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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Gerbera Daisies Dramatic Tropism Display

Upon first glance, the pretty pink Gerbera flowers looked like regular daisies. The petals were a bright vibrant pink, and the center seed pod was a brilliant yellow with a lime hue. The leaves were very distinctive, green and pointed with a slight velvety feel.

I placed the flowerpot in the window sill next to my desk so we could admire each other’s beauty. About four days later, the plant did not like the view. Though the stems were standing straight and tall, the flowers were hanging their heads down and looked like sad and pitiful Mii characters on the Wii after losing. Then, I remembered the care card said it needed bright sunlight. I had wanted the flower near my desk and thought exposure to indirect daylight would be sufficient. Alas, I would have to appreciate the plant’s beauty from afar.

I moved them to kitchen window sill, which gets the brightest and most direct sunlight. In a few minutes, the plant was standing straight at attention. It was such a fast and dramatic change that we found it very amusing. The timing was also good because we were studying plant tropism, which is sensitivity to environmental changes that affects the direction of plant growth.

We learned about three kinds of tropism. Phototropism is sensitivity to light. Geotropism refers to changes in the soil that affect the direction of plant growth. Hydrotropism is environmental changes in water causing plants to grow or move. However, we were about to expand our understanding tropism.

I bounced down to the kitchen to discover my beautiful little plant looking a little depressed. Maybe, it did miss my exchange of carbon dioxide. I thought we had a perfectly symbiotic relationship. I gave it carbon dioxide and it purified my air with oxygen. No matter how dramatic the plant’s change in direction, I knew it could not be feeling rejected. Then, I remembered that the care instructions said it needed moist soil. The plant was acting so alive, that it almost felt like I was invading its privacy by reaching into the pot to feel the soil. It was not completely dry but could use a little more water. We watered the plant, got the soil most, and it was in the window receiving bright direct sunlight. We had satisfied hydrotropism, geotropism, and phototropism. Daisy, as my daughter called it, perked right up. We figured everything would be all good.

I researched Gerbera flowers because these seemed a little exotic. The first search said it was from the sunflower family. Now, the plant really had me confused. I looked up its scientific classification and discovered that Asteraceae class includes both daisies and sunflowers. Upon closer inspection, it really did look like a small sunflower with pink petals. We were experiencing a lot about tropism from a familiar plant.

The next morning, the plant was okay. It was a cloudy winter’s day. So, I left it on the window sill to get as much light as possible. By the end of the day, not only was the flower bent over like a dejected hunchback Mii, but also the stems and the leaves were wilted. Irrational thoughts crossed my mind like how can I raise children if I cannot keep from killing a plant. Maybe this thought was a little dramatic, but so was the plant. I felt the soil again. It was moist and not too damp. It had been a cloudy day, so I settled on the planted needed light. I placed it directly under my desk lamp. After about an hour, the stem and leaves stretched upwards towards the light. But, the flowers looked a little dull. I decided not to leave the plant in the dark that night. After all, I am a good parent, my plant was not ready to face the night without a night-light. So, I took the plant to the bathroom in my bedroom, turned on the light, and closed the door.

The next morning, the plant was vibrant. It was a bright sunny winter’s day that got up to the seventies, so I placed Daisy back in the kitchen window. The plant started to show signs of its old self.  I went to bed more relaxed leaving the flowerpot in the kitchen window.

I bounced down to the kitchen expecting to see my bright cheerful sunflower. The leaves and petals were drooping like over stretched pantyhose. Again, this is a plant. So, it could not be reacting from not being near me in my bathroom. But, I had changed the plant’s environment.

Most plants do not live in 24 hour light, so only light could not be the reason for the change. Then it hit me, the poor plant was suffering from phototropism. The sensitivity to light, or in this case, a lack of heat was caused by no light. It was seventy during the day, but at night sometimes the temperature dropped into the low forties or thirties. The plant was freezing in the window at night. In the mornings, it was communicating as alive as it could. The message was we needed to expand our understanding of tropisms to include thermotropism.

