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Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Feminist Reviews "Frozen"

Disney is still in the running for good entertainment. After years of criticism for princesses who are dependent on a kiss from a handsome prince, they have really made an effort to address stereotypes in their latest creation, "Frozen." The movie was stunning, with beautiful graphics and a princess that knew what a fractal is. The story line was excellent, with a glimpses into relationships and how important we are to each other. I have just a few small items to suggest for the next film.

    1. Can we have princesses that do not wear high heels? Have you guys ever worn them for an evening? They are not recommended wear for climbing mountains. Seriously, take a look at women's mountain boots. 2. People whose eyes take up 1/3 of their face are kinda cute, but not realistic. The animation in this film was so good, I sometimes forgot I was watching an animation. Except for those eyes. 3. Girls don't show equality to boys by hitting them. I really don't know any female that would throw a punch if she weren't being attacked. 4. Can we have a queen without eye makeup? Look at some of the queens in the world today. Even those that do wear eye makeup do not look like they are vamps.

These constructive criticisms are meant as encouragement. You are getting close! Now if you can get some women in your creative company, you may not have to make any adjustments.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Favorite Apps

I promised my students I would post my favorite apps, since we ran out of time last night. If you have any you like, please post in the comments below.

Apps for AT

100 Squares Calc by be-style

Advanced English Dictionary by Mobile Systems Air Display Animation Studio Aqueduct Artic2Go Attanment Switch Autism Colors Autism/DTT Letters Autism/DTT Numbers Autism/DTT Shapes

Big Cat, by Collins Blio Bust a Sound

The Cat in the Hat by Oceanhouse Media Chicktionary by Blockdot Chore Pad by Nannek Civil War by Kids Discover Co:Writer by Don Johnston Comic Life

Daisy Dinosaur (for early coding) *Dexteria Doink Animation Dr. Seuss Band Dropbox DTT Words

Earth Now Easy Board Edmodo Evernote

Firefly K3000 by Kurzweil Flipboard, Your Social News Magazine Fractals by Pomegranate Software

The Game Gal's Word Generator by Spark Genius Hopscotch by Hopscotch Technologies (for early coding)

*iAnimator by Apptronics iCreate...Social Skills Stories, by I Get It, LLC iDress for Weather by Pebro Productions iLearn Solar System by Sprite Labs *iTouchiLearn Numbers for Preschool Kids by Staytooned *iTouchiLearn Words: Speech and Language Skills

*Jungle Coins by Andrew Short Jungle Fractions by Andrew Short

Math: *Column Division by Esa Helttula *Everyday Column Addition by Esa Helttula *Fraction Math by Esa Helttula *Lattice Multiplication by Esa Helttula *Partial Difference Subtraction by Esa Helttula *Partial Sums Addition by Esa Helttula Math for Kids by Angelico

MonteLingual – A Montessori Counting App My Word Wall by Punflay Number Sense by Punflay

National Parks by National Geographic Number Rack by the Math Learning Center

Numerate: Count, Add and Subtract by Todd Mariani Read&Write: Letters, Sounds and Combinations by Todd Mariani


Shake-a-Phrase Slideshark So Much 2 Say by Close 2 Home SoundBook by Applix

Tell Time by Grasshopper Apps

The3Rs Times Table Cloud Click by Lumpty Learning

Voice Dictation by Mohamed Alaoui Mrani

Word Ball by Continuous Integration

Just for Fun Aqueduct GoGoMongo Do Ink Paint my Wings Telligami World of Goo

Social Be Confident by Middle School Confidential Sosh by Dr. Mark Bowers Look in My Eyes Steam Train

Books Present for Milo Collins Big Cat Series

For elementary students with some language: Conversation Builder by Mobile Education Tools Language Builder by Mobile Education Tools Question Builder by Mobile Education Tools Sentence Builder by Mobile Education Tools Speech Journal by Mobile Education Tools Story Builder by Mobile Education Tools

For elementary students with some mathematics: Top-It Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill, both addition and subtraction Baseball Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill Beat the Computer Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill Divisibility Dash Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill Equivalent Fractions Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill Monster Squeeze Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill Name that Number Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill Tric-Trac Everyday Mathematics by McGraw Hill

