Reading instruction (as well as remedial reading) typically uses words, word, and more words. In this ground-breaking work, based upon Dr. Howard Gardner's famed theory of multiple intelligences, Dr. Thomas Armstrong reveals that some of the most effective learning strategies for teaching reading and writing are actually methods that reach beyond the linguistic (or word) brain and into other non-linguistic areas of the brain, such as the musical brain, the kinesthetic brain, the naturalist brain, the social brain, and the emotional brain.
Dr. Armstrong provides hundreds of examples to illustrate his method. So, for the musical brain, students learn the music of words by chanting stories. For the kinesthetic brain, kids create gestures to go with every one of the 45 phonetic sounds of the English language. For the social brain, students de-construct the implicit social messages of a text (e.g. is this text an advertisement, a political speech, an instructional tool, or a literary effort?). For the naturalist brain, students look for the ''roots'' of words by engaging in etymological excavation. For the emotional brain, students learn to read words that express emotion and activity (like SPLAT! POP! BOOM! CLINK! etc.).
As Dr. Armstrong demonstrates, the most effective reading programs are those that combine phonemic awareness with actively reading real books. But to learn those crucial phonics skills, students need to link phonetic sounds to music, physical experiences, social events, emotional states, logical analysis, and more! That way, the otherwise ''boring'' teaching will transform into dynamic and exciting lessons that students will always remember.
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Educators, politicians, parents, and even students are consumed with speaking the language of academic achievement. Yet something is missing in the current focus on accountability, standardized testing, and adequate yearly progress. If schools continue to focus the conversation on rigor and accountability and ignore more human elements of education, many students may miss out on opportunities to discover the richness of individual exploration that schools can foster.
In The Best Schools, Armstrong urges educators to leave narrow definitions of learning behind and return to the great thinkers of the past 100 years—Montessori, Piaget, Freud, Steiner, Erikson, Dewey, Elkind, Gardner—and to the language of human development and the whole child.
The Best Schools highlights examples of educational programs that are honoring students’ differences, using developmentally appropriate practices, and promoting a humane approach to education that includes the following elements:
Educators in “the best schools” recognize the differences in the physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual worlds of students of different ages. This book will help educators reflect on how to help each student reach his or her true potential, how to inspire each child and adolescent to discover an inner passion to learn, and how to honor the unique journey of each individual through life.More info →
"Every student is a genius," declares author Thomas Armstrong, and an educator's most important job is to discover and nurture the "genius qualities" that all students were born with but that may no longer be obvious. Urging readers to look beyond traditional understandings of what constitutes genius, Armstrong describes 12 such qualities: curiosity, playfulness, imagination, creativity, wonder, wisdom, inventiveness, vitality, sensitivity, flexibility, humor, and joy. He cites research in various fields that supports this broader understanding of genius and explains how influences in the home, the popular media, and the school itself "shut down" the genius in students.
Combining thoughtful insights and practical information, Armstrong offers guiding principles to help educators awaken genius in the classroom--beginning with awakening the genius in themselves. Readers will find dozens of suggested activities and helpful resources to provide "genius experiences" and create a "genial climate" in the classroom. In addition, suggestions for further study at the end of each section provide starting points for personal and professional reflection and growth.
As it celebrates the potential brainpower waiting to be unlocked in classrooms everywhere, Awakening Genius in the Classroom inspires educators to look at their students from a different perspective and to reinvigorate their teaching with a new sense of excitement and possibility. The result, Armstrong concludes, could extend far beyond the classroom and transform not only our schools, but the entire world.More info →
What does it mean to a kid to be labeled attention-deficit disordered (ADD)? Or to have "hyperactive" added to the label (ADHD)? What can teachers do to boost the success of students with attention and behavioral difficulties? Are we relying too much on medication for these kids and not enough on new perspectives on learning, child development, the child's socioeconomic and cultural background, biological and psychological research, and the learner's emotional and social needs?
In ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom, Dr. Thomas Armstrong urges educators and parents to look for the positive characteristics in learners who may carry the ADD/ADHD label. Are they bursting with energy? Are they intensely creative? Do they enjoy hands-on learning? Are they natural leaders? Are they unusually introspective and reflective?
We need to look beyond a "deficit" approach and embrace a more holistic view of learners that includes teaching to their multiple intelligences, learning styles, and other brain-friendly approaches. For example, here are some classroom activities for kids who "can't sit still": Learning spelling words by having kids jump up out of their seats on the vowels and sit down on the consonants. Mastering the multiplication tables by forming a conga line, moving around the classroom counting from 1 to 30 out loud, and on every multiple of 3 shaking their hips and legs. Showing patterns of molecular bonding in chemistry class through a "swing your atom" square dance.
For information on ADD/ADHD for parents, see my book The Myth of the ADHD Child: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion.More info →