, want our children to be independent leaders in their worlds.  This article is well worth the time to read.  I would love to hear your feedback on the 7 things presented here.  Click here to read the rest of the article. 

What Teachers Wished Parents Knew (or did!)

If you have spent any time at Brainerd Baptist School, you know that one of the coolest things about our school is the dynamic relationships we have with our parents.  I say in almost every tour I give that "you will see parents here today in your tour.  They are not planted just for the tour, but are a part of everyday life at BBS."  This is a true statement and we value our parents and how they support our classes. It is with this in mind that I ask the following question,  is it possible to be too involved in your child's education? I would say yes to this, and I think most of our teachers would agree. I think (as a parent) we want our children to succeed so much that we sometimes help them too much! In our eagerness to help them, we can hurt them. Wendy Mogul writes about this in her book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.  Dr. Mogel will be speaking in Chattanooga at the Baylor School in a few weeks. I have had the joy of hearing her speak a couple of times and would encourage you to go hear her.

 I also read an article today from the Washington Post that speaks to this subject.  This author is specifically talking about kindergarten students.  Click here to read her thoughts on how you can help your young student. What are your thoughts? 

Math or Cut the Rope 2?

I have the distinct luxury of having 3 children that keep me fairly current on what apps are considered "in" for kids. I recently heard my oldest son talking about the new version of "Cut the Rope" which is a game he really enjoyed playing a few months ago. So, here we are a few days after Christmas. Did your child get a new iPad for Christmas? If so, you may be looking for some educational apps to go along with all those gaming apps as well. If so, I ran across a great article and website by Richard Byrne. I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Byrne at a conference last year and can say that he knows his stuff. In this post he writes about 10 iPad apps that are good for elementary school math skills. Check it out. I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these apps. If you know of some other good ones that parents may be interested in, please share those too. 

Just an Ordinary Trip

To my esteemed followers, the following post is about a trip I am currently on in Guatemala. The internet connection is spotty, and the grammar below may be worse than normal! Please forgive me.

Just an Ordinary Trip

I am currently in Jocotån, Guatemala participating in a mission trip.  We left Atlanta early Saturday morning for what I thought would be a normal, routine flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala.  A little over one hour into our flight, our pilot came over the intercom to announce that there was a strong electrical smell in the cabin and he thought it was necessary to make an emergency landing.  For some reason, I assumed we would be flying over Louisiana or Texas enroute to Guatemala.  I have never had a good understanding of how pilots determine their routes to the desired location.  I was wrong (like normal) in my assumption and our location was actually over the Gulf of Mexico.  Our pilot informed us that we would be making our emergency landing in Tampa, FL. Needless to say, this development got everyone’s attention.  We quickly descended and landed as quickly and roughly as I ever remember in a plane ride. To further add to the excitement four fire trucks quickly chased us down the runway and surrounded our plane.  They used some sort of infra-red equipment to determine that there was no fire on the plane. They kept us on board of the plane for over an hour trying to determine where the problem was and also processing our papers to allow us to get off of the plane. The fine folks at Delta were so nice to give us a generous $6 meal credit to use during our time on the concourse in Tampa (yes that is sarcasm!). We enjoyed our time in Florida and soon (about 2 hours!) boarded our plane again and continued in our journey to Guatemala. 

We arrived and made it through customs with any fanfare and were soon on our way to Jocotån, the city we would be staying in as we worked in a village called Nearar.  I found the traffic in Jocotån pretty typical and very much like other countries (Ecuador and Venezuela) that I have been able to visit.  I did however experience a first on this trip – we were pulled over by a government roadblock.  After much conversation, and the realization that we were not going to be going anywhere unless we acted quickly, a $20 tip to one of the officers helped speed up our delay! We have spent the last two days driving up a mountainous road.  The trip up the mountain takes approximately 25 minutes and I am not convinced that our total travel is probably not much than 5 miles.  The terrain, as well as the poor condition of the roads, makes the travel very difficult.  It is also somewhat disconcerting to see drop off of several thousand feet and the van mere inches from this edge.  This experience will help strengthen your prayer life! About half way up the mountain there are the charred remains of a truck that recently went off the side of the road.  Unlike America, the flipped over vehicle still remains and I would assume that no one is coming anytime soon to remove it.

