Let the children play.

Let the children be children. It’s what they do best.

An article in the Sacramento Bee, April 12, starts with the headline: “Daydreaming could be seen as attention disorder.” The article was written by Alan Schwarz of the New York Times.

Here are the highlights, then I’ll give you my take on it.

Schwarz said that experts want more research into “sluggish cognitive tempo.” They do so in order to get it recognized as a “legitimate disorder.” If it enters into that realm, it moves into the arena of being treatable with pharmacological treatment. In short, using drugs to treat it.

“Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how it’s flagship ADHD drug might treat it.” That drug is Strattera.

In the January issue of The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 136 pages were devoted to various papers describing the “illness.” The lead paper, not named, claims that the question of its existence “seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.”

Russell Barkley, a psychologist with the Medical University of South Carolina, a 30 year proponent of ADHD, has claimed, according to the article, in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo “has become the new attention disorder.”

Dr. Keith McBurnett, professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, has been the co-author of several papers on sluggish cognitive tempo. He, and others, including a few members of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology’s board, say “that there is no concensus on the new disorders specific symptoms let alone scientific validity.”

This, from the article, a quote from Dr. Allan Frances, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke, “We’re seeing a fad in evolution: Just as ADHD has been the diagnosis du jour for 15 years or so, this is the beginning of another. This is a public health experiment on millions of kids.”

Keep in mind that professors at the University level are required to publish, as in publish or perish. A lot of what is published is pure junk. I once read a published paper in a nursing journal about “loading the spoon.” I kid you not. Research into how to put food on a spoon and feed someone.

OK, that’s it. There’s more but it is all just crazy, which is a very polite way of saying that it’s BS of the highest order. Daydreaming is now a “disorder”? Really?

It is difficult to remain polite about this. As far as I know there isn’t a child on this planet who doesn’t daydream. I don’t think there is an adult who doesn’t daydream. It is an absolutely normal thing to do.

Children, and those fortunate enough to retain some nanobit of childhood, daydream all the time. It’s the reason they can become super hero’s after donning a towel for a cape, become Catwoman just because, or create any number of really cool tools with a stick, or climb into a box and blast off for the moon. It’s how they enter into the story their teacher is reading. They actually are the bear, the bee, that kid who’s lost, the caterpillar who turns into a butterfly. It is an enormously important part of childhood. It is a building block of creativity.

It may be the reason we have computers, airplanes, great art, music, and a rich history of the written word. You’d have to ask daVinci, Michelangelo, Bach, Beethoven, Marie Curie, Jobs, and quite a few other about that. Of course, you’d have to do a bit a daydreaming, and launch out into the everywhere to do so.

Pushing this to become a disorder in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual is nothing more than a push by Eli Lilly, and others, to add to their profit line. I do think that some children benefit from drugs that allow them to concentrate. There is no doubt in my mind that some children, who fit a strenuous and narrowly defined diagnosis by a highly qualified medical professional, benefit from Eli Lilly’s flagship drug for ADHD, Strattera, or Adderall or Concerta.

The article outlines some concerns about excessive daydreaming. Who, exactly, is in charge of the excessive daydreaming label? As parents of school age children, it is important to allow your children to simply be children, free from some of the crazy babble of adults.

Stay tuned for part II on this subject. I cannot stress enough what a rolling tragedy for children, and what a huge profit maker for big pharma companies, this will be if it gets placed into the DSM.

As always, assume nothing, verify everything.

 

 

There doesn’t seem to be any let up in the “let’s change tenure rules” dance. Somehow, if this issue is simply repeatedly written and talked about, then the other bigger issues can’t get either air time or enough attention to get the hard stuff done.

In the Sacramento Bee, on February 23, another article appeared regarding tenure, “Make school tenure rules work better for students.”

The article, on the Viewpoints page, was written by George Miller, Congressman from California’s 11th District, and the senior Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee, and Pam Chirichingo, who is a teacher at the L.A. Unified School District’s Buchanan Street Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Center. Pam is a former Teacher of the Year in the L.A. Unified School District.

The article highlights a lawsuit by a group of students who want to overturn state teacher tenure laws. It is extremely doubtful, in my opinion, that these students are actually behind this lawsuit. The real question is who is funding the lawsuit.

The same argument is put forth: low income and minority students are likely to have “…the least effective teachers, a problem exacerbated by funding shortfalls and inequities.”

