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Hands-on Learning

November 3, 2014

Logan snake

Logan’s eleventh grade science class is Ecology. This picture was taken during a great lesson on the reptile kingdom. He wasn’t daydreaming and staring out the window while a boa constrictor wrapped around him …and his belt loop.


Fish aren’t very good at climbing trees, but they’re great at swimming

October 12, 2014



This cartoon was inspired by the quote:

  • Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”
    • From the self-help book “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose” by Matthew Kelly, according to

So, what is your child’s genius?

Dyslexic Advantage

July 15, 2014 Wow. If you haven’t seen this website yet, check it out. Join the conversation.

The website is hosted by the doctors who co-authored The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, which I’ve just started reading. The opening pages are pretty exciting, for example:

“Look first at individuals with dyslexia when they’re reading or spelling or performing certain other language or learning tasks. From this perspective they appear to have a learning disorder; and with respect to these tasks, they clearly do. Now look at these individuals when they’re doing almost anything else – particularly the kinds of tasks they excel at and enjoy. From this new perspective they not only cease to look disabled, but they often appear remarkably skilled or even specially advantaged. … In this book we’ll argue for a radical revision of the concept of dyslexia: a “Copernican revolution” that places abilities rather than disabilities at the center of our ideas about what it means to be an individual with dyslexia.”

Sign me up for the revolution!

Why Don’t We Value Spatial Intelligence?

July 4, 2014

“We apparently tend to value people who can write, read, do math, and talk.  But if a student can’t do these things so well, we don’t recognize how brilliant some of them actually are.” Read more at Psychology Today

Spatial Creativity

July 3, 2014

“Nearly a century ago, a talent search conducted by Lewis Terman used the highly verbal Stanford-Binet [test] in an attempt to discover the brightest kids in California. This test identified a boy named Richard Nixon who would eventually become the U.S. president, but two others would miss the cut likely because the Stanford-Binet did not include a spatial test: William Shockley and Luis Alvarez, who would go on to become famous physicists and win the Nobel Prize.”

“Of those students in the top 1 percent of spatial talent, roughly 70 percent were not in the top 1 percent in either math or verbal talent—showing a large fraction of students having the high spatial but lower math/verbal profile.”


Dyslexia Research Update

June 25, 2014

“Several studies have suggested that intervention is most effective in kindergarten or first grade … However, you have to have several years of reading failure before you can get a diagnosis of dyslexia…” What’s the solution? Brain research. Read this article to learn more. 


The urge to declare

June 16, 2014

I was reading the current issue of WIRED magazine, which announces that virtual reality goggles have finally arrived, for real, seriously! In a sidebar to the article, the editors chide that “WIRED is uniquely positioned to herald the arrival of virtual reality. After all, we’ve been doing it for 20 years.” (scroll halfway down this page) They quote similar declarations from 1993, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2008. They thought they were right … every time.

It made me think about my October 2010 blog post, when I wrote “50skatekid worked!  The academic nosedive is a distant memory, and Logan is now holding steady at a comfortable cruising altitude!” I spoke too soon. Logan just finished tenth grade, and his grades were Cs and Ds. His teachers (including me, his English teacher) all did their best to motivate him, but he still doesn’t like to read and write. (No surprise. Who likes doing what you’re not good at?)

Watching the Ben Foss video posted below made me realize two things. First, unlike the technology for virtual reality, Logan is not an engineering problem to be solved. In his closing, (11:36) Ben reminds his fellow dyslexics in the audience that they are not broken. While living with dyslexia may be viewed as a problem to be solved, dyslexics don’t need fixing. That’s a critical distinction.

Second, I shouldn’t use Logan’s report card as a measurement of success. The goal I’m shooting for is not a better report card, per se. The goal is for Logan to look at himself in the mirror and say, “My brain is awesome. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m creative. I’m fun.” (2:05) He’s started to believe that. Stay tuned.