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

World Council for Gifted and Talented Children - Day Three

Articulation an Alignment: Identifying Creatively Gifted Students, Providing Services and Utilizing Assessment Tools Patti Drapeau www.pattidrapeau Definition: two approaches - personality and cognitive, Amabile: a cognitive rational view of creativity. Trends in psychology have been 1) developmental, stages of development, 2) social psychology, environmental influences, 3) cognitive, what happens in the mind, 4) educational, domain of achievement, 5) humanists, everyday, spiritual side, 6)psychoanalysts, psychopathology. R. Keith Sawyer calls for combining personality, cognitive and sociocultural approaches into the interdisciplinary approach, but discourages cooperative learning. If you must formally identify, use screening, selection, placement, appeals process, exiting procedures. Some researchers hypothesized that creativity is separate from intelligence. Any student can be creative regardless of IQ. Some of the characteristics of the creatively gifted are: aware of creativity, independent, risk-taker, can question rules, be stubborn, argumentative, autocratic. Gary Davis’ book (1992). Tools: checklists, Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking,based on Guilford. Four areas are sometimes used as definition: elaboration, fluency, flexibility, and originality. Criterion Reference Test can be made on local norms. Contact Talent Unlimited out of Kansas City. Use of standards: Key Ideas and Details of typical student, creative use of fluency Kindling the Inner Fires of Learning Ginger Lewman ESSDACK Hutchinson, Kansas In a study of two sisters one succeeded, one failed. Didn’t have independence skills Authenticity is key to learning, learning by doing. Her presentation on Life Practice may be found here: . Her web site is here: and here: Breakthroughs in Assessment of the Gifted Linda Silverman Everyone dislikes the use of IQ tests for a variety of reasons, but mental tests proved the existence of gifted girls. Statistics don’t tell the whole picture however. One example of qualitative assessment: looking in their eyes. IQ tests have predictive variables. Henri Roeper, qualitative interaction with individuals, a type of measurement. Experienced evaluators of gifted combine quantitative data with qualitative information. In medicine, test scores are only used to confirm or rule out a medical diagnosis. Drs. use family history, medical history, clinical judgement. Use of the GAI for WISC-IV can help diagnose gifted children. Other suggestions she made were to make a priori substitutions, use extended norms tables, be aware of g-loadings, understand subtest score patterns, test the limit of the child’s abilities, beyond discontinue criteria and time limits, note if discontinue criteria are not reached and report scores as underestimates, and be enthusiastic and supportive while testing. Hoagies web site has a list of psychologists who are knowledgable about gifted. Betty Meckstroth, tell how much beyond max score, Sylvia Rimm as well. Profile of a Gifted Visual-Spatial Learner: high in block design, matrix reasoning, arithmetic; low in picture concepts and digit span, average in letter-number sequencing. There was no score for coding due to an inability to express ideas in writing Memory is arithmetic, letter-number is sequencing, digit span Perceptual Reasoning is block design, picture concepts, matrix reasoning Picture concepts is too open-ended and slows GT kids down. All parts of an IQ test are not equal in value in determining giftedness. Best subtests are progressive matrices, vocabulary, (information) and similarities, arithmetic, (word reasoning) and comprehension. Mediocre measures are matrix reasoning, block design, picture completion, letter-number sequence, symbol search picture concepts, digital span. Worst measure is coding (writing, visual-motor). NAGC & Sylvia Rimm formed a task force collected data from 8 locations on WISC form, Verbal comp 133, perceptual reasoning, 127, working memory, 121 Processing speed, 112. Make sure they report GAI, if within 23 points it is reliable and valid. NAGC web site: Four Paths to Gifted Programs: vocabulary, similarities,comprehension, matrix reasoning, block design, picture concepts. Untimed tests are better for locating gifted children. Bonus points for speed depresses scores for gifted. Timed tests exact a greater toll on the gifted because processing is usually slower. Only 4 out of 103 gifted children scored 130 or higher on proc. speed. Sylvia Rimm reported average at her center were at high average on processing speed. “More complex thought requires additional time.” (Gilman, 2004) 120-129 Advanced learners 130-144 Moderately gifted 145-159 Highly gifted 160-174 Exceptionally gifted 175+ Profoundly gifted Tips for testing gifted children are to build rapport, guessing should be encouraged, ask them to bring a favorite toy, tester must like gifted kids, long list of important variables. email to get handout “The only instrument complex enough to understand a human being is another human being.” AnneMarie Roeper Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration: A Process of Development Agenda: 1)Introductions: How I Came to the Theory, 2) History and Foundations of the Theory, 3) Levels of Development, 4) Dynamisms, 5) Overexciteabilities, 6) Application: Current Practices Patti Gatto-Walden met Michael Piechowski when she took 26-page overexciteability test, Linda Silverman, New Voices in Counseling the Gifted, used as textbook, Michele Kane,, child who always wanted more, saw Silverman in 6-hour workshop, Janneke Frank, parent of gifted child. Kazimierz Dabrowski The growth and evolution of civilization and culture creates more complex problems. Theory of Positive Disintegration: Personality structure comes apart and reintegrates at a higher level, not personality as character, but “a self-aware, self-chosen, self-affirmed and self-determined unity of essential individual psychic qualities.” Personality as second level of integration Non-ontogenetic - unrelated to physical maturation Role of emotion - “the emotional sphere at every level of development is the decisive factor that determines and controls human activity.” “Empathy is a handicap in a world that is blind to cruelty and apathetic to injustice.” Linda Silverman Valued psychoneurosis as a disturbance that is necessary for further development. Values are not relativistic - not all value systems are equally right. Factors that influence development: hereditary/constitutional, environmental/social, self-directed/autonomous. Developmental potential is relationship between heredity and environment comprised of Overexciteabilities, Autonomy, Talents and Abilities Theory of emotional development 1) Normal or typical, no attempts at self-transformation, 2) One-sided, strong skill or set of skills, 3) Global and accelerated, strong DP, all cognitive and emotional functions develop . Non-ontogenetic theory is one that is not age-related, only moves forward, no longer able to think in previous stage of development. In Dabrowski, you can’t revert to former thinking. In order to evolve, your previous thinking must disintegrate. Not everyone will get there. Some people stay at same level their entire life. “We all move into high gear as the final deadline looms. I wish it were otherwise, but how else could it be for perfectionists???” Janneke Frank Five levels of development, can be at two levels at once. They are 1) self-centered