Parent/Educator Resources
Parent/Educator Resources
Videos

Name of Video: Arrendondo, Pearl: My Story, from Gangland Daughter to Star Teacher. (2013: 8:04 min.)

URLhttp://goo.gl/u3AtXk

Why should I watch this video? If you have a child who is growing up in a tough environment which is riddled with gangs and are worried your child will fall victim to the roughness in the neighborhood, you need to watch this video. Pearl is the daughter of a former gang leader. Pearl also graduated from high school, went to college, and returned to teach in the very middle school she attended as a kid. The primary message Pearl delivers is to not let our kids be victims of the circumstances in which they find themselves in and to create schools which are safe for our kids.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne: The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain. (2012: 14:26 min.)

URL: https://goo.gl/Hve76m

Why should I watch this video? If you are interested in getting a general idea of how the adolescent brain works, this video is a decent place to start. As a plus, Blakemore focuses exclusively on the teen brain, which is helpful because there are things occurring in the adolescent brain which are very different than what occurs at other times in the lifecycle of a human being. This is a slightly intellectual approach to the adolescent brain but don’t worry about that too much, because you will be able to understand the gist of what Blakemore talks about. After viewing this video you will have a much better understanding of why your middle school child seems to have so many problems understanding and interpreting what is going on around them

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Cain, Susan: The Power of Introverts. (2012: 19 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/8F8gXe

Why should I watch this video? If you have a middle school child who is an introvert and you are worried about their introversion and how it is affecting their social life and how it might affect their long-term future, you need to watch this video. The most important thing you will learn is that there is nothing wrong with your child being introverted, because anywhere from one-third to one-half of the population are introverts. You will also be comforted by research which says there is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best idea. (So much for charismatic leadership.) The video doesn’t speak glowingly on how schools treat introverts, because most schools are set-up by extroverts and run by extroverts, but it does make a solid case for rethinking the amount of group work schools have their students participate in and to advocate for the benefits of solitary contemplation.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: DeWitt, Tyler: Hey Science Teachers—Make it Fun! (2012: 14 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/W8deC8

Why should I watch this video? DeWitt has made a name for himself with his instructional science videos that he places on YouTube. The best part of his YouTube videos is that each one tells a story, which is a far cry from the dull, drab way things are usually presented in science textbooks. In this video, DeWitt talks about the importance of making science interesting so that students don’t get turned off by the boring and difficult wording in science textbooks. He stresses the importance of the story in capturing the interest of kids and making difficult concepts “come alive.” He rails against the “culture of seriousness” and the “tyranny of precision,” mostly by institutions at the top which continue to perpetuate problems by making science difficult to understand and boring. And you know what? He’s right.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Duckworth, Angela Lee: The Key to Success? Grit (2013: 6:13 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/kAtMIs

Why should I watch this video? This video will tell you the importance of your child having “grit,” or the belief that the ability to learn is not a fixed entity. Kids who have “grit” finish their homework and study hard, day after day, even though their friends may be frolicking and playing video games, hour after hour. Kids who have grit don’t give up easily. The importance of your child having “grit” is huge. It will help them in school today and in their job and life tomorrow. Angela didn’t deliver this speech to a group of parents, but the message is just as vital to parents as is it to the educators she delivered it to.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Grandin, Temple: The World needs all Kinds of Minds. (2010: 20 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/KIRW5E

Why should I watch this video? Temple Grandin, who also happens to have autism, is one of the most famous speakers on the lecture. In this video she argues for us to recognize that not all kids will fit into the same learning box and that some kids are visual thinkers or pattern thinkers or verbal thinkers. Using herself as an example, she says she thinks bottom-up and then puts the pieces of the puzzle together. (Note: This is different than starting from the abstract and then putting the pieces together.) In the video, Grandin advocates for teachers who show interesting things to kids and also argues that mentors are essential. This is an especially useful video for parents who have a child with autism and are struggling to figure out a way to educate them. This is also a useful video for teachers because kids like Temple Grandin are sitting in their in your classroom.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Jackson, Tony: Matching Design to Outcomes: Teaching Global Competencies in a Changing World. (2010: 15:30 min.)

URL: https://goo.gl/ILu0uH

Why should I watch this video? This is a video of the vice president of the Asia Society—an organization dedicated to improving the ties between Asia and the United States—talking about the importance of redesigning education to meet the needs of the new global order. Much of what he talks about are trends we already know—primarily how the world is changing rapidly and the field of education needs to keep up—but it’s good to have a reminder every now and then. Jackson focuses on four primary areas in his speech—the importance of kids being able to investigate the world, kids being able to recognize the perspective of people and cultures around the world, kids being able to communicate ideas across wide areas of the globe, and taking action and feeling a player in the world. An important question to ask is whether or not your local middle school is paying attention to the changes in the world economy and forces of globalization or whether they continue to be stuck in a curriculum which was developed in the 1960’s.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Johnson, Steve: Where Good Ideas Come From. (2010: 18:17 min.)

