For almost a year, we have been meeting with a local group of parents and kids to work on an arts and sciences projects about coral reefs. We have 5 days left on the crowd-funding campaign to produce our final product: a set of playing cards based on the models of ocean creatures we’ve been creating. The models themselves are now on exhibit in the local community art gallery.
Please visit our project’s campaign – clicks help to raise its visibility on the site – and spread the word! http://www.indiegogo.com/H2O?a=584370
Here is the latest campaign update:
Hello, my dear campaigners! In this update, I talk about two examples of modeling coral with crochet and paper.
The most interesting feature of the wire coral is the dramatic spiral. How do you model this? Very easily with crochet! Just make a chain of stitches. In the second row, put two stitches into each one stitch from the chain. The 1:2 ratio will do the work for you! Experiment with other ratios, as we do all the time in this project, and see what happens.
We highly recommend you explore a coccolithophore single-cell plant under the microscope – or use wonderful open images from others who did. The funky plant looks like a sphere covered in rings. How do you model this with paper folding? Use the fact that polygons approximate circles. Start with a paper circle. Our student used two-colored cupcake liners. Inscribe a polygon, such as a hexagon, into it. You can draw the hexagon or just imagine it there. Fold along the straight lines. You will form a very organic-looking ring!
I think the only long-term solution to child discline is to raise the adult:child ratio to about 1:5 or more, in all situations. Humans are, among other things, group animals with powerful instincts dictating behavior. Any situation where there are too many kids will instinctively feel threatening to kids, on the ancient basis of being interpreted as “not enough providers in the group.” The instinct is, so to speak, to push extras out of the nest.
That’s why it takes incredible effort and systematic, constant measures of all sorts to keep discipline in any situation with low adult:child ratio. On the other hand, parent coops, homeschool classes, work-study programs, volunteer groups that welcome kids and other places with high adult:child ratios typically extend almost no efforts on discipline, and yet have wonderfully disciplined kids – naturally.
This calls for pretty profound changes in how the society runs, and I fully realize this. A large minority of parents (4% overall in the US, 7% among college-educated parents) take measures within families and local communities to make this happen for their kids:http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/family-educator-commons/2010/08/09 Other measures that may work, especially for teens, are work-study programs, apprenticeships with professionals, and overall integrating kids more into the grown-up world, rather than segregating them. It will take some doing, surely! Meanwhile, a good short-term measure is to open classrooms to multiple parent and community volunteers to raise the adult:child ratio. There are a lot of retired, unemployed, studying to be teachers or childhood researchers, vacationing and working-from-home people who would welcome the opportunity to help.
Because there are two legs on each side!
At a Math Club, we were working with paper punches and folding. Symmetry of all sorts was on everybody’s minds. A. (4) drew a unicorn with two legs. We all started to ask about it, and she said: “It has two legs on this side and two on the other side!” Then she turned the paper over and drew two legs on the other side – on the other side of the paper!
This is a sketch for an Early Algebra activity from Math Clubs. Kids can draw their own family trees, use photographs, or clipart of their favorite characters.
Once the tree is built, it can be used for several activities. Start from common words, gradually moving to mathematical terms:
- How many grandparents are there? (point to the “grandparent” level on the tree). What about great-grandparents?
- We have one child, and we have two parents in the first generation from the child, and four grandparents in the second generation, and eight great-grandparents in the third generation… How many people are in the fourth generation? Fifth? How do you know?
- Mathematicians use the term “power” here. For example, we can say “grandparents” or “the second generation from the child” or “two to the second power.” Two to the first power (parents) is two. Two to the second power (grandparents) is eight. What is two to the third power? There is a symbol for it:
- What generation has eight people? What power of two makes sixteen?
Figuring out which generation each quantity means is a lot like logarithms.
We can say, “What generation has sixteen people?” or we can write:
- Add up all generations up to a certain level, say, “grandparents”. Compare to the number in the next level. What do you observe? Is it always the case?
What is interesting for me, as an educator, are the many educational innovations developed and (by now) perfected within homeschool communities. How does “post-school” educational system look like? Here is a partial list of educational practices that are quite widespread, accepted and well developed:
(by CommLab )
- Rapid prototyping of everything, short cycles of evaluation and change, and correspondingly short educational experiences are the norm. Families have moved from “package deal” of whole set curricula (“this is what you do for middle school”) to hand-picking books, teachers, and methods for each child for each 2-4 months of each subject. A kid can stay with a program that works for years, or drop one that does not in a few weeks. This leads to increased quality of programs.
- High value is placed on engagement, love for subjects and personal relevance of activities both for activity leaders and for all participants. It is expected that participants and especially leaders of activities CARE. Children are much more likely to be learning topics and subjects that are meaningful for them personally, in ways they personally find engaging. Much discussion happens, and much know-how is accumulated about ways of finding and developing meaningful activities for particular subject areas.
- Deconstruction of “age” and shift to ability levels and styles is frequent among homeschoolers. One often sees age spreads of 3-6 years within each homeschool group activity. Grouping by age is rare and loose (e.g. “teens and tweens” rather than “fourteen year olds”). Correspondingly, friendships and informal communities form across ages, based on common interests and activities.
(by iTunes U)
- Barter economies, gift economies, network economies, coops and other innovative (or age-old) alternative forms of education financing are widespread. Homeschoolers value and often use open and free software and open educational resources, as well as the culture of exchange and communal use of resources. Interestingly, the largest benefits of homeschooling as far as standardized tests and college admissions go happen in the poorest families with lowest-educated parents.
- Co-production models of learning, where learners and teachers are curriculum co-creators, project learning, unit studies and other active learning models are prevalent among homeschoolers.
- Homeschoolers often form “nakama” groups, small, local tight friend and family groups getting together to achieve their goals, and tied personally as well as educationally. High value is placed on friendships, and day-to-day educational decisions come from these personal ties.
- There are active, robust local communities and global support networks for homeschooling families, for anything from finding an appropriate math program for highly gifted ADHD Asperger kid who likes computers, to helping a family through tough economic times. Homeschoolers are some of the most socially networked demographics, which include lightning-fast spread of politically relevant news, such as proposed laws.
I think of homeschoolers as a distributed think tank and early adopters of education practices of the future.
My comment to USA Today article at http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-05-28-homeschooling_N.htm
This Saturday, I participated in a wonderful workshop on real time collaboration. Here is the mind map summarizing it, with links to appropriate sites and details:
It is shared under Creative Commons license by Change Management Community.