They go on to say that “The current system wrongly places greater importance on a teacher’s seniority than on the education of a child.” That’s just simply a false statement, but it is one that designed to raise a bit of dust. It’s just a ridiculously lame and meaningless statement. It is also an insult to the entire teaching profession.

In large unified districts, there are schools that are tough to teach in. Veteran teachers may have already taught a few years at these schools. When the chance comes to leave, many do. Quite a few stay. Not everyone is cut out to tackle the unique problems in problem schools.

It’s important to note that every school has issues that are unique to it, and not all the problems have to do with poverty, gangs, rotten leadership, or district office ignorance.

What Runner and Chirichingo put forth is what amounts to a re-statement of many other re-statements from many others over the years about how to make teachers and their assignments better. Here’s what they propose:

“Provide teachers-in-training with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the classroom before they start teaching.”

Oddly enough, that was the major focus when I went through the credential program at Cal. State Fullerton in the early 70′s. It seems as if every single do-it-better track includes this kind of statement. It’s not new, just re-stated.

“Insure the meaningful induction and support that early career teachers deserve.”

That has been in place, at least in California, for a very long time. The current support system, one that’s been around quite a while, and proven to be very good, is called BTSAA, Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment.

Rookie teachers are assigned a mentor teacher, and for 3 years get hands on how to do it mentoring. It is a good system of support for new teachers. It works. I’ve seen it in action, and beginning teachers I have spoken with have greatly appreciated the mentoring. This is in addition to the grade level support that teachers within a school enjoy.

“Provide teachers with the chance to grow in the profession through real career ladders that enable them to share their expertise with their peers and reach more students, and offer a range of advancement over time.”

That’s quite a mouthful. If this is all you read, you might come away thinking that such opportunities don’t exist. They do.

Teachers have every opportunity to improve their skills. They do so at regularly scheduled grade level meetings, staff development days, conferences (when there is money to go to them), further course work, inter-district meetings, and various mentoring opportunities that school districts around the state offer.

As for the career ladder it is unclear what this means. What teachers do is teach. They may move between grade levels, or to different schools. They may take on leadership roles within their districts or county offices of education. If teachers want to move out of teaching into the administrative ranks, they go back to school and earn the appropriate credential.

Everything in the school system involves the appropriate credential. The “career ladder” doesn’t actually exist within classroom teaching.

Teachers who venture into special district programs don’t actually advance up any kind of ladder. They may broaden their skills and expertise by doing some district level teaching, mentoring, or programatic job, but those generally don’t come with bumps in pay or a step up on a ladder of any kind.

Moving up the “career ladder” means moving out of the classroom in to the administrative realm. Not everyone sees that as a step up.

“Employ rigorous new evaluations that are rapidly gaining popularity with teachers as their evaluation results are connected to targeted professional development that allows them to make more progress with students.”

No explanation of how Runner and Chirichingo came up with “…gaining popularity with teachers…”.

California teachers are required to complete CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) to keep their credentials. What, exactly, are these “rigorous new evaluations”, and who is doing them? Principals already have a difficult time completing the required evaluations of the teaching staffs at their schools. Rigorous? Does that imply that they aren’t now?

Teacher evaluations can be, and often are, very blunt and “vigorous” meetings. Most of the time, the blunt and vigorous part are good for the teacher and the principal.

And finally, to the crux of the entire deal: “Replace the antiquated tenure system with informed tenure decisions that take into account a teachers effectiveness over a sustained period of time.”

Again, the implication is that this isn’t being done. It is being done.

Tenure is not guaranteed to any teacher in California. Tenure does not equal lifetime employment. Administrative staff have very adequate and powerful tools to move incompetent teachers out of the profession.

Yes, it does take time, but the process ensures that the district properly take action only where action is necessary.

What tenure does is protect teachers from being subjected to the political and personal whims of administrators. Due process works pretty well.

It’s not rocket science that the “change the tenure rules” part of their article is the last bullet point. If it was the first, the article may not have been read all the way through.

It’s not that Runner and Chirichingo are shills for any particular group. Maybe they want to be seen as Big Picture People. The nitty gritty is for others to figure out. do They seem to be good people genuinely interested in the betterment of education, as is every teacher and most administrators whom I have ever worked with.

Continually going over the same tired ground simply ignores the greater issue, which has everything to do with poverty, unemployment, and lack of investment in education in general, and not very much to do with tenure.

 

 

Children need good books.

Children need good books.