URL: https://goo.gl/Zh2N4k

Why should I watch this video? This is an excellent video which should have you thinking about how you can help your child discover the “Eureka!” moments in idea creation. Here, Steve debunks the myth that great ideas are flashes of insight or brilliance. Instead, they are really more like slow hunches which are developed over time in chaotic work environments in conjunction with networks of other people. (Read that last sentence again and slower to fully appreciate the magnitude of Steve’s lecture.) Everything, Steve says, supports the notion that you should allow your middle school child lots of freedom in exploring insane ideas and plans with their buddies, including everything from figuring out how to launch a rocket 500 feet into the air, to writing the script for a new play, and to wallowing through the local swamp to collect water samples.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Kay, Sarah: If I Should Have a Daughter… (2011: 18:25 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/0nMAbU

Why should I watch this video? This is an intellectual and poetic look at daughters and the importance of girls following their dreams. If you want to raise a middle school daughter who is confident and proud, Kay will help you venture down the path. (Sarah often references her own experiences as a fourteen-year-old). I also would not be hesitant about showing this video to your daughter. If you are a teacher, neither would I hesitate to show this video to your class. The reasons why you might show this to your class are endless. Even though the speaker talks about her own journey through poetry, this speech is really not about poetry but more about kids (girls) finding their own voice in life.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Koyczan, Shane: To this Day…for the bullied and beautiful. (2013: 12 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/byJiTA

Why should I watch this video? This is a video of a speech Koyczan delivered on the topic of bullying and being resilient from the effects of being bullied. The video contains lots of metaphorical references so don’t be surprised if all of the bullying examples aren’t explicit and literal. You may have to watch the video several times to fully appreciate the brilliance of the speech, especially when Koyczan begins his now-famous “To this Day” poem. If you have a child who feels as though they “don’t fit in,” I wouldn’t be afraid to show them this video. It may help. Koyczan spreads a wide arc in this video, not only discussing kids who bully, but also adults who try to redirect the dreams of kids into something “more acceptable.” My favorite quote from the video is, “They [the adults] asked me what I wanted to be and then told me what not to be.” (Also—please note there is a swear word in this video.)

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Lotto, Beau and Amy O’Toole: Science is for Everyone, Kids Included. (2012: 15:25 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/Fk2a63

Why should I watch this video? This video is an example of what is possible when the exploration of science is viewed through the lens of play. The main theme of this video is that good scientists play and that we learn much by asking simple questions, which often end up being extremely important questions. The speaker brings his twelve-year-old daughter onto the stage to effectively drive his point home. This video is a testament as to what is possible for even young middle school kids to accomplish in the world of science.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: McFerrin, Bobby: Bobby McFerrin plays…the audience. (2009: 3 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/5QeB3V

Why you should watch this video: This is a short but fun video which demonstrates the international appeal of music. Bobby uses the audience to help him on the pentatonic scale—without using any musical instruments. The power of the video speaks to the universal language of music and how quickly audiences can understand and relate to music. This is a good example of why your middle school child should be learning or studying music because they will be using it their entire life, in ways they possibly can’t imagine.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Meyer, Dan: Math Class Needs a Makeover. (2010: 11:39 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/xeoCN1

Why should I watch this video? This is a great video to help you get some background information on the kind of math teach you want for your child. (Although Dan Meyer is a high school math teacher, everything he says is applicable to middle school kids and their teachers.) Dan believes there are five symptoms that occur in students when math is being taught incorrectly in the classroom. The five symptoms are—lack of initiative, lack of perseverance, lack of retention, an aversion to word problems, and eagerness for formulas. His solution to these symptoms is to change how math is taught by having teachers do these five things—use multimedia, encourage the students to use their tuition, ask the shortest questions they can, let the students build the problem, and for teachers to be less helpful. If this doesn’t make sense, watch the video and you’ll understand what he is talking about. It is a very unique and different approach to the teaching of mathematics.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Mitra, Sugata: Build a School in the Cloud. (2013: 23 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/fvz1nV

