Posts by thewaywardshepherd

Combating the Summer Slide… Waldorf Style

»Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Just For Fun, Research | 0 comments

Tina Phillips

Tina Phillips

You’ve joined your library’s reading challenge and bought a workbook for math facts, but here are some Waldorf-inspired ways to help your children get the most out of summer and stay sharp.

  • Take a Hike

Not only is hiking fun for the whole family, but according to this University of Michigan study, it boosts cognitive performance.

  • Work in a Garden

Did you know?  Sage College Scientists found that “ingesting or breathing in a common soil bacterium found in nature reduces anxiety and improves learning.”  Don’t have a garden? Work in ours! Find Work Dates HERE.

  • Send Them Outside

The National Wildlife Federation has filled a PDF with all the latest research about the benefits of unstructured outdoor play, proving that “nature may indeed be the best kind of nurture…” 

  • Let Them Get Bored

As this BBC news article states right in the title: Children should be allowed to get bored.  Dr. Teresa Belton said, “Cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.”That means they don’t have to be entertained while you need to work.  This article from Parenting Science explores over a decade of studies about the benefits of unstructured play time. The author is careful to note that free play does not mean physical education classes or sports or summer camps. Free play is unstructured play time, which has been proven to help math skills, language development, and creative problem solving.

  • Read a Fairy Tale

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  ― Albert EinsteinThis fabulous article on ImaginationSoup.net perfectly encapsulates the importance of reading fairy tales to children.

So, put away the flashcards and go enjoy a smart summer!

 

 

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Why Waldorf Schools Teach Handwriting

»Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Research | 0 comments

by Rocky Lewis

cursiveCursive writing: Outdated mode of communication, or the latest victim of standardized testing? Advocates of cutting cursive from the curriculum say it’s time-consuming to teach and no longer useful in a keyboard world. Advocates of keeping cursive in the classroom, like Waldorf Educators, say it is more than a means to a writing ends — it’s a brain builder, a historical research tool, and a note-taking skill set.

In defense of the idea that handwriting is outdated, a 2012 survey of handwriting teachers, conducted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks, found that only 37% of the handwriting teachers themselves wrote in cursive, although 55% had created a hybrid method of writing. (1)

Steve Graham, Education Professor at Arizona State University says arguments for teaching handwriting are “based in nostalgia and not research.” But a handful of states disagree and have decided to make it mandatory again, including California, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. (2)(3)

Their reason? A growing body of research in the neurosciences showing that writing in by hand activates brain areas involved in language and working memory.

 

Indiana University -

Children were asked to interact with an fMRI. The kids were shown letters before and after receiving different letter-learning instruction including print (manuscript) and cursive. Writing by hand, in either print or cursive, resulted in “recruitment of letter specific neural processing regions seen in the literate adult.” And surprisingly, these results happened after a very short period of writing instruction. (4)

Researcher and Indiana University neuroscientist, Karin Harman James, says,

“These kinds of findings point to there being something really important about printing and potentially also about cursive.” (5)

 

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience -

A French study from 2008, published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, evaluated “the ability of adults to discriminate new characters from their mirror images after being taught how to produce the characters either by traditional pen-and-paper writing or with a computer keyboard.” The researchers found that those who wrote by hand could recognize the mirrored characters for several weeks, unlike the adults who used a keyboard. (6) Handwriting advocates say this suggests a connection between writing, memory, and visual learning.

 

University of Washington -

Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, has spent her 30-year career studying cognitive neuroscience, specifically related to learning reading, writing, and math in children with and without disabilities. (7)

She was part of a study published in The Journal of Educational Psychology that found elementary students could not only write more quickly using cursive vs. the keyboard, but also wrote more complete sentences. (8)

Another study Berninger was involved with shows handwriting or “sequential finger movements” activate brain regions involved in thinking, language, and working memory, which are not comparable to brain activity recorded when typing. (9)

And in her article Strengthening the Mind’s Eye, A Case for Continued Handwriting Instruction in the 21st Century, published by The National Association of Elementary School Principals, she cites several additional studies that connect learning how to write by hand as a “necessary motor exercise … [to] develop eye-hand coordination motor skills (Saperstein Associates 2012; James and Gauthier 2006; James 2012; Berninger 2012).” (10)

 

Teachers College -

Stephen Peverly, Professor of Psychology and Education and Chair of the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College, has studied transcription speed (how fast students can write or type) and its effect on comprehension.

He says, “For kids in the first few years of school, how fast they write is one of the best predictors of the quality of essays they write in school.”

As earlier studies have noted, handwriting is faster for young children. But what if they could learn to type fast? Peverly plans to address this question in his next study — measuring results of speed and comprehension in note taking via handwriting vs. computer.

