Teaching Naked

The title of this blog caught your eye, did it not? I am sure that was part of the reasoning behind the book title by Jose’ Bowen. No, it is not pornography though it has raised an eyebrow or two when I have mentioned it at various meetings of university faculty or administrators. The full title of Bowen’s book is Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. This easy-to-read book has some very thoughtful points to make and is worth taking the time to read, especially if you are involved in program redesign.

No, it is not anti-technology. In fact, Bowen gives a number of very good examples of how to use technology OUTSIDE of class to scaffold student learning. What it does do is promote active and collaborative person-to-person learning INSIDE the classroom. He makes a strong point that those of us still teaching on brick-and-mortar campuses need to make coming to class meaningful to students if we are not to lose them to the online alternatives.

WIU recently built a new Quad Cities campus. I was on the committee that made decisions about what would go in the buildings (furniture, signage, technology, etc.) If I had read this book BEFORE doing this, I would have had some helpful suggestions to make. For instance: instead of equipping each classroom with a computer, give each faculty member a laptop that he/she can take to the classroom, if needed. Bowen is not only trying to save money on technology with this idea but also encourage faculty to rely less on PowerPoints (passive education) and become more amenable to having students actively working on projects in class where instructor assistance is readily available.

I know we are all busy and adding more reading to our list can be off-putting. However, consider this book when next you have time to read something. It may not be a “beach book” but it presents its case in a very readable fashion and gets the mind thinking about possibilities. And, to top all that off, think about the expressions on your fellow colleagues’ faces when you tell them you have been reading about teaching naked!


Early Math Matters Free Online Class

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce the February 8th launch of the Math at Home Professional Development Series: EARLY MATH MATTERS. The series consist of a FREE ONLINE 8-course curriculum developed especially for caregivers of children from birth to age 5.
Each course provides one hour of Illinois Gateways Registry Approved Training. The courses are housed in the Illinois Gateways I-Learning site. Please click below to go to our Math at Home site where you can learn more.
Please spread the word!!!!!
Regards, Kathy Sheridan
P.S. We are working to ensure the courses also provide Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for those that require them.
Early Math Matters_Math At Home

Nature and Young Children (Guest blogger Elizabeth Sherwood)

ChildrenInNatureFor the past several years, I have taught a graduate class on Nature and the Young Child. It is designed to give teachers, informal educators, family members, and other interested adults interesting ways to help children spend time outdoors, learn about their immediate environment, and discover how interesting nature can be regardless of where they are. A sizeable body of research from a variety of disciplines indicates that time spent in nature supports the health and well-being of children. While I struggle with the term “nature-deficit disorder” coined by Richard Louv – it makes it sound like something is wrong with children instead of society – there is little doubt that the dramatic decrease in time children spend outdoors that has occurred over the last 50 years is having a negative impact on the lives of children.

As a result, we are adding content about the importance of children spending time in nature to a new course for undergraduates titled Inquiry, Investigation, and Play. I am sure many of you already include information on this topic in your classes. Below you will find some of the resources I’ve found to be useful. I hope you will share any others you have on the topic.

Here they are in no particular order:

The Natural Learning Initiative (North Carolina State University) – www.naturalearning.org – provides reports of research funded by NSF and others on topics ranging from preventing obesity to activity levels of children; the “Green Desk” includes information for early childhood educators on designing outdoors spaces, gardening with young children, managing children outdoors, and more.

Children and Nature Network (founded by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder and others) – www.childrenandnature.org – contains much of the most up-to-date research on the impact of children little time in nature, as well as strategies for change.

Did you know there have been a number of studies that indicate that lack of time in daylight may be the cause of the rise in myopia in children? Read here for an overview of the issue: http://www.nature.com/news/the-myopia-boom-1.17120

The Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – http://lhhl.illinois.edu/index.htm – study the connection between greenery and human health; studies show that contact with green space improves ADHD symptoms, depression, and more.

North American Association for Environmental Education has produced Guidelines for Excellence in Early Childhood Environmental Education. You can purchase a copy or download them from the link https://naaee.org/eepro/publication/early-childhood-environmental-education-programs-guidelines-excellence.

Nature Explorehttp://natureexplore.org/ – affiliated with the Arbor Day Foundation; provides workshops, resources, and materials for outdoor spaces; Dimensions Foundation – www.dimensionsfoundation.org – partners with Nature Explore and conducts ongoing research on children and nature.