Once we arrive to the top of this mountain, we are in a village called Nearar.  It is typical of many villages in that it has a school as well as a Catholic Church among some other small buildings.  The village is literally on the side of a mountain and these people plant coffee on the sides of hills that we would consider impossible to traverse.  Because of the slope, all planting and harvesting is done via hand.  We actually hike down to this village and our best estimate is approximately a half-mile.  It is a steep hike, and goes VERY quickly going down, but coming back up is a different story all together.  The poverty in these areas is as poor as anything I have every scene.  The people live in mud houses with metal roofs and cook with an open flame.  They also use basins to catch the water off their roofs.  It has been an amazing experience so far.  My group consist of 3 other men and a few locals as we endeavor to work with people that have far less than we do, but still need a relationship with Jesus Christ.

More Later

ASC changes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade students

Beginning Monday, November 18, 1st and 2nd grade children staying for ASC  will be reporting to room 25  for snack. They will then go to the playground, weather-permitting.  If it is raining or too cold (or too cold to stay out until 4:30), children in 1st & 2nd grades  will report to 204 (next to Mrs. Garmon's room) or to the gym.  The children will move to #18 at 4:30 until closing.

Children in 3rd grade will report to the game room - across from the gym.  They will leave to go to the playground at 3:40.  If the weather prohits outdoor play, they will be in the gym or gameroom until 4:30, at which time they will move to #18 until closing.

If you have questions, please call or text Cathy Creed at 595-1892 or Barbara Workman at 240-5394.

What Does SAIS Accreditation Mean?

We have five guest that will be arriving on our campus tomorrow to conduct our accreditation visit. We have been busy preparing for this visit for the last year. Much work has been done and we are excited to show others what Brainerd Baptist School is all about. We hold a dual accreditation through AdvancED (formally SACS) and SAIS.  This is a very important time for our school.  This group will be on campus thru Tuesday.  I wrote an article for our Foundations magazine back in the summer that explains this process in a little more detail.  I have posted it below to explain what the next three days will be about.   

What Do All These Letters Mean?


Have you ever been confused by acronyms? Everywhere we turn in life, we encounter them from the rating of the latest movie we see, to the nutritional information on a menu, to all the initials at the end of your favorite doctors name. We are inundated with PG, PG-13, R, MSG, RDA, MD, DO, FACS, and all other sorts of important information in abbreviated format.  Education has its fair share of these as well and we like to use them at BBS too.  A quick glance at our website will reveal a host of acronyms including SAIS, TAIS, NCATE, SACSCASI as well as others.  Have you ever wondered if these are important or better yet, you may assume their importance, but wonder what they actually mean? In the fall our school will host a visiting team that look at all facets of our school to ensure that we are of the highest quality.  Because of this important visit, I want to share a little more about this so you are more knowledgeable about the process.

Two acronyms that you will frequently see at Brainerd Baptist are SAIS and SACSCASI.  SAIS stands for Southern Association of Independent Schools, while SACSCASI stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Counsil for School Improvement (Also referred to as AdvancED).   Accreditation is an ongoing process that helps ensure that schools are committed to continuous improvement and best practices in all facets of our school. Once every five years a team consisting of educators from all over our region visit our campus to review our plans, meet with our Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, students and even parents.  We have been busy preparing for this visit for the entire school year. Mrs. Baggenstoss is serving as our Accreditation Coordinator and has worked very hard preparing us for this process. Back in April we hosted our Ken Cheeseman, Headmaster of St. Paul’s Christian Academy in Nashville for our preliminary visit.  Mr. Cheeseman is our Accreditation Chair and will be back on our campus in November with four other educators. The best independent schools in our area seek SAIS accreditation. 

