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Exploratory Play: More Than Sensory Development

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of LEGO. And I don’t just mean the plastic building blocks. I’ve loved the company and what it stands for since I wrote my first research paper on The LEGO Group when I was in middle school. After all, the company’s brand values focus on imagination, creativity, learning, and fun—exactly what I strive to do as an educator.
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ThinkerSpace Challenge: From Food Desert to Food Oasis

If you’ve been following our Facebook page, you’re familiar with our ThinkerSpace Challenges. These challenges are designed to engage students and your own children in project-based learning. As I write these challenges, I want to make sure kids can complete the challenge by using materials they can find around the house.
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Teaching on a High-Stakes Island

As the Professional Development Manager at Creative Learning Systems, I spend much of my time training and supporting teachers so they can successfully facilitate learning in our learning spaces, called SmartLabs. When SmartLab Facilitators are first trained, they spend four days learning about the philosophy, the approach, and all of the resources in the SmartLab.
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Making Time to Play

When you think of play, what comes to mind? Perhaps you recall childhood memories of playing “the floor is lava.” Maybe you reminisce about that special toy you got for Christmas that one year. Or you remember playing dress-up while wearing oversized heels and skirts raided from the closet.
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Three Ways to Get Them College- and Career-Ready

As disruptive as COVID-19 is, I am also struck by the extraordinary things happening across the country. First, I learned that the auto industry in my region was retooling to build ventilators, and then I saw the video of Tesla’s engineers working to develop ventilators from car parts.
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Setting the Stage for Learning

Since 2017, I have read my way through 40–45 books by setting a goal using the Reading Challenges on Goodreads. With a 45-minute commute that reading has usually taken the form of listening to audiobooks (I’ve found that more valuable to me than the radio or music). Over the past month or so, my commute has been significantly shorter as I have taken the 20 steps from my bedroom to my temporary office.
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A Little Bit of Structure Is Good

When we were shopping for houses, one must-have characteristic for the neighborhood was to hear laughter and children at play—happy to say we found it. Now, when we go outside it’s rare for us to see another human, let alone a group of kids playing.
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(Even More) Lessons on Learning with a 2-Year-Old

Last week, in an attempt to maintain sanity, my wife and I took a break to play a game of charades. Edison watched closely and then repeated each clue—dancing like a monkey or flapping imaginary bird wings—in his own funny way. Of course, this imitation is both adorable and a natural stage of human development, but it reminded me of the importance of modeling as a teaching tool.
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Three Tools to Combat Social Isolation in the Digital Classroom

Amidst nationwide social-distancing recommendations and widespread school closures, our kids are struggling to adjust to a new normal. So much is changing in their lives: their daily routine, the people they see and interact with, even the availability of their favorite snacks or meals. As we settle into new routines and figure out how to complete work and school from home, it’s important to consider the social and emotional impact this pandemic will have.
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Learning Tips for All Parents (Now Educators)

Parents, welcome to the world of education! I know this is a crash course, but you’re not alone—we’re here to help you transition. As a career educator, I’ve worked on the front lines of education, and I rely on my training and education every day. You may not have the same resources I have, but since all parents have now become educators and every home is now a classroom, we all need to get up to speed. Let’s start!
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(More) Lessons on Learning with a 2-Year-Old

Last week, I shared that learning will happen—no matter what you do. I hope that statement provides you with some comfort in today’s craziness. But I also recognize that teachers and parents are scouring the internet for resources to help kids stay engaged in learning, despite the changes we’re experiencing during the pandemic.
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Good Learning Is Good Learning

Change is constant in education. Fads, philosophies, or software come along and promise to revolutionize the education landscape but few of those changes have a lasting impact. We’ve seen the rise of standards, of STEM, and of digital education, but these changes simply keep our concept of education rooted in the brick-and-mortar model.
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Lessons on Learning with a 2-year-old

For four years, I taught middle school design classes at a small private school in Boulder, CO. At the end of each year, I received a letter detailing my employment for the following school year. Part of that letter described what would happen in the event of a school closure. I never gave that part much thought, convincing myself there was no possible way the school would have to close. Yet, here we are. Thousands of schools across the U.S. (including the one where I taught) have had to quickly enact distance learning plans. Teachers are adapting resources intended for teaching and school environment to support learning at home.
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