The continued flow of cash out of district coffers and into the technology providers is ramping up. In a Sacramento Bee article, February 23rd, Diana Lambert wrote a piece outlining what is taking place.

School Districts throughout the greater Sacramento region are spending millions of dollars on new computers. Apple and all of the PC vendors are the direct beneficiaries of what the districts perceive as necessary new tools that are able to sync with the new computerized educational testing that California will require in the 2014-2015 school year.

For the state to push the testing onto an internet reliant, web-based system may seem a bit counter intuitive. The big computer initiatives that the state has launched over the last few years have been resounding flops. The reasons are many, but the flops are real, and have been very expensive.

Sac City spent $9 million on 6,372 MacBook Airs. Elk Grove: $5 million on 8,000 Chromebooks. San Juan: $1.56 million on 4,218 Chrombooks. Folsom Cordova: $1 million on 2,600 Chromebooks. Natomas: $623,000 on 2,100 Chrombooks. These purchases, according to the article, include “carts, headphones, and other technology.” That’s just 5 districts in the Sacramento area. It’s also just a bit more than $17 million. There’s over 1,000 school districts in this state alone. Do the math.

That’s a big risk, in a lot of ways. It is an amazing shift of funds.

It’s so amazing that it bears a very close look at who, exactly, benefits from this spending.

In a related note, down in the Los Angeles Unified School District, schools have shut libraries. LAUSD just finished spending an enormous amount of money on their laptops for all program. I do think that a billion dollars is a lot of money.

In the meantime, elementary students, especially at less affluent schools, are locked out of libraries. It’s partly a union dispute over credentialed librarians versus “library aides” or “media techs”. Most credentialed librarians are gone, and the district put non-credentialed aides and techs in to run the libraries in order to save money.

What has happened is that there’s a few metric miles of perfectly good books, that elementary students love to hold and read and take home, that are out of reach.

It’s a totally sad state of affairs. No libraries? Really?

As always, assume nothing, verify everything. Then, follow the money.

 

 

 

 

picture of router with lots of connections

Lots of wires, enough capacity? Credit: jdurham/morguefile

In the previous post, I wrote about the rapidly changing educational landscape. The speed at which technology is changing, and the extremely embedded nature of it in everyday life, is spurring massive changes across the entire educational spectrum.

 

We have come a long, long, way since the days when a computer was a big deal in a classroom. What we have now is a plethora of computing devices in classrooms, from Kindergarten to Graduate school. It’s not just one kind of device, running on one operating system either. It’s multiple devices running on Android, Apple, and Windows systems.

 

The idea of 1:1, which is one device for one child, is already out of sync with reality. That initiative was aimed at having every child in a school district have a tablet or lap top of some kind. What happened is this: “every child”, especially as they move up through the grades, probably has their own device, an iPad, lap top, tablet, nook, kindle, smart phone and so on. Now, districts have to plan for, and accommodate, far more devices, most of which they have no control over.

 

The advent of X:1 presents quite a few issues that districts have to deal with. The issues aren’t equal across districts either. Small, rural, or less affluent districts will face a different set of issues than larger, more affluent districts, not in the scope of what needs to be done, but in the ability to fund, short term and long term, the infrastructure needed to support what is taking place.

 

Simply having enough tech staff available to keep the system running is somewhere near the top of the list. Along with those support staff, districts have to have a clear notion of what and how they will support these various devices. Considering that a district like Twin Rivers can’t even get heating systems installed and running, this could be a biggie.

 

If children are bringing their own devices (BYOD), the burden on the district to supply devices goes down. The other side of that is how the district will support the school supplied devices and the devices that come from home. If all those devices are going to be able to access the school’s local area network, who is going to manage that?

 

If the district has that many devices on the school’s network, how much traffic can that network stand? If the capacity isn’t robust enough, to what extent does the district increase capacity? It’s an interesting question. If the system chokes up, everything chokes up.

 

School supplied tablets, iPads, and so on, are relatively easy to keep track of. Not so when it comes to the personal iPad, tablets, smartphones etc. that come along with X:1. Security of the devices is always an issue.

 

Does logging into the school’s web system require passwords? How secure is that system in the face of all those devices jumping in? The districts will need to make certain, as much as is possible, that devices that are logged into the school’s system are clear of malware, and that there’s a robust firewall that will keep unwanted sites and code from infecting the entire school net.

