Author Archive

Could parents make more quality time with kids?

May 2, 2007

Riding home on I-95 last weekend, I noticed the glow of a DVD in the SUV to our right. Three small heads appeared to be watching a movie and it made me wonder whether the family could be doing more with their time in the car. I must caveat that without children of my own, I haven’t yet needed the power of TV to calm the natives. Still, I couldn’t help but think that if they were listening to a book, like my husband and I were, they’d be doing something together and the children could be learning more. We always chat about the books we hear when we finish or when we stop for a bit; the family could do the same and expose kids not only to more stories, but how to think about them. As a teacher, I see the impact on children made by time spent and experiences shared with their parents. This time is so hard to find, but maybe there are opportunities like this. Children emulate their parents and the behaviors and attitudes that parents model affect children profoundly. If parents are lifelong learners, children will likely follow their lead.

My students seem more engaged in audio

March 21, 2007

Through a grant, I was able to get a set of mp3 players and my middle school science students listen to and discuss audio content several times in my class. In addition, I show several videos throughout the year. I have been amazed that, although my kids seem to agree that the film and audio media I select is engaging, accessible and relevant to the class, the kids seem to be more actively engaged when they are asked to listen than when they are asked to watch. As long as I keep the audio segments short enough, kids generally sit upright, nod, take notes and work at listening. In contrast, they seem more passive when they are watching video. A similar difference is evident in their notes. I create note-taking guides for both video and audio, and kids tend to infer and write more when we listen than when we watch. I am curious if other people notice the same and, if so, why do you think that might be the case?

We need to TEACH them to listen…

March 16, 2007

I was just doing some research for graduate school and found an article in the September, 2002 issue of Parenting Magazine. The article focused on the importance of listening and made the point that, “Throughout life, listening is the communication skill most used—to gather information, to show others that we care, to do our work. But it’s also the one that’s least taught” (Parenting, v.6 no.7). As a teacher, I give directions, new information, and feedback to kids verbally more than by any other means. And yet, the only way I teach listening is by reading aloud to kids. This makes me wonder, would listening to audio books and audio content help kids further develop these critical listening skills? Should I be encouraging my kids/their parents to regulalry practice with audio books?