Nov 21, 2010

Interest, Groups and Learning

Stumbled on another goose-bump inducing TED Talk. This one by education researcher Sugata Mitra. His experiments made me think of Keys Grade School. Children huddled about, questioning, talking in small groups, sometimes pairs collaborating on projects or solving problems. So different from the my experience of education-as-usual: classroom with 30-plus kids, where, ironically, it's actually just you and your notebook, or more specifically you taking dictation from the teacher.

I think Sugata Mitra is onto something with his Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE). It shows how interest-driven, collaborative work is among the best ways to learn. Sometimes, we need to let kids go off with their own wandering minds to boost critical thinking and confidence. I believe this.

Nov 19, 2010

Shanghai Calling

I'm back from a quick "girls-only" weekend in Shanghai with MammaMia, the SisInLaw and my fairy GodMother (not in photos..most likely out shopping).

Nona, remember our oh-so brilliant plan to spend the Christmas break and New Year's Eve there and in the Wall years ago? Only to freeze our butts -and everything else! - off? And to find out there were no New Year's plans in the city? Remember we couldn't figure out how to tell our cab driver our hotel address so we spent the stroke of midnight of New Year's Eve in the middle of nowhere in the backseat of a taxi? Fun times! We should go back.

Here I am in our favorite area, XiantianDi in front of our favorite bar. We loved TMSK, remember?

Xiantiandi won a ULI award the year after we were there crediting the developers for keeping the old structures and walls and everything they could instead of just demolishing everything.

Apparently no one wanted to invest in the project initially thinking they were crazy. Tearing down the old and building brand new high-rises was the easiest and only way to go. Glad they stood their ground. Totally paid off. We should go back.

Nov 14, 2010

The Book Thief

It's 1943, Hitler is on a rampage and Death is busy. Which is just one of the reasons why The Book Thief is a must-read. 

Death is the book's narrator and he, she or whatever, has a great story to tell young adult readers as well as older grown ups.  As Death itself says:
Yes, I have seen a great many things in this world. I attend the greatest disasters and work for the greatest villains.
But then there are other moments.
There's a multitude of stories (a mere handful, as I had previously suggested) that I allow to distract me as I work, just as the colors do. I pick them up in the unluckiest, unlikeliest places and I make sure to remember them as I go about my work. The Book Thief is one such story. 
Liesel Meminger is The Book Thief, one of the best young female characters I  have had the pleasure to meet. She's vulnerable but strong. She is damaged, but like the best people, she has gone through hell and come back a kick-ass heroine. Aside from Liesel, I fell in love with so many wonderful characters in this book. I love Hans, Rudy, Max, Ilsa and even Rosa. They made me cry buckets. 

Don't be daunted by my mention of Death as narrator and the crying-of-buckets. Markus Zusak's young adult novel is unsettling and at times heartbreaking. When you're done with it though, you'll realize how awesome it is just to be alive. Speaking of… this 4-year-old has a minor obsession about death and mamas growing old. 

Blame it on November trips to the cemetery and a creepy book by Robert Munsch. I Love You Forever, anyone? She is intrigued but also freaked-out about death.  "Mamas are not supposed to die!" One day, my dear Chicha you have got to read The Book Thief

Nov 8, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba

Do you love Yo Gabba Gabba? We do. Here's one reason, Cornelius for Bear...

And another, Trembling Blue Stars for Chicha...

Japanese rock artists aside, plus The Shins, The Roots, The Ting Tings, Ladytron, Data Rock etc. we just love Yo Gabba Gabba. Just saying.

Nov 3, 2010

Shameless For a Cause

In case you haven't noticed,  Christmas is in fifty something days.  Whoa 2010, that was quick. Okay, okay...I'm about to sell you something but I promise its good. Its all good. 

Presenting the gift that gives back with the  Christmas ornament-in-a-card.

Honor those you love in a special way this holiday season with a Christmas donation to ICanServe Foundation

The card includes an ornament that you can hang on your holiday tree. It also includes a brief explanation that you (the giver) have made a donation in honor of the recipient. For a minimum contribution of P200 per card, you help ICanServe Foundation continue its early breast cancer detection advocacy through community based screening programs, as well as subsidize the treatment of breast cancer patients on treatment.

For orders, call ICanServe at 636.5578 or or email

P.S. Thank you for the photos, Mon.