Friday, October 21, 2011

Every Day Is Special - Great Blog for Learners!

Editor’s note:  I asked Cathy Earle to share information about her wonderful blog with other innovative educators. I think you are going to love it.  Thank you Cathy!!!

Guest post By Cathy Earle

I used to love magazines! My kids and I would greet each new-come publication with enthusiasm, often leafing through the pages right away to look at the pictures,  always looking forward to the reading session that night.

At bedtime, I would read one article from each of our magazines before diving into whatever novel served as our current bedtime story. We subscribed to at least one magazine about animals or life science—such as ZooBooks or Ranger Rick—and one primarily about physical science—such as Kids Discover. We loved National Geographic Kids and New Moon, a magazine by, for, and about girls. American Girl magazine always had articles about history. In any given year we would subscribe to four or five different magazines, and on any given night we would be read from three or four of them! 
What I loved about reading these magazines is that we never knew what we were going to get! It was different, reading assorted magazines, than reading library books that we carefully chose, or exploring topics of interest with activities and field trips. The magazines covered topics in a sort of potpourri, a grab-bag of this and that. Sometimes we discovered something very pertinent to what we were already “into.” Other times we read about a topic, studied the pictures, briefly discussed things, and went on with our lives. Interesting! – now, onto the next.
Once in a while, someone would discover a new, hitherto unimagined, passion through a magazine article.The assortment of magazines and the hundreds of different topics explored in the articles were a sort of wide-lens exposure to the universe that we all enjoyed.Nowadays, I don't subscribe to magazines. Granted, my kids are grown up, but another big change is that I have a chance to read hundreds of interesting things on the internet, for free—and without the environmental impact of printing and shipping paper publications. I still get exposed to an-always changing assortment of new topics as I regularly read several science blogs. 
One day,  I thought to myself, I'd like to offer kids an ever-changing assortment of topics on the internet, just as we enjoyed with our magazines.Of course there's already tons of content on the internet, but there are far fewer kid-oriented blogs. I thought that modern kids, and their teachers and parents, might appreciate a blog that is updated daily with a short article. And I thought that it would be nice if I took as the daily theme some world holiday, observance, birthday, or anniversary. 
Every Day Is SpecialEvery Day Is Special is the result.

This blog is not a calendar of holiday names, and it is not a list of historical events “on this date in history...”

Instead, I provide short, informative articles and sometimes further links to puzzles, simulations, games, YouTube videos, or other websites.

Last month I offered posts on world holidays from Independence Day in Uzbekistan, on September 1, to Inventors' Day in Argentina, on September 29. I celebrated birthdays from the city of Los Angeles to the company Google, and from archeologist Robert Koldeway to Johnny Appleseed. I honored scientific and historical anniversaries, including the opening of the first elevator factory, the commissioning of the first nuclear submarine, and the completion of two very different musical pieces, the Messiah and the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I touched on the seeming lack of vowels in Welsh names on Glyndwr Day and on King James's scathing commentary about smoking. I brought attention to silly and serious days such as Talk Like a Pirate Day and Car-Free Day.

Kids can read the short posts, hopefully enjoy the pictures, and go on with their lives. Or they might be interested and click a link or even Google the topic to find out more. Teachers and parents can look for ideas to explore, countries to talk about and find on a globe, and people to honor.

I'd love it if kids and parents and teachers might sometimes talk over the day's topic. But I hope that the blog will not be a source of compulsion or “assignments.” It's not as if I feel that every educated person must be familiar with Armand-Hippolyte-Louis Fizeau. (See? You've never heard of him, have you?) ...Antony Van Leeuwenhoek first spotted “animalcules” on September 17, 1683. Is his name crucial to kids today? No. Is that date imperative to remember? Not a bit. But there is something about reading science history—realizing that there was a time when nobody knew about bacteria, nobody knew that animals too small to see even existed... 

Certainly nobody had thought to examine the plaque between his teeth with a microscope before; but one day, somebody decided to do just that and made a rather grisly discovery. Imagine what poor Van Leeuwenhoek thought when he realized that there were teeny animals darting and spinning around in his mouth!

Previous years' posts, almost all touching on different historical anniversaries, world holidays, and famous birthdays, are available on the website, a resource accessible for browsing or research. There is an index of keywords, too, which is getting to be gigantic. What isn't found on Every Day Is Special is ads.

I wake up every day, eager to research the morrow and find out why it is special, so I can write a new post. Because every day really is special!  

How are (might) your children noticing their special days?  If you have ideas, please share in the comments below.

Cathy Earle is an educator who has taught in public schools and a variety of private venues. She was a curriculum lab director and an education writer and editor. She homeschooled her own children from birth up to college, using child-focused and interest-based methods rather than traditional school methods. Her daughters are now grown and are successful twenty-somethings with careers, college degrees, and interesting passion-driven lives.

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