So now that I have explained what the initials mean, and a little more about the process, let me explain why this is important.  Brainerd Baptist School obtained SAIS/SACS accreditation back in 2008.  Accreditiation through SAIS is a rigorous process that the best schools in the southeastern United States pursue.  The process itself is an arduous process in which the school takes a critical analyze of every facet of our program.  The driving question we ask is “Can we improve on the programs and curriculum at our school?” The idea is to continually improve all areas of school life from instructional approach, student life, governance, fine arts, and all other areas of the school experience. 
As our SAIS visit approaches, you will see more information regarding this critical juncture for our school. You may be asked to serve on a committee that meets with the visiting team to talk about our school.  If you have any questions about this process (or any other acronyms!) please feel free to see me!


Do Single-Gender Schools Work?

Many of our 4th and 5th grade families struggle with the decision of where to send their child for middle school.  I have had hundreds of conversations with concerned parents looking for the best fit for their child.  I have also gone through this process as a parent, and find myself once again in this familiar spot as we look at middle school options for our daughter.  We are blessed in this city to have so many great schools to consider for our children. These choices include two schools who follow a "single-gender" approach.  Over the last several years there has been a lot of movement in this area of education.  For decades, one could only find a single-gender environment in private schools.  Recently, many public schools across our country are seeing real academic benefit from this approach (specifically at the middle school level) that is causing them to rethink their approach.
  David Carroll, anchor and School Patrol reporter for WRCBTV recently did a story on this about some schools in our area that are employing this approach and they are seeing positive results as a result of these changes.  To view the complete article click here


Standing on the Shoulders of Others

Over the last several years I have had the joy and privilege to get to know Mrs. Fonza Miller Barkley who is affectionally known around BBS as Mrs. Fonza.  Through the years we have talked on several occasions and she has also visited our campus.  Every time I am around her I come away blessed. I told her yesterday that I hope to be as happy and well spoken as she is when I am 94 years old!   We were excited to have Mrs. Fonza on campus yesterday to do some videoing preparing for a special presentation that we plan on doing at our 60th Anniversary Banquet in February (By the way, let me put in a plug here, you will NOT want to miss this event on February 28th, it is going to be great!).

As I reflect on our time yesterday, here is what I know - Mrs. Fonza loves BBS as much today as she did 60 years ago.  Although her memories are 60 years old,  she still has vivid memories of her tenure at BBS and the specific events that lead to the founding of a school.  As we were talking yesterday she recalled students, teachers, and events that happened many years ago.  We even ran into one of her former students (Mrs. Angie Jones, a K4 assistant)  She remarked to me yesterday that she could not believe that BBS would grow to become the school it is today.  We spent time today walking through classrooms and showing Mrs. Fonza what BBS looks like today.  I also spent some time talking with her about the past and looking at photos that she brought.
As I think about November, and I see posts daily on Facebook about what people are thankful for, I can say, I am thankful that Mrs. Fonza followed God's leading 60 years ago to start what today is Brainerd Baptist School.  Her vision, hard work, and dedication to something much larger than herself is evident.  I am here today because of her (and many others) and the belief that an independent school that focused on both high academics as well strong academics was needed.

 Below are some pictures from our time yesterday, (you may view the entire album by clicking on each picture.)  

Is Your Child Friendly?

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed on last night, one of the educators that I follow (Dr. Michele Borba) tweeted an article about social skills and our children.  The tweet caught my attention.  I believe this is a topic that resonates with all parents.  I think we probably all have a desire for our children to be liked, and in turn, to also be "friendly" to others.  It hurts when we see a child struggle in this area, and I would even go so far to say that many parents like to throw the B word (bullying) around when many times, it is poor social skills of the child that cause the issues. Her blog post gives several practical parenting tips on this subject that I found useful.  I also found this quote particularly profound in light of the subject, "

Lead author,  William M. Bukowski, states: 

The long-term effects of being a withdrawn child are enduringly negative. Over time, we found that withdrawn kids showed increasing levels of sadness and higher levels of depressive feelings. Have one friend can be protective for withdrawn or shy kids. Our study confirms the value of having friends, which are like a shield against negative social experiences.