Why should I watch this video? Mitra has become famous for his “hole-in-the-wall” computer idea that he began in India, in which he made computers available to poor children, by placing them in cut-out holes so the kids could use them. Advocates of Montessori education will love this video because Mitra’s basic point is that giving poor kids access to a computer will cause them to figure out how things work and learn, even without the necessity of desks, schools, and teachers. He believes that access and encouragement are the keys because he uses an example of kids who are raised in poverty, which are left alone with a computer for nine months and no teacher, gained the skills equivalent to that of an office secretary. The video is a great example of where schooling and learning may be heading in the near future because he raises the question of whether we will need schools at all and whether or not knowing certain things is obsolete. The big question to me is whether or not the majority of western civilization raised children—left to their own devices—will have the discipline to do as Mitra imagines, rather than turning technology into bastions of entertainment and consumerism.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Ntaiya, Nakenya: A girl who demanded school. (2012: 15 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/tsDK2A

Why should I watch this video? This is an inspiring video about what one individual can do to improve the lives of girls in Africa and the importance of individual rights. In order to get an education and obtain agreement from her father to allow her to continue going to school, Ntaiya agreed to go through the Maasai rite of female circumcision when she was in the eighth grade. She participated in the ritual and then continued with her schooling, living in a male-dominated culture in which wife-beating was an assumed practice and the mothers of girls who were raped were blamed for the event. Ntaiya eventually came to America and learned that women have rights and the Maasai rite of female circumcision is actually illegal in Kenya. She returned to her homeland and started a school for girls, which currently enrolls 125 students, who she vows will not be beaten and mutilated. Consider showing this video to your older middle school child, but only with lots of advance discussion about what they will see. After watching this video, your child will probably be more reflective and less “the world revolves around me.” And that will be a good thing.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Pausch, Randy: The Last Lecture: Following your Childhood Dreams. (2007: 76:27 min.)

URL: https://goo.gl/HY9df

Why should I watch this video? This is a famous lecture given by Randy Pausch, shortly before he died of liver cancer. The theme which runs through this video is that of following your childhood dreams and surrounding yourself with people who have the same interests and passion for discovery as you do. It’s an amazing lecture, especially since Randy was so close to death at the time of the filming. The video literally is his siren call to tell us everything important we need to know about life before it is too late. The video is a bit on long side but Randy is a great presenter and the time seems to fly by. A sobering video to watch because it makes us think of what we might say if we only had a few months to live and whether we would have anything to say worth listening to. Randy clearly is telling you to let your child follow their passions and that your job is to help them do so.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Pierson, Rita: Every Kid Needs a Champion. (2013: 7:48 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/OjUB7v

Why should I watch this video? This is a really good video which was delivered to a group of educators. Here, Rita talks about the importance of creating relationships with kids, and how no significant learning occurs without significant relationships. Her major premise is that kids don’t learn from people they don’t like. Though Rita recently passed away, her message still continues to resonate within the educational community. As a middle school parent, you should be looking for and actively seek out teachers who are outstanding in creating relationships with the kids under their charge. Why? Because the reality is that your child will learn more from them and work harder in their classrooms than from the unfriendly teachers who aren’t very good communicating with the kids in their classroom.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Resnik, Mitchel: Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age. (2014: 11:53 min.)

URL: https://goo.gl/L95rQ7

Why should I watch this video? This is an intellectual response to the question of: What direction is learning in the digital age heading? Not everyone will enjoy watching this video, because Resnik is hardly entertaining and fascinating to watch—why do we have to be entertained all the time?—but the content of his talk is absolutely accurate. Much of what he talks about is general in nature, but if you haven’t listened to someone discuss the nature of technology and what is possible right now, and where the future of schooling is heading, you will learn much by watching this video.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Robinson, Sir Ken: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley. (2013: 19:11 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/jHCBMC

Why should I watch this video? This is a general video which applies to your child and the quality of education they are receiving (or not) at their local school, whether it be private or public. Sir Kenneth Robinson focuses on the three principles under which all humans thrive and flourish. They are: one, humans are naturally different and diverse; two, humans have a natural curiosity; and three, life is inherently a creative process. All three of these principles he believes are difficult to achieve under the current culture of education, with its command and control structure and obsession with standardization. This is a fun video to watch because it is fundamentally about the broad educational debate occurring throughout America. How does this apply to you and your child? Look for examples within your own child’s school for evidence of individualized teaching and learning, a professionalized and exalted teaching staff, and a school which isn’t run by district center under a command and control model of leadership.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Robinson, Sir Ken: Schools Kill Creativity. (2006: 20 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/CeUi5h

Why should I watch this video? This is a very famous video by Ken Robinson, given in 2006, in which he talks about how schools kill creativity by not recognizing the concept of multiple intelligences and multiple ways of learning. It’s a funny and entertaining video, mostly because of Ken’s remarkable wit and dry humor. In the video, Ken talks in generalities about education, but almost everything he says also applies to middle school kids and how they are taught. Hopefully, your child will have teachers who approach learning the way Ken Robinson advocates. There is a follow-up video that Ken made in 2012, which is worthy of additional exploration. It’s not as funny, but the concepts he talks about are worthwhile.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Rosling, Hans: Stats that Reshape your Worldview (2006: 20 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/lwb3qm