egocentrism, primary integration, 2) at the mercy of others, unilevel disintegration, 3) Striving for ideals, spontaneous multilevel disintegration (no one knows where sense of self comes from and inner conflict begins to develop self at higher level), 4) actualizing ideals, directed multilevel disintegration (“what ought to be will be, and I will make it so”), and 5) Transcendent, secondary integration, Dabrowski said a) only person who did it was Jesus, b) it involves dedication to service, and a love of humanity). Michael Piechowski was cited as believing that the difference between levels was greater than any emotions at one level. Sylvia Rimm opined that it fits really well with stages of development by age. Dabrowski Group replied, “Yes, but it is the ideal.” Perfectionism can be positive in integrated stage (integrating what is with what should be): Stage 1)I’m perfect but you’re not. Perfectionism is oppressive. Other are used for self-aggrandizement, fails to see own imperfections, 2) perfectionism is debilitating, laced with self-doubt, unable to live up to expectations, focus on imperfections, if not perfect, worthless, 3) the perfectionist propels individual with drive for self-perfection, become ones best self, 4) the perfectionist evolves into self-perfection, higher values and higher consciousness, view one’s journey without judgement, reveal imperfections and finally, 5) secondary integration is perfection of personality, inner peace, no inner conflict, service to humanity, appreciation of perfection in all. Janneke Developmental Dynamisms are biological or mental forces controlling behavior and its development. Instincts, drives and intellectual precesses combined with emotions shaping forces controlling behavior and ...(missed this part). They are self-evaluative processes, energies that are observable and analyzable in a person’s verbal behavior. Dynamisms are essential for growth. Michael Piechowski’s Dynamisms as shapers of development: examples are External conflict: 1, 2, and 3, Inner conflict: 3 and 4 and Common Dynamisms are Empathy, Creative Instinct, and Identification (conscious awareness) In primary Integration, level 1, I love me, unilevel disintegration, level 2 values, what do others think, level 3 spontaneous multilevel disintegration, what is vs. what ought to be, dissatisfaction with self, feelings of shame and guilt, positive maladjustment, level 4 directed multilevel disintegration, what ought to be will be, subject-object in oneself, third factor, self awareness & self-control, and level 5, education of oneself, auto-psychic healing, responsibility, autonomy, personality ideal, self-perfectionism, more constructive rather than disintegration Moral development and moral action seen as a function of total person and is chosen, striven for and indeed the result of some kind of disintegration (Hague, 1998, P. 170) Patti Gatto-Walden Overexcitabilities (Piechowski, 1992) Cognitive complexity, emotional sensitivity, heightened imagination, and magnified sensations combine to create “a different quality of experiencing: vivid, absorbing, penetrating, encompassing, complex, commanding - a way of being quiveringly alive” Have you ever been told... You ask too many questions? You are too sensitive? You care too much? You are too emotional? Giftedness is a two-sided coin, vulnerabilities, pressure, loneliness, as well as strength, blessing, and expansion. OE types: 1)psychomotor; surplus of energy, expression of emotional tension, compulsive talking, impulsive actions, nervous habits, workaholism, acting out, drive, transitions difficult, 2) sensual; senses, can have overeating, sexual overindulgence, buying sprees, enjoy attention, tags in clothes bother, may have difficulty with certain foods, 3) imaginational; loves fantasy, metaphor, magical thinking, elaborate dreams, illusions, low tolerance for boredom, imagination can run wild, 4)intellectual; endlessly curious, love of theory,moral thinking, introspection without self-judgement, conceptual in integration and 5) emotional; continuum of emotion, complex emotions and feelings, strong affective expressions, strong affective memory, intense feelings toward self, introspection with self-evaluation. Kids need to hear about this to help in their integration. Some web sites that were recommended were Learning Physics through ICY Simulation Tools Cher Kuan Thio Logger pro and Tracker Video Analysis are two free applications that can visually demonstrate physics experiments. First Mr. Thio demonstrated the use of Tracker (free) to teach kinematics. A video shows car moving across table, need to tell computer what to track, so put ruler on table, need reference points to begin and end. Creates graph that compares distance to time. Also does slowing down and speeding up. Can do ball toss, see graph of ball with increasing rate of speed. Possible extensions are projectile motion (basketball toss) and parabolic curve. Most people have access to video phone. They can analyze how high they jump, ball skills, running speed, ball activities, bouncing and collisions. Datastudio can be used to teach sound. Sound waves can be visually represented and manipulated to see the effect. More waves changes pitch, height of wave is volume. Audacity to set pitches or record voice. Is actually used to mix sounds. Create tunes by modifying sound clips, amplitude, and frequencies. Mindstorms can graph sounds, make robot follow track. Gamification Ginger Lewman Use marketing strategies to get people to come into the classrooms. Students get plugged in to computers and hate to leave. So much to learn and immediate. User has control. Use gamer tactics to attract, engage and hold a user to a particular product. Techniques are reward for choices, like Famous Footwear rewards, S&H green stamps. Ginger recommended Richard Bartle’s gamer psychology, and his book Designing Virtual Worlds. Go to to see your gamer profile. Four types of Achievers: Achievement, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers (.1% of population) have to win publicly and publicize it. Motivations are status, access, power and “stuff.” At at Mozilla, recognition for skills you learn anywhere. Doesn’t have to be just about technology. Can be to do good in the world. How do we attract, engage and hold our community to our gifted programs. Students as Self-Advocates: Why/How Learners Should Craft their Own Digital Footprints Ginger Lewman ESSDACK Edupreneur gives list of Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship is for kids to learn how to be good online citizen from age 5 up You can log in as student, teacher or district. Google to learn acronyms. Urban dictionary. Common Sense Rule Never say or send anything you’d be embarrassed about if the whole world saw! Smart phones, video games. Two articles about recruiters and hiring managers using FB. will send alerts when your name is mentioned on Google. Can use it for search term. Search query in quotes. Responsible use guidelines can be found at Chris Betcher, How do you manage a digital footprint? 1)Find out what is already there. 2)Try to remove the negative. 3)Begin to monitor your digital footprint. 4)Brand yourself. 