If this topic interest you, and you would like to read the rest of Dr. Borba's post, please click here.  



What College Will Be Like in 2023

This Gabriel Kahn article was featured in the Wall Street Journal last week.  I feel as though I have been in college for about the last 20 years, so I read this article with a sense that I was more than qualified to write about this topic. The college world that I remember back in 1996 (I worked for a couple of years after graduating high school) compared with the college life today (as a grad student) is much different. An evolution is taking place. The article below talks about 4 different areas where we will see significant changes in college life over the next 20 years. The author does not answer the most important question...and that is will UT's football team be any good by then? 

"Imagine a university without textbooks and classes without calendars. But still costing a lot of money."


Ten years from now college might not look too different from the outside—the manicured quads, the football games, the parties—but the learning experience students receive will probably be fundamentally different from the one they get today.

Textbooks. Lecture halls. September-to-spring calendars. Over the next decade, technology may sweep away some of the most basic aspects of a university education and usher in a flood of innovations and changes. Look for online classes that let students learn at their own pace, drawing on materials from schools across the country—not just a single professor and a hefty textbook.

All those changes probably won't make a university education cheaper—alas—but they will likely upend our perceptions about how we value it. Traditionally, schools have been judged by how many prospective students they turn away, not by how many competent graduates they churn out.

"Those are status rankings, driven by exclusivity and preservation of an old model," says Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University. But as new technologies seep into the classroom, it will be easier to measure what students actually learn. That will "make universities more accountable for what they produce," Dr. Crow says.

Here are four areas where you can expect to see major changes and one area where you probably won't:

The Classroom

In the near future, professors will run their courses over digital platforms capable of collecting data on each student's progress. These platforms were initially developed for massive open online courses, or MOOCs. However, universities are now folding these platforms back into their traditional classes because they make it easier to share content, host discussions and keep track of student work. A professor might still "teach" a class, but most of the interaction will happen online.If professors and students do meet in a physical classroom, it will be to review material, work through problems or drill down on discussion topics. Scenes like John Houseman lecturing to an auditorium full of students in "The Paper Chase" will be a thing of the past.

These platforms are constantly improving. Soon, they will be able to monitor which students are spending 15 minutes on a calculus problem and which ones slog away for an hour. This can raise red flags for professors (and their teaching assistants) about who might need extra help. As Rovy Brannon, associate dean at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, says, "The course platform will get to know you far better than your professor does today."

The Calendar

As more classes move partially or entirely online, the requirements of having a uniform start and end date diminish. Having all the class material online also means some students could sail through a semester's worth of classes in a few weeks and then start again with new courses. Think of it as the academic equivalent of binge viewing on Netflix. Some might finish a bachelor's degree in two years. Those who stick around for four years might have three majors.

It's a move that educators are likely to encourage: Fast learning makes their undergrads look more impressive and lets schools pocket more revenue by moving more students through the system. "You used to be on a regimented schedule that produced this experience," says Dr. Crow, the Arizona State president. "We realize that's one path, but only one of several, and we have to facilitate all of them."

The Institution

It used to be that getting accepted to a prestigious university was how you accessed the best professors and could hang out with the smartest students. That's because universities were, for the most part, closed information systems that doled out their content to a select few. That's changing.

More universities are making their courses available through online platforms such as Coursera and edX, and great lectures can be found on YouTube. Students are supplementing their own school's classes with online lectures from rock-star professors at other institutions.

More and more, this type of learning will become part of the fabric of college life. "Students will be able to acquire knowledge globally, across different campuses," says Ron Kraemer, chief information and digital officer at the University of Notre Dame.