 

Expanding the concept of “classroom” will be an interesting conversation. What is clear is that distance learning, in-house online learning, and learning from home will probably increase. It would be stunning if that didn’t happen. The entire school family, parents, students, staff, and community, is going through an exciting time in education right now. Nothing is static. Put your seat belt and helmet on.

 

As always, assume nothing, verify everything.

This used to be the top of the technology pile. Credit: Chodra

This used to be the top of the technology pile.
Credit: Chodra

 

 

1:1. X:1. Common Core. BYOD. MOOC’s. Distance learning. Bandwidth. Anything here sound familiar? No? You probably aren’t alone.

Eduspeak has always been a bit on the snooty order. Only those in the know, knew. If you didn’t have the secret handshake or the correct pucker factor, you weren’t going to know. For very busy parents, and those outside the system, staying plugged in to current trends can be a bit of a challenge.

There is also an age factor involved in all the acronyms. If you are solidly in the Boomer Generation, it’s probable that you are less likely to know what any those terms means. Anyone below that Boomer mark probably does, and for those who are way below it the probability goes way up.

All of those terms have to do with schools, and they are all related. Not only that, but the pace of change will mean that some of them won’t be around in their present form for long. Technology is a rapidly moving issue.

1:1 means one device for one child in a school district. Tablets, iPads, ThinkPads, laptops, and so on, are the devices. X:1 refers to a number of different devices for each child, not all of which are supplied by the district. That ties into BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, which results in X:1.

That relates directly to Bandwidth, which is the electronic pipeline that the internet flows through to your home, school, or business. More devices require more bandwidth. Distance learning is related to all of it. The traditional classroom isn’t the choice for everyone, and in the traditional classroom, learning isn’t restricted to the physical classroom. The lesson could just as easily be from somewhere else, or where ever you are becomes the classroom, which is distance learning.

MOOC’s are related to all of it too. Massive Open Online Courses is what that stands for. In order to either have one, or participate in one, you need bandwidth, a device, and the ability to connect from where ever you are. All of this is part of the ever changing landscape of education. How is Common Core involved?

There is a heavy technology component of Common Core, and all of it revolves around the various iterations of local area and wide area networks. None of these, by themselves, drives the education machine. All of them, together, drive it.

What isn’t covered in this particular piece is how all of this works, and what it takes, and will take, to make it work. That’s a whole different subject, one that is absolutely welded to the entire ball of wax. Stay tuned, and as always, assume nothing, verify everything.

 

 

No time to roll the dice

No time to roll the dice.

In a never ending story,  in a never ending attempt to make money, the “educational reform” movement, such as it is, will target tenure rules and push for private control of education in California, again.

In his column in the Sacramento Bee, Dan Walters outlined the probable upcoming attacks. Cloaked in the mantle of school reform, the reforms are thinly veiled attempts to strip teachers of tenure and to transfer as much money as possible into the coffers of the various pet projects of what is termed the “educational reform movement.”

While it is commonly recognized that California really should devote more money to the schools, the business types want control of the money mainly so that it doesn’t end up in teachers paychecks. The thrust of the upcoming legal battles is, again, focused on teacher tenure, charter schools, and vouchers.

Here’s Walter’s take on it: “It’s a complicated conflict, but in its simplest form:

• The establishment contends that the state’s rather poor educational outcomes would be markedly improved by sharply raising California’s below-average school spending;

• Its foes don’t dispute the need for more money, but say that structural changes are needed to empower parents, widen educational choices, use test results to evaluate teachers, and make it easier to weed out incompetent teachers, regardless of seniority and tenure.”

The “establishment” translates to teachers and teachers unions and associations, while “foes” translates to business types, consultants, and those with political aspirations or agendas.

While it may seem noble to bang the drum for structural changes that “empower parents, widen educational choices, use test results to evaluate teachers, and make it easier to weed out incompetent teachers, regardless of seniority and tenure”, those are nothing more than political buzz words that have been carefully crafted by a raft of highly paid political consultants. Throw in evaluating teachers based on student test scores, and the rhetoric gets even more fanciful.

First, stripping teachers of tenure rights simply means that more mature, and more expensive, teachers will be replaced whenever it is expedient, with younger, and much cheaper, teachers. Those teachers with many years experience are much more likely to question policy decisions and to critically examine curricular change than newly minted rookies. In short, they’re much more difficult to steamroll.