5) Pile up the positives, and make sure they are found. When hiring, resume is x,y axis. Look for z axis. Digital resume for 5 years. The networked learner. tool: google sketchup entrepreneurs: sketchup and blender, joined clovis point and usb symbol. Antikythera mechanism, earliest computer, can make with 3D printer. will build 3D designs and make them in whatever medium you like. Jewelry, game pieces, puzzles, tshirts, mugs clocks, etc. On Lulu, you can write books. creating, publishing, designing, marketing distracted driving, the frontal lobe is evolving until age 25 snapchat, kick Digital Advocacy: Communicating with Millennials Kathy Jones Advocates for High Ability Learners visibility share information widely or specifically hangout and learn with other influencers mentor and be mentored network more efficiently and effectively build better ideas Cautions assuming connectivity assuming confidence assuming connections What Works like and follow influencers cross-post blog comment share pin search for complementary sites look outside the field re-tweet ask questions Adam Bellow website called educlipper Remember: what’s old may be new, invite participation, make networking a priority, keep it appropriate, share your human side, carefully mp3 files are available on AHA WhoDecides What Giftedness is? Roland S. Persson Why are are we mindful of the Gifted? Because they represent human capital in the global economies demand for innovation. Because they are capable of problem solving for the survival of humanity and/or the welfare of individual countries. Severe income disparity, chronic fiscal imbalances, water costs, challenges of the last few decades, such as synthethic biology, nanotech, machine intelligence, computer algorithms controlling the stock market, synthetic genetic manipulation. Studies on dung beetles more frequent than studies of human extinction. Lastly for the needs and wants of the gifted and talented themselves, UNESCO (1994) statement on individual needs and rights of every child, shift towards producing manpower for information economy, emphasis on tests, political and economic tool, failure to recognize human nature and take it into consideration Dogma and conflict A closed mind characterized by a stubborn willfulness to acknowledge truth: a willful irrationality within a context in which rationality is a valid criterion for assessing the soundness of one’s thinking. Human nature refers to the distinguishing char including ways of thinking feeling an acting that humans tend to have naturally independently of the influence of culture in other words there are behaviors not necessarily subject to a learning process? Gifted Ed and the research that underpins it is largely static because of urgent societal need for real world practice, the accountability movement, and budgets, as well as the result of neoliberal ideology to better fit a global economy, narrow understandings of giftedness, cognitive conservatism and familiarity, variety of personality traits, stereotypes, group behavior. Education ruled by internal, dominant monopolies. Henry Bauer, VA Polytechnic Inst., if don’t accept big bang theory, won’t get funding. Medicine, must embrace that HIV is always the cause of AIDS. Climate change, must support that climate is changing because of human activity. Giftedness, must believe it is a large number of people in population who have some talents (term talent is preferred). arguing talent for all is encouraged, gifted for a few is not. Unavoidable forces in university environments, ex: Galileo and the Roman Inquisition (vehemently suspect of heresy), subject to house arrest for rest of life. Same forces are alive and well. Robert Quinn, Scholars at Risk Network. Method used are posturing, submission, escape and attack and elimination. Risk-takers with a desire to shake things up in spite of cost, desire to set things straight, self-sufficient, independent, intellectually curious, noncomformist. “How feasible is it to expect the gifted to contribute to the global economy to be the warrant for any nations future welfare and wealth and if need be, perhaps also serve the world as savior of human prospect? Making compromise, gifted can override human nature, often refuse to accept that which does not conform to their own values, can become problem to employment, regarded as difficult troublemaker, difficulty employed in strictly formal setting unless psychopathic. Kevin Dutton of Oxford University quote on psycopaths. Phenomenal assets but only in positions where they are socially sanctioned to do what they want to do. The societal culture field impacting daily life, work science and nation building graphic. Four Cultures: Ethnic cultures, Sub-cultures, General culture, and Superculture. 53 multinational corporations all accumulated wealth of 120 nations. Will acquire talent in relentless pursuit of growth and profit. “Superentity” Swiss Inst. India, Asia, South America, Patel CEO of Indian Govt. urges restraint on use of education for economic returns, quality of life in its entirety. Who gets to define giftedness and talent? Considering global development, focus on what gifted are able to do more important to corporations and governments than theoretical descriptions. Pragmatic answer is that there are a number of deciding factors. Within each group with vested interest in gifted indiv. there are vested self-interests. Bottom line, whoever has dominance (social power) by whatever means, At a crossroads.Google foresee a future with 2 parts; physical and virtual. In wake of global economy, operated without human control, world is too obsessed with technological advances rather than human needs. A war for talent is in full operation. What’s Exceptional about Twice-Exceptionality? Megan Foley Nicpon Belin-Blank Center The Top 10 Things about Twice-Exceptionality Ten: definition, “gifted-talented in one or more areas while also possessing a learning, emotional, physical, sensory and/or developmental disability.” Prevalence is uncertain due to lack of standards, identification of gifted or disability is hidden. Nine: The norm is the exception to the norm. Eight: Working memory and processing speed are building blocks to learning, but are often lower in 2Es. Verbal and general ability skills higher than perceptual, working memory and processing speeds. Seven: Twice-exceptional may have a lowered self-concept, lower happiness and behavioral satisfaction. Six: We need to think long and hard about how we identify populations, RTI is specific example of exception to discrepancy model approach. Five: Some 2e may have limited insight into areas of strength and difficulties. Four: A comprehensive evaluation is key to identify strengths and areas of growth. Look for patterns that indicate gifts as well as Three: The best ed plans highlight strengths and accommodate difficulties, in that order. Participate in advanced classes, acceleration opportunities, and enrichment activities, review records, allow time to process info, know your rights, help teach self-advocacy and problem-solving skills. Two: There is still a lot of work to be done. 317 individuals professionals surveyed, gifted and special educators more familiar with 2e than regular ed teachers and psychologists. More professional development and in 20 years, only 43 empirical studies conducted examining gifted with ASD, ADHD or SLD. Gifted Child Quarterly 2e edition. One: These are amazing kids! Network of 1K talent points in Hungary, ECHA European Council of High Ability. European Talent Support Network coming next year. How to make a good network: horizontal contacts instead of hierarchy, build the WE world instead of the ME world, and build in a space that helps people enjoy themselves together with trust. Kahlil Gibran “Work is love made visible.” Work is love made visible for someone you don’t even know. Talent support is love made visible.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