Schools, meanwhile, will take advantage of this setup to conserve their resources. They might develop courses of their own only when they think they can provide a big advantage over other schools' offerings. Otherwise, they might simply adopt a world-beating course that was developed elsewhere, and then put their own stamp on it by designing assignments, discussions and student-faculty interactions. Already, for example, students at several California State University campuses such as San Jose and Sacramento are taking engineering classes that were developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"The university will be part of a club where they will share their resources, because they don't all want to offer the same econ class," says Shelton Waggener, the senior vice president of Internet2, a research network founded by several U.S. universities.

Mr. Kraemer anticipates fierce battles over intellectual property as universities begin to open up their content to the outside. If a professor develops a course that catches fire at campuses across the country, who gets compensated? The professor? The university? And, as has happened in fields such as music and book publishing, what's to prevent star professors from breaking out of the confines of a university to strike out on their own?

But he also says opening up colleges will improve the learning experience. "It levels the playing field because it allows greater access to materials," Mr. Kraemer says. "It challenges everyone to up their game."

The Textbook

These 10-pound hardcover volumes used to anchor Psychology 101 or the "Rocks for Jocks" geology class. But this giant bundle, and the lucrative publishing industry that produced it, will quickly unravel as professors pick and choose the sections they like best and assemble their own course packs.

"No professor will need to assign the whole textbook," says Soo Young Rieh, a professor at the University of Michigan's School of Information. "Each class will have its own tailored materials."

The books themselves will cease to be physical volumes and instead will be sources of interactive digital content that include text, videos and simulations. In some cases, the material that used to be in a textbook will simply be integrated into the online course platform, where students can watch a lecture, read an essay and do a homework assignment. As students work their way through them, they will engage in social learning experiences with classmates or even students at other universities—everything from sharing notes on the reading to engaging in video chats about course topics.

The Cost

In the future, tuition will drop dramatically. No, just kidding.

The expansion of online delivery has led some to believe that universities will be able to scale up their classes and reduce their costs per student. While this will happen in a few cases—Georgia Tech is now offering an online computer science master's for $6,600—it won't transform the university cost structure. That's because so many of the added costs are the result of the expansion of university administrations and other nonacademic functions, from career counseling to student activities.

Technology will help increase the class size, says Anthony P. Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, "but that's pocket change in the whole scheme of things."

Mr. Kahn is a professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism. He can be reached at

A version of this article appeared October 9, 2013, on page R7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A Glimpse Into the Future: College in 2023.


The Key To Learning: Knowing How Learning Works

I read this article today and found myself nodding my head in agreement with the author.  I also was thinking to myself "this is why Foundations and Frameworks is so important to what we are doing at Brainerd Baptist School."  I hope you will take a few minutes and read this article from Time Magazine about some new research in how children learn. The context basically says that children need to about the skills of learning in order to use them properly.  The next time your student complains about using a SPEC log, or you wonder "is this worth it?", remember this article! 

The Key To Learning: Knowing How Learning Works

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What’s the key to effective learning? One intriguing body of research suggests a rather riddle-like answer: It’s not just what you know. It’s what you know about what you know.

To put it in more straightforward terms, anytime a student learns, he or she has to bring in two kinds of prior knowledge: knowledge about the subject at hand (say, mathematics or history) and knowledge about how learning works. Parents and educators are pretty good at imparting the first kind of knowledge. We’re comfortable talking about concrete information: names, dates, numbers, facts. But the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself—the “metacognitive” aspects of learning—is more hit-or-miss, and it shows.

In our schools,  ”little emphasis—if any—is placed on training students how they should go about learning the content and what skills will promote efficient studying to support robust learning,” writes John Dunlosky, professor of psychology at Kent State University in Ohio, in an article just published in American Educator. 

