Great Resource from NY Public Library

In my early days as a designer in NYC — long before I thought about becoming a teacher — I was a photo researcher for Doubleday publishing. I happily haunted the NY Public Library picture archives, searching for just the right image tucked away in the miles of shelves in their midtown location.

I’m thrilled to be able to access the digitized version of those musty shelves. This is a treasure trove of unique images, free to use with no restrictions, high-res downloads available. Check out the collection here, recently updated, now with over 180,000 public domain images.


Wisdom on a Chipotle Cup

Somehow fitting and absurd all at the same time, Chipotle is featuring stories by authors on their soda cups. My favorite (so far) is from Michael Lewis:

I spend too much time trying to spend less time. Before trips to the grocery store, I’ll waste minutes debating whether it is more efficient to make a list, or simply race up and down the aisles grabbing things. I spend what feels like decades in airport security lines trying to figure out how to get through most quickly: should I put the plastic bin containing my belt and shoes through the bomb detector before my carry-on bag, or after? And why sit patiently waiting for the light to turn green when I might email on my phone? I’ve become more worried about using time efficiently than using it well. But in saner moments I’m able to approach the fourth dimension not as a thing to be ruthlessly managed, but whose basic nature might be altered to enrich my experience of life. I even have tricks for slowing time—or at least my perception of it. At night I sometimes write down things that happened that day. For example:

This morning Walker (my five year old son) asks me if I had a pet when I was a kid. “Yes,” I say, “I had a Siamese cat that I loved named Ding How, but he got run over by a car.” Walker: “It’s lucky that it got killed by a car.” Me: “Why?” Walker: “Because then you could get a new cat that isn’t named Ding How.”

Recording the quotidian details of my day seems to add hours a day to my life: I’m not sure why. Another trick is to focus on some ordinary thing—the faintly geological strata of the insides of a burrito, for instance—and try to describe what I see. Another: pick a task I’d normally do quickly and thoughtlessly–writing words for the side of a cup, say–and do it as slowly as possible. Forcing my life into slow-motion, I notice a lot that I miss at game speed. The one thing I don’t notice is the passage of time.

I think this was easier to digest than the burrito …

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to access interesting reads such as these everywhere we travel during our daily routines?

:) TXT = 2G2BT


Nenagh Kemp:

“Parents and educators need not panic that exposure to abbreviated and unconventional spelling and writing styles in digital communication will lead to the ruin of young people’s conventional literacy skills.”

“Rather than texting detracting from the literacy abilities of young people, it seems to represent the addition of an extra literacy skill — the ability to represent, in writing, what they would have said if they were speaking.”

… it seems that kids are capable of distinguishing between this sort of experimentation and the formal, proper language that’s expected on tests. But it also seems that the experimentation increases general fluency, improving kids’ reading and writing skills.

Read more about the study here.

Design Literacy

What if there were a basic literacy, beyond reading, writing, and arithmetics that we missed, or that wasn’t really necessary until this moment in our history? What if that new literacy were MORE important than STEM education to the future of our children? Or if it helped rationalize STEM and SEL (social, emotional, learning) in a way that organized these two, at times mutually exclusive, threads of critical thinking? What if other countries were figuring it out and America was caught fighting over educational approaches mired in philosophies and patterns suited for the 1900s instead of the 21st century and missed the boat entirely? What if it fostered thinking so that kids could grow up to be critical, creative, collaborative, and resilient? What if you did something about it before it’s too late?

This TED talk is critical for educators:

Two things I learned in Utah

Just got back from a whirlwind tour of the Waterford Early Learning Institute in Salt Lake City. I’m usually pretty cautious about recommending educational programs or software, but I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with Waterford. It provides a solid foundation for literacy, numeracy and science concepts for preschoolers up through Kindergarten and first grade. Based on decades of best practices for teaching young children, there is some high quality research that indicate incredible gains for children using the program as part of a balanced literacy and mathematics curriculum.

I know it’s a time of budget cuts, educational woes and misery, debate over who is to blame (teachers and unions being the most popular scapegoats at the moment, followed by poverty) … so when will we get a dose of common sense in the discussion? If we invest wisely (and we’re not talking millions here, for heaven’s sake) in our youngest learners to insure they are on a path to solid literacy and numeracy understandings by they time they are 7 years old … just think what we would end up saving – money and time that we would certainly have to spend on special education, legal fees, intervention programs, school reform headaches, incarceration, rehabilitation – you name it. A lack of prudent investment in young children will result in wildly increasing (and most likely ineffective) spending on those kids as they get older, struggle, and do not become happy and productive members of society. I’m not saying Waterford is the answer (and I don’t receive a penny if someone buys the program), but it sure is a tried and true option. The folks at Waterford are a dedicated bunch, and all their energy is focused on creating a personalized and effective experience to support young children as they develop into happy and successful learners.

So that was the first thing I learned … well, I guess I didn’t learn it – it’s a bit of a no-brainer. But the visit to Waterford really brought it home. The solutions are out there.

And the second thing … Utah is one beautiful place! Salt Lake City, ringed by snow-capped mountains, is a comfortable city, both modern and old-timey all at once. The folks are reserved, but warm. And the famed Park City resort – although I felt a bit like I was in a Disney-ized realization of an old mining town – couldn’t be beat for its beauty. Old miner’s homes at the bottom of the hill, million dollar resort homes heading up to the ski slopes – and all around, the snow capped mountains in the crisp, sharp sunlight. Worth a visit.