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School but not school: Dave Eggers rethinks education

Many times I’m introduced to something so smart, so innovative and already so established I wonder “Why didn’t I hear about this earlier?” The latest example came thanks Kevin Jarrett who tweeted about a new TED Talk from Dave Eggers, who, among many other things, is the TED Prize 2008 winner for his work at his 826 Valencia writing center and Once Upon A School program.

In my last post, I made the classic teacher complaint/observation that a few minutes spent working one-on-one with a student is much more effective than an entire day of trying to teach to a room of 30. Eggers also believes that and as his TED Talk will show, he’s put that belief into action and transformed after-school tutoring in the process.

Visit TED Prize for more on Egger’s wish and Once Upon a School to see what you can do to make it a reality.

Levelling Up: two-digit math in kids’ video games.

As I move forward with my teacher education, one of the key issues I keep reading about is student disengagement. Over the past few weeks working in a grade 5 class in Toronto, I’ve seen that disengagement first hand and much of it has been my fault. Part of my job is not only to teach the curriculum to students but to also make it relevant to their lives. I’ve got to answer the question: “Why are we learning all this stuff?”

I try to work that into each of my lessons, but math is one subject where I often forget to do this and it’s resulted in a few not-so stellar lessons. This week I remembered to answer that question and it turned a potential math disaster into one of my most enjoyable lessons yet.


Wild Ride nominated for Hackmatack Award

wrcovwhiteborder.jpgI just received word yesterday that my new graphic novel, Wild Ride, is nominated for the 2008/09 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award!

This is a great surprise and very great honour for many reasons. Not least of which is that Hackmatack winners are chosen by the kids themselves (like the Silver Birch Award here in Ontario.) There is something truly special about knowing that the folks picking the winning book are the very ones for whom the book was written. I started writing for kids not only to tell good stories but also to foster a love of reading in young people. Competitions like the Hackmatack have the same goals in mind and it’s an honour to have my work be a key part to such a great literacy effort.

Another reason that I’m thrilled to be nominated is because, as far as I know, it’s the first time a graphic novel has been included among the nominees for a Canadian children’s book award (I’ve done absolutely no research on this, so could be totally wrong.) I thank the Hackmatack nomination council for being so open-minded to see the potential for graphic novels to engage readers on the same level as traditional books.

And of course, there’d be no Wild Ride if it wasn’t for the fantastic work of Mike Deas, whose illustrations give the whole Graphic Guide Adventures series that totally kickin’ look and feel that kids are obviously loving. Thank you Mike and I hope you’re enjoying the nomination as much as I am.

Also, big congrats to fellow Orca authors, Hazel Hutchens and the amazing Anita Daher, whose books for the Hackmatack Award too. I am definitely in good company.

links for 2008-03-05

links for 2008-03-03