Research has found that students vary widely in what they know about how to learn, according to a team of educational researchers from Australia writing last year in the journal Instructional Science. Most striking, low-achieving students show “substantial deficits” in their awareness of the cognitive and metacognitive strategies that lead to effective learning—suggesting that these students’ struggles may be due in part to a gap in their knowledge about how learning works.

Teaching students good learning strategies leads to improved learning outcomes, writes lead author Helen Askell-Williams of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. Askell-Williams cites as one example a recent finding by PISA, the Programme for International Student Assessment, which administers academic proficiency tests to students around the globe (American students score right in the mediocre middle.) “Students who use appropriate strategies to understand and remember what they read, such as underlining important parts of the texts or discussing what they read with other people, perform at least 73 points higher in the PISA assessment—that is, one full proficiency level or nearly two full school years—than students who use these strategies the least,” the PISA report reads.

(MOREHighlighting is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques)

Students can assess their own awareness by asking themselves which of the following learning strategies they regularly use (the response to each item is ideally “yes”):

• I draw pictures or diagrams to help me understand this subject.

• I make up questions that I try to answer about this subject.

• When I am learning something new in this subject, I think back to what I already know about it.

• I discuss what I am doing in this subject with others.

• I practice things over and over until I know them well in this subject.

• I think about my thinking, to check if I understand the ideas in this subject.

• When I don’t understand something in this subject I go back over it again.

• I make a note of things that I don’t understand very well in this subject, so that I can follow them up.

• When I have finished an activity in this subject I look back to see how well I did.

• I organize my time to manage my learning in this subject.

• I make plans for how to do the activities in this subject.

Askell-Williams and her colleagues found that those students who used fewer of these strategies reported more difficulty coping with their schoolwork. For the second part of their study, they designed a series of proactive questions for teachers to drop into the lesson on a “just-in-time” basis—at the moments when students could use the prompting most.

• What is the topic for today’s lesson?

• What will be important ideas in today’s lesson?

• What do you already know about this topic?

• What can you relate this to?

• What will you do to remember the key ideas?

• Is there anything about this topic you don’t understand, or are not clear about?

These questions, too, can be adopted by any parent or educator to make sure that children know not just what is to be learned, but how.

This article is from the Brilliant Report, a weekly newsletter written by Annie Murphy Paul.

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10 Ways to Raise Resilient Kids in Turbulent Times

I read this article today, and it is a few years old.  That being said, I found the tips that the author gives are still applicable today.  This is from the Huffington Post, and is by educational psychologist Lori Day. I enjoy reading the Post as it frequently has great articles in it. What are your thoughts?

10 Ways to Raise Resilient Kids in Turbulent Times

In the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, parents, teachers, journalists and bloggers all over the world are discussing best practices for talking to children about disasters. Among my friends and colleagues, there is palpable angst about the effects of social media exposure on their children, who see and hear daily accounts of the war in Libya, destruction in Japan, and the threat of large-scale radiation exposure for thousands of citizens across the Pacific. As one friend posted on Facebook, "The world is on fire and I don't know what to tell my son."

Seemingly absent from the global conversation is a more interesting question: "What makes children resilient?" So many discussion threads I am reading these days suggest shielding young children from knowledge of wars and disasters -- anything that could scare them or threaten their feelings of safety in the world. I can't help but question this uniquely American choice to overprotect children, often treating them like delicate hot-house flowers with fragile egos and a bottomless need for support, lest they wilt under the stress of everyday life.

Resilient kids usually become resilient adults, able to roll with the punches of being human in an imperfect and unfair world. The quality of resilience -- long studied yet not well understood -- is nonetheless recognized as critical not only to the individual's adaptation to life's challenges, but to society's collective survival. It is those individuals who can persevere through their own adversity, be strengthened by it, and actually catalyze others to do the same. In the best of cases, these children grow up to become those agents of change who give back to the world more than they take, making it a better place for all of us.

