|Celebrating Child-led Learning||Vol. I, issue 8 August/September 2010|
Sunny summer wishes from HomeschoolNYC! This has been an energizing season for me, filled with marvelous learning experiences. As I share my experiences and ideas with you, I welcome you to share yours with me at Laurie@homeschoolNYC.com. Happy summer learning!
This year's AERO Conference, held in Albany in late June, was one of the most exciting
events ever! There was a dazzling number
of workshops and presentations.
Vendors displayed newly invented and created items, alongside a selection
of books you won't see anywhere else (except in the AERO catalog). It was easy to strike up a conversation
with another browser or listener, since everyone loved to talk about
education. Meals were in the same
hotel, with some tables marked for specific discussions. You would meet your colleagues over
lunch, perhaps to talk about a fascinating new book, or idea, or educator. I met inspirational speakers, authors
and artists, problem solvers, alternative teachers, students, and parents, from
states and countries far and wide - all educational revolutionaries.
One of the many highlights was the keynote speech by John Taylor
Gatto, award-winning teacher and author of Dumbing Us Down and Weapons of Mass Instruction
. Mr. Gatto is a
gifted wordsmith with a rare sense of humor. His talk made light of his many experiences and
tussles with traditional institutions. This is a man who broke the rules and dared to confront the boredom in his stifling NYC classroom! One of his students confessed that all he wanted to do was act. Writing out a pass for him, Mr. Gatto gave him an assignment: he was to go on as many auditions as possible that year. The Dept. of Ed. finally caught up with this student at the end of the year, only to find that he had landed a role on General Hospital
. Through all of John Taylor Gatto's outrageous stories, he makes you think.
Other conference highlights included special presentations
of several documentary films, which were sometimes inspiring and sometimes disturbing, including Race to Nowhere,
and The War
. These were followed by focused Q and A or panel discussions. DVDs can be purchased through AERO of the panel discussions and keynote speeches including the wisdom of Herbert Kohl, the energy of Matthew Davis, the wit of John Taylor Gatto, and the international awareness of Shilpa Jain who spoke about community-based education.
My own presentation, on child-led learning techniques in the
classroom, was very well received. I predict that many teachers will be adding board games to their stock
of learning tools. At the end of
the conference my four days were a blur of information, new contacts and
friends, and renewed inspiration. There is talk of moving the conference to the
west coast next year. Wherever AERO
puts up its tent, you can expect to find something electrifying going on!
Walt Whitman's Birthplace
Long Island Field Trip
When I was a girl of eight I discovered Leaves of Grass
was a small edition, with a dark green cover, borrowed from my father's
library. As I sat and turned the
pages, I felt as if I was turning leaves, and this magical book cast a
me. It opened up a whole new world
of poetry for me. I have since
found Walt Whitman's poetry reflected in the work of countless other
in modern art, and even film. The movie
turned a portion
of Song of Myself
into an stunning musical
number called I Sing the Body Electric
me, the rhythms of the city and the ocean, the sounds of traffic and
the sea, the feeling of Brooklyn and Long Island from skyscrapers to
are all in Leaves of Grass.
considered America's most influential poet, was born in 1819 in a small
farmhouse in West Hills, Long Island, about thirty miles from NYC. Today you can go back in time and visit
this fully restored homestead. Read more...
Suggested books to introduce your
child to the work of the great American poet can be found here
sites in the nearby area can be found here
Suggested Summer Road Trip:
Old Sturbridge Village and
The Higgins Armory Museum
Do you love living history? Or perhaps your child is besotted by the Middle
Ages? Then you may want to know about
Old Sturbridge Village and the Higgins Armory Museum.
Old Sturbridge Village is three hours from NYC, in
Massachusetts just north of the Connecticut border. This is a living history museum depicting a rural New
England town in the 1830s. Read more...
Half an hour east from Old Sturbridge Village is Worcestor, Mass., home
of the Higgins Armory Museum. It is rare to find a museum that has developed their
specialty so well. Here is a
complete history of arms and armor... Read more...
Suggested reading, and a fabulous Middle Ages curriculum for middle school, are here
Every road trip is an opportunity to record your own geography, scrapbook your vacation, and diary your thoughts. Here
are some ways of including every subject with your journey, and Travel Tips for Kids
Make a Stick & Elastic Book
This simple book was made with three ingredients: a stick, a rubber band, and leaf paper. Perfect for nature poems inspired by Walt Whitman!
Making a handmade book can be a very rewarding experience, motivating
the writer to fill it with words and images. Stick and elastic books are particularly gratifying because
they can be made in just a few minutes. Find complete instructions here...
Quote by Walt Whitman
"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars."
~Walt Whitman, 1819-1892, poet, journalist, humanist, called the father of free verse
Available now at HomeschoolNYC.com
Laurie Spigel is a
leading educator in the New York City homeschooling community, teaching popular
group classes and inspiring parents to create their own curriculum. Her approach is informal, creative, and child-led.
Here she shares her innovative ideas and original techniques for every subject. She explains why our current educational system has it all backwards and shows
how exciting learning can truly be. A real source of inspiration as well as a practical guide, this is
an eye-opening book for every parent and teacher.
Price: $12.95 plus shipping & handling
E-mail comments and suggestions to Laurie@HomeschoolNYC.com.