Why should I watch this video? The data in this video are slightly out of date but if you want to see how data can be vividly presented, you need to watch this clip. Ask yourself this question: When it is time for your child to make a presentation in class, why should your middle school child stop with simple bar graphs and pie charts? This video is a good example of what is possible. Understanding and presenting data doesn’t have to belong to the realm of boring. A second reason you should watch this video will be to jolt you into the realization the world is changing rapidly and that your preconceived notions of what is occurring in other parts of the world—and how this may impact your child, including the skills they will need to navigate in the new world—are probably wrong. It is no longer a case of western civilization leading the world and the rest of the world following in its footsteps. This is also why your child should learn a second language and maybe a third.

Rating: Five Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Schleicher, Andreas: Use data to build better schools. (2013: 20 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/QbZpwx

Why should I watch this video? If you are a member of the school board or influential in creating policy for your state education organization, or if you enjoy following international trends in education, then you need to watch this video. Here, Schleicher discusses results from the PISA test—a test given all over the world, which is often used to compare one nation’s educational results with another. In short, Schleicher says that high performing countries personalize their learning, have clear standards, align their policies, and focus intensely on the quality of teachers and give them the tools and time to collaborate with one another. (Note: not everyone agrees with the PISA test as being an accurate indicator of educational performance.) If you enjoy intellectual debates, read the comments from viewers about the video and you’ll get an indication of how polarizing this issue can be for some individuals. It’s almost worth the price of admission.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Simons, Dan and Christopher Chabris: Selective Attention Test. (2010: 1:22 min.)

URL: https://goo.gl/VCbGK

Why should I watch this video? This is a very famous short video on perception and attention. I won’t tell you anything about it, other than to tell you to watch the video. The chances will be very high your middle school child hasn’t seen this video, so you can show it to them and have them tell you what they see. There is a serious message here, but in case you haven’t seen the video before, I’ll let you figure it out so I don’t ruin the experience for you. Make sure you pay close attention to the instructions at the start of the video.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★

Name of Video: Smith, Clint: How to Raise a Black Son in America. (2015: 5:12 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/8WmGgz

Why should I watch this video? Race does matter and anyone who tells you it doesn’t make a difference, needs to walk a few years in the shoes of someone who isn’t like them. This is a direct speech about what it was like growing up a Black male and some of the differences the narrator experienced, simply because of his race. The primary audience who may benefit from this video are those who are not Black males. Simply understanding some of the issues and problems Black males face in today’s modern culture may be the first step in resolving some of the issues.

Rating: Four Stars ★★★★ However, for some individuals this is a Five Star video clip.

Name of Video: Tammet, Daniel: 3.14 Pi Day March 14 Math Genius (2009: 8 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/FnMfd

Why should I watch this video? This is a video of Daniel Tammet, a highly functioning autistic savant, appearing on the David Letterman Show. Because Daniel Tammet dialogues with David Letterman, the video, as might be expected, has a light-hearted, entertaining beat to it. This video is best viewed in conjunction with another video of Tammet, which can be found at: http://goo.gl/dScGqo.The importance of the David Letterman video, in addition to the entertaining value of watching Tammet get the best of Letterman intellectually, is the background which is provided as to why Tammet may have turned into an autistic savant and the hope it may provide to parents who have children who, though maybe not as “brilliant” as Tammet, still show flashes of penetrating insights which baffle the ordinary middle school child. Though Tammet still has social issues he needs to work through, he is an exceptional case of how disabilities don’t have to be a limiting factor.

Rating: Three Stars ★★★ However, if you have a highly functioning autistic child, this will be a Five Star video for you.

Name of Video: Tammet, Daniel: Different Ways of Knowing (2011: 11 min.)

URL: http://goo.gl/dScGqo

Why should I watch this video? This is a more cerebral video so don’t expect to be entertained wildly in a conventional sense by Tammet. There is value in watching this video, however, because Daniel is a high functioning autistic savant who has a different way of looking at the world. The main gist in this video is that there are alternate ways of thinking, or perceptions—such as discerning mathematical figures and printed words as visualizations, rather than simple representations. Daniel gives several examples of how words, numbers, and shapes have their own personalities and this helps him understand how they are used by their creators. He also sees in colors—mathematically and shows the audience several of his interpretations of the colors he sees in numbers. This video will especially be useful to parents of kids who think differently and who sometimes appear as “odd” to other adults and kids.

Rating: Three Stars ★★★ However, if you have a highly functioning autistic child, this will be a Five Star video for you.

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