While a child's natural temperament and genetic makeup are factors in his or her ability to successfully face challenging circumstances while learning and growing from them, there are many things adults can do to help children develop strategies for offsetting anxiety, managing stress and learning to overcome fear and trauma.

Here are 10 things that loving parents and other adult role models can do to foster resilient children who become resilient adults:

  1. Let children experience adversity, real or contrived. A child who is caringly supported through, but not shielded from, news of natural disasters or war, deaths or illnesses of loved ones, parental divorce or job loss, and so on become stronger children (and adults) who are more empathetic to others facing similar stressors. Children who have the good fortune of escaping trauma during their childhoods need #2 below even more than those for whom life has provided sufficient challenges in the formative years.
  2. Allow age-appropriate "micro-failures." Wendy Mogel, author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" and "The Blessing of a B-," warns against succumbing to Lake Wobegon parenting where all the children are above average. Parents must be willing to let their children fall and pick themselves up. Making mistakes while young is essential to a child's ability to overcome larger adversities later in life, and parents must resist the urge to intervene and rescue. Skinned knees and B-minuses are character building!
  3. Participate sparingly in the "Congratulatory Culture." It can rob children of the ability to appreciate a job well done. When children are glowingly affirmed for everything they do -- usually out of adult fear that the child will have low self-esteem -- they are deprived of authentic feedback and become cynical, mistrustful of effusive adults, and doubtful about their abilities. In other words, excessive A-pluses, blue ribbons and hyperbolic praise usually backfire.
  4. Model comfort with mild anxiety. Let kids solve their own problems when adult intervention is not truly needed. Put children in situations where they need to be flexible, to explore, to structure their own time, to socialize without supervision, to be out of their comfort zone. For example, let a city child walk in the woods with a friend in the country. Bear attacks are exceedingly rare, but projected parental anxiety is exceedingly common and harmful.
  5. Do not overindulge. It is OK for kids not to have everything they want or everything their friends have, and to have to earn some of the material things they desire or the privileges they seek. It is OK for kids to have to wait or to prove that they are responsible.
  6. Love your children unconditionally. It's become a platitude, and unfortunately that undermines a very important message: Parents must love whotheir children are, not what their children are and do. They must love them even if they make a B-minus, even if they do not make the travel team (and schmoozing/threatening the coach is forbidden). Parents of course still love their children, even when they do not keep up with the Joneses' children, but kids often mistake parental competitiveness and disappointment for lack of love.
  7. Cede control when reasonable. Let children, in an age-appropriate fashion, have as much power, as many choices and as many opportunities to succeed or fail as possible -- without worry that parents will disapprove, swoop in or take the control back.
  8. Teach children to be independent but to seek help when needed, and to understand that these are not mutually exclusive. Kids who feel empowered to be agents of their own destiny, but to ask for help along the way as needed, are operating from a position of strength and confidence. The latter without the former leads to weakness, while the former without the latter leads to folly.
  9. Help your children develop at least one talent. While the differences between kids who have one, two, three or more areas of interest and accomplishment are negligible, the difference between kids with one talent and none are significant. Adults should open as many doors as possible for kids to explore interests when they are young, and to proactively nurture at least one athletic, artistic, academic or other area of talent that the child can be proud of as he or she grows up.
  10. Teach and model social justice. Show children how to stand up for themselves and others, how to be empathetic, how to carry out thoughtful acts for others, and how to integrate acts of service into daily life, throughout life. This is both formative to developing resilience, and a positive outcome to doing so. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you seek in the world." If the key adults in kids' lives live this way, the kids will be more likely to follow suit.

Resilience is a somewhat elusive quality, but children in firm possession of it can weather not only hearing long-distance stories about the tsunami in Japan, but also actually being there and emotionally surviving it. We can continue discussing the degrees to which we should shelter our American children from seeing and hearing accounts of the tragedy, or we can refocus on what is really important -- helping our children understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and that life does go on. The message is one of the indomitability of the human spirit, even in the face of disaster, and that is noble indeed.