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Rough and Tumble: Parent pointers

Rough And Tumble Play Can Be Good, Clean Fun


(NAPSI)—Most parents have seen it before—their kids begin playing so hard that it looks as if they are becoming aggressive. However, this kind of intense physical activity can actually be good for a child’s physical, social and emotional development.

Called Rough and Tumble play by the experts, this activity is a positive and necessary form of play for children, especially boys, says Rae Pica, a children’s physical activity specialist.

“Rough and Tumble play gives boys an opportunity to learn their power and boundaries, develop competence in their motor skills and imitate their role models,” Pica said.

Rough and Tumble play can be perplexing for parents, who have to gauge when it turns to a form of aggression. The difference lies in the intent: During appropriate Rough and Tumble play, there is less risk of injury than with combative play because there’s an understanding between the players.

For boys, the closer the friendship, the more intense the Rough and Tumble play can be, so children should collaborate and agree on limits.

Parents can help reinforce those limits by following these tips:

1. Set some basic rules, such as “no touching of faces” and “no shoes.”

2. Let children be in charge of making some of the rules and enforcing them.

3. Intervene only when the play turns combative; if parents intervene too often or too soon, children won’t learn conflict resolution on their own.

4. Not sure if it’s playing or fighting? Ask the participants if they see the difference and if everyone agrees.

5. Parents should also engage in Rough and Tumble play with their children—whether it’s wrestling with Dad or “tickle fights” with Mom. The physical contact helps kids build relationships.

If play turns combative, parents can redirect the children’s energy by inviting them to race outside as fast and for as long as they can, as well as provide pillows or soft toys such as Mattel’s new Brawlin’ Buddies with which they can wrestle. “Brawlin’ Buddies offer kids a toy to actively engage with alone or with other children to foster physical connection,” said Pica.

Modeled after WWE Superstars such as John Cena, Sheamus and Rey Mysterio, the 16-inch plush figures are built tough to take a pounding that will trigger one of 10 signature phrases recorded by these athletic stars. Kids can flip, toss or throw down the figures, go one on one or form a tag team Superstar battle.

Toys such as Brawlin’ Buddies encourage children to safely re-create action-packed story lines and experiment with speed, force, cause and effect, balance and spatial relationships. “The open-ended, heroic play lets children create their own stories while also fostering the kind of active play that kids need,” said Pica. “Rough and Tumble play, when directed properly, can be a very positive experience for kids—and their parents.”


Madison Avenue Doesn’t Have the Answer

How Madison Avenue Runs Schools

How Madison Avenue Runs Schools

I have just finished reading an article written by Michael Horn, for Forbes magazine called, “Building Motivation, Instilling Grit: The Necessity of instilling Mastery-based Digital Learning.”  The author presents his arguments that unmotivated students are unmotivated because they have not been instilled with the purpose and potential of competency-based and digital learning.  The author states the reason for this is two-fold:  First, they (students) want to feel successful and make meaningful progress. Second, they (students) want to have fun with their friends.

The author goes on to blame educators that their feedback is generally slow and lacking.  So, when was the last time your boss came by your cubicle to tell you how well you were doing?  Today, many schools have their grades online and have Cloud access.  After work has been graded, by the teacher, it is posted online for access by both parents and students.   Obviously, the author is not quite up to date  in the latest educational technology developments.

The author continues, “So how do we help students who aren’t buying what schools are selling?”   The response is a loud affirmation that digital learning is the all purpose solution.  It slices, dices and can even do your homework.  But more importantly, it will motivate the unmotivated.  Sorry, but technology has been around for over 50 years in education from 16mm film projects to today’s Smartboards.  Technology is a tool, it is not a motivator but an enhancer, in the hands of an expert educator, it can be used to explain complex subject matter, demonstrate with both visual and auditory equipment, but it can’t motivate anymore than the 1958 16mm film projector or DVD player in the 1980’s could.