World Council for Gifted and Talented Chidren - Day Two

WCGTC Day Two Now, I have made presentations, and I know it is a little hard to remember everything under duress, but I have a few tips after watching the presentations today. First, use a font size of 20 or larger. Use few words, then elaborate. Never, never read what is on the screen. If you can’t remember what you were going to say, rehearse more next time. Please put your email on the very first slide, especially if there will not be time for questions during your presentation. Is there a web page that has resources on it? I try to blog conference notes and would love to refer my readers (I know there are at least 2) to your page. Stress Management for the Digital Age Liz Short and Dr. Bruce Kline The Plastic Brain: When Gaming is Good for You Brain Plasticity is change in neural pathways that comes from neural repeating, it is higher level under stress. It occurs during healthy learning or recovery from brain injury. It goes on throughout all of life. Two pioneers were Michael Merzenich and Pasko Rakic. Gaming can be good for you. Although the list of positive developments went by very fast, I was able to get some of them: speed of response, they’re gender neutral, action-based game (400 acts/minute), creativity, violence not always a negative - focus heightened, unique and interesting features of the game, enhanced scores in creativity, decision making , perception, hand-eye coord, other motor skills, brain function, and speed of thinking. Gaming can be bad for you because the content is negative view of world, associated with compulsive gambling and depression, addiction, obsession w/ competition, limits creative time, too much exposure to violence, inappropriate sexual themes, and over-identification with characters may occur. Signs of over-involvement are anxious or irritable behavior, impatient w/ tedious chores, disinterest in activities, social withdrawal, argumentative, overly secretive, and changes in behavior. I had to wonder how this is different from most teenage behavior, but I digress. Electronics can be good for you because it gives you access to info and news, contact with friends and family, knowledge of bigger world, resources for education and avocations. It is bad for you if you develop an addiction, spend less time in relationships, come into contact with undesirable people, less chance to develop critical thinking skills, limits exercise, contact with unhelpful content, inappropriate communications and a limit to FTF communication. Concentration and reward surges of neurotransmitters strengthen neural circuitry. Similar to physical exercise for building up muscles. Resilience defined as power to return to prior state of balance, organization, ability to cope with stress and adversity. Used Scriven and Paul’s (1987) Definition of Critical Thinking Balance is the state of maintaining enough positive factors in life to balance negative forces. Parents help child achieve balance by taking charge of managing electronic devices, developing strong relationships, paying attention to use, do the due diligence, monitor the amount and content being exposed, and if an over-balance or problem, cut back Keynote Speaker: Sally M. Reis Pathways for Creativity and Creative Productivity University of Connecticut Optimism about changing the world Type I: General Exploratory Activities Type II: Group training activities Type III: Individual and small group investigations of real problems 1. First Study Broadened conception of giftedness Comparison of top 5% to next 10-15% creative products Three-ring conception of giftedness Schoolwide Enrichment Model Studying outcomes in lives of students 2nd study Women/Girls Work Left Undone Model of Talent realization in Women belief that what they want to do is socially important above average talent personality traits belief in self environmental factors Diversification of Creativity in Women to include nurturing relationships, spirituality, friendship, service, work, home, personal appearance, and interests, hobbies In the19th century, the central moral challenge slavery, 20th, totalitarianism, 21st, gender equality. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn 3rd Study Underachievement in half of identified gifted = 50% because of lack of challenge, poor self-perception, lack of creative opportunities, inappropriate classroom, and low self-efficacy. Underachievement affected gifted persons in a broad spectrum from minimal to devastating. 4th Study Curriculum compacting study showed that 40%-50% of content could be eliminated for academically talented students. No change in achievement scores, some actually scored higher. Gained more over summer in reading scores than during school year. Find out what child has to learn, document knowledge, change curriculum. 5th Study Twice Exceptional Students - 2E College students with serious LD, other interfering factors, struggled in school, made it to college, had an advocate. So hard to identify because they seem so bright. Baum’s study of using Enrichment Triad model with students with LD. Focus on strengths: creativity, talent, differentiated compensation strategies, celebrate victories and strengths. 6th study Talented Readers and Enrichment Reading (SEM-R), published in AERA (American Education Research Association Journal, found that we could eliminate up to 5 hours regular group reading instruction, replace with 5-10 minutes each week. No change in scores National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented has bookmarks for teachers if they have’t read the book the student is reading. Recommendations are exposure to interests, training in creativity, problem-solving methods, freedom of choice to pursue topics and to create, invent, and produce. Advice: Conduct research with practical implications for student and schools Find partners who inspire you. Publish in journals that extend beyond gifted education Believe that your work makes a difference and then make it happen Renzulli Academy Enjoyment Engagement Enthusiasm lead to Achievement Creator, inventors change agent, scholars, researchers Schools should be places for Talent Development Triad goes to College UConn IDEA Grants youtube.con/watch?v=A-CV7VAb7cA NEXT-GEN CT Creatively Transforming Online Dictionaries Ian Warwick and Adrian Hall London Gifted and Talented (2003) All learners are entitled to be stretched and challenged through high challenge low-threshold learning IGGY, online resource (2008) 50% members free place STEM subjects, but also STEAM and HIstory & Politics, E for English 13-18 yr. olds student-led approach w/ post grad student mentors social media, gamification (thinking student’s FB) Looking at interaction between formal and active language Focus on language as component of achievement ELL population; those without academic language tended to be absent from highest grades. Students may have a volume of info about a subject, but don’t comprehend tasks asked on exams. language acquisition: by knowing basic 2000 words and 570 academic words (Lynn Cameron research) the greatest gains in achievement occur. Highlighter tool Example of need for academic language: epidemic vs. pandemic need to know word global. GOBBY developed for SE Asia market - idioms repurposed to make AWL more accessible to student target audiences building on work of London Gifted & Talented, available online and an app. It gives definition, context, contribution, tests Division of words into 5 groups: “top trump” commanding words for interrogating stuff, “peacock” the connecting words for showing off, “depth-charge” weighty words abstract thinking, “inside track” the method words that investigation requires, “weighty” guiding words that society needs adrian.hall@warwick Universal Design Practices: A Marriage of Technology and Differentiation Wenda Sheard Don’t know when child has undiagnosed disability or when all could benefit from accommodation. Learning Target Charts: Some with lines, some without CAST is now The National Center for Universal Design Higher Ed Opportunities Act 2008 Flexibility in presentation, demonstration of knowledge, engagement reduces barriers for all students Three Roots, UDL architecture& products) Digitized text and graphics can be easily modified Brain research on learning networks inside the brain multiple means of representation multiple means of action and expression multiple means of engagement Recognition networds, strategic networks, affective networks John Geake The Brain at School The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations Yale Our senses are interconnected use the best sensory data possible: high quality copies, detailed photos, large font, bold learning targets (key concepts), high-quality sound handwriting is key to learning, memory, ideas ( Smart pen by Livescribe, active role in learning “Gesture changes thought” Learning with hands: if allowed to gesture, later performance improved Learning with hands: less able to abstract info when images are near their hands Kurzweil an open letter Dragon Dictate BETT Conference in London Sped Needs SEN Renzulli Learning System Taisir Subhi Yamin, from Czech Republic needed tech support for online access dynamic program, was able to show us the site, gave us opportunity to log in “T-burrow” on Online Environment for Young Gifted Kids Stanislav Zelenda Talnet online to science Since 2003, looking for and development of GT at the age of 13-19 interested in STEM Systemic approach based on creation and delivery of learning and inquiry activities virtual environment asynchronous and synchronous activities individual team product girl ages 14-19, most important characteristic was dominance Activities: T-courses T-proseminar T-excursion T-expedition more Team, individual, project-based,excursion, international (most successful) Example: NAFTA Theory - the third way of escaping, a physics problem T-burrow support of pupils on site identification and support of GT Authentic opportunities for learning inquiry and creation collaboration between teachers and students, such as content expert, organizers and facilitators, employers, international subjects, parents, teachers, schools Impressed that he presented in English. Twice-Exceptional Learners Cognitive Characteristics of Matematically Gifted Children with LD Anies Al-Hroub University of Beirut (AUB) Gifted and Dyslexic is his specialty Definitions: 1972-1995 One area of giftedness makes a child gifted Dyslexia can occur at any level of intellectual ability Three types high abilities, LD unrecognized good verbal, spelling, handwriting, disorganise LD recognized , giftedness not Both high ability AND LD unrecognized high abil & LDs recog G/LD students both recognized Multidimensional assessment characteristic pattern of strengths and weaknesses? Used 8 criteria to enroll 30 students in program IQ 120 dropped 10 points because of LD Analysis: Verbal Performance (VIQ-PIQ) Discrepancy discrepancy in LDs dis in gifted ? Cognitive models and factors placed in chart G/LD a 12-pt discrep YES and 7 pt scatter between highest and lowest subtests NO\ Bannatyne Horn Fluid-Crystallised Theory Kaufman Factors Rapaport Model Found that verbal performance was better than performance in Math Gifted kids spatial abilities and broad visualizations were significantly different visual organization factor showed significant difference in GM group visual motor significant difference coding and picture arrangement weak visual-motor How Do I Advocate for My 2E Child Kevin D. Besnoy, University of Alabama Advocacy catalysts are event triggers that cause parents to recognize difficulties with child. Parents initially trusted school system and assumed school system would do the right thing. Felt intimidated because they didn’t know what school was required to do. They assumed school would provide needed services. Later they learned new vocabulary, policies and procedures and were able to more articulately request interventions. Supporting Gifted Girls (K-6) Strategies for Addressing Underachievement Nathan Levy Reluctant writers 1. make a list, compare lists, which fears show up in all lists, compare which fears occur and why? In the last novel, what were characters main fears Christopher Columbus fears? kids in Afghanistan? 2. interviews make connections review of basic information Three types of thinking convergent divergent cultural literacy +- X / geography Artistry for Children Creativity Day by Day 101Things in Science ACT ! Good vocabulary is important tool for writing. Stories with Holes, children want to know what went in holes. Go back and try again, because if we give up, it gets worse. Global warming, Middle East Pygmalion effect: if you think they can do it, they can The teacher makes the weather in the classroom. A Blueprint for a Creative Educational System Keynote speaker: Todd Lubart Laboratoire LATI University Paris Descartes - Sorbonne Paris A Brief History of Creativity Tools mosquito repellants Lascaux Sistine Chapel Homo Creativus Intellectually gifted::creatively gifted (correlation to grades =.10 to .20) an expert:: an inventor (correlation to grades = -.20 to +.10) 1975-2012 Of the number of articles per year on giftedness, creative giftedness is only about 10% per year of studies. 21st Century Skills Movement generate, elaborate, refine, evaluate new ideas use a wide range of creation techn be open, collab Raw Materials of Creativity The System’s buiding blocks children EPoC is one measure of creativity: level of creative potential divergent exploratory and convergent integrative visual-artistic banana given items to make picture verbal-linguistic Teachers trained to judge creativity serve as role models teach for creativity teaching creatively helpful vs. harmful teachers in a report by Chambers 1973 curriculum & classroom environment physical environment plants, colors, temperatures natural light, windows posters, funny pictures social environment time to think risk-taking humor reward and incentives for creativity (IMSA Wednesdays off) administrators & leaders “Materials Sciences” of Creativity creative potential involves cognitive and conative (personality motivational) factors process is important creativity is partially domain specific creativity evolves over time and can be dev everyday and great creativity are related Positive factors divergent thinking risk taking (academic risk-taking and self-reported school failure tolerance decrease with school grade) The creative process: define problem, get documentation, start experimenting, feel positive and motivated Domain specificity Stability Everyday to Great levels of creativity: Van Gogh had a peak moment in Arles in France. Had experienced Millet, was in Arles, support from Theo and friend of Gaugin, produced 80% of all his works.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

