05/08/15 5:25pm

Everyone is different. We say it all the time, but is it fully embraced by our schools, by us? When taught and nurtured according to their individuality, children are more engaged with the process of learning. Educational research has confirmed what many parents and teachers experience daily; each child is infinitely varied from the next and cookie cutter solutions do not meet their needs. Recognizing our inborn differences allows for children to develop their passions and strengths, while fostering challenges and aversions.

Jillian is an advanced 8 year old who doesn’t have to try very hard to get perfect marks at school, and tests above the average range on assessments like the ERB. She is often praised for her brightness and quickness. She is starting to avoid anything she thinks is too hard, because she fears the grown-ups might discover her secret. She believes, “If I can’t do this fast and easily, then I must be dumb,” keeping her from her own unique potential to learn and succeed.

Charlie is a 7 year old gregarious kid who excels at school, is athletic, and very popular. However, he recently retreated into himself, refusing to participate in activities he once loved, after his beloved grandmother passed away.

Annabeth is 6 and loves books, words, and games. She has great difficulty staying out of trouble. Lately, she’s been left off the birthday invitation lists of her classmates.

Henry is a 6 year old, well liked, quiet boy. He loves building intricate structures with blocks and avoids anything with letters or numbers.

All four students are typical and should be treated as such. We do not learn in synchronistic ways and sometimes life gets in the way. All can excel if the adults in their lives help to cultivate their challenges and support their gifts, while emphasizing the natural differences in all of us. We want schools to see our children for whom they are and respond to them as their lives unfold.

All children are learning machines and learning begins with the brain. Neuroscience tells us brains are unique and plastic. There are not two duplicate brains in the world, now or ever. While the basic structure of our brains are the same, at the molecular level differences can be detected that affect our ability to learn, even in identical twins. If all people are different from one another, it follows that instruction should be differentiated. Differentiated doesn’t mean easier, but rather creating high challenge and low risk. Additionally, the brain’s plasticity is happening all the time as we encounter the world. Our brains automatically rewire neural paths with each song sung, picture painted, soccer scuffle, or negative thought. Schools and parents can use this plasticity to their advantage by creating environments where they reinforce important skills and belief systems around learning. Days should be designed to develop proficiencies in reading, math and other content areas, but also and with equal emphasis on effort and perseverance strategies.

Here are some great resources:

  1. Making Classrooms Better: 50 Practical Applications of Mind, Brain, and Education Science by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinoza, Ph.D.
  2. Research Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning by Judy Willis, M.D.
  3. Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D.
  4. Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Frank
The Kirkman Academy


Elizabeth Frank is a member of the Dumbo and Vinegar Hill community. She is developing The Kirkman Academy, in Brooklyn, NY, where she will serve as the Head of School. She is founder of Abundant Learning, a Dumbo based learning center, offering tutoring and enriching classes taught by experts. She also serves as the President of The Vinegar Hill Community Garden.

05/07/15 12:54pm

A recent post here on DumboNYC offered an inside look at 60 Water — the new rental building in the heart of Dumbo — including photographs of the views from the apartments’ floor-to-ceiling windows and new renderings of its stunning rooftop garden.

One of the main selling points of living in 60 Water, however, is its prime Dumbo location. Visitors and residents alike will find treasures in all directions, and among the most notable of these is Brooklyn Bridge Park, an expansive 85-acre waterfront oasis that offers an incredible array of activities, entertainment, and green spaces that is practically in 60 Water’s back yard.

 

brooklyn-bridge-parkBrooklyn Bridge Park | Chang via Foursquare

Sponsored By 60 Water.

60 Water, in the heart of Dumbo, offers NYC's best views from its studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom apartments.

Created By BlankSlate

Brooklyn Bridge Park covers the 1.3 mile stretch from Atlantic Avenue in the south to Jay Street in the north. Back in the 17th century, the area served as the base for the ferries that provided access and trade to the community, and warehouses and stores quickly sprang up in the industrial boom that followed. Since the 1950s, however, freight traffic to the Brooklyn waterfront dwindled, and the piers and warehouses were abandoned for years.

In 1985, the idea for the park was born, and with a lot of nurturing and fundraising and support its construction started in 2008. Today it is a thriving and vibrant destination filled with lawns and sports fields, playgrounds and music venues, concessionaires and events, and new plans and projects in the works all the time.

With so much to offer and explore, the park is a world unto itself. Here are some of its not-to-miss highlights. (more…)

05/01/15 6:09am

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If you’ve been following the elementary school overcrowding situation at the local P.S. 8 school in Brooklyn Heights (where Dumbo residents are also zoned), you know that many parents of kindergarden classes are frustrated and worried that their children are wait listed. The Department of Education cut a full kindergarten class from P.S. 8 to alleviate the overcrowding for the first time in its history.

The school currently has six kindergarten classes with space for 150 students, will eliminate 25 seats in the 2015-16 school year — and there are currently 207 applications for kindergarten, according to parents and members of the PTA.

With the growing number of residents in the area, the schools have reached capacity and parents have asked local politicians and school administration to address longer term solutions in a Change.org petition.

Follow more news about P.S. 8 overcrowding:
DOE Cuts 25 Kindergarten Seats at Brooklyn Heights School

Here’s Why Your Brooklyn Heights 5 Year Old Might Be Turned Away From P.S. 8 This Fall, Brooklynheightsblog

Change.org petition

04/28/15 11:59am

P.S. Bookshop, a neighborhood bookstore in Dumbo Brooklyn that buys and sells used and rare books, is at risk of going out of business. The shop was presented by its landlord with a $40,000 bill of unpaid real estate tax dating back to 2010, according to. P.S. Bookshop’s crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo.com. Speaking to Yuval Gans, owner of the store, it is clear he has invested his own funds and passion into the store and serving the community. While he was diligent to inquire about the tax payments after beginning his lease in May 2010, he was not made aware that the tax was accruing. While it sounds like the possible closing of an independent book seller to be another cliché of gentrification, Mr. Gans knows many families and patrons in the area, and hopes to serve the community for many years to come.

“I’ve invested too much hard work making P.S. the bookshop it is, I must fight for its survival.” Mr. Gans’ popular Story Time has been introducing the joy of books to neighborhood kids for the past nine years. “My bookshop’s mission is to educate, inspire and stimulate minds, as well as provide a much needed outlet for collectors and book lovers. I hope that in pursuing these goals I have acquired enough support for my cause. Unfortunately,” he adds, “paying the tax arrears merely begs the question of the bookshop’s future in Dumbo’s real estate tax market.”

In an attempt to answer this question Mr. Gans got in touch with the owner of one of the city’s best known bakeries who is very interested in setting up a coffee shop at the bookshop, hoping to open this spring. The solution could provide a perfect key for securing P.S Bookshop’s future. Unfortunately, the shop’s landlord denied Mr. Gans’ request to pursue this plan. The reason quoted is the competition that the proposed coffee shop may present to other of the landlord’s current tenants.

To follow and to learn how you can help save P.S. Bookshop visit:
psbookshop.info

P.S. Bookshop (psbookshopnyc.com)
76 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Tel: 718-222-3340