It all sounded like a great sales pitch, and then I realized, I was reading a Forbes magazine article.  The author named one of his sources–Madison Avenue.  Now, Madison Avenue may understand Marketing but the article proved it still doesn’t understand Education. Three authors, who did not identify themselves as educators, wrote a white paper called, “Rethinking Student Motivation,”  The paper first states that, to date, there is no one size that fits all. They were right! And then they try to ‘market’ their position as the solution. The paper is a testament to Industrial Age Mentality that many schools have been trying to evolve from. Education is not about jobs, it is not about getting a job.  It’s not about selling education as a commodity.  The last time I looked I had a choice of either buying something or not.  Education is compulsory in the United States, students don’t have a choice.   If education was a choice, like at the college level,  we might need selling techniques for our K-12 students–Ah! But, it is compulsory and that’s the rub, the problem, the issue facing all educators in trying to find techniques to motivate the unmotivated.

Brain studies, behavior intelligence, multicultural studies, and socioeconomic, and global education studies are now part of the 21st educator’s arsenal for motivation. Education is about motivating both the group as well as  the individual.  The motivated and the unmotivated.   In the business world of marketing the industry focuses always on the group. The individual is passed by. We can’t do that in Education.

But let’s leave on a reflective note.  The Forbes article does have one positive supporter and that comes from the author’s last comment,  “A competency-based learning system on the other hand literally embeds grit—sticking with things until you master them—in its DNA.” Yes, it is the perfect tool for Standardized Testing, which has already shown itself as a failure  along with it NCLB program.

Personal Thoughts

“A mentor’s position is not to give answers nor to direct another person’s actions, but to practice the art of listening, and learn how to ask the right questions.”  Peter Romero

The Real Reason for Brains

Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains


computersComputers, laptops and iPads have become as common as the number 2 pencil. .  The research shows that 75% of today’s schools are using computers as part of the curriculum.  However, the very companies and institutions that have created and promoted technology (i.e., Apple, Microsoft) have funded the vast majority of the studies available, raising questions to the validity and objectivity in the research (Educational Week, Dec. 30, 2012).

For example, the iPad was introduced in April 3, 2010.  In that year, a number of stories emerged on student achievement and success in the classroom (Crump, M., Mar 29, 2010).   Since the release of the first iPad, we have seen the development and release of several generations of Kindle, Nook, ACER, and Microsoft e-tablet products.  Included with each of these technology releases has included the promise of student achievement, creativity and promotion under the NCLB program.

However, the purpose of this dialog is not to discuss the type of technology that is being put into the hands of our students, nor is to bash technology.  But to ask a simple question in how is technology in schools being assessed?

Grant you; the majority of students in the United States have access to technology at school, home or even their local public library.  While in school students generally use technology as a word processor and information gathering source (Royer, 2002).  Many research studies on the efficacy of technology tools for teaching and learning, studies are not supporting a strong conclusion that the return on investment is showing any future promises for success.

I found one article called, “How To Know If You’re Correctly Integrating Technology,”  that I believe to be on the right track of assessing the integration of technology into the curriculum.  A copy of the matrix is found below.



CEO Forum. (2000). The power of digital learning: Integrating digital content. The CEO Forum school technology and readiness report, year three . Washington, DC: CEO Forum on Education and Technology.

Crump, M. (2010). Pros and Cons of the iPad in Education. GIGAOM.  Retrieved from


Royer, R. (2002). Supporting technology integration through action research.

The Clearing House , 75(5), 233-237.

Strategies and Methods in Teaching Boys

Here a few tidbits I would like to pass on regarding some strategies and methods I researched, implemented, and found successful when teaching boys.

Be Cool

hotcoldBoys work better in  cooler environments.  Studies have shown that boys stay more alert and active when the room temperatures is around 68F (20C).  In California, our temperatures, even in the Winter, rarely get below the mid 50’s but it is good to prop a window to introduce fresh cool air even in a California Winter.

Using Video in Class?

video_buttonShowing a video to boys, at the high school level, generally means lights out, heads down.  When considering  a video as part of the lesson determine if it is a scene or the parts of a movie you want to demonstrate, or use as your point.  Videos can be edited in sections and even if you don’t have FinalCut™, AfterEffects™ or some other professional software, there are a host of free video editing softwares available both online and for downloading (I’ll be adding more on this in the EduTech section of this blog).  Showing the whole video may be necessary, so in those cases I found it best to create a list of questions on the movie to answer while it was playing.  At the end of the movie or class I collected the sheet of questions and answers, and added this to the grade as part of the overall assignment.

