Specials in the classroom

Music, PE, Art, foreign languages, library – all the fun stuff we get to learn during the school day. I believe back in my day they were called electives in secondary schools and in elementary school they were simply part of the regular school week. Actually we didn’t have to leave our classrooms to do art and we did not have an option to learn another language with the exception of those students who were learning English as a 2nd language. Now kids go to what are called “specials” in our school district. As part of an effort across the four corners to help children keep their “native tongues” alive those children that are identified as Navajo or Hispanic are allowed to voluntarily participate in what is known as bilingual – children spend 45 minutes everyday learning either Navajo or Spanish. They also learn about the cultures and traditions of their people. My daughter is both Navajo and Spanish but she only gets to participate in one language so she is learning Navajo – we can teach her Spanish at home and she will have the option to take that as an elective in Middle School.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if ALL of the children were asked if thy would like to participate in bilingual learning? I’m sure there are lots of kids out there that are not of Spanish or Navajo descent that would benefit from learning another language. According to a study done by the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab, children who learn a second language can maintain attention despite outside stimuli better than children who know only one language. Children are naturals at proficiency in learning other languages since they are activating those language receptors in their brains learning as they begin to learn to speak their native tongues. http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/05/learning-second-language-good-childhood-mind-medicine
According to The Benefits of Second Language Study conducted by the NEA in 2007 the teaching children a second language:
-benefits academic progress in other subjects
-narrows achievement gaps
-benefits basic skills development
-benefits higher order, abstract and creative thinking
-(early) enriches and enhances cognitive development
-enhances a student’s sense of achievement
-helps students score higher on standardized tests
-promotes cultural awareness and competency
-improves chances of college acceptance, achievement and attainment
-enhances career opportunities
-benefits understanding and security in community and society
It seems to me that ALL of our children would benefit from learning a second language. Since this skill is already being taught in our schools in the Farmington District and time is being set aside outside of the classroom on a regular basis for some children to attend it, it may just be in all of our best interests to allow those interested in learning but not natively part of a culture to participate in bilingual learning.

Gardens for our schools

Hello faithful followers, new friends, and those of you just taking a peek. Today I would like to tell you all about the WONDERFUL IDEA I have and perhaps get some feedback from you on how we can make this happen…
A little background – I live in Northern New Mexico in a little community called Farmington. Okay maybe it’s not so little anymore – current population stats put us at about 50,000! There are 19 schools in the district and according to the Farmington Municipal Schools website (http://district.fms.k12.nm.us/) they currently service over 10,000 students. Now that is a lot of hungry kiddos to feed every day. Some of you may have read my previous tirade regarding school lunches (https://mama4education.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/school-lunch-would-you-eat-it) and so are familiar with my general outlook on school lunches – in case you didn’t read it rest assured I detest the school lunch. Oh and by the way I have still heard nothing from the district nutritionist or the company that supplies my daughter’s school lunches in regard to nutrition information – that right there tells me something’s not kosher with the food (get it kosher… buh-dum-bum). This has helped me come up with the WONDERFUL IDEA… Each school in the district can have its own garden. Imagine it – fresh seasonal veggies at our children’s fingertips which they helped grow and care for themselves! Talk about a win-win. The district saves money on food and our children learn something about sustainability, healthy eating choices, and the environment.
In this area every school has a HUGE amount of real estate – most of it dedicated to grass that gets watered year round. Why not utilize this existing wasted space to do something really great for our kids and for the environment. according to the Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov) childhood obesity has nearly doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. We have become a fast-food nation (25% of Americans eat fast food every day according to pamf.org) and many children are not getting nutrition from fruits and vegetables other juices and french fries. Gardening not only provides healthy food options, it also provides physical activity and instills in growers a sense of pride and accomplishment. These are things I certainly want my children to have!

So how do we go about getting this implemented? I suppose getting in touch with the district will be the first step – perhaps there is a reason unbeknownst to us average joes that so much land is wasted around the playground. I will let you know what I find out.
Please feel free to steal my idea and implement it in your communities and neighborhoods – let me know if any of you out there have success. Here’s to raising healthy, happy, industrious kids!

facebook in the classroom

Good afternoon readers – today we will be discussin the use of facebook and other social media in the classroom.  Do you think that it would be effective for teachers to utilize social media as part of the learning experience for students in the K-12 grades?  Personally I think K-5 really needs to stay away from the over-use of technology so that children do get that fundamental foundation in skills such as reading and writing.  But what about our older kids – I don’t see many these days over the age of 12 who do not have access to or their own internet capable device whether is be a smart phone, tablet, or computer.  Can a teacher utilize social media to reach out to students and make the learning experience more engaging?  I don’t know about you all but there are lots of things that I was made to learn in school that I have never applied to “real life”.  I’ve never been asked to write in cursive only at work or had any cause to utilize the pythagorean theorem to get me through the daily grind.  By allowing children to utilize the technology available at their fingertips as an integral part of their education can have a variety of effects on students and their interactions with the world they actually live in.  If students find that their teachers are available via academic networking similar to socila networking they may find that level of accessibilty to far outreach any face-to-face interaction they can have in the classroom.  Connection can often be the key to success for students to learn a new skill or idea and not much interestes students more these days than the constant electronic interactions they have with their peers.  Social media can teach collaboration as well.

Education from mom’s POV

Welcome to my blog where we are going to explore some questions that I have dealt with as a parent new to the public education system in New Mexico.  I would imagine many of these topics can apply to any of the 50 states although as most of you know every state is different – different standards, different curriculum, different rules, different lunches, different criteria for their teachers.  This is not only different from state to state but from county to county, township to township, and in some cases city to neighboring city!  As a parent “new” to the public education scene I had nothing but my own memories of public education to go by as to what I should expect for my daughter when she entered the wonderful world of education.  Little did I know things had changed drastically since I was in school (we won’t mention how long ago that was!).  I was next to illiterate as well as ignorant on the daily workings of an elementary school classroom and in all reality what it was my child would be learning once she got there.  Frankly the whole system throws me for a loop – thus this blog.  We will explore together the ins and outs of public education and what we can do as parents to help our children be successful in their educational endeavors.