It is a given that in any group of professionals there are a few duds. Due process, however inconvenient, is critical when anyone is threatened with losing their job. Younger doesn’t mean better. Older doesn’t mean incompetent.  It’s a matter of money, pure and simple, when the “reformers” start talking.

Second, the transfer of money from the public system to a voucher system or private charter schools doesn’t make much sense. It is difficult to find a record of benefit to students related to either vouchers or charters.

Third, given the amount of money poured into initiatives to change the system in California, it seems prudent to question the return for the investments. Who, exactly, is going benefit from these changes? When groups–StudentsFirst being one of many–spend over $1 million in one year (StudentsFirst in2012) to influence “school choice” and tenure initiatives, the warning bells should go off.

The question is whether political consultants, big business, and organizations run by ex-rookie, and completely ordinary, teachers should have to prove some kind of verifiable expertise in education prior to claiming to have the answers to what makes a good school system.

California, and the nation as a whole, cannot afford to allow the public school system, which always looks for better ways to educate the children in its care, to be hijacked in order to enrich those who would benefit from a corporate take over. It’s a gamble we cannot afford. Whenever I hear of these pseudo-reformers, I start looking at the money trail. When the trail is followed, credibility mostly takes a dive. These people aren’t philanthropists. Follow the money, always.

As always, assume nothing, verify everything.

Is that you winter?

Is That You, Winter?

Winter is just one week away. We are in the last days of autumn, a beautiful time of transition.

It is also a beautiful time for some classroom fun, no matter the grade. Teachers, especially elementary school teachers, have a wonderful opportunity to delve into some pretty cool science with the younger groups, and with the older ones,  more in depth explorations.

The Winter Solstice marks a pretty significant part of the year. Since the Autumnal Equinox back in September, when daylight and night time were of equal length, daylight has quietly been losing time, literally.

With shorter days and longer nights, autumn provides a rich environment for school children of all ages. The change of seasons just adds to that richness.

The last full day of autumn will be on Friday, December 20. On December 21, the solstice will occur at 9:11 a.m. PST. On this day, day and night start to switch rolls. The first full day of winter is on December 22.

From the 21st all the way through to March 20, the days get longer while night time hours are shorter. On March 20, the Vernal Equinox, night and day are again equal in length.

It looks like the sun is lower in the sky, and it is. The reason it is lower is where the science part comes in, in many ways. 

On this day, the earth has reached a milestone. Our north pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. The sun hasn’t actually dropped in the sky. We have simply tilted away from it. Pretty cool. 

Depending on the grade level being taught, this information is ripe for quite a lot of celestial science.

For the little ones, the Kindergartners and first graders, a simple way to illustrate what the solstice means, and to bring to life this slowly changing phenomenon, is to go outside. 

Take a piece of chalk, which hopefully still exists in your classrooms, and, noting the time, measure the length of the children’s shadows. Do that every day, at the same time, with the same children, and have fun with the results.

For the older ones, a little math comes into play, a bunch of reading is warranted, and some earth and sun science is called for. Art should be in the mix too. What a great package of opportunities.

At the very least, going outside and enjoying the change in the sunlight is worth the time. Understanding the seasons, and the reason for them, provides great teaching moments in any classroom.

As always, assume nothing, verify everything. Do go outside though, and enjoy the season.

 

 

Always follow the money photo: penywise/morgueFile

Always follow the money photo: penywise/morgueFile

Another educational approach is on the boards. Project Based Learning is one of the current “in” trends. Again.

Nothing in education is static, no matter what the critics and pundits say. Teachers will tell you a much different story.

There’s also not much that is new. There are buckets full of approaches and initiatives that are repackaged, with new and shiny ribbons, though.

PBL is an old idea, now ready for another go at being the best thing in education since recess.

It’s central premise is that children learn best while doing, and doing things that are relevant and meaningful in the context of the children’s lives.

One might think that that is something that is one of the “duh” statements, but judging from the emphasis on high stakes testing, one might find oneself wondering about that.

How old is this approach? Think back to Confucius, Socrates, and Aristotle, and you’d be in the ballpark for learning while doing. Actually, think back to when dinosaurs roamed the planet, and early humans were competing for food and shelter. Learning by doing was a do or die proposition.

The concept of learning through a hands on approach, which includes questioning, a lot of inquiry, critical thinking, and continuous seeking of what works, is deeply embedded in education, not just the PBL strategy.

Perhaps one of the more mind numbing approaches to education involves treating students, at any level, as passive recipients of what ever is being taught. Once again, the high stakes testing business pops to mind. Think “No Child Left Behind”.