He says. “Good note-taking isn’t simply about trying to take down all the information. It’s also a filtering process, a way of zeroing in on what’s most important.” (11)

It would seem the handwriting is on the wall, so to speak. More and more research is drawing a connection between writing by hand and better learning.  One can conclude that jumping too quickly to keyboarding can hinder deeper connections formed in the brain. However, the differentiation between the benefits of teaching manuscript (print) versus cursive, has not yet been solidly established by the current research.

 

Sources:

(1) http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/04/30/should-schools-require-children-to-learn-cursive/handwriting-matters-cursive-doesnt

(2)http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/schools-still-insist-lessons-elegant-cursive/

(3) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/long-held-tradition-cursive-handwriting-slowly-dying-america/

(4)http://www.iub.edu/~canlab/Publications_files/Kersey%20%26%20James%20%282013%29.pdf

(5) http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news-archive/20977.html

(6)http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/jocn.2008.20504#.U6V3vpRX-uY

(7)https://education.uw.edu/people/faculty/vwb

(8)http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/edu/89/1/170/

(9) http://nms.org/Blog/TabId/58/PostId/179/pencils-and-brainwaves-an-analysis-on-handwriting-and-memory.aspx

(10)http://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/MJ12%20Berninger.pdf

(11)http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news.htm?articleId=8300

 

Additional Sources:

Wall Street Journal

Edutopia

LA Times

Handwriting Summit

 

 

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Community Garden Donation

»Posted by on Jun 15, 2014 in School News | 0 comments

BGardenSpring Garden recently donated several types of vegetable and herb plants to the Barberton Community Garden. The garden serves approximately 100 families every year with several low income and senior gardeners. The garden is open to both residents and nonresidents of Barberton and costs no more than $20 a plot.Bgarden2

Barberton Community Garden Coordinator, Barb Gray, was thankful for our school’s donation.

“I wanted to thank you again for your generous donation of plants. Gardeners have already started to use them.”

She also featured a thank you and link to to Spring Garden HERE.  We were so happy to help!

 

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UA Athletes Give Back at Spring Garden

»Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Curriculum, School News | 0 comments

MulchUASGWSIn the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2014, University of Akron Student Athletes participated in the freshman leadership program and chose to work with Spring Garden Waldorf School students. Athletes came to our school in two groups. In fall, the freshman spread 50 yards of new mulch on our playground. This was a big, difficult job, and mulching our play area is essential for the safety of our children. We are so grateful the students were willing to come do such hard work.

In the spring, the freshman athletes talked to our Grade Five class about what it means to be a college athlete. The college students spoke about the importance of sleep, nutrition, and good study habits, and the necessity for hours and hours of practice that might seem mundane, but is essential for competition. They also spoke to the importance of resilience — experiencing failure and getting up to try again. This message resonated with our fifth graders who, at the time of the discussion, were training for a multi-school Pentathlon competition.

At the end of their involvement, the UA students decided to donate $200 to SGWS. We were so moved and honored by this kind gesture after all they had already bestowed on our school. A heartfelt thanks to The University of Akron and their generous student athletes.

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The Summer Garden – A Note from Mr. Grimes

»Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in School News | 0 comments

10393828_10152054411066160_3005938062108704466_n (2)A wonderful opportunity in building a summer rhythm for your family exists outside in your home garden or here in the garden at SGWS.  I invite any individuals and families to join me throughout the summer in simple tasks that care for our earth and our plants.  I am planning the garden for a heavy fall harvest this year, planting many things a bit later than conventional.  I will provide a schedule for each month for specific activities.

  • Friday, June 13: Peppers, potatoes, potatoes, potatoes, and some cabbage. 10 am to 1 pm.
  • Monday, June 16: Squashes and Melons. 9:30 am to 12 pm
  • Tuesday, June 17: Squashes, Melons, Herbs. 10 am to 1 pm.
  • Friday, June 20, Herbs, Lettuces, Broccoli, Carrots and Kale for the Welcome Back Dinner and September Hot Lunch. 10 am to 1 pm.
  • Monday, June 23:  Lettuces, Chard, Collards and Beets. 9:30 am to  12 pm
  • June 24 through June 29:  If there is no rain, we will need someone to turn off and on the irrigation for this time.
  • Monday, June 30: Lettuces, and assorted Root Vegetables. 9:30 am to 12 pm

Feel free to contact me at garden@sgws.org, to express your interest, or simply show up.  I do not maintain an on-the-dot schedule during the summer but I rarely operate more than 15 minutes off of schedule.  I hope everyone has a wonderful summer and I hope to see you in our garden.

Thank you,
Mr Grimes

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