World Council on Gifted and Talented Children: Day 1

World Council for Gifted and Talented Children Spiritual Intelligence I started my quest for knowledge by attending Spiritual Intelligence, by Dr. Dorothy Sisk, and I wasn't disappointed. We began discussing a thorough handout, as well as ideas from her book, Spiritual Intelligence, which is no longer in publication. She covered the central foci of her book, which looked at the spiritual dimension of our lives through findings in psychology, science, hermetics, and spiritual pathfinders.
  1. Psychology, Carl Rogers spoke of the person of tomorrow and the yearning for the spiritual.
  2. Karl Jung, whose mother read him myths as a child, spoke of the collective unconscious and was the first to see the subconscious as a problem-solver.
  3. Essenes in the time before and after the Common Era were known to have emphasized finding talent, developing it and sharing it.
  4. Dabrowski studied people who were making a difference, which led to his theories on overexcitabilities.
  5. Maslow studied peak experiences.
  6. She mentioned a professor of physics who spoke of the sense of awe with which he held scientific discoveries.
  7. Edgar Mitchell founded the school of noetics and the Noetic Institution.
  8. Thoth wrote a book titled Hermetica, which was lost in the generations that moved from Egypt, Iraq, and Italy, where he influenced the Medici family.
  9. A spiritual leader I did not know about was Hildegard of Bingen. Identified at an early age as having visions, her parents gave her to the church. She was walled into a cell with a nun for years, with only the chants of the monks and the exchange of food and waste for entertainment. She became a nun, writer, architect, doctor, and composer, among other things. A monk named Voldmar wrote her visions and sent them to church leaders. Her avocation was music, chants, poems.
  10. Emily Dickinson, student at Holyoke, wouldn’t convert to Catholicism and dropped out. She studied the transcendentalism of Emerson, which promoted identification with nature, she lived in an inner world, loved children, and explored eastern mystical literature.
  11. Helen Keller lost vision and hearing from a fever at 19 mos., was influenced by Swedenborgians, traveled outside her body, mastered spiritual intelligence.
  12. Others include Einstein, Mandela, Rumi, Safis, Erica Landau (5 yrs. in concentration camp).
Activities she does in her gifted program: senior and junior counselors and scholars. Do random act of kindness, write note. We had two guided imageries, which she said were attributed to Fritz Perls, but I can’t find any reference to this online. We visualized a walk on a path and we found a large box, and medium-sized box and a small box. Then we talked about our images. Mine were: Light, when I took it out it sort of had a ball shape or hemisphere Artichoke, with mandala of perfect leaves Crystal, with rainbows of reflected light Dr. Sisk talked about the commonalities of the major mystics and noted they especially tap into inner knowing. Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer Sylvia Rimm Being different, unusual or unique. Creativity balanced with conformity. Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades and what you can do about it How to Parent So Children will Learn See Jane Win Advance Organizer
  1. Reasonably High Expectations
  2. Work ethic, sense of perseverance and accomplishment
  3. Competitive resilience, won’t be the smartest
  4. Disabilities, mental health problems, handwriting, power of avoidance (speak into microphone or recorder first, then write), reading (extended time, encouragement).
  5. Appropriate curriculum, match between achievement and challenge, still need to do some boring stuff
  6. Peer environments, other kids who are also being successful, creativity close to oppositionality
  7. United positive parenting, one parent enables power against other parent, teaches oppositionality, argues with teachers, child is more powerful than adult
  8. Parent advocacy and support for schools
  9. Appropriate role models, similarities between selves and adult, nurturance or special warmth, power in their lives
  10. Reasonable balance in their lives, working hard vs. affiliation and friends
Iowa acceleration scale for skipping used for assessment. “The inner circle of achievers” can be seen on her web page here. Dependent kids are more anxious. Must be sensitive and also strong. Dominant kids evoke anger from parents. Be firm and positive, watch out for pitting parents against teacher, counselor against teacher. “Tell me about what you have in mind.” Find experimental compromise solution and write it down (contract), make copy to show him when he opposes you again, creativity thinks up excuses, but stand firm, while showing openness to new ideas. Many gifted children have been given opportunities and praise. It can be too much of a good thing. Can be a stressor. Set a direction or personna for the child so it becomes part of who they are. They think of themselves as very smart. Throw in kindness, hard-working, character. 3Ws, want, wait and work Trifocal model, 80% success, school, counselor and parents Bifocal model, 50%? Ten tips “Canons” of Achievement for the Gifted: in newsletter. Fulfilling potential, making a contribution and making a living are useful goals. Dr. Fred Mosteller, spoke at medical school, elderly, 4th grade fell in love with teacher,
  1. Ally with the student privately about interests and concerns.
  2. Listen to what the student says.
Learn about what the student is thinking.
  4. Initiate opportunities for recognition of the student’s strengths.
  5. Add experimental ideas for engaging curricular and extracurricular activities.

  6. Nurture relationships with appropriate adult and peer role models.

  7. Consequence reasonably but firmly if student doesn’t meet commitments

  8. Emphasize effort, independence, realistic expectations, how strengths can be used to cope with problems and extend possibilities patiently.

When child turns around, hands off - that child can fly!