Math Suggestion

At the boardTeaching Math to boys?  After explaining a lesson on how to complete the answer for a math problem I would generally write three problems on the chalkboard or whiteboard and then call up three students to work the problems out.

Once the student was at the board and working on the problem, I had a visual assessment on the lesson, as well as, being able  to help a struggling student.  If this procedure is done all the time, the boys tend to pay attention because they know they will be called up.   In the end, it becomes a competition with the boys at the board and those still at their desks who are also working to find the math solutions, or maybe even an alternative solution that they can share and boast about.  Alternative solutions were given extra credit, which made it more of a game.

Mentoring Boys

Screen shot 2013-01-06 at 8.59.34 PM

On this page I will be collecting tips, strategies and successful programs dealing with the education of boys.  I have worked for over 25 years teaching and mentoring boys.  My experience has been at all educational levels from elementary to university students.  I will be adding my own suggestions from my past experience as well as current research.  I am opening this page up for dialog, sharing and comments.

The following pdf is an excellent source for the male teacher who is looking for ways to motivate male students in general.  In addition, this brief report is a great overview for female teachers who are dealing with issues with boys in the classroom and who are looking for ways on how to reach boys.   Download: Mentoring Boys.

Quotes Regarding Mentoring:

Plutart“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”


“Do not train boys to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”


“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
William Arthur Ward

How Boys Learn

Boys Do Learn Better in Single-Sex Classes

boysgirls_2 Interesting enough we already do separate boys and girls.   In sports, club activities (the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts), some organizations (YMCA and YWCA), even some summer camps are restricted to same sex activities, bathrooms and changing rooms.  There are others.

So, if we accept these separations why not at the educational level?  Brain and physiology studies show that boys and girls develop at different rates at different times.  Why do we continue to insist and expect that putting both sexes in the same classroom and teaching both sexes exactly the same will work?

Alabama has separated the sexes and now has come under attack by the ACLU.

“We understand that teachers and parents want to provide the best education for their children. But coeducation was never the problem with failing schools, and single-sex programs are not the answer,” said Christina Brandt-Young, attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “These programs are poorly designed and based on pseudoscience and stereotypes that do nothing to enhance learning, and only reinforce discredited ideas about how boys and girls behave” (Leech, 2012).

Single-sex education has been around for thousands of years.  It wasn’t until the end of the 18th Century that co-educational classes were being instituted in the United States.  In 2005 covering 2221 studies was commissioned by the US Department of Education entitled Single-sex versus coeducational schooling: A systematic review.  The review demonstrated positive results and arguments for establishing public single sex classes.

True, every child learns differently.   Researcher and educator, Howard Gardner (Harvard University),  developed a study and discovered seven distinct intelligences called Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence.  These seven distinct intelligences also work differently with how boys and girls perceive their world.   The ACLU lawyers have no foundation for their political case.  In the last 10 years, there has been a multitude of brain and cognitive research to demonstrate how male and female brains form, perceive their environments and function.  The good point that we can all be thankful for are that these are lawyers not educators.

While the fight continues in Alabama, a successful experiment of separating 5th grade boys and girls has shown much success in the Bronx in New York.

Screen shot 2013-01-05 at 11.21.41 AM

The single-sex classes at Public School 140, which started as an experiment last year to address sagging test scores and behavioral problems, are among at least 445 such classrooms nationwide, according to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education. Most have sprouted since a 2004 federal regulatory change that gave public schools freedom to separate girls and boys  (Medina, 2009).

After working in two all boys private high schools here in Southern California for the past 25 years, I am confident that boys learn better in a single-sex environment.  The statistics of the number of boys graduating from single-sex schools, and the percentage of college acceptance letters these boys have received is higher than boys from  local area public high schools.  These statistics are on record.   I would be open to questions and further discussion on this topic.


Leech, M. (2012). Alabama public school separates boys and girls for all classes. The ACLU has a problem with this.  Retrieved from http://www.cafemom.com/group/99198/forums/read/17736762/Alabama_public_school_separates_boys_and_girls_for_all_classes_The_ACLU_has_a_problem_with_this

Medina, J. (2009, March 10).  Boys and Girls Together, Taught Separately in Public School.  New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/education/11gender.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

National Association for Single Sex Education.  http://www.singlesexschools.org/home.php