Why I Started Homeschooling My Children

There is a mystic around homeschooling. But, there is also a mystic surrounding the public education system. Many parents do not understand how to advocate for their children’s education.  Just remember the David Gregory misspeak trying to tell parents and the society at-large what they could do to help schools.  He is an accomplished news reporter, yet he is not clear how to approach education. Teachers are caught in the haze of federal standards and state standardized testing. Administrators are stuck in an industrialization education model as we approach the 21st century.  Graduates from our nation’s private schools are being out competed internationally.  So, homeschool families remind us that there are better ways to educate children.  These ways involve flexibility, creativity and differentiation.

I, like many parents, looked forward to the day my children could go to school.  My daughter and son were enthusiastic learners who were excited to start kindergarten.  But, each time I took them to school, I was dismayed.  My daughter literally cried in kindergarten from boredom.  My son was so mathematically gifted that his teacher could not begin to envision his abilities to challenge him.  These experiences threatened my children’s zeal for learning and put a ceiling on how much they would achieve.

I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could homeschool my children. When I had to start looking for a job in another city, I again tried to find a school. Because I homeschooled, I had insights that many parents do not have.   I knew how my children learned best.  Oral style lectures prevalent in most classrooms were not the best way to communicate new information to my daughter.   She comprehends quicker when information is visually modeled.  Then she processes concepts logically and sequentially, so her auditory responses could cause some teachers to miss how deft and fluent she was after the concept was introduced.  I also worried that my son would not be challenged to his capacity.  The hum you hear as a computer runs because there is so much going on in the background typified my son. He was truly a kinesthetic learner whose mind was like a dual process computer.  He was constantly in motion, calculating, synthesizing and the like. I fed him with active information. In the best interest of the children, I wanted them placed in classes where they would continue to thrive.  School staff dismissed my requests that my children be placed with advanced learners.  Therefore, I had them tested to verify their abilities.

While the test scores revealed a new set of educational challenges for the placing them in school, they confirmed the educational products that I had created and the way in which I used them was successful.  My first grade son scored in the 99.9% percentile in math and achieved a 7th grade reading comprehension ranking.  This prompted two public school administrators to suggest that I take him to a private school. They were not prepared to support the education needs of a child that advanced.

Administrators tried assuaging my concerns about my daughter receiving challenging work.  They said she was like their other “gifted and talented” students.  My third grade daughter had scored in the 98th percentile in math.  While she was spelling was on grade level and her reading was on a 5th grade level, she could formulate 12th grade sentence construction.

Knowing my daughter’s keen ability to identify patterns, I used it to teach her how to combine sentences.  Thus, when tasked, my daughter can put together complex sentences.  Instead of solely focusing on mechanics and spelling lists, I wanted my children to understand how sentence structure helps us communicate.  My children would encounter words in the context of reading and writing.  Then, I used mini word walls that I created to practice spelling sounds and parts of speech when they were relevant. Like many homeschool parents, I designed resources to help my children attain their highest achievement.

My educational products tap into children’s creativity and link concepts with skills development.  Because children learn through pretend play, I would often write educational plays and skits to make a concept relevant and engaging.  Although I had coordinated educational programs, the performance of my children from homeschooling has fortified me that integrated approaches work and learning styles do matter. The more homeschoolers show success, we should apply these lessons learned to the broader education discussion.  We have to create nimble infrastructures and provide teachers with the resources to address the variety of learners.  Attempting to have every child fit into standardization is hurting our collective educational achievement.

Learning Styles Are Not Preferences

I have never thought the term learning style was a good descriptive term, but as such we will go with it since universally when I say learning style people know what I mean.

In an effort to deemphasize the importance of learning styles, some people have started calling them preferences.  A preference by definition is something you like better.  But, when you have been divinely created to receive information best that is presented orally, visually or by figuring it out, this is not a preference.