Opening Ceremonies

Opening Ceremonies commenced with a bugle call similar to the Derby, followed by the Mayor and the President of Western Kentucky University. Outstanding Kentuckians were cited in the celebration of giftedness and creativity. Music followed under the direction of Dr. Pope. Awards were given to leading scholars in the world. I would have loved to post the people and all of their achievements, but the list would be too long to fit on a web page (that’s a joke). Scholarships were followed by an overview of the conference to come. “Intelligences Outside the Normal Curve: Factors That Contribute to the Creation of Leadership Skills and Social Capital in Young People and Adults.” Joseph S. Renzulli, Director, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, The University of Connecticut “Genius is talent set on fire by courage.” Henry van Dyke General theory for talent development Why Intelligences outside the normal curve are important Operation houndstooth theory and research Executive function and theory research Co-cognitive Factor Who are they? What causes some people to use their gifts in socially constructive and action oriented ways? What can we do to promote these actions? “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela People who make a difference Four areas of study: Focus on Creative Productivity The Development of Social Capital What is social capital and why is it important? Bowling Alone Leadership in a changing world Conceptions of Giftedness Gifted Child Quarterly early 2013 Renzulli showed two examples of children who took the initiative, one can be seen at Suitcases for Children and one created an inclusive playground and secured funding to build it while in elementary school. Then he contrasted Mandela and Amin. Graph showing attitudes in young people shows more emphasis on earning money than developing a philosophy of life. Data on attitudes in college students showing more narcissism in personality Social Capital Actions that benefit others - single individuals or targeted groups, entire communities, as distinct from actions that are only taken to benefit one’s own financial gain, Gemeinshaftsgefuhl Houndstooth Content validity Phase 1 Theory and research Phase 2 Refining and application CoCognitive Factor Scale Construct validity Optimism Courage Romance w/ discipline or topic Sensitivity to human concerns Physical/Mental energy Vision/sense of Destiny Executive Functions ability to engage in novel situations that require planning decision making troubleshooting and ethical leadership that is not dependent on routine or well rehearsed responses. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough Type III Enrichment Investigation that reflects both houndstooth traits and executive function skills. Kids got biodegradable trays in cafeteria. Type II Enrichment in the Enrichment Triad Model Kids Guide to Social Action, et al. Interventions Designed to Promote Co-cognitive Characteristics Least effective way to create internalization of co-cognitive attitudes, beliefs,values and behaviors: bottom to top Rally round the flag Gold star approach teaching and preaching approach vicarious experiences or simulations, modeling direct involvement I: Participatory Activities Direct involvement II: Creative/Productive Activities In conclusion, Mohandas Gandhi The things that will destroy us are : politics without principle; pleasure without .... Traditional Focus of Education Cognitive basics: creative thinking, critical th, problem solving, decision making, productive thinking Need to be part of Creative Factors If you've read this far, you'll forgive me for the formatting issues. Too tired!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last Day Letter for Lego WeDo and Mindstorms

Computer Lego Robotics
Summer Wonders
Summer 2008 Grayslake Dear Parents, These two weeks have been a wonderful adventure for me. I have never seen such creativity with Lego WeDo! The students learned the basic concepts within the first two days and were working independently by the third day. There were 12 basic machines in the directions that accompanied the kits and most of the children made many of them. Some children even preferred making their own machines and programs, which showed their ability to acquire and extrapolate information.

I like teaching the kids programming at this age, because it teaches them so much about computers. Are the cables connected? What is your program telling the machine to do? What do we need to do to get that result?

There are not a lot of web resources for the Lego WeDo yet. The Lego web site has instructions for using WeDo with the programming language Scratch, which you can download for free at Scratch. A Scratch Wiki is available where students and teachers can add their ideas. A printable handout for activities involving both Scratch and WeDo is also available. A blog which provides more WeDo designs is WeDoBots. Don’t forget to check out Geek Dad’s Blog, too.

I will put up this material on my web page at in addition to the material I have up there now, so please check back from time to time. If you care to email me, I’m at lwallin at, or choirmemberil at, which I don’t check as often. I will also give a DVD to the Center for Gifted of all the pictures and videos we made. I am including the resource page I made for Mindstorms, which is the program used by third grade and up.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lego Mindstorms and WeDo

I have just spent the last two weeks teaching gifted children from first through eighth grade Lego robotics. It was the best group of students I have had. They were polite, quiet, focused, and creative. How often in my career as a special education teacher I had students who were not especially motivated to learn! It is so much fun to teach gifted kids something they want to learn that I hardly notice the passage of time. In fact, I am guilty of forgetting to clean up on time with regularity.

This was the first time I had worked with gifted students since learning about Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration. I really noticed and responded to situations that clearly demonstrated his "hyperexcitabilities." I have been reading a book by Willem Kuipers, Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon, who refers to these reactions as “extra receptivity.” The school bell that rang several times a day made both children and adults jump. I saw one girl cover her ears and twist in circles while it rang. Two other incidents that occurred were notable. In one situation, a young boy was dropped off and left in the room alone while I was in the bathroom. He was inconsolable until Mom came back and brought his folder for the day. Another child became paralyzed with dread when he noticed all the parents visiting the last day. He also could not stop crying until we reached Mom who returned and stayed. In the past, I would have been uncomfortable and tried to talk the students into overcoming their feelings. This year, I sat and talked with the students and helped them meet their needs. We never stop learning.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pinterest Fail