There is good in all this, whether it is Project Based Learning, which was popular about 20 years ago, or Flipping Classrooms, or STEM, or whatever else is out there. The good part of it is the ongoing search for teaching excellence, using multiple approaches, for all students, of all ages and abilities.

Children, and all learners, who are actively engaged in exploring a given subject, simply learn more, and more efficiently, because so much of their brains, along with their bodies, are driving the access to knowledge.

It’s a bit more loud, and active, and certainly more messy at times, than a teacher droning on and on to students who are required to sit quietly and, at all times, listen-please-to-what-I’m-saying. Stop talking!

The repackaging of all the approaches is simple, and predictable. Every 3 to 5 years, the new and shiny stuff come out. Why? Follow the money, always follow the money.

As always, assume nothing, verify everything.

 

 

 

 

 

child at outside table

Children learn best when they do things. Photo credit: morguefile/anitapeppers

The life span of just about anything in educational curriculum is about 3 years. That’s just about enough time for someone, or some group, to start pushing the new and improved version of educating children.

New and improved may be a misnomer. Might also be accurate. Looking very closely at what comes around each year could bring up the “nothing is new under the sun” thoughts though.

The good news here is that those involved with education and the curriculum that drives it aren’t sitting around doing nothing. While it may seem that the ed establishment is a ponderously moving dinosaur, reality is that it is a pretty vibrant and evolving system.

There are those who would very much like to convince everyone that it isn’t, and needs to be overhauled, to their specs, if it is to be productive at all.

This brings us around to the ever-present necessity: follow the money, always follow the money. I don’t think there are too many philanthropists out there, giving their new and improve version of ed away. Some, Kahn Academy being one,  but not many.

“So what” you say? Sifting through the various approaches and curriculum to find the truly good takes time and brains, and a genuine interest in helping children to learn.

Spending money on ed du jour, just to add to the bottom line or political aspirations of a company or group, is what we call, in scientific terms, just plain stupid.

Education isn’t a static place. It evolves constantly, and it does so inside the classrooms, with every good teacher figuring out what works best with the class they have for the present year. Last year doesn’t count, and teachers know that.

The ponderously moving suspicion is directly bolted to the fact that the educational system teaches and works very closely with children and their families. It is impossible to know with any degree of certainty what is working this year, with this group of children, in these circumstances, and know it all right now.

Instituting change at the factory level is a snap compared to bringing about change that directly impacts the lives of children. Rather than see the process as ponderous, perhaps thoughtful and cautious are better glasses to look through.

 

 

 

Aspens in autumn photo credit: J Ferris

Aspens in autumn photo credit: J Ferris

Autumn blew into our area with great fanfare on September 22. A bit of wind, rain, and snow up in the mountains brought the season to us in grand fashion.

As autumn deepens, some really cool things are going to happen, some things that all of us marvel at. The long days get replaced by steadily longer nights. The temperatures tend to drop a bit. Up in the mountains, they drop a lot.

Take the time to pass on some fantastic science info for your little ones, your older children too.

The entire dance of colors that the trees put on for us each year is connected to warm days and longer, colder nights. The shorter days and longer nights trigger the changes.

Do your children know where the colors come from? What happens to the green?

Here are the answers:

The colors are always there. They are simply covered up with green. The green is chlorophyll. It’s necessary for photosynthesis. What your younger children will understand is the chlorophyll makes it possible for the trees to make sugar for their food.

Blotted out by the chlorophyll green are one of two other colors. Carotenoids and anthocyanins.

The carotenoids produce yellows and oranges and browns, the anthocyanins produce reds, blues, and purples. When autumn rolls around, the trees don’t need as much food, so the green gives way to the other colors, and that’s when things start to get really colorful.

The leaves fall off the trees because the trees don’t need them anymore. They’ve done their job of feeding the trees since last spring. It’s time to rest now, much like a long nap.

For the little ones, you can stop here. Throwing in what happens in spring just won’t make too much sense. If they ask what happens, go the library and help them find a book about seasons and trees.

TaDa!! You’ve just gone through some really cool science with your children. Doesn’t matter if it was in your classroom or in you living room. The point is that there is always a time to help your children learn. Tapping into the seasons is easy.

Next step is to head into the mountains and have a good look around at the aspens. Take a look at the trees in your neighborhood too. Enjoy the season!

Remember, assume nothing, verify everything.

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