My friend Darlene Andre referred me to a web site called Pinterest Fail when I posted my "Cake Pops" on Facebook. I love it! I laughed so hard when my cake pops fell apart, and I had to share it with my FB friends. When I went to check out Pinterest Fail, I laughed again. What a great idea! Kinda like the Martha Stewart jokes in the 90s. I am posting to Pinterest Fail, although technically, I wasn't using a Pinterest recipe - just a Pillsbury package.
Did I mention that last week, Kim and I attempted to eat spaghetti I had made while quilting. My mom used to say we were having thread for supper, and that accurately describes how much we want to cook when sewing. Anyway, I had put the spaghetti noodles (sadly, I can't remember the brand), into the water, which was not yet hot. I had left-over sauce that only had a couple of days left before I threw it out. It was good, thanks to Whole Foods Traditional Spaghetti Sauce, but the noodles were an unusual culinary experience. Some of them were undercooked, some were mushy, and then there was this big glob of noodles that was stuck together. I hadn't stirred them very often, and who rinses when you can just drain?! While we were eating, Kim was trying to be nice while complaining. I finally said, like a woman over tea, "I think this is the worst spaghetti I have ever made." She agreed and we both laughed. I shan't go into my crock pot shrimp recipe, which was my worst meal ever!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This will be the first Mother's Day without my mom and I foolishly made plans to go to Florida with a friend. I thought it would be good to get away. Things had gotten difficult after her death and I though some time on the beach would help. As Mother's Day approaches, I realize what I want most is to be home with my kids for Mother's Day. Well, there's always next year, maybe. My kids have reached adulthood. They have lives of their own, and may or may not be in the area next year. So I dedicate this blog post to them. Joshua, Colin, and Kim, Colin's wife Lynette, and their kids Adeline, Violet and Anshu. You are my blessings beyond measure. My selfish desire to have kids led to the most wonderful aspect of my life and I thank God for all of you. I loved your baby years, Josh, Colin and Kim. Josh would say "Lights" at Christmas when he was six months old, talk to Colin as I changed his diaper, pop up his happy face in the morning when he saw me. Colin had the most infectious giggle when raspberries were blown on his tummy, would roll from place to place because he was too roly poly to crawl, watched me read to Josh while he nursed. I played with Kim's curly hair as I nursed her, watched "thunder thighs" in her Jump-Up being encouraged to jump wildly by her brothers, enjoyed her sensitivity to the feminine things in my life. And that's just the early years! Now I have a daughter-in-law who researches everything before she makes decisions about the kids, grandchildren who are too beautiful to believe, and every one of them gifted without conceit. Adeline is quiet, pensive and always taking everything in, then states her opinion with aplomb. Violet is full of life and spirit, great fun, and affectionate. Anshu is a surprise miracle. I knew my granddaughters would be miracles, but I had no idea an adopted child would have the same effect! He is alert and sensitive, studying everything going on around him. I love you all this Mother's Day and I miss you. I promise I'll never leave on this holiday again! My best Mother's Day gift ever was my son Colin. Have a wonderful birthday and I will see you when I get back!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Love, Loss and Life

It has been 38 days since my mother died. It has felt more like months, in some ways, and time is going too fast in others. When I notice the change in seasons in Chicago - from heavy snow to light snow, temperatures in the high 20s to the high 30s, time change, spring flowers peeking through the mud and snow - I want time to stand still. I am not done grieving my mom. On the other hand, evenings spent alone with my thoughts (I know - don't go into that "neighborhood" alone) lead me down a horrendous path of anxiety and recent memories. Some of those memories are good. Even though my mom lived to be 97, she was clever and funny at least part of the time. At the time the EMTs were wheeling her out of the hospital and into the nursing home (October) she reminded them to be sure to hit all the doorways. This with two broken ribs. Some of the memories are not good, like her lack of appetite and anxiety about her care. I'm glad she got to be in her home for her death, and I thank my brother Paul for remaining steadfast in that concern.

Last week has been the hardest so far. The blessing that she got to go in her sleep carried me through the first week, although I had regrets that I had not done more to take her to see her newest grandchild, Anshu, who arrived in Chicago from Delhi, India on the 9th. Today I tackled the piles of papers on my kitchen table and kitchen desk and ran across her obituary. Now I just miss her. Despite all the difficulties that come with living in a family, having intense emotions, and seeing things differently, I would love to hear her criticize my cooking once more.

I have two brothers and they have been a tremendous comfort to me in the absence of Mom. I hope nothing ever comes between us. Unfortunately, I have no control over that. Time will tell whether we can come to enjoy each other again. Right now we are all wrapped up in the struggle to move on.

I tried to write down what I noticed in the days after her death, and was surprised at the number of things in my life that she influenced. First, I noticed a plaque I had made her that she didn't care for. She used it to hold a plant. I laughed about it. Then I began to make Swedish pancakes and realized that most of my favorite recipes will be reminding me of her. A few days later, a cut on my finger woke me with throbbing pain. As I soaked it in hot water, I realized that much of the medical knowledge I have came from Mom, who was a registered nurse. Every time I am poked with a needle, I remember how she could do it with no pain. My memories are random, as most grief is, and at those moments when I missed her the most, I have been saved by a phone call from a loving friend or neighbor. I'm glad I had an extra four months with her after the doctor at the nursing home told me to take her home and make her comfortable. I gave her a hug each time I said good-bye, and whispered in her ear that I loved her. Her hair was soft and curly, and her shoulder and scapulae bones stuck out. She never complained after she got to come home that one last time, even though her body was failing and her bones ached. She was just glad to be home, and now her spirit is home, too.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sad Times for Labor

It has been months since I have posted. My first blush of retirement found me doing all the things I didn't get to do when I was working: quilting, caring for my mom, reading, writing (mostly poetry) and getting my finances in order. Lately, I have been hearing a recurring theme. "Unions are bad, pensions are bad and we've got to make changes." Rick Hogan, on public radio, philosophized that things just couldn't be helped, the pensions had to change. My interpretation of that is a parable.

What if the rich man had gone out into the street to find workmen for his field. At the end of the day, the workmen came to get paid and he said, "Oh, sorry. I don't have enough to pay you. You'll have to take half."

Now I know that there are actually employers out there that do that, especially with vulnerable employees, but that doesn't make it right. I first boycotted Kmart and Sears when Kmart bought Sears and gutted the retirement program of the employees. The news media never provided information on how that was achieved. Wasn't there some sort of legally binding agreement in force? I can't believe all that money would be left to chance.

I have worked for most of my life, paying into my pension, and I seriously considered taking my money out of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) when I retired. Now I worry about whether I will have enough to get by in my old age. There was a time when a contract was a contract. Employers these days have found ways to manipulate even contracts. I recently heard about a school district that mandated a strike could only be held to negotiate on all 3 issues: wages, working conditions and health benefits. Then they proceeded to offer a three-year contract on health benefits but only a two-year contract on wages. That way, teachers would be unable to strike the third year. Come on, people, we are not dumb! We are teaching your kids! Would you want us to be that dumb?!

The economy of any country is dependent on the people having enough money to purchase things. Robert Reich has suggested that unless the distribution of wealth in this country is restored to former levels, we are probably looking at another recession. I worry that we are in a long, slow inflationary depression, where the same amount of money buys much less each year. In Post-WWI Germany, people carried money in wheelbarrows to buy bread. I have money that was worth a thousand Marks and was stamped to make it worth a million Marks. Everyone says that prices are going up, but if wages are going down, isn't that inflation? We don't have to keep paying more for everything. Read about the conquest of inflation in Brazil. If we don't earn enough to save a little for cars and appliances, this economy will grind to a halt.

Immigrants have always had it tough. It takes a generation to gain enough ground to get a good education and employment that will support a family in most cases. We're not giving away money. Let's just not forget the suffering of a generation of workers during the early Twentieth Century who fought and died for the right to work in a job that provided healthy working conditions, limited hours, and protection from the whims of owners who did not agree with their political ideas.